Monday, April 28, 2008

stop with the t-shirts already!

[NOTE: this entry is sarcasm-laden. do not take this all too literally]

alright. t-shirts are apparantly the next big thing. case and point:

bustedtees.com are sooooo hilarious. i mean, those pop culture references are soooooooo smart and on-topic. it's a shame everyone at Urban Outfitters or [insert here hip + cool store name on a college campus near you] is also wearing one. don't cramp my individuality! after all, Pedro Lacks Political Experience, man.

threadless.com? sooooooo cool. i mean it takes consumer generated content from online to offline (on your body!). they even have a "Threadless Loves" program (where hip up & coming bands/brands/movies) can solicit the masses (it's called "crowdsourcing") to express the brand on their terms. frankly though, as of late, the designs here were getting a bit too abstract (to me there were 3 types of threadless tees - cute, funny/smart, weird, and just funny words). so now i feel there has been an artistic revolt and the site's appeal has lost it's way (or i've gotten lame and/or everyone and their mother is wearing these shirts now, so the indie appeal has lost it's luster)

but i digress. as cool as it would be to wear your vintage sports coat + tee to the club and/or punk show, it's all gotten somewhat worn out [pun intended].

THEN brands decided it was OK to start playing in this space.

LAST YEAR there was Starbucks with MyStarbucksTee.com which seemed OK, because well, Starbucks is (was?) semi-cool, and they got one of the the hip, up-and-coming young designers from Project Runway to create a unique design architecture for Starbucks-fans to profess their individuality:

not bad. the limited supply (they only released X # of free shirts per day for a 2 week period) drove lots of crazy demand. i don't even drink that much coffee + i remember logging on every day to try to get my very own limited edition tee.


THEN an arch-nemesis brand (not really, they are quite the small player) - who has more recently chosen to get more aggressive with this whole "internet thing" - decided they'd let consumers DRAW their own tee and enter to win. hell, along the way you can try to bid on a celebrity tee from the likes of Andre Agassi, Robert Kennedy Jr, or Martha Stewart:

while it's a neat little site and you can even see what your design (you like mine?) would look like on 1 of 4 stereotypical (but animated!) friendly models (the white guy, the waify blonde girl, the expressionless asian, or the "normal" looking brunette). it's just pretty tired. and stupid.

the straw that broke the camel's back was CNN. at CNN Shirt you can get any number of now prominent headlines printed on a tee.

the sad thing is, some of these headlines ("Gator grabs guys diving for golf balls," or "barracks aswim in feces, ickiness") do NOT ladder up the integrity/equity of the CNN brand. whatever. it makes them seem cool, right?

enough is enough. Raman to all you corporate brands trying to be cool: STOP IT. seriously.

i think i'm just going to wear my work clothes everywhere (black undershirts and rolled up sleeves are what makes me cool!). either that, or go naked.

DISCLAIMER: Raman would like everyone to know that over the course of the past ~3 years years (ending in Dec) he had been buying shirts from Threadless (for himself and gifts, but mostly for himself) at an alarming pace. he has since ceased such activity, and is seeking help through a 12-step program. in his prior college days he was the guy who would wear band tshirts around.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

random phone photos.

taken before leaving New York [from Suffern to Westchester] earlier today:





Saturday, April 26, 2008

live from new york...


well, actually, more like New Jersey (just short of the George Washington Bridge). we spent the better part of the day on the road between Ohio and New York. 675 miles (most of which was Pennsylvania), and 8 Cracker Barrels later (marked on the now keepsake map) and we had arrived at Kat's new place of [temporary] residence. for all the times i've been out this way, nothing says surreal like 11 hours on the road to wind up in a sleepy rich town. here are a few pictures from the road...

random (but cute) bear statue from a PA rest stop:


nothing cures an exhausted, soon-to-be-remiss heart like authentic New Jersey style Mexican food (but who charges $1.50 for lettuce for the fajitas?):


that's about all for now. i didn't bring my SLR, so have no fear, there shall be no barrage of pictures from this short trip (though i am behind on several events worth of photos, something that should be rectified when i return home + find myself with far too much free time now that my S.O. is living 2 states over).

leaving on a jet-plane tomorrow.

the YEAR is what happens.

just got back from the 1 year anniversary of "Week in Review Cincinnati", where instead of drawing on a wimpy 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper, we broke out the BIG sheet (more like a 3' x 3' matte):
more pictures from the event can be found here.

so what exactly is this Week In Review thing i'm always referencing? i'm glad you asked. here's a little blurb from a pseudo press release on "WIR" i recently had to write up:
every Thursday, a group of friends gets together from 7-9pm at a different Cincinnati bar + draws the news (on a 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper which is later posted online). we each bring different news stories (anything published in the news from the past 7 days is fair game - it can be local, political, entertainment, sports, random, etc), and everyone has to contribute at least one drawing (does not have to be too accurate, most of ours our abstract doodles/cartoons). when in doubt (or we run out of time, or room on the page), we come up with clever headlines for the remaining stories. after the event, we scan the drawing + it is posted to weekinreview.org, as well as to our Facebook group.

on the official website, you can see drawings from similar groups from the 4 different locations (Cincinnati, LA, Brussels, + even the now defunct one i started in Singapore). it's always interesting to see which news stories "make the cut" from around the world every week. the original concept started in LA several years ago, and has spread to the other cities by friends moving around. girl in LA (Estelle) had a friend who moved to Brussels, my roommate Jason (CC'ed) moved to Brussels for his job w/ GE, who then brought it back to Cincinnati, and i later moved to Singapore for work w/ P&G where i started a group w/ some local coworkers and friends). we've even got some local NPR coverage in Cincinnati

friday (4/25 - today!) was our 1 year anniversary ("the YEAR in Review") + we threw ourselves a party downtown, drawing on the BIG sheet of paper from 7-10pm. the only requirement was to bring a noteoworthy news story from the past 52 weeks and being prepared to draw it.
by far one of the cooler things i've done with my time in Cincinnati. the news is what happens, indeed.


