Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

Puerto Rico Museum of Art

Posted in Puerto Rico, Travel by Elliott Back on February 28th, 2011.

The Puerto Rico Art Museum is a fantastic way to burn a few afternoon hours. Located on 299 Ave José de Diego, just a few blocks from Plaza las Americas shopping mall, el Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10/11 – 5/6 PM (check the website for hours). For just $11 you can see both the regular exhibit and a special exhibit of Campeche.

Regular Exhibition

The permanent collection consists of some 1,100 works of art in various media. A small sample is available at the permanent collection gallery. One of my favorites is Sobrecielo (2000), by Ada Bobonis, which features dried flowers hanging from a ceiling in waves of different colors, illuminated by a long light:

Sculpture Garden

Outside, a large garden and a dozen sculptures await. This is the only place in the museum which permits photography, so I took a few photos while I was there. I also bumped into a couple taking a romantic stroll!

Special Exhibition

Currently showing Campeche alive: 200 years later, a collection of 17 works reinterpreting the art of José Campeche. Campeche, a puertorican who lived from 1701 to 1780, painted many church scenes as well as famous portraits, such as of governor Ustariz.

Check the future exhibitions page for more information going forward.

More Puerto Rico

Check out these other posts in the Puerto Rico travelblog series:

My 2011 New Years Resolutions

Posted in Holiday by Elliott Back on January 2nd, 2011.

I’m not much of a person for resolutions, since far too often New Years’ promises go unheard, and unkept. Making a list of New Years’ resolutions falls firmly into a cognitive bias known as “optimism bias“, as too often people set unattainable goals. On the other side of the equation, there’s evidence that setting goals publicly can help their completion.

The following goals are my own, completely personal, and probably unsuited to most of you. We are each unique individuals with varying strengths and weaknesses; in 2011, I want to shore up some areas which I think I fall short in.

#1 – Complete a 5km Run in 25m

I have in mind the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge, which I’ve participated in twice before, with times around the 32 to 35 minute mark. I’m young, and in good shape. I just went to the gym and ran 2 miles at 9 minutes each. This isn’t a great time; I would need to be running 8 minute miles before I could achieve this, and run an extra mile. Fortunately, I have until this summer to get ready!

#2 – Finish My Website Redesign

This blog theme is getting tired. it’s too thin in a world of wide-screen monitors. It could be much more heavily optimized. And, it’s not readable with its small text. My wife has been prodding me to redesign it, and there’s no excuse for letting it go any farther. I plan to employ some new technologies on the front-end, perhaps using A/B testing, CSS sprites, and other optimizations. On the backend, there’s room to use Varnish and other acceleration technologies. And upgrading to the latest version of Wordpress should let me host all my subdomains from a single installation, freeing me up from symlink-hell and too many open file handles.

(I also want to try improving my Twitter Weather and Nikon Lenses pages, but those fall more into the category of tinkering rather than full-scale work, so I’m not including them in 2011 resolutions. Resolutions are for getting things done you should already have done or be doing.

#3 – Travel / Photography

Take my camera out more. Take more photographs, read some photography books. Master the use of the digital SLR that I have, and the lenses that I have already bought. Learn to use my flash, properly meter exposure, and focus. I may need to invest in some small equipment (like a proper flash, long telephoto zoom), but what I have already (Nikon D90, 18-105mm/3.5-5.6 VR, 50mm/1.8, 60mm/2.8D, Tokina 11-16mm/2.8, and 8/16GB flash cards) is more than enough kit for an amateur like myself.

In my opinion, travel is one of the best uses of time and money. In 2011, I want to ski, visit a Caribbean island, Spain, and Japan. My motivations for the three are (a) it’s very cold in NYC right now and I want to escape, (b) Spain has tons of historical architecture, museums, and cultural value, and I can practice my Spanish, and (c) Japan, the high-tech capital of the world, will tickle my love of gadgetry and cutting-edge fashion. New places are new opportunities to learn about other cultures, to practice language skills, and to take photographs!

#4 – Play guitar

I have an Epiphone Les Paul and a nice Fender practice literally gathering dust. I used to find playing guitar very enjoyable, and in fact, a mood stabilizer of sorts, but recently (say for the last two years) I have not played a lick. In 2011, I should clear off the dust, restring and retune, and pick it back up again.

These four simple New Years’ resolutions are mine, and I hope that they are achieved in part, or in full, in 2011. What do you want to change in your life in the new year? Leave a comment below!

Google’s 2010 Christmas Holiday Doodle

Posted in Art, Google by Elliott Back on December 23rd, 2010.

Chinese readers should check out Wendy’s great post 来自谷歌首页的圣诞祝福!

Combining 17 different images together, Google’s prime Doodler Micheal Lopez spent 250 hours to create their latest Christmas-card masterpiece, a beautiful, abstract rendition approximating the Google logo. According to the WSJ, Chief-Doddler Lopez said, “We want to end the year with a bang.”


As seen on Google’s homepage

Each of the 17 images represents an image of holiday cheer, a sort of cultural Christmas card. So, the entire Google represents a global merry Christmas! Below, I will explode each image into its component links.

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