Knowledge is Power

Listening to: Knowledge is Power by Schoolhouse Rock

Knowledge is power and it can command obedience.
Knowledge is a ruler and wealth is its subject
— Imam Ali (599-661 CE) Nahj Al-Balagha

With $10,000 and counting in student loan debt from Drexel University for teaching me all the wonders of marriage propaganda– as the school called it: “English” and as the professor called it: “Jedi training” of which I learned neither— this reporter wonders what Imam Ali would have thought about modern American education.

For those of you still feeling the Bern, your dreams of free College for All may have been shattered, mocked, and defecated on… but fear not, for the knowledge that you seek, remains in abundance.

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Alison offers over 750 programs in 9 categories of free courses open to the public:

Diploma courses
Business and Enterprise Skills
Digital Literacy and IT Skills
Personal Development and Soft Skills
Languages
Health and Safety and Compliance
Health Literacy
Financial and Economic Literacy
and courses from various School Curriculum

This reporter will be studying with Alison
we hope you will join us on Knowledge is Power
As a Film & Video student, I will be focusing on Harvard’s Digital Photography course recently made available in its entirety.

To get us started with some quick modules– the Adobe Creative Suite is a go-to for pro-sumer digital design software:

Photoshop – for image editing and compositing

After Effects – for cinematic visual effects and motion graphics

Alison does not offer a course for Adobe Premiere Professional video production and editing software, but if you are familiar with Adobe, the Creative Cloud is fully integrated for easy use across all platforms.

Harvard Digital Photography
Hosted by Alison: a free certified learning community

ALISON’s free online photo course gives you the opportunity to gain extensive knowledge and understanding of digital photography including topics such as exposure settings, how to read and use the histogram, how light affects a photograph, how the camera sensor and lenses work, and how to process a photograph using computer software. You will also learn tips and techniques on what not to do when taking a photograph.

Dan Armendariz
Preceptor in Computer Science at Harvard
Software Development Engineer for Amazon Web Services

Module 1: Introduction to Digital Photography
Module 2: Introduction to Software
Module 3: Introduction to Light
Module 4: Introduction to Exposure – Part 1
Module 5: Introduction to Exposure – Part 2
Module 6: Introduction to Optics
Module 7: Introduction to Histograms
Module 8: Introduction to Software Tools
Module 9: Introduction to Digital Cameras
Module 10: Introduction to Digital Cameras – Part 2
Module 11: Introduction to Color
Module 12: Introduction to Artifacts
Module 13: Digital Photography Assessment

This 13 module course includes approximately 10-15 hours of material, optional photography assignments and graded assessments, concluding with certification for students scoring over 80%

For an Ivy League education at none of the cost, Alison is your new best friend, but Harvard’s Dan Armendariz is merely following in the footsteps of Stanford’s Marc Levoy, who’s Digital Photography course became available online to the public back in 2016–

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Stanford Digital Photography

Marc Levoy
Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford
Principal Engineer at Google

Course schedule

lecture1-21mar16
lecture2-23mar16
lecture3-28mar16
lecture4-30mar16
lecture5-04apr16
lecture6-06apr16
lecture7-11apr16
lecture8-13apr16
lecture9-18apr16
lecture10-20apr16
lecture11-25apr16
lecture12-02may16
lecture13-04may16
lecture14-09may16
lecture15-16may16
lecture16-18may16
lecture17-23may16
lecture18-01jun16

Applets

variables-that-affect-exposure
operation-of-a-thin-lens
gaussian-lens-formula
depth-of-field
telephoto-zoom-lens
spatial-convolution
phase-detection
contrast-detection
color-theory
color-matching
chromaticity-diagrams
gamut-mapping
color-mixing
gamma-correction
cylindrical-panoramas

Assignments

assign1-bad-photos
assign2-sports-and-action
assign3-macro
assign4-architecture
assign5-still-life
assign6-landscape
assign7-night-color
assign8-portraiture

Best photos from assignments

Need a study buddy?
Follow along with Zu-Zu Lee on Knowledge is Power
Discuss concepts and lectures, share your assignments, post your photos as you develop your skills– contact us here or through social media to get involved!

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Pigs in a Blanket

On a cold January night like this one, it is important to remember that your little piggies could be screaming brr brr brrrrr all night long. Bring them in from the cold, wrap them up good and toasty with Zu-Zu Lee’s recipe for Pigs in a Blanket. A classic childhood favorite done cheap, from scratch–

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Preheat oven to 400°
Bake 20-25 minutes

2 cups all-purpose flour
season to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter (cubed)
1 cup bacon bits, onions, garlic (optional)
⅔ cup milk
1 tablespoon white vinegar

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For biscuits, nothing beats buttermilk.
But contrary to what the name may lead you to believe… you cannot just whisk some butter into your milk and presto, butter-milk.

