Explore with me

How To Be An Explorer of the World
It starts here.

I read an article the other day that actually made me want to cry a little bit.

It's an old Washington Post article from 2007 about violinist Joshua Bell, who as an experiment/stunt played for 43 minutes in a rush-hour train station for about 1000 people that passed through that morning. He was playing a $3.5 million dollar violin, and the best seats in his performance tonight will set you back $213.61, but on this day he played for free to anyone who stopped to listen. He played Chaconne by Bach, "considered one of the most difficult violin pieces to master".

The sad part is that about five people in 1000 actually bothered to stop and listen. Roughly five people made time in their schedule to stop and pay attention to the fact that this was a master, playing a Stradivarius for free on the street. And I totally get it. One gent had to be at work in five minutes, so he let himself stay and listened for three. Another was a violinist himself and could tell that there was something special about this particular busker. Another was a woman who worked as a shoe-shiner - he was the only performer she didn't complain about to management.

Actually, sadder still was the fact that every child who passed through wanted to stop and listen. And every parent they were with hustled them on without a glance at the violinist.

Saddest yet is that I know that if I had been there, I probably would have done the same. I like to think that I would have been the guy to at least spare a minute. Or maybe the one parent who didn't drag his kid away from the amazing music that neither of us will hear the like of again. I'm afraid that I would miss it completely and be the guy who "had no memory that there had been a musician anywhere in sight".

I knew after reading this that I wanted to be different. I want to notice things that others miss. My sister has a little side-blog where she captures something every day that she loves. I don't want to copy that, and I want to capture more than just pictures, but it certainly inspiring. Then while I thought about it, my 31st birthday came and went, and my sister aagain with the inspiring got me the book above. It's called How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith. While it wouldn't have been my first choice of book, as it doesn't involve space battle or time travel, it fits the bill perfectly for maybe getting me out of my own little head. What I need is something to force me to see things I take for granted, and perhaps over time, I won't need to be forced to do so.

So while the book is about taking notes and writing things down in the moment, I'm going to experiment and learn and explore and as I go, transcribe the things I do and learn and what-have-you onto the net, to share what I'm learning and doing and make myself do it. I will do it over on Explore with screenbeard on tumblr, and when I'm finished fold it back in here.

My first explore is up there now. Go to it.

Asides   [ + ]

a. again with the inspiring

Comic Book Hero Theme

I've been searching for a new theme, and nothing out there really said "me". My other themes have been fairly modest and simple and this time I wanted something with big bold bright colours and some pop out graphics. Hopefully the comic book inspiration is evident and makes you feel a bit like you're reading something equally as entertaining.

Comic Book Hero Screenshot
Isn't it beautiful?

: I've noticed a lot of searches for "comic book theme wordpress" coming in. I haven't made this theme available for download, as I like that it's unique to The Geekorium, but I'll happily make it available in the theme directory if there's any demand for it. So if you've come here looking for a theme like this, let me know by commenting or +1'ing and I'll look into getting it out there for people to use. You'd have to be patient though, it's not ready to go as it is.

About this theme

This theme is a two column, fluid wordpress theme. It supports threaded comments, the WP-Footnotes Plugin and the Author Exposed Plugin out of the box.
It supports the WordPress image/caption combo, but I prefer using my own style: <figure><img src="//the.geekorium.com.au/wp-content/themes/comic-book-hero/screenshot.png"/> <figcaption>This is a clever caption</figcaption><figure> So it supports this too.

Credits and Thanks

Colour Scheme

The colour scheme is based on one of the "Pop Art" palates from the Adobe Suite.


Firstly I'd like to thank Andy Taylor for his astonishing and excellent CSS Grid. The grid resizes fluidly from a 1140px width down to iPhone size and took almost no effort to implement. Go ahead and try it!


Kilogram is the chunky title graphic you see up there.
Hetilica Bold gave the pop-out graphics a bit of a comic hand-lettered feel.
Quicksand is the stylish little rounded font that peppers the site.
Code Bold by Fontfabric is the font in the post headings and main menu.
Beyond that, I'm using the default typography of the CSS Grid I mentioned earlier! All embedded fonts are free for use and distribution as far as I've been able to determine. If you disagree, please let me know so I can investigate further.


All pop-out graphics used are from a Vectorstock set by Kraska. Thank you Kraska - they're beautiful.


Thank you to Chris Coyier for his "Custom Comments HTML Output" that helped me get the comments looking just the way I wanted them (now hidden by Disqus...)

Everyone else

There are a million tutorials out there that I use every time I make a new theme that I don't even remember the next day. Thank you all.


I've done my best to cover all my bases, but I can't guarantee I've missed something. If you find something wonky, let me know and I'll sort it out.


Fixed some issues in IE 7-8:
  1. Picked some fonts from the basic windows kit to display instead of the custom fonts. IE8 can use @font-face, but needs separate .eot files to make them display, when most come naturally in ttf/otf format. Typical Microsoft. As punishment, you get a smattering of Comic Sans MS instead of Hetilica.
  2. Fixed the display of pictures. Apparently IE needs a width on the figure element or it disappears the whole thing. I've given images a default width of 100% to fix this.
Removed a closing tag that shouldn't have been there.

Fair-well Old Chums

As much as I miss the genius of Jim Henson, I realised the other day that I will miss something else just as much as Jim's Muppet characters. I will miss the insane and brilliant pieces of comedy gold he used to create with Frank Oz.

Frank Oz is nowadays probably best known for being the voice of Yoda, but he's also a respected and talented film director. He's still entertaining, long after Jim Henson's death and I hope he continues to do so for a long time to come.

But what the world has lost since Jim's death is not only a talented puppeteer and performer, but some classic comedic pairings of his characters with those of Frank Oz. I cry a little inside when I realise that there will be nothing new created by these two fabulous men working together.

Let me give you some examples. First up the most obvious pair:

This is the only video in this collection that I'll forgive you for not watching in full. It's a scene from my least favourite of the Muppet movies (Muppets take Manhattan aIronically for this piece, directed by Frank Oz ) showing the "wedding" between Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog, probably the most memorable Muppet pairing of all time (even if it's not one of my favourites). Though an unlikely pair, Jim and Frank made the pig's flamboyant declarations of love and the frog's seeming indifference oddly engaging and has created a love affair that is still going strong.


Asides   [ + ]

a. Ironically for this piece, directed by Frank Oz

To Zombie_Plan

To James,

I've not actually met you in "real life" yet, and much of what I know of you I have only learned through your blorgs, twoots and videos of you getting slapped... which seems to be more often than regular folk.

Regardless: Happy Birthday.

I'm glad you're having a good year. I hope you don't grow up as soon as you think you should. We should meet sometime soon.

The Massive (but not Exhaustive) List of Wave Resources

When I started First Waves I wanted to keep my readers up to date with Google Wave news and keep on top of changes and updates as they happen. However, looking around the net I soon found many sites that already do a great job of keeping up with Wave news, and I hate the idea of rehashing the same stuff my readers could get at any number of excellent sites. So instead I have started to concentrate on larger news and "future direction" stuff here at First Waves, and I hope my readers are OK with the focus.

But I realise that many people do want up-to-the minute Wave information, so I'm going to lay out the sites and people I follow, and if you're a hardcore Wave nut, you might like to follow them too. These people all have my utmost respect and admiration for their writing and dedication to Wave. I've included these sites in a Google Reader bundle called Best Google Wave Sites. If you trust my judgement, you can use the bundle to subscribe to all twenty-two feeds in just a couple of clicks! If you'd like to know more about the sites though, read on!


I footnotes