Friday, February 26, 2010

Terence Blanchard events at Stanford, March 4-6

The Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts is hosting some events around jazz trumpeter and composer Terence Blanchard's Lively Arts performance on Saturday, March 6. Blanchard will be featuring music composed for the documentary, When the Levees Broke, titled A Tale of God's Will (A Requiem for Katrina). Other events include:
  • Film screening of When the Levees Broke on March 4 (Parts 1 and 2 from 6:00-8:00 pm; Parts 3 and 4 from 8:30-10:00 pm).
    "As the world watched in horror, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005. Like many who watched the unfolding drama on television news, director Spike Lee was shocked not only by the scale of the disaster, but by the slow, inept and disorganized response of the emergency and recovery effort. Lee was moved to document this modern American tragedy, a morality play witnessed by people all around the world. The result is WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS. The film is structured in four acts, each dealing with a different aspect of the events that preceded and followed Katrina's catastrophic passage through New Orleans."
    This is an impressively moving documentary, and Spike Lee does a great job balancing honest approach to the disaster with the resilient culture of New Orleans. Blanchard's music plays a strong role in matching the moods of anger, fear, desperation, and fortitude that are displayed by the interviewees.
  • "Meet the Artist: Terence Blanchard in Conversation" on March 5, 12:00 pm.
    Trumpeter, compser and bandleader Terence Blanchard joins Kwami Coleman, Stanford Ph.D. candidate in Music, for a lunchtime conversation as part of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts' (IDA) and the Committee on Black Performing Arts' (CBPA) 2010 Meet the Artists Series. Coleman will lead a discussion with Blanchard focusing on his work as an artist, activist and film composer.
Here's Blanchard discussing the experience of composing the music for Levees at New York University in 2009:

the Langley Schools Music Project documentary

I had heard about The Langley Schools Music Project through their haunting recording of "Desperado":

VH1 produced a 2002 documentary about this story; here it is in three parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Thursday, February 25, 2010

how judging works in figure skating

I have the benefit of watching Olympic figure skating with a friend who judges national competitions, and whose mother is on the Board of Directors for U.S. Figure Skating. While we are marveling at the fact that the skaters don't fall, Whitney is watching critically, and will murmur "that didn't land clean" right after a jump. And, lo and behold, on the super-slow motion replay, the skater did indeed land a quarter rotation behind where she was supposed to in order to receive full marks for that jump. How Whitney is able to see all this in the .4 seconds of the landing is beyond me.

Besides explaining the difference between a toe loop and a Salchow, Whitney also educates us about the new judging system, which may as well be linear algebra. 6.0 is easy for me to understand. Technical elements, grades of execution, base scores...I'm glad there are computer systems that can crunch the numbers.

This NPR post has a great AP video about the new figure skating judging system, and how it is applied to pairs, singles, and ice dancing events.

Howcast has a video that primarily focuses on singles events, with some background on why the scoring system was revised:

TOTD: perspective

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NSF and NBC Olympics: hockey slapshot physics

Scientists from the Exploratorium in San Francisco worked with NBC Olympics and the National Science Foundation on some videos describing the science-y parts of the Olympics. Here's one explaining the physics of the hockey slapshot:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rayko Photo Center, 2010 International Juried Plastic Camera Show

Rayko Photo Center is an amazing photography rental space (B/W, color, and mural darkrooms, digital lab, studio space, and classes) and it's where we hold the First Exposures film classes. They also have a nice gallery space; the opening of their next exhibition, the 2010 International Juried Plastic Camera Show, is on Friday, February 26 from 6-8 pm.


photo by Michael Borek

Monday, February 22, 2010

Intercollegiate Quidditch Association

There's apparently an Intercollegiate Quidditch Association that includes 226 schools. For those of you who don't know what quidditch is, it's a game that J.K. Rowling fictionalized for the Harry Potter series:
It is...an extremely rough but very popular semi-contact sport played by wizards and witches around the world. Matches are played between two teams of seven players riding flying broomsticks, using four balls and six elevated ring-shaped goals. In the Harry Potter universe, Quidditch holds a fervent following similar to football (soccer) as a globally popular sport. [Wikipedia]
Since the intercollegiate teams don't have access to flying broomsticks or other magical devices, they play a variant called Muggle Quidditch that is adapted for the non-magical world. The first intercollegiate match took place in 2007, between Middlebury and Vassar Colleges (some photos here).

