it's easier to draw it than to write its name

I'm on an errand to buy a can of air, so I swing by Office Depot. Standard procedure. I pick up the can and go to check out, a nice lady ringing me up. She's doing her thing, then asks me, "You 18?" Umb, I'm over 18 if that's what you mean. "Yeah," I say. "Of course," says my face. I didn't know you had to be of age to buy air. I don't even get carded when I buy cooking wine.

Okay, so it's not actually air; it's 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane, or CH2FCF3. And I guess it makes sense to double check that kids aren't buying turn the can upside down and spray a liquid stream that is colder than 100 below (F). Maybe I'll start carrying one of these around instead of mace. Anyway, people should be smart enough not to sell the things to eight-year-olds that are looking mischievous, or if they are going to have a government or company policy, they should actually check ID. Having faith in people is good, but laws that people don't take seriously are silly.


C3PO's girlfriend

Jeremy Mayer "disassemble[s] typewriters and then reassemble[s] them into full-scale, anatomically correct human figures. [He] do[es] not solder, weld, or glue these assemblages together- the process is entirely cold assembly." Way cool.

Some parts of the sculptures feel a little sterile--the faces mostly--but that happens easily with rigid parts. Overall, very nice.


media madness

Recently I've been thinking a lot about art and media with regards to copyrights. In the digital age, artists that create or sell their work electronically are faced with a huge hurdle of protecting their creations and performances so they can still profit from them and continue to pursue their lifestyles.

However, it seems that everyone has become hyper-sensitive in protecting their creations, particularly in the realm of music. It's no longer about protecting recordings of specific performances, but about the songs themselves. Recently, there was the story of a UK shop worker singing regularly at work being asked not to sing without a performance licence. Thankfully, the PRS realized they made a mistake, but that fact that they asked her to stop in the first place signals to me that something is very, very wrong. I can't tell if it's greed or if people are just worried about giving an inch and then being walked over by the public.

On the complete other end of the spectrum, Yoko Ono's Plastic Ono band is has released a track under CC Attribution-NonCommercial license and is asking people to remix it. That pushes some of my happy buttons. So why is it that so few artists release their work under CC?

First, let's think about why CC works so well for software (which is just as valuable as music in many ways). First: there is substantial community support for it. When something is released under CC, the releasers get lots and lots of gold star stickers. Second: software code lends itself well to sharing. If someone else already solved a problem, no reason to reinvent the wheel. Third: Anybody with a computer can use it or generate it. Forth: it's inconspicuous to do. The CC notice is like having the bibliography of a written work be inherent in the paper rather than being printed on top of it. That's just a cursory list.

And how about music? I think that all of the reasons I mentioned above could easily be applied to music as well. So why don't we do it? Why is software considered to be something that should belong to everyone and music should belong to those that pay? Is software more "needed"? I think that those who argue that music is more of a luxury commodity than software need to look closer. Song and music has been part of human culture from the very beginning. I'd argue that we need it more than we need software, but that its digital forms are on par with software in terms of "need." Artists and record companies just need to relax a little.

One reason that they can't relax, however, is that there is no equivalent way of citing sources the way we can with software. To re-use some code, the CC blip is already there. You use it and that's it. I think we could use a similar system for music. You just have the original files tagged, and then when you generate music, or any other virtual media using that source, it propagates the tag and you can tack on your own. Done. Easy. Imagine the day when school paper bibliographies are as easy as this.

Well, what if you make a "hard copy" of the media? What, you going to print out that eBook and sell it? Don't think so. And your remixed song? Umb, CD's are still digital, so burning it isn't a problem. You'd have to play it out and re-record it to get rid of the tag, probably decreasing the quality of the piece in the process. Or you could perform it live, in which case I think you should have all the rights to it, even if you're performing another person's work. It's only if you try to sell the results that it'd get hairy.

