About every week, this falling woman appears spray painted in the entrance way to Starbucks on State Street. Every week, Starbucks paints it over. It's back again:
Wednesday was the day of silence where hundreds of UW-Madison LGBT Students and Allies marched to the capitol to support making LGBT bullying and harassment unacceptable in schools. We were joined by High School students for a rally lead by GLSEN. Over 700 of the "Gay? Fine by Me." shirts seen in the picture were sold on campus.
I recently switched over my email from Thunderbird to Gmail and my calendar from Sunbird to Google Calendar.
One of the biggest reasons for this was portability. Almost every hour of the day I'm by a computer-- but a different one. Work, home, computer lab, other job, student organization computer.
The email system our school provides doesn't provide us with much room to store our email, and I don't like to delete email because I'm always referencing an old one. With my other email addresses, IMAP is slow because of the large amount of emails I keep. Gmail is fast, stores everything, and no setup time is required. What I really like? 1) The tagging system instead of folders 2) Significantly more powerful search 3) Great spam filter 4) How it groups emails from the same conversation together -- I frequently have large conversations (8+ people) with several messages each and this keeps track of everything very nicely. Check out the tour. I have invites if anyone wants one.
I was satisfied with Sunbird for quite some time. I shared my calendar between installations of Sunbird on other computers using WebDAV. This worked well except when I wasn't at a computer with Sunbird (and was at a computer lab where I was unable to install it). I installed PHP iCal on my server which provided a very well laid out read-only version of my calendar, but I was unable to add anything to it. Google Calendar allows me to read and write using a great interface, and still has the open format and portability of iCal. Some bonus features? 1) PDF Printable Calendars created on-the-fly 2) Powerful calendar sharing settings 3) Ability to drag and drop calendar entries and resize them without going through any pages. Check out the tour.
One of the best things with using Gmail and Google Calendar? They work together. Gmail searches your message for natural language concerning an upcoming event, and offers a link to add it right to your calendar. Cool huh.
Dan Savage, the author of the famous relationship and sex advice column "Savage Love" came for a two hour long Q&A at our school. Sold out for weeks, this totally filled theatre never left Dan Savage (drinking Rathskeller beer out of his water glass) without something to talk about. I laughed so long and so hard my stomach hurts.
Memorable quotes included: "God help you if your thing is dead baby squirrels covered in sh*t" and "I f*cked my boyfriend so hard I thought the hotel room was going to implode".
Other highlights included a mother bringing her young child out of the auditorium about 10 minutes in... as Dan put it: Somebody obviously doesn't read his column. And the two deaf interpreters were hilarious to watch... many of the audience now knows sign language for every sexual word ever created.
Then I got to meet him, and he signed a copy of his first book, "The Kid" for me. So far it's a really good book that those who enjoy is column should read.
Ben Karlin, executive producer of "The Colbert Report" and "The Daily Show" came to speak at The Union tonight. He was formerly the head writer of "The Daily Show" during the transition over to Stewart. and editor of "The Onion". Where did he graduate? That's right. UW-Madison.
He gave a good (and funny) talk. And the best part? A pre-recorded intro clip from Jon Stewart. And this wasn't some general all-purpose introduction. He said good evening to Madison f'in Wisconsin! And made fun of the city of Sheboygan. "'Sheboygan'? Now you're just making sh-t up!" And a clip by Stephen Colbert concluded the speech. He wasn't too fond of our funny sounding city names either -- not American enough. His solution? He renamed the cities. Fond du Lac just became Fondue. "This is America's daryland" he said, "How come no one thought of that?"
You really would have had to been there.
I recently received an invite code from Google to try out Google Analytics. It's a stats tracking system for your website. It is meant to integrate with AdWords to track which of your advertisements on Google are doing the best, but it works fine without. The Tour can explain it much better that I can, but it's definitely one of the best stats tracking systems I've seen. A tad buggy when tracking referrals, but lives up to its expectations besides that.
