Monday, October 31, 2016

Hoops, Funeral Homes & Math Videos

Weekly Update 2016-44: Summery music in an autumn world, the marketing of funeral home locations, and the YouTube rabbit hole that is math videos. Spoiler: I've found the only place on YouTube where the comments section is helpful and respectful.

Music: Hoops
Chillwave/dreampop is still alive, even as the gloom of winter settles in. This is the kind of music I prefer to listen to in bad weather, because it contrasts so well with the temperature and makes me feel warm. Hoops is just this kind of music, hailing from Indiana. And they've only just exploded onto the scene in late 2015. It's doubly great to see new youthful bands using historical music as the roots of their new sounds. Listen below:

I have tried my best to contact all of the people I met at Push Conference last week, but I have come up a little short. This is only giving me motivation to push an event app to the organizers of the conference for next year.

I have also written out the conference posts, except for the notes of the talks themselves (the hard part) which I will do tonight.

Obviously, I'll be writing out my Push Conference notes on the speakers tonight. The slides of (some of) the speakers have also been shared, so it'll be easer to discuss topics with those than with my blurry angled iPhone photos.

I'd also like to get back on track with the blog redesign (some sketches) and look into using the Jenkins language to get my portfolio site working on Github's hosting service. I've only got two months!

Random Thought: Storefront Syndrome
I had a very strange chain of thoughts the other day that I'd like to share. Unfortunately, a friend's mother had passed away, and I happened to click a link on Facebook to the website for the funeral home who was handling the details. The funeral home's name was "Butcher Family Funeral Home". This alone was quite unfortunate, as I feel the brand of a company we only have to deal with during times of loss should be carefully constructed.

As I was perusing the website, I wondered what might be a good example of design for a service such as this. That thought took me to the two Jewish funeral homes in Toronto, (both of which have slightly less terrible but still bad designs), and the fact that they operate on the same street, but a stone's throw from each other. These two funeral homes service much of the Jewish population of the GTA, and are probably located centrally to be accessible to a maximum number of people. But I still find it interesting that they happen to be SO close to each other (less than 5 kilometres straight down the street).

My friend offered an explanation for this phenomenon. He explained that he used to live near the most efficient street for that business. In a row down the street: the hospital, a tombstone store, a cremation place, a flower shop and finally a funeral home. We discussed that this also exists in the world of furniture stores. As an area begins to develop, furniture stores tend to gather around each other. I always tend to see a bunch of them in a cluster. Could it be something to do with delivery routes for trucks? Or perhaps as an ease-of-use for consumers, so they can compare easily.

Inspiration: Math Videos on Youtube
As you may have seen on my blog in previous posts, I am becoming obsessed with a monthly lecture series in Toronto called Trampoline Hall. One of the talks this month described a certain type of fascination with Youtube videos such as the preparation of tiny food in tiny kitchens, playing with toy slime, and even pimple popping. These genres of video have an extremely large following, which may be surprising to you (and definitely was to me).

All of this seemed like a good primer for my unexpected foray into the world of math videos on Youtube. Basically, mathematicians do their best to explain and solve difficult problems to their admiring Youtube audience. I noticed a couple of things as I fell down the black hole of this particular brand.

1) Mathematicians love to work with sharpies on craft paper
And why not! The interaction between a sharpie and heavy textured craft paper is so distinct to me that I can feel it in my fingertips as I watch the videos. There is a tactile nature to watching someone write with these materials, along with having something explained slowly and simply, that is so hypnotic.

2) This is the one bright corner of Youtube where the comments are kind and insightful
Perhaps because of the calming effects listed above, the comments on these videos are rarely of a dark nature akin to the usual Youtube suspects. In fact, the comments feature thoughtful mathematicians or would-bes (like me), trying to work through problems on their own, or providing solutions to problems that do not have solutions (as some of them do).

It's truly a wonderful place to be. It's calming, it teaches you something, and you don't feel the sense of self-pity that may normally be felt on Youtube as you find the urge to comment. As long as you're polite! Please don't ruin this new bright spot that I've found :)

Check out one of the videos below:

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