Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Missing: Camera cable

I've got some pictures from the past week that I wanted to throw up here, but I can't find the cable; hence the agonizing delay in posting new material. As soon as I get my hands on the cord I'll show some images from the past weekend, as well as my field trip to Princeton's Printing & Mailing Office.

UPDATE: Camera cable was in my box of cables, right where it should have been.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: The statues are gone!

While running a very important errand on campus last week, I discovered that the giant statues in front of Marquand, the ones that we have all come to know and love, are gone and have been replaced with a plastic, white picket fence. After some brief research, it turns out that the statues were on lease to the University.

Here are the photos:

Before these statues had graced Marquand's front lawn, the Picasso statue that now sits behind Spelman used to live here. It was moved with a truck a few years back.

Princeton Class Day Speeches

That same guy that really likes the Dirty Projectors also happens to have given a Class Day speech at our graduation from Princeton a few weeks back. Jason Gilbert and Jackie Bello both did incredible jobs, packing their speeches with wit, humor, sarcasm, self-deprecation, and enough sentimentality to prove they know how to work a crowd. Katie Couric had a tough act to follow (she even says so here).

Here they are, for all world to enjoy:

Old People Talking about New Music

I have a friend who really likes the Dirty Projectors. They came and played at Princeton and he was at the front of the crowd with his camera. He has continually raved about their music and what they're doing. For some reason I never really got around to listening to them until now.

Their new album, Bitte Orca, didn't grab me the first time, but confident that I was missing something, and with knowing that some of my favorite albums have been "sleepers" (something I didn't like right off the bat), I gave it another shot. And another. And another

And another.

After all those listens, the track "Stillness is the Move" stood out the most, along with the opening track "Cannibal Resource." Yet there's something about the way they play with tempos and tonalities, making some jarring, unexpected moves in the melody that annoys me more than gets me rocking out. If one thing is for sure it's progressive and deserves lots of attention.

I came across this video, part of a series where a group of old people reviews music. They go through Wilco and the Dirty Projectors here:

I would have been shocked if they had all been able to agree on liking any of it. As funny as it is with these older people talking about new music, I think it does show an unwillingness to accept some of the new things that are happening artistically, shunning the departure from what they're used to as bad news.

Makes me sad.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A painful truth about the "Real World"

Back when I was in college*, I was pretty busy. I was involved with a whole bunch of extra-curriculars, projects with friends, sports, music; the list goes on. People were always around at meals, roommates across the hall, friends in classes, in architecture studio, at parties and out on the street. The day's activities usually began around 10AM and went until 2AM, and everyday was different. Lectures, precepts, rehearsals, classes, projects, meetings, meals, friends, fun; all of it kept day-to-day life fresh.

Then college ended. The real world picked up where it left off.

Here's the deal with the real world (or at least the one I'm experiencing right now): You wake up, shower, eat breakfast, go to work. Work ends at 5PM and you go home. Then what? The divide between work/play is clearly demarkated by location and by responsibilities; what you and where you were are totally different than where you live and what you do while at home. The intertwined fluidity of the collegiate lifestyle, in which one activity leads to the next, evaporates once your career isn't the center of your lifestyle. Some would call that a curse, and some would consider the ability to "turn off" work mode refreshing.

I'm not sure what to call it.

For one thing, it's not depressing, though some might see it that way. The hours between 5Pm and midnight are full of possibility and potential. The thing is, getting involved in groups and "extra-cirriculars" once you're out of school becomes more about a pro-active, self-initated attitude to get things happening instead of falling into the banal get-home-from-work-make-dinner-and-watch-TV groove.**

So the painful truth about the real world is that you've really got to work hard after work is over to keep yourself occupied. Now I understand why they invented hobbies, and why people like to read: they have time for both. I didn't have time for "reading" in college, and am regretting my decision to leave my books at home thinking I would be "too busy to actually read." Silly me.


*My cousin and I, both recent college graduates (as of, like, three weeks ago) found ourselves repeating this phrase over and over at a recent family get-together. Not being in college anymore: a painful truth.

