Remarkable animation

The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is an amazing short film. It’s amazing how far animation has come. It’s about 15 minutes long, so be careful if you’re on a bandwidth limited internet connection.

 

It really is a sweet and touching piece. I found it through an app for the iPad that turns it into an interactive book for children. Each scene has some writing that expands the story and at the end of each paragraph, the movie clip becomes interactive. It really is a lot of fun even though it’s probably aimed at the 6 to 8 year old demographic. You get to play pop goes the weasel on the piano and you get to use the iPad to steer Morris through his flight inside a book among other things. I can only imagine what kind of impact this kind of storytelling could have on kids groaning up. Of course when you apply it to educational purposes, the possibilities are endless. Look out future, here we come!

I’d like Lady Gaga more if she played guitar

I came across the other day and found it remarkable. I have since been informed by some of my friends that it is old news, but still, I doubt everyone has seen this. It’s a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” If you’ve been wondering about the appeal of Gaga, this might at least give you a taste.

 

It’s from an artist that goes by the name Lissie. I think she does a great job with the song, moves it towards a little more honest performance. Gaga’s, in comparison, sounds a little… entitled? Not whiny, but… I dunno, not as honest. I also find Lissie’s glancing down at the neck of the guitar for chord changes endearing.

 

I often play a game with more recent music where I try to imagine what some of the luminaries from the late 60’s would think of the song. I wonder what would Pete Townsend or Janis Joplin think of this? When we compare this rendition to what was offered back then, you can see how far women have come. First there is the guitar playing. With the exception of “The Duchess” (Norma-Jean Wofford), I can’t think of any prominent female rock guitarists until the Runaways came along. Then there is the content. Women back then just didn’t sing songs like that. I very much doubt that any woman could bring herself to all herself a “freak bitch” back then. I mean, it just wasn’t done. But that’s the point, for a woman to come out and perform a song about lust back then would have been very difficult. Does anyone know of an example?

Some would say that Gaga represents the current state of feminist expression. Maybe, but I’m with Kathleen Hannah, I wish Gaga would would pants a little more often while being a strong woman. Lissie is more powerful I think because she isn’t using any of her feminine wiles to get her point across, but she still gets it across. Anyway, enjoy!

41!

I’ll be turning 41 tomorrow. My 40th year was really a bit of a blur. MS clouded my thoughts and made really lethargic for long periods of time but i think I’ve got it mostly under control now. My doctor explained MS like this, there are two ongoing issues with the disease, damage to the nerves, and the inflammation that causes that damage.

Right now there isn’t a whole lot that can be done about the nerve damage, but the inflammation is a good target for improvement. I stumbled across Gary Taubes’s writing about weight gain. His ideas that insulin, caused by carbs in the diet, is the main factor is weight gain seem to make a lot of sense, and it certainly has led to me losing some weight. What I was surprised about was how much clearer my thinking was and how much better my balance was. That didn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I liked it.

In my usual poring over the internet, I think I stumbled across the reason for that. It turns out that carb rich foods spur on different types of inflammation. I don’t know the mechanism, but it certainly seems to fit my experience.

I have also come across a new supplement that I think is really helping me. It’s called Anatabloc and it is supposed to be a miracle anti-inflammatory substance. There have been some great studies done on various conditions and it seems to really help. This stuff is really expensive as far as supplements go, but in my short time using it, I feel like its worth it. This is the very definition of a small sample size, but in my two days at work with it, I have felt almost normal. In addition, I have not had any leg cramps at night either. I’m going to keep using this for a couple of months and see how it goes. Think I’ll give it a test and try a favorite meal that is guaranteed to make me feel blah, Chic-Fil-A. One of their sandwiches and fries will usually make me swim my and dizzy, we’ll see if this supplement has a mitigating effect.

I can do that because I have the next 7 days off! I’ll be going down to see the folks and see a friend or two, should be fun.

I can’t believe it, a digital camera…

They’ve finally made a digital camera that I think I’d like to use. Usually that would be no big deal, Isaac liking a camera, big surprise. Of course I just recently talked about how digital doesn’t excite me and I’m going to do analog stuff… Of course, the last half of my “analog” photography was going to be digital anyway. There’s still the magic of the alchemy and the making of a physical thing. And of course it feels good doing something low tech. So I think I’ll still do it, I think. The problem isn’t the cost so much, the problem is that the cost involved is on decidedly unsexy things. I need to get a scanner, a light meter, chemicals, and some processing equipment like beakers and tanks. To me, that’s like buying a bunch of socks. Necessary but not something you enjoy spending money on.

Buying a new camera on the other hand… And of course, the camera is just an excuse to buy some lenses. I am still a total lens snob. I love good lenses for the images they create but also as objects themselves. That’s why I could never own any Sigma or Tamron lenses. They might have been fine performers, they felt like junk to me. My Leica lenses, various Zeiss lenses I’ve owned or own, the Pentax lenses I’ve owned, and all of the large format lenses have been joys to use and to hold. That’s one of the reasons this camera has caught my eye.

Front camera

 

It is a bit odd looking, as far as cameras go, but the top plate and back plate are really what caught my eye.

 

Top camera

Camera back

 

(all pictures from Pentax)

I have never liked digital cameras. I have long since appreciated their performance, but the cameras themselves were just awful. Lots of little buttons spread everywhere. On small cameras, important setting hidden inside menus or arranged in weird ways. This one is the first reasonably priced digital camera that appeals to me. Very clean, the important stuff is readily accessible without a lot of gunk clogging up the interface. The conventional wisdom on the camera forums is that this thing is the ugliest camera ever made. That was my first impression as well. But the more I looked at it, the more I realized I was just reacting that way because other cameras don’t look like that, and maybe the yellow version that is being shown had something to do with it as well. The more I looked at it, the more I appreciated how it was designed.

