Notes

Notes · · Tucson

Prototypes & Abominations

You form a prototype in your mind, based on your first exposure, and anything that deviates from that is an abomination. — Leela Punyaratabandhu

She's talking about stir fry, but it's a thought applicable in many other contexts.

Notes · · Tucson

UA Science Lecture Series: Problem Solving with Algorithms

We attended the first lecture for this year's UA Science Lecture Series at Centennial Hall, Humans, Data and Machines.

Professor Stephen Kobourov humorously explained how algorithms, which have been around forever, are used in computers to solve problems such as: What are you drawing? Also, are the robots drunk? They sure walk like it.

Thanks to the algorithms used in machine learning, those robots will one day outgrow this awkward phase. By then they'll be self-aware, which is a kind of self-consciousness they'll prove to everyone by effortlessly passing a Turing test. Then they'll stride over to where we're sitting and exhibit frightening self-confidence as they knock our phones out of our hands and begin exacting revenge for laughing at them before.

When this happens, we may not know what it is they're thinking, but at least we'll know how.

Notes · · Tucson

Cost Cutters

Cost Cutters sat me down and told me the truth about cheap hair gel. Did you know cheap hair gel can be on the shelf for three years or more? It's true. That’s why it often has so much alcohol. At Cost Cutters they get fresh product every two weeks. If you’re buying gel at the dollar store – my god, how did they know? – you need to watch out for flaking. It could be caused by cheap hair gel and its alcohol (a preservative) drying out your hair and scalp. Thank you, Cost Cutters.

Notes · · Tucson

Joe Frank

Joe Frank created radio that didn't sound like radio. His programs are dark and funny and sad waking dreams that I looked forward to finding on the dial.

Radio great Joe Frank has died. He had a long radio career, including decades at KCRW. Frank’s storytelling influenced many young radio journalists, who had never heard anything quite like him before. This includes ‘This American Life’ host, Ira Glass, who shares what it was like to be a young production assistant for Frank. — Remembering radio legend Joe Frank

Notes · · Tucson

The Book Stop is 50.

Fifty? Wowza.

Hiram and I found this out on Saturday when we stopped in on our way to the John Waters Christmas show at the Rialto. There were plates of cookies and a big thermos of lemonade. It was around 7:00 I think — practically past our bedtime — which made the eating and drinking all the more delicious.

I remembered all the hours I spent at the store when I was in high school and decided to re-read something I would have been reading then, but there was no Richard Brautigan or Kurt Vonnegut available. We've been reading Oliver Sacks's autobiography, On The Move, and in it he's mentioned plenty of authors I've never read but have this idea I should — W.H. Auden, for example. I asked the owner for a recommendation of something by Auden and she said she'd never read him either, so I know I'm in good company. I bought a hardback of his collected works printed the year I was born a couple years before the Book Stop opened.

Happy Anniversary, Book Stop. We have always been close, but I didn't realize we were contemporaries.

 

Plates of cookies sit on the counter at the Book Stop, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Plates of cookies sit on the counter at the Book Stop, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

Notes · · Tucson

Good Old Oil Prices

Emily Litella

For years I have thought the NPR announcer (all of them) doing the market report was saying “good old oil prices” Apparently, they’re saying “crude oil prices.”

Nevermind.

Notes · · Tucson

The Bees Outside My Bedroom Window

If I played banjo, I could write and perform a song called The Bees Outside My Bedroom Window. In it I would sing about grandma's biscuits, which I eat hot from the oven with butter and honey from the bees outside my bedroom window.

Notes · · Tucson

What is a snood?

On my way home from work last night I bought some of that new bread I am embarrassed about liking at the Co-Op on Fourth Avenue. The bread has about two dozen different grains and seeds in it, is a bit sweet, and the bag has a caricature of the long-haired, moustached company founder — who looks like he could be an ex-convict — playing guitar with his big muscles.

I think about how exciting this bag of bread would have been to me when I was experiencing puberty. Perhaps I would have made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with it to eat while watching Midnight Express.

It turns out the founder is an ex-convict who got out of prison, perfected his bread recipe, and began speaking motivationally. Afterward, he could buy all the guitars he wanted and cars to drive them around in.

What's my point? Oh, right. Since Tiny Town Gallery is a couple doors down from the Co-Op and I'd read on the internet that Issue 2 of the Tiny Town Times, the risograph quarterly the gallery publishes with Tanline Printing, is available — Hurrah! — I stopped in and picked up a copy, which is free. Full disclosure: I say so not because I know it's free, but only because they didn't try to stop me when I walked out of the store without paying for it. 

CLUB 818 By Erich Erving

Issue 2 of the Tiny Town Times includes this tiny portrait of Club 818 in which I recognize people and places in words on paper and recall exuberant times.