Thursday, December 27, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

UCAP pal Jamie Beckett goes private

Congrats and good luck to UCAP pal Jamie Beckett on his new role in Winter Haven.
...the chain of events that led to me accepting the position of V.P. of Operations for SunState Aviation Flight School in Winter Haven, Florida.
Read Jamie's explanation of how he got here, and what it means.

"Hobbit" reviewers don't like HFR 3D

While "The Hobbit" movie seems to be getting reviews that range from decent to great, the HFR3D technology that I wrote about in a previous post is getting panned pretty badly.

Bryant Frazer of presents a collection of excerpts from a wide range of reviews. His preface includes:
...some observers have variously complained [the new technology] makes the film look cheap, sped-up, and-or nausea-inducing. And it's true — writers seem to have mostly gone out of their way to pan the format, with critics for both The Hollywood Reporter and Variety saying the cons of HFR outweigh the pros. 
Some web-based reviewers were harsher, while a few more seemed to reserve judgment, noting that the negative effects of HFR seemed to be lessened over the film's running time and suggesting that moviegoers will eventually grow accustomed to the process and its improved temporal resolution.
Vincent Laforet of Gizmodo writes a pretty interesting treatise on why HFR 3D fails. This guy seems to know what he's talking about, but I wish he'd been able to include HFR 2D in his comparison.
Tonight I went to see his latest film in all three flavors of its release: 3D HFR, Standard 3D, and in 2D. 
On one end of the spectrum I had one of the most disappointing cinematic experiences in recent memory, and on the other extreme I fell into the film and enjoyed it very much—all watching the EXACT same film mind you. Here's how they compared, and why it matters.
For myself, I still think that at least part of the problem here (and if you read closely, some of these writers occasionally say something similar) is that HFR and 3D require a new cinematic grammar. The composition, camera motion, and editing must be different for these new ways of seeing a scene.

It may be that quick cutting, dramatic changes of angle and distance, and even actor pacing, must be different when you're gonna show a scene with this much visual realism.

I've avoided 3D in the movies 'cause it's always hurt my head. And maybe I can just continue to do that. But 3D doesn't seem to be going away, so maybe I'm gonna have to learn more about it.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Hobbit "review" (no spoilers)

I got into the HFR 3D showing of The Hobbit yesterday.

I think it was a terrific movie, but a more complete review is going to have to wait until I've had a chance to see it again.

Maybe this is just me, but I had real problems with the 3D aspect of it. I found the image quality to be diminished and dimmed. Plus wearing the glasses and, frankly, seeing things in 3D, never stopped being a distraction for me.

In spite of all that I think the movie is pretty great.

This movie is part one of three that will present the story from the classic fantasy novel by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I read the book a really long time ago, so I can't really say how faithful this telling is (so far) to the original, but my gut feeling is that it's OK. I can't remember that the dialogue was as clever and humorous as this one occasionally is. And I think they've restructured the story somewhat, in order to tell it on the screen and to a less devoted audience. But if these are changes from the original text, I like them.

The movie's preamble, with older Bilbo setting the stage, does a very good job of explaining the backstory here. The story is more clear to me now, in a way that I don't remember it ever being just from the book.

So many dwarves! But Jackson does a good job of communicating the important energy of that group, while focussing on the handful that are important, and that we can keep straight in our minds.

Martin Freeman's Bilbo is excellently played in this first episode. In many ways it's more well-played than Elijah Wood's Frodo was.

No surprise, Sir Ian's Gandalf steals the show, regardless of whether the beat calls for action, exposition, humor, or pathos.

If I'm remembering the book correctly then in part one we've now seen all of Gollum that we're going to in these movies, and that's a shame, because Andy Serkis's reprise of the role is better than ever. (Am I right about this? Do we not meet Gollum again until LotR?)

As I said, the 3D disappointed me, but the reason I attended a 3D showing was for the HFR, High Frame Rate. HFR means that the movie was shot at, and in this theatre was being displayed at, 48 frames per second, as opposed to the traditional 24 fps. HFR is a process which is known to provide a dramatically more realistic image quality. And I was looking forward to seeing that.

