Talk Description to Me

Episode 30 - Year in Review Zoom Event Part 1

January 02, 2021 Christine Malec and JJ Hunt Season 1 Episode 30
Talk Description to Me
Episode 30 - Year in Review Zoom Event Part 1
Chapters
1:24
Charlie Brown Christmas tree
4:11
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
7:02
New Years Eve ball drop
10:04
Kentucky Derby
13:26
N95 masks
17:09
The natural world
Talk Description to Me
Episode 30 - Year in Review Zoom Event Part 1
Jan 02, 2021 Season 1 Episode 30
Christine Malec and JJ Hunt

On December 17th 2020, Talk Description to Me hosted a live Zoom event in which listeners were invited to help Christine steer the conversation, and ask JJ their most pressing description questions. In this, the first of two episodes featuring conversations from that event, curious listeners inquire about the famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree, holiday celebrations in New York City, N95 masks, the Kentucky Derby, and wonders of the natural world. 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TalkDescriptionToMe)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

On December 17th 2020, Talk Description to Me hosted a live Zoom event in which listeners were invited to help Christine steer the conversation, and ask JJ their most pressing description questions. In this, the first of two episodes featuring conversations from that event, curious listeners inquire about the famous Charlie Brown Christmas tree, holiday celebrations in New York City, N95 masks, the Kentucky Derby, and wonders of the natural world. 

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/TalkDescriptionToMe)

JJ Hunt:

Talk description to me with Christine Malec and JJ Hunt.

Christine Malec:

Hi, I'm Christine Malec.

JJ Hunt:

And I'm JJ Hunt. This is talk description to Me where the visuals of current events and the world around us get hashtag in description rich conversations.

Christine Malec:

On December 17, we hosted our live zoom event a year in review, in which listeners were invited to ask questions about the events of 2020 and the world around us. The conversations were wide ranging and fun. This is the first of two episodes featuring some excerpts from the event. I think we are going to start with Kim in Ottawa. She had you had a few questions Kim, do you actually, Kim I know you're right there. If you want to ask your questions yourself. I know that you're here for sure. So if you want to engage, feel free to ask away or I can read for you.

Kim:

Oh, I had a bunch of questions, holiday questions. I have tons of other questions that aren't holiday questions. But some of the ones are. It started about a month ago when I heard about the big tree in New York. I can't remember the name where it is. But they got a little out of it or something. And then they were talking about all the tree looks kind of Charlie Brown-ish. So I, I had two questions. One was about sort of the famous trees that are decorated, and what they look like and where they are and what makes them so great. You know these famous trees? And also what in the heck does the Charlie Brown tree look like? I have watched that special, and I've been blind since birth. So they will say, "Oh, that's a terrible tree". So I really would like to know, those two things. And when I thought about the trees, I also made me think about what is this ball that drops in Time Square? So those are my kind of burning holiday questions that I had.

JJ Hunt:

