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This is just about the only meme I indulge in.  In 2009 I slept in 92 different locations.

This year? ....  Not nearly so many.  However, during the early part of the year I managed to move several times while looking for more optimal stable housing.  I became very good at reducing my frequently possessions (including furniture) to 1-2 carloads.

1. Temporary sublet in Oakland.
2. Temporary sublet in the Mission district SF
3. Temporary sublet in Glen Park, SF
4. Current housing in the Mission district, SF
5. D's place in Sunnyvale, CA
6. D's place in Newark, CA
7. Auburn, CA
8. Donner Lake, CA
9.  Truckee, CA
10.  L's house in Napa, CA
11. OgDoRm in Los Angeles, CA
12. D's house in San Diego, CA
13. Hotel in Long Beach, CA
14. M/L's house in SF - housesitting
15.  I/N's house in Mountain View, CA
16.  N's house in Palo Alto, CA
17.  Tortuga in Mountain View, CA
18.  E's house in Sunnyvale, CA
19.  Z/C's house in Santa Cruz, CA
20.  On a boat in the Sacramento River Delta
21. Chico, CA
22. Klamath, OR
23. Portland, OR
24. Bandon, OR
25. Humboldt, CA
26. Pinnacles, CA
27. Yosemite, CA

That was more than I thought it would be, but I really feel like I didn't travel much this year.  Amazingly, I did not board a single airplane in 2010, whereas in 2009 I took at least 30 flights.  (I'm fixing that... I'll be flying in about a week)

As part of my self-tracking I write a quick sentence about each day when it's over.  Reading back across the last year of entries in order to make the above list has been good -- I can watch the long term patterns of my social and exercise foci shifting, habits forming and breaking, the rollercoaster ups and downs of a relationship, and projects going from inspiration to completion.  

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As most of you know, I've spent the vast majority of the last 2 years not working -- instead I've chosen to focus on developing other skills and experiences, including traveling the world, fixing my insomnia, improving my nutrition, developing an exercise plan that's changed my body, improved my health, and taught me lots of fun physical skills (rock climbing, snowboarding, parkour, yoga, and hang gliding), doing lots of creative projects, and getting involved with the disorganization of the Ephemerisle festival.  

Despite the fun of my laid-back adventures, I've been missing working on a big, meaty, potentially worldchanging project.  I have looked at various opportunities, but I've been hesitant to jump into anything, knowing firsthand just how much work a startup can be.

However, at this point, I'm excited enough about new possibilities created by low cost 3D computer vision that I'm eager to start something new.  Technologies like the Kinect allow people to capture the world around them in 3D, enabling them to easily bridge between the physical and virtual worlds.  How important is 3D capture?  I think it will ultimately become as important as photography.  By capturing objects and environments in 3D, you will be able to do many things you cannot do with photographs.  You will be able to rotate around objects and see them from many perspectives, or walk through real environments as virtual worlds.  It's the difference between looking at a scene and being *in* the scene.  Better yet, you will be able to seamlessly mix physical and virtual worlds -- you could upload all your favorite physical objects into an online virtual world, drop virtual annotations and objects onto a physical environment, and preview changes to the physical world (such as new furniture in your living room or new clothing on your body), among numerous other things.  While many of these things are happening already, they have not been within reach of consumers until now.  

While some of the more far-out visions for the seamless merging of physical and virtual worlds will take years to come to fruition, I'm looking at some ways that I can provide some useful tools (and make some money) in the short term.  Unlike my last company, which took on a lot of funding and became divorced from the realities of the market, I intend to dramatically shorten the cycle of market feedback.  

I'm developing a toolset that will make it as easy as possible to use a Kinect for various 3D capture applications.  I should leave the specifics out of this public post, but I encourage those of you who share an interest in the possibilities of 3D vision to contact me.  I'm already working with two potential clients.  

This is all very exciting, which is exactly what work should be.
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The Berkeley Bulb is the result of an unintentional experiment in long-term anarchistic land use of a dilapidated jetty by a large number of artists and homeless people.  Many of the largest sculptures are similar to the way they were 5 years ago when I last visited, but the numerous concrete canvases have since been repainted many times.

