Monday, November 30, 2009

Shaun Irving, camera obscura

NPR's Picture Show blog featured a camera obscura artist named Shaun Irving. He uses a giant truck, and calls it "the largest, mobile camera in the world":
It's a simple construction: There's a small hole with a lens on one side of the truck's lightproof interior. This lens projects an upside-down and backward image on the opposite wall. On that wall, Irving hangs 4-by-8-foot sheets of photo paper, which, when exposed to 5-30 second exposures, serve as giant negatives. He then takes his jumbo negatives to a darkroom, or just a room that's dark, and processes them. The whole process, he says, takes anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

This is my favorite photo of the selection; I love how you can see the emulsion painted on the paper:

Moto del Cuerva, Spain

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

battle of the bows: SMAP vs. KinKi Kids

SMAP is a Japanese idol group (essentially a boy band, even though all the members are currently in their 30s), that intersperses releasing music with acting and hosting their variety show, SMAPxSMAP. KinKi Kids (named from a region in Japan, not on their sexual proclivities) are also a J-Pop group that used to be backup dancers for SMAP, but now are famous in their own right.

KinKi Kids were guests on SMAPxSMAP last month, and the following video shows that no matter how hip, famous, and young you are in Japan, the senpai and kohai dynamics remain STRONG -- we're talking about nearly a minute dedicated to the greeting bow:

introducing baby g

My co-worker Molly brought in her one-month-old son, Graham, to say howdy to the office.

Molly and GrahamGraham

He was pretty quiet, except that his FAVORITE THING to do that day was to look at the fire alarms and ceiling lights, so you had to hold him so that he could see. Otherwise, he was the horse whimperer. He also had this amazing ability to cry *with his mouth closed* if you can believe it.

His overalls were the best part. We joked about rolling a pack of cigarettes in the sleeve of his shirt.

Molly and Graham

True to his reputation, however, once Molly started to walk him around the floor, he immediately fell asleep.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

photo of the day - dog in H1N1 mask

A dog is seen with a protective mask against the H1N1 flu on its face on a street in Enshi, Hubei province, China. Picture: REUTERS

Too bad it doesn't realize that only N95 masks are effective. Silly dog. Via

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cook's Country blooper reel

I have to give props to Christopher Kimball for posting this blooper reel compilation from the Cook's Country tapings. Cook's Country is a cooking show associated with America's Test Kitchen and Cook's Illustrated magazine, and like the rest of the products, the purpose is to test and recommend ingredients, and improve recipes. They also include some of the science being cooking and baking.

Christopher Kimball has a bit of a reputation for being particular and a little uptight, so it was so refreshing to see him and the chefs mess up lines, poke fun at each other, and even make mistakes. Reading Cook's Illustrated (to which I subscribe), it almost feels like there are no unintentional mistakes made in the testing of the recipes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

capitalizing on Twilight for vocabulary building skills

I'm not sure if this is absolutely brilliant, or adult-person lame.

Heath Ceramics factory tour

I made the trip up to Sausalito on Saturday to wander around the Heath Ceramics annual sale. Heath is pretty well-known in California for simple and well-made (albeit expensive) ceramicware. The factory in Sausalito (built in 1959) still uses much of the original equipment (including a giant kiln that lowers from the ceiling onto the shelves of pieces). The company makes the attempt to promote local manufacturing, fair worker compensation, and the craft of ceramics.

cupsshelves of bud vases

Some of the factory's "big" clients include Gump's San Francisco, Chez Panisse, and SFMOMA.

I had been to Heath before (one year ago), but never on the tour. I totally recommend it; it's such a treat to chat with the people who are making things, and to see the demonstrations. My experience with ceramics is pretty confined to making bowls on a pottery wheel. Heath uses quite a few ceramic techniques, including slip-cast, plaster molds, and jiggering, that I've never learned, so I enjoyed seeing this whole other skill set in ceramics. It's incredible to see how adept everyone was at their tasks; the man who sands plates can do 6 at a time, and completes about 400 plates per day.

sanding plates
automated jiggerselection of glazes

If you can't make the tour in person, the website has virtual tours of their dinnerware and tile-making process.

