Posts by Type: Prose

Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

In 2001, director Francis Ford Coppola and editor Walter Murch released an extended version of Apocalypse Now called Apocalypse Now Redux. The new version adds an additional 49 minutes to an already pretty long movie, bumping the runtime all the way to 202 minutes. I'm not ashamed to say it took me two sittings to make it through.

I didn't actually intend to get the Redux version and I still haven't seen the original cut. Perhaps someday I'll get it and compare the two, but for now, on to the bullets!

Apocalypse Now and Apocalypse Now Redux on Wikipedia.

Apple vs. Analysts

Earlier today, I was reading a Reuters report on Apple's “disappointing” quarterly results and the article mentioned something called the “Analysts Revision Model”. This model, developed by a company called StarMine, scores companies on a scale of 1-100 based on “changes in analyst sentiment”. StarMine claims the ARM score is “highly predictive of relative price movement” which it may well be. But let's evaluate the scores currently assigned to Apple and it's closest rivals:

On Twitter this morning (1, 2, 3) I was fairly harsh on the value of the model itself, but after thinking about it more, I realized the real blame here falls on the “analysts” upon whose machinations this model is based. What the scores are basically telling us is how valuable the insights of those analysts into each of the companies listed is worth.

In the case of Apple? Not much.

Annie Hall (1977)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

I haven't watched a lot of Woody Allen movies, so I didn't really know what to expect going into this film. Now, having watched it, I think the general idea of a “Woody Allen movie” is lots of one-liners and breaking of the fourth wall. Does that sound about right?

Anyway, on to my notes:

Annie Hall on Wikipedia.

Portland Startup Weekend

About 2 weeks ago I participated in the Fall 2012 iteration of Portland Startup Weekend. The whole thing greatly exceeded my expectations and I was very happy that I participated.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Startup Weekend, the basic idea is that a bunch of programmers, designers, and business types get together for a weekend and have about 54 hours to try to create a new company. Ideas are pitched, teams are formed, products and business plans are developed, and finally you get judged by a panel of experts.

The week before, the Startup Weekend organizers held a “boot camp” on Saturday afternoon. This was an optional event to introduce people to the principals of Startup Weekend and give us some practice pitching our ideas in front of a group. During the “boot camp” I worked with a couple other guys to refine a pitch based around improving the accessibility of local produce.

During the intervening week, we worked on the pitch a little more and by Friday afternoon, after a couple hours of feverish memorization and practice, I was ready.

Here I am signing up to pitch on Friday night.
Here I am signing up to pitch on Friday night.

I believe there were about 50 pitches total on Friday night, and the top 12 would get the chance to form teams and work on their project during the weekend. Each participant was given three stickers they could use to vote for their favorite projects. You could use your stickers however you wanted, including using all three to vote for yourself. After a tense 30 minute voting period the results came in, our idea was in!

After forming our six person team on Friday after the pitches, everyone came in on Saturday morning ready to get down to business. About half our team were “hustlers” who ventured out into the rain to meet with potential customers at the Farmers' Market and worked their connections with local chefs and restauranteurs. Our goal for the weekend was to successfully connect a chef with a local farm that he hadn't worked with before and to build an initial prototype of the web app we would use to scale this process.

Two-thirds of our six person team hard at work on Saturday.
Two-thirds of our six person team hard at work on Saturday.

We ended up purchasing some Romanesco broccoli from Winter Green Farm and selling it to the very accomodating chef Rich Meyer at Higgins Restaurant in Portland.

The fruits (well, fishes) of our labor.
The fruits (well, fishes) of our labor.

Sunday night we had five minutes to pitch our more formalized idea to the panel of judges. After having seen how well most of the other teams had been progressing over the weekend, I really had no idea what the results would be. But when the final verdict came in, our team was awarded third place! I was incredibly proud of how hard everyone worked. And not just on our team but it seemed like everyone that participated really put everything they had into the weekend and the result was a great experience for everyone.

Our team giving our Sunday night presentation for the judges.
Our team giving our Sunday night presentation for the judges.

Thanks to all the participants (especially my teammates!), organizers, sponsors, mentors, and judges who helped make the weekend such an excellent event.

(Read more about the Fall 2012 Portland Startup Weekend on Silicon Florist.)

