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SLR Camera – Image Capture

September 14th, 2008 No comments

Now I have had the opportunity to look through two examples of excellent camera technology, I find myself increasingly attracted to continuing the experience. The first time I held such a camera was at the Madu Sari gamelan performance, “New Javanese Shadows“when a friend of mine asked me to hold his camera. My first impression can only be described by referring to a Hindu myth often told about the young Krishna. For those not familiar with Hindu mythology, the incarnations of the god Vishnu are many, but this story is about his time as the human Krishna.

On one occasion, when Krishna was still a child, he revealed his true god-self to his mother by asking her to look in his mouth. When she complied, she was astonished to see the entire universe inside the mouth of her child. When I looked into that camera, I saw a glimpse of the infinite — I was astonished. The photographer who owned the magic box enthusiastically started informing me of the technical details in a language full of numbers that I did not understand. This machine may be described by numbers, as the universe can be modeled mathematically, but the impact of the revelation I had experienced created a bookmark in my mind that I return to in wonder.

My next reaction was more practical, as the Virgo reasserted her presence. If everyone had a camera like that, my opportunities for employment as a graphic artist would be seriously reduced. There was no noise in the image, it was balanced and in sharp focus. If the capture mechanism was as pristine as the view, the images would reflect a hyper-realism that would need few adjustments. My daughter later comforted me by pointing out that many of these cameras are owned by individuals who can cause them to malfunction and that composition skills are still required. Even the best images can benefit from layout, design and story, so my production skills will still be needed.

The term “multi-media artist” has often been applied to my skill sets in production. I know that if I am not being paid, I do music, music technology and saving the world. Some practical part of me knows that my time will not allow any more addictions. I am already being drawn away from my “Live More Lightly Project” too much by other musical entanglements. I have to complete a book prototype this month. Move on. Read more…

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Watch the Watcher

August 20th, 2008 No comments

I have been fascinated by the idea that I am being watched by surveillance cameras since they started to become more common in the 1980s. In 1989 I wrote a play that explored a vision of the future. It was rejected for a Canada Council Grant because it was too much like the novel 1984 by George Orwell. The play contained an act that featured a lonely young man and opened with him watching television alone because his roommate had gone on a date. Read the play excerpt here.

Many of the technologies I envisioned in the play have become ubiquitous in our lives. I wrote about ATM machines, the internet and e-books, but the focus was surveillance and government control. Now I read articles that confirm my fears that every moment we are in a public place, we are on camera (example). Is this something to fear or does it contribute to public security? The example article quotes Norman Siegel, who recommends that everyone carry their own camera with them so they can record their version of any event they witness. This is good advice, but sometimes events happen so fast or unexpectedly that the video camera is still in the case when the action occurs.

The idea of mounting a video camera on my motorcycle did not arise from the idea of documenting civil rights violations, or even motor vehicle traffic law breakers, although that’s not a bad idea . . . my idea came from wanting to share the experience of riding a motorcycle. When I am riding, I am part of the environment in a way that never occurs when I am sealed in the box of a car or van. With only two small patches of rubber on the road — it’s as close as I can get to flying.

Even though I know each time I go to the bank, shop, drive or even walk down the street, I may be on  video and might be on the internet. I know that there is not enough manpower to monitor every video stream; so there must be years of video stored on hard drives that has never been viewed. There are very intelligent software filters and programs that match facial features or license plates to database records, used by large organizations and governments, so humans only become involved if there is an alert. Video is often used after the fact to try to identify perpetrators or get-away vehicles. I try to be nondescript in public and pass under the radar by looking completely non-threatening. Invisible = average height, middle-aged woman.

As part of my camera research I have been looking at the possibility of using a surveillance camera for the always-on option on my bike. The cameras are small, high-quality, durable and stream directly through an ethernet cable to a computer or the internet. There is a lot of money spent on the development of these cameras and so they come in many shapes and sizes. Some manufacturers even make ones with a built-in windshield wiper, de-mister and/or heater! Some are really high quality and I will do another post on camera choices soon.  I already plan to bring a computer and I wanted to stream on to the internet, so this could give the process a jump start. This system example I got from Gary looks like it is used by plumbers to examine pipe insides. The notebook runs on Vista, but I will try to make it work in Linux too.