Berkeley Bulb  Berkeley Bulb

Berkeley Bulb  Berkeley Bulb  Berkeley Bulb

Berkeley Bulb
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Here are the results from our baking-very-dark-things adventure -- my attempt to create bittersweet desserts that aren't available in the market.

Recipe #1 -- a standard dark chocolate cupcake recipe (makes 6 cupcakes)

1/4 cup unsweetened chocolate powder (used Dagobah brand)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 whole egg
1/2 egg yolk
1/8 tsp vanilla

Recipe #2 -- modified version of recipe #1:

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons (almost 1/2 cup) unsweetened chocolate powder (used Dagobah brand)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick butter
4 tsp sugar (1/3 the original amount)
1/2 whole egg
1/2 egg yolk

Recipe #3 -- recipe 2 + a dash of Yellow Masala Curry powder.


Frosting #1 was whipping cream + a small amount of sugar + vanilla
Frosting #2 was whipping cream + a small amount of sugar + vanilla + unsweetend chocolate powder
Frosting #3 was whipping cream + a small amount of sugar + vanilla + ground nutmeg (1/2 nut for 6 cupcakes of frosting)


Recipe #1 -- the standard recipe -- was a bit on the sweet side but had great texture.
Recipe #2 -- the low-sugar, extra-chocolate recipe -- had a less sproingy texture due to lack of sugar, was a little doughy in terms of the flavor, had somewhat limited expression of the chocolate flavor despite the extra chocolate, but was at the right level of sweetness for me.
Recipe #3 -- the yellow Masala curry -- had the texture problems of Recipe #2 but had the best flavor.  It's proved once and for all that yellow curry belongs in cupcakes.  

Going forward, we are going to try modifying recipes #2 & #3 to add a bit of salt to enhance the chocolate flavor and another egg to help create a more spongey cupcake texture.  

Frosting #3 was the most interesting -- the intense nutmeg flavor only slightly cut by sugar added a strong kick to the frosting.  


Thanks to Aviva for providing the cooking mastery and to everyone else for helping.  


Baking Dark Things  Baking Dark Things  Baking Dark Things
Baking Dark Things

After baking, we played Bananagrams.  Look closely at the crossword on the lower left.  Someone's mind is a little dirty.

Baking Dark Things

Also, this is a Water Caltrop, a relative of the Water Chestnut.  The flavor is uninteresting, but the fruit looks like something out of Hades:

P1160846  Water Caltrop - the strangest fruit in the world

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A friend of mine saw my Kinect videos and contacted me about filming him doing Iaido.  

Iaido is a highly stylized Japanese martial art in which practitioners fight imaginary opponents in a scripted battle, playing each of the positions in the battle one at a time.  A lot of importance is paid to the position and timing of the movements, ensuring that they align with one another.  Basically, the Kinect software I wrote was perfect for assessing how well he did.  The filming conditions were not so good and I didn't have much time, so this is more like a proof of concept. Hopefully I'll get something better when he's next in town.

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On the ski lift today:

Me:  The fall wasn't bad. I had knee pads.
Woman: You have knee pads?
Me: Yeah.  I also have a tailbone pad and body armor -- that's wrist, elbow, shoulder, back, and chest pads -- and a helmet.
Woman: Wow... you must have been in a terrible accident.
Me:  (laughs)  No.  I want to avoid being in a terrible accident.  That's why I bought all that stuff.  
Woman:  Oh.  That makes sense.


People don't get it.  You can do more cool things in your life if you lower the cost of failure.  I was able to learn to snowboard faster because I was less afraid to fall and because the falls I did take bruised me up less, allowing me to spend more time on the slopes and less time sitting around feeling achey.  

This is one of those useful general purpose life lessons.  "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is true, but many kids are likely to ignore it because it sounds burdensome.  However, if it's reframed as "You can do more fun things if you also take care of these precautions", it's more positive and gets the point across better.  

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I've figured out I can save a good bit of money on my return flight from CES by waiting a couple of days.  I'm going to use that time to drive out to Zion in southwestern Utah.  There's a hike there called Angel's Landing.  I remember going there when I was 12 or so, shortly before my parents' divorce.  I made it almost all the way to the top, but this one part (pictured here) scared me so I decided to not finish. 

Given my recent experience off-trailing it to the top of Castle Crags, I think I will have exactly the right amount of fear necessary to handle this properly. 