On one hand, I'm like "NERD ALERT!" On the other, the students look like they're having fun, so who am I to judge that? Here's a "trailer" for intercollegiate Quidditch:

Friday, February 19, 2010

NY Times: Zanmi Lakay Haiti Photography Workshop

Considering that most of the post-earthquake photographers in Haiti don't seem to be Haitian, it's great to see this photography project from the non-profit Zanmi Lakay, which supports street children in Haiti. From the NY Times Lens blog:
For two weeks, 28 young Haitians used their perspective as citizens to create a distinctive document: pictures of Haiti, as it regenerates, through the eyes of insiders.

With point-and-shoot digital cameras, students ranging in age from 9 to 18 participated in a project organized by the nonprofit Zanmi Lakay Photography Workshop, run by Jennifer Pantaléon, 48, and her husband, Guy Pantaléon, 41.

Photo by Whitnie Charles, Zanmi Lakay Photography Workshop, via NY Times

It seems like the structure of this project is similar to that of other youth photography programs with which I am familiar (First Exposures, Ghana Youth Photo Project, and Shooting Back). The mission of all of these organizations - to empower youth in documenting and representing their own lives, instead of having it done for them by outsiders - is crucial in creating a generation of people who can elicit change for themselves.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Akira Kurasawa film festival at the Stanford Theater, Feb 20-Mar 30

My love for the Stanford Theater knows no bounds, but during my bike ride to work today, I noticed that their new film festival featuring Akira Kurasawa is kicking off on Saturday with Seven Samurai.

I have a very limited experience with Kurosawa films; out of 30 films, I have seen only three: Ran, Rashomon, and The Bad Sleep Well. I am totally set to remedy this deficiency; Stanford Theater is showing 18 films.

Here's the trailer to The Bad Sleep Well, which is roughly based on Hamlet:

foggy morning on Palm Drive, Stanford

foggy Oval

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

tour of LKSC

I had gone on a tour of our new medical school building, the Li Ka Shing Learning and Knowledge Center back in March 2009, but it was very much Imaginationland (e.g., after entering a giant, cavernous room with some wires hanging from the ceiling, the tour guide exclaimed "now, just imagine this as a flexible learning space!").

This latest tour that we did last Thursday was much more grounded. Most of the interiors were finished, and we were able to more adequately visualize usage of the space. Testing of the space begins in March, and we will begin holding classes there in Fall 2010.

worker installing a lightsinkstrying out the seats in the conference centerinside of OR simulation room

plane crash, East Palo Alto


One of the deceased , originally uploaded by dinab.

There was a plane crash in East Palo Alto this morning, about 2 miles from my house. All three people on the plane died, but there were no other injuries or fatalities. From the NY Times Bay Area blog:
At about 7:55 a.m., the twin-engine Cessna 310, which took off from Palo Alto Airport heading for Los Angeles County’s Hawthorne Municipal Airport, crashed into a residential neighborhood in East Palo Alto and might have caused widespread power outages. The plane was believed to be owned by Doug Bourn, a senior electrical engineer for Tesla Motors, a spokesperson with the company told The San Francisco Chronicle.

According to KTVU.com: “The plane hit transmission lines that are draped 377 feet above the ground near the Dumbarton Bridge. It exploded on impact with the wires, splitting into two pieces and igniting fires at two homes.”
Power is out in Palo Alto and some of Stanford (the main and children's hospital are running on generator power). Palo Alto Utilities estimates restoration of power around 5:30 pm.

More photos here and here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

apartment inspiration

We signed a lease on a new apartment on Friday. I'm excited to have my own kitchen again. I've been longingly looking at decor magazines for some ideas; here are some from Lonny Magazine:


bar tray


tabletop herb garden

Sunday, February 14, 2010

missed Mavericks again this year...

...although at least I missed getting swept into the rocks by 50-foot waves.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The 2010 Pliny the Younger frenzy

Russian River Brewing Company (in Santa Rosa, CA) releases a triple IPA called Pliny the Younger once a year (always on tap, never bottled). Last year, it lasted over 10 days at the brewery. This year, it kicked at RR within 10 hours.

