Dave's Journal, June 2013



Today was a beautiful hot sunny Saturday (910F everywhere) and I had the day to kill. I needed to install the roof rack and remake the tie-town ropes - a pain, but not hard. Now I am ready for . . . spontaneous kayaking I guess it'd be called.

After some other work, I showered and commuted into Boston, specifically to the harbor. Today, I needed to be anonymous in crowds of other anonymous people, and the best place to do that is in a city. I walked the "Harbor Walk" which was beautiful - anonymously beautiful you'd say. The bartender at Tia's saved my life with two beers, and thought my camera was funky looking. I left her a nice tip to further demonstrate how cool I am.


Chris has bugged me (make that encouraged me) a few times to make more pictures with people in them (which I am generally not happy doing). But . . . but . . . something clicked with me yesterday in Boston. I started to see anonymous people as objects - photographic objects. They are very rarely (actually, almost never) positioned into a fascinating composition, but it happens sometimes.

So . . . the picture above will be entry #1 to a new project I'm calling Summer in the City / 2013.

Wish me luck.

Guess Who (1975)


This is Elvis Halilovic, and industrial designer and woodcrafter who lives in Velenje, Slovenia (he is a real person, not one of my fictional friends) and he has a Kickstarter project making wooden pinhole cameras that is a screaming success.


This is a startup venture that is funded by people (like me) who paid $60 in advance for one of his cameras. Essentially, we are pre-ordering these cameras; he uses your money to buy the stuff he needs to make the cameras. The waiting list is about 5 months.

He needed $10,000 to get this business rolling. Many Kickstarter projects never meet the targets and never get off the ground. So far, he has raked in almost $89,000 in orders ! !


God Bless Free Enterprise on the Internet ! !

A Day at Smith College

Smith College in Northampton is about 80 minutes drive from here, and I did that today, mostly to visit their art museum. Turned out they were renovating and 1/3 of it was off limits, but it was an okay visit. There were 3 pieces that really grabbed me. First, you should know that Smith is a very "women oriented" college, and much (not all) of the displayed art is rooted in women's perspectives and interests.

The first piece was a photograph of a tabletop setup, depicting two photos of people in the water desparately trying to board a ship by climbing up the ropes. The photos were framed in what looked like iron pieces of the ship, and the table top was scattered with fragments of what looked like photos of people (those who died in this incident ?), a passport and a ticket.


The second piece was again a photo. This of a diorama setup, made of toy furniture and paper cutouts of women, lighted with a very harsh strobe casting deep shadows on the background. The highlights were really burned out. This was a very stunning image to see.


The last of the three was a very conventional painting of a women working at a braiding machine that her husband (who was also the painter) designed and constructed. What got me was the perfect light effects on her - backlighted from the window - it was extremely nicely done. Photographers take these effects for granted, but a painter has to understand them and be able to recreate what he sees - the paintbrush does not do that as easily as the camera !


Then I walked around campus - reminded me so much of Brooklyn Poly (sure it did !)



As I walked around, I was stopped by a student with "Do you have a minute for womens' rights?" I did I guess, and she explained something I couldn't hear except for the part about how I could help her cause. I was hesitant and she hit me with "You're Clint Eastwood, aren't you?", and that got her a $5 donation and my autograph, except I mis-spelled my name as Eastwoode, but I don't think she caught it.

June 7th

Well, for better or worse, in the rain, today I delivered my 2 "works of art" to the Fitchburg Art Museum for their 78th annual local artists show. Now I wait for their decision if they will hang them or not.

Let's try again . . . Guess who this is (1975)


Send me an e-mail if you want to take a guess.

Hmmmm . . . no takers. Okay, the answer is . . . . Hillary Clinton ! , taking a break from volleyball, 1975.

Can't say that I'm a Rod Stuart fan or not, and I never heard of Amy Belle before, but there's magic in this performance, and I enjoyed it enormously (4 times !).


The Mt Wachusett road is open (they close it for skiing the winter). Today was my first visit to the top since Rebekah visited last summer. (Rebekah's Visit)


The top is at an elevation of 2006ft (not very high in mountain-ish terms), but on a clear day you can see the Berkshire Mountains out in western Massachusetts, Mount Monadnock to the north in New Hampshire, and Boston ! ! to the southeast. Next week I'll bring my longer lens and see if I can get some pictures of the Boston skyline.

A few T-shirt laughs . . .

jpg jpg jpg

I skipped over the part that I spent an hour at the dentist this morning planning the complete removal, renovation and reinstallation of my head. This will start in late August, and you can bet that I am so looking forward to it.

I usually don't use novocaine (it sucks more than the pain does), but he's saying we'll be using valium and novocaine for this. Can't wait.

jpg Update from Slovenia

(see up above about the wooden pinhole camera project)

They needed to raise $10,000 in pledge goals to startup this camera business . . . they made it with about a $100,000 overrun ! !

Learning How to Make Animations (on a Rainy Day)

jpg Playdough Recipe: 1 cup flour + ½ cup salt + 2TBLSP cream of tartar + 1 TBLSP oil + 1 cup water. Cook 5 minutes then knead 5 minutes.

Studio setup:

Make animation:
open a terminal window and CD to that folder.
type in this set of commands
for filename in *.JPG;
convert $filename -resize 200 -quality 90 "web"$basename.jpg;

Then type in
convert -delay 25 -loop 0 web*.jpg playdough.gif

Next step : come up with an interesting plot for a lump of playdough ! . . . a remake of The Blob perhaps ? ? oooh ..... A clamation remake of Jason and the Argonauts ! ( I'll need more playdough.)