Friday, April 25, 2008

an alternative to good.

hi welcome to YET another installment of "Raman posts random videos with minimal nonsensical value" (though using big, oft-overlooked words like "nonsensical" must count for SOMETHING?)

today's feature comes once again from my pal Megan (i wish Google Images turned up something better + humiliating to link her name to) - a trip down college memory lane + the brilliant animated series from 1999-2004, Home Movies (a show about some kids constantly making, well, home movies). i give you, "the Jazz Fight":



what i loved about this series (+ most animated series that don't involve Batman and/or the Justice League), is that the comedy operates on multiple levels - for children and adults. to be clear, Batman and/or the Justice League also cater to older audiences, but in the vein of childlike wonder from super-heroic fun that is, well superheroes. some of these storylines/arcs are quite complex. but something like Home Movies operates on multiple levels of humor, which is is often a more complex dynamic to appeal to two distinct audiences (compared to action/adventure).

here's another personal favorite from
Home Movies. i give you, "Don't Kill Children":



the animation of the show takes some getting used to, but go rent/checkout/illegally download/buy the first disc of Home Movies Season 1. you can watch it with your kids (they might get smarter). trust me, you will not be disappointed. after all, it's "alternative."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

a little white thing you stand on.

was telling some friends the other day about how awesome the Wii Fit is going to be. check it out (even if you already know all about it, trust me):



what i love about this is it's the SAME ad as the original with just a revised voiceover (though the parody actually has MORE views). this easily could have been the love-child of a marriage between "sarcastic Raman" with "creative Raman," if only i wouldn't rather rather read comics + play Super Mario Galaxy (THE BEST GAME EVER)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

to infinity, and beyond


i had a few mathematical thoughts as i was riding my bike down (literally, i live 2 miles uphill from the office, which makes the trip BACK from work a procrastinator's cop-out dilemma) to work today. this was odd, as usually my best thinking is in the shower (and how the hell are you supposed to capture those ideas down?), but it was probably not meant to be today as the water was that lukewarm temperature that teases you into thinking it just MIGHT go away.

but i digress. back to my mathematical thoughts:

as i was riding downhill, my mind flashed back to a t-shirt (seen above) that i had once wanted (but never bought...not anymore though, i am quite tired of adding new t-shirts to my wardrobe given minimal opportunity to wear + increasing maturity levels), but was sold out before i got the chance to buy (it is now available in "reprint").

it's called "infinity MPG" - which is sort of a neat way of saying, "hey f*ck you
cash-guzzling Shell/ExxonMobile/industrial gas machine, i ride my bike to work". but honestly, the math DOES NOT COMPUTE. sure, i can get infinite miles on my bike, but i use ZERO gallons of gas. and if you recall from math/calc class, anything over zero DOES NOT EXIST. so does that mean my work does not exist (i can only wish)?

then i got to thinking about how much fun of a concept infinity was in school. remember, anything + infinity = infinity. anything X infinity = infinity. infinity, what a boss #. but the more i thought about it, did it have the same effect on division? anything/infinity = infinity? well technically not. because any # divided by infinite does not become a # so vast it's not even worth counting. rather, it becomes infinitesimally small (please curb any "universal comeback" jokes...geez). 1/infinity = really small. 10/infinity = 10 times bigger than previous answer, but still small. 1,000,000/infinity = ok, now this is just getting stupid.


then i almost hit a car as i was heading into the parking garage.


and now i must finish my yogurt and go thru my work email before my day of meetings.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

your new bicycle?

i found this amusing. click the image to see what i'm talking about. and then keep clicking.



and just so this is not another post where i place up a random image/video w/ minimal contribution, let me clue you into a little insight from yours truly.

a few months ago, after my first donation to my candidate of choice, i began receiving fairly regular emails from the campaign. as an curious i-marketer, i decided to sign up for emails from each of the 3 remaining candidates, which i immediately began to find VERY interesting, mostly from the differences between each of the email programs.

if you still have not made up your mind, sign yourself up + take a look at the tones each candidate speaks in. while i'm sure most of these emails are not penned by the candidates themselves, some [digital] campaign managers have better captured their candidates voice(s) better than others.

