Friday, February 29, 2008


it’s not often - well not often enough - that i stop and share a local success story but here’s one that i think you’ll enjoy. flirtees, located right here in peterborough, ontario are making a little bit of a name for themselves by making cool t-shirts that have a cycling theme for women.

two of my faves are “dirt flirt”

and “biker chick”

although my daughter liked this one so much she bought it . . .

right now there are sixteen tees available and i see that there’s a new design up on the home page that you can vote on. the designs are simple, the tees are well-made and it supports a local artist so have a look, hit the add-to-cart button and wear them ‘round town.

for guys reading this who like what they see and wish the artist would turn her talents to shirts for boys, i’ve put in a good word and we can only hope!!!

the eighth late friday night eclectic buffet

time flies . . . here it is four years later, another summer olympics, another february 29th. the leap day of the leap year - sort of like a bonus - an extra day to spend with my class, my family . . . . and it's snowing outside which makes the inside of my home that much more welcoming!

over the course of my web-wandering i come across sites that act as little creative rescues, reinvigorating that part of me that needs to see and experience the cleverness of people and especially those ideas that step outside of the box and affirm the dignity of the human race which is taking a fairly good beating these days with the many consequences of our selfish actions becoming so very apparent.

here then are links to places that underscore some of the magic of being human in this world.

aluna is a very cool large scale and long term project proposed to be the world’s first tidal powered moon clock. larger than stonehenge, aluna will be forty metres wide, five storeys high and will be made up of three concentric translucent recycled glass rings. the idea is that by looking at how each ring is illuminated, you can follow the moon’s movements, its current phase and the ebb and flow of the tides. the designer is terming this animation of light “alunatime”.

what takes this well into the realm of cleverness is that alunatime will be powered directly by the tides using turbines.

images rendered by mark glean.

another long term project - and this is very long term, is the thousand year forest.

the escapement is designed as an immense timepiece, carved into twenty long avenues separated by raised soil beds. in "year 1" twenty seedlings, from a variety of species native to the region, will be planted in a row. n year 2, a second row of twenty seedlings will be planted to join their older, taller siblings. and so on. each year another row is added, and each year a small forest of trees, from large to small, will make their way down the escapement.

visualizing such a project is difficult and so the developers have generously submitted a flash simulation of what it might look like over the course of its journey through the centuries. interestingly the surrounding countryscape and cityscape doesn’t change. picky picky.

johnny c., the boy over at the hole in the head blog just did the world a huge favour by uploading a scanned edition of the “art of living with yourself and others”. published by the mental health association of chicago for the western electric company, it’s really good reading so you should head over and give it a look. here’s a couple of tickles just to get you interested.

green building is a newish term for a practice that can be traced back as far and probably further than the hanging gardens of babylon. indeed, you could say that it has always been with us but is a practice that has become marginalized due to the nature and scale of buildings being constructed. contrary to the thinking you might expect from such a term, the essential idea of a green building is not simply clothing a building in something that hides its purpose as much as to treat a structure in which people live or work or play as a living entity and so in itself, an element of the broader ecology of which it is nominally a part.

given that buildings use resources — energy, water, and materials — create by-products such as heat, air, and noise pollution, waste, and garbage, and interfere with the dispersal of natural elements such as light, and precipitation, and wind, it is critical that future design engage definitively with the need to reduce the impacts on human health and the environment, through better siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal — in short, to address and account for the complete building life cycle.

this article makes for informative reading. to read about and see an example of sustainable living then visit the technology for life page on a sustainable house developed by spanish architect/designer luis de garrido named the r4house.

the larger considerations of where the green building ethos fits into an overall philosophy of urban design is addressed very briefly and concisely here.

this program endeavours to address this whole perspective and to offer some hope for the immediate future that this sort of thinking, these kinds of expectations, will be met.

kqed is a public broadcasting company based in san francisco, california. the following program comes courtesy of kqed.

