Dave's Journal, Jan.2011


good morning . . . we made it through another year (i've done that 66 times now).

okay, enough chit chat . . . down to business . . .

As of last night, Kodachrome (the best film ever made) has gone extinct, and photography has turned an historic page.jpg

Saw the movie "Black Swan" at a theater . . . and it was subtitled right up there on the screen! That is only the second time in my life I have seen that and it is the bees knees as far as we deaf people think.

The movie was very good ( a "pathological thriller", not a "drama"), Ms. Portman did extremely well and the end was oustanding! (sorry, make that "It was perfect . . . perfect") .

Now you can GPS me at any time !

jpg I wrote a computer program that uses GPS and GoogleEarth to track and display the location of any cell phone. At the moment, I coded my own cell phone number into it, so . . . . you can check my whereabouts anytime by clicking right here: Where's Dave?

The cool thing is that I can enter anyone's cell phone number into this software I wrote (up to 10 numbers) and it will display their locations on a Google map like that one. I am working on some features (like image zoom and the exact street address printout on the screen). And, I am setting it up to track the 10 people I most want to track right here on my web site, so stay tuned until I get that working . . . gif

(hours and hours later) . . . i found a website that backtracks e-mail addresses and maps them to cell phone numbers . . . if i can link this into my code, then the algorythm that i send to GoogleEarth becomes simpler and faster . . . i can track anyone at anytime simply by coding in their e-mail address ! . . . next step would be to write the tracking output to a file for 24/7 archiving.

Debbie, circa 1956


(stop laughing . . . what did you look like in 1956 ? . . . hey . . . am i wrong, or does that doll look like me ?)

Calamari "Stew" writ by Mom !

(long-lost pages found today !)

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Detroit in Ruins . . .
a very depressing photo series about how far the US Auto Empire has collapsed.

From the New Yorker (click to enlarge these)

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From the New Yorker
(extremely condensed and wonderfully paraphrased by me)

The Brooklyn Fishing Derby is held every year along the East River front in (as you may have guessed) Brooklyn, and this year (actually 2010) a Polish roofer named Yan Gorz claimed to be the winner. He had hauled in a 42.75 inch fish, by far the largest taken this year. But rules are rules and he seemed to have registered too late or something (though it appeared to be an honest mistake by someone) and they had an investigation and they disqualified his fish. He speaks very little English, so he just dropped the issue and went back to fishing.

Yep . . a few days later, under the watchful eye of some other guys, he hauls in a 44.0 inch bass and wins the contest (again !). He sent the $500 prize money back to an orphanage in Poland.

The Leo Family Gathering, 2011

Every year, my father's side of the family has a party that is hosted by a revolving circuit around the family. The tradition started about 40 years ago, after my grandmother died, and I believe it has happened every year since then. This year (July) it is my turn to host the party, and I have never done that before, mostly because I have not lived near NYC since 1966 !

Forty years ago, most everyone (but me !) lived around or close to NYC, so the traveling issue was "drive to the party . . . party . . . drive home". Nowadays we are scattered all over the country.

At the moment, there are only two people I can think of who live closer to me than 235 miles, and about 50% of everyone lives 900 - 1500 miles away . . . . I am starting to worry already !

Bumble Bees

jpg this is one of those things that i never had time to think or worry about before i retired, but that just shows you how much of life-on-my-planet that i had no clue about because i was too busy.

at the moment, i'm just going to link to the latest story in the CSM about bees dying off and then comment as follows . . .

the unusual thing about this current bee-extinction thing is that bumble bees are not like honey bees, that we already know have been dying off in masses . . . bumble bees are loners . . . they nest in the ground and they go about their business and fly away from people when threatened, but usually they let you stick your face (or camera) right into their faces and they keep sucking away on those flowers. . . live and let live thinking on their part.

i know this because i've watched the bumble bees out their in the garden for the last 4 years and have seen 2 of the last 4 years were very bad (2010 was good !) for bumble bees . . . these little guys bring a garden to life . . . the hover and buzz about the plants with their heads down doing bee stuff and then fly off . . . i have even tried to piss a few off to re-assure myself and they are just "go away please and leave me alone" kind of animals.

not unlike myself.

so i worry that they are dying in masses.

jpgThe "Leo" Family Gathering

The spreadsheet starts at my grandparents (dad's side, name = Leo) at the upper left and works its way (to the right and downward) across 5 generations.

