Blue sky, Grohmann Museum, and Juneau Village Towers

Took this photo yesterday as I walked back up the hill to my office in the Grohmann Museum (the building with the statues) from the Red Arrow Starbucks. The Juneau Village Towers (the tall building and the shorter, shadowed one immediately to its left) looked so BLUE, which was entirely due to reflected light. Usually that tall building is very brown and gray. Anyway, I liked the colors and thought it was sort of a pretty picture, so here it is, just to share a beautiful, early November afternoon in Milwaukee 😄

Tall apartment building, Brutalist architecture

Now that I take a closer look, though, I see that those windows aren’t actually reflecting blue after all. Those little glass squares have more of a dark gray hue. Well, maybe navy?But still, not the blue I thought I was seeing. Were my eyes playing tricks on me the whole time, like somehow holistically taking in the blue of the sky and causing me to perceive the building as “blue” when seen in context from a distance?

What do you think: Blue, or not blue?

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“When You’re Good to Mama” — Heard on a head-clearing coffee run to Starbucks

I have so much work to do! But as I finished one project and faced the daunting prospect of beginning the next one, I forced myself out of the door because I knew it would be good for me to get some fresh air and coffee and put a little distance between one project and the next. And I was right. Whereas I felt paralyzed and almost unable to begin work 20 minutes ago, I’m now raring to go.😄

But before I commence work again, I thought I’d share this fun song that I heard while I was waiting for my coffee at Starbucks. Took me a while to recognize it, but once I was able to place it, I found the YouTube video and got a nice smile in the middle of my day. Thought you might enjoy a smile, too!

It’s hard to believe, but this Oscar-winning film (six Academy Awards, including Best Picture) came out in 2002—20 years ago! If you’ve never seen Chicago, I highly recommend it. It’s a musical but a bit different from the traditional Hollywood style and very imaginative in the way it presents its song and dance numbers. This YouTube clip will give you a feel for that. Here is Queen Latifah singing “When You’re Good to Mama.”

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Market Street, evening

Taken after work tonight on Market Street, the one-block street that runs along behind the Campus Center at Milwaukee School of Engineering. The bright early evening sun was low in the sky, casting shadows down into the canyon created by the surrounding buildings.

Something about the light and the nearly leafless autumn tree just shouted “twilight “ to me. Twilight of the day, twilight of the year—although technically I suppose this light actually represents the “golden hour,” that is, the hour before sunset, not twilight, the hour after sunset.

It sure felt like twilight, though. Daylight saving time ends this weekend, and a week from now it will be dark when I leave the office.

You may have heard about recent efforts to make daylight saving time a year-round thing in the U.S. Apparently folks in Congress either have no knowledge of history or don’t care to learn from the lessons of the past. I am old enough to remember walking to school in darkness the last time we tried year-round daylight savings, in response to the first energy crisis, during the winter of 1973-74. We suffered through just a few months of that experiment before declaring it a failure and returning to the system we live with today.

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Lake Michigan, last Saturday in October

I drove up Lake Drive to meet friends for lunch at the City Market in Whitefish Bay on this beautiful, sunny day. All along the route trees were at their absolute peak of color, just an overwhelming display of gloriously lush splashes of red, yellow, orange, purple, and brown.

I took this picture on the way home, while stopped at the traffic light where Capitol Drive hits Atwater park in Shorewood. I loved the deep blue of the lake and that distant hazy area where the air and water temperatures blurred together in a horizon-obscuring fog. Add in the strip of yellow leaves along the curb, the red bushes dotting a row along the bluff top, the lone, leafless tree at left, and that small cluster of teenagers taking it all in—well, I had to hurry up and roll down my window to take a quick photo with my phone before the light changed!😀

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My first DALL•E art project

Because I teach courses on digital society and digital storytelling at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), I have been reading and learning a lot about DALL•E, the new AI-based art generator, this fall.

I had seen references to DALL•E all summer on Twitter, where I follow several artists and graphic designers. But my interest kicked into high gear several weeks ago when I saw this article in The New York Times.

Of all the “complaints” I’ve heard about DALL•E so far (AI-generated “art” is not ART, etc.), the one that se

Since one of the best ways to learn stuff is to plunge right in, I decided to take the text of my “Haiku for October” post and pop it into the search/text “description” bar in DALL•E, just to see what happened. Below is my string of text and the resulting images.

I kind of liked these, but somehow they seemed a little bit dark. I especially liked the little glistening droplets in image number two, but I liked the colors, particularly the hint of aqua, in the last one. So I refined my text, and got these images.

These were very bright and cheerful. They are also a bit too abstract and maybe sport a little too much aqua and blue this time. To adjust, I removed the word “blue” and added “brown” and “realistic “ to the mix.

Hmm. These feel a little too green yellow and brown, not quite enough of the peach that I liked. But I do like these. A lot. In fact, I like almost every image that the platform generated this afternoon.

