Dave's Journal, Jan2014
Let me start off my 2014 journal pages on a high note - pictures of Rachel (above, left) and Rebekah looking way too too beautiful at a dance recital.
And . . . here comes Jacob, Ryan & Jack . . .
I am ever so sick and tired of the endless bikering and even violent disagreements we Americans get into every day, every month, year after year. We, as individuals, don't agree on anything and we don't care enough or respect each other enough to "meet in the middle" and make the compromises necessary to run a healthy country. We vote for people who will "fight for you and never compromise your principals" and we elect them to run the country.
In my mind, this is the same as countries like Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Lebanon that are tearing themselves apart due to un-compromising religious beliefs. In the US here, we have avoided outright civil war, but we have settled for an un-compromising government that chokes itself into a different form of coma every 4 years.
So . . . let's stop dancing around the Maypole, and let's call it quits.
I say that we break into three new countries:
The Democratic States of America,The Republican States of America, and The Independent States of America as shown in the map above.
These are really new countries with their own national and local governments, military forces, social systems, constitutions, gun laws, drug laws, marriage laws, immigration policies, international diplomatic relations. Everything that makes a country a country - they have it. You must apply for national citizenship, and that is only good for the country that you move to (not either of the other two). They have to negotiate border laws, tariff regulations, trade agreements, inter-country taxes for companies operating across their borders, environmental pacts, currencies and exchange rates. (One of them might even decide to join the European Union !). You will need a passport (and have it stamped) or a work Visa to cross the borders between them.
This is very similar to the breakup of the Former Soviet Union into separate countries. (There is always the option of establishing demilitarized zones along the borders to inhibit border guard gunfights.) Railroad tracks and (what are now) interstate highways will have to be ripped if they cross the borders.
The DSA will be the most "liberal", so all the un-compromising left wingers have to relocate to the red region. The RSA will be the most "conservative", so all the un-compromising right wingers must move into the white region. The ISA is an open-minded country that gets only the people who can compromise, live and let live, and make deals with each other, so all the "loose canons" and "free-thinkers", have to move into the blue region.
(This is a good plan, because I personally won't have to relocate.)
So, kids, pack up your stuff - you are movin' out !!
You have 30 days to get into the country of your choice and apply for citizenship, before we close the border crossings. After that you are an illegal immigrant if you haven't applied for citizenship. What they do to you is their business.
ONDU Pinhole Camera
Early in 2013, this guy from Slovenia convinced a very large lot of people to send him a minimum of $60. In return, he promised that, after he spent all the "donations" setting up his woodshop, he would send each supporter a handmade wooden pinhole film camera. So, I sent him $60 (demonstrating that I still have faith and trust in my fellow man, even those guys in Slovenia). I was not alone - 1271 other people sent him total of $109,391 !!!
Then we waited . . .
Mine came today and it is a work of art. I ordered some Tri-X this week (purely coincidental) and promise to run at least one roll through this beauty.
It was 570F this morning ! . . . in the kitchen. It was 40F outside.
Can't Go to Italy this Year? . . . here is a set of the "best" 2013 lifestyle articles from Italy Magazine.
The Best of 2013.
A New Comic Character is Born!
I had been watching TV reruns of The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, The Big Sleep, etc. etc., and heard Destiny ring the doorbell.
So, in August 1964, I dropped out of the Aeronautical program at Brooklyn Poly and went back to 1942.
Chapter One: Who's Sharky?
Can't figure exactly how I got there, but I woke up on the ground in 1942, in the rain, in an alley, by the service entrance of Chinese diner on the west side of 111th Street. There was blood dripping across my eyes and my head hurt. "That's what you get for being smart, big boy", said a soft voice that I guessed was wearing the torn nylons I was staring up at. I felt a kick in the back. "Tell Lo Soo we'll be back for the rest of it tomorrow". A stick hit the back of my head, and the lights went out.
