Wednesday, March 31, 2010

This American Life: "NUMMI"

This week's This American Life focuses on the Fremont NUMMI plant, which closes operations today.

NUMMI was the first joint automotive venture in the United States (between GM and Toyota). GM was hoping to learn how to output small cars successfully and learn from Toyota's lean manufacturing methods; Toyota wanted to start manufacturing automobiles in the United States, but needed a partner to do so. When GM declared bankruptcy last year, they pulled out of NUMMI immediately. Toyota decided to do the same two months later (but gave the workers seven months' notice and contributed to the severance package).

Here's a news report from the 1980s highlighting the original NUMMI experiment; the venture seemed so hopeful then. It parallels parts of the THL episode.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Monday, March 29, 2010

First Exposures Crushpad wine fundraiser

My mentoring program, First Exposures, teamed up with Crushpad to create two fundraising wines with our students' photography featured on the label.

We are selling a 2007 Syrah, Alder Springs Vineyard, Mendocino and a 2007 Roussanne, Saralee's Vineyard, Russian River Valley ($25.00 and $23.00, respectively).

(Yes, the mentors were a little nervous about selling alcohol to support a youth program, but we figured as long as the students weren't selling it door-to-door, it was legit).

Friday, March 26, 2010

The National Archives UK: Animal Farm cartoon strip

The National Archives UK is now Flickr (via Flickr blog). There goes my weekend.

Here's a strip from a 1950 comic of George Orwell's Animal Farm, which sounds like it was published outside of the UK, but never within. Two legs bad, four legs good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

songs that remind me of high school

I spent my teen years firmly entrenched in the 1990s, and developed "my own" music aesthetic just a few years past the grunge hegemony, but prior to "Livin' La Vida Loca." Admittedly, as with most people at that age, my taste in music was often suspect but still strongly emotive.

I thought of this topic after hearing a Savage Garden song on the radio that I haven't even thought about for 12 years. Whit, being 2 years older than me, tolerated it for about one minute before begging the change the station. I probably would have had the same reaction, had I not committed those lyrics to memory during my senior year.

Here are some songs that, when I hear them, I am back to piling with 7 people into a car and making a Wendy's run before the third band rehearsal of the day.

Weezer, "Undone - The Sweater Song" -- we would sing this song a cappella while carrying our marching band equipment down to the football field.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Manga Guide To Physics

Whit and I saw The Manga Guide to Physics in Kinokuniya yesterday:

How rad is this? Maybe if I had this book when I took high school physics, I wouldn't break out in a rash every time I hear the word "torque."

I have, of course, seen education manga in Japan (topics include Japanese history, economics, agricultural studies, etc.), but I haven't seen anything like it in English. There are Manga Guides also focusing on Statistics, Molecular Biology, Calculus, and Electricity, among others. They are published out of No Starch Press, which specializes in geeky products.

Here's an excerpt from the manga, explaining Newton's third law of motion:

Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis

Lake of the Isles, frozen

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I don't get HBO (or cable TV), but the trailer for the series Treme, focusing on the lives of New Orleanians in the months after Hurricane Katrina, looks amazing. Created by David Simon and Eric Overmyer (who also created The Wire, another fantastic show), Treme is named for one of the oldest neighborhoods in New Orleans, and an important center for African-American culture and brass band tradition in the city.

From the NOLA blog:
Simon, a frequent visitor to the city and a longtime New Orleans music fan, said this week that the stories told in "Treme" would reach beyond the music scene to explore political corruption, the public housing controversy, the crippled criminal-justice system, clashes between police and Mardi Gras Indians, and the struggle to regain the tourism industry after the storm.

"It's basically a post-Katrina history of the city. It will be rooted in events that everybody knows," Simon said. "What it's not going to be is a happy stroll through David Simon's record collection. It should not be a tourism slide show. If we do it right, it (will be) about why New Orleans matters."

The series begins on April 11. (Via Gawker).

"let's go ride bikes"

...since it's the first day of spring. Via little otsu.

Print by 1canoe2 (Carrie Shryock).

Blake Charlton Spellwright book launch at Kepler's

One of my medical students, Blake Charlton just published his first book, Spellwright. He gave a reading last night at Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.

Blake Charlton

Here is the background of the plot from Blake's website:
Imagine a world in which you could peel written words off a page and make them physically real. You might pick your teeth with a sentence fragment, protect yourself with defensive paragraphs, or thrust a sharply-worded sentence at an enemy’s throat.

Such a world is home to Nicodemus Weal, an apprentice at the wizardly academy of Starhaven. Because of how fast he can forge the magical runes that create spells, Nicodemus was thought to be the Halcyon, a powerful spellwright prophesied to prevent an event called the War of Disjunction, which would destroy all human language. There was only one problem: Nicodemus couldn’t spell.

Runes must be placed in the correct order to create a spell. Deviation results in a “misspell”—a flawed text that behaves in an erratic, sometimes lethal, manner. And Nicodemus has a disability, called cacography, that causes him to misspell texts simply by touching them.

Blake drew a lot from his own life experience for the book: he is pretty open about his dyslexia and his conversion into a lover of language and now into published author.

