My life and the world around me

Category: tidbit (Page 1 of 17)

Clearing out the cobwebs

I almost never use bookmarks in my browser. I can get to the sites that I visit regularly by typing a few letters into the URL field of my browser. For the most part, if a site interests me and I might want to come back to it in the future, I add it to my RSS reader. And that means that there are some sites lurking in my list of feeds that haven’t been updated in years, but are still out there. And they’re still pretty cool, so I thought I would share them.

Most of these are visual, and are easy to dip in and out of; a few require some commitment.

Object Lessons
A blog about the design of things.
Agence Eureka
Scans of French ephemera
Between Mirrors
Morbid artwork
Bibliodyssey
Scans from old illustrated books, with related scholarship.
Concept Ships
Features spaceship artwork; links to related blogs for concept land vehicles, robots, etc.
North Korean Interiors
What it says on the tin. Either inspired by or inspiring to Wes Anderson.
Scales of Perception
Images that play with your sense of scale.
Type Hunting
“Found typography,” mostly on old packaging.
Typeset in the future
Deep dives into the typography used in SF movies. One of those “blogs that became a book” sites.
WTF, Evolution?!
Another one of those “blogs that became a book” sites.
Bret Victor
An amazing technologist. I am guessing he is too busy with work to update this much.
Néojaponisme
Very deep dives into Japanese pop culture in the postwar era.

Montopolis tunnel

Every weekday as part of my commute, I ride across the old Montopolis Bridge, which is closed to motor traffic but still open to bikes and pedestrians. The city is restoring the bridge, and have built this tunnel to shield passersby from the work going on above.

When I ride through it in the morning, heading east into the sun, with my sunglasses on, I can’t see anything immediately around me and I feel as if I’m floating.

Good reads, 2013

The following are some of the best stories, articles, essays, blog posts, etc, that I read during 2013. They weren’t necessarily written in 2013. I’m including them in roughly the order I encountered them.

Circle of Useful Knowledge

Gwen’s parents brought her a book from a library sale in their small town, The Circle of Useful Knowledge, published in 1888. It’s filled with bizarre recipes for cocktails mixed in 10-gallon quantities, tips on animal husbandry, etc.

I’m posting extracts from it in a separate blog, titled Circle of Useful Knowledge. I’m going to try to post a couple of entries a day. Enjoy.

Bird down

This morning while Gwen was puttering in the back yard, a juvenile bluejay landed on the ground, near our back door. He looked like he had his flight feathers, but the feathers on his head were still downy. He wouldn’t or more likely couldn’t fly away; he could hop, but mostly stayed put.

Not knowing what else to do, we set out a shallow pan of water for him. He made no effort to get away from us, but did hop into the pan of water.

About an hour later, I looked in on him. He was still in roughly the same spot. I refilled the pan of water and set it next to him. He looked at me and opened and closed his beak a few times as if silently chirping or begging for food. He flapped his wings for a moment and flipped over on his back. The nictitating membranes blinked across his eyes and he died.

When we looked at his corpse, we saw a spot on his back where he had been attacked.

Getting the message

New technology creates new social phenomena, etiquette problems being one of them. Caller ID is not a new technology, but at some point in the past few years, its ubiquity—especially with cellphones, which have better text displays than landline phones—has created one of these etiquette problems.

Traditionally (where by “traditionally,” I mean “ten years ago”), when Alice calls Bob and gets Bob’s voicemail, Alice leaves a message at least saying “it’s Alice, call me back.” But over the last few years, we’ve seen a different approach. Charlie calls Bob, gets Bob’s voicemail, and just hangs up. Charlie knows that Bob has caller ID and will be able to see that Charlie called—Charlie figures that’s all the information Bob needs to return the call.

Bob may have the same approach as Charlie, in which case this is fine. But Bob may figure that if Charlie had anything that needed a response, then Charlie would have left a message. Bob doesn’t return the call and eventually hears again from Charlie, who indignantly asks “why didn’t you call me back?” There’s a mismatch in expectations. Neither one is right or wrong, necessarily, but the mismatch can create friction.

I’m reminded of the distinction between ask culture and guess culture, although in this context, it might be more accurate to say it’s a difference between tell culture and guess culture.

Or perhaps it’s just a matter of etiquette that we as a society haven’t quite sorted out yet. I was talking about this at dinner with some friends who are all around my age—we all agreed that people should leave messages. There might be an age component to this.

This modern world

I had a strange experience when I went out and about visiting studios on the East Austin Studio Tour. When I looked at the map, I was gratified to see quite a few artists in my immediate neighborhood, and one studio only a block away, so I decided to make that my first stop.

As I’m slowly riding my bike down the driveway to the garage studio in back, one of the two residents says “Are you Adam Rice?”. Taken aback, I confirm that I am, and ask “…How do you know?” Despite their proximity, I’m sure I’ve never seen either of these people before, and it’s not like I’m famous.

She explains that she has seen me pop up as a “recommended friend” on Facebook because we apparently have a lot of friends in common.

Still, that doesn’t explain how she knows that Gwen has a letterpress, or that it came with our house.

Do not patronize World Secure Channel

Today, this site (and some others that I manage on the same server) was hacked by world-secure-channel.com, or more likely a piece-of-shit script-kiddie they contracted with, making me an unwilling part of a link-farm. World Secure Channel supposedly offers VPN services for anonymous browsing, but considering the respect they show for the integrity of my website, I can only wonder what they do with the data you would route through their servers.

The Porch Swing

Gwen has invented a new adult beverage. We call it the Porch Swing. It’s very tasty. Here’s how to make it.

First, infuse some vodka with tea. Get some vodka and put in in a mason jar with a couple bags of earl grey tea (Gwen found some earl grey with lavender, which was actually very good). Let it go overnight. Remove tea bags and chill afterwards.

Second, make up a strong batch of lemonade. The lemon-to-sugar ratio should be normal (whatever “normal” means to you), but use just barely enough water to dissolve the sugar—heat it up to help it dissolve. You don’t want to water down the drink unnecessarily.

Third, mix 3 parts vodka with 2 parts lemonade. Shake with ice. Pour through a strainer into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon slice. Make plenty, because you’ll be drinking a lot. Experiment a little with the ratios, as there’s a fine line between just right and a little not-right.

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