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A Day with Greg Borenstein

March 14, 2010
Saturday Greg led a small ITPlatoon to the Retro Arcade Museum in Beacon, NY, and documented it for the ITP Spring Break 4-in-4.
I documented Greg.
Here is a list of the conversations we had on the 1-hour, 20-minute train ride going up, followed by those on the train coming back:

Going Up:

  • Missing the Train. Even though I wanted to go on an earlier train, I almost missed this one, leaving my apartment after noon and thinking I could get to Grand Central and buy a ticket before 12:45. The subway closed it’s doors just as I made it to the platform. I made it nonetheless.
  • Museum of Jurassic Technology. A cabinet of wonders in LA.
  • Open Streetmap. An open source mapping project. Could be useful for the game Julio and I are developing around The Battle of Brooklyn. There are also a number of online services to convert art to vectors
  • Palisades Geology. It is a lava uplift, crystalized into vertical hexagonal columns. I tried to point out Tom Thumb, which is a lone column still standing after the others collapsed, but there was too much fog on the river.
  • Atari ET Cartridges Burial. A semi-urban legend about an Atari dumpsite in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Greg is building a model of this.
  • Maya Blender Tutorial. Very thorough, and, remarkably, by a child going through puberty. It is amazing that a child can now teach adults thanks to the Internet. Scott and Greg are both working their way through this tutorial.
  • Robert Heinlein’s “And he built a crooked house”. About an LA architect who builds a hypercube house which collapses in on itself after an earthquake. Greg sent this to me yesterday morning.
  • Grokking. Coined by Heinlein in A Stranger in a Strange Land: “to understand so thoroughly that the observer becomes a part of the observed.” From here, we moved to the year that Greg became a geek because he wanted to become a musician, and so built a website about it.
  • Bridges. As we went under the Tappanzee, we talked about how it was being replaced, possibly with a bridge that would carry a train to reduce auto commuters. This led to the horrible condition of the San Francisco Bay Bridge, and how they are expending resources to reinforce it that impair progress on the new span. We wondered out loud why the Golden Gate has no problems, and then Greg brough up the smaller study for Golden Gate in Portland that Scott identified as the Saint John’s. Scott and Greg then talked about how dangerous the Sellwood Bridge is, and that after the Minneapolis bridge collapse, the Sellwood was rated a “0” from 1 to 100, where 1 is the worst.
  • Oregon. Florence. The Mckenzie Lava Beds. Astoria.
  • Daylight Savings Time. This causes insoluable computer problems between time zones.
  • Big Games. Capture the Flag in the rain in Washington Square. Both Sarah and Tianwei took massive falls. From Scott’s angle he was really scared that she had broken her neck. Greg couldn’t believe he had tagged her with sufficient force, as he had been quite conscious of being careful. Scott talked about how he had been completely focused on maintaining footing while slippery. Greg mentioned an alternate form of slow play, where you can only take one step each time a bell is rung. They then went onto strategy in that game, discussing field size, number of players, and flag locations, and complained again that we had overhid our flag.
  • Native Americans. The Long Now talked about how Cincinnati once had a population of 1 million. Read the Francis Parkman Reader.
  • 3-D Printing. Scott’s Toy Design prototype. He’s moving to Casting. Mike suggested having it priced by Shapeways.
  • Indian Point. How is it’s safety record, what is the evacuation plan for New York, and is it a terrorist target? Reed College has the only student-run nuclear reactor. You can drop nail clippings into it and tell what kind of rings that person is wearing because the metal from the rings migrates into the nails. Using radiation to look at paint layers below. Damien Hearst should paint over a Picasso. His skull was bought by Russians.
  • Big games. High Noon hatred. Jelani liked it. Why are Jelani’s emails teal, and why is he downloading images from Forchan?
  • Forchan. AT&T succeeded in shutting it down for 5 minutes.
  • Connecticut College. It was the number 2 soviet strike target after Washington because it was across the river from a naval sub base that carried nuclear warheads. Electric Boat is in New London. The Pacific fleet is in the Hood Canal near Bremerton. Dick Couch’s Pressure Point is a great thriller read on the hijacking of a Trident with the Bainbridge Ferry. Other thriller writers: Clive cussler et al.
  • Forchan. They completely undermined Time’s list of the most influential people.
  • Castles. West Point. Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island, destroyed by exploding shells and gun powder in 1920.
  • Forgetting Things. I packed up my camera and left it by the door. Greg went home specifically to pick up Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales, took a shower, and left it there. He didn’t remember until he was five blocks from home.
  • Eat Before the Museum. We’re all starving
————

Coming Back:

  • Muybridge and Etienne Jules-Marey. Greg studied them in college and wrote a paper about them that I would like to read. I would also like to put together a Muybridge object library for Processing.
  • Thesis. ITP process compared to Harvard GSD. We had one semester of thesis prep to write and define our thesis, and then one semester of production. It would be a good idea to define our projects earlier.
  • Greg’s Thesis at Reed. On the academy Awards.
  • Reed College Thesis Tower. All theses are stored in one part of the library. When alumni return, they place money in their theses, face value dependent on how long ago they graduated. Freshmen scour them for food money, and spend hours reading old theses.
  • One of Greg’s Favorite Theses. A 1937 comparison between Hitler and Mussolini’s types of fascism, and which would predictably fare better.
  • Congress, What They Do, and What They Don’t. The problem is the American people: we voted them in, and we think we can have everything the way we want it without raising taxes. To dig us out of the financial situation we are in now will take a transformational biotech invention like e coli excreting gasoline.
  • Jefferson. He had strange value systems in both the way he dealt with friendships and money. And then there’s Sally Hemmings. He was a zealot, and believed the Revolution should be permanent. Elections for him were a method of achieving this. He would be completely in favor of term limits.
  • Craig Ventner. He has discovered 1000s of unknown species, and is currently working on synthetic organisms engineered to make fuel. The delieation between species is artificial. How is a frog different from a fly if the frog eats flies. Classification is a form of edge detection for us to understand the world. We are an ecosystem to 3000 species. If we killed them we would die. Are complex organisms such as humans the result of collaborations long ago between more primitive separate but symbiotic organsims?
  • Video Game Mechanisms. The mirror utilized as method of gaining distance. Greg’s project “Face Fight” had a problem due to this: one person’s face was twice as far away as the other’s.
  • Teachers at ITP. Styles of critique and engagement.
  • Ideas for Final Projects this Semester. Call to Prayer at Dydima. Turtle Acoustic Chamber. Sounds a turtle might hear.
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