12.22.2008

Fashion Shorts?

Take the day off this Wesenday, and wear your fashion shorts!

(Thanks to LN for this one. Found in Champaign.)

12.08.2008

DataMapping

I thought I was hearing my name a lot lately. The BabyNameWizards are doing a nice job of visually representing name prevalence.



This reminds me of another mapper; this one of streets and sent to me by JS: BenFry.com

12.05.2008

Big Willy Speaks Up

Another comment on my post from July of 2006, this time with Big Willy writing into the blog:

this is true i love all these comments about not caring about the signs... really if they just built new skate parks for us maybe we wouldn't skate on their fucking property! screw the fucking popo sk8 or die mutha fucka!

~big willy~

11.11.2008

Two Online Writing Tools

Two anti-distraction writing tools this week, one a web app and another downloadable for Mac.

Write Or Die is a web window that will time and punish you while it obstreperously counts your words; WriteRoom takes over your desktop, basically disabling the myriad distractions that can get to you when you're trying to writing using a standard word processor.

WriteRoom looks more or less like this; little green type over a black background:



I used WriteRoom a bit this week to do some prewriting on a new chapter I'm writing, and kinda liked it ... for a while. I had some trouble bumping up the type size, and the red-squigglies were just too red in front of the black background ... but I like the idea. These apps try to return us to writing from the land of multitasking; they try to remind us that PCs were once just glorified typewriters.

11.05.2008

Bird Ingestion Test Facility

Sometimes research will take you in unforeseen directions. This image is of a bird ingestion test facility. The apparatus is for running birds through jet engines to see how the engines fare. We can guess what happens to the birds.



The image is taken from this in-depth discussion.

11.03.2008

10.29.2008

Tailenders

The Tailenders, a documentary about evangelical efforts to spread the word ... using very nifty little low-tech record players. A video featuring the gizmo is here.

Another image of it in use is here.



It's playing on our campus this evening:
Free and Open to the Public
Wednesday, October 29, 2008, 7-9 p.m.
Knight Auditorium, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory St., Urbana

10.28.2008

cnnbcvideo.com

Ha! J.O. sends me a link to cnnbcvideo.com with a very funny auto-customized get-out-da-vote video. Perhaps you've seen it.

10.22.2008

Album

I just realized that because I use Blogger, and because Google bought Blogger, and because Google runs Picasa, by blogging on Blogger I now have inadvertently created this photo album of images posted to this blog.

If you don't want to explore the link, it looks something like this:

10.15.2008

Coolest Conference of the Season

BW, of former UIUC fame, sent me a heads-up about what I think is the coolest conference of the season: N O T E S – S K E T C H E S – S C R I B B L E S ... Writing and Drawing as Creative Tools.

The line-up is not all found notes or anything, but it does lean toward the handwritten and the scribbled. Zha!

10.12.2008

9.29.2008

Eco Fur?

From a link in the Seattle Times, Eco-Luxury Fur: a company claiming that wearing expensive furs is beneficial to the environment.


The hype-text on the website reads:



"[W]ithout any of the negatives often associated with fine furs." Huh? I can think of a few.

And this passage from the Independent:

"Fur is sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable," says Hutchings, who then goes on to argue that possum fur is a special case. "These animals would be killed anyhow, and the way the government does it is inhumane." Currently, the New Zealand government sprays pellets of poisonous sodium monofluoroacetate (1080) over large areas. "The animal is left out in the wild to rot, which can be a source of secondary poisoning, and there can be collateral poisoning if other animals eat the pellets," says Hutchings. Her possums are killed within 10 seconds using cyanide, or are trapped. The fur is processed without the use of artificial colours or preservatives, and made into cushions or throws that cost $200 (£112) for a cushion and $3,400 (£1,900) for a bedspread. "That the fur is ecologically compelling is icing on the cake. It feels luxurious and looks incredible," continues Hutchings, who thinks her throws can help climate change. Possum fur is the third warmest in the world, so snuggling under one of these bedspreads allows you to turn the thermostat down.


When I first heard of EcoTimber back in 1994, I got a bit worried that "eco" was being too widely affixed to things that weren't, but this "wear fur, help the environment" claim is just too much. Exterminating/managing an overly abundant invasive population is one thing; wearing the bodies of the creatures in order to participate in the historical luxuries of fur is another.

