Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thoughts on Greenbuild 2012 and San Francisco

Welcome to my post Greenbuild 2012 blog entry!  Scroll on down for the typecast...

This is probably the most touristy thing I took a photo of other than looking back on the Ferry Building from an adjacent pier.
This hybrid Fisker Karma is about 3,000 times cooler than my hybrid Prius.  Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.

This is USGBC Founder and CEO Rick Fedrizzi delivering a message to the anti-LEED lobby during the Opening Plenary session.  I work for a construction product company, but I also help write and maintain LEED.  Politics is a complicated beast.

Fast forward from Tuesday to Friday for the Closing Plenary.  That statistic on the screen is accurate: the entire number of volunteer hours that have gone into building and curating Wikipedia are equal to three weeks of Angry Birds play.  This statistic makes me a bit more prone to be focused on life and learning.
The Closing Plenary was a bit more dynamic than last year's, but they all tend to seem long after several days and nights of sessions and receptions.  The speaker, Jane McGonigal, is a TED favorite.  She presented a variation of her TED talk on harnessing the problem solving and creativity of gamers to crowd source solutions to difficult problems.

The next speaker is a prominent architect and proponent of regenerative design, William McDonough. Among others, his most widely known project is the redesign of the Ford Rouge Truck Plant.  From the perspective of moving towards a Net Zero future, he raised the fundamental question of "What's Next?"

William McDonough has very strong opinions on materials in design.  His consulting group has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies.  His TED talk tracks many of the concepts brought forth at Greenbuild.

This cursive typeface is unique to Royal portables from the 1960s.  Mine is a grey on grey Futura 800/

And the last Greenbuild related photo below is the view from the Google Green Team lair.  The food was fabulous as well.

Here are a few scenes from around San Francisco.  For anyone who is curious, all shots were taken with a Sony NEX-3 with the kit lens or 16mm f2.8 pancake lens.  Many of the street photos were taken by pointing the camera in the right direction without looking at the view screen.  The auto-focus is quick enough to shoot from the hip and capture casual scenes.

Public skating rink at Union Square.  The sight of palm trees and a giant Christmas tree together was only a little disconcerting.

The homeless fleet massing across from the Ferry Building.  In my limited experience, I found the panhandlers to be far less aggressive here than in Atlanta, Chicago or Washington, D.C.

Public protest is a way of life in San Francisco.  This is across from the cordoned off entrance to the Federal Reserve building.

Again, public protest is a common event.  However, this guy was angry, loud and semi-intelligible.  Even the locals were giving him wide berth.

This much vacant sidewalk at midday is a rarity.
At the very end of Greenbuild week, I found myself with no meetings or working meals.  I hopped the bus to find the Super7 Store.  The fact that it is located in Haight-Ashbury was a happy coincidence.  The food was great and cheap.  The stores were great for browsing and I was able to bring home some Super7 merch straight from the source!

Yeah, it was sunny all week while I was in the convention center (sigh).  This gives a little bit of the flavor of the area.

One of the cool specialty stores.  Well, cool if you enjoy irony.  They even had an Underwood 3-bank portable for sale!

But the main reason I took the bus to Haight-Asbury is the one and only Super 7 Store!  Imagine, a store full of giant robot, Star Wars, giant monster and urban vinyl paraphernalia.  Nerd heaven!

Unexpected bonus:  the first Kid Robot store was just up the street!

And with one last awesome storefront, we shall bid the fair city of San Francisco adieu.

 Hmmm...let us see if I can think of something creatively snarky to say about my Copyright to the text and images contained herein this little blog of mine.  Well, I own it all!  Bwa, ha, ha.  Yes, so greedy of me in this open-source world; but that is just the way it is.  Images may be used for non-commercial purposes with attribution pointing back to this blog or to my Picasa collection.  They may not be utilized for commercial purposes without express permission from the owner - that being Dwayne F.  I know:  that which can be published digitally can be hacked.  Go ahead.  Just see what happens.  I happen to have a fleet of giant robots and monsters at my command.  Remember what happened to poor San Francisco in my last post.  I repeat:  bwa, ha, ha.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Off to San Francisco and Pre-travel Ramblings

Bad Godzilla!  Drop that rhino, right now!