**Our cable is not currently functional as a result of the recent switch from analog to digital service. Strangely, the last thing were able to watch on TV (when it was working) was a news story about how people needed install digital receivers to keep watching TV. Go figure.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Regarding a few reviews of "Up"

I really liked Pixar's new movie "Up." Of course, I'm easy to please if there are lots of colorful balloons, large birds that squawk, or dogs that remind me of my own basset hound named Gus.

But I don't really care about my own opinion. I'm interested in seeing what everyone else thinks, comparing their critiques—however valid or unfounded they might be—to my own take.

Not surprisingly, Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a 98%. The page is filled with lauded praise over the movie's wondrous charm. However, I checked who thought the movie was "rotten" and found this review by Armond White for the New York Press.

Apparently, Mr. White did not like the movie. He criticizes how over-romanticized some of the scenes are and how sickeningly unrealistic and unhinged from reality other parts are, accusing Pixar of monopolizing the animation industry and taking it in the wrong direction. The arguments against his line of thought are obvious and well documented in the articles comments section, so I won't bother.

A few people just think White is just "trolling," or taking advantage of this opportunity to give a good move a bad review to stir emotions. If this is the case, he's succeeded. Intrigued, I did a search for "armond white up" and found this article, a back and forth discussion about the review and what White could have been trying to do. Is White just saying that he wants Pixar to step their game and start giving some more depth to their flicks?

There was also this article, that tears apart the review piece by piece and even features some of the author's favotire reviews from White's original post.

First, go see the movie. Then decide what you think. Then, think about Armond's review. Get back to me.

See there UP preview here: http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/up/

Weekend Roundup

It's Monday morning, that must mean a weekend just happened. It was my first non-student Princeton weekend, and it was jam-packed. Here are the highlights:
  • Saw the new movie "UP" and thought it was great. Very clever, very funny and very well told. Highly recommended.
  • Delicious dinner a little ways down the street followed by helping people move in.
  • Went to a farmer's market and bought some fresh veggies and apples.
  • Bought new xaphoon reeds.
  • Assembled new patio furniture and lounged out on the front lawn.
Overall a success. Despite the suggestions to trek into the city for the Puerto Rico day parade, we hung out around the house and around town, enjoyed some great cooking, and played jazz. What adventures await us this week?

Friday, June 12, 2009

I mean, duh.


The Agony of Tracking Packages

I ordered a fancy new computer on Tuesday following Apple's release of the new MacBook Pros. As part of the promotion, you get a free iPod Touch, which came yesterday. I received the notification it had been sent and followed closely as it left the factory is Pennsylvania, went through Newark, got on the truck and was eventually delivered here to the office.

This morning I got the notification that my computer had shipped. From Shanghai.

The idea of tracking shipments is great, but let's be honest, all it does is make the pain of waiting that much more painful. You have access to a resource that seems like it should tell you EXACTLY when the package will arrive, but the reality is that it usually updates in the morning and at night, leaving you (well, me) constantly refreshing the FedEx page all day long in hopes that the delivery truck has sprouted wings and arrived in Jersey in a matter of minutes, rather than hours or days.

And with the shipment of my new computer from China, I have to watch as a my little package treks across the mighty globe, traveling from conveyor belt to truck to plane to boat to car to bike to donkey to truck to its final destination here.

Tracking packages might seem convenient, but I find myself longing for the days of ignorant bliss when I had no idea when the package would arrive. Since the delivery trucks would come at the same time everyday (but not Saturday!?), if I came home from school and it hadn't arrived, that just meant I had to wait longer.

Today, I can see what time it left the facility, when it moves from truck to truck, etc. If I had to guess, the next step is live satellite shots of the package in transit and alerts when the driver has to stop for a pee break.

Real Life Experiences: Dealing with Landpersons

So we have this crazy landlady named Dorothy.