More on Political Speech

If you're anywhere near UIUC, you prolly know already that employees of the U are required to keep their political views secreted away while at work. The other day, I posted this little chart which was sent to me through campus mail:



On my run, it occurred to me that all of the following are kosher, following this little table-graphic:

  • wearing a pin or t-shirt in support of the Green party
  • wearing a pin or t-shirt that reads "I'm voting for Trotsky!"
  • wearing a pin or t-shirt that reads "Vote for O'Bhamma"


Many work arounds exist, methinks, for those eager to embody their politics this election season.

9.23.2008

Bad Directions

I found this bad set of directions this morning on the walk in:



Why bad? While I generally prefer hand-written directions to the GoogleMapsified and MapQuestian varieties, these directions result in a route that looks like this:



That's right, with the jog up Neil in the middle, the traveler ends up making two extra turns and even cutting back to the east the tiniest bit. The following would be a much more efficient route to a N. Prospect destination:



Sometimes you find things, and they're just wrong. Which is why we have the Found Innitiative: to set things straight in this world.

9.19.2008

No Pins Allowed

I'm not a big pin wearer, so it is with relief that I see I won't be in violation of the law prohibiting political activity in my workplace:

9.16.2008

Newberry Library Gig

The description of my seminar up at the Newberry Library is online and reads:


Graphic Novels in the Language Arts Classroom
Spencer Schaffner, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
10/14/2008
One of the key challenges in teaching graphic narratives is convincing readers that a text that looks every bit like a simple comic requires more than minimal analysis and critical reading. Thoroughly understanding a graphic narrative means developing literacies that make sense of both visual and textual elements on a page. Certainly some of the most popular graphic narratives in recent years like Art Spiegelman's Maus: A Survivor's Tale and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis require such skills. This seminar will include an overview of the graphic narratives currently available to readers, focused readings of specific texts, description of resources for teaching graphic narratives, and discussion of what kinds of activities work best when teaching graphic narratives. Our goal will be to develop both reading strategies and inventive activities for teaching


It will be fun.

9.15.2008

David Foster Wallace Dead

First shock to see that David Foster Wallace has killed himself with a length of rope, but then not really surprise, because he seemed pretty tortured. I only saw him read once, in Portland, and it was a spectacle: on stage with Sherman Alexie and a few other current notables, DFW was grubby and expectorating into a can the whole time. He looked pained. He evaded questions.



I once rode a ferry with a dude who said he didn't read the works of authors who had killed themselves. I scanned quickly and came up with a few favorites of mine who did: Virginia Woolf, Hemingway, Plath ... thought to myself "Why rule them out, just 'cause of that?"

But now, with DFW taking himself out of the game, I'm a bit bitter and unwilling to pick up one of the more current volumes that I have yet to read. But maybe I will. I mean, Broom of the System was not my favorite, but I really really liked the footnotes in Infinite Jest. Like really liked them. And the tennis stuff. And the ending.

UPDATE: I now see that it is becoming seen as clever to begin obits for DFW in a pseudo-David-Foster-Wallacian way. The one from the Washington Post reads:

In the footnotes of the brief life of David Foster Wallace, a reader might discover that in addition to penning one of the seminal novels of the latter 20th century, and in addition to trademarking a dizzying writing style populated with parentheticals and those brilliant footnotes, and in addition to becoming a symbol of pop culture and intelligentsia for a large segment of Generation X, the "Infinite Jest" author lived for a time in Normal, Ill.


And from the NYT:

David Foster Wallace, whose darkly ironic novels, essays and short stories garnered him a large following and made him one of the most influential writers of his generation, was found dead in his California home on Friday, after apparently committing suicide, the authorities said.


Kind of cheesy, but I think he'd giggle.

By Jove

From PG, a link to a video sharing site ("Jove") for scientists to post videos about their experiments (and some text).

9.12.2008

Found Friday

Found in Urbana on the walk in to campus. Rubber band, plastic bag, plastic skateboard, repentance.