Sadly there were very few moments when I noticed any improved quality due to the HFR. I blame the 3D for this. The image quality "surcharge" of the 3D -- the awkward glasses, the dimmed screen brightness, and the parallax overload -- seemed to cancel out all the benefits of the HFR. I repeatedly lowered my 3D glasses to see the actual screen image, and when it wasn't blurred by the stereo doubling I could see the very high quality. But for me anyway, it was mostly lost, to the 3D. I'd like to find a theatre/screen that is showing HFR 2D, but I don't know if there are any of those.

If you have experienced 3D movies before, and like them, then see the 3D of this one, otherwise use caution.

This is a really good movie. Not as great as Lord of the Rings, though the subject matter is less weighty. But this is a great adventure yarn, told by a skilled filmmaker, with great actors and stunning settings. I'll try to give you more detail after my second viewing. But I highly recommend The Hobbit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Sensory Overload

Heading out this afternoon to see The Hobbit. I'm hoping to attend a showing that is in HFR 3D.

HFR is High Frame Rate. The movie was shot, and in this theatre will be shown, at 48 frames per second. Double the normal rate. I've heard for years that this produces dramatically superior picture quality. Looking forward to this a lot.

3D is of course, 3D. This will be the first mainstream movie I've EVER seen in 3D. My limited experiences with 3D on the big screen have left me cold. But Peter Jackson says it's a good thing, and he hasn't let me down yet.

I'll report.

The future according to the movies.

The Future from Eclectic Method on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Big Bang Theory flash mob dance number

Steven Spielberg's Lincoln

This week's movie was "Lincoln" the Spielberg epic, with Daniel Day-Lewis.

I liked it.

But I should disclose that I'm a huge Lincoln buff. One of my all-time favorite books is Gore Vidal's historical novel "Lincoln". And I read, and enjoyed, Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals" soon after it was published.

So I came to this movie with a lot of expectations, and I wasn't disappointed.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Baseball is more popular than football.

Just watching a report on TV about the increasing problem of extreme injuries in the sport of US Football.

At one point they referred to football in a way that is very common: "the most popular sport in the US."

I've always had a problem with this claim, let me tell you why.

Disclaimer: This is a quick and dirty analysis of numbers I quickly dug up on the net. The data might benefit from fine-tuning, but I believe the underlying conclusion has validity.

Let's start with football.

There are 32 teams in the NFL. Each team plays 8 home games. According to wikipedia the average stadium size is about 70,000. If we assume that every game is a sellout then football sells almost 18 million tickets in a season (17,920,000).


There are 30 teams. They each play 81 home games. The average ballpark seats 43,000. Again assuming sellouts then baseball sells over 104 million tickets in a season (104,490,000).

That makes baseball almost 6 times as popular as football.



Now I realize most baseball teams don't sellout their parks. I'm thinking that maybe some football teams don't either. So what kind of numbers can we find for this.

According to ESPN's 2012 attendance numbers. Football averaged 96% turnout. Baseball averaged 72%.



Do the math and that makes football's tickets sold 17,167,360, compared to baseball's 74,710,350. That makes baseball over 4 times as popular as football.

OK so this is a pretty quick-and-dirty analysis. And if it was close I'd wonder what a more diligent comparison might show.

But it's not even close. Baseball is the most popular sport in America.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Modern farming not so good.

Here's an opinion piece about a govt study that shows that modern farming methods are not good for us, and not even cost effective.

src: NYT
IT’S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I’m not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use — if it wants to.
This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study’s sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.

Read the whole opinion piece.

I originally found this through one of my most favorite bloggers, Lloyd Kahn.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Notes on James Bond, Skyfall (no spoilers)

Went to the 11:30 am showing of Skyfall yesterday (opening day in the US). Here are a few thoughts. No spoilers here.

I haven't been to many James Bond movies recently so what do I know, but...

I like the Adele theme. I've been hearing it on the radio, and liked it there. And it works well in the title sequence too.

I also liked the incidental music throughout the movie. The Bond riff, and bits from the Adele theme kept fading in, and nicely underscored the emotion of the scenes.

I've never been a big fan of Daniel Craig as Bond, but I liked him much more in this one. I think seeing more of his vulnerability and backstory helped a lot.

They did a real nice job of mixing modern Bond with vintage Bond.

I don't hate the new Q, but I don't think he comes close to the wonderfulness of past incarnations.