Monday, April 21, 2008

war. what is it good for?

delicious food, that's what.

i came across the following poignant video while further catching up on my blogs (binge-reading?) - specifically that of one Jason Calcanis - where i came across this gem, which superimposes world food culture onto that of the conflicts that have shaped the past century (call me biased, but my personal favorite is the Cold War):



in case you didn't already figure it out, here's a quick cheat sheet:
  1. The World
  2. WWII (Holocaust / French surrender / London Bombing / Pearl Harbor / Battle of Midway / D-day / fall of Berlin / Hiroshima)
  3. Arab-Israeli War (Brits leave Israel / Israel expands territory)
  4. Korean War (China and Russia back the North / The US back the South)
  5. Cuban Missile Crisis
  6. Viet Nam (China and Russia back the North / The US back the South)
  7. Cold War
  8. Intifada
  9. Gulf War (Iraq invades Kuwait / Scuds / Smart bomb)
  10. 9/11
  11. Afghanistan
  12. Gulf War II (Shock and awe / IED)
  13. Bug Food

and the cast of characters:
  1. Germany: Pretzels, Bratwurst
  2. Israel: Matzah, Bagels
  3. France: Croissants
  4. England: Fish and Chips
  5. United States: Hamburgers, French Fries, Chicken Nuggets, Fried Chicken Sandwich
  6. Japan: Sushi
  7. Russia: Beef Stroganoff
  8. Middle Eastern Nations: Kebabs
  9. North and South Korea: Kimchi
  10. China: Dumplings, Egg Rolls
  11. Cuba Cuban Sandwich
  12. Vietnam: Spring Roll
  13. Lebanon: Falafel


kudos to the creators at Tourist Pictures. absolutely delicious (Vietnamese spring rolls...yum!).

Sunday, April 20, 2008

werbung gegen realit├Ąt.

yet another video to share (from my deutsche-speaking pal megan) in absence of of the motivation necessary to write something coherent:


advertising VS reality indeed. i guess there's something to be said about putting your best foot forward.

believe it or not, i do have quite a few things up my sleeve to write. don't believe me? here's a list/preview to prove it:
  • the dewey decimal system.
  • on insecurities (and blogging).
  • confidentiality in pay.
  • the new glass ceiling.
  • on reinvention.
if you're interested in any of these topics, feel free to [preempt me and] write them yourself, so i can shamelessly put my opinion on top of yours. otherwise i am going to go back to reading my comics.

Friday, April 18, 2008

RC cars & wine bottles.

seems like everyone and their mother is posting the Super Mario Bros theme in some form or fashion these days. so i give you this masterpiece from Asia:




the confused guard at the end is my favorite part.

more credit goes to the fine fellows at Geekanerd

Thursday, April 17, 2008

wake up & say hello to Clocky.

in the ever-amazing world of gadgets, wired and wireless (for which i am a sucker, though my wallet and costly penchant for comics thankfully keeps me from making TOO many purchases here), it's often the simplest things that make me smile.

meet Clocky. basically a "smart" alarm clock (with a personality). you hit snooze one too many times (like i am notorious for, much to Kat's chagrin), and Clocky wheels away on his own, rolling around the room, making annoying droid-like sounds all along the way, which ultimately gets you up and about for whatever it is you have to get up and about for in the morning (or night, or early morning @ stupid-o-clock where it is so dark out).

i've tried everything. at first there was simply putting my alarm clock on the other side of the room, but the semi-conscious "sleepy monster" that is sleepy-Raman is too smart for this. he gets up, hits snooze, and curls back into bed. sometimes he even performs complex arithmetic to push out the alarm time to allow for the EXACT time needed to get ready in the morning. over time, i've squeezed every extra minute out of the morning. but then wakey-Raman decided to mess with the less-aware sleepy-Raman, and start resetting the clock to the "oh-shit" time (which is 30 mins fast). that had the desired effect for awhile, as silly sleepy-Raman is slow to learn.
but then sleepy-Raman subversively decided to convince gadgety-Raman to buy an i-Home (seen here to the right). wakey-Raman thought this was cool, as he loves choosing what new music he can wake up into the morning. what wakey-Raman did not realize, was that sleepy-Raman could now use a remote control to snooze the alarm. in a war-like, counter-measure, wakey-Raman decided to stop programming music, but rather leaving a raucous drum-opening punk song, to play (which Kat hates). now we're back to the simple buzzer on the iHome, with the occasional remote-control snooze. nothing has been solved.

but i digress.

Clocky was invented by a an MIT Media Lab student (where so many cool things come from), and is a great example of where a simple consumer need drives the design, VS so many other things out there that are focused on loading up on features (which are great, don't get me wrong i LOVE features) rather doing the one thing they are supposed to do amazingly well.

without further adieu, let me properly introduce you to Clocky:



i hope it will be the best $40-60 someone spends on me (hint hint, nudge nudge, wink wink). OR maybe i should just draw a picture and see what happens...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

eating Alabama.

i recently stumbled upon a project that longtime friend Joe Brown (with others) was working on:

eatingalabama.org

joe, his wife, and another couple, are embarking on a season long endeavor, to eat foods only from the great state of Alabama (from which i hail...click map to see an interactive listing of their choice locales). fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy. from their site:
"These are the musings of four friends who have set out for a season of local eating. Follow us from April through July as we find all our food grown or raised here in the great state of Alabama. Our goal is to focus on sustainable agriculture and to make a case for a revitalization of our state's rural economy. In the process we're making a documentary about our journey and writing about our findings - from farm trips to gardening to recipes. Join us as we Eat Alabama..."
kudos to Joe + friends. i'd definitely recommend adding the site to your reading list (i'll be staying tuned in my RSS). but to get a better idea of the motivations driving this, you should really start from the beginning. there is clear acknowledgement to what is realistic and waht is not, but their work is uncovering (or simply putting a magnifying glass on) many isses in the existing agri-conomies of scale (does a tomato really need to travel 1500 miles?). the blog is a work in progress, tracking their trials and tribulations, and there are some allusions to a forthcoming documentary.

