Time to Start A New Adventure! See You Tomorrow!


Well sports fans, Laura and I are driving away from Peoria to start our new adventure today!  We’ll be in the car for at least 12 hours before we stop, so wish us luck, and JimOnLight will be back with more awesome light in a day or so!


TSA Detained Chewbacca Because They Thought His Light Saber Cane was Dangerous


As Peter Mayhew put it, the guy who made Chewbacca all that he is in its hairy presence, “Giant man need giant cane.. small cane snap like toothpick…. besides.. my light saber cane is just cool.. I would miss it.

Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew was detained at Denver International Airport on June 3 because TSA thought his light saber cane was dangerous.  So, his oversized acrylic light saber cane was dangerous.  You guys at the TSA do know that light sabers don’t quite exist yet, right?  You have several of my 8″ crescent wrenches, and definitely a handful of Gerber tools you’ve taken from me over the years.  I still will never understand why you tell me I can have a 7″ crescent wrench but not an 8″ crescent wrench every single time you take one from me.  If I had a 7″ crescent would you tell me I could only have a 6″ crescent?

From an article at CNET:

Mayhew’s explanation for this cane possession was very simple: “Giant man need giant cane.. small cane snap like toothpick…. besides.. my light saber cane is just cool.. I would miss it.”

Who could possibly argue with that? Well, the TSA folks wanted to.

However, quite extraordinarily, American Airlines intervened. Mayhew is an extremely frequent flyer and it seems that someone from the airline may have whispered to the TSA: “Do you really think a famous actor is going to hijack a plane with a lightsaber cane?”

Or words with that same ultimate meaning.

This was not before some of Mayhew’s Twitter followers made merry with this terrestrial nonsense.

One, Shane Moore, offered: “@TheWookieeRoars Chewie hijacks plane with light saber… takes passengers to Kashyyyk. Story tonight at 10!”

Mr. Mayhew, who goes by TheWookieeRoars on Twitter, took to Twitter to let the world know what was up.  Chewbacca was just flying home from the Denver Comi-con, and TSA decided to snag his cane because it “looked dangerous.”  After a little bit, some magic happened — TSA released a statement because Mayhew sent out a tweet to 20,000+ followers.  As you’ll notice in the picture above, it took three TSA agents to detain Mr. Mayhew, and I’m sure an entire communications department to decide what they should do that someone called them out on being ridiculous.  Oh, I love paying tax money for these people.  I have no job, and they have eleventy jobs.

Ah, bureaucracy.

Here’s a better shot of that awesome cane:


My Random Traveling Life Lately

I just sorted through eleven thousand photos from the last few months.  I’m finally getting time to plow through the enormous backlog of content I have to share with you!

I noticed that I had so many photos of traveling — nothing really terribly focused, but just so much traveling.


I was going to try and put some rhyme or reason to this collection, but I think you’ll enjoy it if you don’t travel — and you’ll commiserate if you travel like me or more.  Some people travel about ten times what I do…

and then there’s the road warriors…

Check out the whole gallery!  There are 112 photos from random locations…  see if you recognize them!

(Click on a photo icon and you’ll open the JimOnLight Photo Gallery!)


A JimOnLight Life Update

Lumiere on her throne

Holy crap, I miss my freaking cat.

I have gotten quite a few emails about what I’ve been up to lately, so I figured a post is in order!  Life has taken me all kinds of places and in all kinds of directions over the last three months – it’s been a whirlwind, that is fo sho.  Back in December, I left teaching to take a promotion at CAST Software as the Product Manager for wysiwyg and Vivien Event Designer.  I have been working for CAST for about three years writing product copy and technical articles, and the job as product manager opened up back in December.  Pretty much everything has been going full speed since then.  I have been here and there, I just drove halfway across the country (from Oklahoma City to Iowa to Toronto) in my Mustang.  I had to drop of Lumiere at Grandma’s house so Daddy could come up to Toronto and work.

So I did this:

in this:

Misti the Mustang

You know, it’s true – they didn’t design Mustang seats for long-range comfort.  Yeah, I bought a Mustang.  Yeah, I f*cking love it.

A few weeks ago I saw a bunch of you at PLASA Focus in Austin, TX – got to spend three days with Rick and Adri and a ton of other awesome people, saw The Swinging Johnsons play at Antones, had an awesome breakfast with Gil and Bruce from CAST and Matthew Griffiths from PLASA (that guy is pretty cool!).  I think it’s a goal in my life to get Gil Densham to belly laugh.  I’LL DO IT, yes I will!

I have video and photos from PLASA Focus – they’re coming.  Hold tight.  I’m also finishing up the first episode of JimOnLight TV!

So now I’m up here in Toronto working my butt off and loving every minute of what I’m doing.  Besides, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve felt like that.  I’m living in a hotel right now; it’s a nice hotel and all, but I am very, very excited to get the **** out of here and into my own place.  I am looking at a place this evening that I want, really close to the office, and in a nice area.  I wish I could explain how thrilled I am at the prospect of getting out of this hotel and having my routines back!  Oh, and having my little meower back?  HOLY SH*T!  I have been without her for about three weeks now, and I miss the heck out of her.  it’s so funny – I never really thought of the impact of literally spending all day every day with her and then not being around her for a month or more.  That sucks!  My mom is saving my ass right now too, she’s watching lil’ miss kitty until I can get moved and come and pick her up.