Rain again this morning, so I set about doing another stopmotion movie (without the playdough): Toy City

But the sun is out now, and so am I . . . .

The Rifleman

The TV show back in the (?) 1970'S , Chuck Connors. Debbie watches it in the afternoons on RetroTV. Here's what bugs me about it.

The solution to every problem is he shoots someone. Every day. "Got a problem do you?" . . . bang ! . . . "problem solved."

I guess you should expect this - the program is called "The Rifleman" - what did you think was gonna happen, Dave !

I guess the difference between The Rifleman and the western movies that I love (Shane, Tombstone, Purgatory) is that the movies are stories of one violent event, and I can accept that. The good guys are forced to shoot the bad guys during this one event.

But every day ? Shoot every bum that wanders into town because you're the sheriff and you can't figure out what else you can do ?

Elaine & Don's 60th

Yesterday, the Pope announced that Elaine has been nominated for sainthood in the Catholic church. "Anyone who has been married to Don for 60 years must be a saint", he said.

(I agreed and voted "yes" on her nomination.)

To celebrate, Deb's family took them on a Boston harbor cruise.


Cruise Pictures

What you need to become a good photographer

We are always debating things on the photo forum. The topic this morning was how to become a good photographer, and one guy came up with an old quote that pretty much everyone smiled and agreed on . . . "What you need to become a good photographer is a bad camera."

Happy Birthday, Mom


Mounted a ball head and camera on the kayak today, hoping for good weather tomorrow.


Announced Today


Well, my photo of the rooftops in Paris will hang in the Fitchburg Art Museum until September ! Part of their Regional Artists Exhibit ! How cool is that ?

Taken with the $2000 Leica ? No.
The $1200 Fuji ?. No.
The $800 Nikon ? No.
The $300 Panasonic ? The $300 Panasonic ! (It's shown over there bolted to my kayak.)




Sleepy Strangeness

I got sleepy last night unusually early. Really could not keep my eyes open as much as I tried. Kept dozing off on the porch. About 9:00 I gave up and went to bed.

Dozing . . . falling asleep . . . wondering why am I so tired?

My last thought was "Jet lag. It's jet lag", and I fell asleep. No dreams, just sleep until 5:30AM.

Opened my eyes this morning and the very first thought I had was "Jet lag? Jet lag?"


The Fitchburg Art Museum opened the exhibition today, and indeed they have my "Rooftops in Paris" hanging there.



Back home I am building the "movie set" for my next stop-motion classic.



Have been trying out various tricks and procedures for stopmotion animations. Todays trial was simulating lightning bursts: Lightning Fight Scene . It requires much patience. Each image frame is modified by hand (The Gimp) to draw the lightning bolts and make the flashes.

Not to mention making 100 little buildings cars trucks buses and people out of dowels, etc. Am beginning to doubt my sanity for doing this. Do the math: 60 seconds at 15fps = 900 single frames, moving objects between each frame and then postprocessing each frame for special effect. My guess is this will be 40 hours of work for a one minute animation.

Nasal Steroids (or "I hope my nose doesn't get bigger")

I am starting to believe in medication. Have always been skeptical of taking stuff to stop symptoms - I keep thinking "The symptoms are your body's way of combating the problem. Stopping the symptoms is not fixing the problem, in fact it's making it worse by interfering with what your body is trying to do." Right? Your runny nose is your body trying to capture the germs in mucus and expelling them. You stop that and the germs stay inside !

But, after 6 days of coughing and sneezing all night, I decided to stop the symptoms and called the Dr (not Dr. Who, my real doctor) and he prescribed a nasal steroid spray (he very rarely prescribes antibiotics, and this is not an antibiotic).

Well I am on my second dose and the strangeness is my nose is still running (expelling those little germs) but the cough has 90% stopped, so I can sleep.

NYTimes reporter: "Thanks, Dave, for calling us with a story of such global importance. We'll have that on the front page news tonight."

Dave: "I have a few others if you liked that one . . . . "

NYTimes reporter: "Love to hear them but we gotta run now."

There's a local farm with a huge ice cream stand and gift barn, and every Friday night in the summer, is "old car night". Last night, the sporadic thunderstorms kept most of the washed and waxed classics at home in the garage. A few diehards were there, mostly (90%) were 1960's and 70's GM and Ford muscle cars.

On a nice night, this place is packed, overpacked !




Making incremental progress on the stopmotion movie set. Testing out 3 cameras; the panasonic looks like the best choice (this little camera has earned its keep 100 times over !), mostly due to it's 16:9 aspect ratio (best for mp4 video final output) and small image sizes.

Made 50 frames today with the final setup, and learned that any slight change in the light (like when the camera operator blocks part of the umbrella light) is very disturbing when you view the video. So we scrap those frames and do it again (that took 60 minutes to shoot 50 frames and review them on the computer).


The individual frames look good. Here is one.


jpg You'd expect a $300 microwave to last longer than it does, wouldn't you ?

Yesterday we got a "5E" error message and it just stopped working. There is no list of error messages in the users manual, and the Samsung support site says " . . . call your local service technician to schedule repair work".

Since these guys make $50 / hour for labor and probably $150 for parts + incentives like dental insurance and vision care discounts, I figured we'd just buy a new one.

But then I got in my usual pissed off at the modern world mode and did some internet searching. Happily this is a chronic problem with Samsung microwaves and some industrious techies have Youtube'd their handyman repair tricks.

So, what the hell, I gave it a shot . . . . and it worked ! ! Our microwave is now running just fine !