Dave's Journal, May 2012
Okay, let's start off May with some laughs . . .
And. . . if you ever wondered what Pi means, here's the answer . . .
Got ever so bored with caring for the new grass & clover lawn seeds, then the rain came, not hard but enough to spoil a good walkaround or hike somewhere, so I got to unframing pictures and adding a layer of clear acrylic to the frames (that I had made very quickly to hang in Cafe Kafofo).
But, as exciting as that sounds , it was as boring as watching over the lawn seeds, so today I said screw the misty weather and took the nikon and the new (actually used) 24mm/f2.8 (actually this is the 3rd one of these that I have owned through the years) to the wildlife sanctuary. Just me, the nikon and the feeding sheep (are sheep really "wildlife" ?). The lens worked out fine but there are no gallery-grade pictures in the set, so I just hit that "delete all" button and poured a beer (Copper Hook) to soften my disappointment.
I sparked up my presidential campaign a bit today by posting a comment about my upcoming nominating convential. You can read my commentary here.
We went down to Cambridge/Boston yesterday and rediscovered the Boston Public Garden. JB is a landscaper and I got a good lecture on every exotic tree we walked by. The one shown here was my favorite; a huge tree with very tiny leaves, so the shade it makes is light and dappled and extremely pleasant to sit under.
Then, at 4:00AM this morning, I went out to check the "Super Moon" (don't you love the news media?) and took some pictures. Here is the best of the lot: The Moon.
The reason that I smell bad, or smelled bad (as I have since taken a shower), is shown over there on the right. Today is the worst pondcare day of the year, and I'm glad it's over. The fish are waiting in a bucket (with air bubbles bubbling up) while the fresh pond water settles down and I watch to see if the new plants die before the ones I order online today get here the day after tomorrow.
This is also probably the last week of the season when you will see the bottom of the pond, because it is in a very sunny spot (smart, huh?) and either the algae will turn the water a thick peasoup green or the surface plants will block your vision, which begs the question "Why, Dave do you have a fish pond in your yard?".
Upstairs the linguini is overcooking, but this, at the moment, is important to me (before I forget it).
Those of us who struggled through the study of literature in college were sadly shortchanged (I mean to say, "we was screwed"), because we were impressed with the idea that telling stories needed to be done within a great command of eloquence and sophistication. But that ain't true.
I have come to realize that the great stories we remember were told to us in simple terms . . . "This guy I knew painted this other guy's car with a paint brush ! " . . . . "She said that she felt weird and right there sitting in the car next to me she fell over against me and died" . . . Those were the stories of our families and friends and their lives. We carry them with us more closely than we carry (for example) King Lear (arguably the finest classic piece ever written in a European language).
(We can stop worrying about the linguini, I just checked on it.)
I bring this up because . . . . telling stories is important . . . and the stories don't have to be written in wonderful script or spoken with eloquence. Telling stories is, and it should be, more personal than that.
The weather sucks. And has sucked for days, and I am going bonkers, so today I drove to the butterfly sanctuary. Got there right after the two busloads of little kids got there, so I waited ever so patiently behind a line of at least 200 feet long, that included little lady teachers who smiled and nodded and maybe tried to warn me off with their eye movements to do something smarter than visit a butterfly sanctuary behind 676 (?) little kids. Sad to say, I missed their hints and stayed in line and checked in.
The nice lady stamped my hand and I asked her "Should I maybe just come back when these kids leave?". . . . she scowled and so I shut up, smiled and followed the 676 kids into the sanctuary.
Well . . . truth be told, the kids were incredibly well behaved. They each had cell phone cameras or ipods or digi-things and went about taking pictures and honeslty never bothered me or the butterflies. I was seriously impressed by their good behaviour. (The lady at the desk gave me a sneer on my way out. I thought about spitting on her shoes but opted for simply flashing her an evil glance over my shoulder as I pushed open the exit door.)
I got two nice pictures of the butterflies that I added (#317 and #318) to my Cafe Gallery #3 .
Leica moved itself another mile away from photography and into the fashion world for the 1% yesterday. They announced their new camera & lens setup. The camera makes only black & white pictures, and the lens is a basic 50mm/f2.0 design (I have three of these in Nikon and Minolta brands).
The set the price at $8000 for the body alone and $15,000 (that's US dollars there) for the body and lens.
Needless to say, the forums buzzed all day with sarcasm and snarky-isms about who drops that kind of money on a camera and actually uses it ? ?
The irony is that it is designed to mimic the (film) Leica's of 60 and 70 years ago that people carried around the streets and invented "street photography" for everyone.
I did not buy one, but I did give my Nikon and Minolta a hug.
My Thermodynamics students really never believed me, and I should have sent them home to do this experiment, which is boiling water on the stove.