I could feel the nightstick tapping me. "Hey you, get up", the cop was saying. "What are you doing back here?". Another cop was maybe 10 feet behind him with his hand on his holster. "Get up, I said". I got up, but not fast.
"Who hit you?"
"I don't know, I was mugged, I think, My head hurts."
"It oughta, lookin' at that gash and the rest of you. You're not from around here, are you? Where'd you get those clothes? Where're you from?"
"Brooklyn ? You don't look like Brooklyn to me. What are you doing back here?"
"I don't know. I got off the train and then you woke me up. I was mugged I think. I'm bleeding and my head hurts. Why don't you guys get off me, huh, while I figure this out."
"Sure, we'll leave you alone buddy, but when we come back (he pokes my ribs), you better be gone back to Brooklyn or you're gonna bleed some more. Got it?"
"Yeah, I got it."
He pokes my ribs with his stick again, this time a little harder. The other one smirks. I'm thinking he should be missing some teeth. They walk out to the street. I spit up some blood.
Then the service door opens and a Chinese guy says "In here. In here."
It's still raining. I'm still bleeding. I go in.
"Karl do this to you?"
"Yeh, I guess. Who's Karl?"
"You not remember Karl. You give him my money?"
"Oh, that's Karl. He has nice legs."
"That not Karl. That Chloe, Karl girl. You give them my money?"
"Yeh I guess I did. She said they'd be back for the rest of it tomorrow."
He looked worried. No, scared. Really scared.
"They come back. They kill. You. Me. Everybody. Everybody die."
I was getting a little scared myself. Where was I? What was I doing here? Why was Karl gonna kill everybody? More important, why was Karl gonna kill me?
"Sharky, you must take Mia from here. Make her safe. Sharky, you hear me?"
So that's who I am . . . "Sharky". Can't remember a thing. "Sharky", huh. I was looking for the other missing pieces.
"Listen, I took a few big hits and can't remember a thing, so give me a minute. Get some clean rags, and some alcohol for my head too, huh. And . . . who's Mia?"
Heard a motion behind me, Lo Soo smiles, points over my shoulder, "She Mia. My daughter." I turned for a look and was not disappointed. Not at all. Mia was maybe late 30's. Not too tall. Not too thin. Good bones. Great bones, actually. Had this ironic smirk around her mouth, a small nose, dark eyes, high eyebrows, a small snake tattoo on her cheek and a bruise, maybe a week old, on her neck. She had been around the block a few times. I could tell.
"Miss me, Sharky?"
I was in trouble.
Three new (and very diverse) additions to my Youtube "favorites" selection:
Long Black Veil
Have You Ever Seen the Rain
Instead of the MFA in Boston, I stayed home and bottled the Chardonnay. Looks good, and the dredgings did not taste terrible. (White wine is different.)
I am exchanging printed photos with this guy, Amarildo Correa, who lives in Brazil. The deal is that we each pick a photo from each others' collection, and mail a copy (real print!) to each other.
He has a website: Amarildo Correa and also a gallery on Flickr.
I have learned that it's impossible to guess which picture will be anyone's favorite. The world is filled with diverse people !
Anyway, this is the one he wants:
Here is the one that I asked him to send to me: Minimal
It is a foggy rainy day today. I tried trekking through a local park but it was too slushy and dripping wet. Came home and rediscovered my stovetop espresso maker (gift from Chris and Mike, if I recall). It makes real espresso - the boiling water gets forced through the coffee by pressure ("espresso" !).
Makes a wicked strong 2 oz. cup of coffee - you use almost as much coffee grinds as water !. I love really strong coffee, and this is it!
Now my teeth are chattering, my eyelids are twitching, my speech is stuttering and I have the urge to run up and down the stairs !!
Dinner in Worcester Last Night
Dominique & Chris, Chris & Mike, Ferruccio & Joanne, Deb and I, at The Boynton Restaurant. I missed out on the multi-beer challenge, however, because I did not read the drinks menu. Next time.
I also decided that local tap water is horrid if you are eating nice food - it was like drinking swimming pool water - order bottled water from now on ! Or more beer !
