Category Archives: Arts and Culture

Bohemian Diary – Adventures in the Czech Republic

Cesky-Krumlov - 30

Just returned from an amazing two weeks in the Czech Republic with family – one week in and around Prague, and another to the South in the medieval village of Česky-Krumlov, tucked in against the base of the Bohemian forest. From those two rental apartments, we fanned out to neighboring areas on side trips. So many adventures packed into a short stay – different / amazing experiences packed into every day. Will try to keep my notes short, but more is told in the photos than in these words – be sure to check out the slideshow (full-screen please!).

Fresh squeezed

Ever-present Trdelník

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Pale Blue Dot

This three-minute speech – Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” – was the finale to the original Cosmos series, and stands in my mind as one of the most moving short speeches I’ve ever heard. Voyager 2′s last glimpse back at the earth as it became the first human craft to exit our solar system provided the backdrop and the inspiration for Sagan’s soliloquy. Seeing it in 1980 marked a dawning of cosmic awareness for me as a young teen.

Tonight we watched the finale of Neil de Grasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” reboot. Tastefully, the series finished with Sagan’s original Pale Blue Dot audio, set to new (and far more gorgeous) visuals.

Every week for 13 weeks we’ve gotten together with another family and hung on every word, absorbed as much as we could, and tried to help our children appreciate as much as possible of these incredible perspectives on life, the universe and everything.

It is impossible to summarize the hugeness of the undertaking in producing the new Cosmos, or of the impact it has had on us. It has truly been the TV event of the decade for us, and I hope the seeds it has planted will continue to grow in Miles’ heart for the rest of his life.

Miles’ First Poetry Slam

Felt so proud (and awed) by Miles at the New Years Day poetry slam when he pulled this out of his back pocket – not the usual kid/dada stuff he’s usually attracted to, but an honest-to-goodness heartfelt original poem, full of existential questioning. Forgot to record on NY day, so we re-created the reading at home yesterday so he could earn his Writer badge on DIY.org.

Photo365 for 2014

Family resolution: All three of us are doing Photo365 this year – one photo a day for an entire year. Easy when you’re out doing interesting things, a lot tougher when you settle back into the daily grind – everything starts to look the same and it’s on you to find new angles and lighting environments etc. I did the project back in 2011, and will be posting to Flickr again. Amy and Miles are also set up with Flickr accounts and empty sets, ready to go. Wish us luck!

You can track my 2014 progress here.

Spinning Burning Steel Wool

We did it! Inspired by this Mashable series, and using this tutorial, I built a little rig for spinning burning steel wool today, then took it out to the local park with Amy and Miles after dinner. Amy shot the images while Miles and I took turns spinning. Not nearly as scary as I thought it would be, but we still wore a protective hoodie and goggles, and brought along a gallon of water just in case (none of it needed).

These are all 30-second exposures. The hardest part is getting the distance right – tough to know in advance how far away the subject needs to be, so the tops/sides of several of these are off. More practice needed. Would also like to figure out how to change the color of the sparks. Any chemists in the house?

Flickr set

Edwardian Ball 2013

Awesome time last night at the Edwardian Ball in San Francisco. Have been meaning to go since forever, but finally made it happen, and so glad we did.

shacker as Sir Dragonfly

THE EDWARDIAN BALL is an elegant and whimsical celebration of art, music, theatre, fashion, technology, circus, and the beloved creations of the late, great author Edward Gorey. Set in our own version of “Edwardian” times, this multi-media extravaganza has grown over the past decade from a small underground club night into an internationally recognized event, now operating with the blessing of The Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

We’re not really dress-up people, but managed to pull some pretty good outfits together thanks to the charity of a few friends. And I sacrificed a perfectly good beard for the opportunity to wear a cartoonish fake mustache (still not sure what I was thinking, but it kinda worked).

Hard-core Gorey fans out-do themselves each year; some of the costumes are drop-dead gorgeous. My favorite (not pictured) was a full-on hard-hat diver complete with air hoses, weight belt and boots, accompanied by his lady-friend, who was being attacked by a giant squid. Astounding.

Maker Faire, Burning Man, and the Edwardian Ball – three totally different venues for creative group expression that had no analog 15 years ago. So glad they exist.

Scot and Amy - crazed couple

Full Flickr Set + slideshow (with a brief video)