Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Black Diamond: A Library Connecting with the Past

They call it the Black Diamond. In 1999, the Danish Royal Library opened a new building on Copenhagen's waterfront, which is known as the Black Diamond. The Black Diamond building was designed by Danish architects schmidt hammer lassen. Named for its outside cover of black marble and glass, it houses a concert hall in addition to the library.

Black Diamond: from the water

As you ride the escalator down to the lobby floor, you look out over the waterfront, where centuries-old brick warehouses still stand. Most of these warehouses have been converted to office or residential use.

Black Diamond: looking out over the water

Looking down from the top floor of the Black Diamond, you see a visually stunning assortment of geometric shapes.

Black Diamond: looking down at the lobby

A series of bridges connect the Black Diamond with the older part of the library, which was built in 1906.

Black Diamond: bridges connect to the older part of the library

The older part of the library still retains a distinctive 19th century ambiance.

Black Diamond: dome in the older part of the library

Royal Library
Danish flag The Royal Library in Copenhagen is the national library of Denmark and the largest library in the Nordic countries. The Royal Library contains numerous historical treasures; all works that have been printed in Denmark since the 17th century are deposited there. Thanks to extensive donations in the past the library holds nearly all known Danish printed works back to the first Danish book, printed in 1482.

Redmond Library Board

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tron: A Classic Movie from the Redmond Outdoor Movie Series

Outdoor Movie Series poster On Saturday, August 29th the classic 1982 movie, Tron, will be shown at Idylwood Beach as part of Redmond’s free Summer 2009 Outdoor Movie Series. Other movies being shown are Hook and Kung Fu Panda. Hook will be shown at Idylwood Beach on Saturday, August 1st. Kung Fu Panda will be shown at City Hall on Friday, August 14. All movies start at dusk—around 9:30 pm. These movies are presented by the City of Redmond Teen Programs. For more info, contact rypac@redmond.gov, or call 425-556-2358.

Tron is a 1982 science fiction film by Disney. It has a distinctive visual style, as it was one of the first films from a major studio to use computer graphics exclusively.

Outdoor Movie Series: Tron poster

You might recall that the Master Control Program (MCP) is Tron: a security program which would monitor communications between the MCP and the outside worldthe main villain of the movie. It was a rogue artificial intelligence that ruled over the world inside ENCOM's mainframe computer.  During the rule of the MCP, many programs were enslaved and forced to play games against its henchmen, led by Sark. Memorably, the MCP would end most of its conversations with Dillinger and Sark with the phrase "End of line".

Sark: commander of the MCP's army and overseer of the games fought on the Game Grid

Enjoy this blast from the past!

Redmond Library Board

Monday, July 20, 2009

Microsoft Building 83 Construction Halted

Microsoft will delay construction of Building 83 in Redmond until 2013. The company had broken ground on the facility at 4729 154th Place N.E. in fall 2008. Nearby, a planned Building 81 on the former Safeco campus won't be built until 2014.

At the Building 83 construction site, workers have built up to ground level and capped off most of the exposed metal work.

Microsoft Building 83 construction halted

Not constructing Microsoft Buildings 81 or 83 puts additional space pressure on the Windows team, which under one scenario was set to move into those buildings.

Other Blog Postings on Microsoft
Here’s a list of other Redmond Library blog postings on Microsoft:

Microsoft Commons: It’s a Mall World After All
Microsoft Lincoln Square: A Lunchroom with a View
The Microsoft Visitor Center: An Interactive Experience
A New Bridge for Redmond: The NE 36th Street Overpass
Redmond Town Center: A View from Virtual Earth 3D
Exploring the Skies with the WorldWide Telescope

Redmond Library Board

Friday, July 17, 2009

I (Heart) Harry Potter

Poster for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceLike millions of adoring HP fans, I anxiously awaited the Half Blood Prince and had movie tickets in advance to view on opening day. The theater was packed with young and young-at-heart alike. I have seen midnight showings, stood in line at midnight for books, and even once had a Canadian concierge deliver a book because we accidentally scheduled a weekend trip on a book release day. (She was also getting one for her daughter at midnight, so it wasn't too terribly inconvenient!) JK Rowling creates a world that mirrors our own in many ways, but has just enough of the fantastic to create an unforgettable coming-of-age epic.

At its most basic, it's a good v. evil costume drama saga (my favorite kind of book and/or movie!), where nearly everything imaginable is possible through wizardry. Plus, the Quidditch effects improve with each film! I am unconcerned with deletions or additions in the translation from book to film - it's a completely different medium for artistic expression so I let a little interpretation here and there slide by. The last books are very dark at times and I was glad to see that the movie doesn't sugar coat the events. (Two of my favorite "evil" characters below.)

Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange and Alan Rickman as Snape in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Besides the books and movies, one of my favorite elements of the franchise is the variety of industries that also create tie-ins:

With the Deathly Hallows split into 2 movies, there will be a couple more years of anxious anticipation before I have to say goodbye (again) to "new" Harry Potter adventures.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

2009 Space Elevator Conference – August 13-16

The 2009 Space Elevator Conference is being held August 13-16 at the Microsoft Conference Center in Building 33. On Wednesday, August 12 at 7:00, the public is invited to a free overview presentation on the space elevator initiative. For more info, see 2009 Space Elevator Overview Presentation.

A space elevator is a structure designed to transport material from Earth into space. Many variants have been proposed, all of which involve traveling along a fixed structure (such as a cable) instead of using rocket powered space launch. The concept most often refers to a structure that reaches from the surface of the Earth to geostationary orbit (GSO) and a counter-mass beyond.

How a space elevator works
A space elevator would consist of a cable anchored to the Earth’s surface, reaching into space. By attaching a counterweight at the end, inertia ensures that the cable remains stretched taut, countering the gravitational pull on the lower sections. This allows the elevator to remain in geostationary orbit. Most cable designs call for the "elevator" to climb up a stationary cable.SpaceElevator_diagram

One concept for the space elevator has it tethered to a mobile seagoing platform:

Space elevator on mobile seagoing platform

Space Elevator Games
The 2009 Space Elevator Games are taking place in July at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center in California’s Mojave Desert. This year, to be eligible for the $2,000,000 prize, the competitors will be required to race their laser-powered vehicles up the 1 kilometer vertical steel cable at an average speed of 5 meters/second. The technology demonstrated at these games showcase the core technical solutions needed to implement the space elevator.

Redmond Library Board

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Derby Days Just Around the Corner

Derby Days Mark your calendars for Redmond's 69th annual community celebration and criterium - Derby Days Summer Festival! This year's festivities will be held on Friday, July 10th and Saturday, July 11th.

(The carnival at the Old Redmond Schoolhouse will be operating Thursday - Sunday.)

Redmond's Bicycle Criterium is America's longest running bicycle race - if you haven't yet witnessed the awesome speed and bike handling that is showcased in a closed course event such as this one, you'll be in for a treat!

Firefigher GearThe Kids Parade and Grand Parade on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. is one of the few sanctioned Seafair events on the Eastside. Look for the Redmond Regional Library entry in the parade! Arrive early for the parade and enjoy breakfast at the Firefighers Pancake Breakfast to benefit the Redmond Firefighters Benevolent Fund. You are never too old to try on the turnout gear!

New this year is Friday Night Live featuring the Beatniks. Enjoy live music, a beer and wine garden with food, followed by a movie - all conveniently located on the City Hall campus.

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Worst Hard Time: A Look Back at Even Tougher Times

The Worst Hard Time Timothy Egan’s new book, “The Worst Hard Time”, tells an extraordinary tale of how America's great, grassy plains turned to dust, and how the ferocious plains winds stirred up an endless series of "black blizzards" that were like a biblical plague: "Dust clouds boiled up, ten thousand feet or more in the sky, and rolled like moving mountains" in what became known as the Dust Bowl.

The Dust Bowl
The Dust Bowl, or the Dirty Thirties, was a period of severe dust storms causing major ecological and agricultural damage to American and Canadian prairie lands from 1930 to 1936. The phenomenon was caused by severe drought coupled with decades of extensive farming without crop rotation or other techniques to prevent erosion.

The following photo shows a dust storm approaching Stratford, Texas in 1935:

Texas Dust Storm 1935

The next photo shows a farmer and sons walking in the face of a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, 1936:

Oklahoma Dust Storm 1936

Millions of acres of farmland became useless, and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes. Many of these families (often known as "Okies", since so many came from Oklahoma) traveled to California and other states. There they found economic conditions little better than those they had left. Owning no land, many traveled from farm to farm picking fruit and other crops at starvation wages.

The next photo, which has become known as "Migrant Mother", is one of a series of photographs that Dorothea Lange made of Florence Owens Thompson and her children in Nipomo, California in 1936. Lange was concluding a month's trip photographing migratory farm labor around the state for what was then the Resettlement Administration.

32-year old migrant mother

In 1960, Lange gave this account of the experience:

I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet. I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction. I did not ask her name or her history. She told me her age, that she was thirty-two. She said that they had been living on frozen vegetables from the surrounding fields, and birds that the children killed. She had just sold the tires from her car to buy food. There she sat in that lean- to tent with her children huddled around her, and seemed to know that my pictures might help her, and so she helped me. There was a sort of equality about it. (From: Popular Photography, Feb. 1960).

More About the Dust Bowl
American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl Surviving the Dust Bowl is the remarkable story of the determined people who clung to their homes and way of life, enduring drought, dust, diseaseeven deathfor nearly a decade. This episode is part of the PBS American Experience series, which provides an in-depth look at the epic stories that have shaped America.

Redmond Library Board