i always find it inspiring when i find people i know that are embarking on things bigger than themselves, whether it be quitting a corporate job to become a comedian, trying to be the savior of democracy, providing free internet to a city's public spaces, or practically investigating the rural agriculture economy.

and i'm still selling soap. to soccer moms. using the internet.

sigh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

eat your greens!

my mom sent this (picture, not the bag of salad) to me (via email, she did not TAKE this picture), and i was like, "sure why not?"

look closely underneath the "fresco lavado":


my guess is, the water the lettuce was washed in contained polliwogs, which soon became fresh new frogs, right in the package.

fantastic.

i promise. more serious posts coming soon.

bloxorz.

was in a presentation this morning where this game [bloxorz] was shared. neato.

[i've since removed the embedded game as the built-in audio was annoying my friends (thanks ben). but this game really is awesome. click the image to head to the original game...]

a few more similar games can be found here. more relevant content to come soon, i promise.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

it's 1:41am CST: why RSS is a dangerous pasttime.


say what you will about the efficiencies of RSS, but i am losing far too much time tonight (still at home in sweet home AL) getting caught up on a handful of my feeds whose unread #'s have been creeping towards triple digits as of late. but enough is enough. i am making progress (though this will sadly show you what a nerd i am, but i figured i would NOT share any political, marketing, or technical views this time around). muchas credit to my newfound (but mostly unread) passion of GeekandNerd and English Russia for many of these gems.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS (we'll start on a down-note, and slowly work our way back up):

#1: quite possibly the saddest Calvin & Hobbes strip ever made (thought not sure if it's real). a little piece of me died when i read this (apologies for the small size, it was all that was posted):


#2: sigh, sad but true. but our friend at indexed sure tend to make a whole lot of sense. it's no wonder they continue to garner nomination and/or accolades by Time + the Webbies alike:


#3: not really quite sure what this one means.
but it's Russian, and makes for a good transition piece on our way back out of this dismal whole we've dug ourselves:



#4: who knew Link was originally meant to be such the badass (and pimp),
VS the pixelated pansy he became in the original Zelda game (which evolved to the awesome cartoon semi-RPG we all know + love today)? check these pics from original artist Katsuya Terada ran in Nintendo Power back in the 80's of his character sketches for the vision of the Legend of Zelda:




#5: this takes the idea of hybrids to another level.
and yes, that is gasoline they are powering these PCs with (again, only in Russia). and what are they using all those petrol-powered PCs (gotta love alliteration) for in the former Soviet bloc? well to monitor engine performance on cars of course...



#6: a bit of a cheat (or is it really a bait & switch)? especially since i read this one before leaving OH Thursday night in the actual comic, but i came across a great scan of the big reveal [SPOILER...click to enlarge + see] from the final page of the first issue of the much anticipated + ballyhooed (i've always wanted a good excuse to use that word) Marvel/Bendis masterwork...Secret Invasion (lame title, killer concept). regardless, my jaw dropped and i too could only but say, "Sweet Christmas!":


#7: Fozzybacca: the sweet, sweet lovechild of George Lucas, Jim Henson (RIP), and our friends at Mattel. while this does not come out until july, i already have dropped a strong hint of what the perfect gift is for the guy who goes ahead + usually buys whatever it is he already wants...but if you got it for him he would proudly display on his desk (here's a hint, we're talking about me):



and finally, we end on a highnote...

#8: who knew there was a typography/video movement on the web? here's an illustration of what i'm talking about. while not as thrilling as some of the film dialogues, this is one of my favorite Weezer songs (though incomplete below), and quite a bit of a pick me up:




and that's it for now. after getting a quick peek into my brain, it's probably amazing to you that i have the ability to attract the opposite sex. there are still about 362 posts to read (damn you [fake] Steve Jobs!), but i'll probably just get thru the remaining "fun" blogposts(123), and skip over the ones i've tagged "marketing" (after all, it's the weekend).

good night, and good luck.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

how to eat a golguppa.



enjoying a saturday brunch with the family in Alabama. below, my dad explains the fine art of eating golguppas (AKA paani puri), a north indian street food, which is basically a combination of chickpeas, potatoes, cilantro, yogurt, tamarind (tangerine) chutney, and other masalas (spices) stuffed into a little fried bread
hollow balloon. ignore all the background commentary from the rest of my family. delicious.



how does one make this delectable snack? more details on how to prepare.

Friday, April 11, 2008

barack obollywood?

home (Montgomery, AL) for the weekend. first thing my mom showed me when i walked into the house today:



first time my mom has shared a YouTube moment with me. and then she served me a [sour] mango. ridiculous.

Legs McAwesomeBot.

yesterday, for our team offsite, after spending some time getting to understand each other's work styles a bit better (Birkman, interesting & insightful), we headed to the ToyLab, a local venture [started by an ex-agency guy who wanted to do something more positive and meaningful for the community...inspiring].