[Psst! Check out other summaries of the Heath Ceramics factory tour at Apartment Therapy and Craftzine.]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mos Def and The Roots, "Casa Bey" (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)

I love Mos Def. I love The Roots. I love them together, although the only time I'd seen it was on Dave Chappelle's Block Party. However, I don't love Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, so I missed this performance back in June 2009. What made me look for it was this interview with ?uestlove in Rolling Stone. When asked to recount his "Five Best Musical Guest Collaborations," number 5 was this:
With four days' warning, I unknowingly agreed to back Mos on the equivalent of the hip-hop "Rites of Spring on 45" mashed with Frank Zappa's worst rhythm nightmare. I kicked, screamed, protested, told Mos and his label, "F--- you, you ain't ruining my rep with a song that changes meters six times in the first 30 seconds!" Then it hit me four hours before showtime: "Mos is tryin to test us!" We did the craziest cram ever known to man. With two hours left, we listened to the song about 19 times without interruption before we even attempted to practice, and then we went over it an additional 20 times before we got it halfway decent. We kept all the show songs real simple while cheat cramming in rehearsals and what do you know: We asked for a five-minute cram session and friggin' Davided the s--- outta that Goliath! That was the hardest challenge and we came out victorious.

And here's the video to prove it (via DailyMotion):

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tokyo overcomes Paris in gastronomy

For 2009, the Michelin Guide awarded more 3-star restaurant ratings in Tokyo than in Paris. 信じられない。

Congratulations to Japan, especially considering how Franco-centric the Michelin folks are, but one thing that bothers me is that the organization sort of caved to that whole nihonjinron mythology, which basically theorizes that no one can possible understand Japan than the Japanese:
Not everyone in Japan was pleased that Michelin had landed in Tokyo. Critics attacked its culinary selections. Some chefs said they didn't want to be in the book. Others questioned how a group of foreigners could judge Japanese food.

To mollify naysayers, the company used only Japanese inspectors for the 2010 Tokyo edition, [Jean-Luc] Naret said.

For more background about Michelin, the New Yorker this month has a great account of the inspectors and rating process.

Mental Floss, "Crazy Little Quiz On Queen"

Mental Floss has a lunchtime quiz on Queen. I got 10 out of 11 questions correct, because they are the GREATEST BAND IN THE WORLD.

The Decemberists, Here Come The Waves

The Decemberists are going to release a full-length video version of their latest album, The Hazards of Love entitled, Here Come The Waves in December. And why not.

Trailer via Pitchfork:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

All Things Considered: "Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write"

NPR's All Things Considered had a story entitled "Story Specialists: Doctors Who Write." It features one of the internists here at Stanford, Abraham Verghese, who has been absolutely wonderful to work with when he does make the occasional foray into pre-clerkship curriculum (one of his priorities is the medicine clerkship). His first novel, My Own Country, dealt with his experiences practicing medicine in rural Tennessee as the AIDS crisis was emerging on the landscape. The story link has an excerpt from his most recent novel, Cutting For Stone.

Dr. Verghese discusses the link between stories and medicine:
"I think narrative is huge in medicine," Verghese says. He adds that if you listen carefully, you will hear clues needed to make a diagnosis: "It's very rare that some extra piece of knowledge in my brain solves the puzzle. Much more often it's the fact that the story I am hearing resonates with my collection of stories. Or there is an element in that story that reminds of something in my catalog of stories, and I go seek out the other element."

This "catalog of stories" is called "illness scripts", which are basically pattern recognition to figure out what is wrong with a patient based on their presentation. For example, say someone comes in with chest pain. A 60-year-old overweight male smoker who presents with chest pain is much more likely to get worked up for a MI than a 20-year-old female athlete who presents with chest pain. Is it possible that the 20-year-old female is having a heart attack? It's possible, but less likely than a bunch of other things (most common include musculoskeletal, psychogenic, or respiratory conditions). Illness scripts also allow you to ask more focused, specific questions to narrow down the options (you are "seek[ing] out the other element").

As the students gain more medical knowledge and expertise, they increase the number of illness scripts they have in their heads; otherwise, there's not really a good way to organize the staggering amount of information that they have to remember. We like to teach students to get the patient's story, but in the end they have to do something with it in order to help.

I forgot to mention that one of the downsides of illness scripts is that they are built by the physician's own clinical experience. When you are exposed to a wide variety of experiences, the illness scripts tend to be pretty solid. However, if you are exposed to unorthodox cases, the illness scripts tend not to be as general as they should be.

For example, if you are, say, working at a academic / research medical center, you may see rare cases of certain disorders. Take that 20-year-old female athlete with chest pain; let's say that she was sent home after observation but collapsed the next day from cardiac arrest, with the cause being hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HOCM). If you are an experienced clinician with 25 years of medicine under your belt, you might be able to chalk that up to an anomaly. However, if you are a clerkship student, or even a resident, this may be such an impactful experience that for the next 10 years, any patient under 40 with chest pain you recommend an echocardiogram ($$) as part of their general workup. This is not an entirely bad decision, as it can prevent additional deaths from cardiac disorders; however, it is not a cost-efficient way to practice medicine, nor is it very fruitful in terms of outcomes, since HOCM is only present in 0.16 to 0.29% of the entire general population. And in cases where the diagnostic procedure from a faulty illness script is invasive, expensive, or difficult, the stakes are higher.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Swell Season, "Low Rising"

(It's incredible to me that some musical duos -- Jack and Meg White, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and Fleetwood Mac in various iterations -- can continue to work and create together after the breakup. I can barely be Facebook friends with some of my exes.)

