Mar.03.2011: test driving the Nook

jpg Probably because I had nothing much to do, I went to B&N and bought a Nook for a 14 day test trial. This is an e-book reader that also has wifi internet connection and a decent web browser, and can store pictures and music, so I thought it would be a good "upgrade" of my 10" netbook. I was wrong, and the thing is going back today.

Primarily it's the horrid keyboard that kills the thing. It's a touchscreen thing that pops up and actually it's 2 popup keyboards (one numeric, one alpha) that you must click and switch as you type. For example, if you wanted to type a password like "dave123leo8", that requires 4 keyboard changes !. Unacceptable. Plus I don't like the touchscreen keys . . . not positive enough and sometimes hit the wrong key.

Also, the web surfing experience is very bad. It's a long story, but it is not an easy & pleasant thing to do. I never even tried email.

So . . . whenever i decide to upgrade my lovely netbook, it will be for another netbook.

Analog v. Digital

Over in the rangefinder camera forum, someone started a topic on analog (film) versus digital. This was only the 999,999,999,999,999th time this has come up and i always click out of the conversation because it only increases my blood pressure (what doesn't ?). But tonight i decide that the world needed to understand the pivotal importance of analog v. digital, so i wrote this . . .

decades ago (i was there) we turned a fork in the road, and there is no going back at this point.

i lamented the loss of analog computers (look it up) and the switch to the convenience of digital (not to be denied - extremely convenient and productive). . . mostly because analog keeps you close to the physics of stuff and digital reinterprets the physical world for you, into zeros and ones, and then decodes the zeros and ones back into a simulation of what the real (analog) world (the real world is analog, kids ! !) was in the first place.

i guess that you had to be there to really understand what happened.

doesn't matter . . . there is no going back.

My Brother's New Car

jpgA lot of people don't realize how much money my brother (Bob) squanders on these "must have" lifestyle purchases. To be honest, neither did I until WikiLeaks published this photo of him picking up his new chrome plated Mercedes in duBai.

The other "Arab Sheiks" (on the left) picking up their cars are Louise Cosgrove (Miami), Ira Cantor (Brooklyn) and Dorothy Gale (Kansas).

How many trees must we cut down to chrome plate my brother's automotive dreams? Will the madness ever end?

(does it come in rhodium? . . . i'm just asking !)


All I can say is . . . "
01010011 01100001 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110011 01100001 01111001 00101100 00100000 01100001 01100110 01110100 01100101 01110010 00100000 01101010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01110110 01100101 01101110 01110100 01110101 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01101111 01110101 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100111 01100101 01110100 00100000 01110011 01101111 01101101 01100101 00100000 01110000 01100001 01110010 01110100 01111001 00100000 01100011 01101000 01101001 01110000 01110011 00101100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110000 01100101 01101111 01110000 01101100 01100101 00100000 01100001 01110010 01100101 00100000 01101010 01110101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01100001 01110011 00100000 01110010 01110101 01100100 01100101 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01110011 01110100 01110101 01110000 01101001 01100100 00100000 01100001 01110011 00100000 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 01111001 00100000 01110111 01100101 01110010 01100101 00100000 01111001 01100101 01110011 01110100 01100101 01110010 01100100 01100001 01111001 00101110 00100000 "

Which is to say, more briefly . . . "53 61 64 20 74 6f 20 73 61 79 2c 20 61 66 74 65 72 20 6a 75 73 74 20 76 65 6e 74 75 72 69 6e 67 20 6f 75 74 20 74 6f 20 67 65 74 20 73 6f 6d 65 20 70 61 72 74 79 20 63 68 69 70 73 2c 20 74 68 61 74 20 70 65 6f 70 6c 65 20 61 72 65 20 6a 75 73 74 20 61 73 20 72 75 64 65 20 61 6e 64 20 73 74 75 70 69 64 20 61 73 20 20 74 68 65 79 20 77 65 72 65 20 79 65 73 74 65 72 64 61 79 2e 20

Decibels, Decibels, Decibels

One thing led to another and I found myself in the audiologist's sound chamber today, for an updated hearing test. Well . . . "You're deaf", she wisely concluded. How deaf? . . . my hearing is 80 to 90 Db (decibels) below "normal" hearing. Which means that a normal person hears 256 times better than I hear. Normal people hear "256" and I hear "1". So we talked about upgrading my hearing aids (which are 6 and 9 years old !)

png It's kind of an emotional topic (if you are handicapped, you know) and we talked for about an hour, and I opted for two new Oticons with some pretty hot technology (hope springs eternal).