THE GIST: they take old toy parts (action figure, dolls, etc), and kids + their parents come + create their own superhero. you hand your 7 carefully picked parts to the ToyLab engineers, and with drills, saws, wax glue guns, and plastic rods, for you they assemble your very own superhero, who is then given a name and granted his superpowers (which you get to pick, of course). along the way, the staff of ToyLab entertain you w/ a number of hijinks (a banana phone...really?)
our entire team did this, basing their [our] alter-egos + powers on actual [desired] behaviors, mine?

Legs McAwesomebot.

kicks ass and transforms things into pure awesomeness.
it's not too hard of a concept to follow, really.

oh ego, how could i survive without you (chances are i would be crushed and let down by the seemingly endless desolation and misery that is this life*)?

haha. just kidding. what a downer! anywho, KUDOS to the dudes at ToyLab for bringing a great, constructive, and creative idea to life in a meaningful way. it's always inspiring to see this sort pseudo-DIY thing take form in our society and communities, whether in real life or in the digital world (so inspiring that i am considering volunteering there on my soon-to-be open weekends).

SOME OTHER INSPIRING EXAMPLES:

threadless.com - while a cool and original concept, this one is actually getting pretty tired (i don't find the designs NEARLY as fun + interesting anymore). i mean, you know it's a gone way to mainstream when you see bootleg shirts in Thailand. but if you haven't heard my raves (and rants) about threadless for the past 3 years - consumers submit t-shirt designs. consumers vote on t-shirt designs. threadless makes a [semi-] limited print run of designs. it was (and still is) a novel concept, but now everyone and their mother is wearing these tees (and threadless is creating reprints of far too many designs, but who can blame them for selling out, they're trying to make a buck of their creative vision) + citing this as an example of the future of commerce. oh wait, i just did that. dammit.

wantsforsale.com - ok. let's make this the hip + cool future, since there's NO way it can get too mass (but i have no doubt that i will be surprised). some artists decided they wanted some stuff (watch, coffee, wii, bufallo wings, sneakers), so they painted it, and sold the painting for the EXACT price of said item. both people walk away from the transaction getting what they want: random pop art, random consumer goods.


weekinreview.org - alright. i had to give this one a plug, since it's a local passion of mine (thursdays nights are once again my favorite part of the week. well, a close tie w/ no alarm clock saturday mornings). basically a group of friends get together every week at a different bar in town, all bring news stories, talk about them + draw them (on an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper, not a big poster, contrary to popular belief), as precisely, abstractly, or sarcastically as possible. we then scan the pics and they are posted online w/ drawings from other regions (LA, Brussels, Cincinnati, and alas, for a brief moment in time, even Singapore). we even got featured on NPR! it's always interesting to go online + see what made the cut around the world. i've had tons of visiting friends see this and say "oh i've got to start one of these in ________ [insert bigger city name here]", but it never happens. the story: some girl in LA started doing it, then her friend in Brussels started it. my roommate Jason moved to Brussels, and brought it back in his post-living-abroad withdrawel, starting it up w/ me + some other close friends. we've been doing it for a year now (and are having our 1-year week-in-review-seray on April 25th). book it!

anyhow, i digress. so what do all of these things have in common - creative DIY is at the core. and that's what McAwesomeBot, Legs McAwesomeBot is all about.


*(the earlier pessimistic statement was brought to you by a very special guest appearance by Emo-flashback Raman, marking off calenders in Mobile dorm-rooms since 1996!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

the news is what happens.

you'd think i'd just post this every thursday i goto Week in Review to avoid having to create any meaningful post.

but this is by far the coolest club i'm a part of (or "of which i'm a part" if you prefer to sound like a pansy and not end your sentences in prepositions). it's definitely going on my resume, whenever i get around to updating it.

note the weekly logo, and the subtle incorporations of flags to signify WHY the Olympic torch is snuffed out. that, and BSG season 4 kicked off last friday.

and someone quit.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

it's all about the benjamin[s].



no, you are not looking at a really badly pixelated $100 bill, but rather, ten thousand really pixelated pieces of a $100 bill.

my buddy Derrick just sent this to me (one of his friends Takashi/Aaron did it). a pretty cool web 2.0/crowdsourcing/microeconomy type project called "Ten Thousand Cents":
"Ten Thousand Cents" is a digital artwork that creates a representation
of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals
working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill
without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each
via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor
cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the
reproductions available for purchase are all $100. The work is presented
as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The
project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted
combination of digital labor markets, "crowdsourcing," "virtual
economies," and digital reproduction.

$100 bill prints are available for purchase, and all proceeds go to One
Laptop Per Child, formerly known as $100 laptop (Laptop.org).

neat stuff. always keen to see how people are innovating from a creative/artistic standpoint. that, and "crowdsourcing" is a really cool word.

and i think OLPC is way awesome, and is finally getting all the press it deserves (though far too much of it is of people trying to be "on trend"). i got one via the "Give One Get One" program last Christmas, but never got around to handing it off to some random kid a developing southeast Asian nation (rather, i plan to give it one of the kids in my neighborhood, who's relative living conditions can rival (but not match) the afore-mentioned kids

some interesting changes are a-coming (more related to the significant other part of my life). on an un/related note though, i've been having lots of epiphanies on things to write about. so no doubt, they are being "saved to drafts" in my my catalog so i can rant on when i later have the time, and am not making inane "forward posts"(with commentary of course).

