Archive for January, 2006


Saturday, January 28th, 2006


There are only two items from the Stuart Collection located in the UCSD School of Medicine, one of which I’ve already profiled. The other is Terrace by Jackie Ferrara (1991). At first glance, this might seem to be a courtyard, but I think courtyards have many entrances to it, and this has only one side open. Is it a patio or a terrace, then? When I think of a terrace, it’s high above things, perhaps on the top of a tall building in New York City. This is more of a patio – there are buildings surrounding it on all but one side. Perhaps when it was built 15 years ago there were fewer buildings around it; it is no longer a terrace in my opinion. It’s hard to take photos of it now because the trees have grown large and wide. I suggest looking at the official site for photos when the trees were much smaller.

I have to admit I don’t particularly like this item, or at least its location. It’s off in a corner of the medical school that few people ever go. When I visited it I realized that I had walked by it a few times without even noticing it was there. It would have been better if this had been built where more people would notice it and use it. Since it does have benches and shade trees, it’s meant to be used, and somehow I get the feeling that it is underused.

I do like the geometries of the bricks, and it looks like it would be a nice place to eat a lunch on a sunny day. Perhaps I should go visit it during some lunchtime and see whether or not it is being used by the medicine folks.

Panoramic Photos

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

I recently took the time to stitch together a few panoramic photos, which I wanted to highlight. The first one I took over winter break from Indian Rock in Berkeley. The clear and crisp air which follows a winter storm gives excellent views.


Here are some impressive thunderheads over the mountains east of San Diego.


Palomar Mountain

Monday, January 16th, 2006

A week ago Tyler Ofstad and I rode up Palomar Mountain, twice. Starting at the corner of Valley Center Road and CA 76, at the mexican restaurant there, we climbed up 76 to South Grade Road. At the top, we descended down East Grade Road, and rode 76 a bit south for another climb on Mesa Grande. At the top of that we turned around and went back the way we came. The total climbing came out to over 2,500 meters, or about 8,300 feet. The only time I have climbed more than this was at the Everest Challenge, which has 15,465 and 13,570 feet of climbing in its two days.

Palomar Mountain is a popular destination for Southern California cyclists, as well as for motorcyclists, who roar up and down the mountain on any dry day. The constant buzzing of motorcycles gets a bit old over the course of South Grade Road. Thankfully, motorcyclists don’t drive so much on East Grade Road, due to its near lack of hairpin turns. Mesa Grande is a short and steep; it climbs about 250 meters in about 2 kilometers.

If you look closely at the elevation versus distance graph below, you’ll see sharp, jagged edges on the descents. This is due to trees blocking the signal to my GPS, degrading its 3D resolution. 2D degrades much less in trees, so the GPS measures my distance, but doesn’t update my altitude. I’m moving so fast decending that by the time the 3D resolution comes back, I’ve dropped a fair amount.

La Jolla Project

Tuesday, January 10th, 2006


Often called “Stonehenge,” for obvious reasons, perhaps the heaviest item in the Stuart collection is La Jolla Project by Richard Fleischner, installed in 1984. It is a grouping of solid granite columns and beams which form mostly asymmetric shapes over a Revelle college lawn. Most of the parts are centered in one area, but a few are scattered over the entire lawn. Most of the shapes are tall, but there are some squat pieces, probably meant to be sat upon. Some granite pieces are laid to suggest decay, littered below tall, naked columns.

To me this art speaks about time. The granite was cut very recently (geologically) by a machine, so the cuts are very clean. However, parts have been arranged like they were broken to suggest the passage of time. But these fallen pieces still have sharp, clean corners that don’t look old at all. La Jolla Project reminds me of Stonehenge, which was built based on the celestial calendar. This one should last longer than any other Stuart collection item.

Applescripted Phratry Nexus

Saturday, January 7th, 2006

Although it is still a work in progress (see forward parenthetical note), the “Phratry Nexus” has been greatly improved today. (I don’t know about you, but I remember some years ago when “Work In Progress” or “Under Construction” images were common on webpages. I don’t see them so much anymore because I figure people finally figured out that all web pages are always “Under Construction” by definition.)

Back to my main point. If you look at the Phratry Nexus you’ll see thumbnail sized screenshots of the various webpages (four as of this writing). Due to the already mentioned fluid nature of the web, keeping those thumbnails current would be pretty tedious if done by hand. That’s where Applescript comes in. Ideally, I would have liked to write some kind of script and put it in crontab on the webserver, but doing screenshots is difficult from the command line. The Applescript I wrote (along with some help from my father, Mike) uses four apps, which either come with Mac OS X or are free: Cyberduck (for FTPing to the server), Freesnap (screencapture utility), Image Events (image editing) and OmniWeb (web browsing). OmniWeb isn’t free, actually. Firefox would work too, but I got the script to work better with OmniWeb.

The specifics of the script aren’t important, but the cool thing is Applescript allows me to do a 15-minute process of screenshot editing and uploading with just one double-click. It still takes about a minute for the whole thing to work (most of the time is from built-in delays in case of slow webpage loads), but that’s still fifteen times better than before, and it’s done right every time.