While in the area, I'll also be hitting up Hoover Dam and the Valley of Fire.  If anyone int he area wants to join me, I'd love the company.  This will be Jan 10-11
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If there was a *book* about a blue hedgehog that spins himself into a featureless orb as he dashes through an island filled with strange and highly distinct biomes, each meticulously constructed to both let him both revel in the pleasure of moving as fast as possible yet threaten him with constant (but temporary and thus perhaps meaningless) death from inexplicably placed spikes, giant springs, and pitfalls, with giant floating golden rings representing the abstraction of wealth that can somehow buy happiness if enough of them are attained, and with all other living beings on the island encapsulated by robots designed to mimic the appearance of those living things while simultaneously entrapping them and forcing their minds to commit evil deeds as mindless drones for a distant and aloof lone overlord, you would probably think it was an ironic commentary on animal rights and the nature of selfhood and self-determination in a transhuman future world as written by a creative writing major who enjoys hallucinogens on a regular basis.

What happens with these genres is that they evolved over time from something simpler, gradually becoming worlds unto themselves with their own tropes, in-jokes, and semantic structures.  For people who follow along its evolution or are surrounded by the end products from an early age, it doesn't seem strange at all.  It's happend with rap, Noh Theater, hentai porn, action movies, and lolcats, among other things.  However, it seems that this development is especially intense in certain video games.  I think it takes someone translating the genre to a different medium (eg Scott Pilgrim vs The World) to show how strange it's become.  
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Google released a 500-billion word corpus of phrase appearances in English and other languages for research.  It's a fantastic tool for tracking word and phrase frequencies over time.  

For example, here are some things I found

- The resurgence of fundamentalist religion starting around 2000 is real.  See God.  Want a broader data set of religious words?  Here you go.

- I've been somewhat skeptical of books like the Fourth Turning and generational theory, but "rebellious" shows peaks every 40 years or so.  I had a conversation with some friends a while back about how the Fourth Turning people could take advantage of quantitative analysis.  I admit it's hard to pick a good word to track, as many have other uses that obscure the data we care about, or go in and out of fashion in a way that dwarfs generational effects.  

- We were bringing sexy back (or bringing it in for the first time)... until someone wrote a song about it.   Yes you, Justin Timberlake, have ruined sexy.   No... THIS is how to bring a word back.  I'm actually impressed that Myst is mentioned more now than it was in the late 1990s... perhaps once it enters the cultural consciousness it becomes more widely referenced as it is incorporated into our collective knowledge.  Or perhaps this corpus is mostly books, and Myst was mainly talked about in magazines at first.  

- America's ascendance of the publishing industry and the English language, as told by colour vs color.  

- How hipsters preceded hippies but were soon dwarfed by them

- "Cool" words like groovy have an initial peak and then sometimes rebound later.  (It's hard to find cool words that don't have other meanings... like, well, "cool".)

- Racial slur for a black person.  One peak around the Civil War, another one during 1930-1950 (why??), and another one during the Civil Rights era.  

- Google crushes googol (though google was oddly popular around 1900 for some reason)

- Hope and fear are shockingly correlated.  I supposed they must be used together a lot.  Also in the antagonism wars, love crushes hate but lose beats win.  

- Wars make people think about the future.  

Yup, large datasets are my porn.  
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It looks like Yahoo might shut down Delicious, which frustrates me as it is one of the more useful services they offer.  Does anyone have good suggestions for alternatives, especially alternatives that have an easy-to-use import tool?  

Now, if they decide to shut down Flickr, I'll *really* be upset.  They're my image hosting service for just about all the photos in this blog.  

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It's insane.  They have race and ethnicity, income, housing prices, education, presence of gay couples... all down to the block level.

This is incredible stuff.  Learn more about your neighborhood.  I've learned a lot more about San Francisco.  

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I wrote some software to merge multiple 3D video streams captured by the Kinect into a single 3D space. Objects from each video stream are superimposed as if they occupy the same physical space, with nearby objects from one video occluding more distant ones from another. Sometimes objects overlap, creating interesting mutant forms.

Next, I want to make 3D-merges of cats, dancers, silk aerialists, martial arts experts, that painting Nude Descending a Staircase, that scene from Alien, and much more...