You can, however, whisk some vinegar into your milk.

Buttermilk is acidic, this reacts with the baking soda, releasing air-bubbles in the dough during cooking.
Air rises through the dough, and that’s how breads get fluffy.

For this recipe, we use more common household ingredients:
vinegar for an acid, and regular milk for a liquid.

Measure ⅔ cup milk
Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Let sit for about 5 minutes

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nice crispy bacon, saved some for you Mr. Frodo…

While your buttermilk substitute sets, prepare the bacon.
You will want it crispy for shredding into bits.

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In a mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt

Season to taste
If you want to spice up your life a bit, add it here.
I skipped the seasoning step, but these biscuits come loaded with:

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If including this step, finely chop onions, garlic and/or bacon into roughly 1 cup yummy bits.

It was easier for me to shred the bacon by hand and let the puppy lick them clean… whatever works for you.

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Cube 4 tablespoons butter

Toss butter cubes and yummy bits with dry ingredients until coated.
Mash with a pastry tool or potato masher until crumbly.

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Add your buttermilk substitute.
Stir well– it will thicken into a ball of dough.

Let sit for a few minutes to rise.
Clean the dishes. Cue hipster food photoshoot–

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Pat or roll your dough out flat,
cut into rectangular sections.

Roll your pigs up in their blankets with closures tucked underneath.
Pop in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes

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Hot diggity-dogs!

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What’s in a Day, Lee?

When you think about it, what is a day really?

One rotation of the Earth on its axis. The rise and subsequent fall of sun and moon. Another page of The Far Side not gotten.

24 hours. 1440 minutes. 86,164.1 seconds. Arbitrary numbers in an obituary for an eternity of yesterdays.

Today is the day, but tomorrow never comes.

Another day, Lee, another Star
Sure, the paper says “Daily”
The next edition is always being written…
but is it ever actually posted?
Or is this just another blog, no subscribers
accidentally posted on this page
after the date stamped on my-site?

Listening to: They Might Be Giants – Dead

Dreams of Daily Star-dom

I had all but forgotten about dreaming.

For those of you looking to your Daily Stars, this past night you may have noticed an empty sky clouded in this reporter’s silence. Snuggled up warm in my bear, I drifted off to the soft sound of puppy snores… and found myself in a familiar, but distant place.

In my youth, I deemed this place Slumberland, but then again, I have always been partial towards naming my original scripts with a catchy portmanteau.

Reflecting now on my college admissions essay to Drexel University’s Film & Video program entitled “Silver-Screen Dreams” I can’t help but notice the correlation between the dreams we dream at night and the dreams we aspire to live by day.

Not so much in the content of the dreams themselves, mind you. Many artists claim that a particular inspiration came to them in a dream– while I imagine that is true, in a way– they tell it much like they were watching it as a film in their sleep, and transcribing it to you by day.

Naturally, an inspiration we are deeply immersed in, will slip its way into our subconscious in our slumber. But not in an instantly recognizable literal sense. And crossing this border the other way around, is something else entirely.

They royal “they” tells you that you do not dream in color.
I know this to be a lie.
I can remember a neon pink octopus. Smooth, shiny, almost cartoonish for there wasn’t much texture to it.
I can remember a wizard, a castle tower, a magic book, a cat that was a shark.
Underwater, but also not. Swimming through water and swimming through air feel very much the same– and I can do both, as naturally as I breath in either.
I can relate mixed memories to you now from this dream, a particularly memorable dream I dreampt many nights ago.
But when I woke from that dream, many afternoons ago, I could remember the rhyme, but none of the reason. Though I did recall it was quite intriguing. A smash hit, a million dollar idea, I had to tell the world. But when facebook asked “What’s on your mind?” and I put fingers to keys… err… pink octopus?
I cannot tell you anything about the dream I dreampt last night. Though I do recall it was very vivid, and I spent much of my morning reflecting on it… err… coffee?
I don’t even drink coffee.
But at a distance, I can describe for you images of that old dream, like it was yesterday. Mayhaps, a tiny bit distorted by this reporter’s recent adventures with Dirk Gently’s Hollistic Detective Agency… but as we speak, I am just now beginning to piece together elements of a plot long forgotten by the journey to the waking world.

When I made the journey back this afternoon, I was left with very little in memory. But as the drive to dream drags me back to slumberland through most mornings, the drive to dream pulls me ever onward now, reflected in my waking world creations.

