focus on the fugacious
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A Scanner Darkly

Uh.. yeah! It's about time another PKD book made it to film, and the rotoscope animation looks like a lot of fun to watch. Here's the trailer on Yahoo.
~ scott @ 4:19 PM [link]
In the barn

yesterday, I saw a small white dog
that I think I'd like to keep.
But who would teach him how to run
and show him where to sleep?

There's nothing cuter than
a pile of puppies, and
nothing uglier than
a failed responsibility.
~ scott @ 7:33 AM [link]
Studio Drama

As my post from Sunday shows, I've been wallowing in my own sense of drama about the new studio lately. Perhaps it's being generally worn out from the house search and moving and the start of a new semester; it's probably fueled by feeling the crunch of self-imposed deadlines and upcoming events. But whatever the cause, I realized this morning that my perspective of the studio is pretty lame and skewed. Woe is unto me, O Great Woefull Woeness!

So let's set the record straight on the issue of potters' struggles with new studios, and where my current situation resides within it: Warren MacKenzie had to shovel tons of cow shit out of his studio before moving in. (Hey, I'll bet that was fun.) Clary Illian had a studio in an old beehive kiln. (Sounds convenient.) I've heard of potters setting up shop in converted pig sheds, chicken coops, woodsheds, you name it. Often, they did it without heat, water, reliable electricity, or the money to hire any of it out. And so on.

And me? My studio needs siding, insulation, more windows, a repaired garage door and a new flue for the wood stove, but that's pretty much it. Yeah, I've been thinking that's a ton, and in one way it is, but at least its got a clean concreate floor, running water, power, a reasonable roof, nearby propane tank, room to expand, and amazing views. No cow shit.

Potters through the ages have endured far worse*, and still persevered, improved, and made great pots. And I will too. I will, too. So... this is hardly the end of my complaints, or my last self-defeating thought, but let's turn this drama into an adventure story and get on with it.

"Struggle is nature's way of making us strong." - Lost**

* Far, far, far, far, FAR worse! Wedging by foot! 100 gallons of ware per day! Lead glazes! Kids these days...

** How did such a great concept make its way into such a pedestrian show? I can't find a better source for this, but I like it.
~ scott @ 9:21 AM [link]
Get Your Free Blog, Here!

An explanation of what motivates bloggers:

"...creative people crave attention in a way publishers do not."
~ Shirky; Fame vs Fortune: Micropayments and Free Content

Yes, and so does that feeling of having spoken, even if not exactly knowing that you've been heard. Gettting it off your chest, sharing your enthusiasm, projecting your random thoughts into the maelstrom, using words like maelstrom and probably misspelling them to boot. Now that I think on it a bit, perhaps blogging comes closer to explaning people than anything since war or hamburgers.

"Though each piece of written material is unique, the universe of possible choices for any given reader is so vast that uniqueness is not a rare quality."

Wow - now that's well said.

I was clunking through my amassed confusion of bookmarks today, and clicking on things in an attempt to remember why I'd saved them, and I was struck by the realization of just how much content is out there... I store away so many bookmarks because once I'm in the mood to start looking, the range of choices is so overwhelming I can't focus on even the good stuff long enough to finish it - each click is like a little digital sticky saying "Please come back and read this thoroughly at some later date, when you have vast amounts of unscheduled time available." Uhh... right. My bookmarks file alone would take days to read through, not even counting the exponential discoveries those sites would lead to. Even when I do give something enough attention to digest it without subsequent mental belching, I save it out of that nervous archival instinct and the fear that someday I'll need it and be unable to find it again. (As if Google would just give up one day.)

Anyhow, the vastness of available content on the web is a reccuring awareness, as if I'm going along minding my own business when a giant, neon billboard goes off in my head THE INTERNET IS FREAKING HUGE! as if I'd never thought of it before. Maybe that's exactly how huge it is: every time you think you have a glimpse of its scale, something else comes along to dwarf it. Repeat. Blogs are just the latest species populating some small bit of that vast turf that prompts this re-realization.

So, it ends up that metaphorical comparisons of the web to the physical universe are pretty spot-on. Start a conversation about the earth and where it sits in space, and how many stars there are around it with their planets and asteroids, and keep going out, galaxies and galaxies, and sooner or later your head starts spinning THE UNIVERSE IS FREAKING HUGE! as if you'd never thought of it before.
~ scott @ 3:07 AM [link]
OK, Excuse Me If This Is Late To The Party, But...