One of the luxuries I never indulged in during my working life was going to galleries and museums and looking at paintings. Never had the time for such silliness. But I do now, and it's fun.
It took me a few years to sink into this activity. It happens slowly. I took artsy picturebooks out of the library and bought used books. My work in photography helped me understand some of "what is art", etc etc.
I like all kinds of "art" even though I cannot define what it is. Does it matter? No.
My latest kick is staring at a painting, and staring at it. I slowly notice more and more details in it, and at some point I get 100% into the picture. Like I was there. Like it is only a snapshot in my family scrapbook.
And I mentally write a little movie scene around it. I most often don't have a clue about the real background of the picture, so I am free to "write" the movie scene however I want. I let the style of the painting suggest what kind of story lies behind it. For example, an abstract painting means the story must be Sci-Fi; lots of red paint tells me that zombies are involved. A vanGogh suggests a "Twighlight Zone" story. A Manet suggests a story about people doing things they shouldn't be doing !
Today I went to the Boston MFA to see the John Sargent watercolor exhibit. The museum was empty (it's Monday) except for that exhibit which was packed (with retired folks and worker bees on their lunch breaks). I like his stuff, not all of it though. I enjoyed the show a lot. He did a many watercolors in Venice, Italy, and I really related to those. His viewpoint in the paintings were very interesting - a lot of them were looking from the water onto the buildings. And usually the bottom part of the pictures showed small boats and gondolas and the upper part showed buildings. Like the water and boats were the foundations of the buildings. I did not take a single photo from that perspective when we were in Venice. Next time.
Here's a link to the museum exhibit: Boston MFA
Took a picture from our Venice trip and made labels for the Chardonnay (29 bottles !). We now have a little over 100 bottles of various wines aging in the basement.
It is stinking rain outside. Glad that I got away to Boston yesterday. New England sucks in the winter.
I had the Disney movie "Pocahantas" playing while I labelled the wine bottles - needed something in the background, you know. After a trip to wikipedia, here's what they say about the real girl . . .
In reality, Pocahontas was only about 10 years old when Smith arrived with the Virginia Company in 1607; she later considered him somewhat of a father figure but never a romantic interest. She did go on to save his life once, when Powhatan Indians wanted his head, which was how she earned the respect of the settlers. But there was no teary-eyed goodbye when Smith returned to England, as the Disney film depicts. Around 1613, Pocahontas was abducted by English colonists and taken to another part of Virginia; she was baptized as a Christian, married tobacco magnate John Rolfe and changed her name to Rebecca.
Black Can be Any Color
Spoiler alert: Your head is going to hurt after you read this.
We're in a tizzie in the photo forum about "black & white", "monochrome", "grayscale", "color", and what they mean. In the course of explaining physics to an unbelieving audience, I ended up saying
"Black can be any color. Red. Green. Yellow. Black can be any color, because it is NOT a color. Black is not the absence of color - it is the absence of light. Don't believe me? Turn the lights completely off in a room. What do you see? Black. Turn the lights back on. What do you see? Red, green, blue, etc etc etc. Did the colors of the stuff in the room change when your switched the lights? No. They stayed whatever colors they were. But you saw "black". Thusly, my good friends, black is not a color. It is the absence of light."
(How did I get this smart? , I keep asking myself.)
But before this, I drove to the outdoor sculpture park (the weather was too nice, and in New England here who knows what will come tomorrow?). Sculpters are funky kind of people - you can tell by the stuff they make.
I saw a patch of winter grass on a slope and it looked pretty interesting, like "Attack of the Grass People" . . .
Boston on a Nice Day
Trek'd down to Boston today because (1) it was a nice day and (2) I wanted to shoot some film. Good olde tyme film.
And I did.
That's the FM3A and today I used the 28mm/f2.8 lens and a box of Tr-X (Kodak B&W ISO400 film). The FM3A is the last mechanical film camera produced by Nikon. It sells today for about 150% of what I paid for it about 17 years ago. The chrome 45mm pancake lens that came with it (I have this also) sells for almost twice what I bought it for, if you can find one in excellent condition.