One of the technologies is a Bluetooth circuit that connects them to various gizmos for TV, microphone, cell phone, land line phone without wires. The possibilites for me to hear these things is kind of extremely exciting. Some genious should also connect movie theaters into this system, and I might actually start enjoying a normal life at some point. (end of bitter, cynical commentary)

The circle of life

This week I traded in more unused camera stuff for a new lens for the Nikon digital camera. What lens? A zoom? A mega-zoom? A super-telephoto? One of the hot new close-focusing ultra wide angles?

No . . . i got a 50mm/f1.8 . . . normal focal length, no zoom, manual focus. (I am finding that the most fun is had with the camera set to full manual operation . . . almost like the olden days ! )

The first lens that I ever (1972) owned was 50mm/f1.8, and I have owned and sold probably 6 of them over the years (from various manufacturers) and here I am again.

What's that saying? . . . life goes round and round.

Happy Birthday Ryan ! !

look at this very handsome dude !


What ? Again ?

Coincidentally there have been several similar incidents this week of someone holding up the US flag and his copy of the Constitution and spewing some stupidity into the air about this or that. Often he'll refer briefly to The Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the brave men and women who died defending our country. Always, it's his opinion that "America has lost it's way" . . . that we need to "Take back our country." . . . and that the federal government is either "doing way too much" about one thing or "not doing nearly enough" about something else. And he is also going to explain to you and me exactly how the Constitution should be interpreted regarding these various topics. And of course there's the rant against his pick-and-choose list of Supreme Court rulings and few pet laws passed by Congress that piss him off . . . but this guy (a plumber ? bus driver ? hardware store clerk ?) is now going to straighten us out with his down-home, "good old common sense" approach to governing the most complex and powerful country that ever existed, through the most complex and dangerous times in history.

He feels strength in his opinions because there are millions and millions of people who agree with him on these topics (these, of course, are the "true Americans") . . . while conveniently brushing aside the millions and milions of people who disagree with him (there are the "evil doers", or whatever he calls them? ).

There is no punchline here. I'm just observing that the levels of ignorance, arrogance, flag-waving partisanship and general stupidity out there are as strong as ever. They are, after all, protected by The Constitution.

Footnote: So . . . "I solemnly swear never to wave the flag, or my copy of the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights in anyone's face and suggest that I am a better American they are, or that they are un-American, because they don't see things the way I do. So help me, God."

from the CSM . . .

Cartoon #1, Cartoon #2, Cartoon #3

Of Eggs and Galaxies

jpg Today was sucky weather. D went to work and the cat drove me crazy with her stupid play rope. I wanted to shoot an art-deco style photo of a hand drill that I painted ever so nicely and spent 2 hours setting up the shot and, when I looked through the viewfinder, I thought . . . "that really sucks". I said that because the image really sucked and I put the drill away and played rope with the cat for a while.

Then I boiled an egg for breakfast (lunch ?) and thought . . . "what if I painted the egg red and took a picture ?" . . . well that stupidity went on while the egg cooled and I decide not to paint it, but I shot it anyway with the light for the drill picture. Then I ate the egg and had my Xth cup of coffee, while the cat sat at my feet with the rope hanging out of her mouth.

I loaded the image and opened The Gimp and the egg picture didn't suck but it was horrifically boring. One thing led to another and (hours later) I finished up what I call "Egg with a Galaxy in it's Shadow & Spoon Nearby." This is destined to be my most timeless image, as I noticed after I saved the file that I misstyped my own name as "Davd". 500 years from now, wars will be waged over possession of this picture . . . mark my words.

Then D came home and asked . . . "What did you do today?". I just didn't have the heart to tell her the truth. "I rebuilt the transmission on the Honda", was all I could come up with on short notice.

