Dave's Journal, Dec2014
what's new .... what's new ..... not much ....
From the ridiculous ("Fido") to the sublime ("Blue is the Warmest Color"), from the pompous ("The Agony and the Ecstasy") to the kinky ("Venus in Fur")..... catch up on my offbeat movies here: OffTheRoad
Another vintage? How much can you drink ?? ..... I started a batch of Italian Barolo today. At the rate my Chianti is disappearing (it's not even "ready to drink" but bottles of the stuff disappeared at Thanksgiving dinner!!! ), this Barolo is getting started not a moment too soon.
I sold some pictures ! My audiologist is buying a few of my pictures (mounted, matted and acrylic-bagged) to give as Christmas gifts. So, not only is she intelligent, she also has exceptionally good artistic "taste".
We are prepping for Christmas in Texas, which is a few weeks away. Seriously, I am anxious because we have never been "away from home" on Christmas.
I am feeling nostalgic at the moment, so let's go with this, okay .....
Grandma & Grandpa Fazio & Mom, then my cousin Sebastian (who went by "Iani" or "John" through the years), me, and cousin "Gus" (actually Gaspar, also aka "Butch").
Dave had to send out some packages this morning to The Netherlands, Israel, Peru and Seattle, and he printed up excellent address labels, wrapped the packages well and headed for the Post office. He got there 3 minutes after the front door opened, and was 6th in line, which meant it took 13 minutes for him to get to the ONE postal worker on duty.
Dave handed the Netherlands package over the counter ....
PO Guy: This is going overseas.
PO Guy: Are there any explosives inside.
Dave: ? ... No....?
PO Guy: Any dangerous materials?
Dave: All these packages have camera gear. No explosives, no batteries, .....
PO Guy: Bear with me sir. Are there any dangerous materials in this package.
PO Guy: Will you need insurance?
Dave: No - no insurance, no proof of delivery, no ....
PO Guy: Bear with me sir. Do you need insurance for this package?
PO Guy: Do you need proof of delivery for this package?
It went like that on and on for each overseas package. Then he hands Dave 3 multi-copy US federal forms to fill out (one for each package).
PO Guy: You need to fill these out, with the name and addresses of the sender and the recipient.
Dave: But that's already shown on the nice labels that I have on the packages.
PO Guy: Bear with me sir. You need to fill these out, with the name and addresses of the sender and the recipient.
Dave marched off to the side counter and filled the forms out, and returned to the main counter. The guy starts typing into his computer the names and addresses that Dave had filled into the forms. (These of course were already on the labels that Dave printed and taped onto the packages, but for some reason, the guy is not allowed to read Dave's labels.)
Typing..... typing ..... typing (there are now 9 people in line behind Dave)...... typing....typing.....
Then the guy PRINTS OUT the names and addresses onto the official USFederal government label, and pastes that over the very nice labels that Dave had on the packages when he walked in the door !!
It is now 40 minutes since Dave walked in the door with his perfectly ready-to-mail packages.
The guy now gets to the package for Seattle.
PO Guy: Would you like to send this Priority mail.
PO Guy: Then you have to put it inside one of our priority mail boxes.
Dave: No skip it then, use regular mail.
PO Guy: If you use our box, the charge is $6.75. If you send it as you packaged it the charge is $7.10. Which do you want.
(There are now 12 people in line behind Dave.)
Dave: I'll go for the $7.10 deal so I don't have to write another label.
PO Guy: Sure?
Guy rings up the total ($45 or so).
PO Guy: Do you need any stamps today?
Dave is scratching his fingernails along the counter and gritting his teeth as foam spills out the corners of his mouth.
Dave gets back home and spits venom all over the kitchen floor while Deb wipes his face and says "Calm down. Calm down.... your blood pressure"
Dave is calm now (it's many hours later).
I struggle to remind myself again and again that this is not "Dave's World". This is a world of 7,000,000,000 other (questionably intelligent) people and that I am utterly insignificant in the grand scheme of things (if, really, there is a "grand scheme of things" ?). I'm okay once I re-understand this, but the hours of confusion & anxiety really screw up my mind.