That's a great place to start Kim. Thank you. So let's start with the Charlie Brown Christmas tree and then we can talk about this year's Charlie Brown Christmas tree in New York City. And then we can talk a bit about the the ball drop as well. So that Charlie Brown Christmas tree is, I mean it's become an expression in and of itself, right? "It's a Charlie Brown Christmas tree." The original Charlie Brown tree is very small. It's not even as as tall as one of the kids in in the Peanuts gang. It's very small, single, spindly trunk, and it's kind of bent and wavy, and it's got just a few very small branches coming off the sides. And there are just small tufts of needles at the ends of each branch. One tuft of needles at the end of each branch. And it has one red ball that hangs on it near the top. The ball is is heavy enough (and the tree is weak enough) that when that one ball hangs on it, the whole tree bends right over and kind of doubles over and just about hits the ground. It's very, very small. At the base of it there're two boards crossed boards at the base. That's the stand that it's on. And of course Linus takes off his baby blue blanket, and he wraps the baby blue blanket around the base of the tree. In fact this is such a famous tree that you can actually buy a kit, you can buy a Charlie Brown Christmas tree kit. You get a fake tree with the one red ball and it comes with the cross pieces of wood for the base and the baby blue blanket as well. And this year's New York City Rockefeller Center Christmas tree - I mean a lot of people said this was the perfect symbol of 2020. It is a 75 foot tall, 45 foot wide, 11 ton Norway spruce, and it's supposed to be a beautiful tree. It's huge. It's so big that a construction crane actually lifts it from the top and workers in hard hats and neon traffic vests, and of course COVID masks, they have to hold on to guide ropes as they move this tree into position. The thing is when this thing went up and the branches started to fall down it became abundantly clear that it is ugly. The trunk is curved and bent, and the branches that fell as it was settling revealed massive gaps in one side of the tree. And I mean normally with a tree like that, you can just you can turn it so that the the ugly side, the gappy side, is at the back. But there is no back of this Rockefeller Center tree. But I have to say once it got decorated, all of the branches had fallen, and it was wrapped in red and gold lights, and the big white star put on top, it looks much improved. It is a much more attractive tree. And the the star that's on top is actually a geodesic sphere. So imagine like a white soccer ball. It's got 70 blade-like shafts bursting from the center in all directions. And the entire thing is encrusted with crystals, something like 3 million crystals, and it weighs like 900 pounds. It's really really big. And it glows with such intense illumination, that, that you can actually see the glow in the daylight. When you can go online and go to the Rockefeller Center website, Rockefeller center.com or something, there's a live webcam that's on this tree. It's kind of from above, the angle is from above, so you can see down and you can see the whole tree. You can see the base of the art deco Rockefeller building behind it. And you can see there's a waterfall fountain, a golden statue at the base of the tree that leads down to the ice rink, which apparently is open. Not a lot of people at it but but it is open. So those are the actual Charlie Brown Christmas tree and this year's New York City, Charlie Brown Christmas tree. And then there's the ball drop. So this is in Time Square. So this tradition in Time Square, the ball drop started in 1907. And at that time, the ball was lowered down the flagpole that's atop one Time Square. And this building was, at the time, the tallest building in the area. So having this ball up on top this glowing, lit ball, it kind of turned the building almost into a lighthouse in New York. But now the ball has grown, it's bigger, it's more tech heavy. And it is just more physically heavy. It's a big, big ball. It's again a geodesic sphere, it's 12 feet in diameter and weighs about 1200 pounds. And it's covered in these Waterford Crystal triangles. And under those triangles are LED modules; 672 of them. And these LED modules each contain red, blue, green and white LED lights. And when used together, you can manipulate them in such a way that you can turn on certain colors and turn off certain colors, so that you can create what the website claims to be 16 million distinct colors in billions of patterns. And the patterns can move and shift around the ball. Sometimes they put a static image on it. Sometimes the colors blend in a fluid way and they move all the way around in every direction. Sometimes it's very abstract patterns. Sometimes there are patterns that highlight these triangular modules and crystals. But sometimes it's it's really representational. I've seen images, video images of, a waving American flag all the way around this ball. Or sometimes they turn it into an image that looks like the surface of the moon. I've seen them turn it into a disco ball. I've seen them turn it into a pulsing, what looks like a 1970s illuminated dance floor, that kind of pulses as it drops. They can do all kinds of effects with it. It's come a long way since the days when it was just light bulbs, bright white light bulbs. So that's the New Year's Eve ball drop. That's what that looks like.

Christine Malec:

But how do they actually - they don't just like let it go and it goes Thunk! and hits the ground? Is it on wires and goes down slowly or something floats down?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, it goes slowly. So the original one was a top the flagpole and it was slowly lowered down the flagpole. And they've kind of kept that tradition. So the ball will slowly come down on a pole or post. I mean, it's now it's so heavy that it's got to come down on a very sturdy post. But yeah, it's not it's not dropped, it's lowered slowly.

Christine Malec:

Wouldn't it be awesome if someone hacked into it and put unconventional things on that ball? I had no idea that there were images on that. That's that's so fascinating.

Bill:

I would love to watch the Kentucky Derby sometime, and have the race track the grounds the stands described

Carl:

Just describing my hats on that day that the ladies wear. That race is very famous for hats

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, half of the images that have come up are of people wearing these fantastic hats, huge brims with feathers and bows on top. And images of the horses coming around, It's a dirt track it looks like, and as they come around the track close up images from Sports photographers of the dirt getting kicked up as the horses kind of collide and jostle with one another.

Bill:

They collide?

JJ Hunt:

They do, they bump right into each other. Jockeys try and nose each other out of the way. And the jockeys wearing these bright colors, like hot pinks and oranges and reds with matching helmets and matching numbers on the backs of their horses so that they're all clearly easily identifiable from the stands. And it looks like the stands at the derby that the Kentucky Derby are 1-2-3-4-5, six tiers of stands. Just packed. So lots of interesting visuals, which would make a great episode, we can definitely add that to the full episode list for sure.

