Saturday, February 27, 2021

At the Beach

Beatrice sighed, "Here we are, going around with all this energy, and some days I'm just so tired."

"I could call this Nirvana, but that's just enough life to enjoy being dead," noted Cal.

"You know, when you think too much, you make my head hurt."

"I just.,,,"

"Shhhh! I'm listening to the moon."

                            - "Collegiate" chapter

K. H. Wilson Scientifics, ca 1917

Kay and Howard Wilson's Lab, modeled after the first Eli Lilly factory of the 19th century. 

They developed a rapid and inexpensive assay to identify adulterated ethanol, making them very wealthy during the roaring 20s. 

The building was donated to the university on their death and demolished in the 1980s for a stadium parking lot. 

In the course of demolition, it was discovered that the walls contained about $150,000 in 1920's-era "horseblanket" $50 bills, which scattered around the site, to the dismay of the university trustees and delight of students attending the event. 

Only a small fraction of the money could be recovered by the university.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Blithe Spirit - 2021 notes, 20 second review

The latest incarnation of "Blithe Spirit" contains more slapstick than the 1945 Rex Harrison version, and the plot is often driven more by vengeance than avidity; nevertheless, the art deco mansion Joldwynds in Surrey, the white cliffs of Dover (still in Dover), and Judy Dench (what a Dame!) are worth the experience. Ghosts haven't been this hormonal since "High Spirits."

I particularly missed the striking, dramatic entry of the ghostly wives employed in the first film - with the greenish cast given by lighting and make up rather chilling. 

However, It's still worth a look.

(Streaming via Vudu was an experiment we shall not repeat - it took nearly the full two days of rental access to get their network to wake up, with several interruptions in the course of the viewing (which is why I still pick up DVDs) with their useless "comment line" as the only avenue of contact with problems.)

Later thoughts:
I find myself admiring the theatrical work of Noel Coward more often than enjoying it. This film version had a fragmented handful of the original lines, from what I recollect of the Harrison film ("guttersnipe" came to mind), and at just over 90 minutes, it zipped along - the exteriors were beautiful, and what a bathtub!

By the end of the current release, however, none of the three principal characters were embrace-worthy, leaving Dame Judy to glow all the brighter and essentially carry the show.  All in all, the updated experience was more like a murderous version of "Topper," minus the charm of Cary Grant and Constance Bennett.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Black Hole Doodles

 I began by drawing a grid in perspective, and after about three attempts, just pulled out the digital camera and took a photo of a 1" x 1" grid already built for another project, and then drew a trio of black holes on it, experimenting with various Photoshop brushes.  Then, when attempting to have them merge into one GINORMOUS black hole in Photoshop using the "pinch" distortion tool, I found it less than satisfying.  However, the images did offer a potential for some random animation, which still seeks an explanation.  

And here we go - the grid - (boring):

The grid, in distorted perspective, with three black holes drawn in, manually distorting the grid for this purpose:

(c) 2021 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Then a few further distortions in Photoshop, 25 of which were rendered out as jpgs in Photoshop after use of the "pinch" tool, then brought into Vegas 15 to build a rough animation test, for no other reason than to build a rough animation test:
(c) 2021 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Now to create a series of sequential images to show the merger of the three black holes.  I think the hand-drawn method may still work best.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

A little less pollution since yesterday

While Ted Cruz Cancuns but will not help Texans during this cold snap, the rift in the firmament permitting the entry of one R. Limbaugh provides warmth from the stygian depths for some mortals seeking respite from political boneheads.

Sketches on the subject over the years....

(c) 2006 Jim Middleton, Animating Apothecary

(c) 1993 Jim Middleton, The Animating Apothecary

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Looking Behind the Curtain - Local Protests Against Wind Turbines

I've been seeing a lot of Qanonsense type material about wind turbines in Montcalm county.
So, I looked at some of their screeds, and one stood out in particular - a 32 bullet point collection of flat-earth worthy "negative" material that ended by answering my question - Who's funding this garbage? - the use of "Citizens United" in their name doesn't help their cause, much, either.

Their website links to "material" from a "free market energy" website in case you want to catch up on the latest plops from climate change deniers, too.

This called for a road trip to Shepherd (where a fair amount of new wind turbines have been installed), just a quick pop south of Mt. Pleasant, to listen in on the "horrible noise" from the windmills and observe "all the flicker" they generate.

We were about 100 yards from one, we got out of the car, leaned in, listened, and... we heard nothing but gentle whooshing, mostly blotted out by traffic noise, passing vehicles... and likely any snowmobiles that could come through the landscape.
We also looked for stacks of dead eagles and bats. Sorry. Nothing there.

Flickering? Well, an understanding of planetary motion and some basic trigonometry would lead to the understanding that if there are any shadows, those shadows move with the rotation of the planet, and are lengthened/shortened by the angle of the sun... but that's science, and these folks cannot be bothered.

29 January, 2021, near Shepherd, Michigan

To sum up - "Citizen's United," "oil and nuclear sponsorship" and "climate change deniers" = credibility of zippo and nada to the eyes and mind of this little pharmacist.
These elegant, majestic generators are proof of being in the 21st century, and not in an era where we're fretful of TV making us blind, electricity spilling from outlets to kill us, or waltzes leading to feverish orgies. (Although I didn't see anything in the handouts about tablets, cellphones, and computer screens being a problem for vision or headaches...)

Hope the sponsors are sending checks to the folks mindlessly reposting their material - otherwise, they're just a bunch of chumps.

The coal connection to the misinformation campaign can connect its dottiness to some other bits of information gleaned from the Greenville Daily News on 20 February:

Consumers' energy has gone from using 27 coal-fueled power plants in 2010 to 12 today. They plan to be coal-free by 2040. DTE is shooting for 2050 to become coal-free, but is working to accelerate the process (peer pressure among corporations, just like junior high).

Also, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer is looking to drop state emissions by 28% by 2035, using 1990 as a baseline. The intent is to achieve carbon "neutrality" state-wide by 2060.

In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the view to the future along US-127 from Ithaca to Mt. Pleasant.

Thursday, February 04, 2021

From the chapter, "Crosstalk" (work in progress)

 “I dreamt I was nothing,” began Beatrice, without any warning.  

“Nothing?” Calamus was accustomed to acknowledge her declarations without a tone of judgement.

“Nothing.  Then I heard a ‘pop’, and everything lit up and I was a cold, hot rock.”

“You offer a simultaneous contradiction.”

“That is proof that I am a genius.”

“I see.”

“I was a cold, hot rock, and I flew into a star, and suddenly, all was dark.”

“Another contradiction?”

“I am not finished.”

“You are expecting a lot out of a rock, Beatrice.”

“And then I was a rock - a meteor - and an ocean on earth at the same time.  And the meteor - me - hit the earth and I felt the ocean - also me - turn into steam!”

“So,” Calamus attempted to summarize, “you were a solid, liquid, and a gas almost simultaneously.”

“Yes,” Beatrice said.  “What does that mean?”

“That depends.  What did you have for dinner last night?”

“Mashed potatoes.  Instant mashed potatoes.”

“I means you should probably avoid instant mashed potatoes.”

Beatrice appeared annoyed.

(more to come)