9.11.2008

Bounty Hunting

For the past few weeks, I've been tracking down some articles on Alaska's former bounty on Bald Eagles, which makes it sort of odd to see the recent press emerge on Palin's sponsorship of aerial "predator" control programs. From the Seattle PI

Predator control. Palin approved and expanded the state's aerial predator control program, where wolves are shot from aircraft and bears hunted from aircraft and killed upon landing. This year, her state biologists even dragged 14 newborn wolf pups from their den and, having already shot their parents, then shot each of the pups in the head at close range. Last year, her administration offered a $150 bounty for each wolf killed until the bounty was ruled illegal by the courts. Hundreds of wolves are killed each year by this antiquated state program that has no scientific justification whatsoever, but rather is designed to appease Palin's urban sport hunter supporters.


Google pulls up many more pieces relating to this here.

9.01.2008

Prank: Chancellor Condemns the Greek System

I wish I could say "Go Herman!" but can't. A prank email on campus.

Dear Students,

Many of you may be aware of an event known as Rush. It is my objective to warn you of the potential downsides of Greek organizations. I advise you to not succumb to the aggressive recruitment tactics used by these organizations. It has been my concern over the years, that the Greek culture of alcoholism and lack of respect for the community degrades campus life. These organizations present themselves as prestigious, yet are discriminatory, serve to perpetuate social inequality, especially with
respect to the opposite gender, and promote a lack of diversity. Many students have expressed concerns with regards to safety on campus,particularly due to Greek culture and behavior. It is my hope that a student's experience on campus strengthens one's individuality, but the Greek system emphasizes the group above all, without cause or reason. This is detrimental to the purpose of universities.

I hope that you will consider wisely.

GDI Chancellor Richard Herman


Update: Follow-up email from the Head Office using a lot of ands instead of commas.

Dear members of the campus community:

You may have received an email titled: Regarding Greek life on campus. This message was a hoax and was NOT sent by Chancellor Richard Herman and was NOT authorized by the campus administration.

Robin Kaler
Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs

This mailing approved by: The Office of the Chancellor

8.23.2008

Black Bird, Black Bird

It's an old linguistic exercise to have students pronounce "black BIRD" and "BLACK bird" in order to illustrate the role of vocal stress in producing meaning. I've been doing a bit of reading (again) on one of my favorite black BIRDs, the American Crow. Well, really, I've been reading about Fish Crows, Northwestern Crows, and Tamaulipas Crows to find out more about species differences and stuff.



But now I've gotta write it up. Caw!

8.21.2008

Sk8r Post from 2 Years Ago Still Cracking

I never would have thought, in 2006, when I posted a short thing on anti-skateboarding signage, that it would have been my most read post of all time. Well, maybe not all time, but in recent time. (And yes, I'm not batty: I know I've blogged about this phenomenon at least two other times; it just keeps amazing me!) The most recent comment came in today and reads:

skating like an hamburger, its been around for ever. i don't see why people hate us the skater boarders of the world, because we skate on others stuff. screw who ever hates on skaters


The web is weird like a hamburger, too: you put up some stuff you really want people to see, and it barely gets indexed by Google. You put up some wacky post on anti-skateboarding-signage, and it's big shoosh.

I'm in the middle of designing and building a big genealogy site and thinking maybe it needs some sk8r stuff in there, just to boost traffic.

8.18.2008

Found (Last) Friday

The interns here at Found Friday have fallen a tad behind, so we're posting this foundling a few days late. But whatev.



If there's one thing we've learned here at Found Inc., and I think there might be, it's that we ultimately have no certain clue as to what a foundling is about. None of them. Case in point: the above image. I mean, huh?

So, we're at 1) harmony with nature, 2) stuff happens, 3) we get bummed, 4) remember stuff, and then 5) do what to our sister? I simply don't know.

There is a lot of stuff around C-U in the dumpsters these days, though, which means found stuff you really can do something with. I found some nice 2X8s the other day, for instance, and today have my eye on an old garage door someone's throwing away. Interpret that!

8.12.2008

Urbana-Champaign Enters the Tall Building Contest

Have you been reading much lately about the ongoing contest to build the world's tallest building? Well, it turns out that the twin cities of Urbana and Champaign have entered the race, with mega-buildings cropping up all over the place. The latest locale? The UIUC quad.

Yes people: there is now an obelisk growing out of the south quad. Zoinkin' concrete monster.