Notebook Inspection Cam

Carrying my notebook with me everywhere I go would be a good thing as I really do use it, when I bring it along. I need bags on my bike so I can carry it securely and not have to strip everything off every time I stop. I am working on it.

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Another connection with surveillance technology is my interest in highway-cams. On my tour, I plan to identify hiway cams and video them as they are capturing me. I talk about the artistic influences that inspired me to do this here. The ideal outcome will be if I can have a collaborator saving the highway-cam stream on their computer so that I can use the video record in a documentary.

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There are also threats to privacy in the proliferation of spyware. A description of what these programs can do is found here on a site that sells software designed to assist network administrators to monitor computer use. Downloaded spyware can track every keystroke you make, where you go on the internet, what pages are viewed, for how long and what you are clicking on. Then, the program will send all of this information back to over your internet connection to the company or individual who invaded your computer. Computers running Windows are most vulnerable to this type of background program and regular use of Spybot and Ad-Aware are recommended to all of my Windows computer clients. Just to demonstrate how devious these programs can be, a recent invasion of spyware was caused by a company masquerading as Ad-Aware. Please ignore all other sites and download only from Lavasoft.

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Vancouver Folk Music Festival and the Canon A80

August 2nd, 2008 No comments

It has been raining in Vancouver now for a couple of days and I have been riding, because I put my van in the shop just as the clouds were gathering. As the rain pours down in a foreshadowing of the winter that will arrive all too soon, I think back to the clear skies and endless sun we enjoyed July 19 + 20th for the 31st annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival.

Despite my frustration with how slow everything is progressing with my project, I still dropped everything to go to the Folk Music Festival with my daughter and her friends. It is really hard for me to concentrate on spreadsheets when I know there is some fine music out on Jericho Beach.

This is also a story about cameras because I was left with my venerable aged Canon A80 to take to the Folk Fest and to the Javanese Shadow play. This is because I invested in the Canon S series as a suitable camera for my daughter and it is really too fragile. I ended up with her old S2 after the power supply blew out and I bought her an S3. I had my Canon A80 and had just bought some lenses for it when I got the S2 repaired and have been using it instead of the older A80. Alas, the S3 blew out it’s power supply and I returned the S2 to my daughter while it was in the shop. So, I was left with the A80, but I had lenses to try out.

My daughter was armed with the newly repaired Canon S3 and her friends are also photographers with very impressive looking cameras, the usual digital SLRs and even a medium format antique. There were a lot of really expensive cameras at the Festival and good photographers as can be viewed on flikr.

Medium format camera Digital SLR

My daughter looked at me quizzically as I started screwing plastic bits on to my camera. It’s not like my old Pentax K1000, bayonet mount, this is a procedure where parts have to be manipulated. “What’s that?”, she asked. Quick witted as ever, I looked at the part in my hand and carefully read the neat white letters printed on the side, “It’s a wide-angle lens, dear, I’m trying it out.” She replied definitively that I should take crowd shots.

Daughter photo

There was great music at the festival and it was an opportunity to spend time with my daughter and her friends. I had never spent so much time with non-musicians at a festival. Some of them went shopping, so I joined them, as I had never considered shopping at a festival. The wares were very unique, like the small fairy wings some of the girls were wearing. A lot of time was spent talking and enjoying the sun and fine food. Relaxing, socializing and hearing the music like a lounge band at a fine restaurant, this was a very enjoyable and perfectly valid festival experience … but, I was panicking inside because I was missing everything! I had to go and listen to some music without having to talk to anyone. We coordinated cell phones, so we could meet up again, and I went off by myself.

Read more…

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Forest Stewardship Council Certification

June 11th, 2008 No comments

In my quest to produce the most environmentally friendly book possible, I am investigating printers that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada. Their site has links to all of the FSC certified printers in the country.