Toronado in the Haight apparently made it to about an hour. Rose and Crown down here in Palo Alto wasn't even sure if they were going to get any; however, it didn't make much of a difference:


The owners of RR issued a defense/apology about the unexpected demand for PtY this year, along with what they can and cannot do to prevent this blowout from happening again next year.

I don't love IPAs, so I can't say that I'm that disappointed about not trying it, but lots of people rate it pretty highly (although I'm not certain they are distinguishing between quality versus rarity). A few of my friends were able to snag a glass; they really enjoyed it, but also expressed some befuddlement about the frenzy surrounding it. Thinking I will console myself with some of their sours, which I already know I like. Will try again next year for this one.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Local Natives, "Airplanes"

Spinner.com is my new favorite way to listen to just-released music. They're currently streaming Gorilla Manor by SoCal band, Local Natives. Here's the video for their song, "Airplanes."

Japenese official admits that colonization of Korea was a "tragic incident"

OMG. I thought I would die before this happened:


As background, Japan annexed the Korea peninsula in 1910, and occupied the country until the end of World War II, when Japan lost all of its territories. The Japanese refer to this period as "Japanese rule." Korea refers to it as "Japanese forced occupation," which feels very similar to the South referring to the Civil War as "The War of Northern Aggression."

Japan has rarely apologized or acknowledged any wrongdoing of actions occurred during colonization and/or the war. Their justification involves self-preservation during a time period when other nations were doing the same; the resolution of compensation through the 1951 San Francisco Treaty; and being the victims of atomic bombings somewhat absolving them of all their prior sins. So this admission of potential negative impact of their actions on Korea is shinjirarenai indeed.

(It's telling that this story is from a Korean news service; I didn't find it at all on the Daily Yomiuri site).

For more background on the Japanese occupation of Korea,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Toyota "Commitment" commercial re: the recalls

Whit's lab worked with Toyota on a few research projects, and he talks a lot about their conservatism coupled with "The Toyota Way", which focuses on two principles: Respect for the Worker, and Continuous Improvement. I'm sure all these recent mechanical problems and recalls have really hurt. I would be surprised if there weren't some high-level resignations at the end of all this.

Here's their new commercial to their customers. I find the biggest strengths are:

1. Reminding people why they bought Toyotas in the first place, and;
2. Explaining how they will fix things.

Simple, and gives people the answers that they want.

celebrity chefs and their favorite junk food

After staring mouth agape at The French Laundry Cookbook and its gorgeous but impossible recipes, it's nice to know that on his downtime, Thomas Keller is chowing down on Reese's peanut butter cups.


Other Bay Area celebrity chefs and their favorite junk food via SFist.

Stanford Mini Med School: fall quarter lectures now available

Stanford School of Medicine finally created one site to hold all the content from their "mini med school" curriculum in 2009-2010 (written about here and here. All the fall quarter courses are now available.

Department of the Army: "You In Japan," 1957

The National Archives and Record Administration has put a ton of videos on YouTube from their vault. They are fascinating. Here's one put out by the Department of the Army in 1957 entitled, "You In Japan," and was surprisingly more balanced than I assumed it would be (although there were moments of unintentional irony). Key quote:
Today's soldier in Japan, and in many other lands, is making full use of the priceless opportunity to obtain first-hand knowledge of another country's way of life, knowledge that helps him become a better, more understanding, more mature American citizen.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

TIME: "How They Train: Biathlon"

Out of all the sports in the Winter Olympics, the one I find most puzzling is the biathlon. When I first heard about it, I thought it was some duo combination of the triathlon sports (swimming, bicycling, and/or running). Instead, it comprises of cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Whit claims this is a historically Scandinavian hunting practice (the video explains that it comes from Scandinavian military training). I say that there's no "foraging for edible plants" or "conflict resolution" event in the Summer Olympics.

Since this sport is mostly popular in Europe, Americans haven't made much a dent in it. This has been starting to change. Maine now has a pretty impressive winter sports training facility with the mission of trying to "transform a struggling region into an international center for the biathlon." It's a interesting approach to create viability from within the community, instead of trying to just woo it from the outside. On the other end, American Tim Burke, who was the first ever U.S. biathlete to hold the position as Overall World Cup Biathlon leader, represents America's best chances to medal in this sport.

