Sunday, October 25, 2009

Liberty Mutual Lolcat

OMG, he looks exactly like Wilford Brimley.

Good furniture from cheap materials

When I was in Los Angeles a couple weeks ago, Sean and I went to the Art Center College of Design, where Magda is studying, and toured the student exhibits. I had noticed a trend in the creative use of plywood and cardboard for interesting furniture before, but it didn't really sink in until I saw it being used there.

Wood is an expensive commodity, but plywood is cheap. Also, plywood has the added advantage of being a stable material, unlike wood, which will expand and contract, twist, and warp over time. That material movement is why you will hear many woodworkers talk about how the wood is alive, even after it's been dimensioned into boards. Being a good craftsman means understanding how the wood will change over time: size, color, wear, etc.

Plywood also has the advantage of being veneered with most of the best-grained wood that is cut. Yes, I have heard some say that the best grain to be found these days is on the veneer of plywood. So, it makes sense to use plywood. It's cheap, it's widely available, and it's stable.

Being modern means using the commodities that are available in your time. Most people, when they think of fine furniture, probably do not think of plywood or MDF, or any kind of engineered material. They think of quarter-sawn white oak, and cherry cabinets, and old antiques, and basically anything other than plywood. But in fact, there are a lot of creative people out there proving that you can make exciting, modern furniture from engineered and recycled materials.

Look at these examples from furniture makers on Etsy:

These barstools are made from steel and plywood. The lamination technique the maker used allows him to shape the layers of wood into fine curves.

I could be mistaken, but I think this chair is actually made from plywood as well:

The design is good, well balanced, and the edge treatments don't try to hide the sandwich effect of the plywood. I like the honesty. The attention to grain detail is not great, I think, and gives the overall impression an amateurish look, but the idea was good, and I'm sure she'll refine it over time, perhaps employing more of the sandwich effect's lines on he arms and legs, like the barstools.

This coffee table reminds me of something I saw at the Art Center, with its finger-jointed plywood, and even the screws pay homage to the pinned finger joints of Greene & Greene. This a really great piece. I like the curved lines that contrast w/all the straight sandwich lines, and the use of hardware. This guy is officially my new favorite - Holy crap look at the chairs he makes! Spectacular - and affordable!

More good stuff here:

Idea for a browser addon

Sometimes when I'm doing research on the web, I want to make notes right on the screen about what I'm looking at, and have them stay with that page, so that they appear when I come back to it.

I've looked around and the only addons I could find that do something like that are ones that you have to sign up w/an online service to do, and they keep your stuff so you can share it with others. But I think that some people would just like to have that data kept to themselves.

So, my idea is to have an addon where you can right-click somewhere on the page, and select "new note", which changes the mouse pointer to a crosshair, so you can select a rectangular region that will be the notespace. Then, you just click on the notespace and a text cursor appears where you can type your text.

When you go away from the page, the notes are left behind, and will reappear when you come back to it.

Optionally, you can open a sidebar that keeps track of all the pages you've made notes on, so you don't have to bookmark them - they're inherently bookmarked by your notes. You should also be able to search your notes, and maybe export a page to PDF or image that includes your notes.

Here is a mockup of what I am envisioning. On this page I've created two notes, and I have the sidebar open that keeps track of my notes.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

You could apply nicknames to those URLs in the sidebar so they're easier to understand. You can also hide the sidebar (of course), and also one or more of the notes.

Each note would also have some kind of timestamp on it, so you know exactly when you wrote it.

The note spaces expand dynamically as you type to fit your text, but you can go back and resize them if you don't want your long notes taking up the whole page. When you resize down below the size of the actual text, the text just reads up to where it can and then an ellipse '...', indicating there's more text.

You can right click on a note and select "hide note", or right click somewhere on the page a select "hide all notes" or "show all notes".


Yeah, I know that after the last posting this is going to be like throwing it into reverse while doing 80 down the freeway, but...

Did you know there is such a term as lolcat? YES! It's so funny!

Just go to Google images and search for "lolcat".

What is it that makes cats so funny? Is it because they're so serious, yet so cute?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Jesus Lizard

Best. Concert. Ever.

Yes, that is a serious statement. Imagine: 5 minutes before the curtain goes up, and I am actually feeling butterflies in MY stomach. I look at my brother, "Sean, I can't believe this, but I'm actually feeling butterflies in my stomach. That's never happened before." Sean grinned, "You should probably bring those expectations down a notch."

Moments later, the curtain rises, and there they stand. Confident, ready...

I can see them all clearly, and David Yow, the lead singer has this intense look of anticipation on his face. He stands about 6 feet from the front of the stage, and coils back... The drummer cracks off three beats and they EXPLODE into Puss --- David Yow LEAPS from the stage in the most glorious, energetic stage dive I've ever seen!

This picture is actually from later in the show, and it doesn't really do justice to his stage diving prowess, which was on display several times through the night.

The amazing thing is that, no matter where he was, what angle he was pitched at, surfing the throng of ecstatic, thoroughly invigorated fans, he still got out every word to every song - on cue - and sounded perfect! I can't believe how good they sounded.

The question quickly turned from are my expectations too high to how far beyond them will they actually go? They played all the best songs, including a 5 or 6 song encore that included Monkey Trick, Bloody Mary, ... I don't know, they were all there.

They finished with Wheelchair Epidemic. Yes, the very tune that I've had set as my message ringtone from February, 2008, to just a couple weeks ago when I got a new phone. Yes, you better believe I was belting it out with complete and uninhibited joy.

I'll never forget the look of David Yow, head down, stringy hair wet, crouching down and then running forward and lunging into the crowd... He spit on the stage in the middle of a tight series of lyrics w/out missing a beat. Fucking unreal.

Ever since I was a sophomore in high school (Sean a freshman), we've heard of their legendary shows. Their music is absolutely unique, rough, visceral, imaginative, brutal, and liberating, and influenced my ear tremendously over the years. They remain one of my favorite bands of all time. They totally nailed it to the wall and spit on it. To be able to see it them with Sean just made it an ideal night. Couldn't possibly improve it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Forever War

An interesting thought just occurred to me as I was reading Joe Haldeman's 1974 novel The Forever War: post-apocalyptic zombie movies, which are so much fun to watch, are really a form of FANTASY, I think.

In The Forever War, the future is a mess. Severe population issues, rationing, overwhelming crime and unemployment, helplessness, desperation - all things that are not fun to think about. However, in stories where there is only a small team of heavily armed individuals with all-access passes to the world at large, and a completely guilt-free license to shoot things - things which should be dead anyway - the only issue to deal with is survival, which is fun. Therefore, zombie movies are fun, and that's why everyone kind of fantasizes about a post-apocalyptic world.

My own post-apocalyptic scenarios (there are two - one short story and one vision for a story) are grim environments, and in the unwritten one, overpopulation is pretty much THE central issue, so I guess I've followed Haldeman, being more cynical about the future. However, it would be fun to write something as liberating as I am Legend, or a similar Twilight Zone episode, where you find yourself alone, using whatever you can find. Everything is new.

I now see zombie movies as a guilty pleasure. Others must feel the same way, if only subconsciously. I suspect it is that kind of subconscious desire that can undermine a society, and cause people to follow leaders with irrational visions, like fundamentalists and their dreams of an apocalypse.

That is really the biggest fault with religions these days, right? By design, most religions look FORWARD to the end of days, because that is when everyone is rewarded according to their faith, and those who are most blind/drunk/misleadingthemselves with faith are those who most look forward to it, and NOW that a small group of people could actually fuck up the entire world with weapons of mass destruction, they could bring about that end themselves, if they thought they should, which is a scary thought.