Digital media should all be CC'ed in my opinion. People are going remix song and frankenstein other digital media for personal use anyway, so why not encourage them, so long as they can't sell the result? Oh wait, people want to be paid for their media. That's right. Well, people will buy your merchandise, tickets to your show, and they'll still buy your music, even if you release it under CC. Why? Because they'll like you and want to support you.


dijon chicken spin

My mom makes a mean Dijon Chicken, but I've put a spin on it recently that I really like. Here's the new recipe--the amounts are just my best guess

Serves four.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 t Dijon Mustard
4-6oz mozzarella cheese (the hard kind, not the soft fresh variety) cut into strips
4 longs strips of prosciutto
1 egg
1/4 c flour
1-2 T olive oil

Hammer the breasts flat. Spread 1/2 teaspoon of Dijon Mustard on each breast. Place a few strips of mozzarella at one end of each breast and roll them individually. If some cheese sticks out, that's fine--it'll lead to tasty crispiness later. Wrap each roll in the opposite direction in a slice of prosciutto. If the rolls do not stay secure, use toothpicks to keep them together.

Whip the egg in a small bowl until fully scrambled. Dip the rolls in the egg, coating each roll entirely. Dust the chicken rolls in the flour by rolling them lightly through it, again covering them entirely.

Fry the chicken rolls in olive oil until cooked through. If there is extra cheese, you can use it by letting it melt in the pan and form a crispy coating to the rolls.

Doing this on a smaller scale might be fun for hors d'oeuvres.


What do people have against headwear?

Okay, I understand the need for safety, but I think this goes a little far. For those who don't want to read the article, UK colleges are trying to implement a "hoodies down" rule. The primary reason for hoodies, may I remind you, is for use as both a sweater and a head warmer. I can't tell you how many times I've seen normal, non-gang students wearing hoodies to keep warm. But maybe that's just in the States. Still, this combined with the history of controversies over the wearing of Islamic head scarves makes one wonder if there really is a ploy against headwear. Many schools already ban hats, so if we have no hats, hoods, or scarves, then are students expected to just lose massive amounts of body heat in cold weather?

holes in our lives

This past Sunday, I hit the local Quaker meeting. I went to a few of them at College, and loved them. The seats are arranged in a few consecutive circles, and people share their thoughts when moved.

For those familiar with the Mormon tradition of fast and testimony meetings, Quaker meetings are similar, except people tend to be more articulate, they have more discretion in sharing thoughts so a higher proportion of them are relatively profound, and no one feels the need to break the silence to prevent awkwardness. In fact, the silence is encouraged and part of the service.

Anyway, the service was beautiful, and one woman talked about filling the holes in our lives. She said that we all have holes and that we often try to fill them with things that do not quench the thirst or feed the hunger. She said that she herself played computer games, ate food she shouldn't, and chatted about silly things to fill holes. (No, this woman was not me.)

She said that we need to seek out the living water, the things that do fill the holes, and ground ourselves in those things. I love that this philosophy can be applied to anything in life, and I think it's beautiful. For the hole of actual, physical hunger, feed yourself with good food: whole grains, vegetables, etc.. If you are tired, sleep instead of having a stimulant. For the hole of loneliness, develop meaningful relationships with depth and breadth to them. Spiritual holes, mental holes, physical holes--this theory works for all of them.

If we achieve this ideal of always filling ourselves with things that truly quench our thirsts, rather than just delaying them, we will always be growing, expanding, and improving.


slashed tires

Two tires were slashed on my car Saturday evening--both on the passenger side. This was a pain because I couldn't simply put on the spare and continue on my merry way until I had time to get it fixed. All that aside, it wasn't so bad.

It did leave me frustrated with random and not-so-random acts of violence. The only justification I can conjure up is that my car is fairly nice and I live (and park) in a lower-middle class neighborhood. It was probably some punk teenagers getting their thrills, and picking on the person that they thought could afford it. There are other less generous, class-warfare interpretations, but I'll stick with the punk teenagers.

Violence frustrates me. What do people think it will accomplish? Certainly not a change in their situation, nor much of a change in mine. At most, it makes me mad for a matter of minutes and sad for a considerable amount of time--not much of that being fiscal sadness. So perhaps they were correct in picking their victim, but not for the reasons they had supposed.

I suppose what saddens me the most is that there is nothing I can do. I can't prevent this from happening to others and I can't help those who did the act. The situation is stagnant. All I can do is protect my own, which breeds nothing other than paranoia.


yorba's new website

It's been a week of new, shiny things at yorba. First, our new website, then the blog, and then we got business cards! I'll be encouraged to blog for work as well, though less regularly than, say, this blog. I worry that I won't have interesting things to say or that I'll be completely unprofessional, but we'll just have to find out!