Saxophonist with The United States Army Field Band; Co-Founder and Curator of the Mobtown Modern Music Series; Category 2 bicycle racer.
Making my clarinet debut with @BaltSymphony tonight.
RT @JustinRYoung: Remember when you watched 24 and you were like, “how can all that shit happen in one day?”
@ComcastMichael No, but that is the only TV with cable in the house.
RT @fishbucket: If there's a problem, will Vanilla Ice really solve it? I need to know if I can trust that guy.
@Johaniris miss u.
Carrying a pen in your shirt pocket is just inviting disaster.
Ha. RT @Jay_Perkins: Amazing! This website automatically plays music as soon as I visit it. Said no one, since 1990. cc: @fishbucket
@TheQG Not tonight. Tomorrow, because that's when I can get it's available on iTunes. No spoilers!
@fishbucket yellow and blue (will) beat orange.
Go Blue. cc: @fishbucket
Does the @MD_MVA on Reisterstown Road stop serving tickets that begin with 'A' after 2pm? Certainly seems like it.
And he continues to hold a half smoked cigar that he presumably extinguished before entering.
In the past 30 minutes, the guy sitting next to me at the MVA on Reisterstown Rd has downed almost an entire 2 liter of Coca Cola.
If you are really that awesome, you don't need a 500 word biography.
Why does the first pancake always suck?
@yougotdropped pour over in a chemex.
@Harp awesome. I need to get back down there sometime.
Motivation can appear in many forms. Some are motivated by fear—fear of failure, fear of not living up to expectations. Others derive their inspiration from anger, money, revenge, stature, winning. I know all of those people. Motivation in cycling can often be easy to come by—the next big race, setting a new power record, a category upgrade—but when it is scarce, it can lead a person to a dark place. And this time of year, especially, it’s easy to find it waning like the December sun at 4:30 p.m., disappearing faster than crisp tan lines now hidden under arm and leg warmers…
Individuals who engage extremely deeply in a given pursuit are often termed perfectionists. Their commitment to a particular interest transcends the activity itself, permeating their thoughts and consuming their general being to the point where an uninitiated outsider might consider them obsessed. It’s also a fact that these types of individuals, these perfectionists, choose to participate in activities in which perfection is an elusive and often unattainable goal.
Make a mental list of five of the most difficult challenges we face as cyclists. Stop reading and do this right now. Here are mine, which are likely colored by the current season: always staying motivated despite the time of year or weather conditions, getting on the rollers at 5 p.m. after a long day to try and knock out 2 hours of LT intervals in the basement, pushing yourself farther than the pain wants you to during an interval or while establishing a breakaway, thinking ahead instead of dwelling on the what-ifs after a race, understanding the sacrifices our loved ones make rather than just considering our own…
It is a question the devoted among us constantly find ourselves having to answer: how far did you ride? Coming as it usually does from loved ones, friends, or colleagues, giving a proper answer becomes something of a balancing act. Not wanting to appear rude, a response is required, especially since the individual making the innocent inquiry is simply expressing an interest in an activity they know us to take quite seriously. The easy answer, of course, is to simply state the number of miles that we have ridden. However, as we know, there are any number of indicators that more accurately portray the magnitude of our efforts and the last thing we wish to do is to perpetuate the notion that the longer the ride is, the better the rider must be. So we oblige them with a mention of our mileage but add in an elevator speech crafted to explain the intricacies of power output, intervals, elevation gain, wind direction, and so on, which satisfies both the querying party, but more so ourselves…
It would perhaps be obvious to state that cycling is full of occupational hazards. We accept things like crashing, injury, and illness as the inherent risks of getting on with the work. Out of superstition, we may not acknowledge their presence, yet we keep tucked in the recesses of our minds that a little dirt in a corner, a poorly chosen line, an inattentive rider, could render us a victim to any one of these dangers. Yet despite the perils that present themselves as a result of riding on two wheels, for me, one of the more frightening, though seldom discussed, risks of the road comes on four legs…
Of all the articles of clothing we, as cyclists, possess, the wind vest is perhaps the most virtuous and exquisite. Who among us has not secretly harbored desires even during the most ideal summer weather for the air to turn crisp, the thermometer registering just shy of 60 degrees, so that we might adorn ourselves with this magnificent piece of apparel? Perhaps it is because of the rarity of its necessity that we find it so enchanting…
There’s a famous line; how does it go? Something about mice, men, and best laid plans? There are times when even the hardest among us–those who in order to evade the mind-numbing sensation bestowed by another session on the rollers may think nothing of a ride in sub-zero conditions as snow lightly falls–must admit that we have been defeated. And beyond simply acknowledging our defeat, we must learn to, above all, accept it. There is of course a fine line patrolled by one’s own integrity between giving in and giving up…
In many cultures, food plays a central role in the social fabric. A meal is not simply a compulsory routine occurring at regular intervals throughout the day, it is a community ritual, an exercise in hierarchies, a time to forge and strengthen relationships. If you find yourself a guest in a culture with such inclinations, a willing interloper eager to partake in a nonnative feast, the stakes at the dinner table are high. Out of respect, you take care to polish your plate, which leads your host to presume you are incredibly hungry—or perhaps just a gluttonous American—and would fancy another serving immediately. To refuse an offering of seconds or thirds, even if you’ve not telegraphed an interest in more, is perceived as a wanton insult. Similarly, not finishing a portion of your meal or the extra helpings you may have unwillingly received will also be met with scorn. I’m not sure which is the greater faux pas. It’s a classic Catch-22…