The "red" boxes are the family members who are named "Leo" today, and the "blue" boxes are family members not named "Leo" today.

maybe we should call it the Arrigo, Burke, Cinque, Dessi, Dolce, Ferlazzo, Harkin, Kiley, Lefebvre, Leo, Lockwood, Pradella, Romanowski, Signorile, Stepanian, Williams Family Gathering ?

(no, i'm not kidding ! )

jpgStairs Going Down

today is my day off, and i set myself
the challenge of "making art" out of nothing much,
and here is what i came up with.
(click the thumbnail).

Lunch with Mike

jpg At M's suggestion, I ventured to Cambridge meet him for lunch at Cafe Luna. It was (as you might have expected) too excellent. I had a salad called Davio (!) and it was loaded with wonderful Mediteranian . . . um . . . stuff. Then he tells me that he made a deal with the owner to look at some of my photo art and maybe hang it there, and I met her and we chatted about frame size and color vs greyscale, and I have high hopes that 2 or 3 of my pieces will be hanging there soon. (Side note: also at Mike's doings, a local coffee house is also waiting for 3 of my pieces that are sitting over there on the floor at the moment.)

Then we spent some time in the MIT Museum, looking at intelligent robots, stupid computers, silly students and crazy professors, and I thought about how much I miss being a college teacher and wished I could turn the clock back 35 years.

jpg On the way home, M planted a thought in my head about editing HTML tags differently than I do it now . . . that will drive me nuts off course until I figure out how to do it and is that actually going to be a better way ? ? . . . if nothing else, it will get me back into coding Tcl again !

jpgDancing Bears

Am working up a redesign for the "Tree of the Dancing Bears" which is a banner with a little bear for each person in the generations. It started 40+ years ago and it's kind of out of hand as the family grows. In the back of my mind is some kind of computerized version of it. Played around by adding bear images to the Family Tree Spreadsheet, but it looked stupid.

Chrissy has graciously volunteered to help with the banner design and production. Today I laid out each branch and verified who did not have a bear . . . the excitement is killing me.

The King's Speech

The irony here is that a deaf guy (me) watched a movie (NOT subtitled) about a guy who can't talk ! The headset "for the hearing impaired" that the theater gave me was marginally useful for a person with good hearing and worse than utterly useless to a person with impaired hearing.

However, the movie was so well made that I could sense the storyline and get some of the drama from the body language and facial expressions (and a few key moment whispers from Debbie).

Actually the Dept. of Justice is about to pass a law requirng all theaters to caption 50% of the movies that they show. But, of course the movie industry is fighting it and it will probably die before birth. God bless capitalism.

Signs of the Zodiak

The CSM is not noted for its wry humor, but they have a smirky article on the upset in the Zodiak signs.

The short version is that, due the ever changing nature of the Earth's wobble, the astrological signs are not in the correct place any more . . . they are now about one month wrong.

"Thanks to Earth's wobble, astrological signs are, well, bunk. (Or even more bunk than you might expect.) Astrological signs are determined by the position of the sun relative to certain constellations on a person's day of birth. The problem is, the positions were determined more than 2,000 years ago. Nowadays, the stars have shifted in the night sky so much that horoscope signs are nearly a month off."

And the CSM has also identified a few new signs of the Zodiak, based on the latest astronomical observations:

Flamingo . . . . Godzilla . . . and . . . my personal favorite.

