Hemispherism: Is it time for a War on Winter?


The Holidailies writing prompt for today is:

Tomorrow is the first day of winter. What do you consider the perfect winter day?

Well. Once again somebody has forgotten about the ‘worldwide’ part of the worldwide web. The first day of winter depends on the region. For example, this time last year I was heading to Norrköping, Sweden, where it was still warm enough even a week later to be officially autumn. This time in 2011 I was in Geneva, where according to the canton’s official chestnut tree, it was already spring. But those are edge cases. There’s also approximately an entire hemisphere where it’s summer. An entire hemisphere, without which Earth would be quite a bit smaller than Venus.

I can’t speak for that entire hemisphere, but I did grow up in New Zealand, where summer officially started on December 1. Even when people remember that the Southern Hemisphere exists, they often forget about New Zealand. I also can’t speak for New Zealanders who don’t celebrate Christmas in some way, and so must fend off assumptions of Christmas as well as assumptions of that Christmas being white. I do celebrate Christmas, and I’m going to tell you what that’s like in New Zealand.

Sometimes we have barbecues. Sometimes we go to the beach. Because that’s the logical thing to do in the summer. We usually eat pavlova and ice cream, because that’s pretty much always a logical thing to do. Strawberries are in season and go with pavlova, so we eat them too.

But a lot of the time we have a big roast dinner with turkey, chicken, ham, or lamb. Most of the time we listen to wintery songs about Christmas, forever dreaming of a white Christmas that will never come. Often we sing winter songs such as Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland, which make no mention of Christmas whatsoever. Like people in the Northern Hemisphere, we sing them thinking they are Christmas songs, so thoroughly indoctrinated with Northist culture that we don’t realise there’s anything illogical about it. We do not sing the winter songs in winter, unless we’re having a mid-winter Christmas party. We have mid-winter Christmas parties because we’ve been repeatedly told that Christmas is a winter event, so in an attempt to have a ‘real’ one, we’ll sometimes have one in June.

Outside, pohutukawa and feijoa trees bloom red on green, sometimes turning our roads and driveways red with fallen stamens. Inside, we decorate with plastic holly and mistletoe, and Christmas cards of snowy driveways. Sometimes we spray fake snow on our windows. Some of us cover our entire sweaty bodies in what I hope is the thinnest red, faux-warm fabric we can find, and ask little kids to sit on our laps and tell us what they want for Christmas. Oh yes, Santa Claus: he lives at the North Pole, of course. Because Christmas belongs to the North. There isn’t even land at the North Pole. Well, we’ll see who’s jolly when we burn all that coal he gave us and cause the Arctic ice sheets to melt.

I’ve lived in the Northern Hemisphere for almost ten years now, and I’ve never seen anyone have a midsummer Christmas party, or hang up plastic pohutukawa. When I went out in the snow and warmed my hands on mulled wine at my first Christmas market, I didn’t think about how strange it was to have Christmas in winter, the way people from the Northern Hemisphere say it is when they first experience or even think about Christmas in summer. I thought about how much more Christmasy it seemed. How it finally seemed like a real Christmas, like in the movies, on the internet, on TV, in songs, in books, in even my own mind. About how I’d been subtly led to believe that my own Christmases were abnormal. And finally, as a boring overprivileged white middle class whatever, I understood what it was like to be marginalised and not even realise it.

My Christmases were never abnormal. Just outnumbered. Isn’t it about time people in the Northern Hemisphere started hanging up pohutukawa? Isn’t it time they dreamed of a red Christmas? Isn’t it about time we looked at them funny and remarked on how strange it must be to have cold weather in December? Isn’t it about time we reminded people to at least think before wishing someone a happy winter? The next time somebody complains that the shops have their Christmas decorations up before it’s even cold outside, or feels the need to to include snow even in a Christmas song set on an asteroid, send them this ‘Christmas song’ and ask how they’d like hearing it on radios and in shops throughout the Christmas season:

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First Footprints: A Story Cube Flash Fiction


Today I visited my friend Grace, who mentioned being scheduled to write for an international writing blog but not having any ideas. I also needed an idea for my holidailies post for the day, so I got out my Story Cubes, she rolled them, and we both wrote a story about the following pictures:

Footprint. Globe. Lightbulb. ID card. Abacus. Flower. Turtle. Cane. Falling star.