How many times have I traversed these roads? Have my tires ever rolled over the same place twice? Were the asphalt softer, would I have worn a path by now? Do the fields remember me? The horses? The trees? Every ride is new but every ride is also a summation of memories from rides past. I vividly recall details of no specific importance from training sessions months ago, years ago. It’s a feeling akin to hearing a song from adolescence and being instantly transported to a time and place far removed from where you currently find yourself…
This is October. October is a time for crisp air and changing leaves. It is a time to enjoy the comforting smell of chimney smoke and cinnamon brooms. It is a time for morning fog and frosty grass and savoring the warmth of the morning coffee as the chilly pre-dawn air wafts through a half-open dining room window while bare feet struggle to keep warm on the cold, wooden floor. It is a time for unstructured riding, a brief respite before we begin training for next season in earnest. It is a time when we expect to don arm warmers and knee warmers, long-fingered gloves, and the virtuous wind vest. It is a time to romanticize…
We’ve all had those days. Days when everything seems to be going against us, when nothing works out quite right or unfolds according to plan. It may be one big piece not falling into place, but more often than not it is a string of minor occurrences that keep accumulating and never seem to cease. Although we might recognize what is happening, that the gods detailed to manage and oversee the smooth execution of our well-worn routines have gone for an afternoon espresso, remaining rational is an impossibility…
The weather in Baltimore this weekend has taken a quick and unexpected, though not unwelcome, turn. It has become the weather of arm warmers and knee warmers, of lightweight shoe covers and long-fingered gloves, of wind vests and shivers at the beginnings of rides. It is the weather that greets me this morning. The sky is grey and just as my body warms up, a light, misty rain begins to fall. At first I ignore it, pretending my disregard alone will cause it to cease. But it continues and with two hours left to ride, I stop and don my rain cape before continuing on…
As I coast to a stop at a red light in downtown Baltimore fully kitted up, a group of black teens standing on the corner decked in hip-hop gear see me and sense an opportunity.
I was talking with a good bike racer friend not long ago. We’d come up through the ranks together, familiar fixtures on and off the front of lower category races, great rivals, and just about absolutely equal in all respects. If you were given both our power profiles, they’d be indistinguishable. Though we’d sportingly crossed swords more than once this spring, he had been absent from the peloton since late May. His job had him swamped, robbing him of both the time and energy to train effectively and race properly. I inquired jokingly if he was planning to retire, to which he replied, “Not sure yet. Not sure I have the time to be at my best and you can’t half-ass it at our level.” …
“Is that all you want me to do?” was the question I posed skeptically to my coach after reviewing the next block of training he had prescribed. I should know better. Throughout the season we become accustomed to small cycles, three weeks of hard work followed by a week of diminished volume to allow ourselves to rest, recover, and regenerate so we might continue our ascent, pushing our boundaries toward uncharted levels of strength. But somehow the long arc, and especially its inevitable but imperative down slope, is harder to come to terms with…
How many great ideas have passed through my head while training? I really can’t say. Used to be that when a stroke of brilliance announced itself mid-ride I’d hit the brakes, straddle my bike on the side of the road, whip out my iPhone, remove it from its protective baggie, and record a voice memo, archiving the idea that was sure to float away into the ether had I kept pedaling. There was also a time when I’d fill my iPod with playlists carefully designed to keep my energy and morale up during long days in the saddle. Threading the headphones’ long thin wire from my right rear pocket up through the inside of my jersey and looping the earbuds meticulously around the arms of my sunglasses was part of the routine, adding another layer of protection and isolation from what I was about to endure…
“I believed that, while cycling, I would come up with thoughts and ideas for the stories I’d be writing the rest of the time. Fat chance. The rest of my time I spent jotting in my cycling logbook and keeping statistics on my distances and times, and while cycling I thought of nothing at all. On a bike your consciousness is small. The harder you work, the smaller it gets. Every thought that arises is immediately and utterly true, every unexpected event is something you’d known all along but had only forgotten for a moment. A pounding riff from a song, a bit of long division that starts over and over, a magnified anger at someone, is enough to fill your thoughts.”
A jersey unused.
Whisky is a complex spirit with a range of flavors; often, people have an experience with one variety and dismiss the whole spirit. The Macallan recognizes that introducing whisky to some people requires a bit of eduction, and happened upon an idea that is really quite clever. Knowing that smell is such an important element in taste, they thought it would be an interesting experiment to teach people about the flavors of whisky. The Macallan's partnership with celebrated British perfumer Roja Dove created an olfactory experience to do just that, and the result is a Scottish take on the Japanese Kōdō ceremony, which celebrates the art and customs of incense.
Roja is a master perfumer who creates his own line of perfumes as well as creating bespoke fragrances for people and places (like shops and hotels). He also has a well known shop, Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie at Harrods in London, which sells a range of "Roja approved" scents. Ironically, Roja had an unpleasant teenage encounter with Scotch that prevented him from ever trying it again. In his first meeting with The Macallan, he had to confess to his whisky-making partners, "I absolutely hate whisky. I don't like it, I can't drink it. I don't like it whatsoever." Since the project was about creating an experience to introduce the unexperienced to whisky, they were actually encouraged by Dove's opposition to the spirit, relying on him to create an experience to make the characteristics of whisky more approachable.
