Bean Curd

It’s one thing when an adult calls one other adult, “Baby.”

But it’s a whole other can of bean curd when an adult calls one other adult, “Babies.”

“What’s happening, Babies?” he said to one other adult. And all hell broke loose.


I don’t mean to brag, but the electricity
in this coffee shop is just
My screen is showing colors
I’ve never seen before.
Silver-Red? What the hell is that?!
My keyboard is warm.
The CD eject button is borderline propulsive.
I’m not sharing this


I’m talking with politics with my son (who has a heart as big as the
outdoors) and he says, innocently enough, “Hippies are people who don’t
live anywhere and sneak into people’s backyard, right?”

So, OK, he’s pro-hippie now. We’ve worked that out.

But close call, right?

Comparing Compressor Recipes for Vimeo and YouTube

I spent a little time the other day running several different Compressor recipes so I could compare different compression options. I thought I’d share the results here, in case they’re of use to other folks on the interwebs. And of course, if you’re reading this and you spot anything that looks wrong, please shout out – corrections and additional input encouraged…!
For my test I was working with a 4:05 movie edited in Final Cut Express and sourced in AVCHD on my Canon HF100. I started by exporting it to a 2.4 Gig QuickTime file for archive purposes. The main attributes of my first test, which turned out to be a pretty good recipe for YouTube, particularly when in a time crunch, were:

  • bitrate max of 10,000
  • full resolution
  • left FPS as is
  • single-pass compression
  • deinterlace under the Frame Controls rather than Filter.

(Full specs on this later in the post, along with all the tests and a few notes on the results.)
A few top-line conclusions:
Deinterlace: Using the deinterlace filter in Compressor chewed up my text; using deinterlace under Frame controls worked like a charm.
Resolution: Dropping resolution by 50% hurt the image and softened text but didn’t really speed things up or shrink the file much, at least going from 1280 x 720 down to 640 x 360. Of course, there will be situations where you have to drop the resolution, but both YouTube and Vimeo suggest leaving HD resolutions at 1280 for HD, so in this case there was no reason to downsample.
Bitrate: Changing the bitrate had a direct impact on file size (2500 = half the file size of 5000) and a noticeable impact on the image, though going down to 2500, the image still looked pretty good for web video. YouTube currently suggests not capping bitrate, Vimeo requests that you set a max of 5000, which is what I did for example #6, below.
Multi-pass: Multi-pass adds a lot to encoding time (4X in this case) but did give me a higher contrast image with richer colors. So if time allows, it looks like multipass is better, but in a time crunch, single pass can work.

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New Movie: A Visit to the Olive Operation

I posted a different kind of movie (for me) over the weekend — a 4 minute micro-documentary in which my buddy Joel and I get a tour of our pal Kirk’s chicken house followed by a look at how Kirk makes olives.

It features: fearsome fowl, sleight of hand, spontaneous slurry stirring, and little bit of shtick. Also, chicken trivia. It was a lot of fun to make — hope you enjoy it.


Me, Cooking

I have a pretty low threshold for what I consider “me, cooking.” Pretty much, if I add Tabasco, I’m cooking.
So, for example, if I made toast, to which I wouldn’t normally add Tabasco, that wouldn’t count as cooking. (Or mebbe, if I added Tabasco to toast, that might count as cooking, but it’d count as bad cooking. I think. I need to try this.)
Similarly, if I made a can of soup, like some Wolfgang Puck’s Thick and Hearty Lentil, and I didn’t add Tabasco (which would be crazy) that also would not be cooking.
But, in contrast, if I made a can of soup, and I chose to add a few drops of Tabasco, in my heart it would feel like I had truly cooked that can of soup. Like the culinary choices (ok, choice) that I’d made had transformed that can of soup into a lentil-laden very personal and real expression of what I consider good eats.
Tonight, the lentil is hearty, yes. Thick too. I credit Wolfgang for this. But it’s also slightly spicy, and I think I’ve made my point.

The Dog Show

Late at night, every night, Daphne watched The Dog Show. Odds are you’ve never seen it unless you’re a dog. See, The Dog Show’s broadcast on top of human programs in frequencies only dogs perceive. It stars a beat up mixed-breed named Lucious, missing one eye, half an ear. Each episode, for nearly 15 years now, Lucious has slowly, meticulously run through one new trick, scribbling down notes on a stand-up pad, barking out directions for the next day’s event, going back to the start, dwelling in the middle, hammering home the exclamation mark.
Yap yap yap!
The whole enterprise was born from one simple question — what if dogs, night-by-night, trick-by-trick, could learn to do everything humans do? Or, as many as could be covered in a dog’s lifetime of weeknight TV shows?
It almost goes without saying, the first tricks involved filming and producing a TV show. Tricks Lucious had taught himself. After that came shows on how to make toast without burning your nose. How to open a pickle jar. How to make a pancake. Not all the episodes were about food, but the food shows got the best ratings.
About five years in, the focus switched to personal grooming. How to part your hair (extra tricky for stiff haired hounds). How to clip your own nails!
Now here they were on day 7,322. Daphne sitting in my rocking chair, nodding her doggy head, listening close, learning how to fix a carburetor. And that was when I walked in.


The guy next to me
at this breakfast joint
just said to his date
in a Jack Nicholson voice
that I think is really the way this guy talks
"looks to me like you're not a fan of berries." 
If he sees what
I'm typing
I'm a dead man.


overalls are rocking out country-style tonight.
That outrageous fiddle, the toe-tapping
outrageous lady singer and Brother Jeremiah with
his bass and jaunty
fresh-brimmed derby.
You are all outrageously dressed up like
Depression era folks tonight.
Except so much

Just for fun

Sam wanted to bob for apples on Halloween “just for fun.” Which was a relief, because I know there are some people who bob for apples competitively, and others who bob for apples professionally. And I’m just not ready for him to make either of those leaps.

Plug-ness: Poetry Reading, This Thursday

I’ll be reading a few poems this Thursday night at the West’s Oldest Independent Bookseller (aka, Books Inc, Alameda) at 7:30 pm along with Jannie Dresser, Julia Park Tracey, and some guy named Don. I’m not sure whether we’ll be reading in sequence or simultaneously, but that’s the drama, right? Bay Area folks, of course we’d love to see ya there.