green buildings

Thursday, February 28, 2008

worldwide telescope preview

the world wide telescope will come online in one year . . . . if you are like me and can't wait to see even a bit of what that will mean and what it will look like then you really should watch this talk excerpted from the TED Conference.
TED stands for technology, entertainment, design. it started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. visiting the TED site brings you into contact with over 200 talks by some of the smartest and coolest people on the planet who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes).

this is one such talk - it's subject is the worldwide telescope. here is how the wwt project is described on the official website:
"The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a rich visualization environment that functions as a virtual telescope, bringing together imagery from the best ground- and space telescopes to enable seamless, guided explorations of the universe. WorldWide Telescope, created with Microsoft®’s high-performance Visual Experience Engine™, enables seamless panning and zooming across the night sky blending terabytes of images, data, and stories from multiple sources over the Internet into a media-rich, immersive experience."

here's roy gould talking at TED about this amazing opportunity!

hong hao

hong hao was born in beijing in 1965.

hong hao is an artist who moves so close to the confusion of modern society that he actually sources out its more lyrical, poetic, beautiful qualities. through the heaping together of various objects, hong hao lays bare the core of societies' obsession with quantity and finds the quality embedded in the relationships between and inside basically worthless objects.

the deluge of images caused by the massive digitization of the chinese experience and the rapid development in china's economy, including the parallel creation of a culture of mass consumption and its corollary mass detritus, have had a great effect on chinese society, especially in urban areas. i saw an article in which it was stated that the massive new beijing airport took less time to build than the english took to complete an environmental study for the new addition to heathrow airport.

in taking familiar objects, he deconstructs and then rebuilds them, to reveal another reality filled with beauty and a sense of unbalance. the sort of unbalance we observe in the logarithmic growth of the chinese infrastructure and its financial underpinnings.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

bow street runner

there are all sorts of online games available and to be frank, most of them are mindless and/or poorly assembled. there are exceptions and this is one:
bow street runner.

the bow street runners were london’s first professional police force. predated by the thief takers who were more like bounty hunters than police. the bow street runners set the tone and standard for many of the police forces that came into existence over the next eighty years.

the bow street runner game is a visually and sonically rich environment in which you get to be a bow street runner. information is provided through on screen text as well as through your own efforts. as you move your cursor around the screen and click on items, the screen will either provide you with information about that item or it will zoom in closer and give you a different visual vantage point allowing you to see other items previously concealed.

at present the game consists of episode one but at the bottom of each page is a little link from which you can get the beeb to add you to their e-mail list. as each further episode becomes available they will contact you.

great fun!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

nature mill automatic composter

in my ongoing attempts to address the disparity between my vision for the environment and my actions, i've been scouting out items that can help bridge the gap between where i and my family are and where we'd like to be.

i thought for a brief moment that i saw a new blog topic emerging - "green and lazy", because when i saw the nature mill composter i ignored the four hundred dollar price tag and only saw that it'd take care of a sloppy problem automatically. there you go. i've acknowledged the presence of balance between my conscience and my inner laziness. but this is a great product that might bring more people into the composting mode.

nature mill manufactures a variety of products geared towards the efficient management of waste products - human and animal and returning those products to the environment in a useable form. they make a couple of automatic composters and that interests me.

here's what I know about the basic model . . . it will handle up to 120 pounds per month of compost - which would pretty much cover this family. it comes with a carbon filter and has continuous air flow so that it doesn't stink up your home. you can keep it indoors or outdoors. compost is ready every two weeks and it'll tell you when it's time! it seems pretty simple and foolproof and frankly the simple fact that i'm not out there with a shovel or a pitchfork flipping steaming piles of rotting fruits and veggies makes it very very interesting to me.

want to know more? perhaps you'd like to have one shipped your way? then go here .

want to get one through home depot's online shopping service? then go here .


