Aug 25, 2008


effie sent this, a pair of germans who photograph lightpaths in remote locations. some of their work reminds me of the photo-respiration series, by tokihiro sato. in any case, quite beautiful.

lightmark no. 60; N 70°26’36.5“ E 27°53’27.1“, 2007

also, today, 45 minutes at lunch in a hammock under aspens, with an iced coffee and the books on play.

Aug 21, 2008

you get what you pay for

you get what you pay for
poplar, milk paint, red oak
18" x 5" x 2.5"

Aug 11, 2008


aaron got me from google and we picked up some coffee from downtown mountain view before heading to the airport where he was going to collect someone and drop me off at bart. i got into the city just before 5 and walked up the hill in gorgeous sunlight and warm breezes to the old apartment for the first time in 2 months. ami tells me that last weekend was the first beautiful one in weeks, so i guess you don't miss a place until you come back and find it perfect.

i got a carefully-made, bittersweet iced coffee from ritual roasters, then headed up to pacific heights, arriving at quince at 7pm by way of jake and laura's apartment across the street. quince has a back table in the kitchen, and jake found enough people to make it work. great service for a large and confused table over a four-hour dinner by consummate professionals who never missed a beat and jousted with our table all evening.

four tastings of domestic and italian artisanal olive oil emerged from the kitchen gratis, together with samples of mulberries and orange and pepper truffles and a salt-crusted golden-tailed snapper that had just landed in california that same morning. we had a server dedicated to our table; her precise flourishes with the bottle of balsamic vinegar were bird-like and protocol officer-esque in the manner of C3PO and forced several of us to hold in snorts of laughter. dinner was
  • a melon nectar shot with fried zucchini and anchovy.
  • halibut tartare with soybeans and a citrus passionfruit grain mustard
  • fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta and drizzled with olive oil. (so recently fried that they were still deflating when they arrived at table and were still tenderly liquid at the core)
  • castelmagno-stuffed tortelloni with honey brown butter sauce and a candied pecan. (two pillows of pasta filled with a salty burrata-like italian cheese; the honey in the sauce a fine balance to the salt in the cheese)
  • shreds of golden-tailed snapper in a cream sauce with lemon verbena and chopped vegetables. (we were tested and found wanting, not being able to identify the secret herb in the sauce, which was lemon verbena, of course)
  • agnolotti of veal, pork, and rabbit, with sage brown butter
  • tagliatelle with roasted quail ragu (both pastas were deeply, intensely satisfying, in the same category as the veal ragu bombolotti at jackson fillmore)
  • thin slices of rib eye with creamed nettles and fried artichoke with 5-barrel aged balsamic vinegar
  • peach leaf mousse with almonds and a black mulberry granita (the most successful dessert i've had in a long time. a creamy semifreddo with a bitter almond flavor at the very end of lightness and restraint, highlighted by roasted almonds, deeply-flavoured mulberry ice, and slices of santa rosa plum)

acts, thoughts, things

from little, big:
"Life is acts, and not thoughts and things. An act is a thought and a thing both at once, only it has this shape, see, so it can be analysed. Every act, no matter what kind, pick up a cup, or a whole life, or like all of evolution, every act has the same shape; two acts together are another act with the same shape; all life is only one big act made up of a million smaller ones, follow?" ... He said nothing for a time, remembering vividly the river barge where he'd set off The Act Entrained and other shows. Darkness, and the slap of oily water; the smell of punk. And then the sky filled up with fire, which is like life, which is light that ignites and consumes and goes out and for a moment traces a figure in the air that can't be forgotten but which, in a sense, was never there. And he racing around like a madman, shouting at his assistants, firing shells from the mortar, his hair singed, throat burning, coat motheaten from cinders, while his thought took shape above.

more foo

after the evening sessions on saturday, a small group of people gathered around for folk music next to the tent city. i sat next to a physicist from trondheim working (now) on artificial photosynthesis, a problem he considers more interdisciplinary than almost any other and one whose solution might go some way to solving our current and future energy crises. he grew up in pakistan, went to manchester for college, and eventually ended up in norway. though his professional life began with spectroscopy, he has, every decade, changed his area of focus, thus ranging widely across the multiple domains of the physics of light. he was perplexed when i mentioned what i did for google, what i do now at the ranch, and what i'm doing next -- i think anyone who intentionally and volitionally embarks on a new and steep learning curve several times throughout a long career really does understand, deep down.

Aug 10, 2008

sci foo

i got to sci foo camp late on friday afternoon -- back at google for the first time in 2 months. it's surreal to be back and yet not back; all gates barred. it's overwhelming to see so many luminaries in the same space: george and esther dyson, neal stephenson, stewart brand, kevin kelly, dan janzen, winnie hallwachs, etc. then, after a full day of sessions, a banjo and fiddle emerged in the tent area and there was an hour-long folk music session. it's all quite magical.

Aug 8, 2008


the last few weeks have been really packed at the ranch. we had tom huang on bamboo, wendy maruyama and judy mckie teaching the maruyama variations, merryll saylan on metamorphosis and fragmentation and, this week, a master class with david ellsworth. the variations class has been particularly tremendous -- a full week of projects that must be started and finished within the same 24-hour period, followed by a week-long major work. one of the students has been making bizarre one-offs, including a basswood curling stone in the national colours of sweden, a combination splitting maul and eggbeater made of beeswax, and a box for preserving eyes in sweetened condensed milk sealed with a cork and boiled pine pitch. other things being made: a shelf in the shape of the path described by a baton conducting in 4/4 time and a medicine cabinet made of poured concrete and stuffed with q-tips.

i also went to a concert on saturday at the aspen music festival courtesy of a student from the bowen sculpture class and got, as a result, to sneak into the last sessions of the brookings blum roundtable on climate change adaptation the next day. an unexpected opportunity to hold the door for madeleine albright. interesting and relevant in about a month, but it wiped out the entire weekend.