The Macallan and Roja Dove Sensory Experience takes people through the spectrum of scent, educating the nose in common whisky notes. It's meant to help people approach the whisky palate without the immediate—and often overpowering—alcoholic sensation so that later on, tasting the whiskey may bring out characteristics that may otherwise have been missed. "Everybody so far has said that they are shocked that they are able to smell things in the whisky that they have never, ever noticed before," explains Dove. I was lucky enough to spend an hour going through the Experience with Dove and David Cox, director of The Macallan’s Fine and Rare whiskies and indeed learned to distinguish the various components that give whisky its flavor.
Dove selected 12 pure essences that he felt were representative of different whiskey traits. The first six introduce scent pairs that help distinguish between things like stillness versus volatility, fruitiness versus spiciness, and maturity versus immaturity. Dove's experience goes back and forth between scents in an opposite way from traditional whisky-tasting, bringing out base notes after the high notes and the sweet before the dry. The kit provides a certain education that a tasting alone cannot. The second set of six scents creates two aromatic blends that imitate whiskies from The Macallan range, which are later used in combination with the whisky during tasting. By the end, the nose has been properly trained and participants leave equipped with the vocabulary to go forward and taste whiskey on their own. It's perhaps not a surprise that through his own methods Dove has come to appreciate and enjoy whisky.
The "aroma station" comes in an exquisitely detailed oak box constructed by Scottish cabinet-maker Duke Christie with bottles arranged like a perfumer's desk—a set-up that Dove playfully likens to a church organ. The box contains scent strips for testing and glasses to combine the scents into a "bouquet," which mirrors the whiskey-tasting experience. Armed with this educational tool, The Macallan's brand ambassadors are set to spread the essence of their spirit through scent, hoping to convert non-believers to the fascinating world of scotch whisky and provide connoisseurs with an additional tool for appreciation. While the Ambassadors' are currently making the rounds with the press, they promise that small, intimate consumer events will follow. Until then, check out the video to hear Dove himself explain the unique process.
by Maj Hartov
Graphic design heavyweight Paula Scher's new book Maps covers her cartographic artwork since the late 1990s. She calls her large-scale paintings "distortions of reality," as they comment on our world of information overload in a deeply personal way. When she was a child, Scher's father—who wrote an introductory essay for the book—invented a device called Stereo Templates that helps correct the naturally occurring deviations in aerial photos used for creating maps. As a result, the artist grew up understanding that all maps contain distortions and used that riff on reality to guide her own interpretations. When Scher started painting her maps, she wanted to create them through her own altered lens, understanding that such inconsistencies were all around her as part of her everyday life—through her own work and the work of others.
Scher's book of colorful, multilayered paintings present familiar geography in vibrant, thoughtful new ways. Besides being visually stunning, on closer look each map is crammed with geographical information. One titled "International Air Routes" includes airline hubs, flight routes, names of airlines and time zones, while another called "World Trade" outlines ports, trade routes and currencies. The book also features several pages of zoomed-in slices of each painting for closer examination of every angle of the maps.
With the book, Scher takes the reader on a virtual world tour with a twist and her "paintings of distortions" compel us to take a look at the idea of truth within our own reality in the process.
"Maps" is available from Amazon for $30.
Shared by BrianA deluge of vintage and artisanal products is now available online and through mass-market retailers. Has authenticity become just another fad?
Hey! I wrote about this already!
Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Tuck Oden.
If you’re like me, every time you wander through a big-box furniture store, you feel a little insulted. Here you are, a man, staring at relatively simple furniture, being asked to lay down large sums of money for a bookshelf, dining set, or desk. And if you know enough about wood to spot laminate and fiberboard, you’ll quickly see these expensive pieces of furniture have a shelf life (no pun intended) of about two years.
Today I want to show you a project that’s within your reach if you have a few tools, a couple weekends, and the courage to take on something new. If you’re completely new to woodworking, this may be a little ambitious, but if you’ve got a little experience, you shouldn’t encounter too much trouble. Keep in mind that I’m an amateur. I took shop class in high school and have done a few little projects here and there, but I’m certainly no pro.
My two primary pieces of machinery: 10" Craftsman Table Saw and 10" Craftsman Radial Arm Saw
The result of this project is what your wife or girlfriend would call a “Rustic,” “Barn,” or “Ranch Style” dining room table. I call it a man table, because it’s made from inexpensive wood, can take a beating, and one day your grandchildren will be serving their kids Thanksgiving dinner on it. Being the man that built that table is, well, manly. I’ve found a few similar tables on Craigslist and furniture sites, starting at around $1200. That’s absurd. I built mine for less than $200, including the chairs I bought for it.
I started by doing some searches around the ol’ internet to find other folks who’ve built their own tables. Using the images and information I found, I started drawing up plans. My table is approximately 6′x44″x31″ (LxWxH). You may find different dimensions work better for you (31″ is pretty tall)–so make your plans however you like. I also built leaves that make the table 8.5’ long.
Leaves and All for Fall
What You’ll Need
Shall we get started? This is going to look far more expensive and complicated than it really is. Have no fear. This took two weeks from start to finish (while working full-time). Here’s what you’ll need:
- *Table Saw – for ripping to width and cutting the notches for the legs and leaves.