Of course, crazy is a term that needs to be qualified so that it can understood exactly what kind of crazy is being referred to. She's the kind of crazy person that tells REALLY long stories, and seems to have a repertoire of about 4 or 5 scenarios she customizes with names, places, and times to fit a convenient situation. For example, she told us the story about a guy who's mother never taught him to NOT lean back in chairs. He broke one of her dining room chairs as a result. Ryan informed us that she had already told him this story twice but with different rooms of the house and different offenders. She also told us how the previous tenants had expressed concern that their entire security deposit would be used to replace a single broken toilet seat. In fact, this was a hypothetical situation brought up by one of our friends in talking to Dorothy last month, not a previous tennant.

Describing people has never been my forte, but all I can say is that you've got to trust me on this one. Dorothy seems sweet enough, but that sweetness erodes as she leads you through the house on 2-hour walkthroughs to check for damage, or tries to explain how the stove doesn't work because there's so much grease. Over and over and over.

And then she tells you that she loves the fridge because it has traveled with her from California to Pennsylvania to Connecticut to Florida and back. She also loves its color, "Harvest Gold." (As one of us noted, we're not sure if having a well-traveled fridge is a good thing at all.)

Our lease term technically started on June 1st, but none of us were going to move in until this week. Despite the fact that is seems that she had a week to clean up everything, fix the upstairs bathroom, clean the oven, wipe the cabinets, change the furniture, remove the wire fencing and wax my bedroom floor, she has been around the house with little helpers all THIS week getting stuff done. What if we had to move in on June 1st? Would she have been LIVING there???

While we had considered presenting Dorothy with a list of grievances to outline our various frustrations, the arduous walkthrough last just left us wanting her out of our hair. She leaves the east coast on Monday for a magical world called "Arizona," and once she's gone, we don't have to worry about finding her sleeping on the dining room floor or eating a roast chicken outside on the lawn.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is it really that simple?

In a stroke of bizarrely kitsch urban/public development, New York City has planted 376 rubber folding chairs in the heart of Times Square.


I haven't had a double take this severe in ages, but despite your completely justifiable doubts, it's true. Here are all the facts you need to know:
  • Each chair, at ~$15 is 0.001% of the city's budget.
  • They've already made a t-shirt design for them (apparently still too obscure to warrant any pictures on Google Images)
  • Mayor Bloomberg says this kind of thing isn't going to happen again
  • The chairs are pink, blue and green.
Consider this: We have Times Square, one of the most crowded places in the galaxy, and the city want to give people a chance to sit down. So what do they decide to do? Put in beach chairs! Genius! Why overthink, why overplan, why overspend?

I'm partial to practical moves like this that break the mold, catch people off guard, and get lots of attention. And how apropos? It happens in media hungry NYC during a time when budgets are tight and spending tons of cash on expensive solutions isn't always an option.

Longevity? Sustainability? Not part of the equation, because the chairs will inevitably broken/stolen/run over by more fire trucks soon enough, but this is a bigger move than many people—especially Bloomberg, included—seem to think.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's all in the name

In other image related news, I found this picture on my computer. It was an anonymous Photoshop image with the title "super banana lamb." Naturally I opened it and found, well, a super banana lamb...one of those moments where it just makes sense all of a sudden.

Tiger 2.0

Not to be deterred my amateurism, I drew this tiger last night

Real Life Experiences: Grocery Shopping

Since I wasn't able to work the whole go-shopping-with-Mom-when-I-first arrive-so-she-can-pay-for-the-first-batch-of-groceries routine, last night was my first adventure into the supermarket to do grocery shopping for reals. This is the big time. No running in to get milk or buy cereal and poptarts. This is buying food to SURVIVE (without Subway and Panera).

Jayne and Isabel (2/3 of my housemates) and I made the trip to McCaffery's down in Princeton Shopping Center, and what a trip it was. To make a long, uninteresting story very short, I learned that grocery shopping is not an easy thing to do for the first time because:

1) You need to know what you want to make.

2) You need to know how long things last.

3) You don't want to spend too much money.

4) You have to plan for frequent trips.

5) Dividing up the bill is a pain in the rear.

Despite these challenges, we managed to spend a grand total of $169.52 on groceries, and are preparing for the house's first organized meal of spaghetti and salad tonight.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday, June 8, 2009

Real Life Experiences: First Day in the Office

Today was my first day of work. No problems, everyone in the office is super nice and I made the rounds getting introduced.

