Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Whiskey has talent

Ever looked at dried whiskey rings in a glass? They are beautiful!

A Phoenix AZ-based photographer and artist named Ernie Button (www.erniebutton.com) photographs these--and he got curious about what causes whiskey patterning.  So he reached out to Howard Stone, PhD, at Princeton--Stone runs the Complex Fluids Group.

The fascination was how could a clear liquid like whiskey leave such a multicolored and ever-varying pattern.

We know single component liquids with a small volume of solids--coffee with cream, say-- leave an effect. Wine tears can also appear in wine glasses.

But not much was known--or thought about--alcohol and water.

Hmmm....seems the droplet of alcohol-water creates a complex mixing flow. Ethanol evaporates first and when it's gone, a pattern emerges.

They also wondered if the barrel in which whiskey is stored and the aging process would have something to do with this.  But younger and more aged whiskeys behaved the same.

This made be useful--because it set the brains on the trail of seeing whether different things can be more  uniformly distributed in a thin film--which will have many industrial applications.

From art to apps! Bottoms up--then grab a photo!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Creativity can come from adapting an existing item

My current screenplay project is PAW & ORDER. Obviously this an "homage" to an existing family of dramas--only animated and with animal cops. And humor. This makes it completely different. Instead of solving a grisly murder, the cops are trying to find some kids' TV satellite so they can watch again--or in the sequel, rescue the cop's sons' classmate from Kimodo Dragons.

Now comes Raph Koster, a veteran video game designer, who says creativity is a process. In his case, he starts with existing games--he studies them. He puts elements in new contexts.

Almost every video game they design is a variant, Koster says. True innovation is rare, he adds..

They break the games down, study their systems.

Take cards--the mechanics are simple...but the contexts vary and you get UNO and Texas Hold-em. The mathmatical relationships are common to each.

He also recommends working within constraints--such as a deadline. Or add a word..like speed or defender and see how you would need to change the game.

Games are made out of games--how can you take a chunk of one game and put it in another.

Most games are about the player getting more and more powerful. This is not very interesting. Take Die Hard--the protag is not getting more powerful, he is trying to get his wife back. Pick an emotional hook.

The only failure is the failure to imagine.

Could you combine blackjack and ROBOTRON, he asks? Maybe. Try it!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Farm art in Wisconsin

Photo by Aaron Dysert
Wisconsin is a cool state (very cool in winter). My parents hailed from there, we went to a lake there every summer.

Octoberr 4-13, something called the Wormfarm Institute's Annual Fermentation Fest will be taking place i n Reedsburg.

Wormfarm, huh.

Accompanying this will be Farm.Art D Tour--a self-guided drive through Sauk County to look at "farm art."

This is partially supported by the US Dept of Agriculture and is aimed at publicizing the area for economic development.

The picture is only one of the pieces of art created on the tour.

Maybe your area could use an art makeover. Farms do not have to be duddy--the talent is probably lurking all around you.

Food for the eyes, food for the soul--as well as for the tummy.

Check out: http://fermentationfest.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/FF2013_DTourMap_sm.pdf

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What pumps up the creative?

Music! Music is tranformative--it zips right into our brains and changes mood and perception.

We all know this, so, naturally, this had to be studied. Would certain music make one more powerful--or at least feel  more powerful?

Athletes--many--listen to music before a game. Music pounds the stadium or field.

The study is explored in Government Executive, October 1, 2014. govexec.com.

First they had to find what music empowered and what did not. So they played participants some tunes and had them rate. The winners were Queen's WE WILL ROCK YOU, 2 Unlimited's GET READY FOR THIS, and 50 Cent's IN DA CLUB.

Then they had groups do tasks while listening to high or low power tunes. They took little tests that supposedly showed whether they were thinking "power" or bleh.  Say given, P--ER, would they say POWER or PAPER?

Then they tried to find out if the power listeners acted more powerfully. The power listeners were more likely to be gung ho to go first in a debate.

Does this stuff have utility in the workplace? Would it empower workers? Customers?

I  know I had to have three horrible eye operations and the surgeon played Neil Diamond through them all. I hate Neil Diamond now.

Do you get more ideas and work better with music?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Creativity in dating--the old becomes new?

I can hardly believe the proliferation of "aids" to dating and mating. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, those phone apps that show a single person is standing next to you, apps that allow you to scroll through a pantheon of cuties--yes...no...no...ew...maybe.

I know a 40ish woman, divorced, 11-year-old son, who sometimes goes out for years with weirdos she met online or even--get this--met in person someplace!

They text--blah blah then he wrote yammer yammer--and finally they break up by text. Whew. Over...As the dentist says, "Who's next, please?"

Have you seen the Bravo TV "reality" show in which some NY singles go out with the people the viewers write in and choose? Well, the viewers are so often wrong! They don't know anything, either. One dater is a sort of sarcastic dentist with no game whatsoever--stammers like a schoolboy and not in a good way. Another is a not-drop-dead-handsome gay guy who is VERY picky about how gorgeous his dates are, although I thought one looked shady and creepy.

Also on this show, if a date is not going well, one party just stands up, says sayonara, and leaves. You can't finish your veggies--talk to someone for an hour?

Or the Millionaire Matchmaker--dear old Patti knows all and fixes all, scattering the swear words. I hear her latest crush has a record. In one of her shows, the millionaire whips out his apparatus and pees behind a bush. I have had some bad dates...but that was...well...

You now what would be creative? Ask a woman to dinner. But be sure she eats meat--this can be an issue.

No zipline, horseback ride, picture painting, cooking class--just dinner. You've heard of it? Food, talk, maybe a goodnight kiss?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Creativity is great, but don't forget bitchiness

Okay, I admit it--I am a huge Project Runway fan (Lifetime TV). Thirteen seasons now, and counting.

I once made an olive green skirt in home economics--ugly as anything. I had a sewing machine, loaned it out, never got it back, and never noticed.

Although this show is completely "formula," with the trips to the fabric store Mood, the voiceover bitchy comments from one contestant about another ("I am so worried for Boris, sob sob--he has only made a skirt so far."). And, of course, the two-faced Tim Gunn wrinkling his brow over a design in progress, offering a suggestion, and if it is not taken, telling the judges, "I told him that."

Oooo--it is so much fun! Best hour on TV (not counting Sons of Anarchy).

But what is the takeway.  Well, sad but true--it's not the flirty dress made of ticket stubs or lettuce, it's the bitchy part--acing out other players, somehow being designated a top performer by the powers that be and thus protected, becoming the judges "pet" and other useful work skills.

Don't leave out the human side. You may have a better mousetrap, but you don't have to impress mice to get it on the market.

I have no idea what that means.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Little mini-hearts--insert where needed

In the summer 2014 issue of GW Magazine (Geo Washington Univ--my alma mater), Ruth Steinhardt discusses some interesting work by Narine Sarvazyan, a professor of pharmacology and physiology.

Sarvazyan was looking for universal donor cells the body would not reject and started watching some cardiac muscle cells--myocytes--affecting blood flow.

She thought, why not use these and wrap them in a vein and make a little pump? Essentially,, she created a miniature heart.

Worms have these--to push the blood along.

Older adults also get venous insufficiency--pooling up--say in the legs.

These myocytes start beating like a heart--so engineers can build a structure with the patient's stem cells.

They are calling it CardioVein Technology. It's still in the tinkering stages--but they are excited.