- *Radial Arm Saw – for cutting to length (or, if you plan well, you can get the fellas at Lowes or Home Depot to cut your pieces to length and forgo the radial arm saw).
- Chisel – for chipping out the notches. A flathead screwdriver would also work.
- Hand-held Belt Sander – you’ll end up using this all over the place.
- Drill/Rechargeable Screwdriver – I used my heavy drill for drilling holes and a rechargeable screwdriver to drive screws.
- Pocket-Hole Jig – this is indispensable. Nearly every joint on this table uses pocket holes.
*You may be able to use a circular saw instead. I don’t have any experience working with these though.
- Stuff to ‘distress’ the table–we used chains, hammers, screws, sparklers, matches–anything that can leave a mark.
- Stain, brushes, and paint thinner–we used Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain, Dark Walnut. But we did it wrong. More on that later…
- Polyurethane (to protect your finish).
- Black Spray Paint for the lag screws and washers.
We used cheap construction grade (douglas fir) lumber. Your amounts may differ, but keep in mind these usually come in lengths starting at 8′:
- 4″x4″x8′s – 3
- 2″x8″x8′s – 3
- 2″x12″x12′s – 2
- 2″x4″x8′s – 4
- 3/8″ x 6″ Lag Screws (spray-painted black) – 8
- 3/8″ x 3″ Lag Screws (spray-painted black) – 8
- 3/8″ Washers (spray-painted black) – 16
- 2 ½” Pocket-Hole Screws – approx 100
- 1 ½” Pocket-Hole Screws – approx 100
- Brackets – 10
Draw Up Your Plans
The first step is to draw up your plans. I should mention that lumber sizes are a lie. They’re typically about ½” less in every dimension than what they’re called, so a 2″x4″x8′ is actually 1 ½” x 3 ½” x 8’ 11 ½”. Remember this when you’re drawing up your plans.
Drawing plans is a good way to make sure you understand everything you’re getting into. Draw them from every conceivable angle and think through how you’re going to make each cut and joint.
End view and top view of the rail-to-leg butt joint. Don’t giggle. That’s what it’s called.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind:
- Allow about 23″-30″ in width per place setting.
- Allow 12″ depth for each place setting, plus 6″-20″ for the center of the table.
- Keep your dining room’s size in mind–you need at least 32″ between the back of each chair and the nearest wall or piece of furniture.
Get Your Lumber
Now that you’ve got your plans worked out, you need to determine how much lumber you need and go pick it up. You do have a pickup, right? RIGHT? Check every board for bows by looking down the length of it. Bowed wood is going to give you a lot of trouble, so get the straightest boards you can find.
It seems like a lot of wood, but all of the lumber needed for our table was less than $100.
Cut Your Wood
Your next step is to either get the guys at the hardware store to cut your wood for you, or do it yourself. Mark your lengths and go to town!
Ready to attack a 2x12 with the radial arm saw.
Be sure to label each piece as you go so you don’t get confused later.
Here’s an old woodworking adage I enjoy ignoring: “measure twice, cut once.” Honestly, I measure nonce and cut thrice. I often eyeball it. I use pieces I’ve already cut to measure what I need to cut. It’s not a great habit, but I prefer it to measuring everything. And the results usually aren’t that different. At least that’s what I tell myself. I ended up having to sand down the ends of the 2×12’s running the length of the table (where they meet the aprons) because they weren’t exactly the same length.
Pieces cut to length. From bottom to top this is aprons/leaves, tabletop length pieces, legs/crossbeams and rails.
Design the Table Top
Now that you’ve cut everything to length, it’s time to decide how you want to arrange the pieces for the top. Lay out the pieces and figure out which arrangement you like. Then flip it all over, so you’re looking at the exact bottom of your soon-to-be top.
Deciding on the arrangement.
Do this on a FLAT SURFACE–your tabletop will only be as flat as the surface you do this on. Drill your pocket holes and drive the screws in to secure all the pieces together. I recommend clamping it all together while you do this. Repeat the process with the pieces for your leaves.
Pocket-holes drilled. Use the 2 ½" pocket-hole screws for every joint.
Guess what? Your top is almost done. You might want to use a belt sander to get rid of any horrible incongruities or lumber print marks. Remember that rough spots, knots, etc. are going to look awesome with some stain–so don’t worry about sanding those out; however, you want the natural curves on the side of your table to extend along the aprons.
Build the Frame
Now let’s focus on the frame. Start by marking the notches for the legs. These should be just a tad bigger than your crossbeams. I put mine 3 ½” above the ground, to match the thickness of the crossbeam.
This is just illustrating where you’d mark the wood. You’d rotate it once (“x” facing down) before cutting. Make sure your miter gauge is sturdy enough.
Once you have each piece marked, it’s time to start cutting. Basically what you want to do is raise your table saw’s blade to a little less tall than half the thickness of the leg (about 1 5/8′). This will let the wood over-reach the wood it’s joined to by about ¼” on every side, giving you a nice, rustic look.
Set the rip fence to keep you from going too far up the leg. Cut one slice through at either end of the notch. Then cut out pieces every ¼” or so between those cuts. It’s not as complicated as it sounds–I promise. Look:
Slices trimmed out with the table saw. From here, you stick the chisel in and pull back. The chips pop right out. It’s a great feeling!