Also, I want to take a moment to send some hate in the direction of WMG for blocking the original audio track on this video (KT Tunstall's Black Horse and the Cherry Tree, which was *perfect*), forcing me to re-edit the whole thing with a new song. They need to get with the internet age and realize that they shouldn't say no to awesome free advertising.
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I've given my friend plenty of advice about the specifics of how to get around, what to bring etc, but for her going-away ceremony I wanted to give her the gift of high level experiential and spiritual advice.  Here's what I said:


1. Be a scientist investigating your soul. Peel off your exoself -- all that stuff that's wrapped around you.   Possessions, routines, people etc. Then drop your core into lots of radically different environments and see what happens.  Mix with different cultures. Mix with different paces of life and structures for each day.  Mix with different outlooks.  Mix with different companions.   Sit back.  Observe the results.  Share with your fellow scientists. (that's a fancy metaphor for blogging).   Experiment anew.  The word "experiment" is actually just a fancy word for playing so that scientists can feel like adults.  But playing is how we learn.   Be a kid again and play.

2. Feed your creative brain.  Some random ancient monument will not necessarily be directly relevant to your life goals, but it will lay down a web of neural pathways linked to art, beauty, design, inspiration, experience, and psychology, among other things.  As these pathways become denser, you'll be creating a new mind for yourself, a new way of seeing the world, that will emerge in totally unexpected ways when you come back and face the familiar.

3. Get yourself some transport.  Take a long walk or get your hands on a bike, scooter, ATV, or car.   Get outside of the self-reinforcing ego-serving tourist bubble from time to time and find some strangers.

4. Play sociocultural bingo.   You have to cover all the combinations of rich, middle class, poor, ancient, traditional, modern, urban, rural, serious, and playful, to win.

5. Inspire other women in areas where women fill culturally restricted roles.  If this is done carefully and respectfully, your independence and adventurous spirit will open their minds to a new way of living.

6. Don't log onto Facebook.  Share your experiences in longer posts.  Your experiences deserve it.

7. Keep your pack light. It's no fun to be a pack animal.  Aside from weird esoteric things, they do sell stuff just about everywhere else in the world.  You can live off the local supply chain, and then you'll weigh less.

8. Don't buy souvenirs unless they are incredibly special... otherwise you're just weighing yourself down.  (Well... unless you have a friend visiting for a week, in which case you should do things like give them a chunk of the Dead Sea to take home for you.)

9. Take photos.   Photos are little hooks that will, years later, let you pull out piles of associated memories you thought you'd lost.  Don't get obsessed with taking the perfect photo of some person or event; chances are there's something even better you'll see in half an hour.   Also, if there's a "no photography" sign, bribe the guards to take a photo of you next to it.

10. Watch your stuff and back up your data.   Given all that time you spent assembling your travel kit, it wouldn't be fair for some thief to have it instead of you.

11. Eat weird food.   Look for the place that's popular with the locals, and try it.

12. Be a sponge and soak in the adventures.   This time of your life will always be special, and its memories will always be with you.
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I set up my Kinect video superimposition software at a friend's party, and invited people to play with it.  Most of the good stuff never got recorded, but here are a couple of 3D self-superimpositions:


My friend on the right apparently needed to send a picture of herself kissing a girl to some guy, so I set it up so she could make out with herself.   People were "surprisingly" willing to grope the augmented-reality-captured models of their friends.  Who knew...
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By now you've probably heard stories about how a lot of well-meaning foreign aid ends up being counterproductive.

For example,
- The donation of large numbers of t-shirts to Africa has led to the collapse of the local clothing industry there.
- While foreign medical assistance to Haitians immediately after the earthquake was very helpful, the ongoing presence of foreign free clinics has put local hospitals out of business.  There's a big fear that when the foreign doctors leave, there will be no local medical system to replace them.

Last night in conversation with a friend at a party, we came to the logical extreme version of this scenario -- the sort of UN emergency food aid that occurs when there is mass famine in a particular country (eg Ethiopia) may lead countries to not develop strategies to deal with the potential for famine.  In some ways this is similar to the situation in the US with banks -- the banks did not plan for catastrophic risks because they knew that in the event of such a risk, the US would bail them out.  Apparently my friend's political science professor from Ethiopia said that she has seen how food aid creates dependency and causes farmers to stop being self-sufficient.  