Grace posted her story within about half an hour of rolling the cubes. I spent a little more time on mine later in the evening, but not a lot. Here it is:

After the theme parks were set up, they protected my first footprint in a large magnifying cube, so tourists on all sides could look at it in detail. Nothing but the size of the boot marked it as mine; at the time of first landing, the soil and thick atmosphere were known to be toxic to us, so bare feet were not safe.

It’s different now, of course. People live and work here, and it looks for all the world like… all the world. The higher gravity attracts star athletes doing strength training and thrillseekers looking for acceleration. They start out crawling and propping themselves up with sticks, but after a few months they’re walking as normal, and back at home they can almost fly. They win all the sports competitions they can, then as they begin to weaken, they act as superheroes and make enough money to retire. That’s the dream, anyway. The trip back out of the gravity well is much more expensive than the trip in, so many who came hoping for a giant leap out of poverty spend their lives working in the theme parks hoping to earn enough to get home, their spirits crushed as much as their bodies are.

I’m stuck here too now, without valid identity to fly home on. They wanted to make me a hero, but I wanted to make myself one. I wanted to keep doing the science we’d started with that first small step. Wanted to take more samples of the air and soil before they lunaformed it. So I had a scent gland transplant and went incognito, got a job as a field technician. We fought hard to keep one small section of ground near the equator pristine, and even that has a crust from reactions with our safer atmosphere. I captured three canisters of air on the first landing, and I had to steal one of them from my own lab to continue studying it.

The first thing I found was a shape barely recognisable as a fossil. A faint impression of spikes radiating from a point. Months more digging revealed objects so bizarre that we may never be sure what they were.

There is one thing I am sure of: mine were not the first footprints on Earth.

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What’s the difference between couchette cars and sleeping cars?


Today I found out that New Zealand has lie-flat sleeper buses, which I’m going to have to try while I’m here. I can’t sleep on planes, but I can on trains, so buses should be my next experiment.

This news reminded me that I intended to post about the differences between couchette cars (Liegewagen/Voiture-couchettes) and sleeping cars (Schlafwagen/Voiture-lits) on overnight trains in Europe. I searched for information about the difference before I took my first overnight train, and wasn’t too satisfied with the descriptions I found, so I went with the slightly-more-expensive sleeping car to be sure I’d be comfortable.

A couple of months ago, due to lack of available sleeping places, I took a couchette for the first time, from Vienna to Rome, and then took a sleeping place on the way back. I took some notes on the differences. Both trains were catered by newrest, as were other night trains I’d taken around Europe (between Vienna and Zürich or Amsterdam.)

Amenities

There’s not a lot of space in a cabin on an overnight train, so there are many things cleverly tucked away which you might not notice unless someone else in the cabin is more experienced than you. I probably missed a lot of things.

Sleeper

Secret washbasin, usually hidden under part of a table or inside a little cabinet (where there is also a mirror.) Fold-out table, no real seats, but sitting on the bed is comfortable as long as the bunk immediately above is folded away. On the trip from Rome to Vienna there was a little cubbyhole (with a door, but I’m not sure if it locked) for each bed, next to the washing cabinet.

Couchette

Small table, no washbasin, but the seats are normal, comfortable seats until the seat backs are folded away to convert them into beds.

Evening goodies

Sleeper

Thin newrest slippers (which I now have a collection of at home), a facecloth, 3M earplugs, a small container of potable water which I think is intended for tooth brushing. On other routes, there has also been a bottle of drinking water, a bottle of sparkling wine (which I mistook for sparkling water on my first trip, and tried to drink with breakfast), and something small to eat (a small packet of pretzels, or a tube of fruit compote) in the cabin on my arrival. On the trip from Rome to Vienna, the attendant asked if I wanted a fruit salad, and when I said yes, brought it back in a small glass bowl along with a bottle of drinking water, a bottle of sangria, and a packet of party cracker mix. In general there’s some kind of snack and something mildly alcoholic to put you to sleep.

Couchette

A bottle of water.

Sleeping place

Whether couchette or sleeper, the more people can theoretically fit into the cabin you booked, the cheaper it will be. There can be up to three bunks on each side of the cabin, some of which will stay folded away if the cabin is not full. If you’re lucky, you can get a cabin to yourself even if you booked a four- or six-person cabin.

