Thursday, January 29, 2009

2 Wheels Good

Someone asked me about this recently, so here goes.

I like vehicles with 2 wheels. With a motor or human powered, doesn't matter. The sensation of getting around on 2 wheels is a gift to us from the laws of angular momentum (the spinning wheels wanting to keep us consistently oriented.. (that'd be rubber side down) ). The nice part of riding on 2 wheels (the exposure) is also the most risky part of riding on 2 wheels (the exposure). Because of the risks I no longer depend on them for getting around in all conditions, specifically I try to avoid riding at night in the rain. Motorcycle OR Bicycle the chance of being flattened by something on the road with 4 wheels is increased due to decreased visibility in the rain. (Riding in a city on a Friday or Saturday night is another time to be really cautious).
Sometimes when going out to a nice place on a nice day for a recreational bicycle ride, it seemed like a waste of a nice day to be sitting boxed up in a car.. So the obvious thing was to rig up a motorcycle to carry a bicycle and have a nice day out on both a bicycle and motorcycle ride. I've seen various solutions to this problem implemented by other like minded souls. This one is the final version 2.0 for me. Does the job and works fine. I've taken it to lots of places, up and down the western states, out to visit my sister in Minnesota (to do a bicycle club ride with her in Minneapolis, what else ?). This picture was taken on a highway heading towards Tucson during a Christmas Vacation trip out to Arizona (December temps were in the 70's mmmmmm.....)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

LP Conversions Underway

I recently got a digital sound recorder to convert some of my old vinyl LPs to mp3. I had re-acquired a good portion of my LP collection in CD form. Now those CDs sit idle just as the LPs do because it's too convenient to listen to them in mp3 form. I can no longer see paying out to re-buy music I already bought in LP form. Of course some of the collection isn't readily available in CD or mp3 form anyway, so a digital recorder is a good way to go. Case in point is a favorite LP from my youth: "Tarik" by Saxophonist Dewey Redman (see photo above). This LP has been issued in CD form, but a check of prices shows that it's going for about $50 new or $25 used.. yipes, that much for some music I already have in my collection ? Try searching the 'ITunes store' for one of my favorite cuts on the LP: "Lop-O-Lop" by "Dewey Redman".. The Apple ITunes store turns up zilch. Hmmm.. "Think Different", but not TOO different it seems, or you'll be disappointed !

Amazingly, my old turntable started right up and played the vinyl disks like it was yesterday (times about 10,000). Long forgotten rituals were performed: blowing off the LP, periodically brushing the accumulated dust off of the needle (um, that's the thing that follows the physical track on the LP fer you youngstas). Some of my favorite LPs were in pretty bad shape. Being favorites, they were played a lot so there were lots of pops, fading and the occasional skip. The 'Stack Overflow' guys Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood recently noted amusingly that Vinyl LPs are coming back into fashion in some younger crowds who claim that there's something special about hearing the music on vinyl. J & J then made some joke about writing a program to layer in some pops and scratches on top of clean mp3 sound.. I say 'yeah, how about some skips too to make it really authentic !'

It'll be fun converting the collection. Some of that stuff I haven't heard in decades. It'll be a kind of closure to know that I'm playing each LP for the very last time...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Day, Hawaiian Style

One viewpoint out of the Millions of views of Obama Inauguration Day...

My nephew attends the Punahou school in Honolulu which is the school that Obama went to. (BTW, it's nice having a relative that lives in Hawaii :-) ). There was a big celebration at the school in honor of their now famous former student. My sister watched the Inaugural parade on TV and noted that the Punahou School Band was the first band at the head of the line up. She said that Obama gave them the Shaka sign in greeting.. Gotta love it, he's probably the first US President for whom this is a natural gesture. A google image search of 'Obama shaka' will yield up a bunch of pictures of Obama giving the Shaka !

Sunday, January 18, 2009

One More from Berlin And Beyond

Today I went to another screening at the "Berlin And Beyond" film festival. I had not planned on posting about it since I already mentioned the movie that I saw there yesterday, but today's movie "Evet, I do !" ("Evet, Ich Will !") was so outstanding that I have to mention it ! The movie makes comedy out of 'forbidden marriages'. Each of the protagonist-couples has to deal with parents and relatives who disapprove of their choices of partner along cultural lines: Turk + Kurd, Turk + German, Turk + African-American, Gay Turk + Gay German. Though the particulars of each situation are different, human nature is what it is and it's not hard to recognize the absurdities and laugh out loud at them.
There was a Q & A session after the movie with the directory/writer Sinan Akkus (he's the person on the left in the photo). It was astounding to learn that this was his FIRST feature length movie and that today's screening was only the 2nd time that this movie has been seen in public. I truly hope that he can get some distribution for this gem, it's a very entertaining hour and a half that shouldn't sit on a shelf unviewed except by a just few hundred people.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Berlin and Beyond Film Festival

Yay !
It's time for the annual "Berlin & Beyond" Film Festival in San Francisco screening films from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Today I went to see "DIE ENTDECKUNG DER CURRYWURST" (The Invention of the Curry Sausage). Despite the title, it really wasn't about the invention of the Curry Sausage (though that did take place). It was the touching tale of a passionate but ill-fated love affair taking place in final weeks of WWII Hamburg. Nicely done. The hostess introduced the movie noting that 'many cities in Germany claim to be the birthplace of the Curry Sausage, in this version, the Curry Sausage was invented in Hamburg, even though the movie isn't really about that'.

As an added plus, the star, Barbara Sukowa was present for the screening (see photo, Sukowa is on the left).

If it shows up in your local video store (or Netflix), "Invention of the Curry Sausage" gets the thumbs up from me !

I'll probably catch some more flicks tomorrow...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

24 Hour Watches

I like 24 Hour Watches, watches that measure the passing of 24 hours with a single complete sweep of its hour hand. One can look at the watch face and see one day divided up like a pie. This slice for sleep plus that slice for work. etc.. all adding up to make a day.

The watch shown here is a low-buck Russian made Raketa (new specimens can be had from Russian watch specialty sites or from ebay for less than $50). This watch has a time zone ring around its outer edge. Since it's a 24 hour watch, the entire earth surrounds the watch face demarcated by hourly timezones (we'll forget about the odd-ball 1/2 hour and 1/4 hour time zones).

It's quite graphic to realize the expanse of the Russian Federation land mass by reading off the indicators on the dial (starting at hour 0 at the top of the watch):
Hour 0: Moscow
Hour 1: Saratov
Hour 2: Ekaterinburg
Hour 3: Tashkent
Hour 4: Novosibirsk
Hour 5: Irkutsk
Hour 6: Yakutsk
Hour 7: Vladivostok
Hour 8: Magadan
Hour 9: Petropavlovk-Kamchatsk (P-Kamchatsky)

Wow.. that's 10 time zones of contiguous land !

While not all land, the US indicators show:
Hour 12 Honolulu
Hour 13 Alaska
Hour 14 San Francisco
Hour 15 Denver
Hour 16 Chicago
Hour 17 New York

6 time zones.

Every other country on the dial gets only 1 :-)