"You can add heat to a pot of water all you want but, as long as the cover is loose, the temperature can never rise above 2120F (1000C) . . . which is why you should turn the heat lower once it starts to boil.
Although my students almost always fed me back the right answers at test time, I knew that most of them never believed me on this topic. So, today, I stuck a thermometer in a pot of water I was boilng to cook up Mini Penne, and recorded the temperature. (Retired guys get to do stuff like this.)
Anyway, it took 21 minutes to bring tap water from 500F up to boiling and then it stayed at 2120F forever after.
An additinal, and unsuspected, piece of data that I picked up is that the temperature of the ground outside 60" below the surface (where the incoming water pipe is) is 500F right now. I thought it would be warmer.
This is important stuff to know, I think.
I stumbled into the BluuHighways TV channel last night and caught an un-advertised 60 minute video of Roy Clark and Joe Pass recording a 1994 album of Hank Williams' stuff. These two guys are Masters of the guitar, absolutely wonderful, low key recording sessions and discussion. Turns out that there are 11 YouTube videos from this program; the link is Roy&Joe. Start with "Jambalaya"
I am (and have been for 6 months ! ) reading For Whom the Bell Tolls. It is only moderately well-written, but what keeps me at it is the great storyline. It deals with an American mercenary fighting for the rebel side in the Spanish civil war. Very "Hemingway" in it's styling, but not his best literature.
There's an interesting battle scene where a few rebels are about to be wiped out by a few federal troops. Both sides are religious, they simply have different (as you may have guessed) political agendas. Anyway, the battle is about to start and one side or the other will be wiped out, no prisoners, the wounded are to be shot dead.
The scene switches to one side. The commander knows how deadly the fight will be. He prays to the Virgin Mary to intercede with God and see that his side wins the battle.
The scene switches to the other side. The commander knows how deadly the fight will be. He prays to the Virgin Mary to intercede with God and see that his side wins the battle.
So I'm thinking . . . here's the Virgin Mary getting prayers from two groups of soldiers about to kill one another for political domination of Spain, and she has to make up her mind and go to God and say . . . "I think these guys should win."
Isn't that kind of an offensive prayer to make? Asking God to let you to kill these other guys? In fact isn't it doubly offensive ? because they don't even have the guts to directly ask God themselves in their prayers . . . they pray to Mary and ask her to please go ask God for them. Like asking mommy to ask daddy if you can stay out late on a school night.
Makes you think about all the offensive prayers God has to deal with, and how pissed off He / She must get now and then.
The yard (front, side, back) is now planted to its limit (or mine!). Really no more room left for new plants, and it has that immersion feeling that I like a "garden" to have. So . . . from now on all I do is weed and water and prune and rake .
Yesterday, I took my bike down off the garage wall (where it's been hanging for years), filled the tires, put on my little red helmet and took off. Felt like when I first learned to ride a bike !
Have been experimenting with computer-assembled images that contain text (that I add). Nothing yet to show anyone, but it is a fun new path for me to explore.
Have been staying away from the news websites, as I don't want the aggravation these days, and I expect we'll get overloaded with political BS from all sides for the rest of the year.
(a.k.a. "A dead fish Dave saw in the park today")
Dave added this and one other photo (from today's trek in parks here and there) to CafePhotos, Gallery3 . He reports also seeing a small snake, a turtle, swans, geese, and some fish, two dragonflies, six discarded beer cans, a used birth control device, people who are too old, people who are too young, a van of disabled people, prisoners on work leave picking up roadside garbage, lots of fallen trees (from the October storm no doubt), some guys fishing on their lunch break, mamas pushing kids on swings and (probably) unemployed daddy's reading newspapers (probably the no-help wanted ads). Dave then came home where the policeman greeted him with a warrant for Debbie to appear before a grand jury to finger the guys who robbed her bank last year. Dave is busy now scripting the story for a new HBO series pilot starring Dave as himself and an as-yet unspecified hollywood vixen to play the role of Debbie.
I have been (what's new?) complaining about politically "conservative" people for years, not because I don't like conservatism, but because they are not really literally truly political conservatives. I voted for Nixon, Reagan and (God forgive my poor soul) George #2 . . . .(I skipped a few elections out of disgust).
Most people who aren't old don't understand that conservatism once had the brand of credibility and thoughtfulness and had a really nice balance of compassion, community and fiscal responsibility. In my opinion, that day is dead and gone and the people who say they are "conservative" today are a shallow embarrassment to their history.
Without any scientific study (who on God's earth would pay for it anyway?), I can't say who (the liberals or the conservatives) is more to blame . . . . nor can I answer the question that Don Corlione asked . . . "How did it come to this?" . . . there is enough blame to spread on all of us.
Well . . . I bring this up because there is a fairly decent Op/ED in the Washington Post that covers some of my feelings preety well. Conservatives used to care about community. What happened?