Monday, February 25, 2008

world question centre

the edge foundation. a collective of incredible minds whose mandate is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society.

the deeper mapped description of this comes from the writings of c.p. snow who posited two cultures - the intellectuals and the scientists. he further posited that at some point a “third culture” would emerge that would close the communications gap between the intellectuals and the scientists. it is from this that the edge describes its place in “the third culture (which) consists of those scientists and other thinkers in the empirical world who, through their work and expository writing, are taking the place of the traditional intellectual in rendering visible the deeper meanings of our lives, redefining who and what we are.”

this is a heady mandate but if you dive into the edge site, you will find that they have taken the challenge on full force and are more than meeting it. if, when you visit their page you are intrigued then you might consider their offer of a free e-mail subscription which delivers a weekly article written by and about clever people thinking. what an idea!!
the world question centre is an offshoot of the edge and last year’s question was:

As an activity, as a state of mind, science is fundamentally optimistic. Science figures out how things work and thus can make them work better. Much of the news is either good news or news that can be made good, thanks to ever deepening knowledge and ever more efficient and powerful tools and techniques. Science, on its frontiers, poses more and ever better questions, ever better put.”

respondents included (in the 160 or so listed) thinkers such as jaron lanier, brian eno, stewart brand, and ray kurzweil. it makes for worthy and stimulating reading.

this year’s question is:
“When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that's faith.
When facts change your mind, that's science.
Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?"

165 contributors including the people mentioned earlier have had a really good go at this one. i have not read every entry but i was especially interested in the writing of nick bostrom, director of the future of humanity institute at oxford university. a portion of his entry follows:
“For me, belief is not an all or nothing thing — believe or disbelieve, accept or reject. Instead, I have degrees of belief, a subjective probability distribution over different possible ways the world could be. This means that I am constantly changing my mind about all sorts of things, as I reflect or gain more evidence . . . . “

for the rest of nickj bostrom's response as well as the other one hundred and sixty four respondents go here.
in a world that so often demands positions, stances, or opinions and values them primarily for their arbitrary and intransigent qualities, it is delightful to read someone who acknowledges that in fact thinking and its offshoot understandings are dynamic and fluid. alive.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

morning frost

frost on plants, trees, rocks, everything standing still was covered with frost. here are a few pictures from my back yard.

morgan life car

on one of my weekly trips to don mills public library - and i can’t remember how old i was at the time but i’d hazhard a guess i was in high school - i came across a book chronicling the history of the morgan motor car company. written by gregory housten bowden, i drooled over this book and dreamed of the day when i would be wealthy enough to be able to buy myself a yellow plus eight and whip up, down, and around the streets of wherever i lived. i borrowed the book many times and traced some of the pictures in it - bringing them to a sort of life.

you can still buy copies of this book from here but it is one of the older titles out there and there are many more current histories of morgan available through the usual sources.

even before i borrowed that book, morgan (as it is commonly referred to) was not an unknown to me as every so often their cars would crop up in one of the mainstream auto magazines for the simple reason that morgan produced extraordinarily fast little vehicles whose designs were, shall we say, anachronistic. the combination of classic sports car styling and high-end speed appealed to anyone with a taste for sports cars. morgan’s history is long and rich and well-worth reading.

my one direct experience with a morgan was as a passenger in a plus four. the driver informed me prior to the ride that the ride was so stiff that it was possible to drive over a penny and tell whether it was heads or tails as you drove over it. he was correct!

visit the home of morgan and you will see their 2008 lineup which includes what they ackowledge and refer to as their “classic range”. here is a sales brochure for the morganclassic range. the most desirable car in my eyes is the “roadster” which will leave a traffic light and everything sitting beside you or behind you in the dust as it accelerates from 0 - 62 mph (100 kph) in 4.9 seconds! eventually, the roadster will top out at 134 mph or 215 kph. more than most people need and more than can be legally used. overall fuel consumption is just shy of 30 mpg or 9.84 l / 100k.