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

I really had no idea what to expect going into this one, and frankly, watching it didn't really clear up very much for me.

Aguirre, the Wrath of God on Wikipedia.

The Bicycle Thief (1948)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

Oooo, subtitles! I know a lot of people can't stand subtitled movies, but I really don't mind them. I definitely prefer subtitles to dubbing. Anyway, on to the notes!

The Bicycle Thief on Wikipedia.

Vertigo (1958)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

I've found that I greatly enjoy Hitchcock films but I usually fall asleep during Alfred Hitchcock Presents, go figure. Anyway, on to the notes:

Vertigo on Wikipedia.

Backpacking!

My dad and I try to go on a couple of backpacking trips each summer. For our first trip this year we decided to do a loop he has been wanting to do in the Wallowa mountains of northeastern Oregon. The Wallowas are known locally as the “Alps” of Oregon due to dramatic peaks that rise up suddenly from the surrounding farmland.

The loop we planned took us from the Wallowa Lake trailhead up to Aneroid Lake on the first day. The second day was a rather long segment from Aneroid Lake across Tenderfoot Pass and Polaris Pass and down to the West Fork of the Wallowa River. We hoped to find a place to make camp about when we got to the river but we ended up having to go a couple extra miles down to Six-Mile Meadow. The last day was a relatively easy six miles back out to the trailhead. I used Google Earth to make a little video illustrating the trip:

So Friday was easy, Sunday was easy, but Saturday…Saturday was a doozy.

Here's an elevation profile for the trip:

Friday was fairly uneventful. A steep but very scenic hike up to Aneroid Lake. Mosquitos were the only real unpleasantness we faced, and at the end of the day we were rewarded with a beautiful little campsite right beside the lake.

Looking north from our Aneroid Lake campsite.

Saturday wouldn't have been so bad except that throughout the day we were caught in several passing thunderstorms. The first struck right as we crossed Tenderfoot Pass and included quite a bit of hail. After that, the weather cleared just long enough for us to cross Polaris Pass. We had hoped Polaris Pass would be snow-free by mid-July, but sadly this was not the case. We had to cross several snow fields, the most significant of which involved using our trowels to dig steps in a rather steep snow bank. Then using a rope to make sure nobody slipped and went sliding down a several hundred foot long embankment, puncuated by large pointy rocks at the bottom.

Just across the pass we had to descend some very steep and narrow switchbacks down an exposed slope. At this point we could see (and feel) the next thunderstorm rolling in on us and everyone was pretty anxious to get off that slope before it arrived.

The back side of Polaris Pass. If you look closely you can see the faint diagonal lines of the trail coming down the slope.

We made it into the relative shelter of some small stands of trees just before the storm struck. Thankfully, all the lightning seemed to be of the inter-cloud variety rather than air-to-ground strikes. The storm passed pretty much directly over us so ground strikes would have been rather frightening.

Once we made it back down into the trees, the excitement and anxiety of summiting the passes steadily gave way to the exhaustion of hiking about 10 miles with about +1500 feet and -2500 feet of elevation change in a single day. Everyone was pretty relieved when we finally reached Six-Mile Meadow.

Unfortunately, the rain had taken a toll on our baguette.

Compared to Saturday, Sunday was a breeze. We slept in a bit and then packed up our stuff and hiked the 6 miles of gentle downhill back to the car. Newton did refuse to carry his backpack on the last day, but he had been such a trooper on Saturday we didn't really mind carrying his stuff. Also, we saw a bear just across the river!

All in all, a successful trip. Even though Saturday was a bit more than we bargained for.

Additional photos available on Flickr.

The Battleship Potemkin (1925)

Note: This post is part of on ongoing series in which I'm watching a lot of movies.

Not to be confused with more modern interpretations, The Battleship Potemkin is one of the earliest motion pictures to attempt to use editing techniques in order to enhance the narrative qualities of the film.

My notes:

The Battleship Potemkin on Wikipedia.

Dr. Strangelove (1964)

While I was planning to progress largely alphabetically through the movie list, I made an exception for Dr. Strangelove because it's one I've been wanting to watch for quite a while.

I don't intend for these movie posts to be anything resembling a “review”, but rather an assortment of thoughts that came to me while watching the film or shortly thereafter. So, in no particular order, here we go:

Dr. Strangelove on Wikipedia.