Meow, eh?

Of course, I guess I could get out more.

So right now, I have three people I really like helping me make JimOnLight one of the world’s most visited lighting websites.  I have two jobs that I am completely in love with — I get to write JimOnLight AND I’m working on the cutting edge of pre-viz and tracking tech.  I get to do what I love all day long (and sometimes all night just because I can!) and I feel very lucky.  Now if I can get my cat up here and get her to poop in the toilet?


Airport Scanners – Got Any Piercings, Folks? TSA’s Gonna See Them

There has been a lot of hubbub about the airport scanning technology after a wannabe terrorist tried to light his own underpants on fire to blow up a jet on Christmas Day of all days.  The argument basically goes like this:

“It’s an invasion of my privacy and my safety for you to see me naked so you can pretend that I’m a risk.”
“No it isn’t, we need to see you naked to see if you have dangerous things you’re trying to bring on planes.”

Image by ImYourWorstEnemy on Flickr

Hmm.  I really don’t have the desire to “shake everything I brought” in front of the TSA.  Is there not a better way to do this?  Just so you know, lots and lots of politicians are totally on board with this airport scanner thing – as a matter of fact, <sarcasm> trustworthy people with rigid beliefs </sarcasm> like Joe Lieberman, the Demublican senator from Connecticut.  Joe recently asked a question at an announcing hearing about the whole incident over Christmas Day and how we need to have better airport security:

“We were very lucky this time but we may not be so lucky next time, which is why our defenses must be strengthened. What we know about the Abdulmutallab case raises two big, urgent questions that we are holding this hearing to answer: Why aren’t airline passengers flying into the U.S. checked against the broadest terrorist database and why isn’t whole body scanning technology that can detect explosives in wider use?”

Looks like we’ll see them all over the place in no time.

This is a blog about light, so I want to write a few things at least about the technology that have nothing to do with anyone’s opinion.  Taken for face value, the technology is interesting.  It comes in two forms – “backscattering” x-ray (2 dimensional) and “millimeter wave” (3 dimensional) devices, using terrahertz radio frequency.  Interestingly enough, people have health concerns over both of these technologies, and everyone who dislikes the scanners says they don’t like the breach in their personal comfort.

As far as health issues go, the backscattering x-ray devices deliver a very minimal amount of radiation – according to an article by Julia Clayton of HowStuffWorks, backscattering scanners deliver “approximately 0.005 millirems of radiation [per scan per person]; American Science and Engineering Inc. reports 0.009 mrems.  According to U.S. regulatory agencies, “1 mrem per year is a negligible dose of radiation, and 25 mrem per year from a single source is the upper limit of safe radiation exposure”.  Think of it like this – backscattering x-ray are different than medical x-rays because they don’t primarily travel through you, they record the radiation that is reflected off of your body and foreign material on your body.  Backscatter scans are front and back – 2D.

Millimeter wave technology is also interesting with regards to health – the technology uses very, very high frequency radio waves (in the Terahertz range, or T-waves, per Wikipedia, and the scan travels around your body to create a sort of 3D image.  They also measure the waves coming back from your body, but they measure radio waves, not radiation.  The major health issue associated with the millimeter wave tech is on a DNA-level plane – the problem is that no one knows if the technology interacts with double-stranded DNA, which could cause bubbles in the strands, causing all kinds of epic fail.  Here’s a millimeter wave scan – notice the difference between it and the image above, and how the detail is different, less descriptive, but detailed in its own right:


I am not in the business of promoting any of these scanners, believe me – one company who sells the scanners, MilliVision, had an interesting video on their millimeter wave technology.  Check it out:

Something I found interesting came from an article at Wired – you’ve all seen this image below, right?


This woman shape is actually Susan Hallowell, director of the Transportation Security Administration’s security laboratory.  After she stepped into the scanner and had this image taken, apparently she blushed and said “”It does basically make you look fat and naked, but you see all this stuff.”

For the record, this technology has been used for a long time – at least a decade – for screening South African diamond mine workers after their shifts for theft.  The shame is that the technology is actually pretty interesting, and it’s worth being developed somewhere.  I’m still just unsure that it needs to be developed while people I don’t know who for the most part treat me like I just committed a felony AND get to see me naked.

You know what I think, what do you think?  Is the body scanner too pervasive for you?  Take the poll!

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.


Thanks Wired, Article World, Wikipedia, and Epic!

A JimOnLight Community Question: How Do You Stay in Shape On The Road?

This might be a silly question for some, but for many people who work across the industries of light, being away from home, family, friends can be along the same vein as being away from the treadmill/elliptical machine and a healthy diet.  All of the ways that we live when away from home can be positive to our experiences of the world and of our current away gig – but sometimes we party like it’s 1976 – er, I mean 1999 – and forget that we’re actually working and not just having a  vacation.

