November 2008 Archives

California Academy of Sciences

After many years of reconstruction, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has finally opened.

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

The big feature is the ‘green roof’, shown here:

California Academy of Sciences Green Roof

The surface features a variety of plants which should thrive year-round:

Green Roof

The Steinhart aquarium has been re-created below ground, where it connects with the spherical rainforest above:

Underneath the spherical rainforest

Steinhart Aquarium

Old favorites such as Africa Hall have been restored:

Africa Hall

Long-time visitors to the old museum will remember the decorative railings surrounding the alligator pit, which have been restored:

Steinhart Aquarium

For more nostalgia, the SFGate has a blog entry on people’s memories of the old museum before its renovation. But there’s no doubt the new museum reflects the moment of its creation — the trash cans all say “Landfill” for non-recyclable items:

Recycle / Compost / Landfill

The entire collection of photograph is on Flickr here or on my own site here.

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Fixing the back fence gate

Thanksgiving was my chance to help re-mount the back gate on the house in Berkeley — this area had been rearranged due to all the construction over the past year.


We still had 2/3rds of the of the gate hardware attached, all of which was painted in this bizarre purple primer from the original construction in the 1908s and the custom diagonal cut on the hinge to match the wood (see above). A trip to Ace Hardware got us a new hinge to replace the missing bottom one, and some work with the drill got us an area of the wood that was strong enough to support the weight of the gate.

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Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Let’s just take a closer look at the lead figurines hiding on the centerpiece of the table:

Lead Figurines

My grandmother and her two aunts, Nelle and Lola, went on vacation in New England in the 1930s, where they bought a set of three lead figurines: a pilgrim, wife and child. The Native American standing in front is a more recent addition to ensure equal leaden representation.

Before the meal, we were treated to Andy’s homespun rendition of The Turkey in the Straw on the violin.

“The Turkey in the Straw”

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Farnaz Arbabi in Seattle

Swedish play director Farnaz Arbabi came through campus this week, giving a talk in Lotta’s Drama seminar held in the Humanities Center. There’s a longer writeup on the department’s website here.

I took this picture during the question and answer session, I’m pretty sure — this is Tim in the white cap talking to her.

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Frank Lloyd Wright in Arizona

at Taliesin West

My sister took to me to Taliesin West outside Scottsdale on a recent trip to visit her in Arizona.

Taliesin West

Wright always elicits strong opinions, but it's worth a trip out west to see how Wright built in the very different climate and natural surroundings there.

Taliesin West

There are some obvious concessions to 1950s midwestern landscaping here -- notice the verdant lawn -- but with those exceptions, Wright was practicing a lot of the low-impact, local-material building practices espoused today.

Taliesin West

Taliesin West The entire set of photos is on Flickr here.

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Claes Uvesten: Sentient

Pictures from the opening of Sentient at Traver Gallery, a show of Swedish artist Claes Uvesten's sculptural glass heads. Claes was great to talk to, and works in a medium (sandcasting) similar to fellow Swede Bertil Vallien.

Full set on Flickr or my own site.

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Cascade Range

I should have taken this picture from my bedroom window 5 minutes earlier, when the light was stronger on the trees in the distance.

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The Events Calendar on our website dates back to 2003, and database behind it uses the ISO/IEC 8859-1 encoding method that was current back then. We see more and more departments putting in event information with full diacritical support (such as "César Chávez"), as support in operating systems and keyboard layouts gets better and easier to use. The actual calendar pages use the old ISO Latin system for their character encoding, and since the only thing on those pages is the calendar itself, it's always worked just fine.

But we had recently transitioned the front page to UTF-8, in order to simplify editing text there. This led to an unfortunate case of Mojibake when events with upper-ascii in their titles hit our UTF-8 home page, as they do starting 7 days before their occurrence:

I considered doing a mass conversion of the database to UTF-8 encoding, but the narratives of people trying to do this on the web are pretty hairy. A better solution seemed to be to keep everything (underlying data and the specific calendar pages themselves) in legacy Latin, and transform the strings in real time when they were extracted from the database on the home page via php. There turns out to be a useful command for this: utf8_encode.

$uperson = utf8_encode($person);

This brings the character encoding into alignment with the rest of the page, while not generating gratuitous encoding headaches (and possible catastrophes) with our production event database.

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At the Election Night Rally

Right before CNN called the election:

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Digital Humanities Conference

Here I am giving my poster session on TEI-based markup of runic inscriptions. My neighbors were the University of Alberta, UCLA and the NSF.

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Hyde Park Autumn

Oriental Institute

On the University of Chicago campus for a conference, which is distinguished by both a riotous display of fall colors and a sense of energy about the neighborhood's most famous resident. Obama's house is in Kenwood, just north of the campus, and his kids attend the University's Lab Schools, where I used to work on technology projects. Below, the frieze over the university's Oriental Institute museum.

Oriental Institute

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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