“Found Object” — the overhead light in my office

I just noticed that the light fixture on my office ceiling is kind of interesting. I’ve been here twelve years, so how did I not see it before today? Answer: sometimes things don’t register until they’re viewed from an unusual angle. Not until I was putting in eyedrops just now (allergies, windy autumn day) did I realize how cool that light looks when you really LOOK at it. Just thought I’d “share the magic” with you😃

First . . . the light itself.

Then a closeup . . .

And another closeup from a slightly different angle (very slightly), which then registered the colors differently.

The pink and gold area (lavender and green in the photo above) reminds me of beading on a 1920s handbag, but it’s actually a metal grid, like a screen but less “fine,” covering the flourescent bulbs.

Fooling around with images is quick and easy fun, right? Now back to work.

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Gorgeous October sunset!

Taken tonight as I was leaving my office. I wanted to shoot a panorama so you could see the beautiful glow of all that orange light reflected and reflected again off of office building windows and down onto the streets and the MGIC grassy mall area and trees.

But there were several people around and the light was about to change AND a professor from the other side of campus, whom I never get to see anymore, was leaving work, too. So we walked to the parking garage together and had a really nice catch-up conversation.

Still, though, I am seriously regretting the shot that got away!

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Mid-century wall and windows – getting closer to getting it right

This wall of windows at Milwaukee Area Technical College has caught my eye for a long time. Not sure why, but the starkness of the pattern appeals to me.

Previous photos, like the one below taken through my car window last year at the traffic light on 6th Street looking west on Highland, didn’t capture what I “saw.” In this photo, snapped with my phone on the way home from work, the angle and distance from the the wall itself caused the image to portray it inaccurately, not at all the way I saw it, if that makes sense.

I finally managed to geta better picture (below) last week when I was stopped at the traffic light on Highland facing east into 6th Street, right across from Fiserv Forum. But I felt this photo had too many distractions, like the light pole, the shadow, and most of all the different shades/types of bricks.

It’s funny how the hazy late-afternoon sunlight in last year’s color version made the brick in that older photo less attractive than it is in the picture I took a week ago in bright morning sunlight. But in this closer-up version, I don’t like the weird, patchy switch to that other shade of brick. It’s as if they decided to close up a former doorway and replace it with a wall and window. I’m sure there’s some history there.

So . . . sigh. Although using an editing filter to change the photo to black and white solves the brick problem, I really liked last week’s color version better. If only the wall itself could have looked better, I’d have gotten a much nicer photo!

#blamethesubject 🙂

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A “jaw-droppingly” creative television ad

The “Golden Age” of television advertising” (think “Mad Men”) is generally considered to be the 1960s through sometime in the 1980s. TV commercials were often extremely creative and fun to watch.

Like this clever VW commercial from the very early 1970s.

And this ad from the very early 1980s. Gotta love those headphones with their wires leading to (I assume) a Sony Walkman.

And this snooty ad for snooty mustard 🙂

And this fabulous spot for really tough luggage.

Not to mention, as long as we’re rambling through the neighborhood of travel-related advertising, this classic ad for Hertz Rent-A-Car.

These Hertz ads eventually went a little too nuts, with O.J. hurtling (and hurdling 🙂 ) over various obstacles. But, on the other hand, you certainly got the message: If you’re in a big hurry at the airport, go with Hertz!

Anyway, most television commercials today are boring and/or annoying (my opinion). So when I saw this ad during the 10:00 news on television last night, I liked it so much I actually went looking for it online.

Kudos to General Motors and whoever is responsible for either creating this ad in-house or hiring the outside talent that produced it. The GMC Sierra tailgate itself is pretty cool, but the ad telling us about it is pure magic!

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Red Light, Rainy Night

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Lex Allen’s “love letter” to Milwaukee

If you live in Milwaukee, you’ve probably already seen this joyful music video. If you haven’t, you’ll fall in love with both Allen and the city he showcases so beautifully. The song is “Let Go.” Enjoy! 🙂

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Better research using Google’s lesser-known search tools

Research is so boring.

Except when you find amazing stuff that totally elevates your work. Then it’s actually cool. People like learning new things, gaining new insights, pulling back the curtain to see who’s really pulling the levers behind the scenes.

(Couldn’t resist. I love that movie 🙂 )

I first encountered Google’s searchable datasets at the Modern Language Association’s annual conference in Chicago in January. The leader at one of the workshops I attended showed us all these cool online datasets she used in her research, and then other people started talking about how they used them in class. Meanwhile I sat there feeling like a very unhip outsider, like everyone else already knew this exceptionally cool new tool and I was late to the party.

Except guess what? I actually wasn’t very late at all. In fact, most people in the workshop were probably secretly feeling as woefully out of the loop as I was.

Google’s Dataset Search tool was launched on September 5, 2018, according to this article in The Verge. Maybe it’s not fully “launched” yet, though, because I see the word “Beta” on the Datasearch page, and also, if you look for it on the basic Google search page (the way you’d look for “images” or “video”), it’s not there. Not even under “More.”

Hmm. It’s kind of like you need to know it’s there to find it. Like, I don’t think a lot of people know about Google Trends, either, which is a super interesting tool I have my students use for their research in my political science class. It reminds me of the secret handshake you once needed to get a Gmail account. Remember that? Many years ago, at least 10 to 15, I was able to get a Gmail account only because a hip student (who eventually went on to work for Google) sent me an invitation, making me briefly way more cool than my peers. Which didn’t last long, and now Gmail is basically everyone’s default backup email account.

But I digress 🙂

Another cool subset of Google’s Dataset Search is its Public Data Explorer, a directory of public datasets collected by governments, NGOs, etc. An amazing treasure trove of info that I would be unlikely to find otherwise.

What inspired me to write this blogpost today was my discovery this morning of a public dataset (or would that be database? I get those terms confused!) of articles on AI algorithms put together by MIT’s Technology Review. Link here to take a look. So fabulous! I’m developing a new course for MSOE ( Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach), called “Digital Society,” and this dataset gives me lots of good articles to explore.

Finding the dataset this morning was a happy accident because I’d totally forgotten about Google’s Dataset Search. Well, not really forgotten. It had just fallen away from the first, second, probably even third tiers of my most easily-recalled bits of knowledge.

So I don’t know, maybe you already know about all these tools? If you didn’t, I’m glad I could share them with you. Maybe you’ll find a way to do some really cool work with them? Let me know if you do!

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