The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Smooth Operator

Bunny and I were some one hundred yards from the mall entrance when we passed a booth. “Their products are really nice,” she said. “I bought some a few years ago.”

That's all it took, the slight pause by the booth, the positive comment about the cosmetic products, the serious lack of other customers nearby to provide adequate shielding and before either of us knew it, we found ourselves talking to Rafael, an impeccably dressed man, about 5′6″—a bit on the short side, but beautifully proportioned, with a hansome face framed by dark brown hair and perfectly groomed moustache and beard.

Oh, he was smooth. Within minutes he had us holding a jar of facial peeling gel and I couldn't help but notice him slip a bottle of moisturizing cream into one of Bunny's shopping bags, since it was a free gift for buying the gel.

But it was his three attempts at demonstrating some other cream for the eyes that turned Bunny away, and thus I got hit full force with the magnificence of Rafael's personality in selling unisex cosmetics. I too, got the jar of facial peeling gel, and as a free gift, a bottle of men's after shave balm, despite my attempted explaination that I rarely, if ever, shave.

Rafael just took it in stride, and before I knew it, I was rubbing a sea salt body scrub in my hands as Rafael was lightly spritzing water over them. And then, we had a bag with two jars of facial peel (his-n-hers), one jar of moisturizing cream, a bottle of men's after shave balm, a jar of the sea salt body scrub, a jar of “energizing” body butter, a bar of sea salt soap and in my hand, somehow, a slip of paper with Rafael's phone number and email address on it.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Masterpiece, copy, forgery—where is the line drawn?

Felice Ficherelli wanted a Vermeer.

Well, maybe.

Felice was a contemporary of Vermeer, an obscure painter whom he might have known, or might not have known—we really have no idea. This is all we know for sure:

Could this second painting—the copy, the duplicate—have sprung from the hand of Vermeer? Could it be the magical #37? Yes, if you believe Christie’s Auction House, which auctioned that very painting yesterday for $10.2 million. (You just missed your chance to have your own Vermeer!)

Why would Vermeer have copied an obscure Italian painting? Copying was quite common then, not only as an act of training, but also for financial gain. So perhaps Tim’s theory was right—Vermeer was a copier.

But why would a painting—a painting that absolutely no one disputes is a copy of someone else’s painting!—fetch $10 million?

That’s a good question.

Via Jason Kottke, This Is Not a Vermeer ™ — The Message — Medium

So far (part two) it's an interesting article about authenticity, duplicity and duplication. What, exactly, makes a copy of painting worth $10,000,000, and where you too, can get your own copy of a painting for way less then $10,000,000.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Notes on a conversation held during a fireworks show

FWOOM!

POW!

“Oooooooooh!”

FWOOM!

[And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,/Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there]

BOOM POP POP POP POP POP POP!

”Aaaaaaaahhhh!”

THWOM!

BABOOM!

“Oooooooooooooooooooooooh!”

“Hey, watch this!”

Fizzle. Fizzle. FWOOOSH THWACK-OOOM!

[Hollywood!  No person was harmed during the making of this photograph]

“Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!”

“Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!”

“Stop! Drop! Roll!”

“Extinguisher!”

“Medic!”

Fwooooooooooooooooooooossssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah … tis but a minor burn. Man, that was fun! Let's do it again!”

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Tim's Vermeer

Bunny and I watched “Tim's Vermeer.”

In the documentary, Tim Jenison, wanted to paint a Vermeer, and he decided upon The Music Lesson. Now Tim is an engineer, an inventor and computer programmer. He is not an artist, and most certainly not a painter.

And he didn't just copy from the The Music Lesson painting. No, he recreated the entire room as it appears in the painting. He then mixed his own paints by hand—and by hand I mean “ground up the constiuent compounds and oils that made up paints in the 17th century.”

He then went on to grind his own lenses and mirrors, all to test a theory that Vermeer might have used some mechanical means of painting near-photorealistic paintings in the 17th century.

The results were spectacular! Tim, a non-artist, making a painting that rivals Vermeer himself.

