Weekly Rochester Events #342: Great, 1.05 Pounds
Thursday, July 28, 2005
It seems I finally kicked the "welding geek" habit for a while and have now become a "electronics geek" again. It took over a week and I accidentally made a new bike design in the process, but now I'm back on track with The Bike With 2 Brains, finally getting to work on the electronics. By the way, I also updated the website (and am trying to keep it updated since it took me the better part of two days to do two months worth of updates.) Unfortunately, I also fried the MP3 player I had while I was testing the voltage regulator (going from 12 volts to 1.2 volts is harder than you think if you're talking about 200 milliamps.)
Too bad it's not "writing geek" because that would sure make this go quicker.
Anyhow, I got out to a few things over the week. I went to The Genesee Center for the Arts (713 Monroe Ave.) on Friday to check out the Asian/Pacific Islander/American History Project of Greater Rochester (APA-HiP) event. They showed Identity through Art: Six Rochester Asian American Artists which was this excellent documentary about 6 local artists. I really appreciated the steady-paced editing that suggested warmth, consideration, and patience for what the artists had to say. I also appreciated the variety of artistic expression — dance to pottery to calligraphy. Plus, interviewee Chea Peng's pottery was on display in the first-floor gallery ... his teacups and teapot piece is really quite evocative although I think I liked the original rendition better (which was shown in the documentary.)
Afterward, a bunch of us headed to Café Cibon (688 Park Ave.) to solve the puzzle of finding a single venue that has beer, coffee, and ice cream — based on satisfying everyone's individual needs. Nobody seemed to get ice cream, though, so I'm not sure if the case is closed on this one.
On Saturday I busted my ass all day to get this new bicycle done. It's the bike I'll be riding around Burning Man (The Man, Black Rock City 2004, NV) in a month as my personal transportation, but I wanted it for the evening. I finished welding the frame and sprayed on some primer in the morning. By late afternoon the paint was finished and dry (nothing like fast-drying Plasti-kote) and I got it all assembled and tightened. I finished things off with a couple lights — I couldn't finish the full light system which is derived from the LEDs-in-polyethylene-tubing I'm using for The Bike With 2 Brains so I'm doing a test run with this smaller project.
I made it out the door later than I hoped around 8:15. I was heading for Lux Lounge (666 South Ave.) but I only made it a half-mile to Record Archive (1394 Mount Hope Ave.) when the back tire blew out. I've never had one pop and it even surprised the people at the coffee shop (as if they aren't already wound up on edge all the time anyway.) I had to walk it back home and get my totally passé tall bike. On closer inspection, the back tire had some dry-rot and the sidewall cracked, squeezing a little bubble of innertube out until it finally burst ... I guess that's the problem with cracked, dry-rotted tires. The rupture is cartoonishly star-shaped which amused me for like 5 seconds.
However, the whole point was the Paul Reubens Day event. See, it was July 26, 1991 that Paul Reubens was arrested for masturbating in a pornographic movie. The event was started by the Drunken Redheaded Sluts in San Fransisco as [cut, paste] "a hilarious way to denounce the 'bum rap' that self-gratification got Paul Reubens, while honoring the man's erotic curiosity and zany character." Rochester's rendition, set up in part by Trudy of Godiva's (653 South Ave.) fame, involved dinner at Mex (295 Alexander St.) and then a special viewing of Pee-wee's Big Adventure in the back yard at Lux.
We were supposed to pick a Pee-wee-related name for our nametag so I went with "Pea-Oui Herman." Had I done any research on the event, I guess I should have been a pea-proponent-themed Pee-wee. It ended up being just six of us (well, seven, but one had to leave early) all dressed up as Pee-wee. I was the least close to on-theme as I only donned a gray sportcoat over my MST3K tee-shirt, but at least the color matched the other folks' more apropos pinstripes pretty well. Anyway, with such a small troupe, we did manage to make a bit of a scene among the East-and-Alexander crowd. Some even recognized that we were indeed dressed as Pee-wees and a few came back with some clever lines.
I sure would have had a great adventure if someone hadn't stolen my cool bike ... er ... I mean that I didn't get a flat tire.
On sketchy arrests, that very topic came up recently on the Culture Jamming Tribe discussion list about a political artist being arrested under false charges of bioterrorism. I wrote a response, but I wanted to elaborate a bit here.
