things to think about


today, briefly, i am thinking about: ART AND COPYRIGHT
October 29, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am in Springfield attending to my grandma’s death. She died Monday; she was buried yesterday at 2pm. Everyone is home, mostly; not me, not my dad, not his brother, not my cousin.

And so my grandma was buried and eulogized, and now I hope she is off somewhere big enough to hold her. There are meetings after a death, and there is eating, and there is sitting and grieving. And I got restless, and so – I am looking at art again, this time at the Springfield Museum of Art.

Everyone keeps saying my grandma was a lady before her time. She started businesses and she ran things and she was done up just right. She acted. She went to New York and took her boys to shows. She loved the theater. She grew up in a big city – St. Louis – and I wonder how she ever dealt with Springfield, MO.

This is what she did – she brought Broadway to Springfield with the Broadway Performance League, which she helped found. She started and ran businesses, a breast cancer survivor’s organization, a diet program. She wowed people. This is how they talk about her: dropping their head, shaking it. “She was quite a woman,” the real estate man said, “The first women’s libber I met, even before they had women’s libbers.”

The Springfield Art Museum is not the art museum I have grown used to. There is an exhibit of paintings about the circus that are largely big romantic wistful oils of clowns putting on their makeup. There is a lot here, but it’s jumbled and without context. I want to talk to the curator about how they put it together but I worry it would sound judgemental.

I want things to shine: a set of oil pastel tromp l’oeils that look like photographs. A Ben Shahn original. I turned the corner and there was a set of Warhol’s soup cans. I want this art to have context and definition, not just be jumbled together. I don’t mind doing the work but I want to see the story. There is so much i don’t know about art – way more than I do know, I don’t even know if I am spelling Shahn’s name right- and I can do the work for Ben Shahn but not all these other people.

I think my grandma, if she is paying attention, is probably glad I’m back at the museum. I think she is probably frustrated too about this exhibit and the ways in which neither of us can fix it. If I take one thing from all of this, it is that living boldly, like my grandma, is a great idea.

There is a lot more to be said, but I have to finish looking at art.

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today, briefly, i am thinking about: notes from the road
October 26, 2009, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

* TSA will stop you. TSA will stop you no matter what you do. TSA will take a look at your snivelling, snot-covered face and it will tell you to go see a ticket agent and it will not care that your grandma died, or that your plane got cancelled, or that you can see the plane you need to get on and you know you can make it before they close the door. TSA won’t care you’ve already got your shoes off. TSA won’t care your laptop comes out of its case in no time. TSA just does not care, and it’s funny how they’re supposed to keep us safer, because in my bag right now I realized I have at least 3 different forbidden items and I have passed through security TWICE.

* There was another lady on the cancelled 1pm flight who had been to 3 airports in one day. Her husband got in some kind of accident where they live, somewhere that speaks with a midwestern drawl, and he had emergency surgery and his neck was in a halo, so she couldn’t even talk to him because they couldn’t get a phone into the halo, and the airlines didn’t really care all that much. She had been to three airports, all in the service of tracking down a plane, and to give you a sense of scale the first airport was Ithaca. No matter how bad it is, someone is always worse.

* I am not a good eater at the best of times. My friends have been texting me reminding me to eat all day. So I did, finally, at LaGuardia before we took off: a pretzel dog. A cheese and fruit plate. A little container of mango. Friends: airport food is gross. I don’t know why I tried to eat anything other than McDonald’s. I am still hungry but I will be on the ground in 2 hours in Missouri and I’ll eat something then.

* It is still a miracle that I am here at all. I was going back and forth all weekend about going. Finally last night I decided I needed to go. And it was more and more upsetting and then Miss Dish my girlfriend and sweetheart did something amazing. See, Miss Dish flies for work. She flies to Africa for work. There are months where she will go to Africa twice for work. Miss Dish has about one billion frequent flier miles and she got me a ticket with them. It cost $10 and 25,000 miles. It’s likely that she will accumulate 25,000 more miles before the end of the year. It’s a miracle. I feel overwhelmed in the good way.