Stating the obvious, but Dame Judi Dench is an awesome M. A real bad-ass grandma.

I won't go so far as to say the movie ever dragged, but I felt that at 2 hours 23 minutes, it was maybe 20-30 mins too long. Cutting one action sequence, or trimming them all by a few mins, might have helped.

Two thumbs up. If you like this kind of movie, then you'll be happy.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jack Interviewed by Airspeed's Steve Tupper

Way back in May Steve Tupper, of the Airspeed blog and AcroCamp, got me on the phone, and we talked for almost two hours. I've listened just now to what I said, and it doesn't horrify me.

From Steve's shownotes of the interview:

On UCAP, Jack spends much of his time eliciting reactions from co-hosts Jeb Burnside and Dave Higdon and directing the conversation.  I had always wondered what it might be like to give Jack a free hand to talk about stuff as a featured guest.  It’s not that Jeb or Dave crimp his style by any means.  They don’t.  But solo solo Jack is a different thing from UCAP Jack and I wanted to explore that.  So I called him up earlier this year and he agreed to jump on Skype and hold forth for an hour or two. 
During the conversation, we talked about Jack’s flight training, airports, the pilot population, the aviation podsphere, and lots of other topics.  There’s something in this episode for everyone.

Direct link to the episode's audio (mp3).  Or better yet subscribe to Airspeed.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

President Obama's final 2012 campaign speech in Iowa

While we're all sitting around waiting for the results to start coming in, here's President's Obama's final campaign speech from last night in Iowa. Good stuff.

(Jump ahead to about 12:10 for the beginning of the President's talk. Or jump even further, to 30:30, to hear Obama's remarkable "Fired Up!" story.)

Could Christie Restore the GOP?

I'm a big fan of Dave Winer as a tech visionary, but I don't usually think of him in terms of political thought. But this idea is intriguing.

My wish if Obama wins tomorrow is that he start building a cross-party coalition with his new buds Chris Christie and Bill Clinton. Go to a Jets game maybe. Ask Christie which Repubs are fun to party with.

The idea is that Governor Christie -- who's shown that he's a real Republican, but not one who's afraid to tell truth to foolishness -- might be the guy who can bring the adult Republicans in from the cold.

It's encouraging to think that Christie might be able to gather other sane Republicans together into the beginnings of a new faction of the GOP that will maintain its basic values, but is willing to work with others.

Ballot scanner momentarily jammed at my polling place.

Prob not a big deal, but for the record...

While I was at my polling place this morning, here in Nottingham NH, the ballot scanner was jammed for a few minutes, and they were collecting ballots for later scanning.

I asked to wait until it was unjammed, which it was within a few minutes, and I then put my ballot into the scanner slot.

Just for the record.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Flying with Friends

Here's a mini-essay I posted as a comment to a post on the facebook:

A couple thoughts on this. Although TV and other "modern" conveniences have had an impact, I am convinced that humans are, and always have been, social creatures. Given the proper circumstances we crave company. We naturally form into groups, and families (of all sorts), and clubs.

One remarkable result of the online "social media" movement is how much it has resulted in people who interact online also searching for opportunities to gather face to face. See the plethora of meetups and tweetups and just plain getting together for a beer.

And pilots are no exception to this. We love getting together for pancakes, or fly-ins, or just to hangar-fly over a cup of coffee.

A couple Saturdays ago I spent the day at an event of a regional soaring club. This was not simply a flying club, but a club made up of other clubs. They had gathered way up north here in NH to spend a week flying together in some unique conditions.

What I saw in them is that the special circumstances of soaring (it's very hard to do alone) gave them the little push they needed to be a vibrant group of flying friends.

There's a lesson to be learned there. To expand and strengthen the nation's flying clubs we must not only emphasize the financial benefits, we must learn how to make them a better way for us to fly with friends. To learn together. To share our passion.

Because bowling with friends is way more fun than bowling alone.


Just outside again, looking for a pic to post here. Really couldn't find any dramatic images here at Lookout Point. Just a lot of small-medium branches down. All-in-all we were pretty lucky.

Initial look around

Just out surveying our property. No real damage. Lots of branches down, but not really even very much of that (*). 

Two observations: First, it's weirdly warm out. Like 60F, and the sun us just up, so it's probably gonna go up further. 

