The Skid Vid Has Landed

Two and a half years, from skid to publication. That's a record for the Teach Me project! Other records: first RAM upgrade for MacBook Pro, first multiple camera shoot, first appearance on camera (other than my hands), first titled thumbnail, first collaboration with the police, most audio effects, most video color corrections, and most revisions (previewed and critiqued by a half dozen colleagues). Here's hoping that folks looking to learn about kinetic friction find this video!


One million views! (ca. October 2015)

The past year has been a beautiful blur, thanks to last summer's arrival of twin boys. My YouTube project is continuing albeit at a much slower pace now. (Side note: The hardest aspect of working slowly is not yielding to the temptation of critiquing and revising your work until you're done with it. My music composition professor in college recommended liberally pouring out creative ideas and then putting your crap detector to work when you're all done; his composition teacher, Aaron Copland, taught him that.) Right now I am wrapping up post production for a video about kinetic friction that I shot two summers ago! While production for the Teach Me channel has decelerated, the view counts have accelerated. Some of my videos are really resonating with folks and have recently propelled my channel past its first million views. This is one of the biggest milestones in my career and every time I think about helping one million people I just shake my head in disbelief. Then I see a cat video that has one hundred million views and I stop being so serious about things.

How I Learned to Stopped Worrying and Love the Polar Vortex

I had just built a DIY microscope kit for my iPhone when my father-in-law posted a video of people blowing freezing bubbles on Facebook. Having spent the last couple days getting macro shots of everything in my house, I wondered what the freezing bubble film would look like under a microscope. After a bit of Googling I realized that close-up video of bubble crystals were hard to come by. And so I spent the next five weeks discovering just why that was.

It wasn't until my fourth attempt that I realized what I was doing, both figuratively and literally: I was doing crystallography. I was becoming an amateur crystallographer. My breast swelled with romanticism at the thought of several of histories esteemed experimentalists. Becquerel... Franklin... Mason! (That became something of a battle cry for periodic bouts of winter war weariness.)

I went through six iPhone boxes, five laser and three flashlights constructing a decent crystallography stand - not to mention 60 gigabytes of iPhone "film". But all that was a cakewalk compared to attempting to fit the crystallography sessions between my kids' bedtime and my morning commute - I'm much too busy for my own good and only late night sessions were possible for me. In spite of these difficulties, I'd probably still be out in the garage playing mad scientist right now if the weather hadn't came to its bloody senses and delivered some warm weather. I was in my element out there... in... the elements. 

There is still a wealth of video to be extracted from those ice crystals - I only scratched the surface. Perhaps next winter I'll have a cadre of fellow amateur crystallographers to help me with the task. (A how-to instructional video is the next order of Teach Me business.)

Solargraph 2013

I've assisted both physics and photography students at OCC with pinhole cameras before so when I stumbled across solargraph camera plans on the internet, I knew I had to give it a shot. (Pun intended.) The assembly couldn't be easier: photograph paper stuffed inside a can with a pinhole for sunlight. On the summer solstice I mounted my solargraph camera onto the chimney of my house facing South. On the winter solstice I removed/disassembled the camera, scanned the exposed photograph paper and inverted the scanned image - no development required. The results are impressive: a direct record of the sun's ever-descending path between summer and winter solstices... with overcast days and moments embedded right into the blazed trails of the sun. The structure depicted in the middle of the solargraph is my garage.

Solargraphy 2013.JPG

Flagship Video Sets Sail on Maiden Voyage

After a month of shooting, learning to draw, reshooting, discovering the limitations of Apple's iMovie video editting program, reshooting again, and reconfiguring my office for better spinal health and voice-overs - standing desk ftw! - I finally posted my flagship Teach Me video on YouTube: How To Solve Any Physics Problem. All things considered, I'm pretty sure that this will become my most popular video. (It had better, given the time I put into it!) The video was posted on the one year anniversary of my first Teach Me video. Celebration is in order for, though I missed my one million view goal by an order of magnitude, I've finally produced a video whose delivery (production value, that is) is commensurate with its content. Slaint√©!

Hello World.

Despite continued construction, the website is officially up and running. I've been kicking the idea of a personal website around for a few years now. I heard several advertisements for Squarespace on the MacBreak Weekly podcast (yes, I'm an Apple guy) and found their website templates almost as attractive as their pricing. So here it is: my new online home!

 The first official Mason Family Sledding Trip. (hand warmers + socks = great baby mittens)

The first official Mason Family Sledding Trip. (hand warmers + socks = great baby mittens)