Of all the “complaints” I’ve heard about DALL•E so far (AI-generated “art” is not ART, etc.), the one that seems most valid and troubling to me is that DALL•E apparently has uploaded many artists’ work so that a “creator” can generate images “in the style of . . . ,” the concern being that these artists’ ability to own their style is being violated.

So I decided to further refine my text descriptions to produce images in the style of a few artists I like.

Here is my haiku, with my requested colors, in the style of Vincent van Gogh.

Here, in the style of Wassily Kandinsky.

Next, in the style of Salvador Dali. I could obviously go on and on, but as I assume the site’s name is a mash-up of the artist Dali and the movie/animated character WALL•E, he (Dali) seemed like a logical artist to try out.

As you can see, today’s artists probably don’t have all that much to worry about. Although I can sort of see these various artists’ “influence,” I would never look at one of these images and in any way think I was seeing a work by any of them. I’m not even sure that their “styles” manifest all that clearly, except maybe in the Vincent van Gogh, and there only because I already knew what I was looking at.

My main takeaway from this little exercise? DALL•E does seem like an amazing tool, and I think I have just found myself a new hobby!😄

Do you have any favorites among the AI-generated images above? Had you heard of DALL•E before? What do you think about the idea that anyone, including people with no art training, can now generate art with carefully chosen words?

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500 tabs and counting down

Does anyone else have a tab hoarding problem? I have a habit of opening tabs on both my computer and my phone and then just leaving them open for easy reference instead of bookmarking them, which requires extra work on both the storage and retrieval ends.

Lately I’ve been thinking that maybe I should begin closing some of these tabs. So what I thought I’d do is maybe once a week open one up and think about why I saved it, write up a blog post about it, thus saving the link forever in a new format, and then close the tab. Eventually, like in 500 weeks, I’ll get to zero-tab status, lol.

So here is the first of 500 “open tab” posts.😂

A couple years ago I started seeing ads for some sort of alcoholic beverage (malt liquor?) sold in cans called White Claw. What really caught my eye was a young woman rollerskating with beautifully nonchalant grace into a convenience store to pick up a package of the drink. There was some thing so ‘70s about her style.

At some point I had seen the ads enough that I became curious about who this woman was. Didn’t take long to turn up an article about her. I kept that tab open because I knew I might want to come back to it again at some point. Then, of course, life happened and I forgot all about it. The article is here if you’d like to read it.

Continue reading
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A haiku for October

As I was researching AI and art/text generation, doing prep for tomorrow’s Digital Society class, I came across a website purporting to use AI to create poetry. Skeptical but intrigued, I followed the prompts to enter a noun, an adjective, a verb, another adjective. I hit the “submit” button, and VOILA! A truly dreadful poem appeared 🙂

(To clarify: This poetry generator does not use AI, just some ordinary code. All poets can heave a sigh of relief. For now . . .)

Despite thinking the “AI”-generated poem was garbage, I discovered that the mere “exercise” of entering “data” had gotten my (non-AI) imagination working, though. So I cut and pasted the clunky awfulness into a Word document and came back to take another look here and there between classes.

Kind of similar to how Linus and the Peanuts gang come upon Charlie Brown’s wretched little Christmas tree and dress it up with love (in the form of Linus’s blanket) to become a beautiful exemplar of the season ❤️

Now that I’ve finished my teaching day (but not my “work day,” LOL; any teacher knows what I’m talking about), I pulled the draft poem up again, made a few more tweaks, and decided it’s ready to meet the world. So without further ado . . .

A Haiku for October

Transcendent autumn

Crystal light dancing, brilliant

In the muted glow

Tim Hurst, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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Through a screen

I just finished teaching a class in the southeast corner, second floor of Diercks Hall on Milwaukee School of Engineering’s campus in downtown Milwaukee. I had the window screens lowered because it’s a sunny (although blustery) day, and I was showing a video in class. As I packed up my briefcase afterward, I liked the tiny patches of blue in the sliver of sky visible between the twin office towers across the street, especially as muted by the screen. Sharing with you here, just because 😀

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“Hoosiers” – Evoking Nostalgia for America’s Midwestern Autumn

Hoosiers (1986) gets Midwestern autumn exactly right, both the beauty of the landscape and the nostalgic harkening to a wholesome, mythic era that has slipped into the past. I love this film’s quiet opening, from its first image of headlights on a highway marking the predawn beginnings of the main character’s journey toward a fresh start to its close with the bell ringing to signal the start of classes at the high school in the tiny town of Hickory, Indiana, in 1951.

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October, gray and yellow

Who would ever have thought I’d love this combination of colors? I took this photo of the municipal building and the BMO Tower in Milwaukee yesterday afternoon walking back to my office from Discourse, the new coffee shop in the old German-English Academy building on campus. Something about these two colors together both brightens the gray and softens the yellow. We had rain and tornadoes in the metro area Wednesday, so yesterday’s occasional misting drizzle served up a more tolerable kind of rainy day.

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