I made 11 pictures on a roll of 36, so I am still 25 pictures short of rewinding and mailing it to Kentucky (or is it Kansas?) to get it developed. A pain in the butt, true, but I need to refresh some dark and dusty old corners of my brain.
It was quite an experience shooting the FM3 after all these years. Must check the meter before every shot and adjust either aperture or shutter speed, manually. Focus is also manual. But I must say, the scenes in that large, bright viewfinder looked really nice !!
I had plenty of energy today because I started out on a bowl of egg-drop grits with ham slices and a dab of butter. You guys down in Alabama can just dream about grits this good !! !
A Dramatic Picture of my Mitre Saw
It's snowing (not hard), Deb got home safely from work and is napping before we go out again, and I had a Japanese lunch on Mike (thanks). During the morning's "artistic hour", I made this dreamy-drama picture of my mitre saw on the work bench.
- Woodworker: Jees, Dave, that's a pretty bad picture of a mitre saw.
- Dave: It's not a picture of a mitre saw. It's a picture of the silhouette and shadows that a miter saw makes.
Fuji Takes on Nikon / Canon
Three years ago, Fujifilm produced the X100 and pushed Leica into the shadows. (Leica was in trouble to start with.) Now this morning, we find that the rumors are apparently true - Fuji is going after the digital SLR market owned by Nikon and Canon (who are sinking anyway due to lack of innovative products).
Nikon recently released the DF which was hyped to be the "classic" camera design come into the digital age. Instead it was a Frankenstein beast that most of us (camera snobs) laughed at.
But, based on the "leaked" photos this morning, Fuji's X-T1 looks like they nailed this concept very nicely - good old dials control camera functions - no more stupid, time consuming menus.
This is a pretty exciting piece of equipment. Have to say that my Nikon gear may take the outbound train this year.
Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum
Winter is my time to check out warm, cozy, indoor places to visit. Today (Jan.23) I made my first ever visit to this museum, down in Boston, just two streets from the MFA.
Their website,ISG Museum is horribly over-designed and is nothing like actually visiting the place. But there are some good pictures to look at, if you can hack your way through the Flash popup windows and stuff.
Their website also has lots of security-oriented wording and "thou shalts and thou shall nots" because they had the worst art robbery in US history some years back. I was half expecting to be searched going in and out, but that was not anything like the reality. For certain, the place is swarming with attendants - nicely dressed, extremely polite young college chicks (I'm hoping to go back soon!!).
Tours of old ladies (you know in their 50's and 60's) in arsty sweaters and half-rim spectacles, a few on canes (I think one of them pinched my a$$ as I walked by ! !).
It is not literally and "art museum" - it was her (Isabella's) home !!, but they were wealthy and she loved the arts. The experience here is similar to visiting the mansions in Newport. You walk through the rooms and admire their furniture and decorations. It is very sedate, dark, old. You get submerged in the rooms and really feel part of it, if you stand there long enough (I did).
The room doors are NOT roped off - you walk around inside them. You can touch most everything, but for a few items here and there.
The courtyard is wonderful !!
My favorite room was the Tapestry room - a very large, dark, tall room - it's the picture on the left here.
I swiped some pictures off their website (no photos allowed when you visit). They are shown here.
I got very curious about the person who would furnish a place like this, and bought a bio (actual paper book) of Isabella in the store there.
Here is her wiki-bio: Isabella's Bio.
Another set, shamelessly swiped from the New Yorker . .
Getting My Hair Cut @ Kathy's Salon
Kathy does Debbie's hair and mine. She and Dennis are our good friends, we had dinner there last weekend. (She is the
il cuoco italiano suprema.)
We decided that I'm letting my hair grow long this year, mostly because I want to look different.
Cousin Pete sent this to me . . .
You know the guy of course; that's a Les Paul model (Gibson) he's playing.