Repeat this on each of your legs and then use your chisel to knock out the slices. You’ll have rough notches at this point. Take each piece back to the saw and run it back and forth and left to right over the running blade (CAREFULLY!) to smooth out the notch.
See the roughness in the notches? That’s what you’ll eliminate using the table saw.
Repeat the same process with the crossbeams–notch out the ends and the space for the footrest that goes across the middle.
Test-fit your crossbeams to the legs. Everything look okay? Good.
Dry fit test. Nothing is screwed or glued together here--just sitting in their notches.
Now use a 3/8″ drill bit to drill some pilot holes through your crossbeams into the legs.
Use a little masking tape to mark the bit so you don’t go too deep!
Once you get all the pilot holes drilled, go ahead and ratchet in your lag screws (be careful if you use a drill to screw these in–they’re STRONG and the drill will try to break your wrist).
Look at that! You got nice legs!
Now you’re going to sort-of repeat this process to cut some notches in the top rails for your leaves to slide into. Mark the thickness of your 2×2 rails (just a 2×4 cut in half lengthwise) however far in from the edges you want them, and use the same process as before to cut out the notches.
Notches cut in the top end-rails for the leaves to slide into.
Use pocket-hole screws to attach these to your legs. Go ahead and screw on your 2×4 footrest as well.
Now it’s time for one of the trickiest parts–attaching the side rails to the legs. I did this part on top of the tabletop, because it was the flattest surface I could find. We got the rail perfectly straight and I had my wife stand on it to keep it steady as I drilled the pilot hole through the leg and into the rail. Then we screwed in the 6″ lag screws. And I just about broke my arm trying to use a power drill with a socket to do this.
Here you can see my wife's nice legs, the table's nice legs, one connected rail (top right) and one yet to be connected (bottom right). The frame is upside down.
Now the frame is right-side up, sitting on the tabletop.
Now you have a complete top, leaves, and frame. You’re almost there!
One of the leaves – use a square to make sure they’re straight.
Distress, Stain, and Finish the Table
It’s gotten too tricky lately, so I think it’s time for some catharsis. Let’s beat the crap out of this tabletop. Smack it with chains. Hit it with a pipe wrench. Drop saw blades on it. Burn it with sparklers. Just generally abuse it. Don’t worry–it’ll look great.
Tools of distress-ion.
You also need to leave another mark on this--your own signature. We used a soldering iron to do a very amateur and very permanent woodburn with our names and date.
Okay, let’s stain this beast. I should explain that we used Rustoleum’s Dark Walnut Ultimate Wood Stain, but we did it wrong. We failed to mix it well before applying it, resulting in a color we really liked–but not the color this stain is designed to create. When we came back to do a second coat, we stirred it well, resulting in a coat that looked like purple paint. I had to sand it off and start over. So, don’t follow my lead here–follow the can’s directions and TEST before staining all of your new masterpiece!
We did two coats, but that’s optional. What’s not optional is a protective finish. Polyurethane does the trick just fine!
First coat of stain. Don’t judge my garage’s cleanliness.
Your monster of a table is going to be HEAVY, so I strongly recommend moving it to its final destination in two pieces–lay a blanket down in your dining room, put the top on it upside down, then the frame upside down on top of that. Attach a couple 2×4 supports across the frame for good measure, then begin the frustrating process of centering the frame on the top. Once you have the top centered, attach your brackets–I did two on each end and three on each side.
Attaching brackets with 1 ¼" pocket-hole screws.
You got that done? Guess what? You have a brand-new, homemade, beast of a man table. Your only problem is its upside down. Flip that puppy over, find some chairs, let your wife put some girly decorative stuff on it, and get ready to be the next to host Thanksgiving!
Nostalgia is a thing of the future with The Amazing Type-Writer iOS app produced by Devin Chalmers at Doormouse Manufacturing. Mimicking the old-time clickety-clack of a Remington, The Amazing Type-Writer runs on "micro-swingarms" and the "latest in mobile pneumatic tubes technology." With the app's moveable carriage, users can hack away cryptic ransom notes or lines from "The Shining," displayed on a simulated piece of mimeograph paper. Referencing the original QWERTY keyboard, The Amazing Type-Writer captures the bygone look of typed-over letters with a signature "dead key."
If writer's block boxes you into a 'quick brown fox' quandary the application offers The Typewritten Gallery, a catalogue of textual musings on digital high-quality cardstock to which users can add their musings. Although The Amazing Type-Writer hasn't re-created the disgruntled crumpled ball of a rejected idea, compositions can be deleted. If you're pleased with your masterpiece, you can broadcast it to the gallery or share via e-mail.
The Amazing Typewriter is available through the iTunes App store and retails for $1.99—only a limited number are available, however, so hurry.
The trailer for Werner Herzog’s death penalty documentary — Into the Abyss: A Tale of Life, a Tale of Death — has arrived. In the film, the acclaimed director follows the stories of several death row inmates in Texas, interviewing them and those who have been affected by their incarceration. Tackling such a difficult subject that inspires a lot of heated debate seems impossible to handle fairly, but if anyone could do it, it’s Herzog. Hit the break for a preview of this intimate, moving portrait — which arrives in limited release on November 11.
From book-burning to the iPad, or what Pompeii has to do with Gutenberg and the future of reading.