First thing I did was go to a meeting at the University Architects office to talk about some new sites the office is working. It was amazing to see and hear some behind the scenes talk about new bulidings, planning, etc. Very enlightening.

After I was set up at my desk, my boss, Laurel, set me to work re-designing the cover for the Freshman Orientation guide (you know, that thing that none of us actually read). I cranked out one version and spent the afternoon working on some other variations.

In other important news, Apple released some big ticket items at the World Wide Developer's Conference (WWDC) today. I'm in the market for a new computer, and exercised great self-restraint to wait until this week, and it's a good thing I did. They upped the power and dropped the price, but after doing some research, lots of people aren't happy with some of the performance issues with the models, etc etc. I've yet to make a final decision.

Looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"The Other Side of Nassau"

If you haven't figured it out already, the title "Stuck in the Bubble" refers to the infamous "Orange Bubble" that insulates Princeton University from the surrounding world. It's more real than you could ever imagine. With my internship this summer, I've made slight progress escaping this bubble, but I'm still very much a part of it, especially since I'm working for the university.

I realized that there's another title for the blog that might have worked just as well: The Other Side of Nassau Street.

Nassau Street acts as campus's northern border, drawing a distinct line between Nassau Hall, Firestone Library, and the stores and shops that line the Nassau. But it's just as much of a symbolic barrier as it is a physical one. Since Princeton guarantees housing and 99.999999% of students live on campus, it's possible to survive without ever crossing Nassau (though it's not recommended). Sure, CVS, Princeton Record Exchange, Starbucks, Small World and Bank of America are there, but to cross Nassau Street is to leave the comfort of Princeton's protection, entering the uncharted territory of places that don't accept charges to your student account (but Subway does!).

For most Princeton undergrads, the college experience happens below Nassau Street in dorms, classrooms, on Prospect Street, in theatres and labs etc. Trips to Nassau Street are for running errands, getting coffee, binding your thesis, and getting frozen yogurt. This was definitely the case for me.

Now that my undergrad career is finished, my life has moved to the other side of Nassau Street: that's where I'll be working, living, eating and shopping. It's a complete seismic shift of place, all revolving around a straight line of pavement that separates the Princeton education experience from the real world, even though it's just a short walk away.

When I recently commented that I didn't know what I'd do with this blog after I leave the Princeton bubble, a family member commented that life is just about moving from bubble to bubble; we just get "stuck" in different ones. If that's the case, maybe accepting the fact that we're always "stuck in the bubble" is just a way to recognize that there's more to life than what's immediately around us, even if it's just across the street.

Settled in!

The thing about packing is that it's always followed by unpacking. Sometimes, unpacking doesn't happen for a few days, weeks, or in one friend's case, a few months. Here's a general idea of how packing usually goes:

PHASE 1: Get everything out of the car. Getting stuff home this time, I'm still unsure how it all fit into my grandfather's Ford Escape in the first place.

PHASE 2: Dump everything into a secure location. Below is a photograph of what my bedroom looked like after unloading.

PHASE 3: Ignore everything for at LEAST a day.

PHASE 4: Sort, clean, reorganize, and get it all back into the car.

After competing all 4 stages, I am now happily settled into my house back in Princeton, with a short 2-minute (or less walk) to the Office of Communications on Chambers Street. With Mom's help, we were down here by 11AM and all unloaded soon after that. The landlady is still around dealing with some plumbing and cleaning issues.

Tomorrow starts my first day of work, and I'm anxious and excited to see what adventures await...

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Quinnipiac Bridge?

For those of you who have ever driven through I-95 near New Haven, this will be big news for you. And if have driven through and don't remember, it's probably because you blocked out the memory since it was a traumatizing experience.

It turns out they've made progress on the new Quinnipiac Bridge project. They've gotten a low bidder and are starting on the final paperwork:
"The DOT has 60 days to formally award the contract. According to the agency, construction is scheduled to begin in January and to be finished June 30, 2015.