Brian:

This is Brian, with the Picture This podcast team. One of the things that you've done to me is now, out of the 28 podcasts I listen to during the course of a week, the first one I look for is to see if you guys put it out something. Because it may make it so that other things make more sense to me that I'm going to be hearing during the course of listening to all those other podcasts. And now you've got me connected to my nieces and nephews because of your episode on Minecraft.

Christine Malec:

Ah, you see!

JJ Hunt:

That's wonderful, Brian.

Christine Malec:

That is great!

Brian:

You see I'm not a gamer by nature. But my wife is a librarian. So the library connection to Minecraft, I had no clue -

Christine Malec:

That is wonderful.

Brian:

So I spoke with my niece this evening, and she's going to give us a guided tour all through the library.

Christine Malec:

Did she know about it believe

Brian:

She actually knew OF it, but had never gone there. While we had the conversation, she brought it up and says, "Oh my god, I can't believe I missed this".

Christine Malec:

Gasp!

Brian:

Now she's just excited to share it with us. I find when I travel, God, the good old days...

Christine Malec:

Oh I know, ouch.

Brian:

When I traveled over the years, I always to the souvenir shop and buy a small replica of whatever major thing is there like the statue of David, the Tower of London or whatever it might be, right? In order to get a feel for it. But I lack the language to describe architecture. What do the different columns look like when they say it's a...

Christine Malec:

Ionic or doric...

Brian:

Those kind of things, exactly.

Bill:

What do all those mean.

Christine Malec:

Yeah, that would make a great episode.

Brian:

Because we can then apply it to so many buildings out there.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, that's a great idea, a great idea.

Christine Malec:

One of the neat things when people send in description requests, and so we get them by email or on Twitter all the time - which we love, by the way! So even apart from this special episode, we love it when people let us know what they want to hear about. So keep those cards and letters coming! But of one of the parts I love about that is that sometimes someone asks a question, and I think, yeah, what does that look like? And I never really thought about it. And so we had an incognito request from someone who said, I know of course what a cloth mask looks like, but what does an N 95 mask look like? And I read that I went Gee, I don't know that either. So maybe JJ, you could fill us in on that.

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, so the there are lots of variations, but the most common N 95 mask is like a cup. It's almost shaped like a small bowl. It's got a small bump out for the bridge of the nose. So you can imagine that being cupped from chin up to the nose, largely round, but there's a little bump out for the bridge of the nose. It's a little bit stiffer than the standard surgical mask, so they hold their shape. Often white or this like surgical... there's a there's a surgical gown color of teal blue that a lot of the doctors and nurses wear. This color of teal blue, you can also find the masks in that color. They tend to have two sets of yellow elastics, one set that goes around the back of the head above the ears, and one elastic that goes around the head, below the ears. And then there's that thin metal bar, you'll find this on standard surgical masks as well that are just on the bridge of the nose. So you can pinch it snug. And the N 95 masks will often have printed text on the front that's got all the manufacturer's information and the warnings and whatnot. And some have this raised plastic valve that's either at the directly at the front or just on the side, it's often a small disc. But sometimes it looks more like a... little tiny air freshener, frankly. And these valves, they're supposed to be breathing valves. The little plastic discs, the little round plastic disc kind of remind me of... have you ever had a pizza delivery come with, I think they call it a pizza saver, right in the center of the pizza? So the box doesn't collapse and squish the toppings of the pizza? It looks a little bit like that, just a little round plastic disc with a couple of stems so that it sticks out and away from the cloth. And that's what these valves look like. And there's some controversy about these. Because there's some question as to whether or not the mask filters the air that's coming in, but not the breath that's coming out. Of course, I can't speak to that. But that's really that's the N five, pardon me the N 95 masks, that's more or less what the most common ones look like.

Maria:

JJ?

JJ Hunt:

Yes?

Maria:

Is if someone is working in a home doing construction, that's what they use, is it not?

JJ Hunt:

Yeah, this is very similar. There are dust masks that are essentially the same, but they don't have the N 95 certification. So the basic structure is exactly the same, but they may or may not be the same level of filtering. But the look is identical.

Maria:

Okay, good to know.

JJ Hunt:

Is this Ann? We've got Ann here?

Ann:

It's Ann now.

JJ Hunt:

Wonderful.

Ann:

So one of the things I would love to have descriptions of are some things in nature some wonderful spectacular nature things. So, an iceberg. A second thing I would love to heard; you know when you hear stories about tsunamis? What in blazes does a tsunami look like? And the third thing I would love to know, and I'm sure you have pictures of this, again, is volcanoes going off.

JJ Hunt:

Oh yeah.