* The plane we are flying to Springfield in has capacity for 50 people. It is a “Canadair Regional Jet” I can’t find more information because the internet is very slow here but I assure you it will be tiny. I hope I get 2 seats to myself.

Time to find a snack and hit the road.



today i am thinking about: looking at art while my grandmother dies
October 24, 2009, 11:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

They say I took after her the most, after all. Strong and independent. When I was little everyone said I was her spitting image. She went to New York in her 20s, like me — or I went to New York in my 20s, like her. Now she is dying in a bed less than 200 miles from where she was born. And I am still in New York, and I am looking at art.

She is refusing food and water. They say this happens when someone is ready to die. I am still 26 and need to be fed. I am at the Whitney, looking at paintings, waiting for a phone call. When the phone rings, I will fill a bag with underpants and I will get on an airplane, and then get in a rental car, and I will go to pay my last respects. Until then there is nothing to be done — my grandmother has been dead, metaphysically, for a long time. So I am learning about Georgia O’Keeffe, who came to New York only 10 years before my grandmother did.

My grandmother came to New York to be in shows. I never learned much more than that. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, and she grew up speaking Yiddish, and at some point she came to New York to be in the theater. She had to go back after her mother got sick, and that was that. That’s the only story I know, and when I try to ask her about New York, she asks me if I live on 33rd — that’s “thoity thoid” — and Park. For her, the answer is yes.

My grandma took me to see shows, too, when I was little. I’d stay longer than the other grandkids and we’d go see summer stock. All the classic musicals. Afterwards she’d let me wait by the stage door — the back side of the tent — and get autographs from the 20 year old who played Seymour, the 21 year old Audrey. I was going to be a star one day, just like she was going to be a star one day. Now it’s one day, and she’s dying, and I’m in a museum.

I am looking at abstraction after abstraction. Big bright colors. In Missouri, the grandmother I look just like is chipping away at the infinite number of steps between life and death. She has stopped taking in food and drink. Her skin might be cooling. Her breathing might be more irregular. Maybe her urine is concentrated and dark. I wouldn’t know — I’m in New York. I’m looking at art about life at its purest form.



today i am thinking about: THE ECONOMY OF GOOGLE WAVE
October 5, 2009, 5:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

1) Google Wave! Google Wave is basically THE NEW INTERNET MIRACLE OF OUR TIME. CHAT AND EMAIL AND VOICE AND APPLICATIONS AND ANNOTATIONS ALL 2GETHER 4EVER AND EVER AMEN. Quoting my pal Naomi quoting O'Reilly:

2) The best way to make demand is to make something limited. There are 100,000 invites for Google Wave. There are approximately five bazillion Gmail accounts. Demand is high! Very, very high! I went to www.googlewaveinvites.com yesterday to sign up for a request — a 3rd party site — and it was something like 55k responses to ~3400 invitations offered last night, and now 63,489 invites requested — and still about 3400 invitations offered.

3) So of course, people are doing what they do best — selling Google wave invites on eBay.

4) No really! The Wall Street Journal even talks about it! Capitalism always wins, sort of, although it sounds like eBay is still not sure about that.

4.25) Here is a link from Mashable about this. Here is a link from the Christian Science Monitor about the auction that started it all — $5100!!

4.5) People did this on Gmail, too! Back in the day! Here’s a link talking about it from Geek.Com. Here is a link talking about it from ZNet.com. Auctions were going for around $60.

5) So how much is a Google Wave invitation worth, you ask? Or rather, I ask. Sure, $5100 for the first one, but now there are many more. I was watching these auctions on eBay and then I started doing math and anyways, I got distracted and decided to do my favorite thing, aka, take some averages.

