Monthly Archive for October, 2006

Video via infographics

This video is a few years old, but it still geeks me out.

The music is “Remind Me,” by Röyksopp.

Whitney music box

The Whitney Music Box uses the theories of harmonic relationships to turn motion graphics into music.

At the beginning of each “song,” a line of dots begins to move around a central point. The outermost dot is on a three-minute cycle, meaning it orbits the center once every three minutes, and represents the first harmonic. The next dot in orbits twice every three minutes, representing the second harmonic; the third dot orbits three times every three minutes, and so on.

Protruding from the center is a radius line that “triggers” the harmonic tone when a dot or group of dots cross it (like a music box). As a result, scales, melodies, and chords are formed. If you know a little about music, it’s interesting to see the visual patterns that associate common musical forms, like the “three-pointed starfish” asterism that accompanies diminished chords.

One thing my astronomer’s eye kept noticing was a similarity between the way in which the visualizer’s dots spin and the way that many spiral galaxies rotate. I couldn’t help but wonder what a galaxy would sound like if plotted and visualized in this manner…. Maybe every galaxy has its own “song.”

Playing with the variations in the harmonic and chromatic scales makes for different visualizations and sounds. My particular favorites are variations 4 and 10. The latter sounds positively Kubrick-ian… straight-up 60s sci-fi.

The Whitney Music Box

About the WMB

Best time of year

Autumn’s here in full force… the nights are crisp, days refreshingly warm. Trees are gold and vermillion, some still tinged with green. Walking through a wooded area, one is assaulted by the sweet, slightly acrid smell of fallen leaves. Fall-themed wreaths are starting to appear on front doors through the neighborhood; dried corn husks and small squash in baskets on porches alongside. Fuzzy sweaters have found their way out of storage. I brewed coffee yesterday at 4pm and watched the kids play on the swingset, dressed in light jackets. The cozy smell of comfort foods wafted out of the nearest dozen kitchen windows, the same windows that allowed the occasional yelp to be heard from someone whose football team was just intercepted. The craving for grilled meats and sweet corn is slowly yielding to a desire for steamy, roasted meats and soul-sating soups.

Nights are now longer than days, and it’s dark when I wake up in the morning. If there’s a pretty morning sky, I will sometimes take my morning brew outside and watch the stars disappear in the changing colors of the morning twilight, hissing steam in the frosty air, listening to the squirrels chirp to each other as they dance across lawns, tree limbs, and power lines, frantically searching for nuts to store for the dreary winter that’s just around the corner.

I tried to sleep in a few days ago - a beautiful, lazy fall weekend morning - but one of my kids crawled into bed with us, had a dream about Splash Mountain or something, and whizzed all over the sheets. Yay parenthood.

Getting away

As I’m sure you know by now, I live with four girls. Life for me is pretty much what you’d imagine it to be. Like the Borg, my family has assimilated this once proud, testosterone pumping male into the collective; and like the Borg, resistance was futile.

I used to whizz outside, now I make sure the seat is back down before I leave the bathroom. I used to scrub engine grime off of my hands, now I scrub fingernail polish stains out of the carpet. I used to eat cereal over the sink. Last Tuesday I caught myself wondering if I was using the right fork for my salad. I used to wear boxer shorts around the house on lazy mornings. Now I wear sweats or pajama bottoms, so that I don’t hear “ewww, Daa-ad!!” every time I cross and uncross my legs.

I used to make beer runs. Now I make tampon runs. I shudder to think what life will be like when all four of them start cycling at the same time. I figure I’ll just hide in the bathroom, while they scrape their claws down the door and chant “daaaadeeeee….. coooommme oouuuttt….” like that chick from the Exorcist.

Most of my money goes to jeans and earrings and boy-band CDs. Most of my time goes to killing spiders.

Continue reading ‘Getting away’

Shocking, really


Hey, it turns out there IS lightning on Uranus, after all.

Now this is an exciting story to tell the grandchildren. I don’t have stories like that. I’m not what you call the “exciting type.” Unless you count when I take my shirt off & jump on my moped and ride full-speed through the nearest cornfield, cackling like the Joker on nitrous oxide while letting the stalks whap-whap-whap my tender flesh into blissful contusive glory. But hey - everyone needs his “me time,” even if it’s kinda unexciting.

But I’d still rather risk the cavities, is all I’m saying.

…and it burns, burns, burns…the ring of fi-yah

Don’t mess with God

Last Wednesday (4 October), a series of storms plowed through my town. It wasn’t really a surprise, we were expecting severe weather all day (and are quite used to it here in central Ohio), but nobody expected how intense it was going to become. 60 mph winds, hail, tornadoes, the works.

Here’s a few pictures I managed to snap before, during, and shortly after the storm:

Here it comes. The mesocyclone is visible just to the bottom center of the picture. As bad as we had it, the folks about a quarter-mile north of us had the worst damage - whole sides of homes perforated with baseball-sized holes, windows blown out, siding ripped off.


Meso negative gradient
Same pic as above, but with a negative gradient to bring out some scary detail in the clouds.


it hits
The storm hits suddenly. I was standing right beside these patio chairs when I took the picture of the meso. The wind hit and almost blew me off my feet; I scrambled into the kitchen and snapped this shot right after I got inside. That’s golf-ball sized hail, there.


Another quick picture, just outside the front door. This image is extremely stretched; it was black as night outside. After this, I made it to the basement to calm the freaking-out monkeyFam. The house sounded like someone was emptying a machine gun clip into it. Every few seconds a HUGE piece of ice would hit a window… the wife and I were expecting to hear glass breaking at any moment. Note the hail streaks in the image… they are actually being thrown toward the storm. Weird.


The worst part of the storm lasted for about 5-10 minutes. Here’s the front yard covered in ice.


A couple of hours later, here’s a drift of halfway-melted hail on my back patio…

…and the same drift after I swirled a hole in it with my foot.


birdFortunately, we were spared any major damage (unlike the poor souls about 500-1000 yards north of us). Turns out we just got sideswiped. When I came out the next morning, I found a dead bird on my porch. I kicked him over and snapped this morbid shot.

I guess he didn’t hear the tornado sirens.

Aside from the damage to the homes and birds in the area, lots of the trees were prematurely skinned of their leaves. Normally, around here, peak autumn color is around the third-fourth week of October — but unfortunately, there are not many leaves left. Autumn will be duller than usual this year, and that means that the gray of winter will last a bit longer.