more to come.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

the long lost tale of cincinnati's subway.

since writing my past post on mass transit, i became quite curious about the status of Cincinnati Subway system, which i had been hearing about for years. i came across a couple of VERY interesting sources of information. rather than try to recount any of this, i'd rather provide some excerpts, from what i would claim is the most detailed online account, by a fellow Cincinnati local w/ TONS of pics + maps:

"The subway was by all accounts a great idea and had nearly unanimous political and popular support. By a 6-1 margin, Cincinnatians supported a $6,000,000 bond issue in 1916 for construction of Scheme IV. But before bonds could be issued, the U.S. entered WWI in April 1917, and bonds were not permitted to be issued during the war. Several lawsuits after the war challenged the bond issue, delayed canal draining until 1919, and delayed actual construction until January 1920. Because of post-war inflation $6,000,000 was inadequate to complete Scheme IV as originally planned, and so planners devised "Modification H", which reduced the line's number of suburban tunnels and changed station locations in a money saving effort."
....
"Construction began in January 1920 and proceeded in phases until 1925, when the $6 million was exhausted. A two mile subway tunnel in the canal trench, three short suburban tunnels, seven miles of above ground grading, dozens of overpasses, and numerous under and above ground stations had been completed. This nine mile stretch of the Rapid Transit Loop was complete and ready for service with the exception of track, rolling stock, electrical equipment, and station finishing. Underground stations were built at Race St., Liberty St., Brighton's Corner, and set-backs for another at Linn St. (Mohawk's Corner). This station was not to have operated initially. Above ground stations were built at Marshall Ave., Ludlow Ave. (south end of the viaduct), and Clifton Ave. Planned above ground stations at Vine St. (St. Bernard), Montgomery Rd., Forest Ave., and Madison Rd. were not built. 1.5 miles of right-of-way were secured from the Forest Ave. station location to Madison Rd. in Oakley, however no grading was done on this section. $1,300,000 was needed for the track, rolling stock, station finishing, electrical equipment, and a storage and service yard to put the completed section into service. Short stubs from the finished canal subway to Walnut St. were built, but much more money was needed to complete the half mile Walnut St. tunnel and Fountain Square Station. Fountain Square was expected to be the origin and destination of 47% of all trips on the line. It was estimated that over $10 million was necessary to complete both the Walnut St. tunnel and the eastern half of the originally planned loop."
...
"The southern half of Boston's Cambridge-Dorchester subway opened in 1925, the same year that the Cincinnati project was abandoned. The Cincinnati Rapid Transit Loop was designed to operate equipment identical to Boston's, and similarities in construction materials and styles can be seen. The Downtown Crossing and South Station stations in downtown Boston both have central support columns identical to those in Cincinnati's Brighton and Liberty St. stations. The Broadway station has an island platform with columns similar to Cincinnati's Race St. station. Between South Station and Broadway a tunnel leading to the line's old service yard features the same concrete construction and portal style as Cincinnati's various tunnel portals."
....

"The demise of Cincinnati's subway is one of the biggest missed opportunities in the city's history. While the subway and Rapid Transit Loop would likely have done little to boost population, there is no doubt it would have affected city physically and culturally in numerous positive ways. We can be certain that the route of I-75, I-71, and the Norwood Lateral could not have been built as they exist today, since they all occupy land that was graded or was planned to be utilized by the transit loop. Under Schme IV, land where Ft. Washington Way and the 3rd St. Viaduct now stand was planned for a viaduct connecting the subway's portal at 3rd & Walnut and Mt. Adams."
....
"We can only speculate on how the subway would have affected local culture, especially considering the physical variables mentioned above, but it can be reasonably assumed that it would have given Cincinnati more of a big city atmosphere. Also worth noting is that the system would be among the nation's few pre-WWII subways, contemporary with the New York, Boston, and Philadelphia subways, all of which have much more character than the newer ones."
....
"...in summer 2002 a dramatic shift in regional light rail planning took place in preparation for the November elections. Sensing little county-wide support for the long-planned single northeast corridor line, an extensive multi-line plan was instead placed on the ballot. One of these lines was to have used the two mile Central Parkway subway, and put into use at least two of the existing stations. [Issue 7] marked the best hope in nearly 80 years for activation of the old tunnel."
....

....
"Issue 7 advocates raised $600,000 from several prominent private and public sources and it was endorsed by most local newspapers and many organizations. A week prior to the election a poll conducted by WCPO Channel 9 found 48% pro and 52% against, making victory on November 5th seem possible. This poll was either flawed or its results were incorrectly reported, as Issue 7 suffered a terrible defeat that will put mass transit planning on ice for several years.

[With 100 percent of precincts reporting, 161,166 votes, or 68.4 percent, were against the tax and 96,469 voters, or 31.6 percent, said yes - a difference of 64,697 votes]

Missed is an opportunity to begin construction of what would be among the largest rail transit systems of similarly sized American cities. 21 American cities have some form of rail transit, and over 150 cities around the world have subway systems. Instead Cincinnati will remain, for a few more years, one of the largest cities in the world without a single mile of any form of rail transit."

wow. kudos to Jake
Mecklenborg at Cincinnati-Transit.net for such a detailed account. further along in his recount you can find some recent newspaper articles from 2001 + 2002 about what happened on the ballots.

and if that wasn't enough, apparantly there's
an official book. and yes. it's been added to my Amazon wishlist

omg. it's so on.



while this has me excited, this weekend, frankly has me more excited.

lsat night was dinner w/ some old friends. today = my first reds game of the season w/ my 2 favorite females in town (box seats!), a rock show (spoon! ...+ the walkmen) later tonight, and on sunday it all culminates with a COMIC BOOK CONVENTION with karl + michael.

i might just have to explode.