Inspired by some internet photo friends (complaining about "no photo opportunities in NYC ! ! - I choke on the words !), I drove to the Alewife station and trained into Boston with the 24mm (manual focus) mounted on the Nikon, got off at South Station and walked ever so slow up along the shoreline. The plan was to have a nice walk whether or not I made any pictures, and I pretty much accomplished the plan (the nice walking part of it, anyway). I did pop some pictures, but I am not a very good "street shooter" so they always look like everyone else's snapshots, but that's not as bad as it sounds.
I did get to re-prove my belief that, when you visit a place, you can only get "into it" by moving very slowly and covering very little ground. Places change constantly, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute if the clouds are rolling by or if the people are sweeping through it quickly.
I wandered along the shoreline into the North End, which is so crowded with people with cameras strung on their necks that it's impossible to get a good photo of anything except hundreds of people like me taking pictures of other people with cameras strung on their necks.
Well, despite all of that, I had a really nice day.
And it was especially nice because I was accompanied by some family and friends who have passed on but who tag along with you anyway if you simply wish them to be with you again. (They are wonderful company, because they actually listen to you when you think, whereas living people can't wait for you to stop talking so they can tell you whatever it is that's on their minds.) Yikes . . . I think I just said that "dead souls are wonderful company" . . . I guess I did.
Well . . . I got it last night. Mike and Chris had this bobblehead doll artist whip me up as a . . . um, I guess as a bobblehead ! Laughed my ass off when I got it. It is extremely well crafted of clay, from a few pictures of me that Mike had sent them months ago.
Love the camera & flash and the bag hanging around me and my famous "peace" sign. Way way too cool, and thank you guys enormously.
Now that you must have one of these for yourself (with your head on it !), here is their website: MiniMe. Watch the video how they craft these things!
From the New Yorker . . .
As always, I mailed your card out on your birthday so you will get it late again.
Love you always, kiddo.
I don't know where he found it, but Mike dredged up my class graduation picture. It kind of dates me, yeh, but it's good to see my old friends again . . .
Let's say at the opera (no flash photos allowed), you're in the first row, with the Kardashian's on your left (the cute one has her hand on your knee) and the Jersey shore crowd on your right (the cute one has her hand . . . um . . . yikes . . . ). You desperately want a shot of the entire stage and orchestra and the first 6 rows of famous people sitting behind (!) you.
Well . . . this is the (10lb) lens you're going to need.
Bottle photo test . . . stopped in at a local thrift shop (old used "junque") and found this georgeous clay bottle (actually new, sold on consignment) that I imagined in my next great cafe photo. I had already scoped out a very neat backdrop at the local park, but now I need to (mentally) fill the scene in front of the backdrop and this bottle has to come to the party. I took some test shots . . . convinced me this is a good idea that needs more work before it comes to life, so I am happy. (I don't like the little cup there.)
May.31.2012 : Woke up at 5:30. Spent 2 hours drinking coffee and telling various people around the world how they should behave and how they should do this and that, and who they should vote for and what cameras they should buy, but I got the feeling that no one cared, so I stopped doing that, filled a bucket with chlorox and water and started scrub brushing the brick and concrete steps out front. One thing led to another and I did the walkway too. Then mowed the lawn. By then it was noon. I am on the porch now on my second bottle of flavored water and I am $^%$ing tired and I am done with sweat labor for today. Except possibly to get a few new bucket plants at the nursery, if my energy comes back on line.
From the CSM . . .
There is an article in the Christian Science Monitor titled . . . "Is Donald Trump secretly supporting President Obama?"
This comes out of some really stupid, remarks Trump has been making just as he and Romney get all friendly and supportive of each other. George Will (the noted right-side commentator) called Trump some embarrassing names too, the other day. So . . . good question . . . Is Trump really an Obama guy who is trying to make the Romney camp look stupid ?
Okay . . . I'm off to the plant nursery . . . .
Italy News today . . .
Cagliari, April 26 - A dog in a small town near Cagliari in Sardinia has made visiting the graveyard part of his daily ritual after his owner suddenly died of a heart attack in February, says the newspaper L'Unione Sarda.
. . . .the honey-colored mixed breed slips in behind the security guard's mother each day when she opens the gate and sits by his dead owner's tomb.
The dog, called Nameless since no one knows what he was called by his former owner, is fed and taken care of by locals, but has chosen to make his home in a field close to the cemetary.
Rain . . . it rained all day without a letup. I stayed inside, dredged up a picture of a fern in the Audubon meadow and made it pretty enough to be a CafePhoto/Gallery3 picture. . .
Mike sent me an e-mail, and one thing led to another and I re-stumbled into this wonderful internet archive of old pictures. Most of these were taken on 8X10 glass plates and the full resolution images are absolutely incredible for their detail.
Here is the link: Shorpy's. Be sure to click on the images to get the full res treatment.
Page written by Dave Leo