Classrooms in Miami / Education in the USA

A Florida law went into effect last year that limits high school classes to a maximum of 25 students. (I know from experience that teacher effectiveness starts dropping at 12 students and is "in the basement" at 25 students.) So . . . what to do? . . . what to do? . . . "I know, I know . . . the law does not cover on-line courses . . . let's sign half the kids to rooms of computers (no instructors) that are logged into on-line courses and the kids can teach themselves ! " . . . and, you figured out, that's what they did. Instead of putting 25 kids in a class with a teacher, they put half the kids in the school in classes of 40 students with no teacher!

I was going to rant on "Education in the USA", but it doesn't matter. This is the USA after all . . . we have the freedom (and obviously, the desire) to embrace stupidity as the new social norm.

the revised bear tree is starting to take shape . . . jpg

The problem is that it comes out to 15feet long . . . so I think we'll just add some velcro strips to the existing poster and call it quits.

Cafe Photos

As of yesterday, I have my photo-artwork hanging in Chaibo's, a local cafe and another place in Cambridge is waiting for me to get them a half dozen pieces as well. So, I have a new life . . . photo-artist !

And a new domain name for my newlife CafePhotos.net, thanks to Mike's fast work, I am up and running on his server. The cafes let local photographers and artists hang their stuff up for 6-8 weeks (with a price tag) and maybe a customer will buy something off the wall. The cafe gets free decor that is constantly changing, and the photographer gets a free gallery to show his stuff.

jpg That "cafe photo" over there is titled "Lexi's Eyes.

There is an enormous difference between web-quality images and actual print-quality images, and I am having to go back to original digital files and reconstruct all the "magic" that I input to each one and then resave it at print quality . . . a killing amount of work and I promise never to shoot web-quality crap again ! !

Once the web site is actually ready for prime time, with all the stuff I want to display, I e-mail a link to a cafe and have them decide if any pictures would look good in their place. I am imagining that, over time, I will amass a collection of framed pictures that will just rotate around the various coffee houses that tie in with me.
(that's the plan anyway gif )


jpg well, i walked off line and left another store today, Michael's Craft store. . . . 2 lines, i opt for the left one . . . lady in front of me has 75 little paint brushes worth 29¢ each (she must be a grade school teacher). . . swipes her credit card . . . . ENTER . . . choke . . . ENTER . . . choke . . . hands card to cashier who manually types in stuff . . . choke . . . talk talk talk . . . cashier begins to enter each brush one at a time, and it's taking 5-7 seconds per brush (i counted) and it takes slightly longer with each brush . . . patience patience . . . they get to 30 . . . i turn around and see the other line has 6 people now and i would have been in my car had i chosen that line . . . scan enter wait scan enter wait . . . . i slip out of line, leave the cart against the wall and exit . . . turn around and they are still waiting for paint brush #31 to register.

jpgwhen you go out for a morning walk in 100F weather, fashion takes a back seat to comfort and warmth.


we are buried in snow, and i have to say that today was the heaviest snowblowing + shoveling day in many a year for me . . . a big part due to shoveling the winters accumulation of snow, slush and ice off the flat roof of the porch . . . and the 4'X6' wall of packed snow the city plow wedged at the bottom of the driveway.

but it's done and i'm washing away the memories with a Wachusset Country Ale.

Mike Is Now A Citizen of The USA and Italy ! !

his Italian birth certificate (! !) came yesterday. . . . free health care for life + jobs in the EU + the international chicks are hot for us Italian dudes.

Congratulazioni Michael!


Drove into Cambridge and met Mike at The Luna Cafe and talk things over with the owners (who are extremely nice people, which explains why the cafe itself is so nice) and they hung (hanged ?) 3 of my photos right there. We came to a good understanding of this and that.

Then Mike and I wandered about and I was able to snap this classic "street capture" of a local vagrant (whose resemblence to Mike is not necessarily coincidental) kissing a chick painted on a wall.



Index of My Journal Pages

if i wanted people to take me seriously
i'd keep my mouth shut.

page written by Dave Leo