During my visit at home in western MA last Sunday, my mom found some of my old artwork. The top is a watercolor I made - presumably in elementary school. The bottom is a drawing I made. It's harder for me to approximate a date on that one - but I'd guess I drew it when I was 20 or so.
We spent some time looking for a book full of doodles, but we weren't able to find it. When we do find it, I'd like to upload some of it onto this site.
1 year, 11 months ago
You're in a tea house in Kyaukpyu, a small fishing village in Burma. You're tired because you spent the night gambling with a group of thugs aboard a rickety fishing vessel off the coast of Bangladesh. You just ate breakfast, yet you're still hungry. Not for food, but for some relaxing and informative entertainment.
Through wooden shuttered windows you hear the productive yet calm murmur of an outdoor fish market. Patrons come and go from the busy tea house, placing a few coins on the counter on their way out. As the sommelier refills your cup with Royal Myanmar Tea, you pull your cellphone out from the pocket of your Himalayan Cotton Trousers. That's when you navigate to a website. This website. And you read a fascinating blog post about none other than J. Peterman.
If you watch Seinfeld, you likely know who J Peterman is. He was Elaine's boss for a few seasons. He was an eccentric world traveler and adventurer who owned a clothing catalog. The catalog aimed to sell clothing using detailed stories - much like the one above - in which the reader can fantasize about being a world traveler, and then buy the clothing to at least look like a world traveler.
First of all, I was amazed to lear that J Peterman is based on a real person, and that the J Peterman catalog really exists. I was then even more amazed to learn that John O'Hurley, the actor who played J Peterman in Seinfeld, invested in the J Peterman company a few years ago when it was going through financial trouble. He is now a part owner!
You may have encountered a "Bad Gateway" error on this website over the past few weeks. I spent some time trying to resolve this error, and finally came to the conclusion that it must be caused by the website server. I was renting the cheapest virtual server available. I just doubled the RAM on the server, and hopefully it resolves the error. We'll see...
1 year, 11 months ago
The Atlantic has a really great photo journalism webpage. Strongly recommend. They update it several times a week with content, and it's always really good.
This particular photo was posted to their site on Wednesday. It was taken in the southern Philippine city of Marawi after a conflict with pro-ISIS occupiers. This was one of nearly 30 photos that are all great.
Plus, they do "photos of the week" posts. Click here to see this week's.
Ok nothing nefarious going on here. However, I did open up these electronic kitchen timers to snip the cords connecting to their very loud internal speakers. I figured it would be good to have a timer with me during the exam, and excessive beeping might be frowned on.
Also, I used some cardboard to make front and back covers for some of my notes/printouts. The exam admins do not allow loose notes, but these booklets should be fine. The pages are held together with "screw posts", which you can get on Amazon for cheap.
1 year, 11 months ago
On this blog, I've previously revealed that I am a closet fan of the Canadian rock duo Tegan and Sara. I have a feeling my demographic is a minority within their fan base. Jess and I were able to see them live this spring at Boston Calling - which was great by the way.
Their music has transformed a lot over the years. It started off as punk rock, and now it's pop. All of it's good, but the 2007 album The Con is my personal favorite. This album is like a heavily distilled dose of angst filtered through Tegan and Sara's unmatched ability to craft catchy musical hooks.
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the album, they just released 'The Con X', which consists of other artists covering each song in the album. I was excited to listen to this. Some of the tracks are fresh new interpretations of the original songs. Only a few of the covers were able to capture the magic of the original recordings. The best cover on the album is 'Back in your Head' by Ryan Adams. This might be because Ryan Adams recently went through a divorce and he is able to conjure up some feelings of desperation that was displayed on the album. Or maybe it's because Ryan Adams has been making sad rock songs for years. The cover of 'Dark Come Soon' by Grimes was enjoyable because that particular song somehow fits perfectly within Grimes' style. I'm not sure who Ruth B is, but she did a good job covering 'I was Married'.