It's worth watching to see the techique in action (the painting itself took about three to four months to do) and for the subtle visual clues that were found to exist in actual Vermeer paintings that show Vermeer might have used such a method.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

In pieces

Our friend Kurt, Bunny and I headed to the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (Florida) for the Art of Nathan Sawaya featuring IN PIECES, a collection of sculptures made from Lego bricks.

[Yup, this is your typical art museum in Florida] [Little fluffy clouds] [Oh, so that's what my face looks like on the inside!] [He could have been a contender if he just wasn't boxed in] [Lego skulls are the rage—crystal skulls are just so passé these days] [It makes for a remarkedly quiet and clean pet] [I can't believe I ate the whole thing!]

Each sculpture was also used in a photograph by Australian photographer Dean West. I didn't really bother with taking pictures of the pictures, beacuse, well, taking a picture of a picture is just silly talk.

Besides, we came for the Lego bricks, not pictures of Lego bricks.

[Portrait of the artist as Lego bricks] [This towel has just a tad too much starch in it] [The arm, the leg, and the pedistal are all Lego] [I'm crushing your head!] [The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!]

Mr. Sawaya used kragle to hold the bricks together instead of just relying upon the inherent “snapness” (and I'm sure, to help keep everything together during transport—I mean, the instruction sheet for his self-portrait would rival the documentation to fully understand the Mac computer) and frankly, I don't think the clouds would fully stand up (or rather, float up) without the extensive use of kragle. I don't think the kragle use diminishes anything.

If you are near Hollywood, Florida, you should probably check it out while you still can.


Selling out, part deux

Five years ago, I sold some advertising space on my blog and frankly, I think I got the worse end of the deal. For five years (until June 10th of this year) I sold ads on seven posts, all for the huge amount of $105.00.

Hey, at least I negotiated him out of permanent placement for $75.00.

Given the ads, and their placement, I knew that the seller had no intention for anyone ever seeing the ads—he (and it was a “he”) just wanted to leech some Google PageRank to his sites (or his clients' sites), and he wanted it done stealthily because he didn't like my heading of “Paid Advertisement” and instead suggested:

as a header, because

See, we are doing every thing for search engines and thats why we want to place links at the bottom of the pages, where the traffic has to be lower. The search engines dont like words advertisement or Sponsor, so, that will hurt your site as well as our sites.

That's why, we dont need paragraphs with the heading of words “Advertisement” or “Sponsor.”

So, please use anyother word or make it image with out Alt Tag.

I countered with:

We finally settled on “And now some words from <company name>” but I did add a subtle background image of a dollar bill, and labeled the <DIV> with “paid_ad”.

Now, earlier this year, I received the following email from a potential advertiser:

From
helena jones <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To
sean@conman.org
Subject
Advertising on conman.org
Date
Sat, 25 Jan 2014 12:43:44 +0800

Hello,

I'd like to inquire if it's possible to purchase adverting space on your website.

If there is any space available please let me know and we could discuss further details.

Looking forward to your positive reply.

Warm regards,
Helena Jones

I get emails like this from time to time, and usually, I just ignore it and never hear from them again. But a month later …

From
helena jones <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To
sean@conman.org
Subject
Fwd: Advertising on conman.org
Date
Fri, 21 Feb 2014 09:56:46 +0800

Hi

I just wanted to check if you got my email about buying advertising space on your site. Looking forward to hear from you.

Best regards,
Helena Jones

[previous email she sent cut]

Hmm … okay, she's persistent. Let's see what the terms are.

From
Sean Conner <sean@conman.org>
To
helena jones <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
Subject
Re: Fwd: Advertising on conman.org
Date
Thu, 20 Feb 2014 21:47:09 -0500

It depends upon the advertising you want, and the pages you want to place the ads on. I'm not averse to the idea of advertising. What did you have in mind?

-spc

And a few days later I receive:

From
Adam Barney <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
To
sean@conman.org
Subject
Advertising on conman.org
Date
Sun, 23 Feb 2014 17:50:34 +0200

Hello

my name is Adam Barney and I'm working with Helena Jones She sent you an email about advertising on your site

I represent a few gambling sites and I would like to make a permanent article in your site. I can assure you I have a brilliant writer and the article will fit the content of your site.

