They’re not dominated by the States!
Thanks to Marty’s suggestion in class, my project 4 team decided to attend tonight’s showing of La Bohème. This was my first time at an opera, and I was absolutely blown away by the experience. The cast expressed genuine emotions to a beautiful soundtrack. But like Marty foreshadowed in class: the set was magical.
This week Chen and I revisited Bill Buxton’s lecture on Sketching and Experience Design. I am a sucker for bad jokes, and Buxton used one that stuck for me: “Q: What do Canada and transitions have in common?/ A: They are both dominated by the States.” For a good portion of the lecture, Buxton harps on the fundamental importance of transitions in design. He goes as far as to say “experience happens in the transitions”. The gravity of this lesson struck me when I saw an iPad adjust its brightness. I watched the user of the iPad interact with the device and then left it alone for a couple minutes. In an beautiful way, the fully-backlit screen slowly dims like a candle being blown out in the wind. But then the moment the user touches the tablet again, the display springs back to life like a fresh match striking its matchbox.
I witnessed the importance of transitions again in La Bohème. The opera begins outside of a house on a stunningly realistic snowy evening. As they walk inside, the entire stage rotates like a merry-go-round along with their movement. When inside the house, a glowing light starts to emanate from the frosted windows of the set. The light keeps getting brighter and brighter, until you see a woman holding a candle on the other side of the window. This method is how the main actress is introduced (transitioned into the play). Before seeing the candle, I thought the inside set was going to be an ordinary, static setup. But the candle added so much depth to the scene. The only word that I can describe my feeling of the set is interactive. The play uses a similar method at the end of act II. There is a large party in town and you hear the faint sound of drummers. As the party continues, the noise of a band gets a little lounder and louder some more. Then a marching band appears gaining the attention of all of the characters in the opera and the audience. This band then walks off the stage and the curtain drops. Seconds later, the band marches into the auditorium and out of the room. During Act III, a very beautiful stage transition happened. Before the transition the stage is a snowy scene with a gate guarding a courtyard. The stage rotates 180 degrees to a s (yet again) snowy scene of the courtyard. But halfway into the turn, you see a cutaway of a house where people are eating and drinking in a cozy room. For those few seconds where I watched the joy in the shelter, I felt warm and happy. But the stage’s arrival at the frozen courtyard felt even colder because of that brief warmth.
After the opera ended, I have started to wonder what I have been missing out on. My previous experience with the performing arts have been static scenes with curtain drops in between. But IU’s production of La Bohème shows that there is another way. With the rotating stage and other show elements, the entire opera feels like one flowing story. And it makes me wonder how crazy the storyboards were to achieve such an enormous feat.
All in all, I am exceptionally glad that Marty challenged us to attend the play. And the transitions of La Bohème made the opera experience for me.
The internet is shockingly similar to one gigantic game of Chinese telephone. On the internet, the men-in-the-middle could be your internet service provider, the government, your network administrators, or even somebody else on your WiFi network. If your browser shows http while browsing Facebook, then the information you and Facebook pass back and forth is in plain text that anybody in between can understand. "https" means that you and Facebook scramble the messages to secure your communication. https really means "HTTP using SSL". SSL is the standard way that information is scrambled and unscrambled on the internet.Read More
On a warm autumn Friday morning, Tiger Woods lines up his par putt on the 9th hole. The green is in beautiful condition despite being early November. The perfect condition of the course could be attributed to the world-class skill of its grounds’ crew. Without their tremendous efforts, the golf course would have been unable to attract the who’s who of PGA golf: Tiger, Mickelson, Ells, and more. The most extravagant European-styled mansions and a luscious green forest decorate the outside of the playing field. The entire view from the enormous gallery of people following the famed golfers is absolutely breathtaking. Onlookers watch Tiger approach his ball, which lies about 15 feet from the hole. He steps up to the ball, getting ready to take the short putt. What makes this real life scenario exceptional is not its visual imagery, but instead the constant clamor of ambient noise missing from the appearance. In a game necessitating such complete concentration as golf, honking car horns and droning sounds of motors are completely out of place. If it were not for the distracting clamor, Tiger might have made his putt and I could have fooled you into thinking this golf tournament could happen anywhere in the world. However, the scene could only take place in Shanghai, China.
I am unable to count the times which I have had near collisions while riding my bicycle around Fudan University. The bicycle path on Wudong Lu is merely a painted path along the side of the road. Because of the massive quantity of automobiles on the road without a developed system of publicly-accessible parking lots, the bike paths on Wudong Lu double as parking spaces for cars. While I was riding my bicycle along Wudong Lu on the day of this writing, I was put into a dangerous situation while I was in front of a local hospital. There was parked Audi car in the bicycle path in front of me, a city bus was approaching me from behind, a bus stop was in front of the parked car, and my bicycle brakes (like the brakes of cheap bicycle in China) were barely working. The city bus whipped around from behind and drove toward the bus stop. The bus thus sandwiched me between itself and the parked car with a mere 2 foot gap. As a result of this, my handlebars just barely missed colliding straight into the Audi’s rearview mirror. After this near-collision, I still had to swerve my bicycle into the curb and slam on my brakes before hitting the people who were about to get onto the bus, which was now at a complete stop. I wish that this same type of story was a rare occurrence, but it seems to happen to me on a weekly basis. Many of my fellow American classmates in Shanghai have had actual collisions with buses, cars, and mopeds while biking around campus. They still have the destroyed bicycles and scars to prove their stories.
After reading http://skilldrick.co.uk/2010/11/a-brief-introduction-to-closures/ which linked to the more concise reference http://www.mredkj.com/tutorials/reference_js_intro.html#scope, the moment of clarity came.
tl;dr : I discuss the potential awesomeness of my blog.Read More