We’ve had an amazing time during our stint as guest bloggers on the ever fabulous Boing Boing. In discussing our experience, we both noted how much we’d actually learned, and we don’t mean in terms of how or what to blog. We mean that the readers and commenters of this blog are smart and knowledgeable, and are generally cheerful in their sharing of this knowledge. So thanks for all the new links, new info, and new insights that we now have swimming around in our heads and on our Stickies.
It was also great fun reconnecting with long lost friends and coworkers, as well as meeting tons of new and interesting people. We hope you’ve all enjoyed our two weeks of blogging even just a fraction of how much we’ve enjoyed it ourselves. And, of course, thanks so much to Mark, Pesco, Xeni, and Cory for this fun-filled opportunity.
As our last offering, here’s a music blog we enjoy checking in on from time to time. Ska Blah Blah points to interesting documentaries and old footage of reggae and ska legends, as well as news about newcomers and the state of today’s reggae and ska scenes. We first heard about a fun band, The Aggrolites from a Small Talk podcast on Ska Blah Blah. And proprietor JJ Loy (also a Make author) recently introduced guest blogging to the site’s repertoire, so who knows, maybe we’ll land another guest blogging gig sometime in the future!
Most everyone I know loves a good inside joke. You know, the kind that makes fun of some stereotypical characteristic of some subset of human beings, yet applauds the lifestyle at the same time. I am no exception to this rule and have thoroughly enjoyed laughing at myself while reading Stuff White People Like.
I’ve recently discovered that I can enjoy the insider jokes of an even smaller subset of humanity, journalists. Journalists have a penchant for smugness, really reveling in the usage of large, unpronounceable words, and highlighting the great breadth of knowledge that is crammed into every square inch of their do-good, I'm-an-outsider mentality. I know this because I'm one of the often snide guilty parties.
Having previously worked in a newspaper newsroom for almost a decade, I especially take delight in the entries that editors Christopher Ortiz and David Young have posted about coffee, press passes, and free food. Here’s a snippet about the fact that journalists like to date other journalists:
Journalists like dating each other because only fellow journalists understand the phrase: “Not tonight dear, I’m on deadline.”
Attempts to date people outside of the newsroom who cannot name gubernatorial candidates, have a limited vocabulary and who don’t know who Hunter S. Thompson is will only lead to a return to dating journalists.
Bruce has warned me that this may all be a little too obscure for some people to see the humor in, but I have high hopes for people’s ability to enjoy making fun of reporters.
One of the most fun gigs I have right now (next to getting to be a guest blogger on BB!) is working with the good people at Coverleaf, who produce digital editions of magazines. As part of my role there I get to read many magazine articles that I might not otherwise take the time to seek out, like this fascinating piece from the latest issue of Discover about a controversial archaeologist who says he's discovered massive ancient pyramids buried in some Bosnian hills. The image above is of one of these pyramid-shaped hills outside the small city of Visoko.
Pyramid Scheme by John Bohannon has a clearly skeptical take on Sam Osmanagich's bold claims that he has discovered the first-ever ancient pyramid in Europe and the largest valley of pyramids in existence. But Osmanagich is portrayed as a sort of national hero in Bosnia, and has apparently secured a great deal of government financing for his pyramid excavation project. Bohannon repeatedly tries to interview Osmanagich, including about his published claims of supernatural phenomena associated with the pyramids, but never is able to really pin him down. Osmanagich has been pursuing his excavation project and visions of national archaeological parks for several years, and it sounds like he has a significant following in Bosnia, but this is the first I had ever heard of any of this.
One crucial question seems to be whether flat plates of rock found at the dig site are handmade evidence of past civilizations or simply the natural remains of a 7-million-year-old lake bed. Wikipedia's not buying it, and frankly it all sounds pretty sketchy to me too. But clearly Osmanagich has convinced a lot of people that there's something to his pyramid theory.
The discussions I've read online about this seem to have fairly equal amounts of pyramid-believers and skeptics. I've been very impressed at the expertise that crops up in the comments section here, so I'm betting there are Boingers out there who can help me sort this one out. Is Osmanagich a rogue archaeologist who's seen a few too many Indiana Jones movies, or he is on to something with these pointy hills?
About a year ago, John Wells left New York and moved out to Terlingua, Texas, to take a stab at living off the grid. My brother’s experience was part of what influenced John to move to the desert. A letter to the editor John wrote to MAKE tipped me off to his story, and I've been following along ever since.
Most days, John blogs a little something about his day, everything from welding wind turbines, driving to town to visit with friends, watching spiders and other wildlife, or getting up at 3 a.m. to take photos of the space station as it passes overhead. For me, it’s always an enjoyable, quick read that offers an interesting insight into, what for most of us, is a completely different lifestyle.