New video by Swell Season, which is made up of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Via
The duo...find themselves going through their daily motions in the video -- eating eggs and toast, putting the tea kettle on the stove -- with a literal cloud over their heads that's silently infiltrating everything they do. The visualization matches the song's heavy yet hopeful tone when in the end, they step outside and see it's raining on everything and not just them. A smile and an embrace make it seem like things will be all right after all, and the feeling of enchantment returns.

WSJ: "How To Write A Great Novel"

The Wall Street Journal (in a surprising offer of free online content) did some great mini-profiles of authors and wrapped them up in a feature titled, "How To Write A Great Novel." It's fascinating to see how different people have such eclectic and wide-ranging approaches and processes to writing.

For instance, Edwidge Danticat (Breath, Eyes, Memory) uses storyboarding and collaging to build her plot maps. John Wray (Right Hand of Sleep, Lowboy) spends hours riding the NYC subway with his laptop. Michael Ondaatje (The English Patient) uses scissors and tape to actually cut and paste his drafts.

My favorite blurb came from Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day, When We Were Orphans): in talking about failed projects, he recounted this one:
"I showed my wife a segment that I had honed down and she said, 'This is awful. You have to figure out how they speak to each other. They're speaking in a moron language.'"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

NASA: getting ready to launch...

Janet Jackson flash mob

My friend T was part of this flash dance mob that performed in LA yesterday. When she posted "On my way to some flash dance lessons" on Facebook, I thought she was talking about some vintage Irene Cara. The purpose was to celebrate Ms. Jackson's release of her Number Ones album; the group Flash Mob America had been practicing their routine for weeks.

Also, Ms. Jackson herself watched from above.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sarah Pickering, "Artillery, 2005"

Artillery, 2005. Sarah Pickering. via Aperture.

"you ate so much, you nearly split your pants"

In honor of splitting my pants today (perfect end to the week), I thought I'd revisit this little gem. Please take notice of the woman wearing high-waisted biker shorts with buttons, and Flea wearing pants festooned with stuffed animals.

TIME video: "How They Train for the Winter Olympics"

The most surprising thing about this for me is that the arial skiers train not by traveling to the southern hemisphere for their snow, but using a modified (non-snow covered) ski jump and landing in a swimming pool. They must have some spectacular hip and knee joints.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

FX: never thought we'd be on a boat

photo taken by Lindsey

we are all idiots

In a timely reference to my last post, NPR's Question of the Day today is "How has the decade made fans more obnoxious at concerts?" Here is one of the comments:

I completely agree with you, sir. We are idiots.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dusty Rhodes and the River Band, Bottom of the Hill

Last night, I went to see Dusty Rhodes and the River Band at Bottom of the Hill. This is my makeup for falling asleep at their show at the Aruba in Las Vegas last month (they didn't go on until about 1 am).

photo by max knies

I'm so glad I got a chance to see them again; they are really a tremendously dynamic live band, and even though they weren't the headliners, the crowd really seemed to get into them. Plus their music is awesome.

(I had a small, nasty moment of indie music triumph in that last part. San Francisco is such a great venue for musicians that it's really hard to keep on top of "the next great thing." I did feel some smug superiority at the idea that I was *so* ahead of the crowd by coming to see one of the opening bands, and not the headliner. The last time that feeling occurred, it was watching The Decemberists at The Fillmore; I was way proud of myself when they played "Shiny" instead of the music from Picaresque that I intentionally started singing along to impress the fans around me. Too bad the closest fan was a 15-year-old kid there with his mom. I am a sad, lame person.).

The headliner was a band called fun. which I had never heard of before. They were great, though; the lead singer was really energetic and had a great voice, the band members had a lot of fun rapport, and the crowd loved them. I sometimes suspect that bands hate when the crowd sings along to their music, but this band encouraged it.

Here's one of their videos, for "All The Pretty Girls":

And here is "Blind Lead The Blind" by Dusty Rhodes and the River Band:

The first opening band, AB & the Sea was actually a lot of fun to listen to as well; a lot of surf rock influence, which made for an energetic set. However, the lead singer didn't seem as strong, which made it a little difficult to listen to by the end. I don't think they have an album out yet, but their singles were really enjoyable.

