Art – February 19th

Given what I started with and what I ended up with, I’m reminded of Bare Naked Ladies’ “Tonight Is The Night I Fell Asleep At The Wheel.”

I like the effect – maybe one of these times I should keep track of which filters and effects and settings I used so that I can more or less replicate it at some point in the future instead of just stumbling blind from scratch every time.

Maybe.

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New Wheels On Mars

It was a good day to land an SUV-sized, two-ton, nuclear-powered robot on Mars. I was properly dressed for the occasion.

These are “EDL socks,” displaying Entry-Descent-Landing, otherwise known as the “Seven Minutes of Terror.”

They’re available from sciencesocks.co – they’re also very comfy.

There’s also an image of the launch from Earth on the back, but I forgot to take a picture of that.

The hat I got from JPL years ago. I actually had to miss the landing live due to a long Zoom call that came up at the last minute (okay, I had it on one monitor with the sound off) and during the call I was referred to as “the guy wearing the baseball cap.” It’s so much more than a baseball cap…

Perseverance is down safe and has started sending back pictures and data. The truly annoying hints from a number of folks at JPL tonight (via Twitter) indicate that they have some truly SPECTACULAR images to share coming up. Keep your eyes open for a press conference in the next day or two.

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Detritus Art

I got to spend way too much time today in a dentist’s chair (root canal – I’ll live, I might be cranky) and then got to stop by the hospital to pick up a couple of prescriptions.

These days, of course, when you want to get into a hospital you have to pass through a checkpoint, get your temp taken, and get screened (at least verbally, not with an actual lab test) for COVID. With a big hospital with a big organization, they need a way to make sure that everyone has been screened, so at Kaiser Permanente they give you a little colored sticker to put on your shirt. Every day it’s a different color, about all that I noticed when I’ve been there before in the last year.

When you leave, you can take off the sticker. Previously on the main exit from the facility there was a board where everyone stuck them. Simple. Easy. Elegant.

The board is gone.

Out in the parking lot, folks have spontaneously started putting their stickers onto whatever surface will hold them, primarily these bollards that are out at the edges of the parking lots.

Is it found art? It’s colorful! It’s an unexpected little bit of random whimsy and joy in sort of a grim and serious place!

Or is it just litter, junk, detritus, a pain in the ass problem that someone is going to have to clean up? One of those little things that no one quite thought through when the focus was on making sure that everyone could easily be ID’d as having passed the COVID checkpoint? An unintended consequence?

Or maybe it’s both?

I do notice now that it appears that every single day seems to have not just a different color, but also a different message. Heart health! Colon cancer, get tested early and save your life! (Yeah, that one, we can relate on a very personal basis!) Practice social distancing! (Some folks need to practice a lot more, they’re not doing it correctly still.) Mammograms! Prescription refills by mail! Exhibit gratitude to make someone’s day! Phone and video exams!

Keep your eyes open for unexpected beauty and whimsy, even if it is just an unintended consequence.

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Filed under CoronaVirus, Health, Photography

Chicken vs Egg – Madison Avenue Version

I’ve been spending a LOT of hours in my home office, usually well into the evening (i.e., past midnight) and “after hours” (after 17:00 when I’m technically “off the clock”) I’ll usually have some sports broadcast or the other on. It’s as much background noise as anything else, but when everyone screams I can look over at the replay and see the great play.

In the process of doing this I am, of course, exposed to ads. Ads are a somewhat necessary evil, but what I notice is that when you’re watching particular events you’ll see the same ads over and over and over. The EXACT same ads. Over. And Over. And Over.

And some of these ads are truly horrible, or so it seems. But then I started to wonder.

Are these ads intrinsically horrible? Or are they just so-so ads that are made to seem horrible because of the repetition?

In other words, the really lame Spectrum ad with the guy with the horrible toupee and his neighbor who doesn’t read books? Yes, they’re morons and the day I buy phone service from Spectrum because they convinced me to will be sometime after the heat death of the universe. But would I absolutely despise that ad if I saw it nightly instead of at every break in the action? Or would it be one stupid, lame ad among hundreds of others, destined to be simply ignored instead of hated?

On the other hand, those nacho cheese fries ads that look like a cheesy horror film? Those are pretty well done and interesting. But are they really that much better, or do I just see them once or twice a night instead of every ten minutes? (BTW, as ads they’re useless to me, because the idea of eating nacho cheese fries is positively revolting, but that’s irrelevant to the argument. As is everything else…)

See, this is what happens to your brain (okay, well, my brain) when it’s not properly cared for!

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No Context For You – February 15th

Brain got hijacked, too many deadlines. Three day weekend – didn’t necessarily get to do what I wanted, but did what I needed.

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Valentine Day Sunset

It’s been a while since I did a sunset picture – some of that has been the low quality of the sunsets with either clear and a million conditions or being totally clouded over. Most of that has been due to the fact that I’ve been working a gazillion hours and usually busy and on deadline around sunset.

But today we had a nice one.

See that tiny little crescent moon up there above the palm trees? Like a gem…

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Question For The Hive Mind

The legendary “internet hive mind” who participate on this site might be somewhat smaller than that in all of Twitter or FaceBook, but hey, let’s throw this out there and see if there’s a response.

I’m looking for a program or app for keeping track of “little notes,” or maybe better described as a “yellow sticky note” organizer. (See, it’s not even like I can describe what I’m looking for.)Does anyone have anything like that, or maybe even a favorite to recommend?

The question comes up (again) because I installed new monitors on my home office desk last week (it looks like I’ll be working from home for the duration, even after COVID lets us re-open our offices, since the lease is up and we’re looking at the opportunity to downsize the office and save some big bucks – time to maximize my efficiency and comfort for the long haul) and in the process cleaned, and in that process I came up with a big stack of miscellaneous sticky notes, some of which go back years. It occurs to me that there might be (should be?) a better way to deal with them.

