Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: March, 2017

A Stroll Through The Getty Villa

I went to the Getty Villa in Malibu (not to be confused with the Getty Center) on Sunday. It was a perfect, warm sunny day. The museum is basically a replica of an ancient Roman villa and it houses the Getty’s collection of classical antiquities. Unfortunately, the entire second floor was under renovation so I was unable to see that part of the museum.

Selections from SFMOMA

I recently went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I’ve always wanted to go there but had never had the time before. It’s one of those places where you just know that devoting anything less than an entire day is a shame.

Below, I’ve included photos of a couple works at the SFMOMA that I particularly liked. There are also additional photographs on my Twitter feed. There’s currently a Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit as well, but no photos were permitted for that one. Despite the crowds, it was really fantastic and I highly recommend it to anyone planning to go there between now and May. (Well…almost everyone. I overheard one guy who didn’t like it. So if you don’t appreciate twentieth century expressionism and abstract art, you might not want to waste your money on an admission ticket.)

I will admit that when I first encountered modern art, I didn’t really understand it. I still don’t understand half of it. But I’ve grown to appreciate it and find it more as a jumping off point for an artist’s philosophy–what they want to say, what they’re not saying, and whether they mean anything at all.

Postcard #120 – A Car from Poland

This is a perfectly nice postcard. Except there’s one thing wrong with it. There’s nothing written on it. It’s virtually new.

I received this in an envelope from Poland along with a generic greeting on a separate sheet of paper. I’m not sure if the sender doesn’t understand the concept of a postcard swap or has an entirely different philosophy about it. Or maybe the sender is really paranoid about having anything posted, so sent me a blank card just to be safe.

Most people would be like, “Ah, a free postcard! I can send this to someone else!” I personally feel a bit uncomfortable about that if the sender does not explicitly state that I can use it. Besides, there’s a rule on the Postcrossing site that says that you can’t reuse postcards, so that’s out even if you wanted to do that. And seriously, I’m already tempting  the wrath of the postcard police by just posting this postcard on this blog.



Garden Tapestries

Garden tapestries from Giza, Egypt. An exhibit in Encinitas, CA.

License Plates Observed

Last year, I was pretty bored being stuck in rush hour traffic so I decided to make my commute a little more productive (or useless, depending on your point of view), by making a note of the location of different license plates. The following figure is a compilation of a year’s worth of data:


There are several caveats about this geographic heat map. Since the observations were done primarily in California, of course the top number of license plates will be California. I also recorded plates from Canada (a couple) and Mexico (mostly from Baja California and about as many as Arizona plates). I actually saw zero North Dakota plates during the observation period, but about one week after the observation period ended, I saw two separate vehicles with North Dakota plates.

I suspect the map would look vastly different if I lived in a different Californian city (particularly one where there is almost no tourism), let alone in a different state.

The most frustrating aspect about the data collection was that sometimes it was impossible to tell where the plate was from because of the way it was mounted on a vehicle. Sometimes the license plate holders would cover all of the license plate except for the alphanumeric code. Occasionally, I could guess fairly confidently what the plate was if the font/color/design matched the default plate of that state, but if someone had a vanity plate, I had no clue. In the cases where I was unsure, I did not record them.

Postcard #116 – Happy Snowman and Dracula

(Disclaimer for the postcard police: I’ve pretty much blacked out EVERYTHING except the stamp and the sender’s permission to post this postcard. If you still think this is revealing too much personal information, you’re crazy.)

In some ways, I sort of wish I had posted this earlier because it would have been more timely, but for those in the know, I’m doing all these postcards in the order they were received, so this one had to wait until now. I’m actually kind of envious of the sender for being able to find a nice holiday postcard. I literally went to every postcard selling place in San Diego trying to find Christmas postcards, but only ended up with some of those ubiquitous coloring ones. And no, I’m not going to start buying them online because that way lies madness.

Anyways, I’m kind of sad I had to black out most of the postcard because the sender also drew Dracula. It seems like a non-sequitur upon first glance, or at the least it looks like the sender got the holidays mixed up. But I think it’s really cool because to me, it brings back the concept of telling scary stories around Christmas time. Christmas is too sweet as it is–bring back the Christmas horror!

(Oh, and for anyone super curious as to what is underneath the blacked out stuff, aside from a drawing of Dracula, there’s also a drawing of a snowman and the sender wishing me a Happy New Year.)



At the San Diego Botanic Garden

What I don’t understand is why this place is not named the Encinitas Botanic Garden because it’s actually in Encinitas, not San Diego. Is it because it’s still in San Diego County? Or branding? Or some historical weirdness that no one bothers to talk about?

Ultimate Dinosaurs!

Ultimate Dinosaurs – one of the current exhibits at the Museum of Natural History in San Diego. One thing I found particularly clever: some interactive/virtual reality displays. Short kids, though, may need a parent’s help with those. Accessibility: in English, French, and Braille. Unfortunately, this won’t help the significant Spanish speaking population here. (The rest of the exhibits in the museum are in English and Spanish.) This exhibit was created in Canada, though, so it’s kind of understandable that nothing is in Spanish.

TBR Pile #3 – Dreamland by David K. Randall

Note: The TBR Pile series of posts aren’t strictly book reviews. It’s my excuse for writing a rambling blog post. While it will contain some of my thoughts about the book, I’ll may digress into other topics.

I really enjoy reading popular science books, mostly because if anything I get to learn something from them. Especially if the book’s subject is outside of my expertise. And if I get entertained by the author’s anecdotes and storytelling ability, that’s a bonus. In David K. Randall’s Dreamland, I got to learn all about the science of sleep.

What I found the most fascinating was that much of sleep is cultural. It’s not just about sleeping in separate beds because of middle-class morality or the lack of study in dreams because it’s considered woo. It’s also habit, too. Babies in different countries sleep in different ways. Type of mattress actually doesn’t make a lick of difference in sleep quality. What matters most is consistency, not the type of sleep habit one engages in.

But despite all the sleep labs and pharmaceutical companies touting their solutions for insomnia, there’s still a lot that we don’t know about sleep. I think this is just part of the bigger problem: that we still don’t know much about the brain.

One caveat, though. Randall is a reporter and not a doctor or scientist. He initially got into the topic because he had a problem with sleepwalking and much of the book, I feel, delved into the historical and societal implications of sleep. I would have liked a lot more science (especially since the book was billed as a discussion on the science of sleep)–particularly the neuroscience behind the phenomenon of sleep and the biochemistry used for the drugs that manipulate sleep. But then again, that may just be me. I’m not afraid of reading the technical details about this stuff. The general public, however, would probably be bored to sleep.