Books are a tremendous presence and inspiration around here — we’ve previously explored how they’ve been made from the Middle Ages to today, what the future might have in store for them, and why analog books still enchant us. In Books: A Living History, Australian historian Martyn Lyons (of A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World fame) explores how books became one of the most efficient and enduring information technologies ever invented — something we seem to forget in an era plagued by techno-dystopian alarmism about the death of books.
It is difficult now to imagine how some of the great turning points in Western history could have been achieved without [the book]. The Renaissance, the Reformation, the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment all relied on the printed word for their spread and permanent influence. For two and a half millennia, humanity used the book, in its manuscript or printed form, to record, to administer, to worship and to educate.” ~ Martyn Lyon
Illustration from 1889 showing three women reading the three successive volumes of a novel, possibly borrowed from a circulating library
Illustrated London News Ltd / Mary Evans Picture
Defining the book itself is a risky operation. I prefer to be inclusive rather than exclusive, and so I offer a very loose definition. The book, for example, does not simply exist as a bound text of sheets of printed paper — the traditional codex with which we are most familiar today. Such a definition forgets two millennia of books before print, and the various forms that textual communication took before the codex was invented.
A traditional definition based only on the codex would also exclude hypertext and the virtual book, which have done away with the book’s conventional material support. I prefer to embrace all these forms, from cuneiform script to the printed codex to the digitized electronic book, and to trace the history of the book as far back as the invention of writing systems themselves. The term ‘book’, then, is a kind of shorthand that stands for many forms of written textual communication adopted in past societies, using a wide variety of materials.” ~ Martyn Lyons
A 5th-century mosaic from the mausoleum of Empress Galla Placidia in Ravenna
akg-images / Cameraphoto
From the first papyrus scrolls to the painstakingly made illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages to today’s ebooks and the iPad, Lyons distills the history and evolution of books in the context of a parallel cultural evolution and, as in the case of Gutenberg’s printing press, revolution.
Amman woodcuts showing a compositor with his composing stick and two-page forme, and printers and bookbinders at work
Navigating through 2,000 gloriously illustrated years of literary milestones, genres, and groundswells, from serial and dime novels to paperbacks to manga, Lyons ends with a bittersweet contemplation of the fate of the book and the bibliophile after the turn of the digital century.
A reading scene by George Morland (1763-1804) entitled Domestic Happiness
Christi’s Images / Bridgeman Art Library
In this hand-colored engraving by British humorist Thomas Rowlandson, a writer has some difficulty in persuading a bookseller to accept his manuscript
British Museum, London
The frontispiece to a 1786 edition of the Index of Prohibited Books, showing books being burned
Bridgeman Art Library
Calmann-Lèvy’s bookshop on the fashionable Boulevard des Italiens in Paris
Stefano Blanchetti / Corbis
Both a cultural time-capsule and an encyclopedia of bibliophilia, Books: A Living History is an invaluable record of our collective intellectual and informational journey across two millennia of written language and a profound peer into its future.
Images courtesy of Getty Publications // HT my mind on books
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Shared by Brian
Cycling is by definition a healthy activity, but when one becomes all-consumed by a solitary pursuit, it can be seen as unhealthy in itself. An addiction. Addictions are usually construed as being bad things, but surely an addiction to something so pure can’t be harmful?
There’s no doubt I live La Vie Velominatus. Sometimes I think I live it maybe a little too much, as I’ve been told by independent observers that bicycles and all associated with them dominates my very existence. And it’s true; I work in the industry, dividing my time between editing Spoke magazine, writing (not nearly enough lately) here, and a couple of days a week in the shop. Whenever there’s a spare moment, it’s usually spent surfing the web, and nine out of ten sites I’ll view are in some way bike related. To end the day I’ll settle down with a book or a magazine in bed. No need to tell you the subject matter. (It’s not porn… really.)
Is this healthy? Cycling is by definition a healthy activity, but when one becomes all-consumed by a solitary pursuit, it can be seen as unhealthy in itself. An addiction. Addictions are usually construed as being bad things, but surely an addiction to something so pure can’t be harmful?
Well, not if you aren’t actually riding. If the only link to cycling is from sitting in front of a computer, writing about riding, reading other’s articles about riding, and making a magazine about riding, all to the detriment of actually getting on a bike and doing it, that takes its toll, both mentally and physically.
It’s a Catch 22 situation. You dont ride, and you lose fitness. And when you lose fitness, riding becomes harder. So you shy away from hard rides. Consequently, you lose even more fitness. Then you get to the point when you say fuck it, and just get your ass on the bike. You ride with your usual crew, you lag on the hills, but you feel stronger the farther you go, drawing on the energy from the simple act of being out, turning the legs and breathing fresh air into the lungs. You get caught up in the little sprints and KOMs, and find you still have something in the tank. Deep, buried reserves forged from la vie. You finish the ride feeling rejuvenated, tired but refreshed. You vow to ride again tomorrow. But there’s a deadline to meet, proofing to be done, a last mintute article to write. Life gets in the way. And so it goes.
I know. I have ridden my bikes probably on average twice a week for the last six weeks. I was supposed to be doing a race this weekend. I’m glad I’m not. The principle reason for not doing it was money, the very coin I’d spent on getting a bike to race on conspired against actually racing. That, coupled with a grand in dentist fees, a visit from an Aussie friend which helped drain the bank account, then an ensuing illness and my race fitness, which was well on track those six weeks ago, has now all but disappeared in a cloud of debt and lethargy.