If it possible let me know your price for it

Best Regards,

Adam Barney
Senior Marketing Manager | XXXX XXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Adam@XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
<http://XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>

Ah, the punctuation deficient. [facepalm] And gambling sites. [double facepalm] And a brilliant writer to boot! [is a triple facepalm possible?] Okay, I have really lost interest in this. But at the same time, I'm curious as to what brilliance this author can bring to bear about gambling sites that would enhance the content of my website (and bear in mind, I have no idea if he's talking about www.conman.org or boston.conman.org). So, let's see how serious this Adam is.

From
Sean Conner <sean@conman.org>
To
Adam Barney <XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX>
Subject
Re: Advertising on conman.org
Date
Mon, 24 Feb 2014 02:42:37 -0500

It was thus said that the Great Adam Barney once stated:

Hello

my name is Adam Barney and I'm working with Helena Jones She sent you an email about advertising on your site

I represent a few gambling sites and I would like to make a permanent article in your site. I can assure you I have a brilliant writer and the article will fit the content of your site.

If it possible let me know your price for it

Without any other knowledge about the article (and not an advertisement), and making it permanent (seeing how I've had the domain since 1998, it could be a long time), at this point in time, with just the information given, I would have to set the price at $100,000.

I am interested in seeing how your article could fit in with the existing content of my site.

-spc

I never did hear back from Adam.

Color me surprised.

And yeah, this is probably a site you don't want to advertise on.

Monday, June 09, 2014

That darned Peg Game, Part III

Bunny and I were at the Cracker Barrel playing the ever ubiquitous Peg Game. As I was struggling with the game (I am phenomienally bad at that game—so bad I have my computer do it for me) when Bunny asked, “What's the maximum number of pegs you can leave on the board?”

That's an interesting question, and I was curious if there is any way to do worse than ten pegs left.

Well, I forced my computer to play a bazillion times and the results are interesting: ten pegs are the most pegs you can have left on the board. What's more interesting is that discounting rotations and reflections, there is only one way to leave ten pegs on the board (six if you want to count reflections, rotations and reflected rotations as distinct).

Even eight pegs is pretty darned tough as well, with only two solutions (or twelve if you include rotations, reflections and rotated reflections).

So, if leaving one means you are a genius (and there are several thousand ways to leave just one peg), what does it mean to leave ten?

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Bill who?

The only thing Bill ever asked of me was that I not reveal he had worked on Pearls until all three of his strips had run. (And if you haven’t yet seen those three strips, they can be found HERE, HERE, and HERE.)

Via Hacker News, Pearls Before Swine—The Blog O' Stephan Pastis

“Bill,” eh? Let's see this “Bill's” work …

[The drawing style in the middle panel looks familiar somehow …]
[… can't quite place my finger on it …]
[… it's not … it can't be …]

Oh. Yeah. That Bill! No need to hit you over the head with it.

[Then maybe Bill will continue with the strip!]

Then again …

[And please, follow the link to Hacker News, there are a lot more links to Bill Watterson goodness and it would save me the time to link to every single one of them.]

Obligatory Picture

[I'm wearing a goatee—I must be my evil twin brother.]

Obligatory Links

Obligatory Miscellaneous

You have my permission to link freely to any entry here. Go ahead, I won't bite. I promise.

The dates are the permanent links to that day's entries (or entry, if there is only one entry). The titles are the permanent links to that entry only. The format for the links are simple: Start with the base link for this site: http://boston.conman.org/, then add the date you are interested in, say 2000/08/01, so that would make the final URL:

http://boston.conman.org/2000/08/01

You can also specify the entire month by leaving off the day portion. You can even select an arbitrary portion of time.

You may also note subtle shading of the links and that's intentional: the “closer” the link is (relative to the page) the “brighter” it appears. It's an experiment in using color shading to denote the distance a link is from here. If you don't notice it, don't worry; it's not all that important.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these pages is a protected and/or trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied.

Copyright © 1999-2014 by Sean Conner. All Rights Reserved.

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