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Although it would be a lot less expensive to produce my book in Asia, I am willing to pay to “Live More Lightly.” I am sure that each individual who makes this choice influences other printers to change to more environmentally sensitive processes. There will always be a market for the absolute lowest cost production, but our children and grandchildren will pay for the damage we cause today. Friesen’s Corporation, one of the first FSC certified printers in Canada, produced a survey that showed that book buyers would be willing to pay more for a certified publication. I believe that the difference in price will be reasonable and that I can sell my book package for $18.95 Can/US.

I am confident that a Canadian FSC certified printer is doing the best that they can within the limitations of current technology. My father owned a printing business after being an offset printer and letter-pressman in larger firms and my grandfather was a lithographer and a craftsman in time before digital print. The toxic inks, cleaning chemicals and other air-borne pollutants aggravated his lungs and contributed to his smoking-related breathing problems. My father, who retired from the printing business many years ago, also had to deal with toxic chemicals in the workplace, but now inks are vegetable based and digital files make many other toxins obsolete.

I will have to get more quotes and weigh the environmental cost of shipping a lot of books over long distances. I won’t be able to carry large numbers of books on my motorcycle, so I will need to ship books to fulfill orders. I would like to sell my book in stores as well as through the internet and in person. To do this I need a distributor who will accept book orders and ship the books to re-sellers. Most book distributors are in Eastern Canada, and if I can arrange a contract with a distributor then I could have half the books shipped there and half to Vancouver. That narrows the choices to somewhere between Vancouver and Toronto . . . still a lot of choices.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Environmentally Friendly CD?

May 28th, 2008 3 comments

Now I am getting closer to producing the book, I have to try to find the most environmentally friendly CD production process. All CDs and DVDs are made of virgin plastic because recycled plastic always has too much risk of impurities. Any impurity in the disk plastic will result in the laser skipping over that part or returning an error to the reader.

I was unable to find any company that is using a different process to manufacture disks so far, but packaging has come a long way since the plastic jewel case. Many CD/DVD duplication companies have taken the lead in reducing their environmental impact. I am listing my top picks for now and will continue to research until I have to finalize production.

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THE MMS CORPORATE ENVIRONMENTAL COMMITMENT

MMS is committed to reducing its environmental footprint.When you have your CD manufactured by MMS, you are purchasing products and services from a company that is doing its utmost to reduce its environmental impact.

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Oasis logo

Oasis Disk Manufacturing is probably the best known manufacturer of independent music projects in the US. They have a great reputation in the industry and were one of the first to supply cardboard sleeves instead of jewel cases.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Is Human Impact on the Earth Over Rated?

May 13th, 2008 2 comments

A friend sent me this link and I have to consider that the scientists may have a point. We know that the world was very much warmer climatically during the era of the dinosaurs and very much colder during ice ages, without any human intervention.

http://www.rense.com/general79/d3m.htm

However, at this point in my life, I have to question the source of funding for these scientists before I attach much weight to their findings.

Wikipedia Global Warming states,

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes “most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-twentieth century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic (man-made) greenhouse gas concentrations”[1] via the greenhouse effect.”

My project is about the impact of humanity on the earth. I believe that we can reduce our impact without seriously reducing our living standard if we do it in a thoughtful, directed way. Eventually, we can change society enough that we will be able to minimize our impact on the planet. It is happening now, and will continue to grow and spread because it make sense in a practical way.

No one is going to convince me that it is better to throw stuff in a landfill than re-use or recycle it.
This is an attempt to maintain the status quo. Buy things, break them and throw them away. Things are made more breakable and less fixable to speed up the consumerism process.

Check this out http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Watch the film.

I don’t want to live to buy.

As far as the global warming problem — certainly geology and the earth have natural cycles, but anyone who argues against using a motorcycle instead of a car, or a gasoline van instead of a propane van should be put in a closed garage with one running for a while and see how long it takes before someone has to drag them out.

The earth is a closed system — we have to consider that.

The poisons that would kill you when concentrated in a closed space, such as a garage, are still being released by all the millions of cars on the road. We are still breathing toxins in a diluted form and the increased carbon in the atmosphere is having an effect on the life on our planet and on the climate of the planet itself.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Environmentally Friendly Book Production

March 6th, 2008 No comments

The “Live More Lightly Songbook”  is in the production stage now and I am researching environmentally friendly book production methods. The Association of Book Publishers of BC (ABPBC) has already done a lot of the work for me and has produced an EcoKit that you can download from here.