Friday, April 04, 2008

mass transit , if i ruled the world.




my life most [weekday] mornings:


wake up. shower. iron clothes.

walk 2 blocks to the busstop (above). WAIT. update facebook status. WAIT. say hello to the neighborhood regulars. WAIT. check work email. WAIT. watch cars drive by. WAIT.

get on bus. acknowledge crazy lady. read gmail. WAIT. get to work. boot up computer. WAIT. eat yogurt. work.

soup to nuts, door (house, not shower) to door, we're talking a ~15-30 minute transaction. i won't even bring up the evening trip home. all of this of course changes in the spring/summer, when the weather is warm enough for me to throw on a backpack, hop on my bike and ride the 2 miles downhill into the office.

for many people reading of my routine, this certainly rings familiar, if not similar, to the mass transit routine of many urban denizens. for many others though (of the local/suburban variety), much of this is substituted with a quick/long commute in your car. which brings me to the reason i'm writing today.

i stand at the busstop before and after work on many days, and watch the cars go by. and i see many, many cars going by with just ONE PERSON in them. this annoys me to no degree. granted, some of it is my longing to be in their car + hitch a ride the 2 miles back to my house (which takes only 2 mins by car), but it has more to do w/ my dissatisfaction w/ society in general.

i get it, i really do, that i live ridiculously close to work, so thus riding the bus is not as much a chore as it can be for many others (but i made the conscious choice to live ridiculously close to work so i could commute in easily). i also get it, that it is more convenient for everyone to bring their own car into the office, so they can come + go as they please. some might even say that the current mass transit system in [insert big town/small city name here] is less than desirable (the frequency, the socio-economic strata of a majority of participants, etc).

but that's not good enough.

at work, and in my personal life, i tend to frame up my thinking in a "if i ruled the world" method of problem solving. it does not solve much, but it makes me feel better, and sometimes, just sometimes, i become proactive enough to make change come about in some small fashion.

so here's what i'd do (if i ruled a small city, say Cincinnati), in the order of "lowest to highest hanging fruit":

1. create a commuter lane on the major interstates.
outside of major metro areas, this does not exist. my guess is that it is locally mandated policy, which is odd, given the interstate system is federally funded (and thus commuter lanes COULD be a federal initiative since federal dollars fund them). anyhow if you've got a 3 lane highway, 1, or maybe even 2 of the lanes become commuter only during peak hours (or maybe 1 of them stays a commuter lane during ALL hours). this would effectively [A] force "single drivers" into inconvenience, thus forcing them into the consideration of a ride-sharing option (see #3), and [B] cause commercial traffic (truck drivers, etc) to avoid the city centers, rather choosing to drive AROUND the major cities ...on the interstate beltlines that most cities have (the latter is more a pet peeve i have with trucks that are NOT Optimus Prime, which is another post altogether).

2. create better mass transit - period.
find a way to drop the money into building a "lite rail" system that runs alongside the major interstates, with stops at every major exit, and frequent shuttle buses that go to popular work + social destinations along the exit. the sad thing, is, this proposal comes up every few years on the ballots in Cincinnati (as a referendum), and fails. it fails for a couple of reasons: people are averse to paying more taxes for a program they don't feel they HAVE to use; and also because people don't want "less desirable" neighborhoods being connected to their upper-middle class suburbs. frankly, this is one place where "Lefty Raman" comes to life - take this choice out of the people's hands and MAKE IT HAPPEN. deal with the consequences.
SEE UPDATED POST ON THIS TOPIC

3. empower the citizenry to figure out a ride-sharing system
i have to believe there are multiple people in certain neighborhoods who all work in a similar area. in Cincinnati alone, there are HUNDREDS of my company's employees, many of whom i KNOW live in the same neighborhoods. this is where the secret sauce is for me. i'm going to find a way to setup this capability in the bubble that is my company
(if you work for P&G + are interested, let's talk). i've actually seen some small social networks pop up around this concept. here's one:



here's some more info on PickUpPal if you're interested. but i really don't think people should have to pay for this service. they should be doing it because it's the RIGHT THING. but let's take this to the next level (beyond local). setup a freaking X-prize already (if only i were rich, i'd fund it myself. where's Google.org when you need it?).


that's all i have to say for now.

this has been way more highbrow than the usual posting of a goofy idea/video i come across. this is serious stuff. now let's see how the masses react.

masses? please react.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

raman's [theory of] evolution.

ok. i'm just going to put it out there.

whether or not you believe in evolution, you have to acknowledge the human body is a pretty cool contraption. in fact, animal life in general is (created or evolved, though i will vehemently argue the latter). just go watch the BBC documentary series Planet Earth.