Looting / Not-Looting after Japan Earthquake

News articles all over the place are reporting that Japan has seen virtually no looting, following the disasterous (sp?) earthquake this week.


My hat's off to those folks over there.

"I Forgot"

I am recording a log of all the times that I say "I forgot" . The data is showing an exponential rise over the last few years. I had a graph to display here, but . . . um . . . I forgot where I put it.

jpg Dogfish Head Beer

Have no idea where they get these names, but this stuff is really good.

Grand Illusion

This is a classic French "wartime" movie (WW1) from 1937, that I had never seen before. The style is somewhat outdated, but the storyline is just excellent. I actually think that we could not "update " this movie because so much of that WW1 social culture would be lost in the translation. Worth viewing if you can accept the fact that this is a 75 year old interpretation of what happened 100 years ago.

My Netbook

Mike ripped my eeepc down to the studs and rebuilt it and it's jumping like the frog's legs .

Not a Bad Government, but . . . Is "Not Bad" Good Enough ?

The Japan crisis has highlighted some real problems in their national government's ability to handle . . . um . . . a crisis. Much like the hurricane Katrina in the US. See this NYTimes article. Apparently the Japanese government, though not conflicted by political intrique and wrestling, has simply weakened in its leadership. It doesn't take a lot of intelligence or leadership skill and energy to run a ship through good weather. But, in a storm is another story.

The prologue to the (true, documentary) book "The Soul of a New Machine" has this computer engineering manager standing on deck of a sailboat in this terrible storm, with his weekend buddies down below decks. . . . the title of the chapter is "A Good Man in a Storm".


Today was a gift, and I am ever so thankful. Weather was like Spring (600F ! ) and I drove into Cambridge to meet M for lunch and switch out one of the pictures I had at Cafe Luna. The place was mobbed, we ate and walked around to see his new apartment . . . reminding me of Brooklyn a million years ago.

jpg Walking around we saw this place that sold . . . um . . . recently live poultry that have been "Fresh Killed" ! . . . Takes me back to the time my Granda Fazio sent me to Union St. for dinner. I vaguely recall posting that story here a long while back, so if you care to (I never bookmarked anything ! ) . . . go look for it.

On the drive home, I was thinking about the people in Japan after the earthquake and the damage to their nuclear plants and the spewing of radioactive gases into the atmosphere. I actually started choking, my eyes burning just thinking about all that nuclear steam for them to breathe.

Of course, I am leading up to a punchline . . . here is a photo of the truck I was following on the hi-way. . . .

jpg Ironically, the sign on the back of the truck read "Earth Solutions ". . . . so I am thinking of a Twilight Zone episode of that name where the invading aliens open up businesses and just spew this sh#t into the air, kill us all and take over the Earth.

On the other hand . . . could they f$%k the place up any more than we have ? ?

Yikes . . . maybe that's God's "Plan B" for Earth.

from The New Yorker . . .

Cartoon #1, Cartoon #2, Cartoon #3

8 Years at War in Iraq

These are little facts gathered from here and there . . .

March 19 marked the eighth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a nation that had no weapons of mass destruction and was not involved in the 9/11 attacks. It was sold to the American public as a war to defend our nation and free the Iraqi people.

More than 4,400 Americans have died as a result of the war, and over 32,000 US soldiers have been seriously wounded.

For the second year in row, more soldiers committed suicide in 2010 than died in combat.

As of 2008, the cost of the Iraq war was roughly $3trillion - funded 100% by increasing the national debt (that is a link right there and you should click it !) because the federal government did not want to raise the money to wage its war by increasing taxes, and decided to go deeper into debt instead ("let the next guy pay for this war"). As a minor side note: this cost is about 60 times what the federal government said the invasion would cost.

The money the US government spent destroying Iraq could have provided annual salaries for 12.5 million teachers or paid the annual healthcare costs for 167 million Americans.

Just to be clear, I am 100% for a "strong" America, but the Iraq war is a hard example of a "stupid" (and now, a weakend) America.

1977, if I remember correctly

I was 32 and working at GE and one Friday afternoon, me, Tony F. and Grant A. took ½ day off and drove in to see the Boston premiere of a new sci-fi movie, "Star Wars".