Sleeper

Mattress with sheet on it (already tucked in etc.) duvet and fairly normal-sized pillow. Pretty comfortable to sleep on, though due to the movement and noise of the train I still wake up a few times during the night. On one train to Amsterdam, I barely slept due to the noise; I think I was at the end of a car or of the train, which might make a difference to the noise or movement.

Couchette

Lightly-padded bench-type seats that convert into narrow beds, with a sheet (which you have to unfold and spread out yourself after converting the seat to a bed) a blanket, and tiny pillow just big enough to fit a head on. The benches are soft enough to be comfortable seats, but not really soft enough for sleeping, unless you’re used to sleeping on fairly hard surfaces; I could sleep quite well, but when I woke up during the night I always found parts of my body still asleep. What’s more, couchettes are a bit narrower than beds, so probably wouldn’t be suitable for people who have enough natural padding to make up for this.

Breakfast

In both kinds of accommodation, breakfast is brought to you in the morning, a certain amount of time before the stop you’re getting off at; if you’re sharing a room with someone who’s getting off before you, chances are you’ll wake up when they get their breakfast. If I recall correctly, you can get free refills on the tea and coffee if you can be bothered getting the attendant to come back.

Sleeper

You get a menu to fill out in the evening where you can choose 6 items (more for €1 each) from a list that includes tea, coffee, orange juice (in a carton so you can save it for later if you want), two pieces of bread, yoghurt, and various cold meats, cheeses and spreads. Unfortunately I lost the photo I took of the menu. I usually get a hot drink, bread, yoghurt, and three things to put on the bread. The ‘two pieces of bread’ option is a bit of a mystery bag which sometimes gets you slices of bread and sometimes rolls; I recall getting a croissant on one train, but I can’t remember whether that was a separate option.

Couchette

White rolls with butter and jam, and a choice of tea or coffee.

Overall, the couchette car is just comfortable enough (it’s not going to be your best night’s sleep in any case, but it’ll do, if you’re the kind of person who can sleep on trains) and you wouldn’t notice anything wrong with it if you’d never tried a sleeper car. The sleeper car has a lot of nice luxurious touches, though, and I will continue to use them when I can.

If you have other experiences with couchettes or sleeper cars in Europe or elsewhere, please share them in the comments so we can compare.

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Perhaps I will not post something interesting every day for the rest of the month, but I should at least try.


Today I watched this video from the Virtual Linguistics Campus:

After that, I intended to analyse some sentences myself, but I got sidetracked thinking of simple ways to make diagrams like the ones in the video. It looks like there are apps and LaTeX packages to do something like it, but just for fun, I modified the AppleScript I wrote for diagramming monduckens to turn text like this:

Clause(Adverb(Perhaps) NP(Noun(you)) VP(Auxiliary(will) Adverb(never) Verb(find) NP(Determiner(a) Noun(job)) PP(Preposition(as) NP(Determiner(a) Noun(linguist))))) Clause(Conjunction(but) Noun(you) VP(Auxiliary(should) Adverbial(at least) Verb(try)))

into a tree like this in OmniGraffle:

TreeDiagram

Note that I am not sure if this is strictly correct (I think the adverbial ‘at least’ could have been broken into words, and the conjunction perhaps shouldn’t have been included in the second clause) but it’s how it is in the video. Redone with only rectangles (which is an option when running the script) and using the exact same Tree nester script the monducken diagrams did, this can then be turned into a rather oversized and misaligned version of the sentence with rectangles around the constituents:

Perhaps your sentence will never be a credible turducken, but you could at least try.

I didn’t have a lot of time, so it’s pretty crude as yet, but it would be fairly simple to adjust the settings of the shapes to be more like what’s in the video. I’m posting it now in order to continue with Holidailies.

While we’re on the subject of grammar, The Doubleclicks have just covered a Tom Lehrer song about adverbs. I get this song in my head every single time I answer a ‘how’ question with an L-Y adverb, so I am very happy about the cover.