Let's move on ....
Today, the FEDEX guy delivered a lens that I am wild about. A 1970's Minolta, that I attached to my 2014 digital Fuji and started punching out pictures. Beautiful pictures. Lovely "Minolta glow" pictures. I dropped $95 on the lens, and today's digital equivalent lens goes for $800 (but, truth be told, I have to focus the lens manualy, which, truth be told, I like better than auto-focus). This event (the lens arriving) actually made up for my trip to the post office.
Being the "holiday season" we are getting buried under "please help us" mailings. But .... having sorted through tons of stupid, pointless, mindless, mailings through this year (like every other), my first glance at the envelopes is "sh#t ... leave me alone please, I've read enough BS this year".
Debbie opens the stuff and leaves it on the table, and of course, I pick it up and glance through it. Everybody has problems, right? Sick and dying kids. Abused animals. Veterans in hospitals. Helpless 3rd world people dying from diseases no one understands.
Here I am ..... worried about my hobby wine turning out badly.... or do I need to spray silicone on the snowblower blades? .... stuff like that.
Let's take an eye candy break. The latest Batmobile (cousin Pete) vs. The classic Aston Martin DB5 (me).
Which reminds me (thinking of Goldfinger) . . . how much gold is there in the world? I mean ALL the gold that has been mined. How big would it be if you melted it down and made one large brick of it all?
Well, I looked it up, and did the math.
If you made one brick of all of it that would just fit on our lot here (about 100'X100' - which is about 1/4 acre), the brick would be ..... 31' tall, or about up to the top of our chimney.
I thought there would be mountains of the stuff ! ? !
I show one of my pictures to someone (call him "Arnold").
Arnold: That's kind of "soft" looking.
Dave: Yeh, it is.
Arnold: It looks kind of red-saturated and green under-saturated.
Dave: Yeh, yeh it is kind of.
Arnold: I doesn't exactly look like that rusty wagon wheel out in your garden.
Dave: No, it kind of looks like how I felt when I looked at that rusty wheel in my garden.
Arnold: So ..... it's not really a photograph.
Dave: Not any more, no I guess it isn't a photograph any more. It's a picture of how I felt.
Arnold: So ..... that's like Art?
Dave: Do you have any morphine with you?
Precious, Historical Cave Drawings
Worthless, Pointless Graffiti
I watched a PBS documentary on the cave drawings of the American Southwest historical tribes.
The historians went on and on about this and that, noting how these must be preserved for future generations.
Okay with me I guess.
Then a few days later, I watch a PBS documetary on urban graffiti.
The mayor & his people went on and on about how we need to jail these "artists" and erase their graffiti.
?What? ..... what?
Another view (thanks, Mike) on the question What really is "graffiti"?.
First, a Christmas e-card from Cousin Pete:
(who is a true, true Sci-Fi aficionado)
Next here is my Christmas gift from Debbie. A Fujifilm X-A1 body (I had the lens), purchased at a very good price because people out there don't know a great camera when they see one.
It's small (no viewfinder - the LCD screen tilts upward) but it has an APS-C sensor (same as my X100 and X-E1), and uses the same lenses as my X-E1. As soon as the weather allows, I take it for a hike.
China is now the world's #1 economic power, in terms of the market value of total production.
Remember ..... back in the year 2000, predictions were that it would not be until 2050 that China passed the US in Gross Domestic Product.
The other side of the coin is how much they purchase from around the world. I don't have the big picture on that, but I do know that the newly-rich Chinese class are driving the price of high-end cameras and exclusive wines upward, because they are ready to pay much higher prices for those things than the rest of the world is. For example, when Leica makes those ridiculous $50,000 cameras that we all laugh at, it's the Chinese market that gobbles them up.
What does this really mean in the long run? Actually ..... I don't know. Maybe not much. All the countries in the world that have had much much lower GDP's than the USA are done fine, or at least not any worse than we are. So .... we slip into the #2 slot and see what happens.
Lexie, Sleeping ....