There seems to be this tendency for people to believe that evidence of overshot means you're on target. I guess the logic is like that of buckshot: if you try to hit a small target, you'll find that there is overspray in all directions around the target, therefore if the target is missing, the evidence of overspray is indicative of an accurate shot. However, as a metaphor, the same is not true in all cases: whether it's Paul Reubens' arrest being indicative of locking up a thousand child molesters, or that traditional bug-zappers kill lots of bugs, so they must kill lots of mosquitoes too.
Ironically, I never realized that my hatred of what I termed "buckshot laws" was ultimately tied to this concept — I hate the idea that people find it okay to do things like ban bicycles from Monroe County parks because a few fucknobs on bikes ran down some hikers: there is already laws against physical assault and reckless behavior that endangers others, so why make one that ruins my day for no reason at all? Pre-9/11 America was packed with "what-about-the-children" logic that led to things like Reubens' arrest: we must ban it because what if a child [sees/does] it? Post-9/11 it's all about not dying in a terrorist attack: we can't have pocket knives on planes because what if a terrorist uses one to hijack a plane? In my opinion, in our 4-year-old mindset, this is surrendering unconditionally to terrorists. What's worst for me, though, is that it's about infringing on freedoms that few people really exercise.
As an independent columnist (please stop laughing) I'm deeply troubled by the idea that we need to forsake freedom to survive. Thomas Jefferson or Ben Franklin or one of those guys, dead nuts and all, was dead-nuts on when he said, "the man who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither." While it's a really cool quote to pull out in such discussions, a little additional explanation makes all the difference. First, "sacrificing freedom" isn't just about the things you personally do day-to-day, it refers to what your neighbor does — and by "neighbor," I'm referring to your fellow countryman. Second, "security" is a loaded word — it is the belief that one is secure, not "invulnerability" which is actually being secure.
If you want further evidence (and now I'm pulling from my post on Tribe) consider "duck-and-cover." There must have been people who demanded that our children have "duck-and-cover" drills in the 1950's because a well-trained child hiding under their desk in a nuclear blast would be safe. I'm sure there were teachers arrested (probably for "being communists") because they said "duck-and-cover" wouldn't help at all and refused to teach such bullshit. Looking back, just how effective is banning pocket knives anyway?
But moving on to the 1960's when everyone was fucking a lot (lucky lot) I got to see What's New, Pussycat? at the Dryden Theatre at George Eastman House (900 East Ave.) on Sunday night. While it's not the pinnacle of cinematic perfection, it was darn funny. It dragged a little in the middle but it had the flavor of the screwball comedies that I really like, the dialog was unrealistically witty, and the whole thing was very fast paced.
On Monday it was more movie stuff. I meandered my way to The Little (240 East Ave.) to see the 20th in the Emerging Filmmakers Series. Everything was really top-notch this time. In talking with Karen vanMeenen at the start of the show she said she was getting more submissions than there was time slots to show, and in her introduction, that there will be shows all summer — unlike in other years. Anyway, some of the highlights included Chasing Fate by Jeff Burns which is an interesting take on the unavoidability of fate as a guy tries to use his prescience to save the life of his ex-girlfriend. Lower East Side Stories by Liselle Mei was marred by severe DVD problems (at one point, the video froze for over 15 seconds as a character was walking across a rooftop prompting one patron to blurt out something about there being a "dramatic pause.") However, it was so engaging that it still managed to come off as a brilliant and beautiful movie about four lives and how they tangentially relate to one another without ever directly crossing paths. I think that the proper description would be "a meditation on the subtleties of living in New York City." Nicholas Gurewitch's The Liars was a three-act, twisted, humorous, quasi-animated, silent film about the fantasy world of twenty-something lovers. Finally, everything beautiful by Jon Karafin (not "everything is beautiful") presents a somewhat amusing transition that begins with what seems to be a typical abstract film but what ends with ... well ... something else. I think it's the surprise that helps this one along so I'll leave it at that.
To close on more electronics geek talk, I found an MP3 player at Goodwill Fashions (376 Jefferson Rd., in Jefferson Plaza) which appears to be a good fit for what I need. Aside from having four times more RAM than the original player (a respectable 128MB) it also claims to run for 18 hours on a single AAA battery, so, despite also requiring 1.5 volts (1.2 volts, whatever) it only requires 40 milliamps which makes power losses in a linear regulator more reasonable. Did I mention I reverted to "electronics geek" mode?
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About the title ... Valued at 1 pound and one shilling, the guinea was issued in England starting 342 years ago in 1663.
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