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Reviews of a Mid-air Movie Marathon


Technology is great. For instance, did you know that you can get to New Zealand from Europe simply by sitting in three different chairs in the sky and watching about seven movies while people bring you a succession of breakfasts and dinners in no discernible order? It doesn’t even cost any more money if you book it the day before instead of several months in advance, although it can be quite disruptive to daily blogging projects, and pretty much everything else. I know because I did it a week or so ago. In an attempt to get back on the Holidailies bandwagon, I’m going to review the movies I watched. I’ve never reviewed movies before, and I’ve also never properly slept on a plane before, so chances are these are poorly-written reviews of movies interspersed with the daydreams of a sleep-deprived mind.

First off, I can’t remember any scenes which would cause any of these movies (except perhaps the last one) to pass the Bechdel test, but I was awake for more than 48 hours that day, and I wasn’t specifically looking for such scenes, so I don’t trust my memory. I am pretty sure that they all had mostly male protagonists, so such scenes were not the norm. That means that even if they passed (and at least one apparently did), they didn’t do it with flying colours, even if I was flying at the time and they were in colour.

I’ve put the movie descriptions from the in-flight entertainment system at the start of each review. The order of the reviews is only approximately the order I saw the movies in.

Boyhood

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, this film is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations, and all the moments in between, chart the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film ever has before.

I was going to start with Winter Soldier, but the premise of this seemed interesting, so I played it on impulse. I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be a documentary or a movie. It was a movie. With all the effort and risk involved in filming the same cast over twelve years, it’s a shame they didn’t really come up with a plot for it. There were entertaining slices of life, though.

The film jumped from one year to the next without any clear indication that time was being skipped, so sometimes (especially during the parts where there were four children instead of two) it was difficult to tell when there were new characters and when they were just the old characters a bit older with different haircuts. Keeping the same actors is a great idea in theory, because it should be easier to recognise the character as a year-older version of the same actor than a completely different actor, but they still changed a lot. It could be that they deliberately changed the haircuts and hair colours of the actors in order to make it more obvious that they’d skipped some time, but I’d have been happier if they’d just put a date or ‘six months later’ title on the bottom of the screen.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve joins forces with Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, and a new ally, the Falcon, to battle a powerful yet shadowy enemy – the Winter Soldier.

Planes are a good way to catch up on all the movies the whole internet seems to be talking about which you somehow didn’t hear about or get around to seeing until it was too late. There were surprisingly few of them on offer (the internet talked so loudly about Guardians of the Galaxy that I saw it in the theatre soon after its release) but with this one I finally found out why the internet has been saying ‘hail hydra’ so much lately. My first flight was less than six hours, so I actually had to watch the end of this on my second flight. I’m more used to having two twelve-hour flights and a one-hour flight, so this was a bit of a jarring intermission. They didn’t even serve overpriced popcorn in Dubai airport. Anyway, it was a good superhero movie, with no gratuitous love interest that I can remember, but still a plot point borrowed from Romeo and Juliet.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

With his 100th birthday approaching, Alan Karlsson has led a long and eventful life. Despite his age, Alan has grown restless and while still in good shape, decides to flee his boring everyday life.

I pressed play on this one as soon as I saw it in the list. I read the book several years ago on the advice of a friend, and was excited to see the movie, even though it’s in Swedish and at that point in the flights I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep my eyes open to read the subtitles. I managed it well enough. The movie is good fun, although it necessarily misses some of the details and subplots of the book, because that’s what movies do. If you liked Forrest Gump, you’d probably like this; the guy’s life is a similarly unbelievable string of events. He reminds me of me. He also reminds me of Werner von Braun.

I Origins

While studying the evolution of the eye, molecular biologist Dr. Ian Gray and his lab partner, Karen, make a stunning scientific discovery that has far reaching implications and causes them to question their once-certain scientific and spiritual beliefs. Risking everything he’s ever known, Gray travels halfway around the world to validate his theory.

A more accurate description would be, ‘While studying the evolution of the eye, Dr. Ian Gray, with the help of his student slave who turns out to be competent, useful, and maybe even listed as a co-author, Karen, makes all the scientific discoveries he hoped to make. Later, he discovers that somebody else seems to be testing an unstated hypothesis that might cause them to question their spiritual beliefs. Risking a disappointing mid-air movie marathon, he flies halfway around the world to perform a single uncontrolled experiment to test what he hypothesises that hypothesis might be, with inconclusive results.’ I was disappointed, but I was still entertained enough for the amount of concentration I still had.

