Pew Pew Laser Blog

Code. Glass art. Games. Baking. Cats. From Seattle, Washington and various sundry satellite locations.

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Here is a haiku for CSI.

I cover my eyes
at gore; the husband giggles.
Don't watch while eating.

The Invisible Hook.


I finished The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates by Peter T. Leeson. I would probably have enjoyed reading about the hidden economics of anything, and pirates proved to be no exception. If you would like a little introduction to economics, or you just can't get enough history about pirates, you should give it a read.

In explaining the apparent race equality on many pirate ships, the author provided the following scenario, excerpted from page 159. (I've added the emphasis.)

Consider a bigoted employer who loves brunettes but loathes redheads. Our bigoted employer owns a shoe factory and needs employees. Redheads and brunettes are equally productive; a redhead with 60 hours of training and a brunette with 60 hours of training produce the same number of shoes per hour. But redheads are willing to work at the shoe factory for $10 per hour, whereas brunettes demand $20 per hour for the same labor.

The author then goes on to explain that it costs the factory owner $10 per hour (per worker) to indulge his preference for brunettes over redheads, and that this profit motive can lead the factory owner to operate the business in a non-discriminatory manner, even though the factory owner retains his personal prejudices.

I found it interesting that (in the scenario) redheads and brunettes were willing to work for different wages. To me this suggests that the factory shoe owner is not alone in this bigotry; that there exists a culture of discrimination which drives the different acceptable wages.

Outlook Email View.


Outlook - Grouped Emails by Date In Outlook, I prefer to have my emails grouped by receive date, as shown at right.

Outlook - Ungrouped Emails by Date One day, I somehow changed it so that each individual day was displayed, and clicking on that day would expand that day's emails. This was very irritating.

Outlook - Arrange> Show in GroupsSeveral days later, I finally figured out how to get Outlook back to my preferred view: with emails visible and displayed under headlines such as Today, Yesterday, Last Week, Two Weeks ago, ect. Under the View menu, choose Arrange By, and check both Date and Show in Groups.

Rich Media Advertising.


Here are some advertising techniques in rich media (video clips) that irritate me.

Mythplaced - A Brainful Production.


Whew, what a busy weekend. It was 48 Hour Film Project time in Seattle again - where teams compete to write, film, edit and deliver a short film in only 48 hours. This time the husband was co-Producer, and I was Production Manager again.

I started working on on Friday morning as I dropped the husband off at work. I went shopping for some cupcake ingredients, and then picked up some pizza from Papa Murphy's. Did you know that Papa Murphy's doesn't open until 11am? (Same for the state liquor store, incidentally.)

Cupcake making was a long process; the recipe was very fidgety. This year I used "Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling" and a chocolate buttercream frosting recipe from the May / June 2010 Cook's Illustrated. It was a lot of work, but I was pleased with how the cupcakes turned out.

At 7pm on Friday night, co-Producer Tom called in the required elements (Genre: Fantasy; Prop: Orange; Character: Van or Vanessa Saskia; Dialog: "I can't believe you said that.") and Writer Brandon got to writing. Other crew started streaming in and we all started pitching ideas. By 8 we had a rough idea of the characters, so a delegation went to Goodwill to shop for costumes. By 11pm we'd prepared costumes and props, completed an equipment check, locked the location and start time, and cast most of the critical roles. At midnight, the remaining crew headed out for sleep and a few of us did a script reading. At 1am, it was time for bed.

I was worried that having the whole crew around while the script was being written wouldn't work well. But it proved a great way to propose new gags and test them for laughs. It also put the whole crew on the same page as far as what kind of movie we were making.

Filming started at 6am at our favorite location in SoDo, so the husband and I were up at 5 to load the car with the gear and grab some breakfast. We had a log fo script to shoot, so the crew got to work. In the middle of the day, I did a lunch run to Costco with one of our cast. Primary shooting finished at 5pm, and the still-needed cast and crew headed back to HQ.

At 7pm, we looked at each other and said "It's 7pm Saturday - we're half way done." We were already into post-production, so we were doing great. We grabbed some grub and I got some releases. I headed out at about 9pm, and slept the best 12 hours I've ever slept. The husband and most of post-production crew worked a few hours more; and I know that our editor worked through the night.

The husband headed back in at 8am on Sunday, and I followed a few hours later. While all sorts of editing, title making and sound mixing happened, I checked and finalized the paperwork, and grabbed some sandwiches for the crew. Around 4pm I discovered that I'd left something very important back at the house - the special envelope in which the film had to be turned in! Fortunately, this wasn't much of a problem since our house was only 20 minutes away from the office, tops.

By the time I got back Sunday afternoon, it was high time to get something, just a back up copy, ready to hand in by the very firm due time of 7:30. The audio was still getting sweetened and I was getting worried as we ticked over into 6:00. At 6:10 I sent the husband to pace upstairs in the audio room. At 6:25 the audio was delivered and the movie was rendering. I hated to leave, but I had to head back home to open the house for the wrap party which started at 7.

At home I tidied up, and put out what food and cupcakes remained. Near 7:00, I got a dreadful text message from the husband saying that disaster was imminent - the film was not yet on its way to the delivery point. This is the worst part of the project for me - waiting to know if our 2 days of solid work will be turned in our all for naught, but knowing that my asking about it will only slow things down. At 7:15 I got the call that the film was now on it's way from Fremont to SoDo - usually a 30 minute trip. Not too much later, we got the call that the film had been turned in on time. Hooray!

We did have to cut the scene with my favorite line in it: "She's protected under the Aquatic-Americans with Disabilities Act". I'll just have to see if I can do something about that.

1 comment(s).

Comparative Advantage.


An electronics teacher once told my high school class that he only buys parallel wired Christmas lights (which are more expensive), because it wasn't worth his time to find and replace the single failed bulb in a string of serial lights. There's another half to this equation of comparative advantage. People are not always earning income with their free time. Often, the choice is between spending money and not spending it.

I earn a good salary as a technologist. But it's a fixed salary; working 16 hours in a day doesn't get me twice as much money for that day. It's still worthwhile for me to spend an hour taking bottles and cans back for their Oregon deposit ($10, on a good day).

I have a friend who has very little free time. She attends to school for a graduate degree, works in her chosen industry, and also has her own small business. The small business is so successful that she could fill up all her extra hours earning extra money. She does not take bottles and cans back to for their deposits, since she earns more for an hour of work.

2010 48 Hour Film Project.


I'm participating in the Seattle 48 Hour Film Project again this year. I've got a brand new cupcake recipe, and a big stack of paperwork. We begin shooting in just over a week!

We are accepting donations so that we can feed and caffeinate the crew. They've told me that they cannot live on cupcakes alone. Click here if you're into that sort of thing.

You can check out a version of our film last year: Escape.

Cook's Illustrated & Adult Learning Theory.


I received a subscription to Cook's Illustrated for my birthday last year, an excellent instructional magazine for cooks.

For each recipe, Cook's Illustrated first devotes an entire page (sometimes two) to the challenges that the author overcame in developing and testing this recipe, which I initially thought was all worthless jibber-jabber. I've since realized that the whole point of the play-by-play recipe evolution story is to tell me why certain arcane steps are necessary. By more fully engaging my brain, it's helping me not to skip a step in the process they've outlined. By involving me, I learn.

Another huge advantage of Cook's Illustrated is that the authors are always kind enough to always provide the weight equivalent for flour in baked good recipes.

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