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May 2009 Archives

Back to the Berg Skateboarding Competition

I dropped by a skateboarding competition and took a bunch of pictures. See also slide show mode. Here are a few highlights:

Back to the Berg

They had to clear several steps in a jump, and preferably do tricks while they're at it.

Back to the Berg

It was crowded, and people found every which way to actually see the competition. They climbed fences and trees, but this guy impressed me the most. How did he get up there with all that gear?!

Back to the Berg

It was much easier to take pictures of people just practicing off to the side. :)

Go take a look at the rest of the full set (or slide show)!

Boston Sights

Just put up the first batch of photos from my trip to Boston last weekend. Mostly architecture shots. Here's a subset.

The view from my 21st floor balcony at the Radisson (click to enlarge):

View from Radisson Hotel, Boston

Downtown Boston has a lot of interesting industrial buildings. Here's Big Dig Vent Building #1:

Big Dig Vent Building #1

Here is a neat power station (left) and a factory I haven't been able to identify on Kneeland St (right):

Boston Edison High Street Station    A factory in Boston

Finally, here's a shot from the plane that turned out pleasingly abstract:

Sunset in the clouds 2

See the full set for the rest!

Overcast San Francisco Night Skyline

Panorama I made from my patio. Double-click to zoom:

Milky Way galactic center video

Amazing time-lapse video of our galactic center:

Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party from William Castleman on Vimeo.

Cautiously going where everyone has gone before

I enjoyed watching JJ Abrams' Star Trek. They set out to re-establish the characters, and they did a great job of it. My favorite was the overly exuberant Chekov. :D Most Star Trek fans I know loved the movie.

And yet, characters were only one aspect of the original Star Trek. It was also known for its optimistic Kumbaya worldview. Having the aforementioned Chekov on the bridge crew was a big deal in the 60s. The Uhura-Kirk kiss broke new ground and guaranteed Star Trek a place in history outside of the science fiction world. As much as I loved the relative grittiness of Babylon 5 (which seems sparkling clean now compared to the just-concluded Battlestar Galactica remake), there's always been a place in my heart for the pristine ideals of the Federation. (Perhaps this is why I lost interest in Deep Space Nine after a while. It just didn't seem like Star Trek to me.)

Given the alternate timeline, I think Abrams missed a major opportunity by not adding a Middle Eastern crew member. Hell, even Galaxy Quest had Tony Shaloub, who's Lebanese-American! I'm sure it would've had its detractors who would've denounced the move as "political correctness gone awry", but Star Trek redefined political correctness! Yes, it would be messing with canon, but it would be in the spirit of the original Trek. It would have been a bold move, and it would have made a statement. The movie as it stood made no statements. As much as I loved Chekov, he felt a bit dated. (Even the plot didn't really have a point. I mean, what was it saying? "Don't be a crazy person hellbent on revenge"?)

The new Star Trek's one innovation in the spirit of the old Trek was its use of omnipresent lens flares to give it shininess. I loved that! (And even the old Trek is better with more lens flares! Okay maybe not. :D)

JJ Abrams has said that he was more of a Star Wars fan than a Star Trek fan, and he wanted to bring some of that Star Wars excitement to a Trek movie. But Star Trek is not Star Wars. I did like the actors, and so here's hoping the sequel might have a script that is more thoughtful, and more bold.

Real Time Dracula!

First I found Dracula Feed. It started a few days ago, so you will have a couple of chapters to catch up on, but I've been enjoying it so far. What is it? I'll let the introductory post explain:

Experience Bram Stoker's Dracula in a new way -- in real time. Dracula is an epistolary novel (a novel written as a series of letters or diary entries,) and this blog will publish each diary entry on the day that it was written by the narrator so that the audience may experience the drama as the characters would have. Please subscribe to the RSS feed so that you don't miss any installments!

[Update May 10: I like this Dracula novel feed better. The previous one was missing an entry, and this one has some maps and stuff! So try this one! To get you started: Jonathan Harker's Journal May 3, Harker's path, Harker's meal with photo, May 4, May 5 with leiter-wagon photo, text of a poem referenced in the novel, another map, May 5 continued, May 7, May 8, May 8 continued, May 9, May 9 letter from Mina to Lucy.]

It's surprisingly interesting to read the actual Dracula novel, when I've seen so many different depictions in the popular media already. In the meantime, someone else has been posting a condensed, modernized, Twitter version of Real Time Dracula! For instance, here's the protagonist Jonathan Harker's Twitter page. You can see links to his compatriots in his people he's following section. This version embellishes on the story a bit, and it tries to give modernized voices to the characters. Some examples of the pre-story embellishment:

JHarkerEsq There's a rumor going around the office about a big assignment to Transylvania. Time to do some sucking up.
JHarkerEsq Yes! Old man Hawkins has given me the Dracula account. All expense paid trip through the Continent for about a day's worth of work. Sweet.
MinaHarker2be @JHarkerEsq Bring me back something nice. And don't even think about sampling the local "flavor".
LucyHolmwood2b @MinaHarker2be OMG, Mina ur faince is going 2 Europ that is SO cool. i hope ur not 2 lonely. u shoud def come n visit.

And some of the later tweets that actually correspond to passages in the novel:

JHarkerEsq Terrified landlady forced her gaudy old cruficix round my neck. Still waiting for the damn carriage. So now I'm late AND tacky.
JHarkerEsq What in blazes? Coachman has disappeared and left me alone in the carriage. (must speak to the Count about him) I think I hear wolves...
JHarkerEsq Finally met the Count. Really frail looking guy--deathly pale and cold. Definitely needs some sun. Doubt he'll survive the trip to England.

Here's the Real Time Dracula blog, which posts summaries of the Twitter feeds, for people who don't want to actually bother following all these people on Twitter. I'm not sure how interesting the Twitter version would be on its own, but reading them alongside the original novel puts a fun spin on things!

Aleph Tav & Tav?

I just got an email from AT&T featuring the following:


Thinking it must be some sort of weird Gmail bug, I looked at the "original message". Here's the block in question:

<ul style="list-style-type:hebrew">
<li >An outline of your services</li>
<li >Your calling plan</li>
<li >An estimate of your future bill</li>
<li >General account information</li>

I still have no idea why that style was set in my email from AT&T email, but it's kinda neat that the style exists, and that my computer can show it! :) Btw, it works in both Firefox and Safari on my Mac. Not sure if it works in IE on XP or something, so I embedded it as a screenshot above. Here's the code for it, see if it works for you?

  • An outline of your services
  • Your calling plan
  • An estimate of your future bill
  • General account information

About May 2009

This page contains all entries posted to the klog in May 2009. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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