Greetings, all!  I'm sorry for the scarcity of posts as of late, but life has been busy and complicated.  Tomorrow, I get on the plane for San Francisco!  In looking for maps and background information, I ran across this unfortunate story on Google news.  It appears that an undersea earthquake caused the usual awaking of giant monsters.  Poor San Francisco!

Thank goodness local emergency management officials planned ahead and built up their inventory of giant robots!  The battle of the titans will no doubt cause much damage and chaos.  However, this is a near montly event in the Bay Area.  I have faith that the BART will still be running on time.

As for this beautiful city, I probably won't see a lot of it.  I am attending Greenbuild; the main event for everything related to sustainable buildings.  The sessions will be great along with four evening receptions and a day spent with the third-party laboratory and certifier I work with.  Yes, pity me.  I will be trapped inside a convention center from sunup to sundown.

There is supposed to be a really nice typewriter shop in Berkeley.  I'll be within a mile or two of it during some Monday meetings, but probably won't make it there.  <sigh>  I most likely will make it to the Super7 store!  It is home to many amazing vinyl monsters and is pretty much Nerdvana.

It will be a week or two before the next entry.  The recent event summary goes like this:  My oldest daughter has been down with a migraine for several days.  We tried to deal with the swirling vortex of leafpocalypse today.  The wind is not helping.  I did a major garage cleaning and organizing binge last weekend and now have some great rolling racks.  The garage work bench is once again clear and I can work on my latest acquisition.  I'll blog it later, but here is a little preview.  No, you should not be worried - much.

As Claire noted, it is extremely beige.  I'm thinking it will need to be repainted dark gray.  Isn't this a nice look?

OK, time for some truth in advertising:  I did not get the full size leviathan Adler.  It is a 1966 Adler Standard.  The only information I have found on this particular model comes from Richard Polt's blog. As for the San Francisco backdrop, that was a bit of amazing timing.  When I went out for lunch on Friday I found this lovely piece of black velvet art at my favorite thrift store for $2.00.

I look forward to sharing some pics from San Francisco and the Greenbuild Expo.  My employer is exhibiting, but I stopped working the booth a couple years ago to immerse myself in the education and networking activities.  This year I get to check out the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Google's Green Team lair.  Nice.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Typogram Received! Election Avoidance on the Blog of the Beast

It's election night.  I am a serious political junkie and need a temporary distraction.  I have interrupted my MSN, CNN, Politico, Wonkette and Twitter feeds to bring forth a wondrous Typogram received from Ryan Adney of Magic Margin!

Behold, the envelope!  Yes, Ryan used his Royal Navy "radio mill" for the envelope.  As a typeface junkie, I very much appreciate this kind gesture.

The hand drawn desert landscape reminds me of warm, sunny places.  I love the actinic  glare of the Valley of the Sun.

This great greeting card was inserted in the envelope.  What a great graphic!

The real prize was tucked inside.  This postcard is pretty much awesome. Repeat after me... we must worship the Sholes.  It is mightier than mountains and cranks out words more potent than edged weapons.  Besides, according to Robert Messenger, Mark Twain got pretty ornery about the Sholes' offspring.

Ryan, thanks for the spiffy Typogram.  Thanks also to  Anna of A Machine for the End of the World for creating The International Correspondence Initiative. 

Here is the back of the postcard, also by way of the Royal Navy mill.  Sweet.

As for my oblique reference to the "Blog of the Beast", I was referring to the page count as it appeared when I opened my Blogger dashboard:  24,666.  Given that it is election night, there is a certain irony in the fact that my pageviews are equal to the last digits of a zip code in Topeka, Kansas.  This nearby hamlet is home to our state capitol and the infamous Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church.

So, from election avoidance central, I wish you all a pleasant evening.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Halloween Horror: The Keychopping Edition

This image from ebay auction 271090064838 looks ominous.  I've seen worse.  The often seen polished keys perched merrily on top of a beautiful machine on etsy are a bit much.

In all honesty, this is not a fabulous or particularly rare machine.  However, I've seen plenty of uncommon machines meet the same fate.

The photo below is from another ebay auction that I didn't bother to credit.  This pretty well sums up the supply and demand aspect of key chopping.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Terror of the Violin Master Class

Seventeen years and many thousands of hours of practice and the bow hold can still be improved upon.
So, you want to be a professional violinist?  You have many years of learning ahead and perhaps you will never actually be done.  Welcome to the terror that is the violin master class!