8.04.2008

Found (Family) Pic

Found family pic featuring my Mom at left. Also featuring a trike, which looks fun to ride! Circa 1946 or so. (Click to enlarge.)

8.02.2008

Gambling in the Dorms

The Home Office has a new website and new addie online: what was "www.uiuc.edu" is now "www.illinois.edu." What's remarkable, I think, about the new website is just how honest it is. Pic 4 of the homepage's rotating images is a shot of student gambling in the dorms. Wow. UIUC gets all honest in its representations of student life.

Go to UIUC: Win a Bundle!

8.01.2008

Watchmen, the Movie

MB turned me onto the trailer for the new film version of Watchmen.



If you've read the book, you've prolly already seen the trailer; if you've read the book, maybe you're also as freaked/amazed as I am at just how visually true to the book the movie is. Really: it's like the images came to life on the screen. Very odd in an "adaptation." Anyway, it looks kinda fun.

I guess such verisimilitude makes me wonder why we need to film version at all, when we have the book. And then I wonder if the narrative structure in the film will be anywhere as multiple and confusion as in the book. Like will the shipwreck story figure in there? I kinda doubt it.

7.18.2008

Kids Shooting Guns

Imagine my surprise, a couple of weeks ago, when I looked over at the bowling alley to see this little girl shooting a pump shotgun at the screen of a video game. I think she was "Big Game Hunting":



And then, a week later and at another arcade, I snapped this image on my cell-phone-cam:


(All identities seem adequately blurred out, so I'm okay with posting the content online.)

Know this: I'm someone who's perfectly comfortable saying that "guns kill people." I think they are a noxious technology that allow people to do things many of us would not do otherwise; I also think that guns and gun makers are part of making the world a worse place to live in. Without the technology, I'm safe saying, the world would not be messed up in quite the same ways that it is messed up in. You may disagree with me.

But that's a bit off topic. What I wanted to blog about is this thing where little kids are doing it up on shooter video games. A little girl pumps a shotgun while her parents bowl. Some other kids wield major machine guns, blasting life-like targets on a screen. Pop. Bang. Rat-a-tat-tat.

I don't think I think any of these kids will grow up to be gun-toting shooters in real life because of their interaction with these "games." So why do I yack when seeing this kind of thing? Prolly a belief in the sanctity of childhood, a naive value in peaceful wellbeing for the little dudes among us, and things like that. Plus, this just cries out to the demise of games I value more than shooting electrons with plastic guns: capture the flag is a good summer game, as is jailbreak. I particularly like those games.

6.24.2008

"Reserved for Expectant Mothers"

I noticed this sign in a local parking lot the other day, and began wondering if it was a one-of-a-kind jobber.



As it turns out, these signs are quite common. Images of some others, found quickly online, include:

















I guess I wasn't the first person surprised enough by this signage to take a picture. The popularity of the whole stork thing in the images kind of surprises me, particularly where only a stork icon is used. For some reason, one of the expectant mothers is already pushing around a baby carriage; maybe she was an expectant mother before.

For debate on "stork parking" (man, when are they gonna have dork parking?), see this stuff

.........

UPDATE: Okay, having thought for a few more hours (in the back of my mind) about this whole "stork parking" thing, I guess what's strange about it is that it seems to equate being prego w/ being disabled, given the way disabled parking spaces work. I know that in some instances it actually is the case that being prego can create a disability, but in other cases, it certainly is not the deal. So that equation is kind of strange.

But the other thing is that I guess I'm a little surprised by the degree to which the stork has been taken up. And not just because it's a bird thing. I much prefer the signs w/ the image of the prego woman, as at least that imagery doesn't sanitize the sitch.

That's all I've got. Not much. I should really just get back to my writing.

6.18.2008

Spam is Still Fun

It's really the bloond hair that sold me on this one.

I have seen yours profile and it became very interesting to me to read about you. I see that you want to find yours soulmate and I also want this! I think what to write to you now, and really it is very difficult to write to the man only knowing him on a picture, but you the information on you helped me to understand you and that that you want. I the educated girl, a harmonious body; mine tall 5 ' 6 ", My weight 119 pounds, I have bloond hair!