Some are strictly temporary (“Call dentist on Monday”) while others have been up for years (cheat notes on common ASCII codes to make the °, ü, ©, ™, and ® symbols). Some are very low priority “to do” notes that have been here for a couple of years (“35:50 mark of  01/20/2018 SNSD = Yaz ‘Move Out’ Megamix”) but I still want to get to eventually.

So is there an app/program out there where I can put all of these and then sort, store, prioritize, update, archive? Like a database of yellow sticky notes? Or better yet, also color code them or somehow tag or flag them?

It needs to be a cross-platform application, so I can have it on my Windows desktops on multiple computers, on my laptop, on my iPhone, on my iPad.

It needs to be easy – the utility in the “yellow sticky note” system is that when there’s a thought or a note or a tidbit it can be created in seconds and then I can return to whatever the primary task of the moment might be. If I have to spend 30-60 seconds to break my train of thought, load an app, call up the right spot, and then go through several steps to record and save the note, it will be useless and it will never get used.

Figuring that something like this MUST already exist, I went searching. The two “best” in several recent articles are Evernote and Microsoft Notes, with Evernote being generally much better but Notes being free. I’ve used both in the past, but generally a few years back. (It seems that I wander off on this quest every couple of years.)

Evernote already has notes in it from 2013 and 2015, but not very many. It seems I didn’t get far. Notes has a few more notes, but not that many more. It looks like we also tried Notes more extensively for at least a couple months when I was at Urbatec, several jobs back. (It didn’t stick.)

There’s also a name-brand “Post It” app (or there was, it may or may not still be available) which will let you take pictures of your literal pile of Post It notes (like I have) and then… Maybe it translates your handwriting to text? Maybe it lets you do other things with them? It’s not clear. Has anyone used it?

And ultimately, given the way I think and use the crap out of my “go to” software tool, maybe I could just start creating a big Excel sheet that I can program and customize within an inch of its life? But why reinvent the wheel if I don’t have to?

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Recommendations?

Thanks!

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They All Sound Alike To Me

I’ve been watching a lot of the Australian Open tennis tournament in the evenings (it’s background, it’s live, it’s occasionally very entertaining) and it finally clicked tonight what’s been bothering me about one of the ads.

There’s an ad that runs about every twenty minutes for the Melbourne tourism agency, talking about “This Is Melbourne.” It has a male narrator, Australian accent, calm, low voice and every time it comes on the hair on the back of my neck stands up.

Tonight I finally realized that the narrator of the ad sounds exactly like the Australian dude on the Calm app that does the guided meditations. Before COVID sent us all to work from home, we would have a weekly 10-minute meditation session (strictly voluntary, but popular) in which we would listen to one of these meditation sessions. There are lots of variations with different narrators, male and female, all different accents, but everyone seemed to like the ones with this Australian dude the best.

I don’t know if it’s the same guy – I’m assuming that the one on the Calm app is actually some sort of “meditation person.” (I’m sure there’s a word for that, but I’m an clueless old dude who’s way too tired at the moment. Not priest. Guru? A quick Google search doesn’t give any help, but lots of articles and videos on leading your own guided meditation group, so it may well be that my assumption about training and qualifications are unjustified.) I would also think that the person doing the ads is a professional voice actor.

Maybe they’re the same person. Maybe not.

Maybe all male Aussies with that stereotypical tone and timbre (I think that just recently I referred to it as being “like some early 70’s FM college station graveyard shift DJ”) sound alike.

Maybe I’m just an American, and, well…

Maybe I should just turn the sound down during commercials and get on with my life.

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No Context For You – February 11th

By the way, DisplayPort cables are wonderful! When I upgraded my monitors last week I at first was using the DVI cables from the old monitors, which was fine, it worked. But it was obvious that I wasn’t getting 100% of the results I wanted. Turns out that with these fancier, newer video cards and monitors the various outputs and cables (HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, or, god forbid, VGA) all have different maximum resolutions. (I’m sure there are those of you going “DUH!” but while I may have plenty of experience with both hardware and software going back well over forty-five years, I don’t always do this on a daily basis and there are always new things to learn.) A little research resolved the issue and now everything’s WONDERFUL with my new setup. 27 inch dual monitors and 2560 x 1440 resolution might not be ideal for gaming (which is where a LOT of equipment is sold these days) but it’s wonderful for business.

Which is good, because it looks like when things open back up with COVID, I’ll continue to work from home along with a big chunk of the rest of our office staff. Why pay for all of that office when folks can work as well from home?

Brave New World. It’s here…

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Somewhat Inauspicious

I am so much *NOT* a morning person, particularly as we approach the end of our first year in “work from home” (i.e., “live at work”) mode. If I don’t have to be “on the job” until 08:30, I’m not getting up at 06:30 or 07:00 so that I can spend 20-30 minutes commuting.

But this morning I had a dentist appointment.

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve had colonoscopies – would prefer them to the dentist. I’ve had kidney stones – okay, maybe that one’s a toss up.

So when I drag my sorry ass out of bed a full two hours early to go someplace I REALLY don’t want to be, this was the view out the back window:

Yeah, nothing threatening or inauspicious about that!

Is that a lens flare or a wisp of fog off on the left side at about the ten o’clock position? Or a massive solar flare that’s about to roast the entire inner solar system and reduce the Earth to a molten, smoking cinder?

If it’s “B,” does that mean I can go back to bed and blow off the dentist appointment? Or do I need to be incinerated with a shiny, bright smile?

Inquiring minds, don’t you know!

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