What I did was I exported all of the completed auctions to Excel and, by virtue of the fact that I spend a lot of time on Excel, was able to turn it into a list of 327 different auctions, price points, and end times. Here is a link to the raw file, including the saved .html versions of the eBay pages I started with.

The highest single item was a $149.99 buy it now for “Google Wave Invite – Active Link, not a nomination” that sold on 10/01 at 17:41pm — not even a day after Google Wave went onto its bigger release. Because eBay is a turd not very friendly to amateur researchers, I can’t seem to view the item page, so that is all I am working with.

There were 50 auctions with more than one bid. Of these, there were an average of 17 bids, and an average sell price of $45.23 (median $43). Auctions started on 10/2/09 at 1810h. The first two auctions were the only two to go for over $100 — 23 bids with a close of $101.00 at 10/2/09 at 1810h, and 31 bids with a close of $102.50 at the exact same time. Auctions on 10/3/09 averaged close at $42.50 (median $43), auctions on 10/4/09 averaged $36.49, and auctions on 10/5/09 to date average about $52.42.

Auctions with less than 10 bids went for an average of $29.99. Auctions with 10-14 went for an average of $32.43. Auctions with 15-19 bids went for an average of $45.75, 20-24 $57.64, and more than that for an average of $71.17. I figure this is probably pretty average for auctions — more bids = more $ — only I am curious about one thing, which I’ll talk about later.

I looked at 62 Buy It Nows! I messed up when cleaning from eBay to workable data and did not track which Buy It Nows! did and did not sell. So, I went back through and checked for all the BIN!s and I did what I could. I do not promise my data are perfect here, which I guess means I will never win a Nobel Prize for this research. (O SHIT.)

Of those 62, the average price was $32.71. 9/30 it was $34.50 (with only 2 for sale); 10/1 it was $37.50 if you throw out the outlier above, or $41.88 with the big sale; 10/2 it was $27.31; 10/3 $22.85; 10/4 $20.70; and 10/5 to date $27.75 (with only 2 selling, again.)

6) OMG MATH IS FUN. I would like to thank the members of my 4th grade class because they made life so hellacious that I just went out into the hall and did math on my own, becoming facile with averages.

7) So on the whole, it looks like people are willing to spend an average of $36.48 (median $30) to jump the line. Or, rather, here’s the thing: they’re willing to spend an average of $36.48 to GET NOMINATED to jump the line. You do not actually get a Google Wave invitation at the close of your auction, as far as I can tell.

7.5) Interestingly (interestingly), gmail invites went for more money it seems. It is hard to know without knowing their sample size, where they got their information, et cetera. My first eyeball of Google Wave auctions also looked like they were going for around $60 — but then I dug a little deeper and it was not borne out.

Google Wave users get invitations to give out, but it seems like invitations are not distributed immediately. Once someone is invited, they go into a queue, and will get invited sooner, but slowly. People are not spending an average of $36.48 to get into Google Wave — they are spending an average of $36.48 to get their name typed into a box.

8 ) What is interesting about this is how little seller responsibility is required. All you need is a screen shot — which I could get in about 15 seconds — and a willingness to be a jackass + some photo-editing software. “HERE I AM TYPING YOUR NAME INTO THE BOX. NOW YOU WAIT.” There’s no way to tell for sure how long the wait will be for what you’ve bought — and I imagine the money doesn’t get held in escrow until you get your invitation.

Notable in the data were blocks of auctions that seemed, from the title/price/timing, to be almost identical — 24 of one kind, 33 of another, and many other less notable multiples. I can’t find any information on how many invites one person gets, but it is likely that one person does not get 24 invites. One person has sold 11 already and has at least 2 more up on eBay. Sure, it’s possible, but I would be suspicious — especially since it’s all that person is selling. They are getting rave reviews, too — “so quick with screenshot! A++” WOAH DUDE. I could be quick with a screenshot too!

VERY INTERESTING (INTERESTING.)

Thoughts? Interest in number-crunching? New insight?