here are a few of my favourite things - well morgan plus 8’s:

these are pictures of an amazing car which comes with an amazing story. it seems that a young man whose stars aligned for him most incredibly accepted an apprenticeship with morgan during which time he penned some sketches of an idea he had for morgan to produce a car that at once reached back to morgan's rich history and then took morgan forcibly into the future.
the aero was born. and the young man got a job with morgan.

in addition to reminiscing about things past i want to to show you where morgan is heading. the latest incredible design to come out of the tiny little factory in malvern links that makes a grand total of nine cars per week ladies and gentlemen, (each of which has taken three months to build) has looked at the future becoming present and is unleashing this car on an unsuspecting world.

here's the chassis under construction . . .

if this vehicle intrigues you or if you’d like to see more images and read more about it, then visit morgan’s life car site.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

merrie melodies: robin hood

saturday morning - cartoons! i came across this one a while ago and have been saving it to watch on a morning where a really old cartoon fits. here 'tis.

merrie melodies presents: robinhood

all the way from 1939 comes this wonderful cartoon version that is somewhat connected to the legend..... a fox captures a group of squirrels while they're playing at "robin hood." the smallest of the bunch, who'd been bullied into playing the villain and thus avoided capture, uses his ingenuity to rescue his friends.

Friday, February 22, 2008

the seventh late friday night eclectic buffet

friday night - yep, friday night . . . i started this evening with a trip out to a brew pub that pumped some tasty stout from its cellars right up to my thirsty body! yummmm! i was in good company - trent university ed students - but i'm a dad and so eventually i made my way home and put together a really good pizza.

so now the evening spreads before me (sort of). i have to be in a town thirty kilometres south of here with my son for a hockey tournament by eight o'clock tomorrow morning.

tonight though the evening is mine.

i'm thinking that a big mug of coffee must also be mine before long and so perhaps this product would come in handy. in the realm of gotta musta really need this products, this is one that hovers precariously between - you must be kidding and holy cow, what next! the handpresso has been out for a while now and i’ll admit to never having used one, but i can think of times when i’ve been in the woods - like recently when i was cross-country skiing when i might, just maybe, have wanted to have this with me just so i could flip everyone around me out by banging out an espresso in the middle of nowhere.

here’s the handpresso home page.

here’s a video how-to guide. if you can get past the meaningful glances between the couple as they co-create the teeny tiny little thimble of java, you’ll see a product that is actually cool and clever (but probably unnecessary!)

the coffee got me thinking - about how i'd love love love to be heading off to a crazy wickedgood luxury hotel where everything was done for me that i wished and that i knew deep deep down in my crazy heart that there was nothing really ugly or difficult or frustrating or unpleasant waiting for me in the very near future! hedonism. escapism. irresponsibility. it has many names! it's lurking oh so close to the surface in me!!!

and then there's guy's like designer karim rashid who take care of richer people than me and who can say things like, "hotels today make you feel like you're living in the previous century. that's the last thing I want to do.". ya know karim, i'm right there with you, but for the aformentioned cash issue!

karim's words are brave words. harsh words even for hoteliers. yet for anyone who has spent any amount of time in a hotel, words that are borne out by the bitter and crushing experience of staying in the formless, aesthetically hollow sleeping accomodations we experience as hotels. buildings that are nominally purpose built to temporarily house people on their travels and yet which through their institutional design and organization effectively crush the human spirit in their celebration and enforcement of anonimity.

karim rashid born in cairo, egypt, 1960. lives and works in new york city. karim rashid loves colour and form. really he’s an artist, but an artist who has a very big canvas. an artist whose work is multi-faceted, highly complex, stunning, and visually breathtaking.

let’s begin here with this installation piece entitled “plob” that characterizes the thinking behind much of rashid’s work.

plob is an enclosed environment created out of hundreds of identical plastic translucent modules. each module has a light and single different sound that are activated from movement.

