Spaceward Ho!

I’ve always loved retro travel posters, like the classic “flat” WPA travel posters of the 1930’s. I particularly adore when the style is applied to space and science fiction themes.

Recently artists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab came up with an “Exoplanet Travel Series”, highlighting worlds recently discovered by Kepler and other extraterrestrial probe programs. As a government-funded body, NASA has made the posters publically available and free to download at high resolution print sizes.

Astronomer and artist Tyler Nordgren has drawn several travel posters in a “Planetary Parks” series, including Europa and Mars:

Visitez Europa En AvionSee Mars

Steve Thomas also has some excellent travel posters:

A poster featuring a dirigible on VenusFly Through The Asteroid Belt

You can buy prints of Steve’s work from the Intergalactic Travel Bureau.

Finally, Justin Van Genderen has created a series of excellent travel posters from science fiction films, including Star Trek and Star Wars:

VulcanBespin You can buy some of Justin’s work at his online store.

Thanks to Bob Dow for the inspiration behind this post.

What Do 1239 Movies Look Like?

In my case, they look something like this. (You can see a zoomed section of the poster below).

A screenshot of the Plex applicationYesterday I re-installed Plex after a year away from the software, and have been quite impressed: there are no options that require fiddling with, and fewer keyboard commands to remember. The installation process for the Mac media server is also a great deal smoother, as the software picks up movies, television shows and music the first time it runs.

It took a few hours for the software to completely scan my droboPro for all its media, but once the process was finished I once again had a single central library from which to peruse my collection.

Closeup of the mosaic posterPlex has changed its database format, so I could not employ the technique I used previously to pull out the movie covers; instead, I used the rather excellent Plex Export to do so. I fed the resulting movie covers to another piece of great free open source software (MacOSaix) together with a target image of Ms Jolie, and tweaked the result to create the poster you see above.

My Geek T-Shirts, Let Me Show You Them

Yes, my geek is reflected sartorially. I now have quite the collection of T-shirts with a geek theme, but they are rarely seen in public, as they’re worn as a layer under long sleeves for work.

Want to measure your greek cred? You get a point for each correctly identified reference on each shirt. (I’ll give you two, and clues for two more: the University of Mars shirt is from Lowell Observatory. The geek rationale of the plain green T-shirt may be difficult to place at first: it is from scottevest, and filled with hidden, Batman-like pockets. As for the clues: two of the shirts are from the wonderful Last Exit To Nowhere.)

What Does Two Years of Not Drinking Look Like?

I’ve felt like a cast member in Mad Men (recently returned for a fourth television season): over the last two days I have both organized my liquor collection and photographed it using a small commercial studio setup. The photography serves several purposes: records for insurance purposes; a means of avoiding duplicate purchases, and a cellaring list for pairings with food.

Alcohol and I have a rather odd and distant relationship: after 32, I decided to curtail drinking, or at least to do so very rarely: once a year is an event. I have no objection in principle to a glass of wine over dinner, but as I entertain with even greater scarcity, and follow H L Mencken’s rule of never drinking alone, the opportunity to do so rarely arises.

However, the idea of having a well-stocked bar and cellar collection remained very appealing. So, two years ago, I began to buy a few bottles every month. What you see to the left is a poster of the liquor side of my collection thus far; the wine cellar is slightly smaller, as I am no oenophile, and am still making my way through wines.

The bar is strong on single-malt scotches, as, from memory, those are what I enjoyed most; bourbons, rums and whiskeys are also well-represented. As to the purpose of all this, I’m not precisely sure. It would make for one hell of a party, or an excellent resource come the zombie invasion.