Note that I'm NOT suggesting that we simply let starving people in Africa die.  If people's lives are on the line due to government incompetence, it's still our moral duty to help them.  However, this aid needs to be structured in such a way that the government is given the tools and training it needs to prevent future famines.  It's less sexy (and thus harder to get donations for) than flying in with a planeload of food and saving thousands of lives, but it's more likely to prevent such disasters from returning.

In some ways it's like medicine.  Societies, like bodies, are hypercomplex equilibriums with many internal forces in action, and smart solutions work with the existing systems instead of brute-forcing interventions.  

I imagine that some countries would welcome this type of aid, but others may resent the foreign intrusion.  It's possible that there may be some way to buy these leaders off -- for example, a company with expertise in infrastructure building could offer services for free in exchange for some % of any increases in GDP over a particular period.  The trouble is that there are many ways this could go wrong (and has).  The company could focus on a specific industry and ignore the well-being of the people.  The company could make the government dependent on them indefinitely.  The government could seize the company's assets and kick them out.  If the parameters of the deal are poorly set, the company could exploit some loophole, for example leaving the country with massive unmanageable debt.  Such deals would have to be carefully crafted.

I'm way out of my area of expertise here, but if any of you readers have some relevant literature to point me to, I'd like to see it.
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I decided that merging multiple 3D videos was more interesting than merging a 3D video with a still image, so I wrote some software today that did exactly that.  I like the patterns I get out of superimposing multiple 3D video streams in space.  However, it's still very rough and needs a lot of work.

I don't normally put up content that is this rough, but I'm doing it because I WANT YOUR HELP.

Through a night of experimentation, I've determined that the following things need to be true to make a good 3D merged cat video:

- Kittens with boundless energy are better than mature cats that are harder to entice into action.  After a mature cat has had some of its favorite toy, some kitty treats, some wet food, and some catnip, it really doesn't give a crap about your little video project.  Kittens, on the other hand, are much easier to remotely control with a laser pointer. 
- Short hair cats work better than long hair cats.  (It has to do with how the 3D camera deduces texture)
- Multicolor cats are the best -- solid color fur, especially if it's dark, does not work so well. 

So please hook me up with some energetic short-haired multicolored kittens!  Please!
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It bothers me that the US government is trying to wipe WikiLeaks off the face of the internet.  It's true that Julian Assange is insufferably arrogant, monomaniacal, dogmatic, reckless, and too focused on the United States, but I don't want to live in a world in which information embarrassing to the government is so actively suppressed.  

In case you're not following along... the state department has pushed at least one college to warn its students not to even *mention* wikileaks online (even in a negative way) if they ever want a job in the federal government, and the military is promising to criminally prosecute US soldiers who read about it.  This is a great way of filtering for a lack of curiosity and information-seeking among appplicants, which is not a great way of choosing who to hire.  (Of course people will argue that someone who reads WikiLeaks cannot be trusted with secret information, but I think there is a big difference between being the one to leak information and reading about it once it already has made headlines around the world.)  Basically, our government has been as stupid in its response to WikiLeaks as it was in response to 9/11.  

All of this makes me more likely to want to stand up to a new emerging McCarthyism.   

This sort of information suppression needs to be stopped, and I applaud the efforts of the various people involved in mirroring the data so that it does not disappear even if wikileaks goes down.  

For now, Wikileaks still has a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and the evolution of this story can be followed there.  

On a somewhat parallel concern, it bothers me that the Chinese government appears to be so much more successful at hacking our government's servers than we are at hacking theirs.  China has been repeatedly attacking us, essentially declaring cyber-war, and we've simply been sitting there taking hits.  If we wanted to level the playing field a bit, our government should secretly hire a team to hack into Chinese government servers and release the contents of those messages anonymously to WikiLeaks.  I wouldn't even mind if the US government hacked into WikiLeaks and published the organization's internal email.  (Unfortunately, the US government would likely not publish the information and would instead use it to hunt down its members) Turnabout is fair play, and more transparency on all sides will help make the world a better place.
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 I posted earlier about my experimentation with blue-blocking glasses to help improve my sleep.  I ended up not enjoying the experience of wearing the glasses, but I realized that I could achieve similar results by setting up red and orange colored night lights in my house.  This was especially nice to add to my bathroom, as it now allows me to use the bathroom in the middle of the night without forcing myself awake again with bright white lights.  You can get these lights for cheap ($5) at Home Depot.  