in rashid’s words: “a plastic blob is a plob - a plob is the state between liquid plastic and solid material object.
a plob is a noun, but is also a verb.
i plob in a state of endlessness.
plob is a metaphor for a continuous world, a neutral landscape, and an undulating surface that is reconfigurable and sizable ad infinitum.”

the plastic moldings are rearrangeable abstractions that are an outgrowth from the floor, walls, and ceiling - an extension of some of the qualities of the natural landscape to the artificial landscape. there is an integrated quality to rashid’s work that at one and the same time alludes to the world of technology, to comfort, to the pleasure one takes in following the curve of a form, or the surprise you experience when observing an object that typically occupies something of the visual background but which in rashid’s visions acquires a prominent place in the visual landscape through his judicious use of colour and form.

let’s ramp up the scale to which this thinking is applied. the semiramis hotel in athens is a typical rashid project. semiramis, is rashid’s first hotel project. mr. dakis joannou, an eminent collector, patron of modern art and qualified architect, commissioned rashid to create a hotel that would offer more than mere bed space in athens.

i’m sure you’ll agree that the end result is an amazing confluence of colour and light and shape. more like art than architecture and yet obviously not compromising the beauty and form of the structure itself.

the semiramis focuses on positive energy, heightened experiences, culture, art, and design. located in the affluent and leafy suburb of kifissia, semiramis is in the heart of athens, surrounded by high-end boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

to see more of rashid’s work visit karim rashid’s website.

where rashid's work makes sense to me visually sometimes there are experiences that make sense to me visually but which leave me with questions. usually - how did that happen? what was going on? and with the availability of relatively high-end computer processing ability comes the question - was that real?

a very long time ago i posted some videos of the effect of sound waves on liquids. by introducing sonic vibrations into the surface of a liquid, lovely symmetries were created.

the symmetrical organization of the liquids in those images has nothing on what you will see here.

this posting shows the effect of computer processing on the organization of ferrofluids or fluids which contain high levels of iron rendering them susceptible to magnetic fields.

as is so often the case, an artist, in this case tokyo-based sachiko kodama has explored the aesthetic potential of a subject close to the cutting edge of scientific research.

kodama’s home page contains a large collection of images and some movies of her work.

in this film, kodama details her fascination with the material as well as revealing the nature of some of her creative projects incorporating ferrofluids.

here is an example of her work entitled “morpho towers two standing spirals”.


efterklang is one of many post-rock groups to emerge from the scandinavian countries in the past ten years. their home page is a well-maintained blog replete with pictures, videos, and music as well as witty repartee!

these videos show something of what efterklang is about. sometimes pretty, sometimes raw, sometimes other than anything you may have come across before.



collecting shields

jojo live

Thursday, February 21, 2008

snow and leaves

the sky on my way home this evening had a sort of hopeful quality about it. hopeful suggesting to me that it had a hint of spring in its richness: there were bars of gold breaking through light violet and vanilla clouds.

i blew off a couple of tasks that i figure can wait another day and so i had a little extra time this evening and went digging around the golden fish digital photo vault where i came across this set that i would think came from early winter.

thorunn arnadottir

thorunn arnadottir has the kind of creative thinking i love to come across - it’s not so much an "!"aha as a "hmmmmmm that’s really nice", or "that's cool", or "oh, so thoughtful" or sometimes even - "wow that’s such an obvious solution or idea, why didn’t anyone think of that already"?!

for example, this chocolate box based on a pattern from an icelandic wool sweater. liquorice and marzipan bites covered in dark, white and milk chocolate.

a bead clock. each bead in the necklace represents 5 minutes. the whole necklace represents one solar day. the orange and red ones represent the whole hours. as the wheel turns, one bead falls off and drops down the string every 5 minutes. to tell the time you count the beads from either the silver bead (midnight) or the golden bead (noon) to the last bead that fell off the wheel.

but that’s the stuff that hovers up near the surface of accessibility in terms of where thorunn goes with her imagination. to go deeper, visit her website at thorunndesign.