The Giver

In the year 2048, Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world of conformity and contentment. Yet, as he begins to spend time with The Giver, the sole keeper of all of his community’s memories, Jonas begins to discover the dark and deadly truths of his community’s secret past, and realises that to protect the ones he loves, he must achieve the impossible and escape their world.

Just another dystopian utopia. A bit like Pleasantville, with a mandatory daily dose of I Feel Fantastic. The final quest reminded me a bit of Milo smuggling a sound out of the Soundkeeper’s place in The Phantom Tollbooth. The title caused unpleasant goatse flashbacks.

Edge of Tomorrow

As Earth faces an relentless assault from an alien race, Major William Cage is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop, forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over. But with each battle, Cage gets more skillful and, alongside fellow soldier Rita Vrataski, closer and closer to defeating the enemy.

It’s like Groundhog Day, but the groundhogs are aliens casting their shadow over everything to forecast six more weeks of human life or an early extinction. In the very last scene, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, that guy looks kind of like Tom Cruise.’ Then the credits rolled and it turned out to be Tom Cruise. I’m quite proud of myself because I don’t usually recognise actors, and Tom Cruise is especially nondescript.

Predestination

(No description, since this was on a code-shared Qantas flight, and they don’t put the descriptions from their comparatively-terrible in-flight entertainment system online)

After watching this, I vaguely remembered a co-worker telling me about such a movie several years ago. It sounded really interesting and I wanted to see it. That’s weird because this movie only came out this year. Perhaps my co-worker is actually a future version of myself who travelled back in time to mess with my head. Or perhaps he was telling me about the Robert A. Heinlein short story —All You Zombies— that the movie is based on. Anyway, I really enjoyed this film, and watched the beginning of it again during the last half-hour or so of my last flight. I think the Bechdel test needs a fair bit of clarification before I can say whether this movie passes.

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Video: Christmastime is Wunnerful (Robot Protectors cover)


I felt a bit bad about having to truncate the full-length instrumental that Colleen and Joseph made for JoCo Day is Wunnerful, so, having already taught my robot choir the main melody, I decided to record my own cover of Christmastime is Wunnerful. I was toying with the idea of making it a mashup with Jonathan Coulton’s other Christmas classic, Chiron Beta Prime (since the source tracks for that are available), when I realised that even without modification, Christmastime is Wunnerful is quite amusing to listen to while watching Tom Ellsworth‘s music video for Chiron Beta Prime. So I decided to edit that video (with Tom’s permission) to match my cover. Here is the result:

For comparison, here’s the original Chiron Beta Prime video. I didn’t have to change very much, really:

I had to pretty much abandon the ‘daily’ part of Holidailies because ended up flyng to New Zealand, which in itself takes more than a day without internet. But here’s some more holiday for you.

The voices I used were, in order of appearance:

Adult human male: Alex

Standard robots: Zarvox

Festive holiday figure robots for the purposes of augmenting human morale and productivity: Trinoids

Adult human female: Victoria

Human male emulation for the purposes of undetectable redaction: Ralph

Juvenile human: Junior

I also used the bells and ‘Message redacted’ tracks from Chiron Beta Prime, and the ‘Machines’ track from The Future Soon.

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I signed up for Holidailies knowing full well I’d miss the first day. The reason why will probably not amaze you.


A couple of my friends (or was it the same friend twice?) mentioned this Holidailies thing, and although I have too many things to do already, I reasoned that I did get through half of National(?) Poetry Writing Month relatively unscathed, so maybe I should do it. I signed up for it on December 1, knowing full well I probably wouldn’t be able to post anything that day. You see, I was busy working on something that had to be finished by the end of December 1 in Brooklyn, but would be unlikely to be done before midnight in my own time zone. I did finish it in time, so I’m posting it here as either my December 1 or December 2 post, depending on whether I get around to making something else worth posting today.

I did the video editing for this collaborative birthday video for Jonathan Coulton from his fans, the sixth one so far. Tradition dictates that no matter how early somebody starts suggesting we make something, nobody actually does anything until December 1 is almost upon us, and this year it was really down to the wire; the first contributions were sent in on November 29, and although many people had previously expressed an interest in participating, in the last few days we could only gather four people, some robots, and a cat. It’s a good thing I’d already learnt the basics of Final Cut Pro while making the Paul and Storm karaoke video, so I could do a lot of things fairly quickly, even if I probably went overboard on the things Final Cut can do that iMovie couldn’t, and there are many other things that I’d have liked to spend more time getting right.

