Monthly Archives: December 2005

Safety and Pixar at the MOMA

While in NY last week, I had the opportunity to visit the MOMA to check out their special exhibitions. Since I’d just done a full tour of the museum in August, I felt I didn’t need to see every Matisse, Pollock and blue/white/black/slashed canvas again. The first special exhibition I walked through was SAFE: Design Takes on Risk. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect out of an exhibit on safety, but it was fascinating. The idea behind the exhibit is that nowhere does design matter more than in an emergency, where a tool or safety device needs to be so user-friendly that it can be understood and used immediately. The exhibit included everything from life vests, fire blankets, and Target’s new prescription bottles, to some more amusing art objects playing with the idea of safety. Some more images and examples can be found in this article.

Pixar Turntable The other special exhibition running at the MOMA was on Pixar animation. The gallery walls were filled with concept art from all of Pixar’s films, including their upcoming film Cars. There were also quite a few character model sculptures and plasma screens showing slideshows, Pixar shorts and more concept art. It was fun to see all of the artwork together, but I’d still seen most of it already in the various special features from the DVDs. But… the real highlight of the exhibit was in one of the theater spaces, where they had this giant turntable behind a glass case (pictured above). On the turntable were countless character models from Toy Story, all in slightly different poses. The whole thing started spinning rapidly, and then the regular light went out and the strobe light came on. The whole scene animated into a continuous loop of Woody galloping on his horse, Buzz balancing on a ball, green aliens walking around, and little army men jumping out of the box in the middle. In motion the whole scene looked like it was a state of the art 3D hologram projection, but it was so much simpler. It was an amazing demonstration of exactly what creates animation.

Planes, A few trains, and certain automobiles

After last year’s travel excitement, I decided this year to not mess around with all that connecting flight garbage and just fly direct in and out of NY JFK airport, and visit my sister in the city. Aside from a minor delay (during which I got to enjoy drinks with Skyler as we crossed paths), my flight went great. JetBlue is so quick, friendly and spot-on with its service, it makes you wonder what the hell all of these other airlines are doing. But of course with a simple plane flight, it must leave room for something else to go wrong. Lo and behold, the NYC Transit strike! I arrived at the airport early Wednesday morning and walked toward the taxi stand not knowing what to expect. What the… ? A short line?! The officer coordinating the taxis asked me where I was going and I said 30th and 1st Ave. “OK, step up here to the front, you’re riding with these two ladies. $30 flat fee each.” Not too bad. That’s about what I’d normally pay to take a cab from the airport. The car was full and the traffic was only a little slow. Police barricades were set up at the key entrance points to the tunnels and bridges onto Manhattan, making sure carpools with 4+ people were the only ones entering. Rush hour was over, so it was smooth sailing. I was the first stop in the city. Pretty painless.

Inside the city it isn’t nearly as bad as a lot of the news coverage makes it sound. People having to walk around does not = apocalypse. Yes it’s cold here, but Northeasterners have dealt with that for centuries. It does suck for a number of commuters, but for every angry testimonial I’ve heard, I’ve seen another person saying their commute wasn’t any different (NJ Transit, Metro North, and a few other lines are still running). It’s mostly a pain for those in Brooklyn, Queens, or people who have jobs/homes way uptown/crosstown/downtown. Overall, the streets are much more crowded with vehicles than they normally are, and you see many more bicycles, scooters, rollerblades and of course foot-traffic than you might otherwise. There are also a ton of NYPD at major intersections, where they help coordinate the masses of pedestrians, traffic jams and car-pool taxi fares. The downside is that most of the traffic around is NY natives. The few touristy areas I’ve been so far were eerily empty, especially for 3 days before Christmas. It really is costing the city a LOT. Aside from limiting some of the distance I can travel in the city (I miss the subway), there isn’t much other effect on my experience yet (knock on wood, we tackle Grand Central and Metro North tomorrow). I took a long chilly walk down to Greenwich Village and SoHo yesterday, and today we’re probably headed up to see the holiday glitz of Rockefeller center. My sister’s location is working out nicely, and it’s finally starting to feel like Christmas.

Christmas Cards

Christmas Card 2004 Christmas Card 2005

Every year my mother sends out Christmas* cards to family and friends. Not just any cards, but some of her very own handmade cards. For those of you who didn’t know my mother was an artist, well, now you do. She does etchings, embossings and collages all out of her basement studio. Above are the 2004 and 2005 Christmas cards I received. Happy Holidays!

* Disclaimer: I’m not saying “Christmas” instead of “Holidays” out of any support for that idiot but rather because it is what I happen to celebrate, and also happens to be the theme that some of my mother’s cards take.

For All Your Space Travel Needs

Space Vehicle Hull Repair Patch A refrigerator magnet, er… Hull Repair Patch purchased from the newly opened Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. located at 826 Seattle in the Greenwood neighborhood just outside the city. There are a bunch of other photos on Flickr from the store and the grand opening. Great decorations and hilarious writing throughout the store, and of course a great looking writing workshop in the back.

Strangercrombie 2005

Now for the fourth year, the Stranger is holding its Holiday charity auction extravaganza, Strangercrombie. As always the items up for bid are worth a ton, and in total they’ve already been bid up to more than $13,000. There’s some great stuff in the auction this year, with arts/music/media packages galore, chances to meet local celebrities, and as always, just about every piece of editorial content in the Stranger can be bought.

The Portland Mercury is at it again too with their very own Holiday charity auction, and they have just as much good looking swag. They also throw in their own special brand of wackiness by selling dates with the staff, a job swap, and swim lessons?

String-gle Bells

It’s that time of year where I start getting a bunch (a hundred or two) search string hits a month for “bad santa” all thanks to that Christmas party picture I posted a few years ago.

Also in the past two months, in addition to the usual junk, I’ve seen these gems…

sheesh – gads!
closeup pictures of baby hamsters
how collections affect credit – I don’t think this site has done a thing for my credit rating
young girls feetsmell
ackbar drunk – Pwapare the fweet for hyperschhpaascshsshshhshhhhh
passivism – aggressivistic?
singing turkey collections – Now that’s something I’d love to see

My First 911 Call

Last night, walking back to my car I witnessed a man leaning in through a broken passenger side window of an SUV. Another passerby shouted at him, “Hey! What do you think you’re doing!?” The man struggled his way out of the window, turned around and said something like, “Huh? This? This is my car, man. It was broken into.” The passerby mumbled and walked away. At this point the man glanced at me, back at the car and at another person nearby, then started walking away. I continued a couple cars further where I was parked, crossing my fingers that my car hadn’t already been hit. My car was fine. I got in and witnessed the man walk into a nearby alley and break into a run.

It took me a few seconds to do anything and then I thought to myself, “Hey, this is the kind of thing you might call 911 for.” Since I didn’t have the direct Seattle Police phone number handy, I picked up my cell phone and dialed 911. The operator was polite and transferred me straight to the SPD, where I got another very polite operator (I half-expected some annoyance and indifference at a non-emergency call like mine). I gave every detail of what I saw, including the license plate of the car that was broken into, exact street corner locations and direction in which the guy ran. Unfortunately my only description of the suspect was 6′, white, with a big brown coat and a hood. Probably quite a few of those out there. Not to mention all the other random car break-ins that happen around the city. I doubt anything will come of it, but I felt like I did a small civic duty. I was also quite happy with the overall service. I highly recommend this 911 thing (but hope you don’t have to use it any time soon, of course).