I suppose I could say the inspiration for this here post came to me in a dream. But that would be so cliché.

Rain, Down the Drain, Jussayin’…

I’m singin’ in the rain, but raindrops keep fallin’ on me head.

Perchance its empathy for an increasingly anxious puppy, perched on his windowsill, unwilling to brave the storm even as the big business builds up from this morning’s bowl.

Could be its the excess macca-smoothie-energy, the art production frenzy, or the spring cleaning much too soon for Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction.

Mayhaps, the soft pattering, the gusting howling of mother nature’s song, as dry banks flood to play along.

However the rhyme, whichever the reason… some drought we’re having!

Its a bittersweet feeling– thankful for the roof over my head, and the panda bear to snuggle warm and fuzzy in my bed… but still, it comes over me, this sense of dread.

There’s a chill to this winter that can’t be all in my head.

When George R.R. Martin says “Winter is Here” I am filled with giddy butterflies awaiting the fate of angst-ridden fan-fic-fans world-wide as they come to realize that their hero is no hero.

But as the solstice ushered in this reporter’s twenty-third year of life in human form, the last leaves of autumn fell… and we seemingly expected it all to end there.

Alas, its over a week into 2017, and the world hasn’t ended yet. Some thank their Nightly Stars, while others…

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Illustration by WildEr

BRAKING NEWS headlines the front page, by-lined to somebody that knows a lot about the subject, your go to source on new developments in speed reduction. You come to a screeching halt.

Another two cents down the drain… but you must know: what about that THING that we have?

As you scrounge in your pocket to pay the dispenser– picking out the lint and the Cheetos dust to tuck safely back in your belly button– a gust of wind blows a wadded up ball of newsprint smack into your face.

~~~uurmph! You fall back, flat on your patootie, pennies flying like hail to a stripper’s donkey. They land with a cling and a splash in the clogged up gutters of your mind.

You can just make out the header: THE DAILY STAR

Intrigued, and moderately dizzied, you delve into the genius wordcraft of reporter Zu-Zu Lee with the scoop of the day.

Your two cents still remain, fighting back the current of social media sewage.

In the distance, clouds part, a beam of light shines through illuminating the comments section below, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow–

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Pizza Waffles

Listening to: Do You Like Waffles? by Parry Gripp

Zu-Zu Lee on location in this domestic American kitchen with a special edition of the Monday Mun-Cheeze!

We are seeing here the elusive Pizza Waffle in its natural environment. Crikey! What a beauty this is mates:

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Smothered in marinara,
oozing with mozzarella,
peppered with -ronis…
these majestic creatures grace our world for but an instant before embarking on their journey to the great stomach pit of mine.

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For a Daily Star exclusive, this reporter got up close and personal with not one, but TWO– that’s right folks, TWIN Pizza Waffles, in their infancy:

A rare breed, the Snausage & Onion Pizza Waffle packs on twice the weight, an extra cheesy exo-waffleton, and a sense of humor.

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Doot do do do– can’t wait to get a mouth full!

How-To, Recipes, and munch munch more
— coming soon to Life Is Yum

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Articulators Anonymous

The great heroes of human history, names and deeds forever glorified for acts of unspeakable goodness. We teach about these people, read about them, view them in high-definition plasma-color… we imagine them as larger than life embodiments of ideals altogether unrecognizable in ourselves.

These epic tales of whimsical champions, viscous villains, and brightly colored spandex jumpsuits… inspire a sense of heroism in us, a desire to help others, a call to arms in the battle for the “greater good”

But many of the worst horrors of human history, they-who-shall-not-be-named and dastardly deeds infamized by acts of unspeakable terror… were also perpetuated by people who truly felt in their hearts that they were helping people, that all their efforts were for the “greater good”

Hitler will forever go down in our texts books as a villain, and there are few who would contest that. But Hitler believed himself to be a hero, and persuaded many others to believe that as well. He had a vision of what he believed to be a better world, and he wanted to make that vision a reality.

His logic, was deeply, deeply flawed.
But he didn’t need logos to rally the following that he did.
He just needed pathos.

Logos without Pathos, doth a jackass make. This reporter will be the first to admit that she is partial toward such jackassery, especially in this dank age of meme.

But Pathos, without Logos, is deadly, and highly infectious.

Finding a balance between the two… without just falling back on Ethos like a Donald Trump “believe me” compilation… is tough, but I do believe we have all made some headway here.

Please discuss.

On that note, I leave you with the musing that I reflect on here tonight, in both the peeve that grinds my righteous gears of indignation, and in self-reflection of such advice I may have yet to take in full heed:

to discuss is to seek understanding, not to be understood.