Before the project is formally awarded, “There’s a whole stack of documents the apparent low bidder has to put in ... it’s an endless list,” said Brian Mercure, assistant district engineer who is overseeing the entire New Haven Harbor highway project."
It's great that they've come this far, but those of us from the New Haven area can't help but be skeptical. But maybe there's hope, after seeing the fantastic work done with the new lanes and bridges just north of the existing bridge until about Exit 53.

Here's the New Haven Register's story: http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2009/06/05/news/a1_--_q_bridge_bids.txt

Facebook vs. Google's Picasa

I've found myself making the switch from posting pictures on Facebook to using Google's Picasa service. Why? A few reasons:

1) No limit to number of photos in an album.

2) You can download higher quality versions of the photos, instead of the single reduced-quality image Facebook provides.

3) Easier to share photos, even with people who don't have Google accounts (my mom even did our family's Christmas card online with Picasa this year...all by herself. THAT'S shocking).

4) Online slideshows.

5) The new people-tagging functionality. Check it out here: http://picasa.google.com/intl/en_us/features-nametags.html

This last one is the most impressive, and if you haven't used Picasa to post photos recently, you probably haven't experienced this. Here's what happens: You tell Picasa to analyze all of your albums. After it's done, it presents you with a filmstrip of all of the thumbnail-size faces that it recognized from those photos. It attempts (relatively successfully) to group shots of the same person together, so with one click you can tag the same person in a dozen photos. It learns who the people's names are and makes suggestions, and when it gets it wrong, you can do a quick search (just the first few letters of the person's name can find it in your address book).

I had about 1,300 faces and was able to take care of a few hundred relatively quickly, but finishing it off is a daunting task, especially as you have to start doing one at a time. Despite this, Picasa's ability to recognize faces was seriously impressive, and introduces a whole to approach to tagging people. You can also also do it in the album itself, and if you've already let Picasa analyze the album, it has usually found where the faces are and makes tagging in the picture environment super-easy as well.

Facebook "killer"? Who knows, I'm sure there's lots of talk about that somewhere else. But compared to the daunting task of Facebook tagging, this method rocks. And overall, Google's doing a REALLY nice job of streamlining online photo management. You can even tag locations on a little Google Map.

If you're the kind of person that posts photos on Facebook so EVERYONE can see them, then you lose out on the accessibility of clicking that little "See more photos of [insert stalkee here]." But if you're posting photos for a select group of people and don't necessarily need the whole world to see—which is how I'm feeling recently—then Picasa is probably the way to go.

Of course, I'm sure there are ways to get the best of both worlds (posting one photo from the album on Facebook with link to the Picasa version, a link in a Status Update, a link in your profile, etc etc etc.), I just haven't investigated........yet.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Out of the Bubble...for the moment

As a hopeful youth, I had grand visions of my future. They might have been vague, half-formed, lofty and unspecific, but I always assumed that I would graduate college and embark upon a bustling career, whatever it might be.

I never would have believed that I wouldn't actually LEAVE college after graduation. I would have laughed in your face if you had told me this, calling you silly and closed-minded, probably accusing you of "not really knowing me." Yet this summer—on Monday, June 8, to be precise—I'm going to be working as a Design Assistant at Princeton University's Office of Communications. The OoC handles all of the official design work for the university, as well as the school's press releases and graphic identity/licensing.

Wait...did you catch that? This is Princeton's Office of Communications...as in the university that I just graduated from...on Tuesday. This isn't some fancy corporation, clever start-up company or progressive private design agency. Just when I thought I was done with Princeton, I get draaaagggggged back in.

But while the notion was gut-wrenching and terrifying at first, I've come embrace the it. I'm lucky enough to be employed and making some money, will get some experience doing real design projects...and will get my fair share of organizing photographs and xeroxing, I assume.

To celebrate this twofold momentous occasion—my graduation from college and the beginning of a new career path—I've decided to start a web log and share my experience. I hope that what follows will be interesting, informative, fun, and enlightening.

If it isn't, that's for you to know and me to ignore.