There's beer in my chocolate! There's chocolate in my beer! Somehow this combo doesn't feel nearly as right as Reese's famous mixing of peanut butter and chocolate. I drink many different types of beer, but I don't think this chocolate beer is going to work for me. Anybody tried this?
I really enjoyed today’s offering over on the Average Jane Crafter blog, where she discusses the loss of an important scar that made her feel like the hard core crafter that she is:
"The needle finally gave and came through the fabric, but not before I'd chipped a chunk out of my front tooth. It looked wonky, but it became my greatest battle scar of all, and every time I'd run my tongue over the jagged spot, I was reminded of my undying dedication to craft."
Our injuries, I think, really do help define us, as trite as that may sound. Most importantly, they give us cool stories to tell, allowing us to present ourselves to the rest of the world in just about any badass way we choose. But what happens to our psyches when our scars are removed? Does it make us any less resilient, less tough? Or does it just give us fewer opportunities to tell cool stories?
We have a friend visiting who's on her way up to Yellowknife, Canada, to see the Northern Lights. While poking around the net researching her trip, I found James Pugsley's Astronomy North, a lovely site that has some amazing images of the Aurora Borealis. I also found out that the high temperature in Yellowknife this weekend is going to be -32 degrees F.
Besides the many cool pictures, Astronomy North provides time-lapse photography videos of the Aurora Borealis, weather and viewing forecasts, and loads of Canadian astronomy resources. I also found the icon on today's Aurora Forecast page strangely comforting.
As a long-time couple, finding art or photography that we both enjoy can sometimes be difficult. For instance, we’ve been searching for a painting of the rolling hills of Sonoma County that we can both live with for roughly 18 years.
However, the work of Kate Kunath amazes both of us, not only because of the quality of the images, but because of the thought she puts into each of her projects. Whether it’s dilapidated buildings in China or the portraits of people holding rabbits, we both agree these are beautiful and thought-provoking. We first heard about Kunath’s work when Treehugger featured her Stung: Beekeeping in the 21st Century series of photos, which is also full of terrific photos we can both agree on.
I found this chart from the IEEE Spectrum showing the worldwide breakdown of industrial robots to be fascinating. I'm not surprised that Japan has the highest density of robots per manufacturing workers, but I was surprised by how far ahead they were of every other country.
I’m not really sure what it means that the two people I showed this Electric Bath Duckie to both said it was a good gift idea, but I really like that on the back of the package it suggests: "Please make sure you have made the right decision."
Ralph Cooksey-Talbott is a landscape photographer who studied under Ansel Adams in Yosemite in the 1970's. Ansel published one of his photographs in the portfolio section of his book "Polaroid Technique Manual." Ansel and Orah Moore, another of Ansel’s students, suggested that he shorten his name to Cooksey-Talbott, and that's the name he's worked under ever since.
Cooksey is currently doing vertical panoramic photography that is reminiscent in composition to monumental Asian landscape ink-on-silk paintings. He calls them Vertoramas and I think they are exceptionally beautiful. Besides selling prints, Cooksey provides many of his images as free desktop pictures (here's some zipped sets or just check for a Free Desktop link across the top when you're browsing his galleries). And he's also put up a lot of informative tutorial articles and videos on his site.
I've always really liked jellyfish. I can spend hours zoning out at the jelly exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. And I'm almost as enthralled with these jelly sculptures made out of plastic bottles by Gulnur Ozdaglar, which I discovered on Design Sponge. Ozdaglar makes all kinds of wonderful things out of PET bottles.
--Bruce (Thanks, Shawn, for getting me to add Design Sponge to my RSS reader in an attempt to make me just a bit stylish!)
I really enjoyed this interview with 97-year-old Chikabo Kumada, a botanical artist in Japan. His philosophy about life is every bit as lovely as his paintings. Here’s a snip:
Mr. Kumada, when did you start drawing illustrations of plants and insects?
I started to do it for work when I was twenty-six. I quit the graphic design company I’d been working at and switched careers without talking to my wife about it first. At that time, all the books had been burned in the war, and bunches of shoddy picture books had started coming in from the Kansai area and I thought, “This won’t do! I’ve got to draw some good picture books.” I love children. That’s why I started doing it. That was where my years of impoverishment began. (laughs)
Sadly, the PingMagMAKE site where the interview was posted seems to have gone on an extended hiatus. I was sorry to read this, as I've enjoyed perusing their articles.
We like both of these ABC sets for very different reasons. The modern design deck by Jen Renninger is hip, modern, retro, and old school, all at the same time. Love it! And the Star Wars characters set by Michael Fleming appeals to our sci-fi, geek sensibilities.