Blake signing books

We are all super proud.

He's currently working on a sequel called Spellbound. Excerpt from Spellwright here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Match Day 2010

Stanford Match Day was yesterday.

Juno, pre- and post-envelope opening

I've posted about Match Day before, but in summary, it's the day when graduating medical students find out which residency program they'll be joining in June-ish.

My favorite moment of the day was when the medical student who delivered my friend Molly's son, Graham, got to meet him again (no photo, because I was too overcome with the awesomeness of the situation).

More photos from the day:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

doing the robot accidentally on purpose

I hurt my upper back moving boxes yesterday. This is basically what I looked like at work:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Brief Encounter at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis

During my weekend in Minneapolis, we saw a Kneehigh Theater production of Brief Encounter by Noël Coward at the Guthrie. It's a play based on a movie based on a one-act.

Photo courtesy of Kneehigh Theatre

The plot of the play is summed up in Ben Brantley's NY Times review:
Alec meets Laura at a train station, where he removes a cinder from her eye. They meet again — in a café, in a park, in a flat — and describe their unexciting daily lives, their respective spouses and, finally, their undeniable love for each other. After that, what is there to go but their separate ways, their virtue intact but their hearts irrevocably shattered?

The Kneehigh production uses some stills and clips from the film, to great effect. This was a thoroughly enjoyable show, with lots of tautness broken up with moments of comic relief. There were lots of cheeky, transparent theater moments: for example, during the rowing scene (pictured above), when each of the actors "falls" out of the boat, another cast member smirks at the audience while tossing water from a bowl into the air.

There was no intermission, a decision which one of the actors explained afterwards was to allow the tension in the plot to run uninterrupted.

Here's The Criterion Collection trailer for the film:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shearwater, "Hidden Lakes"

I just bought The Golden Archipelago by Shearwater, and I love it (thanks again, Here's the video for "Hidden Lakes" -- the plot is a bit strange, but the song is gorgeous:

The Consumerist: photographer banned for being "creepy"

The Consumerist has an interesting post up about an amateur photographer who was banned from a coffee shop for taking photos of people standing outside from across the street. The comments section have been especially thought-provoking; the general points that have been made are:

  1. People can take photos in a public space of anyone also in that public space; people do not have a realistic expectation of privacy in public spaces.
  2. What is the line between "freedom of speech" and "harassment"?
  3. The specific circumstances of this individual case -- photographer was creepy, only taking photos of women -- affect how OK people seem to be with it. That is, had he been less creepy, maybe it would have been OK. Similar arguments were made about suspected pedophiles taking photos of children in public, which may be a little histrionic, but makes the point effectively.

Here's the link to the original story, and here's a link to an outline of a photographer's rights.

Friday, March 12, 2010

in Minneapolis this weekend

Whit and I are taking a trip to Minneapolis this weekend for a family visit.

Haha! Just kidding! It's not that cold there right now, right? Right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ad Hoc's chicken pot pie

I, like many others, have been absolutely twitterpated by the Ad Hoc At Home cookbook. Thomas Keller's The French Laundry Cookbook sent me cowering from the kitchen with its super elaborate recipes; Ad Hoc is much more accessible, and I love the cheeky photos with superimposed drawings that are scattered amongst the recipes.

I've already made a couple of things, but have so far intentionally chose simpler recipes to break into the cookbook's style (I've tried to tackle more complex recipes from other places, and have sometimes wound up frustrated at missed steps, etc. because I was unused to the author's style). This weekend, I decided to ramp it up...all the way to chicken pot pie.

chicken pot pie

Doing a Google search, it looks like quite a few people have already been working on this recipe (one of the best things about the popularity of this cookbook is the sort of shared cooking/baking experience amongst strangers). It looks like most people made some adjustments, which sort of speaks to the "home-style" aspect of this recipe - the entire thing is not ruined if you decide to substitute yellow-skinned potatoes for red-skinned ones. I didn't use Keller's pie crust recipe, since I have one with which I'm pleased. I also made individual pies in gratin bowls instead of one big pie.

And of course, it was delicious.

chicken pot pie

Here's Thomas Keller discussing the book, and the philosophy behind it:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lay Low, "By and By" is currently my go-to source for discovering new music (they stream new albums from a variety of genres, but focus mostly on indie rock/pop, electronica, and folk/country). This week, they have the new album, Farewell Good Night's Sleep from Icelandic singer-songwriter Lovísa Elísabet Sigrúnardóttir, who goes by the stage name Lay Low. From her MySpace page:
When asked about influences for the new album, Lovísa talks a lot about the honky tonk era from 1950–1960 as well as specific artists who have influenced her - Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams Sr., Red Foley, Loretta Lynn, Hank Lochlin, Skeeter Davis and The Carter Family. In general she listens to a great deal of country, roots and old gospel, together with a lot of new indie bands.
Here's the video for the song, "By and By":

building maintenence workers

building maintenence workers

I've spent the last 2 work days in our mock clinical skills spaces, administering our physical examination assessment. This is my view from the orientation room.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Chris McCaw, SUNBURN at Stephen Wirtz Gallery through March 27