While this took care of the ambient room light, it didn't take care of the bright white of my computer screen.  For that I used f.lux, which reduced the blue light coming from the screen. I used f.lux on the strongest setting (Tungsten lighting) and I was surprised by how quickly my brain's white balance adjusted to the new color, especially when the surrounding room lights were red and orange.

This combination of colored room lights and f.lux seemed to work well at helping me get to bed, but not quite as well as wearing the blue-blocking glasses.  

However, based on a couple of weeks of data (which admittedly isn't much), the partial blue blocking setup using the colored lights and f.lux starting 2-3 hours before bedtime did not substantially affect my sleep latency -- it averaged 19min instead of 23min.  What did change substantially was my bedtime.  I found I shifted to going to bed an average of 28 minutes earlier and waking up an average of 5 minutes earlier.  The results actually seemed much bigger until I realized I had seasonal fluctuations in bedtime, so I went back and compared only with data from February, which had a similar day length.  I'm getting more sleep and feeling more well rested, which is good.  

Now I'm going to play with Nocturne, a program that gives me much more full control of screen brightness and appearance than f.lux.  Nocturne lets me set my display's entire color space, invert white to black, and do lots of other tricky things.  So far the best compromise between minimal blue light and maximum readability I've found is to just use the "monochrome" and "tint colors" settings on Nocturne, with the "white" color set to pure red and "black" set to black.    It's not the sort of thing I'd want to use for photo editing, but it works fine for working with text and some web browsing.  I'll report back in a couple of weeks on how that goes.


At some point I'm not sure mow much more sleep self-experimentation is worth it.   I do know I still move a lot more than the average sleeper, I'd like to get rid of my remaining mild snoring, and I'd like to improve my recovery time on days when I have to get up extra early, but I don't know how much improvement to my waking life I'll get from further changes.  For now I'll keep gathering data, since the cost to do so from a time perspective is very low.  

It would be nice to declare some sort of victory at some point, but this is one of those infinite games where improvements may continue but the margins will diminish, and true value lies in correctly answering the question of when it's no longer worth the trouble to try to improve further.  
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 I want to make a lot more 3D sculptures with Kinect. Anyone want to help? I want to film:
- Acrobatics,
- Martial arts
- Basketball
- Silk dancing
- Dancing, specifically couples dancing
- Cats and dogs (short hair needed)
- People wandering through forests of large houseplants (you only need one)
- Fun tricks with pose matching and intersecting bodies (small groups needed).
- Re-enacting that birth scene from Alien...
- A large flag waving in the wind (must be close, not 20 feet up)
- Paper airplanes flying.
- (not)-Nude Descending a Staircase
- a 1-woman Busby Berkeley movie
- More stuff we'll probably think up as we start to play...
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Apparently Facebook messages are a major factor in divorces now.  This isn't surprising.  If you tell your spouse you'll be in Place A doing Thing A, but you end up going to Place B and doing Thing B, it's getting easier for them to find out.  Even if you turn off Google Latitude and other location-based services and don't post about your actions, you still might run into someone else who will photograph you, put it online, and tag you.

This goes for non-relationship things as well.  If you email someone that you're too tired to go to their party, but you really aren't going because you heard about another party that you want to hit up, they're more likely to find out now.  You could tell *everyone* at the party not to post online that you went, but that's a lot of work, it requires their cooperation, and it makes you look bad.  

I imagine that relatively soon there will be "stalker" software that will track a person's appearances, actions, and movements across multiple social networks and location-based services, allowing you to synthesize all online information about them available to you into a coherent story of their actions.  However, it won't be called "StalkPro"... it will be something more like "FriendFinderPro" and will be marketed as a way of seeing what cool stuff a specific friend is up to and what you could join in on.  It will be the newest, most efficient way to catch up on what the people you care about are up to.  Everyone will love it.  

Opting out of the digital world entirely is not an option, since others will post about you.  So ultimately, the only two options are to live honestly or quickly acquire a reputation for being dishonest.  Your choice.  


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