I ask you to write to me on this email: mar.hlazd@yahoo.com

I would like to send you some pictures myself and I shall be pleased to answer you if you write to me. faithfully,Maryna
By the way you have beautiful eyes!
PS I would like to ask you that you wrote to me on email: mar.hlazd@yahoo.com


The image of the day is a proto disc wheel from one of Sheldon Brown's great pages on bikes:

6.17.2008

Future Undergraduate Classes

I just found myself describing undergraduate classes I'd like to teach. These titles came to me and got me all excited. It's crazy how existing rubrics and keep you from doing yer thing.

"The Rhetoric of Everyday Life: Writing on the Body, Street, and Post-It Note"
"Leet Speak in Noob Land: Online Communication and Composition"
"Hypergraphia and Illegible Writing in Art and Literature"

Favorite image of the day:



You know, blogging's not all that bad.

6.06.2008

Found Friday

From the West Coast Bureau of Found Friday, Inc., we have this series titled "Hund." I think it's kind of cute.



6.03.2008

tinyurl.com

Rated Most Useful Website of the Week: tinyurl.com. It'll truncate your action!

So this link to a pic of one of my bikes:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1397/1483951492_5a536cd142.jpg?v=0

becomes this:

http://tinyurl.com/4kgtgf

And the size of the bike never changes. So cool.

5.30.2008

Award!

Big ups to Jentery for landing a Kairos Teaching Award! And Jim Purdy and Joyce Walker won The Kairos Best Webtext Award for this detailed site.

And since it was never taken up, I'll post my version of the Kairos logo:

5.11.2008

Fonz Composition

Henry Winkler (heeeeeeeey) has a book featuring everyone's favorite writing appliance: the five-paragraph essay.

From a review that came out today:

In "Niagara Falls, or Does It?" the first book in the series, Hank is assigned a five-paragraph essay describing what he did over summer vacation.

Writing five paragraphs, for Hank, is "like climbing Mount Everest with no clothes on," said Winkler. So Hank builds a model of Niagara Falls as a "living essay," explaining and showing what he did on his summer vacation, instead of writing.

4.30.2008

Paintings with Eye Patches

To the right of our main circulation desk here at UIUC, hangs this painting vernacularly titled "Guy with Eye Patch." Eye-patch paintings exist, I think, in alignment with statues wearing glasses, in that the easily removable optical gear is preserved for posterity.


And having found many more eye-patch photos and paintings online, I think I'll have to blog/think about this more. In the case of the eye patch, I understand why the patch would be part of the painting; in the case of glasses, I still think it's goofy.

4.29.2008

Pagism

definition: the valuing and overvaluing of the page, typically written.

4.23.2008

On Punctuation

I heard Paula Rabinowitz give a talk the other day involving an analysis of punctuation, and it reminded me of some of Nicholson Baker's work on the history of such punctuation marks as the semicolon and comma dash.

That's right, the comma dash: a combo-deal involving a comma and an em dash put together. Why don't most of us use the comma-dash? Or even know about it? Like the Carolina Parakeet, the comma dash went bye-bye.

[warning: bird-name segue] Eric Partridge and John Williams Clark have a nice book dealing with the topic in an unusual, mathematical way; see You Have a Point There: A Guide to Punctuation and its Allies. It's a GoogBook, so you can read it without much bother.

What's funky about what Partridge and Clark do is that they assign values to various punctuation marks in order to develop a value-based guide to usage. First, however, they contextualize some of the various ways punctuation marks can be combined:







So, as you can see, the comma-dash would rank between the comma and the semicolon. Of course, as a currently marked mark, that might throw off the ratings. Have you scored your punctuation marks today?

As Nicholson Baker points out, we tend to think of punctuation marks as static, unchanging, and absolute ... kind of like language. But punctuation marks and how they're used change. As CP reminded me this morning, I posted a little while ago about how folks here at the U of Ill are in the biz of inventing some pretty funky new marks.

So yeah,— go forth and punctuate.

4.16.2008

Phony Travel Books

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An author for the Lonely Planet travel guidebook series has claimed that he plagiarized and made up large sections of his books, an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday. [...]

"They didn't pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern at the Colombian consulate," the newspaper quoted Kohnstamm as saying.


Full story HERE.

4.11.2008

Found Friday

Provided by one of the interns here at Found Friday (fed ID #23958-sgljg-38). I plan to store it in my new Birding Vest, just so you know.