Second, I don't think we've yet seen the the bulk of the rain that we're gonna get from this system. The Dollof Dam gauges haven't updated since yesterday aftern
oon, but the Manchester Airport weather station is saying we got only 1.5 inches since the start of the storm. I think there's more rain coming.

(*) I've thought for a long time that the 1-2 big windstorms that we've gotten each year for the past 4-5 years have brought down all the weak branches. I'm surprised that there's anything left to be brought down.

(Originally posted by me on the facebook)

Still here.

Good morning. Still here. 

Power went out here at Lookout Point around 845 last night. I lit a couple candles and crawled into bed for a long winter's nap. 

Wind had dramatically quieted by 1100.  I happened to be awake at 330 when pwr returned. 

From what I've been reading, my two outages, totaling 9 hrs, makes me one of the lucky ones. When it gets light I'll head out and survey the wind damage. #sandy 

(Originally posted by me on the facebook)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Couple more Sandy status updates.

7:30 -- is forecasting that the wind speeds will peak after 8pm tonight, then fade throughout the night. (the facebook)

8:21 pm -- Maybe just wishful thinking, but the wind seems to be subsiding here at Lookout Point. Gusts further apart, weaker, and shorter (twitter)

Dark and stormy night

Just outside investigating a big thunk on the roof. Branch fell. It's really wild out there. Wind blowing about as hard as I've ever seen it. A little spooky. "It was a dark and stormy night" (the facebook)

Collected status posts during Sandy.

12:30 pm -- Here we go. Power is out here at Lookout Point #sandy #nhec (the facebook)

1:59 pm -- I've now become a refugee at my sister's place in epping nh. #sandy But the power could go her at any moment. (twitter)

2:12 pm -- Well there we go. Five mins after arriving the power is now out at my sister's. #theendofcivilizationasweknowit (twitter)
5:13 pm -- Heard that pwr was back so Ive returned to Lookout Pt. If my days trajectory continues pwr  will now return at my sisters & go back out here (twitter)
6:19 pm -- Totally dark now at Lookout Point. So I can no longer see the effect of the wind, but it's howling louder than ever.  (twitter)

6:31 pm -- Lights flickering ominously here at Lookout Point. This could be it. #sandy (the facebook) (twitter)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Joss Whedon On Romney

I think he's on to something here.

(Originally shared by me on the facebook.)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

President Obama talks about his childhood with The Donald

On the Tonight Show: the president's explanation about why Donald Trump is so hard on him. Awesome.


I found this on

Friday, October 12, 2012

Can 3D printing make the world more local?

"3D printing may put global supply chains out of business: report" --
3D printing (or “additive manufacturing,” as it’s called in industrial circles) takes offshore manufacturing and brings it back close to the consumer. It has enormous potential to shift the trade balance. Goods will be cheaper to reproduce within the domestic market, versus manufacturing and then shipping them from a distant low-wage country.

I found this story at

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Hi, my name is Spot, and I'm a stoner. Hi Spot!

It's a sign of our times.

It seems that it's bad to get your dog stoned.

I remember back in the day, there was a period when it was considered fun to "shotgun" your dog, and then watch the hilarity that followed. But it turns out that marijuana is bad for your dog's metabolism, not unlike, what is it? chocolate, avocado? there's some common food that you're not supposed to feed your dog or he'll die.

So now, with the increasing number of places where medical marijuana is legal, people are leaving pot cookies and brownies lying around the house, and rover is scarfing them up, and getting sick.

So, don't do that.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dick Will Make You Slap Some Body

Do not watch this. It is crude and rude and totally Not Safe For Work. It's also hilarious.

Originally from Boing Boing.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


What's not readily apparent, if you can't read the text, is that the surface they're sitting on is free floating, and its movement is driven by the motion of the metronomes, which in turn influences the metronomes themselves.

From about 2:00 on keep your eye on the second one back in the far right row. It tries to remain independent, but is eventually brought into the fold.

Fascinating, and maybe a little sad.

Originally from Boing Boing.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Nice View

"Fundy" section of Pawtuckaway Lake, Nottingham, NH.

Friday, September 21, 2012

LEGO Great Ball Contraption

Oh my god this is AWESOME!