Holy crap! Google Video Search!
This company will one day make Microsoft look puny.
~ scott @ 8:41 AM [link]
Art Search

Google's at it again. If you search for an artist by name, often as not you'll get some images right at the top of the results; for example:
Andy Goldsworthy
Henri Matisse
Richard Serra

But alas, it doesn't seem to recognize these guys:
Peter Voulkos
Warren MacKenzie

So what's next -- links to audio clips for musicians? Video? Oh, wait a sec - it does images for "The Beatles" and "Honda Civic" too... so, not quite as clever as I thought, but still pretty damn cool. Did they just launch this, or have I missed it? Did I stumble into a beta setting unknowingly? (Users who've tried Google Maps get images in search results FREE!!!)
~ scott @ 8:31 AM [link]
17 Months, 13 Pots

After the longest time I've spent away from clay in nearly 10 years, yesterday I finally sat down at the wheel in my new studio and made some pots. Fighting the cold, running out of clay, tools and tables just barely organized enough to get the job done -- but it's a start. And now I can finally imagine some of the things to come from it. It's real.

House hunting, preparing for a sale, packing and moving, working on the new house, setting up the studio -- I can't believe it all took so long. Each one necessary and justifiable on its own, but collectively making a drought way too long for any reasonable attempt at satisfaction. I have a theory that practising a craft molds your brain in certain ways, physically optimizes it to be good at those particular things. Then when you stop (playing guitar, making pots, whatever) bad things happen; as if your mind sees the lack of activity there as a malfunction or damage and starts setting off alarms that mess with your mood, energy, motivation, stability. Connections between neurons that are usually hot go cold. Hard-won muscle memory sits idle in RAM. The standard routines that you organize daily life around get unravelled. Bad mojo.

So here's to 17 months in purgatory, where the long term goals beat out the short ones; to trying to never let it go that long again; and to those first precious pots in the new space. Pioneers!
~ scott @ 9:48 AM [link]
"Even Here, Even Here We Are"

On Google Maps ... this is very cool.
~ scott @ 2:09 PM [link]
King of all... Pirates?

Here's an interview with a guy who's trying to catalog all the available music on earth - or something like it - via BitTorrent, etc.

"I just want to be an historian, a gatekeeper, anything but a pirate."

At almost a million song files and counting, he's about equalled the iTunes Music Store catalog. I really love a good story about a weird, obsessive crank.
~ scott @ 11:17 PM [link]
Agendas on the Edge of Sleep (8 Hours)

Sleep >>> Sleep >>> Sleep >>>

I need 8 hours of it -- or I believe I do. At the least, I seem to get sick a lot less often when I do.

Where does the idea of an 8 hour sleep come from? Splitting the day into thirds? For that matter, what about the 8 hour workday? Or thirds - something descending from the holy trinity? Who knows?

Sleep deprivation is a strange thing.

I went to Europe at age 18 (geez, that sounds priviledged. Guess it was.), my trip-roommate and I decided that 3 weeks there was too precious to waste on sleeping, so we tried to stay awake as long as we could. This was on the second or third day, with the time shift between California and Rome still sorting itself out. We lasted about 30 hours, then slept through an entire morning and missed the bus. Life lesson learned!

Accepting that literally one third of my years will be asleep - subconscious or whatever - is weird and difficult. Ben Franklin, I'm just not up for it.
~ scott @ 4:02 PM [link]
Dad Blog

My friend Wade is a new Dad, and is keeping a great blog about it. I think he gets the poetry of it just right; finds time to think about the bigger meanings amidst diapers and such. Pretty great. Here's to all the people I know who are currently doing their part to recycle the human population for the next go 'round!
~ scott @ 9:22 AM [link]
Math Homework

When I was in Jr. High, I copied Kevin Haley's math homework nearly every day for two years.

There - I just had to get that off my conscience.
~ scott @ 9:26 AM [link]
Huzzah for Text

So here's today's discovery: running find&replace on a 361,000 line text file* absolutely kills Notepad - at least on my machine. Dreamweaver is making a noble attempt at it, but thus far has been cranking for almost 2 hours and running at about 90% CPU the entire time (this isn't the newest workstation on the block, but it's no slouch either...) I probably need to find a pro text editor that's designed for the job, but downloading and installing trial versions of apps I've never heard of bores me to tears. So, I trudge onward with the tools at hand. Dumb but persistent.

* What's the file you ask? iTunes Music Library.xml, all 13.352mb of it.
~ scott @ 3:40 PM [link]
DVR = Soul Destroying?

"By helping us control what we watch and when we watch it, we mistakenly believe that we are also exercising a broader self-control over our television viewing habits; by only watching what we want to watch, we reason, we will watch less. But early evidence suggests that this is not the case. TiVo users actually end up watching more hours of television every week, including shows they might have skipped without regret if they were not available “on demand.”" - Age of Egocasting

This is a good point, but the key phrase is, I think, "without regret". How many times have I lamented missing Jon Stewart's opening 8 minute take on the day? Like coffee or a backrub, it's guaranteed to make that part of the day just a little bit better. And how many times have I slumped on the couch, in the daily endgame of catatonia, and watched something dull, poorly done, stupid and in bad taste, simply because there was nothing else on? Best Damn Sports Show Period? Aw geez... my shame is only outgunned by my self-loathing. The quote above presumes that we have enough self control and motivation in our lives to avoid a certain amount of tube time, regardless of what's actually showing. I, for one, do not.