but that's not the point. neither is this: animal life has certain physical traits the serve some purpose, or fills some symmetrical, logical pattern, right?
most herbivorous (prey) animals (ie, deer, horse, cows, etc) have their eyes on the side of their heads to better detect predators along a wider peripheral of vision. most predators have sharp, almost fang like teeth ("canines," wolves and humans alike) to devour meat.

most creatures in the animal kingdom are symmetrically built, straight down the middle. that's what makes sagital cuts at exhibits like "Body Worlds" so cool. in fact, humans even have some wacky proportions that strangely make sense. like the fact that any normally proportioned person's "wingspan" (the distance from the end of one arm to another, when held out) is roughly equivalent to their height. that's some pretty cool stuff you got there mother nature.

so let's take this a bit further (
get ready for it. this is what it's all been building up towards):


each of our index (pointer) fingers is EXACTLY proportioned to fit up the nostril of our nose - for optimal nose-picking activity.


it's ok. you can try it. i'll wait.


...


no really, give it a shot, no one is looking.




...




oh come on! like you've never picked your nose!



it fits right in doesn't it? not too loose, not too tight, just a perfect snug.


but this only HALF proves my argument. now try sticking your finger up someone else's nose. it doesn't work! it's probably important that you ask permission first, and it won't hurt if that "someone else" is a loved one (significant other, sibling, etc). i'm not going to wait around for this one, but it's sure to bring lots of fun to your household.

now, don't try this at work. i am NOT responsible for the loss of your credibility/employment.
i've had this noodling around for about a year, revealing my epiphany to my girlfriend, sister, and roommate (the core of my social group). they all thought i was crazy. and then they saw the light. i figured i should put it out there now, for all to see, before some upstart academic publishes a study and claims they came up with it first.

take THAT science!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Google Fools?

now i could, if i wanted, in the true spirit of April 1st-edness, write up a totally bogus post about some life-changing event. but we all know i'm not that original/creative (i'll find something true + life-changing to write about in the near future, promise). rather i shall continue my life's pursuit of commenting on other stuff i found on the interweb (it's a series of tubes) + pretending it is somewhat professional.

today, let's talk about Google + Virgin's Project Virgil: i could be a believer, especially if they are willing to send me

who is "they", well Sergey + Larry of course:


and let's not forget Sir Richard:

if you're too lazy to watch any of the above videos or follow any links (i know, ramancoke.com is pretty awesome), then read the following OFFICIAL press release from Google today (April 1):
Google and Virgin announce Mars expedition and colony

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. and LONDON, England (April 1st, 2008) – Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) and Virgin Group today announced the launch of Virgle Inc., a jointly owned and operated venture dedicated to the establishment of a human settlement on Mars.

"Some people are calling Virgle an 'interplanetary Noah's Ark,'" said Virgin Group President and Founder Sir Richard Branson, who conceived the new venture. "I'm one of them. It's a potentially remarkable business, but more than that, it's a glorious adventure. For me, Virgle evokes the spirit of explorers such as Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo, who set sail looking for the New World. I do hope we'll be a bit more efficient about actually finding it, though."

The Virgle 100 Year Plan's milestones will include Virgle Pioneer selection (2008-2010), the first manned journey to Mars (2016), a Virgle Inc. initial public offering to capitalize on the first manned journey to Mars (2016), the founding of the first permanent Martian municipality, Virgle City (2050), and the achievement of a truly self-sustaining Martian civilization with a population exceeding 100,000 (2108).

“Virgle is the ultimate application of a principle we’ve always believed at Google: that you can do well by doing good,” said Google co-founder Larry Page, who plans to share leadership of the new Martian civilization with Branson and Google co-founder Sergey Brin.

"We feel that ensuring the survival of the human race by helping it colonize a new planet is both a moral good in and of itself and also the most likely method of ensuring the survival of our best – okay, fine, only -- base of web search volume and advertising inventory,” Page added. “So, you know, it's, like, win-win."

The original contingent of Virgle Pioneers will be selected by numerous criteria, including an online questionnaire, video submission, personal accomplishments, expertise in scientific, artistic, sociological and/or political fields of endeavor, and inadequate Google and Virgin personal performance reviews.


every year Google unleashes their famed April Fools joke. sometimes true (Gmail's initial Beta launch), most times false (Google TiSP). all times, featured unassumingly on Google's homepage (as usual w/ anything Google)

this morning, my first encounter with "Google Fool's" was actually when i signed into my Gmail, to see the following:

yes, ladies and gentleman, if you are so daring, you too can benefit from the wonders of Gmail Custom Time, which is much the e-quivalent (groan) of Dr.Doom's Time Machine (minus the kookie hijinks that Iron Man + his Mighty Avengers recently experienced):



and YES, i know this is an image from a CLASSIC Fantastic Four (rather then the current masterpiece of thought balloons that is Bendis + Bagley's Mighty Avengers), but it was all i could find around the office. at some point i will have to write an entry on time travel. i digress.

the point is. Google makes April Fool's awesome. another reason they, in effect, are also awesome.

UPDATE!
my friend Kay (who is a bit closer to this stuff than i ;), informed me of another great one (they're apparantly going crazy w/ today @ Google). see below, which is a screen grab of Google Books' new Scratch 'n Sniff functionality:




what's even better, when you click "Go" and see the link for "Help" if you can't make it work, you're taken to this page.

brilliant. reminiscent of SCTV's Smell-o-Vision. i have to go back to work now.
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