Archive for the ‘etc.’ Category
This is a quick note to say I’ve switched from WordPress hosting to a self-hosted site, still using the WordPress software to maintain this blog. This means I have better control over layout and design options since I can edit code directly when I need to. However, for now you’ll see that my blog largely looks the same as it did before.
I’m updating some of my pages to organize them better, so don’t fret if things move around. For example, I’ve thrown up a more general Travels page which can house more specific pages in the future. I may be making more changes in the future and it’s nice to have the option to do so now. I can’t believe this blog is almost 5 years old!
It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately, as I’ve been working a lot, traveling a bit, and planning for the summer. I’m doing a second read-through of Swann’s Way, then it’s onto the other books in In Search of Lost Time (resolution #1). The cold has been keeping me from doing longer bike rides, but I’m trying to make running a habit and finding that it’s more pleasant to run outdoors than in place on a treadmill. Winter weather does give you some perspective, though – now I’m excited when I find that a day is going to be above freezing.
Occasionally I’ll take a look at the search engine terms (what people input into say, a Google search bar) that first-time visitors use to find my site, producing a range of informative to downright confusing views into the intents of readers. These search phrases can be as puzzling as floccinaucinihilipilification photographers or how to have a story for every occasion (I certainly don’t).
Plenty of people looking for cool maps or charts, and travel-related searches are common as well: mind map for london; time value of money chart; garbage manila bay; how to buy standing room tickets on ktx; map of states that florida’s coastline runs through (?).
And many references to Modernist literature, and the “aesthetics of ___ ” searches abound.
Then there are the accidentally poetic: turn a factory into a home; prison money card; young buddhist let go.
If you have a WordPress blog, you can find these search engine terms – the most recent and the most frequently used – in the Stats area of your blog dashboard.
Twitter user @najuu puts it this way:
we’re going to have to explain this period of history to our grandkids.
— naxuu (@naxuu) April 27, 2011
you know how we look back a few decades and say “man, those people were insanely racist. what were they even thinking?” kids’re gonna read in their history books about Obama’s presidency and the birther controversy and the Tea Party and say the EXACT same thing about us. “wow, people from a few decades ago were INSANE!” except that’s us. dude we’re going to have to explain this period of history to our grandkids.
I’m working on some new projects. Re-teach myself web design, maybe pick up some programming skills. I’m doing a fair amount of writing and editing – and even learning more technical material – at work.
This brings up another concern: How do you keep your mind sharp after university? Continue to read at a high level? Form a book club to replicate classroom discussion? Learn to teach your friends, and have them teach you? I guess it’s nothing new, instead: a reminder of how important it is to be conscious of your persistent, self-directed learning.
The employed life is cool when you can use your time to explore new subjects in depth. Give yourself a new ‘major.’ Learn new forms of learning (there’s a lesson in each day). Most of all, don’t grow complacent in your knowledge. It’s still imperfect, and always will be while you’re in motion and the earth is around you.
“One by one, million by million, in the prescience of dawn, every leaf in that part of the world was moved.” – James Agee
It’s difficult to sum up “my generation,” and it seems we’re content to zip our lips on the matter. I wouldn’t even know where to bracket the age cohort. All attempts at characterization are simplifications. Desires are often diffused through the Internet and this creates a lot of murkiness, drift, global dispersion. This list isn’t only what’s lacking, it’s a list for the sake of us all.
- A sense of humility.
- Art, art, art. Art in life and not only as concept.
- Intellectual curiosity. Irrepressible passion for knowledge.
- Daily renewal. A child’s eye view of the world.
- Unfiltered conversation.
Now that spring has come – and with it our annual influx of tourists, I want to put in a request. If you live in this area, please don’t spend your time griping about those who don’t immediately understand our Metro system, or roll your eyes in vain at directionally-challenged White House seekers. Strike up a conversation on a crowded Metro car. Help out with directions. Try to leave a good impression of DC residents and try also to enjoy your spring. Remember, this weather only lasts a few weeks before it moves straight into sweltering levels of summer humidity.
I recall having a short conversation with a visitor from the Midwest (sorry, haven’t seen enough of it myself to have the exact place stick with me) a couple years back. I was surprised by his surprise at the whole exchange: that here he was in DC, talking to a local on the Metro. He told me, “I read that Washington, DC was ranked the place where you’re least likely to strike up a conversation with a stranger.” Bogus statistic, I’m sure, but let’s reverse that image. And no, being a government worker isn’t an excuse to be unfriendly.
Ooh, and I never tire of seeing the cherry blossoms. My family’s coming for a visit so we’re going to enjoy the colors, crushing crowds, and sunny weather.
Saw this article in the NYT about PhotoCity, a crowdsourced game to create 3D building models out of thousands of photos and points. Sounds really, really cool:
To do this they use a three-stage set of algorithms that begins by creating a “sparse point cloud” with a batch of photos, renders it as a denser image, capturing much of the original surface texture of the object, and then renders it in three dimensions.
To improve the quality of their rendering capabilities, the researchers plan to integrate their computing system with a social game that will permit competing teams to add images where they are most needed to improve the quality of the visual models.
Here’s a hint to continuity of time and space as we try to trace it with our lives.
We snag a glimpse of meaning on the periphery, and attribute meaning widely – stretch it out to cover everything, bestow our forms and principles upon all we encounter. We look into history for patterns, into literature for universals, into religion for order. It’s a kind of spiritual insurance. We want to believe the forces in our lives are meant to align, and if not in the direct path of our lives, well then, at least on the edges. Much of the harmony we seek’s there to grab if we’ll have it. Words, people, even objects become weighed down by our additions.
Making a packing list now since I catch my flight to Cairo tomorrow. The great 17th-century English poet John Milton is joining me. Expect photos, thoughts, lots of sand.
Inspired by a discussion with a few visiting German friends, I came up with an idea for what could potentially be a very fun party: live-blogging / crowd-sourcing the rules of American football by people who don’t know the game’s rules. Ideally, this would occur as they get together to watch their first full game of football.
- 3-8 people who are clueless about American football
- typical Super Bowl party snacks (tortilla chips and salsa, pizza, buffalo wings, etc. – the greasier the better)
- lots of cheap beer
- big couch and big TV (may be left out if held in a sports bar)
- big game (may be substituted with an unimportant or off-season game as this will probably not matter to participants)
Mix all of the above and don’t forget to have your party guests arbitrarily choose sides. It’s much more fun to root for “your team!”
Someone please make this happen.