The song is based on ‘Christmastime is Wunnerful’ from Jonathan Coulton’s and John Roderick’s Christmas album, One Christmas at a Time.

Everyone did a lot; the two most musical of us each sent in many amazing instrumental tracks that it would probably take me months to figure out and years to learn to play. Meanwhile, as a software developer who’s only recently started learning about music, I simply made some robot voices sing in ways that perhaps amaze people who don’t know how that works. That was done using my robot choir, a program I wrote to sing using the built-in Mac speech synthesis, which I intend to rewrite with a decent interface and release on the app store one of these days. Maybe next year some time, if I don’t end up finding a new day job after my current one ends. I’ve released several mediocre songs using the robot choir.

Later this month I’ll be going to Norway for the first time, to celebrate Christmas with some friends, and I don’t know how much time I’ll have for blogging. But I’ll do my best. Perhaps I’ll write a sonnet on a mundane topic each day; sonnets are structured enough that they’re fairly easy to write when you have nothing to say. Leave topic suggestions in the comments and I’ll try to get to them. If your topics can only be expressed in dactyls, I reserve the right to write a sonnet about how you are a poopy-head.

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Video: Come Sail Away With Paul and Storm on JoCo Cruise Crazy


On JoCo Cruise Crazy 2, Paul from Paul and Storm sang Storm’s signature karaoke song, Come Sail Away by Styx. On JoCo Cruise Crazy 3, Storm sang it. I edited my videos of the two performances together to show Paul and Storm both singing the song at once, because Paul and Storm are so good together.

JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 is coming up, and if you want to sign up for it, it’s best to do so before the end of the month, while the full range of stateroom types is still available.

While editing this, I came to the conclusion that Styx missed an opportunity to rhyme ‘virgin sea’ with ‘emergency’. ‘Emergency’ doesn’t have that many single-word polysyllabic rhymes, and it probably gets rhymed with ‘urgency’ far too often and ‘insurgency’ far too rarely, so if you’re going to go to the trouble of making a strange combination of words such as ‘virgin sea’ sound natural, you could at least give ‘emergency’ the interesting rhyme it deserves.

This is only my second video made in Final Cut Pro X rather than iMovie. The first was a video of the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit at Kennedy Space Center, which only had some of the fancy transitions and titles. In this video, however, there is almost nothing that I could have done in iMovie. I learnt a lot. Here are the main things I learnt, in case anyone else needs to know:

  • Final Cut Pro can do a lot. All the things I wished I could do in iMovie, and more. Consequently, there’s a lot to learn.
  • Using Final Cut Pro, gonna need a lot of keyframes (to the tune of ‘Peaches‘.)
  • If you want to change the position of a clip at a constant speed, which you need to do if you want to move it in sync with changing the cropping of it (which I did to pan over the video of Paul; normally something like this could be done using the Ken Burns effect, but as far as I know that only works when the aspect ratio is the same as for the whole video) all the transform keyframes have to be set to Linear, even when the previous keyframe has the same position. They are Smooth by default. To change them to Linear you have to right-click (okay, two-finger tap; do people still use mouses?) on them in the viewer, and if there are multiple keyframes on the same point, you can only change the topmost one this way, which is the latest one in the timeline. So it’s best to create keyframes in order and set them to Linear as soon as you make them; otherwise you may need to temporarily change the position of a keyframe so that you can right-click on it to change it to Linear.
  • If weird green frames or other green bits appear in your video in Final Cut Pro X 10.1.3, you need to delete the render files for that project and then wait for it to render again. Going by the solutions I found on the internet, in older versions of Final Cut Pro X you had to do this manually in the Finder.

I’d like to thank Cayenne for not only supplying the karaoke library used on the cruises, but also helping me figure out which of the two videos had the most accurate length for the song — they were shot with two different cameras at different frame rates, amounting to a four second difference in song length and a lot of trouble synching them up. Also, thanks to Tyler for the second pair of ears when I had trouble captioning a few parts.

In other news, I also put up video of the presentation of the Launch Pad 39 complex from a tour I went on at Kennedy Space Center in 2013, and the Jurassic Park ride at Universal from the same year. These are the kinds of things you can see if stop by Orlando on your way to or from JoCo Cruise Crazy.

