lou lesko    journal

July 25, 2017

Ozark is one of those Netflix shows like Stanger Things, in that it popped up out of nowhere and knocked it out of the park. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are just incredible in this ten part series. It’s got enough dramatic heft to keep you happy until next week’s Game of Thrones.

July 24, 2017

Everything is consistency and time.

This is a phrase that I’ve been giving a lot of thought to lately. Most of what we see in the media as a sensational success is presented as meteoric in its rise. But the truth is that most things were plotted, planned, and nurtured until they had a growth spurt worthy of attention. Still we have a shit-ton of articles, books, and videos that promise results in fractions of time. If there’s anything that I can leave you with today is that any pursuit, passion or project, that you want to fly will at some time during development, require the plodding monotony of consistency.

July 23, 2017

When I was in college, my roommate and I had a tradition of cleaning the house top to bottom the day before a week of mideterms or finals. Given the intensity of the week I have coming up, you’ll not be surprised that my entire office is spotless and incredibly organized. Onward.

July 22, 2017

I succumbed to the urge to publish a nothing post on Thursday. I apologize. It had been days since I posted anything so I filled the space with an old picture and some half assed comment about midsummer. As in, “happy midsummer everybody.” I’ve never cared about midsummer in my life.

My personal disappointment got me thinking about why this journal exists, and what my motivation is for writing it:

  • I love writing.
  • I love and will always defend the open web, as in, my writing is on my site that can be seen by anyone, the posts are in reverse order of their publication and not subject to some bullshit algorithm.
  • I’m writing to keep a record. The picture of me at a swimming pond in Connecticut has snapped me out of a funk more than once. The memory of that day is pure joy.

So then, after some deliberation, I’ve decided to set criteria for future posts:

  • It can not be social media vomit (SMV); posting for the sake of posting with some fake tone of pseudo cleverness.
  • What I write here has to have some semblance of entertainment value. I mean, I got a manicure the other day, do you give a shit about that? I didn’t think so.
  • The writing has to be done well. I’m not great at copyediting, but I do reread my stuff several times to make sure that you, dear reader, are not wading through a mire of poor spelling and bad grammar.

Individual blogs, or journals, as I’ve chosen to call this space, should be considered a form of art, with one’s best efforts published and one’s half assed compulsions buried. To that end, my crap post from the 20th has been deleted. Have a good weekend.

July 17, 2017

Am fascinated by a post on the Google Research Blog about using Machine Learning (ML) to create “professional level photographs.”

From the post:

To explore how ML can learn subjective concepts, we introduce an experimental deep-learning system for artistic content creation. It mimics the workflow of a professional photographer, roaming landscape panoramas from Google Street View and searching for the best composition, then carrying out various post processing operations to create an aesthetically pleasing image.

Their focus seems to be on exposure, color, and saturation. They mention composition but only as a search criteria. As in the machine learning algorithm tries to locate the best composed images in Google’s Street View library.

The images themselves are all near misses, which is impressive as hell since this seems to be the research group’s initial foray into this type of photo production. But when you look at the samples library it is readily apparent that the photographs are soulless. Which gives me solace that you still need a human to look through the viewfinder to capture anything worth talking about. Where I am stunned is that Google’s ML could easily create a library of perfectly acceptable mediocre landscapes that would rival the ones found on many stock photography sites.

July 16, 2017

Emily and I at Drake’s Estero in Point Reyes. If you have the opportunity, I can’t recommend this area of Northern California enough. So much beauty, so much history.

July 13, 2017

Leon Sandoval over at Essential Edit had me as a guest on his podcast today. You’d be hard-pressed to find a nicer more engaging person. I’ll let you know as soon as I get a release date.

It was interesting to be asked where people could find me on the social networks, I really didn’t have an answer. This is the only place I update regularly.

July 12, 2017

Lake Shasta dam, close to the edge.

The image doesn’t remotely capture the grandeur that you feel when you walk across this marvel of human engineering.

July 10, 2017

Emily took me swimming to an old fashion pond in Connecticut. I felt like totally East Coast. And then the Good Humor ice cream truck came buy, and I was fourteen again. Am munching on my favorite flavor, the chocolate chip sandwich cookie.

I’ll be back at work tomorrow. Well at least at much work as I can do from 30,000 feet as I make my way back to California.

There’s a surprise coming soon from my camp. Will possibly announce in August, stay tuned to this space.

July 09, 2017

Airport fashion has taken a nose dive. Am sitting in Delta’s SkyLounge and I feel like I’m watching a parade of the downtrodden. Middleaged gentlemen with fancy watches and nice luggage who look like they’ve raided the “For Incineration” labled bin at the Goodwill.

Air travel used to be an activity that inspired wearing your Sunday best. This gave way to a more casual look, no doubt started by us here in California. But now, ugly, droopy sweatpants, funk festooned flip flops, and t-shirts that look like they once lined a parakeet’s cage after the bird enjoyed a spicy dinner, are everywhere.

July 07, 2017

These last five days I looked at the scene above while drinking my morning coffee. Now that I’m back home, my transition back to reality is proving to be tougher than anticipated. Have decided to ignore reality for a few more days, and dream of where I just was.

July 02, 2017

Daybreak, highway 505.

Left at 4 a.m. to drive to Lake Shasta. I made it record time without speeding, that much.

Am thinking all future road trips are going to start in the wee hours. It’s hard to get out of bed, but rolling on empty freeways is well worth giving up the shuteye.

Awaiting arrival of the speedboat which will whisk me out to a remote part of the lake where the houseboat of booze and debauchery is anchored.

July 01, 2017

This morning my business partner Chantal gave birth to a baby boy. Her and her husband say they haven’t chosen a name yet. I think they’re keeping it under wraps until the paparazzi clear from the hospital hallway.