 EcoKit logo

They also recommend visiting Markets Initiative  to find out more about ancient forest friendly paper. I am so happy when I see industries making the move towards reducing the impact that humanity has upon the planet.

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I also intend to minimize the amount of material I use by making the book as small as possible and including the rest of the content on CD. Updates, additional arrangements and other extras may be downloadable from the website. I would like to compile a library of song performances, so that every participant can feel the support of all of the other singers.

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About The Song, "Live More Lightly"

December 24th, 2007 No comments

The more I research the current climate crisis, the more concerned I become. All too predictably, the climate summit in Bali did not embrace any new ideas. Those who are in power feel more threatened by change than by the possibility that the earth may be uninhabitable.

My son pointed out to me that nothing that I am saying is new, Al Gore has received huge publicity and support throughout the world. Yet, three people who were planning to attend the conference in Bali were detained by the Indonesian government for speaking to a group of villagers about a planned garbage incinerator in their area. In Bali, these environmentalists would be speaking to other foreigners and to representatives of the Indonesian government, so that is permissible and safe. But raising awareness of pollution as a health and safety issue in the community, where citizens might learn some facts and become upset, is actively discouraged.

My unfortunate experience as an activist in Canada has taught me that most of these conferences and public meetings are intended to keep concerned citizens and knowledgeable experts busy, while the decision makers proceed with their original plan. It allows them to put out press releases with opening statements like, “After extensive consultation with stakeholders, we have decided that the best course of action is …”.

Now, I want to use my song to encourage people to “Live More Lightly”. The only method I have tried that has had any success is to vote with my purchasing power, minimal though it may be. It is my decision to pre-cycle by refusing to buy over-packaged merchandise, non-recyclable plastic, processed foods and other small every day items. These decisions direct my money into the green consumer category, and if similar choices can be made by many individuals — it will make a difference.

In our society, we are limited in what we can do. Realistically, I cannot imagine being able to affect a huge change in the global economy, which I firmly believe is required. I am trying to do something that I can do — create a song that can become a personal statement to encourage individuals to do “Just one thing now, to make a stand, and live more lightly upon the land”. Read more…

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Categories: Uncategorized

Carbon Offsets

November 18th, 2007 No comments

In researching the idea of carbon offsets I have found an interesting calculator that allows the purchase of offsets on the spot. The Escape Adventures website gives a lot of information and a link to the calculator. I calculated the distance across Canada as being roughly 4500 km. at approximately 80 miles per gallon. I will have to be more precise as I am unsure of changing between litres/ gallons and miles/Km. but I thought I’d get a rough idea.

The calculator at Sustainable Travel International read:

Your total emissions are: 0.498 tons of CO2

The total cost to offset this amount of CO2 will be: US$7.59

This dosen’t seem like a lot, so if I can’t find any other way of doing it I will calculate my carbon emissions properly and pay up!

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Backstage at the Rolling Stones Concert

November 16th, 2007 3 comments

The idea behind organizing an environmentally friendly tour across Canada for me to lead workshops and play music started after I worked as local crew in Vancouver for the Rolling Stones in November of 2006. They used huge amounts of gear transported in semi-trailer trucks, gigantic production and massive energy use. I want to be a successful musician, but I did not want to do that.

So what should I do?
Massive staging and transportation of Stones show
Rolling Stones Concert 2006 Vancouver These are photos of the tear down process from the November 2006 concert in BC Place Stadium. Front of Stage Area Stones Tear-down 2006

Massive equipment to move and transport the Rolling Stones gear.

My performing experience has usually been in intimate settings and in many cases, has involved a certain amount of audience participation. I decided that the most environmentally friendly thing I could do is to continue to work locally and think globally. I would continue to try to reach people in comfortable, low energy use settings, but I would webcast to large amounts of people on the internet. Some of my co-performers can be even more environmentally friendly by staying at home! Some will be interacting with me in performance over the internet and some of them will meet me when I arrive at their home city or town and we will play together in a local performance.

Read more…

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