Monday, November 9, 2009

SF Camerawork auction: FX mentors

Two more folks (mentors) from the First Exposures family also have work in the SF Camerawork auction:

[69] Hiroyo Kaneko. Untitled, 2007/2008, from the series The Three Cornered World, c-print, 23 1/2 x 16'', 2/8, signed on label, $600/900, donated by the artist

[200] Donald R. Anderson. Triple Pop, 2006, cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown, 30 x 22 1/2'', unique print, signed on verso, $200/300, donated by the artist

You can preview the auction exhibit in person from November 10-December 4, 2009 at SF Camerawork, 657 Mission St, 2nd Floor, San Francisco, CA.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Ocean Breeze Soap will get you clean"

With all the popularity of Mad Men, I always think back to my first introduction to the advertising world:

Cantor Arts Museum: "From Their Studios"

All three of my Stanford photography instructors - Lukas Felzmann, Robert Dawson, and Joel Levick - have work in the Cantor Arts Center exhibit, "From Their Studios." From the press release:
Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University announces “From Their Studios,” September 16, 2009 – January 3, 2010, highlighting the creative work of 13 artists who teach studio art at Stanford University. This exhibition features a wide variety of visual art, including film, printmaking, photography, painting, sculpture, and imaginative new media...

The exhibition, curated by Seligman and Cantor Arts Center's Curator for Education Patience Young, reflects not only the excellence of current studio art practice at Stanford but also connotes the exchange of ideas among faculty and students and the quality of the art experience on campus.

Here is Bob Dawson (who taught me the rule of F/16) talking about his work in the exhibit; I mostly know his photos on water usage in the West, but he talks a bit more about his other work around the public domain:

FX take Angel Island

Our first field trip of the year for First Exposures was to Angel Island. I think folks were really looking forward to it; with the split between film and digital, the students in one group don't really get to know students from the other. And really, one of the best things about FX is the friendships that the students build with each other.


Angel Island is in the San Francisco Bay, and historically has been used as a military outpost, POW camp, and an immigration center (colloquially known as the "Ellis Island of the West"). It is now a state park and a National Historic Landmark.

I haven't been to Angel Island since our last FX field trip, back in 2004. I don't think I quite appreciated the experience; I don't really remember much about the hike, nor do I remember all the awesome old buildings, views, etc. that we saw on this trip.


After a 5-mile hike, I think that we were all tired, and the students were getting cranky at the end. However, there was a lot of photos taken (my student went through 5 rolls), so I'm sure once we all get over our sore legs, folks will be raring to go in the darkroom.

Here are the rest of the photos:

Friday, November 6, 2009

bubble wrap calendar

PointClickHome had a post about a rad bubble wrap calendar; I can't imagine how satisfying this could be. For purchase at Heliotrope.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

St. Olaf, Rube Goldberg machine

St. Olaf won the Rube Goldberg Machine contest back in March; they were the only liberal arts school in the competition, and the only one without a formal engineering program. Here's the video of their machine implementation; please note the overwhelming school spirit on display.

Entertainment Weekly, "Last Dance" with Michael Jackson

This Entertainment Weekly article about Michael Jackson's movie This Is It is a few weeks old, but I catch up on my non-serious reading in the gym. I'm going to probably try to watch the movie this weekend.

My favorite quote from the article is this:
''We went and met with Michael, and Kenny said, 'Michael, you've got to stop. We've got an incredible show; we don't need any more vignettes.' Michael said, 'But Kenny, God channels this through me at night. I can't sleep because I'm so supercharged.' Kenny said, 'But Michael, we have to finish. Can't God take a vacation?' Without missing a beat, Michael said, 'You don't understand — if I'm not there to receive these ideas, God might give them to Prince.'" 20 Best and Worst Beatles Covers

Looks like agrees with me about the Earth, Wind, and Fire cover of "Got To Get You Into My Life" - it's #17 on their list of "20 Best Beatles Cover Songs". As a counterpoint, they also did the "20 Worst Beatles Cover Songs" as well. Poor William Shatner.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bridie - Flickr find

Bridie, originally uploaded by katabatika.

Screw Williamsburg; the real cuties are *dogs* with beards.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

halloween 2009

Since Halloween fell on a Saturday this year, I didn't get a chance to dress up for class and distract students from their interviewing practice. Zannen, as it would have been easier to get around the medical school on these bad boys:


I went as a roller disco girl, which I was concerned people would either associate with a) roller derby or b) Heather Graham's character in Boogie Nights. (Only the former happened, which was a relief, because the last thing I need is for people to make BJ faces at me while I try to take my SAT).

It was kinda awesome to 'fro out my hair, which is the first time that I've done it on purpose. W really liked it, and suggested I wear it this way more often. I think he secretly wants me to be Angela Davis, but on roller skates. I smell off-Broadway musical.

me with afro

Mental Floss, "Ambiguity" t-Shirt

Mental Floss has some new T-shirts up. This one's my favorite (I love puns).