Walk and Talk the Vote

Walk and Talk the Vote - West Wing Reunion - Bridget Mary McCormack

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

VP Biden at the Flight 93 National Memorial

"Pray I will, and sing I must, but yet I weep."

Monday, September 10, 2012

Climate change: Wet wetter, dry drier?

Climate change is real. And we need to understand it as best we can so that we can adapt and make ourselves stronger as a result.

I can't say whether this analysis is accurate, but it's interesting, and points us in what I suspect is the right direction.

Story and video here.

Stand-up bike

Wanna go for a walk-bike ride?

Read more details here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Andrew Sullivan on President Obama's Convention Speech

Andrew Sullivan on President Obama's acceptance speech last night:

I loved him. But I'm biased. I think he's been the best thing to happen to America in a long time and he has achieved more in tougher circumstances against historical odds than anyone has a right to expect. I cannot justify supporting this man and his ambitious attempt to re-balance America at home and abroad in 2008 and not helping him see it through to the end.

Read his entire live-blog of the evening.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being Bobby Valentine

What is going on inside Bobby Valentine's head?

Bobby V is of course the 2012 Manager of the Red Sox (so far anyway). Many believe he was chosen for his reputation as a no-nonsense disciplinarian. But from almost the beginning he's done a poor job.

I find compelling the idea that a lot of Valentine's failure is due to the mixed, variable, ill-defined mission that he's been tasked with by the higher-ups in the Redsox. But it seems pretty clear that another big factor has been his poor communication skills.

And it's not just that he's not good a expressing himself. It seems that he often doesn't understand what's happening in front of him.

Over the past few weeks Valentine's been having increasingly bizarre encounters with the media. He get's asked a question -- admittedly these are often questions that are intended to expose some shortcoming of his -- and instead of answering, or NOT answering, he challenges the question.

Suggesting sometimes that it's a foolish question. Or one that the asker should already know the answer to. Or some other complaint about the nature of the question.

I get that these question are often intended to get Valentine to look bad, but hey, that's the game.

Here's the thing that puzzles me about Valentine. He's a lifelong baseball guy. He's been there and done that. How is it that he seems so naive about how the media and the manager are supposed to dance.

If they're asking a question that's intended to trip you up, hey that's what they do, and you can parry it. And if they seem to be asking a question that they know the answer to, that's their job too! They need to know what you think the answer is. That's reporting.

So I can't figure out what's going on in Valentine's head. I can't imagine he's that naive. Is he just too angry at the situation to be willing to play? Or is he on the verge of snapping. I've never thought he was the right manager for the Redsox, but I don't wish that on him. That would be too bad.

I wonder what's next.

Robot Running Cheetah

I think it's only a matter of time until we replace the wheels, on recreational All Terrain Vehicles, with legs. It'll be like having a robot horse.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Michelle Obama Speech at DNC

I've been hearing all morning, in the professional and the personal media, how terrific First Lady Michelle Obama's speech last night to the Democratic Convention was.

And they were right. Take some time and watch.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wine in a Box

My wine lover friends tell me this is OK.

All I know is it tastes good, and it comes in a pretty cool box.

Dark Days in Red Sox Nation

It need not be said that these are dark days for Red Sox fans.

I'm pretty sure that we've all accepted (quite some time ago) that the 2012 season is over. But I think we had held out hope that we might get our act together, and see some things that we could take as signs for a more positive 2013. And not embarrass ourselves.


As I write this we've lost 7 in a row. NESN said the other night that this is the longest losing streak since 2001.

Apparently the entire leadership of the Sox met yesterday in Seattle, where we're playing (?) the Mariners. Some think Manager Valentine won't last the week. Others think there's no reason to make a change before the end of the season.

Our next game is tonight (Tuesday) at 10pm. Lester is pitching.

Just close your eyes and think of Britain. I mean, we can't lose every remaining game. Can we?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

"Rube Bait"

The money quote from an interview with Mike Lofgren, author of "The Party Is Over"
The primary purpose of the GOP these days is to provide tax breaks and other financial advantages (such as not regulating pollution and other socially costly externalities) to their wealthy donor base. All the rest of their platform, all the culture wars stuff, is simply rube bait.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Family Style Bohemian Rapsody

Originally shared by Fabrizio Cosi on the facebook.


Technology Review website's "10 EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES"

Angry Seas

All I can say is: "Wow!"

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