Yep, life gets in the way of having a life. A life of riding. But I still have a life of cycling, it’s just being lived through other means right now. And that’s better than not having a life at all. I will be back. Vive la vie Velominatus.
Humorously uncomplicated and sporting the iconic raincoat and fedora of the genre, the Film Noire Guide to Ominous Lighting infographic toys with the dramatically lit characters that classic movie cinephiles love, made famous by greats like The Big Sleep, Sunset Boulevard, and Double Indemnity. The melodramatic nature of the detective crime tales, along with the black-and-white visual and narrative sensibility of the stories, is made obvious in the infographic’s lighting scale. See what happens when things go from gloom to doom in three easy steps, after the jump.
[Spotted via Flickr/maxticket]
What chasing squirrels has to do with reclaiming childhood from the grip of perfectionist parenting.
Children’s books are often among the finest feats of storytelling — beautifully designed, illustrated and art-directed, they use simple narratives and metaphors to convey complex ideas and lifelong lessons. That’s certainly the case with Eli, No! — a heart-stoppingly delightful new children’s book by Katie Kirk, one half of husband-and-wife illustration and design duo Eight Hour Day, telling the story of their lovable yet mischievous dog named Eli. Throughout Eli’s many adventures and misadventures, his quirks and imperfections, we find ourselves contemplating the gift of unconditional love which, of course, is what the story is really about.
With its minimalist, bold, mid-century-inspired graphics and its heart-warming message, Eli, No! is both an absolute treat for wee ones, a needed one in the age of overambitious parenting, and a charming reminder for the rest of us about cultivating unconditional acceptance of our loved ones’ idiosyncrasies and imperfections, a need one in the age of chronic perfectionism.
via Public School
Brain Pickings takes 450+ hours a month to curate and edit across the different platforms, and keeping it ad-free isn't easy. If it brings you any joy and inspiration, please consider a modest donation – it lets me know I'm doing something right.
If you think you’ve seen winter, you haven’t seen anything yet. The Australasian Antarctic Expedition was a team of Australasian scientists that ventured to Antarctica in 1911, exploring the land until their return in 1914. Colossal pointed us towards this breathtaking gallery of photographs from their journey, recently collected and released online by the National Library of Australia Commons. Click through to see the most beautiful, strange and incredible photographs from the expedition to Antarctica between 1911 and 1914, and then head to the National Library of Australia Commons’ Flickr page for even more.
Probably the face of the team meteorologist, C.T. Madigan.
Photo by Frank Hurley, via the National Library of Australia Commons.
Shared by Brian“RSS “is like a magic spell that calls together knowledge from the winds of the Internet into a swirling, dancing chimera that sits in your hand and shares with you the whispers of more people than you’ll ever meet in your life - on demand at any time. RSS readers are instruments of magic. When you use them you become a magician. May they proliferate across the land.””
NO!!! Know of a good alternative? And what will become of my beloved Reeder app?
- Very unhappy about the Google Reader/Plus changes coming.
World’s Youngest Leading Social Network Eats World’s Last Major RSS Reader: Google Reader Gets Plussed
A first-hand tour of the heart and mind of one of our era’s greatest visionaries, culled from 30 years of wisdom.
While writing my personal remembrance of Steve Jobs last week, I sifted through the dozens of quotes I had clipped to Evernote from his many interviews, speeches, and keynotes over the years — for all his visionary entrepreneurship, Jobs was also a rare outlier in being incredibly eloquent and articulate about his vision, a master of speaking his mind, even in the face of resistance and controversy, and using his specific expertise to extract general insight about design, psychology, behavior, and just about all of the human condition. So I’m thrilled for the release of I, Steve: Steve Jobs in His Own Words — a wonderful anthology of more than 200 quotes and excerpts from his many appearances in the media over the years.
(And if you’re quick to write this off as a heartless exploitation of Jobs’ recent death, it turns out the publisher had the book in the works since last spring, set to publish in March 2012, but they moved it up after Jobs resigned as CEO in January.)
Edited by George Beahm, the volume is a wonderfully curated curtain-peeler that offers a singular look at Jobs’ mind as an entrepreneur, his heart as a passionate visionary, and Apple’s fundamental DNA. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
On broad-based education:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country… I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating. None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me.” ~ Commencement address, Stanford University, June 12, 2005
(Be sure to watch his entire Stanford commencement address, it’s a piece of existential poetry.)