Some things I found funny today:
Ugh. Living Wage Referenda passed but the Wisconsin Union one didn't. Thanks guys. Now the guys scooping ice cream will get $10.28/hour, but the handicapped still won't be able to fully navigate the unions. It also appears as if Ashok Kumar won County Board District 5 by breaking University Housing policy multiple times to distribute his flyers all over our rooms and by harassing us when we're trying to do homework.
Today was the final day of the festival. First I went to see Jim and Joe's Experimental Shorts Program which was a group of avant-garde shorts. It was painful to watch, and as a friend of mine put it, "it sucked out my soul". Some of the techniques used in shorts such as Shape Shift by Scott Stark and SSHTOORRTY by Michael Snow were pretty cool, but almost all of them had flashy fast-paced scenes and high-pitched tones that I guess these directors thought make them innovative. What I did enjoy however was Mirror by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Mueller for the cool lighting effects, and especially enjoyed Pornographic Apathetic (picture above) by T. Arthur Cottam which was the most monotone and expressionless reading of an extremely hot and explicit pornographic script creating a hilarious result.
And the last thing I saw in the festival was Innocence, a French drama. I thought it was really good. It had probably some of the most beautiful cinematography I've ever seen. The story however, while not bad, was very... creepy. It centers around an all-girls boarding school, where they learn science and how to dance, while having many strict rules enforced by the other girls. Anyone caught trying to escape would have a very unhappy future. It's awfully difficult to explain. You could view the trailer, but it's in French.
I'll keep it short today.
I saw a bunch of Wisconsin made shorts today. Some that I enjoyed were:
Kitchen by Brian Dehler, which was a stomp-like short involving every-day kitchen objects.
Monster Team: Episode 6 by Ben Olson and Arthur Jones which was a real-life version of their cartoon series.
Status Quo by Justin Sprecher, which is kind hard to explain. Head-trip of sorts.
The Life and Death of a Pumpkin by Aaron Yonda, the funniest of the bunch, explored the life of a pumpkin from the pumpkin's point of view.
Straight Boys by Dave O'Brien, by far the best in the group of shorts, told the story of a guy in love with his straight roommate and the complications that come from it... filmed right here at Madison in Chadbourne Hall.
Then I saw Same Sex America which documented the big marriage debate in Massachusetts. It was well done and tracked multiple couples trying to get married.
Last day tomorrow!
On Friday I saw three additional moves at the Film Festival.
The first was Le Fantôme de l'Opératrice, a.k.a. The Phantom of the Operator which was a Canadian documentary about women in the telephone operator business, and had several clips from old corporate training videos which were quite funny. Always have a "voice with a smile!" Preceding this was a short montage of old High-School Science videos which were even more humorous, including "Jimmy" not knowing why you need to rationalize the denominator and this guy getting electrocuted by an electric eel.
Next was Ceský Sen a.k.a. Czech Dream which was a documentary about an elaborate hoax two filmmakers put on-- they built the front wall for an elaborate hypermarket, advertised the crap out of the grand opening, and documented the process along with the finale-- when thousands of people realized that they were running not to a hypermarket, but an over hyped front wall.
[Added 4/4 12:30 PM: I found a trailer for Czech Dream online for download. The part about them getting the crap beat out of them was definitely not in the version I saw at the festival, and now I'm pretty upset they left that out.]
[Added 4/4 1:45 PM: It appears as if I had been conned myself. I emailed the Film Festival to ask why the segment in the trailer was not in the actual documentary, and Travis Gerdes from the festival replied "Much like the false advertising campaign behind the Czech Dream hypermarket, we believe the filmmakers took a similar approach when promoting the film itself... it makes sense that the filmmakers would continue their message of misleading promotional campaigns, even for their own film." Makes sense.]
Finally, the best film of the day was a German comedy Die Nacht der lebenden Loser a.k.a. The Night of the Living Dorks. It is kinda hard to explain, but it was absolutely hilarious. It featured three teenagers in high school who smoked too much pot, got in a car accident, and, well, ended up Zombies.