CASUAL FRIDAY? WHAT'S THAT?
For about the first 15 years of my career, beginning in 1970, I
dressed like a proper professional. I wore a jacket and tie to
then my workplace began to change. I was less often in an
office or studio. More often I was working inside a truck, a TV
mobile unit where most folks dressed in work clothes.
final break came when my salaried position went away with a 1987
corporate bankruptcy. Now a freelancer, I never again had to
wear a necktie. (Exception: when traveling on a sports team's
plane, ties are generally required for everyone. We can't have
star athletes looking like slobs.)
more than three decades now, I've dressed casually. I can't
imagine what Eric D. Snider has been going through this week.
never met Eric in person, but I've been following him since
2001. Back then I was preparing to spend a month in Salt Lake
City televising the Winter Olympics. I had visited there only
once, in 1959, and I wondered what it was like now.
searched online for a local newspaper columnist, and I found the
Provo Daily Herald and its humorous Snide Remarks,
written by Mr. Snider. He was a Brigham Young University
graduate whose accomplishments included a song
parody celebrating the 1847 migration to Utah.
kept on reading Eric,
even after the Olympics were over. By 2005 he had become a
freelance movie critic, and he relocated to the considerably more
liberal Portland, Oregon. There he partnered with Jeff Bayer
for an amusing weekly podcast (left). I think I've listened to
all 462 episodes, and their friendly voices have become quite familiar.
thought he'd never want to move back to Utah, and every time I
visited I was reminded of why I was glad I no longer lived there.
about four years ago, he began to miss his relatives and Utah
friends more than before. He loved extreme uncling,
as in this photo.
freelancing could be done from anywhere that had movies and
the internet, and these had both recently come to Utah, he
moved back to Provo in early September. Through the magic of
the internet, he and Jeff continued to record their podcast every
few days after I arrived, he writes, an old friend
reminded me about a full-time writing job that had been posted two
weeks earlier. It was the last day applications were being accepted,
so I quickly slapped together a résumé and cover letter
what: he got the job! It's a full-time salary with
benefits, such as a grown-up would have.
started this past Monday, writing content for the Mormon Church
whoops, now they want to be known as the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints at the CoJCoLDS headquarters in
downtown Salt Lake.
to freelance income, his pay will be significantly greater and more
predictable. However, it is an office job that requires
a suit and tie. He had to acquire a second suit. And a
third one as well.
now needs to get up much earlier than your typical movie critic in
order to catch the 6:48 a.m. FrontRunner. His cat, Dogcat, has
to stay home, sadly meowing the Sheena Easton song. Eric asked
his Twitter friends about toys for lonely felines. Is there a
laser pointer that doesn't require a human to point it?
baby takes the morning train,
works from nine till five, and then
takes another home again
find me waitin' for him.
sporting his three different suits, tweeted these selfies from his
first three commutes. I have immediately identified a
problem with wearing a suit on a train, he reports.
People think you're trustworthy and aren't afraid to sit next
On my way to new employee orientation. Boy will they be surprised
when they find out mine!
Tuesday: Missed my train.
Wednesday: After work.
I don't think I could go back to wearing a suit from nine till
five. But Eric seems happy to do so, and after hours he
still gets to watch movies and play with his niecephews.
My mother did most of the cooking in our family. We used to
have a big old butcher knife that once belonged to my
mother's aunt Lizzie Buckingham, who died in 1932. She had carved
LB into the wooden handle. But I never learned to wield it properly.
When I moved away from home in 1974, my parents set me up with a set
of steak knives. They could be used for paring, but their
lightweight 4½ blades limited their potential, and I never
became skilled at slicing. However, a couple of years ago in a
store, I noticed a nice hefty 6 chef's knife with a manly red
handle. That's what you need, I told myself!
And across the aisle I saw a German gadget, a V-Prep by Swissmar,
that promised to achieve the perfect slice ... every
time. It's called a mandoline.
(That was a new word to me. My computer insists on auto-correcting
it into a musical instrument.)
These are stock photos. I don't use my mandoline to slice
tomatoes. My father loved tomatoes, especially the vine-ripened
kind that he picked fresh
in our back yard, but for some reason I never cared for the
taste. If tomato slices came with my meal, I used to give them
to my father.
I do like to add a slice of onion to a sandwich. So now I
occasionally buy an onion. I cut it in two with the chef's
knife and place one half, flat side down, on the mandoline's
ramp. The ramp includes a crosswise blade a little above the
surface, and sliding the onion down the surface strips off a nice
slice each time.
I used to wrap the remaining half in plastic film to keep the air
away from the cut face. Then I realized I could just place it face-down
on a 6 glass pie plate until I next crave a slice two
or three days later.
(I don't spend a lot of time in the kitchen.)
saw a groundbreaking student
film project when it aired on CBS-TV in 1968. Dan
McLaughlin at UCLA had used a technique now called kinestasis.
Three thousand works of art flashed on the screen very briefly,
accompanied by instrumental music that became a hit record on its own.
is projected at 24 frames per second. During each second
McLaughlin showed us a dozen artworks, each of them for a mere two frames.
however, runs at 30 frames per second. Therefore only half of
the artworks appeared for two TV frames ( for example, RR) and the
other half for three TV frames (for example, SSS).
years later, I recalled the 1968 project when I learned about the
latest thing, digital television. HDTV broadcasts won't fit
into the old analog bandwidth without some kind of video
compression. I wondered whether the MPEG compression algorithm
would be able to handle rapid changes like 3000 Years of
Art. If I understood it correctly, one second of MPEG
typically includes only five full-definition I-frames,
the intervening P-frames and B-frames are reconstructed from their
neighboring I-frames. This is accomplished by predicting the
motion of objects within the frame.
algorithm couldn't handle kinestasis, I reasoned. Every second
or third frame of the 1968 video (those marked with dots in the first
diagram above) was completely different from its predecessor, so it
would have to be encoded as an I-frame. Each second would
require twelve I-frames (one for each artwork), not just five.
To sufficiently compress the data, additional tricks would be
required, such as reducing the resolution.
the early days of HDTV on my cable TV system, I did notice
pixilation (like this extreme example) on live-to-tape programs like
Jay Leno's Tonight Show. Immediately after a
camera cut, the new angle was blocky for a fraction of a second until
the next I-frame came along, at which point it seemed to snap into focus.
I guess the engineers have now figured out better methods. The opening
title for The Big Bang Theory shuffled through 120
images at an accelerating pace. Even in hi-def, CBS-TV did not explode.