The little dude already has California surfer in his eyes.

June 30, 2017

I love whiskey. All types; bourbons, ryes, and scotches. Last night, Paris, one of the all time best bartenders in the world, introduced me to Rowan’s Creek, a bourbon I had never heard of before. It’s overproof, so it needed a splash of water, but it was remarkable.

Rowan’s Creek comes from the Willet distillery in Kentucky. They’re still family owned.

And then…

Tiki drinks are incredible and to be respected.

Paris’ sage declaration above led to her espousal of two bars in San Francisco that I “Simply must make your way to…” Smuggler’s Cove and White Chapel, a tiki and a gin bar. I’m usually not one for Disneyland-esque drinking, but these look well worth the trek across the Golden gate Bridge.

Speaking of Disneyland, went there for my college graduation to the hidden Club 33. I wonder of that still exists? At the time it was the only place in Disneyland to get a drink.

Favorite bourbons. Famed artist Monica Zeringue introduced me to Buffalo Trace bourbon when we were drinking together at the Herbsaint in New Orleans in 2003. It’s been my favorite ever since.

That said, if you ever find yourself at Harris’ in San Francisco, try the Eagle Rare Manhattan.

June 27, 2017

That article about connections and networking that I wrote the other day is online at Heather Elder’s most excellent blog, Notes From a Rep’s Journal.

After you’ve attended a fabulous event and personally connected with a bunch of people, it’s time to follow up with an email. Do this the next day. No matter how busy you are, even if you have to stay up past your bedtime, follow up the next day. The two most common types of follow-up are; “Great to meet you, you know you love me and everything that I do,” and, “Great to meet you, if you could connect me to that person you know that can do great things for me, that would be awesome.”

Read the rest on Heather’s blog. Also check out the fabulous photos from Mark Laita that were used to illustrate the piece.

June 26, 2017

Lake Shasta at dusk, July of 2016.

In six short days, this will be my view for a much anticipated vacation. There are no words that I can use to describe this trip which in its thirty-third year. Yes, you read that right. It’s like an annual reunion on the water, with epic food, spectacular drinks, and thirty or so fabulous friends.

June 25, 2017

I’ll never forgive Apple. They developed what is arguably one the best small digital cameras in history and stuck it in the iPhone 7 only neuter the killer feature to operate it.

When I discovered that the (+) plus button triggered the camera shutter on my iPhone 4, it made a radical difference in my picture taking. The tactile feedback of the physical button against flat side of the phone’s body made for a positive hold and unconscious actuation of the camera. In essence, I never thought about the camera, only the photo.

The iPhone 6 and 7, on the other hand, has the volume button that fires the shutter directly opposite the power button on the other side of the phone. So when you squeeze it to trigger the camera, more often then not you activate the power button which kills your screen and the shot at the same time.

True, if you’re careful about where you put your fingers, you can depress the volume button without touching the power button. But there’s no way to learn that finger placement so that it becomes instinctual, it requires a glance every time, which hinders the ability to react to a picture.

So, Dear Apple, please give me a pysical shutter button I can use.

June 24, 2017

A picture of the shadow of me shooting a picture under a freeway. I feel like I’m a Banksy painting.

June 23, 2017

Gabrielle Pflugradt writes about her experience at Puff, Pass & Paint in Oakland.

In this creative whirlpool, the stoned freedom was brilliant, like running through a meadow naked without a worry of ticks or poison ivy.

Read Smoking Weed & Painting In Oakland, you’ll be glad you did.

June 22, 2017

Depending on your and age and how busy your life is, watching a movie is a significant time commitment. If at the end of a film we feel our time was wasted, it’s a little unsettling. Yet, even if a movie is kind of terrible, it’s unlikely we’ll stop watching if we’ve made it half way through. It’s because we as humans like to get to the end of the story, even if the story is bad. It has a little to do with how much time we’ve invested versus how much time is left until the final credits, and a lot to do with who we are as a species.

Think about one of the original series on Netflix or HBO. We can get a good feel whether or not we’ll like the show by watching the pilot. It’s about a fifty minute investment against eight to ten more hours until the end of the season. That’s a ratio that makes it easy to move on to something else. But, if we push through a few more hours, we’re more likely to complete the season even if it’s a train wreck.

I’m sure there’s a ton of writing about the psychological need for humans to have closure. It’s evident in our lives everywhere we look. A break up with someone we loved, or even just had great sex with, needs a bookend. Someone we know passes away, and we need the details why. These things are the closing paragraphs of the chapters of our lives. Without them we feel restless.

So the next time you watch a bad film through to the end, don’t beat yourself up for having wasted the time. In a way, you didn’t have choice. That was made for you at the core of your DNA.

June 21, 2017

Dave Winer continues to cleverly call out the problems with Facebook as a publishing platform:

Facebook and its algorithm are like a self-driving car that decides where you can go.

I had also considered Medium as a place to write. I even set up an account and published two long posts. But was gnawed by the feeling that I was writing for someone else’s site in exchange for having space on their server. Not a bad deal, per se, Medium is beautifully done. But it was hard to reconcile because my entire creative life, since nineteen years old, has been managed by an agent. It has been drummed into my head for decades that everything I create, good or bad, and believe me there’s a lot of bad, has some sort of intrinsic value. So I see everything creative as a value exchange. Millennials look at me like I’m high when I talk about this stuff.

Of course the anxiety of posting on my own site in an age of social media is that no one will find my work. But given the amount of time that one has to put into one’s Facebook account to have the algorithm circulate it, you’re not only writing for a paltry sum, you’re also indenturing yourself as an unpaid employee just to get your writing seen. I’ll take my chances here.