Well, my painful trips to the Post Office may be behind me. I discovered their on-line package & mailing service, and it is really nice. Go to the side lobby in the PO and grab a stack of boxes and large envelopes (grab and take home). Go online and set up an account with them, print labels, pay postage online, stick labels on boxes. Go back to the PO lobby and drop your stuff in their large kiosk box, grab enough new boxes and envelopes to last you the rest of your life, and walk out. No lines to wait on.
You even get day by day tracking emails. It's kind of cool actually.
Yesterday I shot a set of pictures to compare my 3 Fuji cameras. The internet of course is always buzzing about camera X is better than camera Y etc etc. Well, in my opinion, the differences in image output are very insignificant unless you are wicked wicked picky.
Here are my results: Fuji Cameras
Are We Happy?
How Do We Feel About the People We Elected to Run Our Country?
About 80% disapprove of Congress
About 55% disapprove of the President
About 66% think we are heading in the wrong direction
About 105% think Lexie is too too cute
On a lighter note, and thinking back to my comments above on China's economy, it looks like the Russian economy is in a freefall:
Is Russia's Economy Collapsing ?
Putin was always a sh#thead, and if anyone is responsible for this, it's him. He made his mob friends billionaires at everyone else's expense. Too much power in the hands of too few people. (Let this be a lesson to you.)
Whenever I need a laugh, I shop around for ads selling Leica gear or for Leica's press releases. Always good for a WTF? kind of laugh. Well, here is one. An official Leica brand lens hood - it shields the end of your lens from sunlight, like your baseball hat shields your sunglasses.
I always use lens hoods - they can save a shot from lens flare (like your sunglasses without a hat on). I buy Chinese lens hoods for $2 -$7 and I have a drawer full of them (one for every mood I'm in) and they work 100% perfectly.
Here's an official Leica brand lens hood - $100. ..... and some idiot bought it !
Back then , before cameras, rich people hired famous painters to paint (LARGE) family portraits to cover their walls. It's really interesting to read the stories behind some of these pictures. In this case, some prominent guy (I forgot what his name was) hired John Sargent to paint his 4 pre-teen daughters.
They started out trying for a classic group huggy-smiley composition, but you know girls. After a long story, Sargent said "Stand wherever you want to stand, and look however you want to look".
The result is literally a wonderful piece of Art, and there it is hanging in the Boston MFA today. Take note that the blue vases beside the painting are (1) as tall as I am and (2) the same size as the vases that are in the painting.
I was in kind of a classical mood today, so I stuck my head in and out of the abstract Art (?) room, chuckled under my breath, and wandered about the European Art rooms. All the properly dressed people wander about these rooms. I was wearing jeans, a native American flannel shirt and work boots (fit right in, I did).
You have to think a bit to appreciate my next photo here. There was a young painter there, copying a painting that was hanging. (This takes an act of Congress to approve.) Then there is this guy with a camera taking his picture. Then there was me, taking their picture. So ......
This is a picture that I made of a guy who was making a picture of a guy who was making a picture of a picture that a guy made.
Well, we are off to Dallas in the morning, visiting Catherine, Loretta & the grandkids. This is our first Christmas away from home - kind of anxious and excited.
So ..... I am going offline until we get back here, and I wish everyone .....
A Wonderful and Very Merry Christmas to All My Friends and Family Out There
Well, we are back home now (it's the 28th). It will take a day to decompress from traveling. Really a wonderful trip - aside from seeing my grandchildren at Christmas, this was the first time in just about 30 years that I was in the same room with my 3 kids (Catherine, Loretta & Mike). More pictures to come this week, after I get my computer monitor squared away (for editing).
Well, 2014 has just 14 hours left. I am fighting a Texas cold. Got a shingles vaccination shot yesterday, to complete my flu-pneumonia-shingles series. I should be all set for a while. Going to a movie & dinner late afternoon, and plan to be home early and in bed, because I am draggin' my wagon today.
Going to close out my 2014 journal now wishing everyone well and a Happye New Year, and here are a few cheers from the New Yorker to put a smile on your face.