Here's a video of some biathletes, focusing on Burke, training for the Winter Olympics (via Time):

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Flickr find: letter to President Eisenhower re: Elvis Presley


Really, I can't think of anything that could matter more.

Cal v. Stanford, 30 seconds left

aftermath of final fight


This is the aftermath of a massive fight, in which the Cal goalie was the second one in the pile (and was subsequently ejected from the game). This almost looks like the bench instead of the penalty box.

Stanford won 5-3.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wired: atomic bomb videos

Wired had a great posting of atomic bomb videos from the 1950s and 60s. Three of the eight videos were filmed at the Nevada Test Site, which is about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Both my grandfather and uncle worked at the site, shoveling radioactive dirt into the back of a truck. Both died of cancer. It's amazing how well those two events correlate.

This video shows the infrastructure tests (effect of detonation on houses, power stations, large buildings). It's pretty impressive.

SF Beer Week 2010


San Francisco Beer Week starts Friday, February 5. I'm trying to mooch off of my more well-informed friends' knowledge as much as possible (one of them is a homebrewer and master judge). List of events can be found here.

Whit and I are going to start things off with the Alesmith tasting hosted by City Beer in San Francisco. Delicious stouts and ales, here I come.

Helen Earth Band, "(We All) Talk With Knives"

My friend Jeff Livingston is in a band called Helen Earth Band (clever). They've released a video of their song, "(We All) Talk With Knives." It's a nice listen; a bit Postal Service without as much electronica. Jeff is the one playing the keyboards.


Listen to their album, Our Own Ghost City here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

housing affordability index

Guess who has two thumbs and lives in the 16th least affordable metropolitan area in the world?

This girl.

[EDIT: OK, Whit just asked "the world?" incredulously, and I double-checked the article. Turns out the report covers housing markets in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. So, not the world.]

Via Apartment Therapy SF:
Every year for the past six years, an organization called the Frontier Centre for Public Policy conducts something called the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey. The survey gathers information about housing costs, then compares this data against median household incomes.

The report's authors, Wendell Cox and Hugh Pavletich, who based their findings on 2009 third-quarter data, said that to be considered affordable, housing prices have to have a Median Multiple of 3.0 or less – or, in other words, the price of the average home must be equivalent to no more than three years’ household income for an average family in that area.

The Median Multiple scale progresses upward from there: Moderately Unaffordable is 3.1 to 4.0; Seriously Unaffordable is 4.1 to 5.0; and Severely Unaffordable is 5.1 and higher.
San Francisco is tied with New York (both have a score of 7.0). But we're more affordable than Vancouver (9.3)! Las Vegas has a score of 2.4 (ranked 31 most affordable). Maybe now my dad will stop bugging me to try and buy a house around here.

Stanford Stock Farm Plant Growth Facility

Right near the medical school is the Stock Farm Plant Growth Facility, which is a series of greenhouses. Being Stanford, this isn't just for sustainable living; it's used for various research projects, such as the Dahlia Project and transgenic maize. In the same location is also the workshop for the Stanford Solar Car Project.

Solar Car Workshop

I've been eying the greenhouses most of the winter as an option for a night photography site. However, since I'd never been in that area before, I decided to do some scouting while there was still some light. It's a really fascinating site; I wish I was able to check out some of the stuff inside the greenhouses, but I didn't want to a) be arrested for trespassing and b) mess up someone's research work.

Plant Growth Facility
Plant Growth Facility
Plant Growth Facility

KQED Perspective: where fake apologies come from

Since I wake up to KQED as my alarm clock, I tend to listen to the morning programming in a snoozy haze. And I definitely don't pay much attention to their "Perspectives" series, which is sometimes interesting, but occasionally strikes me as self-aggrandizing.

This morning, however, there was a great one by a preschool teacher, Laura Galvin, about the fake apology. She traces the insincere "I'm sorry you were offended" apology back to the practice of adults forcing children to apologize when they don't mean it. It's runs 2:23, so give a listen if you've got a few minutes.