I had previously liked some of the small Sony cameras. They don’t make any lenses I like but you could adapt other companies lenses to them as long as you were willing to give up auto focus, auto exposure and even auto aperture. If I were going to go that route, I would have used the Pentax lenses (21mm, 35mm macro, and 55mm) because they are amazing and they are about 1/3 the cost of the likes of Leica. So when Pentax came out with this camera, things started to fall into place.

I have some other things that need to be taken care of (oh the joys of adulthood…) and it’s still not nice enough outside to go shooting anyway. I’m hoping that by the time spring rolls around I’ll be shooting again…

 

 

 

CDs

Dad and Butler brought up my CD collection when they moved me into Rick’s place. I packed them up before I went to Yemen and haven’t seen them since. It’s amazing how much space 400+ CDs take up! I’m in the process of ripping them to my computer where they will take up considerably less space. Don’t know what I’ll do with them afterwards, do people still buy used CDs?

The box I’m working on now has part of my classical collection with some jazz thrown in. I’m struck at the number of discs I got through services like the BBC magazine and the Musical Heritage Society. Before them it was BMG and some other CD service. Before that I was a member of the RCA club for cassettes. You remember those clubs right? They send you 12 or 13 albums for a penny and you only have to agree to buy… what was it, 10? more CDs in the next year. Of course b y default they would send you one a month unless you sent in the paperwork on time. Each time you bought something at full price (17.99 if I remember correctly) they would give you a certificate to buy the next one at half price.

I tried to remember to send in the “do not send me the selection of the month” letter every time for the popular music clubs. I’d screw up from time to time of course and I’d get something or other that I didn’t want. I think the only time that ever worked out was the time I got Pat Benetar’s “Live From Earth” cassette. That was pretty good, at least 13 year old me thought so…

I went ahead and got the selections of the month with the classical clubs mostly because I wanted to hear a lot of different things. The BBC Music magazine was supposedly a cornucopia of classical music information, but I really only ever cared about the CDs that came with it every month. I got some stuff that I never would have thought of getting that way. I never would have dived into early music otherwise. Of course, I also wouldn’t have gotten any of the early English operas either, anyone want a copy of “Alfred?”

We’ve come so far in such a short period of time. Convenience is king nowadays. It is trivially easy to find and download almost anything you want. The world of popular music is your oyster with new streaming services like Spotify MOG. Classical and jazz folks still have to buy their stuff mostly, but it is out there. The streaming and downloading options for popular music sound just fine with the compressed formats. The classical types have a variety of high res formats available to them too.

When the CD came out, we couldn’t believe how nice it was. There was no surface noise, no pops, no cracks and most people mistook the absence of defects for sound quality. CDs and CD players eventually got really good and we figured, “This is it, this is the ultimate audio medium.” Of course having no medium at all has proven to be far nicer, and at no penalty of sound quality. When I sold audio gear, I fantasized about having a 300 CD changer so I could have most of my music in my system at all times. These eventually came into being but they were always too clunky, slow, and prone to breaking down. Now I can stream 12 million songs whenever I want for 10 bucks a month, life is good!

 

ADDENDUM:

 

I just googled BMG Music Service, just for old times sake. It’s hilarious. Towards the bottom, there is a pane that says BMG Music Service is what Columbia House Music was. Then the pane above that says that BMG Music Service is closed and is now Columbia House DVD service… Anyway, the deal isn’t too bad really, you have to get 12 CDs for a little under 50 bucks. That’s pretty cheap. I can’t imagine having to deal with the clutter of all of those CDs mind you. The selection is straight out of the 80’s. They boast of having over 14,000 albums to choose from! That was impressive back a ways, but nowadays with iTunes having 18 million songs, 14,000 is laughable. I can only imagine that it is filled with the blandest radio hits type of folks too. Good luck with that Columbia/BMG/Columbia!

Diet update

I’ve been pretty good about my diet. I’m allowing myself one day a week to eat bread or rice, the rest of the time it’s veggies and meat. I’ve felt pretty good, very little of the usual muddy headedness and balance problems. It’s also striking what happens when I deviate from it. My father and stepmother moved me into my new/old place (more about that in another post) and then took me out to dinner. We went to a really nice Indian place around the corner. You can’t very well eat Indian without bread and rice, so I ate bread and rice. Ice cream was offered later and I couldn’t say no. The next night, my mother made a family favorite, Hungarian goulash. I have no idea if it’s actually Hungarian or not, but it sure is tasty. It’s served over a bed of noodles. Well, it’s an unusual treat, and mom made it, so of course I was going to chow down. I felt lousy for the next two days. Dizzy, fatigued, and muddleheaded. Started eating my usual meat veggie diet and it cleared up within a day. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it does fit in with the longer pattern I’ve noticed.

As far as the diet part is concerned, I weighed myself yesterday and I came in at 204. That compares with 219 three months ago. Yes, I used two different scales, but that’s a big enough difference that I know there’s been a real loss.  It’s good to drop the weight, my jeans certainly fit better. I’ve also started to check my blood pressure in the morning. I’m averaging around 120/67ish. The months previous to me starting my diet I was hitting 130 and 140 at my monthly infusions. Yes, it’s only been a handful of days, and my previous measurements were only done once a month where any old thing could throw them off. Still, I like the difference:) It’s possible losing the weight could be enough to lower the BP, I don’t really care. I’m going to continue weighing myself and taking my blood pressure, who knows, maybe I’ll start exercising or something too. The diet is pretty easy to stick to, especially since I have a cheat day built in. After I’ve been on it for several more months, I’ll go get my blood drawn and see what it looks like.