It is now 34 years later (holy sh#t), and I am watching it on DVD (for the 100th time). I still love the movie, but it's different now. I often have to remind myself that the old movie I am watching has not changed a bit . . . it is me that changed.

"Help me, Obi Wan Kanobe, you're my only hope."

Boston Craft Show

I went there today and walked around for 2½ hours, and I got a lesson in the word "craft". I have been going to local craft shows for years and seeing the homemade goodies and enjoying them enormously, and envying the people who have the skills to do such things.

A few months back, I went to the Worcester craft show and noted that the "stuff" was . . . hmmm . . . notably better that the local craft fairs.

Well . . . today, we took it up another notch.

In my simplistic view of things, what I saw today was beautiful "art" in furniture, quilting, imagery, pottery, glassworks, metalworks, fabric art, paperweight art (don't laugh ! ! ), jewelry, clothing (basically art that you wear, and it pissed me off that it was all women's stuff . . . where are the "guy" shirts and sweaters ? ? ).

These folks were from all over the US. I talked to a guy from Mississippi for 15 minutes on how he and his mom made those utterly beautiful ($500 ! ) glass paperweights. (I did not buy one.) I talked forever with a lady from Finland (now in the US) who did this incredible two-layer screen / painting stuff that you could not capture in a photograph. And some glassware that had this luminence that photographers dream about.

Okay, I'll stop now . . . You would do well do check out the artists' websites listed on the Boston Craft Show web page.

Here is a shot I took walking across one of the bridges .. . .


Mike . . . my apologies, I didn't call because I wanted to cruise the show at my own slow speed.

jpg Which reminds me . . . one of my prettiest coffee mugs is from a craft show in Pigeon Forge, TN back in '95, and I remember telling the woman "This is a work of art, did you make it?" . . . and she said . . . "No, but Buie did." . . . and we laughed about that. . . . this piece of Buie's art makes my mornings better over and over again, and I am sure that no one on the planet up to this minute had the slightest clue that Buie from Pigeon Forge graced Dave from Massachusetts with pleasant mornings because of some coffee cup that she / he made way back when.

BTW, I once posted this photo on the Leica forum under the category of "hand made".

GE Pays Zero ($0.00) US Taxes

Deb and I took in a modest amount of income in 2010 from Social Security, my pension and D's wages. And we are about to cough up our fair share of federal taxes . . . same as the last 45 years of my working life.

The NYTimes is reporting today that many US based companies pay zero taxes. And they are highlighting GE as the example company for the article. (GE taxes.) GE took in a $14,000,000,000 net PROFIT last year and has to pay zero income tax!

I am going to spare myself the blood pressure and spare you the boredom of listening to me rage against the system again. Hopefully, you will take the time to read the article and at least continue to be aware how badly the middle income class is abused in this system. Of course, it's hopeless. None of us has the power to fix any of this bullsh#t.

God save middle America from big business and it's favorite prostitute . . . our federal government.

Model Train Show

Went there yesterday and saw what retired guys do for fun. Wicked expensive hobby ! Posted a page of photos: Train Show, 2011.

New Ears

Well, I got my new hi-tech ears today. They pick up external sounds very well and I can understand speech better than before. That's the good news.

The bad news is that the sound of my own voice is killing me. Even when I speak softly, it sounds like Darth Vader growling inside a garbage can. And when I chew food, the noise level is like a train running through my head.

So . . . I will be fine in a social situation as long as I don't talk ! ! or eat ! ! gif

Hey . . . what did I expect for $4000 ? . . . something that made my life better ?

To be honest, though, I am pretty hopeful the audiologist can smooth out this problem. I think I know what the solution is, but I don't want to be "an engineer" and drive her crazy with my (ever-so-perfect) analytical skills.

Addendum (next day): this morning I fixed the plugged ears problem. There is a microscopic vent hole in each hearing aid. Apparently they come originally blocked to "keep all the sound in". This gives you the very uncomfortable feeling that your ears are blocked up and makes your own voice intolerable. I took a needle and poked the hole open and it made a huge world of difference. This hole is barely large enough to stick a needle in (I had to use a magnifier) but it balanced the pressure and voila ! I learned that on the internet forum for deaf people !


Index of My Journal Pages

page written by Dave Leo