I know Chris McCaw from when he used to work at SF Camerawork; he's a really warm, self-effacing guy who almost seems more kid than grown-up, but has this amazing patience with photography that is inspiring. Chris shoots primarily with view cameras which he builds himself, and used to make his own photographic paper. He has been doing work over the past couple of years involving long exposures of the sun, which sometimes results in a burning of the photographic paper inside the camera. From Chris's website:
After struggling for a few years and thinking about this new way of working with time and exposure, I wanted to see what else could be done with different media. Through trial and error, in late 2006 I chose to use vintage fiber based gelatin silver black & white photographic paper. By putting the paper in my film holder, in place of film, I create a one of a kind paper negative. Being the first generation, the evidence of the scorching is right there front and center and the solarized image becomes a positive. The gelatin in the paper gets cooked and leaves wonderful colors of orange and red, with ash that ranges from a glossy black to an iridescent metallic surface. Not only is the resulting image a representation of the subject photographed, but part of the subject (the sun) has become an active participant in the printmaking.

Sunburned GSP#202(SF Bay/expanding), 2008. 16"x20" unique gelatin silver paper negative

Chris spoke with the First Exposures group last Saturday about his process, his goal for his work, and his love for photography. My favorite part was when he spoke about the fact that since all his works were one-of-a-kind, he initially had a difficult time letting go of his pieces. As a photographer, you become used to being able to absolutely replicate anything you initially create. Chris talked about how his friends who are painters and sculptors laughed at him, basically telling him, "Oh, you photographers. That's the way things are supposed to work."

Chris McCaw

Chris's work is currently being displayed at the Stephen Wirtz Gallery at 49 Geary Street, SF through March 27, 2010.

NPR: "The Jobs of Yesteryear"

NPR had a fascinating photo essay on jobs that have been made obsolete by technology: elevator operators, lamplighters, pinsetters, and icemen, among others. The photos and descriptions are also coupled with interviews with people who had experience in those jobs. It's interesting to see which occupations have been made completely obsolete (switchboard operator), and which have adapted to the changing times (milkman).

Fox Photos/Getty Images

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Alice in Wonderland, 1903 film version

The British Film Institute recently restored the first film version of Alice in Wonderland, made in 1903. From the BFI news post:
Made just 37 years after Lewis Carroll wrote his novel and eight years after the birth of cinema, the first film adaptation was directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow, and was based on Sir John Tenniel's original illustrations. With a running time of just 12 minutes (eight of which survive), this 1903 film was the longest produced in England at that time and it represented a major investment for the pioneering Hepworth Studios that produced it. Some might venture to say it was the Avatar of its day.
My favorite part is the "Cheshire Cat," which was basically a superimposition of a real cat that was all "whatever" to Alice's waving handkerchief. Just as I would expect it to be.

Friday, March 5, 2010

tour of Harley Farms Goat Dairy

On Sunday, we went to Pescadero to go on a tour of Harley Farms Goat Dairy. Harley is one of the few remaining farmstead dairies in the U.S. (meaning they do all their production in-house), and is known for their amazing goat cheese.

sample cheese

They raise American Alpine goats, which are used for milking and are super affectionate. On the tour, we were allowed to go into the loafing barn and pet the pregnant does.

affectionate doe in the loafing barn

But the real stars here were the kids.

litter of kidskids

After the tour, we sat around a huge handmade table (made by "Three-Fingered Bill") and shared a large round of goat cheese.

in dining hall

P.S. the random factoid of the tour? The llamas on the farm (one of which is named Dolly Llama) are actually there as a security force. If a predator -- coyote, mountain lion, etc. -- ventures too near the goats, the llamas will spit in their eye and kick them dead. Apparently, there haven't been too many predators after word got out.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Heath Ceramics summer 2010 collection

Heath Ceramics just posted a sneak peak of their Summer 2010 collection -- Ocean Breeze. From their newsletter:

This season we bring you Ocean Pacific, a three-color pattern created by two glazes. It starts with aqua — each piece is hand-dipped. Once dry (within moments), the piece is dipped again, this time in zest yellow. In the area where the aqua and zest overlap, another vibrant yellow is created. The resulting pattern resembles the horizon line of the sea on a bright summer day — the inspiration palette for the 2010 Summer Collection.

unfired glaze dip

All photos via Catherine Bailey. More photos of the process here. My tour of the Heath Ceramics Sausalito factory here.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finn Riggins at the El Rio tonight

My friends' band, The Big Friendly Corporation, played with Idaho-based Finn Riggins a couple of years ago in Las Vegas. Despite being only three people, Finn Riggins put on a pretty energetic, tight show, and they were super nice. They're currently on their U.S. spring tour, making a San Francisco stop at the El Rio tonight. Tickets are $5.

Here's the video for their song, "Wake (Keep This Town Alive)":

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Broken Bells focus group for single, "The High Road"

The fact that Broken Bells (collaboration between Danger Mouse and James Mercer) conducted a focus group for their first single, "The High Road" is great. The fact that the focus group is made up of cheeky British children is almost Stephen Colbert-awesome.

Via Spinner: