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Image via Pruned - Ghost Houses

Sep. 26th, 2009

I've posted a relatively sizable collection of photos from my recent Sequoia trip. You can peruse them at your leisure on flickr. Nearly all of the photos in the collection are precisely geotagged, so if you are geo-nerdy (like me), you may enjoy the map view. I know that some of you don't care to follow links, so i've taken the liberty of decorating your screen with a couple of my favorites. Enjoy

Alta Peak - September 10, 2009

Mitchell Peak - September 11, 2009

Buck Rock - September 11, 2009

Mineral King, September 12 2009

Mineral King, September 12 2009

The ramblings of one who is freshly 29

I could have saved this post for August 22 but i didn’t.

I am rapidly approaching the age of 29 (on the coming August 22), a chronological marker which had little significance for me until my dad’s recent visit. Watching and listening to my dad, now retired and officially a “senior citizen”, struggling to remember my exact age, i suddenly became aware of my age in relation to my expected lifespan. This thought diffused thorough my brain and created a very brief, yet significant, panic attack. It occurred to me that I am “past my prime” and yet my prime never really amount to much. I reflected on where I was, and where my 18 year old self thought I would be at 29, and those two thoughts just kind of snapped together in complete disharmony.

In my early 20s, I always imagined that my 30 year old self would be more “mature” but, being myself immature, my conception of that state was entirely misconstrued.


I’ve always tried to avoid any hand-wringing about my age. Nostalgia about my youth can be fun in small doses, but I rarely take it too seriously, nor do I have any “American Beauty”-style feelings of a suffocating middle age lifestyle. Viewing 30 as a partially constructed tombstone is not only obvious and boring, but absolutely pointless. In my view, being 30 should be an excuse for a good party, and not much else.

Perhaps more than anything, more than fears about my physical body, or giving up on receiving the nobel prize - is a far more modest fear that as I grow older, i simply won’t understand or be functional in the world we are living in. (that of course presupposes i understand the world we are living in now, but that is a digression). I’ve always had a pretty good handle on things, at least in my little corner of the world (generally things which plug into an AC socket), and as those things rapidly change, i will admit to being somewhat concerned of being left behind. I don’t want to be one of those curmudgeonly seniors that talks about the good old days of “email”. When the neural interface for OSX-1000 comes out, I don’t want to be still be using a mouse. In short, things are moving really fast, it can be hard to keep up. This is, I suppose, the quintessential latent fear of every member of a capitalist society. (Cue talk of the death panels!)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m simply not trying hard enough.

After 5 years of working at Gatekeeper, after cutting teeth on real computer systems and real (often mundane) computer programming, i’ve come full circle back to some of the stuff I learned about in college. I’m essentially building a new real-time mapping platform, a project which draws heavily on computer graphics knowledge circa 1986. The other day, I actually had to look up something in Graphics Gems, a book i often consulted when I was in college. The deliciously vintage cover brought back a flood of memories of the “good old days” of Caltech, of Silicon Graphics workstations and all night coding sessions fueled by synthetic coffee alternatives, of the UGCS lab and gangly girls with unattractive hair. The thrill of ray-traced teapots.

Not even 29, and already I’m adrift in nostalgia.

It’s tempting (although counter-factual), to align the birth of computer graphics with the birth of one Joel Carranza. To view them as one and the same, of the same time period. To that end, here is my birth video - “Volibre”, first shown at SIGGRAPH 1980

Vol Libre from Loren Carpenter on Vimeo. (I have to say that I really love this soundtrack)

29 years later, I’m not even sure that the state of the art is even more. Truth be told, I don’t even really care. At any given moment, I feel so confident of where I’m going, but its should be apparent that I don’t have a fucking clue.

It is worth nothing that as of my 29th birthday, or as I like to call it the “year of the birthers - the year of irrational thinking”, my journal is moving onto wordpress at stillthedudeabides.com. The journal is being reborn with a new form and purpose. More wordy, more “bloggy”, on a new, more advanced technology stack. Videos, links, typography, pictures, verisimilitude, cartography, footnotes, conspiracy theories, haphazard punctuation - my future self promises you much with my past self has always failed to fulfill. I will continue to cross post what I can to LJ, for those of you still insist of living in the social network of the 90s. For the rest of you, feel free to add me to your feed readers.
I knew a guy back in Riverside. Embarrassingly enough, I don't even remember his name anymore. We frequently exchanged brief conversations at Trader Joe's as he was an employee and I a frequent guest. Our main common interest, perhaps our only one, was indie music and we would occasionally banter about bands while he was supposed to be working. I strongly suspect he was stoned half the time. Outside of Traders Joe's we saw each other occasionally, and I very distinctly remember a particular conversation we had about Ted Leo and a song where the drums come in exceptionally late into the song for particular dramatic effect (as unofficial creative director of his friends band, he had suggested such an approach in their cover of "Subterranean Homesick Blues"). I responded that although I couldn't quite remember how the song went, I remember that moment precisely. I could tell he didn't actually believe me, but it was completely true, I knew that moment, if not exactly the song.

It's been years and that unanswered question has stayed with me. I've looked for that song occasionally, but I never seem to be able to find it. Then, today, in the process of dusting the office shelves, i randomly chose a song from the 'T' section of my iTunes library and there it was:

"Timorous Me" - The Tyranny of Distance

It all seems so obvious now. With such knowledge in hand, I can safely free that conversation from the portion of my memory that holds all the failed and awkward moments of my distant past.

Jun. 23rd, 2009

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, Oh yeah
I got a Nikon camera
I love to take a photograph
So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

---Paul Simon

Kodachrome died yesterday. I thought you should know

p.s. OK - well maybe you knew that already

Glowing rectangles

It was there and offered to me. I had one or two beers, the price seemed reasonable, and more than anything I liked the idea of showing up at the house with some ridiculously large and improbable gift. I would have preferred to bring home a clutch of chickens or perhaps a hot tub, but those dreams were not laying before me, not “shovel ready” (to use the parlance of our times). This fancy/indulgance was here, ready to go. Into the truck it went….

March 4, 2009

June 17, 2009

I’ve always considered a massive television set as an ostentatious display of wealth combined with a marker of poor taste. However, over the years, I’ve mellowed somewhat. To persist on in life with such a tiny television set is either a political statement or an indication of intense apathy. I was content with a political statement, but I figure that if the american empire is doomed, I might as well enjoy the final days of a nation in decline with some luxury, see America in high-def before the power grid begins to collapse.

Not that I have actually seen anything in hi-def. We don’t have cable so everything we watch comes out of the DVD players or the laptop. I’ve got no hi-def inputs. Hell, my inputs are as lo-def as they come. I’m still rocking composite video. As I suspected, this new television set requires a series of tecnological upgrades, each more expensive than the next. All the increased fidelity, but to what end? Does Kagemusha really look that much better in hi-def?

Regardless, I’ve done the bare minimum. I’ve ordered some fancier cables and some circular rabbit ears. I’m going to try and get HD PBS over the air. I can’t wait to see Bill Moyers wrinkles in intricate detail.


12 Monkeys

I had a recent brush with a freak illness, a high fever along with some really intense stomach pain, which had me convinced I had swine flu. When I woke up, I would check the LA Times website to make sure that no epidemic breakout had occurred overnight in the city. In a fever state, I imagined quarantine. I thought of Nagin trapped in a chinese hotel room unable to use a cell phone, unable to understand the language on the television. I couldn’t decide that if I were the mayor of a city like New Orleans, if I would view such an event as a disaster or a relief. I dreamt about being patient zero. I tried to recall every place I visited in the last 48 hours should the authorities force me to enumerate them. My work .. the metro … uh…. the gym…. Pita Pita. I thought about the vectors which I unintentionally created. What about the library books I returned? Was the next elderly reader of my copy of “Rodale’s vegetable garden problem solver” doomed? I envisioned teams of men in hazmat suits descending onto my favorite places, explaining to everyone as they whisked them away to detainment that this was account of me, Joel Carranza (pointing to a photo of me), patient zero. Such an embarrassment. How do you go back to the same gym after being labelled with that? Remember the AIDS patient zero? Yikes. I honestly thought briefly of how my apology would go on Larry King Live. Yes, I should have gone to the hospital, no I shouldn’t have gone in the hot tub at the gym. Really, I had no idea. Well… I suspected … but I wasn’t sure. I didn’t want to be one of those crazy people who is convinced that they have swine flu.

I’ve now recovered. My fever has gone, the paranoia subsided. However, my periodic check of the LA Times has not. Inexplicably, I’ve become intrigued by the Lakers or maybe just the Phil Jackson/Kobe Bryant dynamic. I think I might actually watch the next playoff game.

Dog's End

Over a week has an elapsed, but I’m just now mentally returning from the virgin islands. I came back with a fresh tan and a new set of ideals and perspectives, a new “island-lifestyle” which involves a lot fewer worries and a lot more beer. I’m happy and full of grand plans for the immediate future, most of which will likely be quickly ground to dust under the harsh sunlight of life in Los Angeles. I’ll spare you the details: within the space of the last week many of my lofty aspirations have already evaporated. However, a brief one …. I’ve become enamored with raising chickens.

My aunt (technically my ex-step-aunt) owns a house in the Virgin Islands. She is an airline stewardess so she can get family members flights for free. My mom and her are old buddies from college, so my mom has flown out there several times. (Friends with money take note - you don’t just need a pool, but an island as well) My aunt’s place is just incredible. The house is situated up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean, and one whole side of the house is completely open. No windows, no ability to even close off the house to the atlantic, just 24/7 ocean views. Now that is island living.

Dog"s End

Dog"s End

Dog"s End

Something about island living dictates that your house and property be given a name. My aunt calls her place Dog’s End. It’s fairly obvious why. All of the neighborhood dogs idly roam the streets during the day, and many of them simply walk into the house to visit at all times of the day. My mom woke up one morning to a great dane licking her in the face. I’ve been trying to think up a name for our little hill-side paradise up at 1842 Burnell, but so far nothing has stuck. Does anyone have any ideas?

More from the islands to come. I’m just slowly getting back into the swing of things here.

May. 25th, 2009

For your consideration: 360 degree panorama of the Streetview cave at the Googleplex, which no doubt is more useful for impressing visitors than it is for any development purposes.

While I appreciate the willingness to drop mad money on giant LCD screens as much as the next geek, what I found most interesting was the mysterious creature inside the cave

What's with his demonic gaze? Why is his shirt unbuttoned? Are those beaded curtains?

What is going on over there?

Ghetto Birds

Choppers Image via Polar Inertia

If you think the dude’s journal dwells too much on paranoid delusions about the apocalypse, vast right-wing conspiracies, killer robots, or simply the general romantic notion of societal collapse, please remember that I live in the city of Los Angeles. This city exists perpetually on the edge of self-destruction, a fact it seems to celebrate more than half of the time.

Consider last night. Starting at around 3AM, a LAPD helicopter started circling directly over our neighborhood. We live on top of the hill, and when the choppers come they go right over the house. Suddenly you feel like your an unwitting participant in some obnoxious war movie. The helicopters are really loud and sometimes, when the spotlight sweeps over the house, very bright. They are a relatively frequent occurrence in our neighborhood. We live in a zone under gang-injunction, whatever that means. Usually the helicopters come with a bunch of flashing red and blue lights. They just circle around a fixed location, often lighting up a particular house or street as the law machine grinds its gears. However, last night was special. The spotlight was swinging all over the place. I thought, “perhaps there’s a madman on the loose” Toi thought someone was knocking on our door, but it was just sadie scratching herself. And then, the helicopter spoke. Voices from the sky! Enough to bring out the paranoia in the sanest person. The police were blasting our neighborhood with sounds waves from a bullhorn. A friendly note to Bill Bratton and the LAPD: when you speak via helicopter, I have no idea what you are saying. You sound like charlie brown’s teacher. WA WA WA WA

The roar of helicopters went on for several hours. Or maybe it was just one hour. I don’t know. I was delirious. I finally managed to make myself go to sleep by putting a second pillow over my head. When I dreamt, I dreamt, unsurprisingly, of the police. I dreamt I was at a party with many beautiful friends. Everyone was having a fantastic time when the police came. The separated the men from the women and then strip searched each and every one of us. I find it fascinating that my dream brain can extrapolate what having a cops hand up my butt feels like.

Probing aside, One of the most frustrating aspect of the helicopters in the night is that you wake up with no answers. It’s the morning, the sun is up, and you still have no idea what the fuck was going on. At heart, I’m a small town guy. I want to go the coffee shop in the morning and read about it all in the papers. There’s no local reporting, no article in the LA Times, just some nagging suspicion that a latino got it, and we at the top of the hill best move along and mind our own business.