This essay laid out the backstory really well, starting with the invention of the remote control, and I think made many good points. But in the end it laments our TV addiction in sort of the bleeding-hearts-and-minds "why can't we all just be happy reading Plato" kind of way, which to me seems predictable and dumb. Yes, some people read books and write and have witty conversations all day and night, and never succumb to the banalities of modern media, but I don't know any of them (and probably wouldn't want to. Crap! - there go my academic pretensions!) Anyways, my view about tv/movies/video games/web surfing/virtual reality is this: like exercise, a moderate amount goes a long way. Too little and too much could both kill you.

Wow - do I really spend this much time thinking about TV? Can I come up with something else to write about next time?
~ scott @ 1:15 PM [link]

Our recent move came with satellite tv (no cables out in the hinterlands) and a suprise bonus: DVR for $5 a month! (I'm calling it "DiVo", since it's Dish Network something or other but not TiVo, and since DVR is as clunky as VCR always was, and since it makes me feel nostalgic for the eighties and weird red hats.)

Hencewith, a catalog of the ways it's made me a better passive slug:

Time shifting: Now I watch PTI at 5 or 6 or 7:22. I log Charlie Rose each day, and save it for when I'm in the mood for deeper content, but can also skip it when the guest is a President or political analyst. (Yes, my "deep" is still pretty shallow. More movie stars!) I can watch CBS Sunday Morning on Monday night, and just may never miss the Daily Show again, even when we switch to EST and it's broadcast after I'm in bed. Cindy's already getting annoyed at that being my show of choice on those nights when we eat on the couch. Oh, and each of these takes up about 70% of real-life-time than it used to, as I zip past commercials I'll never miss. Three hits on the jump button and back to the show -- easy and far more satisfying than my old habit of enduring them by way of the Mute button. Whether this means I'll have more time for other stuff, or just watch more TV is unresolved, but I suspect we'll know soon...

Commercials: Hey, did I mention - no commercials? God, I feel smarter already, and no longer have to ignore the proposition of Male Enhancement five times a day.

Programming: Almost instantly, I stopped asking myself "What's on right now?". The question has become: "What has it recorded since the last time I tuned in?" With 100 hours of space, it's like a library of B-quality shows that I'd probably have missed gladly otherwise, but are always there to snuggle up to, like a well-worn blankie. No, that's not entirely true -- so far, I'm really digging being able to watch stuff I really like but just never used to tune in for live: This Old House, Frontline, Scientific American Frontiers... wait a sec, why are all these shows on PBS? Even the term "tune in" is nearly useless now; I'm starting to intentionally shift my expectations backwards by about an hour, to enjoy the aforementioned commercial skipping. If I watch West Wing on Thursday, it's only 48 minutes long, the plot actually flows, and I can start it before my brain's too mushy to catch the dialog. Life has meaning!

Pause Live TV: This is amazing. Simple, if you think about the hard drive tech going on under under the hood, but wipes out the old way of using the tube as an appliance. I'd long ago forgotten all the ways I had tailored my behavior to how the TV and broadcasts work. e.g.: The phone rings. Cindy wants to talk about something. I spill soup on my lap. Something in the house blows up or otherwise goes haywire. Problem? No way! -- well, OK, many of these are problems in their own right, but at least they're no longer compounded by missing the Final Tally or 3rd and short from the 5.*

For the NFL championships, I even discovered that I was looking for excuses to pause the game so that I could catch up later and skip the breaks along the way. (Timed just right, a fella could start a live sporting event late, skip halftime and commercials, and watch the end in real-time. A-haa...)**

*Yes, these are references to both Survivor and football in the same sentence.

**Note that this bit me in the ass for the Superbowl. Due to a slight miscalculation in recording setup, I'm crusing along, 6 minutes behind realtime, through the drama of a 4th quarter surge by Philly with 2 minutes left, when... bam! End of recording, it switches to live TV, and I missed a touchdown to bring the game within 3 points and a 3-and-out by NE. Gads! It was like a jolt to the brainstem via cattleprod! Caution, noble football viewers...
~ scott @ 1:43 PM [link]

It's Friday, go see the art
After surveying the land
And appraising the damage
And praying for a warm day.
Eat Indian 'til you're over full.
Drag it home and put it to rest.
Stuff to haul, to where?
Fill the aisles and clear them
Finally, a day
For some studio sorting,
Push it around some and
You'll feel much better.
Hook up your devices
And entertain yourself,
Sleep and then start again.
Catch a mouse, carpet a closet
After stapling stuff to trap heat
Never mind your spine!
That's what it's there for
But you'll feel it later.
Rest a while; relax
Watch yesterday's shows
Then back on your feet
To push more stuff
Away from where you'll work
With clay... one day.
Watch the Pats win another
Moan but enjoy the pain -
Sleep again, start over
Ready for another.
~ scott @ 8:41 AM [link]
I Have Broadband

DSL at home - yay! The iMac never looked so good, like it's a completely different appliance now. Sweet.
~ scott @ 5:08 PM [link]