Ann:

Again, a spectacular natural event. Quite horrifying, but quite amazing. And then finally, something very, very different. But I just can't picture this place, what the blazes does an oil rig look like in the ocean.

Christine Malec:

Ooooh! Wow.

JJ Hunt:

Very interesting. Ok, so lots of good stuff. I'm going to do little snapshots of each one of those things, really quickly. So as you were talking, I was googling and doing image searches on all these things. And yeah, icebergs, they can have that blue quality to them. Some icebergs look like mountains, and some look like shelves. There are different shapes, they're entirely different shapes. What I find most amazing, is I've seen videos of icebergs flipping.

Ann:

Oh, ya!

JJ Hunt:

It's just so remarkable. So when when the weight gets imbalanced, when when there's a certain kind of melt on one side, an iceberg can flip. And so you get the small top that dips down and the bottom, as you say, the 90%, it comes up and rises. And the wake that happens because of this, it's so huge! The displacement is incredible. And then it shifts and bobs and moves around until it resettles in its new configuration, really fascinating. With tsunamis, I actually happen to see a video, a social media video just the other day. And this wasn't a major wave like you would expect, like a surfing wave. This wasn't a big huge cresting wave that came crashing down onto a beach. This was a wave situation where that it almost just looked like the the coastline, the edge of the water, just kept moving and wouldn't stop. And so it it just it came up and further up the beach and further up the beach and further up the beach until it had completely covered all of the sand and then started moving toward the hotels and moving toward the cars in the parking lot. It just kept coming. It was relentless. But there was never that crashing moment, there was never that breaking surf that you think of when you think of like the movie version of a tsunami. I'm sure that happens, but in this particular video, it didn't, which was really interesting. Before I forget you mentioned volcanoes. As it happens, my dad's birthday was May 18, which was the day that Mount St. Helens erupted.

Ann:

Oh, wow.

JJ Hunt:

As a little kid, I loved this fact.

Ann:

Oh yes!

JJ Hunt:

I somehow felt connected to this idea that Mount St. Helens erupted on my dad's birthday. And he one time found me this little toy that had a single roll of film in it. And it was battery operated. And you pressed the button and looked through the eyepiece, the viewfinder (it was very small), and you pressed the button and a tiny flashlight would shine at the film, and the film would just roll in a loop. And it rolled through a very choppy film recording of Mount St. Helens erupting.

Ann:

Oh, wow,

JJ Hunt:

I loved this toy!

Ann:

I bet you did!

JJ Hunt:

I watched it over and over. And you could see the cloud the dusk cloud coming up, you could see it spilling over. It almost looked like it was boiling over.

Ann:

Like a cauldron.

JJ Hunt:

Exactly like a cauldron! That's exaclty right. It was the moment when it burst up. But that bursting moment wasn't represented well in this little tiny film. But the cauldron element of it, the boiling over was. It was black and white, so it really did look smoky and ashy. Oh my goodness, I loved that thing. Loved it.

Ann:

One thing I have to say about audio description is that it changes your expectations to a place where you expect much better and much more, unfortunately, from ordinary people who can't tell you very much. And you find yourself incredibly frustrated. And then you have to give yourself a talking down to to say, "Now look, you can't expect this from this person, because they're not audio describers".

Christine Malec:

I've been thinking about this in the context of who listens to our podcast. And I feel like a potential audience that isn't really listening yet could be family members, or friends of people who are blind or low vision. Or parents of blind children, in order to learn description skills. And there's a few other interesting groups who listen, who aren't blind and low vision. But I think that's a it's not a bad thing to do to introduce your friends or family or people who are who take an interest in the blind community or who are TVI, who are teachers of the blind or visually impaired. There's audio description now for them to learn from. And I think that's a really useful thing for people to be doing.

Listener:

You know, my husband, he's fully sighted, and he likes the audio description a lot. He's disappointed when we watch a movie and it doesn't have it. Because it really helps him keep track of what's going on and who's who. And it's really great because I don't have to worry that he's bugged by it or anything because he finds it helpful.

Brian:

My sighted sister and I had so much fun after you did the episode about hand gestures.

Christine Malec:

Ah, ha ha!

Brian:

Were standing in the living room and she's trying to correct my mistaken understanding of how to do a jazz hand shake.

JJ Hunt:

Heh heh heh!

Christine Malec:

I still will not atempt that!

Kim:

I can't get that, and I was the one who asked about it! I cannot I can't get it.

Brian:

There are many different ways to...

Christine Malec:

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Charlie Brown Christmas tree
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree
New Years Eve ball drop
Kentucky Derby
N95 masks
The natural world