19
Oct 20

The heights of things

This was the sky on Saturday. We were at the post office and I shot this through the sunroof.

Some days you feel like you can reach the clouds, and some days you feel like you need a great big ladder.

Some days you feel like you can reach the clouds, and some days you feel like you need a great big ladder. After lunch we went for a bike ride. I include this picture because I love this face. It’s her mean face, and it’s so stinking cute. Also, it means she’s going to ride fast; that’s a very aero mean face.

It was hard and windy and would have been fast, except it was hard, and windy. I was grateful for the turnaround spot, because we stopped to take a picture, and I could briefly catch my breath.

On the back half of the ride the air started to feel a bit cooler. No weather monitoring station reported it. All the numbers I could consult stayed at a steady 62 degrees, but I was out in it; I could tell the change. I got to the house and was happy to get inside, which was instantly when the bronchoconstriction began.

It was painful to breathe for a few minutes. The worst of it was “Would getting on the ground be better for this?” and “How can I tell if this is getting worse?” But it did not get worse. It hurt to breathe fully in, but I could get air. My heart rate was fine, considering the bike ride. I did not have any muscular or cognitive problems. I had a shock to the system, which began improving by the time I made it to the shower.

By last night it just hurt a bit to breathe all the way in, your classic this-was-irritated-yesterday feeling.

Watched this, with some interest, today. It’s New York, 1896. And not all of this is gone.

The upload and upscale is using a software treatment called neural networking. Mathematical functions, artificial neurons, are transforming the lower sourced input values into a higher quality output. The parameters can be altered because the networks are trained with high-res images that are down-sampled. Eventually, photo pairs, thousands of them, get analyzed and the process helps restore lost details. The information is filled in from what the network has learned. The network sees a face because it has been taught “that’s a face!” and it can flesh it out. A low-res building can show off individual bricks. Definition and depth comes with experience and exposure, just like the rest of us.

Then you speed it up, add some sound for ambiance and give it a little post-concussion color and you’re suddenly back in time. Sorta. Almost. It’s tantalizingly close to close.

Here’s a digitized version of “the original footage.” That’s Trinity Church in the background. By 1896 it was the second tallest building in New York City. It was built in 1846 and held the top spot for the best part of five decades. It gave up tallest building honors just before this footage was made to the New York World Building. (The World Building would come down in the 1950s for better car access to the Brooklyn Bridge.)

You can’t even see Trinity Church from that location today.

If you back up, down Broadway, you can guesstimate where, apparently, Alexandre Promio himself was standing when he filmed that.

Now, this footage was shot in New York City just five years later, in 1901. I think all of this is gone. But as interesting as the buildings and the signs and the carriages can be, the people — the guy that walks into, and then out of, the shot, the kid who isn’t yet sure if you’re supposed to mug for the camera, and then the couple at the end — they are what you’re here for.

… Someone will dig up some social media company’s servers in 2140 or so and figure out how to hook up real technology with this stuff we’re working with and then pioneer a way to extrapolate holograms from 1080 and 4K phone video. Won’t that be revealing …

Probably we’ll never know for sure, but I’m going to assume this camera was set up just to the left, on the sidewalk here. There’s a subway stop at this intersection, but just to the left are a series of those air grates there.

If the date on YouTube is correct, New Yorkers are between the first and second American car show right about there. The New York baseball Giants were bad. That September, William McKinley was shot in Buffalo, New York, and Theodore Roosevelt would become president. The subways were coming along nicely. Everything was beginning to really surge. This is what Manhattan looked like from out in the Hudson about that time. A few blocks back downtown you’d find the city’s tallest building in 1901, the Park Row Building, a proud 391-feet tall, is still with us.

Today, 391-feet puts you … nowhere near New York’s top 100 buildings, of course. Some days you feel like you can reach up and touch 391-feet, and some days you realize you’d need that ladder. Harry Gardiner, the human fly, needed no such help to climb the Park Row Building in 1918. He did it in a suit, too.


19
Oct 20

Catober, Day 19


18
Oct 20

Catober, Day 18


17
Oct 20

Catober, Day 17


16
Oct 20

My favorite leaves, my favorites leave

Quite day on campus. Fridays were always a little slow, in the Before Times. You’d occasionally have a meeting or two, maybe a production or three, but we don’t run a lot of classes on Fridays for various scheduling reasons.

But now, in the During Times, our building is all that much more quiet. Most people aren’t even working in the building, after all. So I sat in my little office and had a little Zoom meeting and ran through a little round of emails and a little To Do list and another Zoom meeting and wondered about how the day was lovely, and I was indoors.

The day was lovely. At the end of it, at the end of the week, the walk to the car and the regular beginning of the unloading into the weekend was also lovely. The sun was at just the right angle. The leaves still just the right degree of chipper to create a nice little glow …

That blurry bunch of leaves, that’s the sort of memory we keep. Falling leaves and fallen leaves and they blur together, first on the edges, then in the middle, just like a bad television flashback sequence.

You think about that, not about what the rest of it means. About what’s here — later, what was there — and not what’s not.

The weekend? The weekend will be nothing special. Spectacular in its normalness. Normal in its spectacularness. Unvarying in its events. Nothing special. Perfectly special. Perfectly normal.