One of my goals while here in Sweden is to lose some weight while I am spending lots of time in front of my computer learning about spectral power distribution curves and how Americans are apparently silly that we call fluorescent lamps in 8ths (like a T5 or a T8).  It’s getting colder here in Sweden, so every time I go outside to run or jog or play basketball, I get sick for 3-4 days.  This is forcing me to find other ways to observe some moments of cardio, and the process is going s-l-o-w-l-y.  My problem might be one of motivation, especially after a 16-hour or 18-hour day.  What’s your excuse?

I ask for your your community input on this one – can you answer the poll below and maybe leave a comment about how you stay in shape on the road? If you don’t stay in shape on the road and don’t really care – why?  If you are having a hard time staying in shape when on the road but are trying valiantly to do so, what are the problems you’re having?  I realize I’m opening myself up for one of those GI Joe jokes here – but in order to learn about light and practice our art and craft, we must maintain a healthy body and mind.

What tricks and/or tips can you share with the Community?

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

Jim On Sweden – Been Here A Week, All Is Good


I’ve been here in Haninge about a week, and I am getting a little more acclimated to the way that living here might go.  The city of Stockholm is beautiful – more beautiful than it has ever appeared in pictures I’ve seen – and the town of Haninge (where I am living) is less than beautiful.  I’ve found places here to shop for groceries (Coop and ICA), and I found a store that is a lot like a Big Lots (Oob) – comparatively, everything is a little more expensive than back home, especially red meat and chicken.  I was surprised to see that even salmon is a bit more expensive here, but crawfish and shrimps are much cheaper than in the United States.

I am meeting so many great people here – my dorm mates are from Iran, Sweden, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, France, China, Thailand, Chile, and a fellow American.  The kitchen is the most excellent place to converse, and it seems like every time I go in there, I leave after having some kind of great discussion.  This weekend I went in for coffee, and left 45 minutes later after talking about OLEDs.

One of the weirdest things that I have noticed is that my listening skills have exponentially grown in a matter of days – having people from so many different countries with so many different inflections on English is one of the most wonderful experiences I have ever had with people.

I enjoy traveling with people to common places like the grocery and the city, and I am sure that we’ll be traveling in groups to other countries and cities around Sweden.  I’ve had my camera in my bag nearly everywhere I’ve gone so far, and I probably look like a tourist white guy, but I could care less.  This country is beautiful, and these people I am spending time with and getting ready to learn with are great.

Some things I’ve learned in the last week:

  • red meat is expensive here.
  • in Russian, you say “kind morning” instead of “good morning”
  • people in several languages say “pardon my French” before they swear
  • yogurt is not sweet everywhere
  • I have muscles in my legs and back that haven’t had exercise in years from walking so much
  • public transit is awesome

Anyone interested in seeing some pics?  I’m uploading everything to my Flickr account, and I’ll be posting random images here and there on the blog.  Check out these latest pics:

Waiting on the bus back from ICA grocery – we missed the first one…


Our group at the flagship Ikea!  Francisca, Kunal, me, Tatiana, Uthayan, Saghi, and Orquidea:

trip to ikea

Me, Tatiana, Francisca, and Kunal waiting for Saghi and Orquidea to get to the train station back to Haninge:

waiting at Ikea station

A sight we don’t often see in Dallas:

SL train

Ikea and flags – the only difference between American Ikea and Swedish Ikea is language:

Ikea flagship

This one is for my dad – everywhere I go, I take a picture of my feet in that country:

sweden_feet, DALLAS Edition

I’m now coming to you from DALLAS, TX – the place I call home after living in several places across the United States.  My wife and I moved back here yesterday, and we’re waiting to get into our apartment tomorrow morning.  I keep cracking my wife up when I say “we’re loading in tomorrow morning.”  Either that or she’s laughing at my stupidity.

Sorry for the late posting, we drove in a caravan yesterday for 16 hours through the I-70 and I-35 corridors.  As you can imagine, it was exhausting.

How to Fold A Drawing

I seem to have this argument with architects mostly, but as far as I’m concerned, if you have less than 10 pages of drawings, you can fold them as opposed to rolling them.  It’s wonderful to pay a few bucks to throw a drawing or two (or five) into a manilla envelope and ship them away.  It’s also considerably easier to travel them through an airport when they’re folded – TSA certainly can’t mistake a folded drawing for a bazooka or some other ridiculous excuse to go through all of your stuff because you have a rolled drawing in a tube.

Check out this video I made for you all:

Finally Back Home… For A Few Days, At Least

Wow, May was one hell of a month – Texas House Bill 2649 was introduced, I opened a show in Columbus, and I spent about a month away from my wife.  I’m home for a few days after driving 980 miles yesterday, and I just dropped my wife off at the airport so she can look for a place for us to live in Dallas.  Oh yeah, we’re moving back to Dallas.  I fly out on Wednesday for another 10 day stretch away from home, then we load a truck and go – all of this before July 1.

Some months are busier than usual in life – I always experience this all at once.

It’s nice to be home for a few days.  I’ll be catching up on some writing in the next day – sorry for the delay in posting, I have been working my tush off and traveling in a car cross-country.  It’s hard to drive and blog at the same time.

I hope everyone is doing great!