I’ve also been reciting a lot of my poetry at Open Phil and Open Mic 2.0. Some day I’ll know enough of it well enough to put on some kind of show of my own. There will probably be an Open Phil on JoCo Cruise Crazy 5 too, because awesome things attract.

On the subject of things with ‘Phil’ in their names, the comet lander Philae did a lot of science, and is now not only probably in a coma, but also comatose. You did well, little lander.

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Hooked onto Philae (Hooked on a Feeling parody)


I wrote this comet landing parody/filk/Philk of ‘Hooked on a Feeling‘ about eight hours ago, and I still like it after sleeping, so here you go:

(If you like the ‘ooga chakas’ of Blue Swede’s version, you can use ‘hook a-chucker’ if you like.)

I can’t stop this Philae
coming down to me.
Earth, you just don’t know yet
what you’ll do to me.

When you touch me
at your landing site
you let Earth know
everything’s all right.

I’m hooked onto Philae.
No, actually, not really.
You’re not harpooned to me.

That’s a sweet as landing*.
Now try it two more times.
Earth folk must be reaching
for another cup o’ wine.

Don’t fall in my coma.
Stay awake for me.
You just keep on sending
your telemetry.

I’ll be your rock
when we’re all alone.
I’m your teacher,
your Rosetta stone.

I’m hooked onto Philae;
No, actually, not really.
You’re not harpooned to me.

I’ll be your rock
when we’re all alone.
I’m your teacher,
your Rosetta stone.

I’m hooked onto Philae;
No, actually, not really.
You’re not harpooned to me.

I’m hooked onto Philae;
well not actually, not really.
You’re not harpooned to me.

I said I’m hooked onto Philae,
but not actually, not really.
It’s not harpooned to me.

If you want to learn more about Philae, I believe the mission control webcast will have a briefing in about three hours. Or you could follow any of the links from the ESA page about it, or from my last post. Really, it’s all over the web; you shouldn’t have any difficulty finding information.

* Sweet as‘ is or other ‘[adjective] as’ expressions are common in New Zealand, meaning ‘[adjective] as anything’ or ‘[adjective] as it could possibly be’. If that doesn’t make sense to you, substitute ‘sweet-ass’ but be sure to put the hyphen in the right place.

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Comet Landing (a Rubber Duckie filk by Chella Quint)


Earlier today Chella Quint mused that she’d like someone to write a filk of ‘Rubber Duckie’ about the Philae lander’s arrival on the rubber-ducky-shaped comet,  67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko:

But soon enough, she wrote her own, and tweeted it in multiple tweets. I wanted it to be preserved somewhere where it could be read more easily than on Twitter, but since she doesn’t have a blog, she said I could blog it instead. So here it is, Comet Landing by Chella Quint (with help from Sarah on the chorus) to the tune of Sesame Street’s ‘Rubber Duckie‘:

#Cometlanding Number 1
Philae lander’s having fun!
Nice one, ESA we’re awfully fond of you

(woh woh, bee doh!)

#Cometlanding joy of joys
Using ESA’s high tech toys
They’re not working but we’ve got some harpoons it’s true

(doo doo doo doooo, doo doo)

CHORUS:
For a decade we
Waited patiently for you
Comet Sixty Seven P Slash C-G We Adore You
(and Churyumov and Gerasimenko)

Rosetta mission you’re so fine
love the selfies you post online
#Cometlanding we’re awfully fond of you

(repeat chorus)

For a decade we
Waited patiently for you
Comet Sixty Seven P Slash C-G We Adore You
(and Churyumov and Gerasimenko)

Philae Lander lots of luck
Touching down on that rubber duck
Hope Agilkia is awfully fond of
you and that the harpoons form a bond cos
#Cometlanding is awfully hard to do

(doo doo, be doo.)

I wrote my own filk about Philae (Philk?) which I will post soon. Meanwhile, you can find out more about Philae and Rosetta at the ESA livestream site, where there will be a press conference at 2p.m. European time, or how about Phil Plait’s post about it. You could also follow the events of the landing through xkcd 1446. which followed the events of the landing. Or just Google Philae; you don’t even have to search for anything, just click on the doodle.

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