Our oldest daughter is a violinist in her high school chamber orchestra and in the Olathe Youth Symphony.  Her private instructor plays with the Kansas City Symphony in the new and fabulous Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.  Your sincerely non-musical blogger has happily been immersed in a world of music.  As a matter of fact, Hannah is practicing in the living room as I write this.

The Kansas City Symphony is working hard to engage the public.  The master class is a unique way for a large audience to watch accomplished, rising musicians be critiqued by even more accomplished professionals.  Our professional for the day is none other than Vadim Gluzman.

Vadim Gluzman telling Michael Stern and the audience about the history of his bow.  It was used for the debut of one of the pieces played in class, conducted in the mid-1800s.
The story of how Vadim Gluzman came to spend extra time in Kansas City goes back to an early supporter and mentor, Issac Stern. The Kansas City Symphony is blessed to have his son, Michael Stern, as its conductor.  In addition to watching the master at work, we enjoyed hearing a lively discussion between Mr. Gluzman and Mr. Stern about how their musical lives have evolved.

As for the master class, I might have exaggerated slightly about the terror.  Mr. Gluzman was gracious and professional.  Hannah said that the session looked like one of her lessons.  Except for the part about being on a stage... in front of an audience... with one of the best violinists in the world.

No pressure, right?

It works like this:  the young violinist plays and the master follows with a critique on everything from rhythm to technique to presentation.  Many of his tips were related to making the violin sing smoothly as would a vocal artist.

One of the pleasures for the audience was getting to hear the master play an instrument with pedigree:  the 1690 'ex-Leopold' Stradavari.  Words cannot adequately describe the sound this partnership has achieved.

Note the chin rest mark of the violinist or violist.  In theory, this is partially dead tissue from extended blood flow impairment.
 As mentioned in the first caption, the bow hold is something that can always be improved upon.  I think this made Hannah feel better about her bow trials and tribulations.  It is kind of funny that he is tapping an elbow with a bow that is worth as much as a house.

At any level, teaching is about the relationship formed between the teacher and the student.  This particular student has been playing for 17 years.  At this level, four-plus hours of practice a day would not be unusual.  It takes a very strong ego to accept coaching in front of a crowd. 

The master class was followed by a question and answer period.  Hannah has been been playing since fifth grade and started to develop the permanent violinists' "hickey" where the chin rest hits back in seventh grade.  One of the dads in the audience had a daughter that was just starting out and inquired about the spot so prominent among the performers onstage.  He left with a better idea of how much commitment and hours of practice are ahead.

Also during the question and answer period, a member of the audience presented a piece of music retrieved from the National Archives.  The piece was by the composer of one of the student performances.  It was in the composer's hand and otherwise unknown.  Mr. Gulzman and Mr. Stern studied it; the latter commented "This isn't music!  It's torture!".  The former promised to give it a chance.

For an interview from a local TV station, visit http://kcstage.blogspot.com/2012/10/vadim-gluzman-interview-on-fox-4.html

As always, thanks for reading!  In case you are curious, these photos were taken with a Sony NEX-3 outfitted with an adapted Olympus PEN-F 100mm f3.5 lens (circa early 1960s).  Shots are handheld, manual focus, shutter priority with manual exposure adjustment by the brightness histogram.  My Canon 60D is too conspicuous and the shutter is too loud for this kind of session.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

We Obviously Need More Fountain Pens

After viewing a Master Class at the Kauffman Center, MEK, the nerdlings and I dropped by the Pen Place at Crown Center in downtown Kansas City.  Yeah, that was probably a mistake.  But we came for ink and we left with ink.  Except for the Retro 51 glow-in-the-dark robot roller pen I picked up.  I'm a sucker for robots.

Anyway, here are some examples of the temptations of Pen Place.

How about an entire wall of ink?

I have also been known to get into total guy mode.  These Porsche pens are overstated, but I'm still in like with them.

As with watches, selling nice pens is all about the presentation.

Enter if you dare.  Pen Place is waiting for you.

Here is the new Retro 1951 pen.  It isn't a fountain pen, but it is heavy and rolls well.  It glows in the dark and is probably radioactive.  Did I already mention that I am a sucker for robots?  The notes are from a talk at TEDxKC 2012 and are the subject of recently released book on the subject of the half life of facts.  I recommend the talk and the book is getting solid reviews.