Archive for April, 2010

Preview of Coming Attractions

I recently (and finally) purchased a GoPro HD video camera. The camera’s been on my list of things I’ve wanted to buy for about a year now. I just hadn’t gotten around to pulling the trigger until I discovered it was available at REI and I could combine my 20% off coupon and yearly dividend, which resulted in a sizable discount. So I picked it up and ordered a 16GB SD card. (Note: Photo is not of my hand, freaky thumb, foreign coin, or camera… I was just too lazy to take my own photo.)

I have a few filming ideas in mind (mostly cycling-related), but initially I wanted to take it out for a test run. What better place (or controlled environment) than good ‘ol Hains Point. I was heading down for a time trial workout anyhow so I brought along the GoPro. I placed the camera in different locations on the bike and did laps at speed, filming different perspectives. For example, I placed the camera on the stem, forward facing, and did a lap or two. Then I placed it out near the brake lever (facing forward, then facing rearward) and pounded out a few more laps. I switched camera locations a couple more times and did a few more laps. I ended up doing 8 or 9 laps at speed and capturing quite a bit of video.

Pulling everything together using iMovie 09 has been (as Sir Alex Pline predicted) a time suck. I’ve put together a pretty coherent series of clips but now I need to add a soundtrack and do some additional tweaking. At any rate, here’s a 22 second Vimeo preview clip (from the cutting room floor and poor quality because I haven’t decided whether I want to invest in Vimeo’s HD fee. . . still figuring this stuff out).

I’ve been pretty impressed with the image quality (outside Vimeo) and the ease of use of the GoPro HD. Figuring out iMovie 09 cold has been another thing though (and trying to synch up a soundtrack has been a little frustrating). I think I might want to eventually move to Final Cut Express at some point but for now I’m just trying to figure out iMovie 09. Stay tuned for more stuff.

The Worker and the Collective Farm Woman

My quest to see the sculpture The Worker and the Collective Farm Woman in Moscow, Russia has finally ended!! I’ll occasionally travel to Moscow for work and a few trips ago I was in a van heading to Star City. I glanced out the left window and saw a huge sculpture off the side of the highway that looked so incredibly Soviet that I wanted to track it down and take some pictures. There wasn’t time on that trip and I was so unfamiliar with Moscow that I probably wouldn’t have been able to locate it if I’d tried. Well, on a subsequent trip, I traveled to the All-Russian Exhibition Center to try and find it and it was gone!!!

A little history and what happened to the disappearing sculpture: The sculpture itself was originally made from stainless steel (still is) in 1937 by Very Mukhina for the World’s Fair in Paris and later moved to Moscow. The sculpture is one of the most admired examples of Soviet socialist realism. The 80-foot sculpture depicts the two figures striding forward, both with arms raised; the man holding a hammer and the woman holding a sickle to form the Soviet hammer and sickle symbol. In 2003 the sculpture was removed for restoration (the reason I couldn’t find it) and replaced in December 2009 on a new pavilion. I guess I could’ve seen it the last time I was here, but the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (which is in that area) was closed at that time so I didn’t venture off in that direction of Moscow (particularly since it was February and very, very cold).

I’m super psyched that I was able to track down the sculpture on this trip and snap some photos. I love finding old Soviet era stuff in Moscow. I remember going to the Bolshoi Theater a few trips ago and being overwhelmed by the Soviet symbols on the inside of the theater. And during my last trip I visited the Sculpture Park (formerly known as the Park of the Fallen Heroes) which was filled with a collection of old Soviet statues and sculptures. To me The Worker and the Collective Farm Woman, however, is almost the pinnacle of that era (particularly with the hammer and sickle symbolism and because of its prominence and size). At any rate, I’m thrilled to have finally seen this sculpture and to have snapped some photos.

Thanks for reading and checking out the photos it took today.

Continuum of Caring

I had a minor heart attack a few days ago in the office. I thought maybe I lost my Continuum of Caring. Back up a little: I recently purchased a new home computer and I had all my files transferred from my old computer to the new computer. So the other day in the office while I was staring at my white board I thought, “Hey, I wonder whatever happened to my Continuum of Caring? Did the file get lost in the transfer??” Not that losing the continuum file would be like losing something critical, it’s just that. . . .

Back up a little more: Several years ago someone came into my office and we were having some abstract discussion. Who knows what it was about (maybe work-related, maybe about George Lucas, maybe the ranking of Star Trek movies). At any rate, the discussion could’ve gone something like this:

The other person: “Well, I could care less about that.”

Me: “Oh…so, in fact, you do care, just not very much.”

The other person: “No, I don’t care at all. . . I said, ‘I could care less.'”

Me: “You mean you couldn’t care less. Like it’s physically impossible for you to care less. Because what you said is that you cared at one point, don’t care much now, and could actually care less in the future.”

The above conversation could’ve continued going back and forth like a tennis match, but you get the idea. It’s similar to when someone says to me, “I don’t disagree.” This forces me to immediately reply, “Oh good, then you agree!” Typically the other person will then say, “No, I just don’t disagree.” And then this conversation goes back and forth until I finally say, “So you just can’t slice the argument thin enough to actually agree?” Other person: “No.” (BTW, I find the phrase “I don’t disagree” to be such a Washingtonian non-committal piece of garbage that I really get irked when people use it. Simply take a stand but don’t get all double negative wishy washy.)

But I digress. . . . At any rate, I developed my Continuum of Caring to 1) point out the difference between “could care less” and “couldn’t care less” and 2) to show people on the scale how much I care about a particular topic they are trying to explain. If a conversation goes on way too long (e.g., George Lucas is a genius because blah blah blah blah blah who gives a crap), I can simply stand up and point out on the continuum exactly where I care about the issue (thanks to my usually pessimistic attitude, it’s down at “couldn’t care less”). In all actuality, I rarely use the continuum, because I’ve found peoples’ reactions to be less than embracing. I mean, really, who wants to receive the following message (as I stand and point to a piece of paper on my white board):  “Excuse me, allow me to illustrate how little I care about what you’re talking about.”  That really never goes over very well.  It’s really a last ditch effort to end a sadly ridiculous conversation about nothing important.

So here’s the full blown continuum: Continuum of Caring. It’s several years old now and holding up okay, but in reading it again, I suppose it could use some revisions in some of the statement or arguments. I’m sure someone will poke holes in it. I’ve never claimed it’s perfect but it gets the point across and you get the idea. . . and it’s true about that idiot Jar Jar Binks.