Plink Plink

On Cornell's campus, there is a pedestrian walkway that traverses the roof of the extended ground floor of the Olin Library. The Olin Library is a classic 1970s modernist building, that some have referred to as "looking like a punch-card."

Now, this walkway to which I am referring has become one of my favorite little places to encounter as I walk across campus. You see, due to the fact that the walkway is on the roof of a lower part of the building, it sometimes has rocks scattered about on it (the rocks are the ballast from the roof below). These rocks are the fun part. When you kick them, as they bounce and roll across the concrete pavers, they go "plink, pl-plink plink plink" in a most beautiful array of staccato tones. It sounds kind of like a xylophone. Hmmm... building-as-musical-instrument. Life shows us beauty in the most unexpected places.

Ithaca is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. What a change from the industrial cathedral of Cleveland-- Rosie has already stopped sneezing as often as she used to.

So the lifestyle change from the work-a-day world to academia-world is proving to be a slight shock, even though I've only been out of undergraduate school for three-and-a-half years. I mean I'm not reeling or anything, but let's just say you can't leave graduate studies at the office. No more 'home by 7:00 PM and forget about the day.' Not even a chance. Don't get me wrong-- I love what I'm studying. It's just tough to start letting a non-personal endeavour permeate my life again. But change reminds us of who we are, so...

Over at Opensewer we have quite a few things a brewin'. The artist database structure is complete, thanks to Scott, and we'll be implementing it over the next few months. We have many new artists booked, notably photographer Deborah Pinter and filmmaker Robert Banks. We're quite excited about Robert because this is the first time that we'll be exhibiting time-based media (film, in this case) on OS. And this guy's work is wired, so get ready. (For more on Robert Banks, see the entry for Tuesday, August 8, 2000.) Oh, and last week the folks at Pyra selected OS as "blog of the week." Yay!

We're here (Ithaca, I mean)... we've been here for days... the Verizon strike is just ending... can't get a telephone line for at least three weeks... updating websites from Cornell campus... stay tuned...
Packing Status:
Progress: 75%. Pace: Frantic.
Ah, morning coffee. Calm before the storm. A moment of relaxation before the day begins.

Boy, do I sound like a 2:30 PM soap-opera television commercial or what? But I like morning coffee, I do. It’s really quite a Zen thing. I suppose, however, it’s not just about the coffee. It’s about the stillness. Contemplation, silence. If firmly believe that this good for the soul. It’s good for self-awareness.

In an essay I read some time ago (I can’t remember what it was called or who it was about), a man, about sixty years old, who was well-respected in this world as a thinker, was being asked about what he thought made him different from the rest of us. What gave him the ability to think about things in a way that seemed a bit deeper, a bit more insightful than the rest of the world?

There is nothing special about me,” he answered. “Anyone has the ability to think deeply and critically. However, one thing that has worked for me, in particular, is to spend one-half hour each morning doing absolutely nothing, except thinking. No reading, no talking, no writing, no figuring things out, no planning for the day. That simple act, the act of denying intrusions from entering the mind for just a brief period each day, has made all the difference in my life.”

You know what? He knew what he was talking about.

So the packing has begun. Progress: None. Pace: Glacial.

Resolving not to be forced to live out of boxes for multiple weeks, we have delayed the majority of our packing until now, five days before we move. So to start off right, we decided to kick off the process with a party, which in my opinion is the proper way to kick most things off. It was one of those "just a few special friends, oh yes, we're keeping it quite small, we want to really spend some quality time with our closest chums" kind of things. Yes, great idea. Except for the fact that we ended up staying until 4:00 AM, we're walking dead this morning, now we have to meet our parents for dinner at 2:00 PM today, and we haven't gotten a stitch of packing done yet.

So far, so good!

This is awesome... an interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Craig McCracken, creator of the Powerpuff Girls. Fast forward to the 36:00 minute marker in the show to hear it! (Real Audio Player required.)
Over at Opensewer we've started an action against Wal-Mart. Essentially, we're endorsing a boycott of the store. Does this action hold any chance of making a real difference? If not, what actions would be more effective? We're currently organizing future on-site interventions (where we will hand out information and talk to people face to face), to bring the message closer to home. Other than that... What do you think?
Robert Banks... boy genius. Rosie and I had quite an interesting session today with Robert, shooting footage for several films, including an OS promo piece. Look for Robert's work to premier soon on Opensewer. He'll also be showing several of his films at the BBC Short Film Festival in London this September. So, if you're in the neighborhood, take a moment to drop by. Some photos from today's shoot:

Photo: Robert Setting Up with Rose. Photo: Rose, During Filming. Photo: Robert, in Action. Photo: More Filming.

Action is up at Opensewer. Check it, and do something. Today, we're off to dirty up some 8mm stock with bleeding-edge filmmaker Robert Banks. Wait until you see this...
Enjoy Mr. Wheelie:

Sketch: Mr. Wheelie.

The Leader

A sketch of the Coliseum in Rome... but just the part I'm interested in: the guts, the structure under the floor where the fighters and animals were staged before battle.

Sketch: The Coliseum.

Rome was such an intense city. My second trip to Italy, the one I made with Rosie, didn't even include a trip there. This surprised many people: "How can you not go to Rome?"

Rome is arguably the most metropolitan city in Italy (some would say Milan); it feels a bit like an older, more ornamental, smaller New York City. It's noisy, complex, long, a bit rowdy, and full of Gypsies. And there are just too many churches, sculptures, fountains and too many incoming train tracks at the stazione.

June 1994: So we decided to go to St. Peter's Basilica on free day, the day of the week where everyone is allowed into the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, etc., free of charge. I think it was Tuesday. We thought this would be a great idea, and it would have been... had 300,000 other tourists and Italians not come up with exactly the same idea.

Needless to say, we were in "line" for a large portion of the day (I say "line" facetiously because Italians have no concept of the "line." To them, line up means "everybody rush toward the entrance and cram together until nobody can move and everyone is pissed-off and yelling at each other").

We were fortunate enough to be waiting next to a class of Sicilian elementary students. Let me assure you, Sicilian elementary students are approximately 500 times louder and more obnoxious than your standard issue Italian elementary students (which are, in turn, 500 times louder than American elementary students). These kids were climbing the battered walls of the Vatican, apparently thinking that this would allow them to get in before everyone else. They were the most animated kids I'd ever seen, and they had a leader.

There was one little dark-haired girl, the same age as the rest, that seemed to be running the show. She was the ringleader; she bossed them around, verbalizing commands with words and arms flying everywhere. She was in control; it was amazing. It was one of those times when you really realize just how different cultures can be. Kids in America simply don't have that kind of self-awareness. I'd never seen a person with such confidence, ever, and she was 9 years old.

I think, some day, she may be running the world.

Observation No. 3

You can make a pretty good coffee filter out of a paper towel, if you're desperate enough. You'll need a stapler and scissors for top performance. Here you go:

Sketch: How to Make A Filter.