I am particularly disappointed in Bleachers, Hayley Williams (of Paramore), and CHVRCHES for producing really bland emotionless covers. Williams covered 'Nineteen', which is my favorite track on the original album, and she turned the nuanced punk anthem into a snoozer. CHVRCHES' covered the album closer 'Call it Off', which is a rock-solid ballad epitomizing the tragic acceptance of a failed relationship, and they made it monotone and sterile. Even Bleachers, who often perform their songs with a bit of yelling and texture, chose to make a slow and quiet version of 'Burn Your Life Down' - would have been better if they made it loud!
Overall, it was fun to listen to new interpretations of these songs. I think this type of thing should be done with classic albums more often. At the very least, it helps us remember how great the original recordings were!
Sorry for not posting in a long time. I am fairly busy lately preparing for my upcoming exam. Also, I am in the process of writing a somewhat longer post which I hope to publish sometime soon.
My upcoming exam can have questions related to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations, which are developed by our government. While physical copies of the OSHA regulations are available for purchase, I figured that they must be free online somewhere since they are actually a part of the law.
...and I was right. I ended up printing out the portions of the OSHA regulations that I need.
I was pleased to find out that the U.S. "laws" are available for free online. In hindsight, this totally makes sense - after all, we are all expected to abide by these laws - we should at least be able to read them for free.
Anyways, if you're ever curious, here is how you can review U.S. law online. General disclaimer: I'm soooo far from being a lawyer that I literally just now learned that the laws are available for me to read for free. I might have incorrect information below.
First of all, there are several types of law in this country. There is statutory law, which is written by our actual legislators. This is called the "United States Code" and you can read it here. As you can imagine, it's absolutely massive. Title 18, Chapter 51, Section 1111 is where it says you can't murder people. Title 27, Chapter 2, Sections 11 to 40 contained the prohibition of alcohol - if you look now, it says it's repealed. Title 52, Chapter 101, Section 10101 is where it says that any person can vote.
The third kind of law is common law (also known as case law), which is when a court makes a ruling or decision which is then used as law. As far as I know, these aren't really listed on a government website - but they aren't really laws. They are more of a very strong precedent.
[Featured image is a drawing I found of the main characters from Law and Order SVU. I was hoping to find a funny law-related comic, but all the jokes went over my head.]
When I first made Comet, I realized how difficult it is to make a website that stands out in terms of appearance. I wanted the site to be visually interesting and unique, so I decided to make the site's color scheme change slightly depending on what photos were being shown. The end result was post title bars that shifted in color from post-to-post.
To do this, I made use of a method known as k-means clustering. This technique essentially scans through an image to find its most common colors. Depending on how rigorous that scan is, this can take a computer between a fraction of a second and a few minutes. On the new version of Comet, I had to program the k-means detection to work on a separate "thread", otherwise the entire website would be unresponsive while an image is being processed.
Teaching a computer identify "interesting" colors is not easy. The site currently looks for colors with high "saturation" (i.e., intense colors), but I am finding it gives mixed results. The site often has to lighten the selected colors so black text can still be legible on top of it. I'd like to experiment with different options when I have more free time.
Now you know a little bit about what goes into those odd colors above each post. I just turned the color detection mechanism back on - it has been turned off for awhile now - so we'll see how it works over the next few days.
By the way - this picture is completely unrelated to the content of this post. This was taken in September of 2011 at an Alzheimer's walk in Western MA. For those who don't know - that white doggo was our family dog, Molly - she was very sweet. This picture is colorful, so I decided to use it for this post.
Jess and I went to a Future Islands concert on Monday night. If you don't know, future Islands is rock/pop/electronic band. They are hard to categorize.
This was honestly one of my favorite concerts ever. The frontman/singer is a truly great performer. He is known for his over-the-top dance moves and outrageous voices, but, when seeing it live, it's clear that he is living through the music and is putting no effort or energy into acting 'normal'. And if that means busting out a silly dance move while screaming, he ain't gonna hold back.
I could tell the audience was feeding off of his energy. I've never seen a crowd that was so happy. Everyone was on their feet and having a good time. Songs were punctuated with long stretches of applause - everyone was in awe!
Speaking of the audience - it was a very diverse crowd. We saw all ages enjoying this show.
Anyways - this was a great show. I'm looking forward to the next time they're in town. Below is a full concert from about 3 years ago. They have a lot of newer material, but this particular concert video is a part of the history of Comet. I basically listened to this concert on loop when I programmed the first version of Comet.