On the importance of broad life experiences:
A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. They don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions, without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better designs we will have.” ~ Wired, February, 1996
On being the best:
We’re not going to be the first to this party, but we’re going to be the best.” ~ Apple event for iPhone OS 4.0, April 8, 2010
On media monopoly and lowest-common-denominator content:
When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.” ~ Wired, February 1996
On Bill Gates:
I wish him the best, I really do. I just think he and Microsoft are a bit narrow. He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.” ~ The New York Times, January 12, 1997
On the importance of saying “no”:
And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” ~ Business Week, October 12, 1994
On selling out:
The problem with the Internet startup craze isn’t that too many people are starting companies; it’s that too many people aren’t sticking with it. That’s somewhat understandable, because there are many moments that are filled with despair and agony, when you have to fire people and cancel things and deal with very difficult situations. That’s when you find out who you are and what your values are. So when these people sell out, even though they get fabulously rich, they’re gypping themselves out of one of the potentially most rewarding experiences of their unfolding lives. Without it, they may never know their values or how to keep their newfound wealth in perspective.” ~ Fortune, January 24, 2000
On Apple’s existence:
What if Apple didn’t exist? Think about it. Time wouldn’t get published next week. Some 70% of the newspapers in the U.S. wouldn’t publish tomorrow morning. Some 60% of the kids wouldn’t have computers; 64% of the teachers wouldn’t have computers. More than half the Websites created on Macs wouldn’t exist. So there’s something worth saving here. See?” ~ Time, August 18, 1997
What a computer is to me is the most remarkable tool that we have ever come up with. It’s the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds.” ~ Memory & Imagination, 1990
On creativity and cross-pollination:
Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” ~ Wired, February, 1995
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.” ~ The Wall Street Journal, May 25, 1993
An invaluable treasure trove of inspiration and insight, I, Steve captures the essence of one of our era’s greatest hearts, minds, and souls with the candor and precision only self-revelation can unlatch.
via Boing Boing
Brain Pickings takes 450+ hours a month to curate and edit across the different platforms, and keeping it ad-free isn't easy. If it brings you any joy and inspiration, please consider a modest donation – it lets me know I'm doing something right.
From Ancient Greece to quantum mechanics, or what a Chinese room and a cat have to do with infinity.
The Paradox of the Tortoise and Achilles comes from Ancient Greece and explores motion as an illusion:
The Grandfather Paradox grapples with time travel:
Chinese Room comes from the work of John Searle, originally published in 1980, and deals with artificial intelligence:
Hilbert’s paradox of the Grand Hotel, proposed by German mathematician David Hilbert, tackles the gargantuan issue of infinity:
The Twin Paradox, first explained by Paul Langevin in 1911, examines special relativity:
Schrödinger’s Cat, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935, is a quantum mechanics mind-bender:
For more such fascination and cognitive calisthenics, you won’t go wrong with Peg Tittle’s What If….Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy .
via Open Culture
This evening, the 2011 Man Booker Prize was awarded to Julian Barnes for his 150-page novel The Sense of an Ending. Barnes had been touted as the favorite since the shortlist was announced way back at the beginning of September, which, at least if all the snarky critics can be trusted, tends to mean that he should have lost. However, this time the ‘bookies’ had it right, and Barnes has finally taken home the big prize after three inclusions on the short list with no win. The Sense of an Ending is Barnes’ 11th novel, an intense exploration of memory and the experience of aging.
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction, first awarded in 1969, is given each year to what its judges deem the best novel written by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. Barnes will be awarded £50,000 as well as much international attention and near-guaranteed bestseller status. Previous winners have included Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question (2010), Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall (2009), Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger (2008), Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss (2006) and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi (2002).
[via the Guardian]
Naughty librarians will love Deadly Dictionaries, a reference set based on the Seven Deadly Sins. Jennifer Wood has compiled the collection to elucidate gluttony, wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, and envy—each given its own cloth-bound reference tome with the look and feel of an antique. Consider it a portable, curated distillation of the Oxford English Dictionary that you don't need a magnifying glass to read. These books may not make you good, but they will teach you the proper lexicon for being bad.
We got to sample Gluttony: A Dictionary for the Indulgent here at Cool Hunting, and after a coincidental deep-fried office lunch, picked our favorite entries. Interspersed throughout the definitions are quotations from famous rhetoricians, weighing in on the sin at hand. Benjamin Franklin reflects on the vice of gluttony (and, unwittingly, the obesity epidemic) when he writes, "In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires." Best of all, this handy guide arms us with a host of ways to call out our portly pals—or chow hounds, gourmands, sybarites, trenchermen and wastrels, as we now call them.
The Deadly Dictionaries are gift-ready this holiday season, so go ahead and indulge the eloquent sinner in your life on Amazon.
A Hawaiian novelist finds her book contract canceled after she self-publishes a book with Amazon.
““Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race””
- Calvin Coolidge (via tyhodges)
The iPhone 4S was only one of Apple's product arrivals this week. The other is a free mobile storage service, a more capable successor to MobileMe.
While many cyclists look forward to springtime, over the past few years I have come to dread it. Let me
When it comes to the saxophone, I’ve never been much of a gear junkie. Aside from a few minor flirtations—we’re
Over 3000 cyclists from around the world participated in the 2011 Rapha Festive 500 Challenge and I was one of
Distance: 27 km Time: 1:08 I realized that throughout the entire Rapha Festive 500 I had neglected an old friend.
Distance: 66 km Time: 2:31 It’s kind of strange. Today’s ride put me over 500km for the Rapha Festive 500—530km
Distance: 58 km Time: 2:03 I had a devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other today.
Molly was out shooting and caught me on Hillside Road Distance: 62 km Time: 2:15 Some rides just seem completely
Distance: 107 km Time: 3:58 Though today was Christmas Day, it felt a little bit more like Thanksgiving to me.
I see this sign all the time; it finally made sense today. Distance: 115 km Time: 4:15 I am generally
Distance: 121 km Time: 4:25 Motivation can appear in many forms. Some are motivated by fear—fear of failure, fear of
$124.99, from Amazon