Dave's Journal, November 2010

jpg Nov.01.2010 . . . . today I am 23,994 days old. My little heart has beat approximately 2,591,352,000 times thus far.

That's a photo of a small pond bridge we see on or walks. The light changed every minute today . . . it was hard to decide when to push the shutter button. (Click it for the larger version)

Cameras, new and old

jpg I have great empathy for drug-addicted people, as I am a camera-addicted person, and my latest trade brought a Fuji medium format film camera into my hot, eager hands. True, it cost me the Mamiya C330 plus some of Debbie's hard-earned cash, but sh#tt . . . that's what love is all about, right?

There it is between the Nikon and the Leica, and it is incredibly small, considering . . .

Considering that the Fuji negative (it's a film camera) is 7 times larger than the sensor in the Nikon (which cost me $100 more) and 46 times larger than the one in the Leica (which I can't discuss the cost of in polite company).

Well . . . now, or rather, tomorrow is the day to load some film in the thing and take it for a spin. The weather report says "sunny" so maybe color film . . . or should I trip to the biker bars and shoot Tri-X pushed to ISO 800 ? (and possibly end up in a coma in the parking lot, with a tire wrench embedded in my head? . . . . decisions, decisions.)

Fun Fun Fun

I am not a "fun" person. I don't dance, I actually don't even "party", I only go to the theater as Debbie tells me "you remember that we are going out tonight with ... and .... , right?". I don't keep up with TV shows or "news" reports, or popular magazines. I don't gossip, chit-chat or follow the scores and scandals of the "sports" (there's a laugh) world.

I don't own a motorcycle, or boat, or ATV or snow-mobile. I don't fly-fish, play chess, ski, jet-ski or hunt.

I am not a "fun" person because all of that stuff bores the sh#t out of me.

I am, however, a happy person, because I do "non-fun" stuff that I personally enjoy enormously, and would become seriously depressed if I could not putter with reading, gardening (and reading about it), photography (and learning about it), writing, hiking (actually, walking), kayaking, woodworking, interneting (I made that word up), thinking cynical thoughts about politicians, making mental fun of the stupid things that (other) people do.

So . . . there's a difference between just "doing fun stuff" and actually being happy . . . I think .

Do I ever get bored? . . . of course I do, same as everyone else who can't decide what they want to do at that moment. But I always get over it and get busy with something.


That's National Novel Writing Month . . . . .

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. In 2009, we had over 165,000 participants. More than 30,000 of them crossed the 50K finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

hmmmm . . . . . gif . . . . I'd be starting 4 days late, and so much yard work in November, plus Thanksgiving . . . easy decision . . . I'll sign up today.

good grief, i actually just did it and they already sent me a starter kit . . . I am committed to write a 50,000 novel by midnight, Nov 30th . . . . I will write a plain text document . . . . I am going to wing it without a plan, plot, script or an outline and just start typing and never edit anything . . .

hours later . . . am up to 588 words . . . will never make the Nov 30 deadline !

more hours later (it's raining and my plan to rake leaves was aborted, so i am writing) . . . i need to write at least 2000 words every day this month to meet this target . . .that's a trainload of words ! . . . so i am writing and using an awkscript to count the words as i go along . . . today (day #1) i made it to word #2032 ! . . . so i am 32 words ahead of schedule gif

an excerpt . . . The young Gothic girl was on the bridge, her back to the rail, her arms stretched out behind her holding the rail , her face up to rain and she was talking to no one. No. She was praying. Alone on a bridge, on a rainy night. Not a fine place you might think for a young girl to be. Then she leaned backward and flipped herself over the rail like a gymnast and down into the river she went, and she hit the surface flat, died on impact and floated downstream for two days.

Absence of Malice

i'm not quite sure how many other people like this movie (Sally Field, Paul Newman, Wilfred Brimley), but i like it enormously and it's on the TV over there as i type my 50,000 words. It's a decent plot made excellent by some seriously professional actors. The magic moment is Wilfred Brimley's scene as the down-to-earth federal prosecutor from "down on the farm".

Brimley: "At the end o' this meeting, there's two things that's gonna be true that ain't true right now. #1 is that the federal government is gonna know what in the hell happened here, and #2 is . . . . I'm gonna have somebody's ass in my briefcase."

Holy Cross Band Poster
. . . we're working on it


today's gloomy forecast . . .


dave@inspiron:~$ awk -f countwords.awk Sandman.txt
Mon Nov 8 08:00:56 EST 2010
word count of Dave's novel = 3221
only 46779 words to go.

Independence Day

Lexi has had enough of basement life. Today she marched herself upstairs (Abbie zoomed to the bedrooms) sniffed around for an hour (Abbie watched from the landing), took a short stay in Abbie's favorite chair and then declared that the window seat was where God wanted her to live out her long and peaceful life. I could tell from her eyes that she wasn't taking any questions about her decision.


Gentlemen's Fashion

back in the olden days i used to get mail from the Playboy and Esquire's Men's Fashions departments . . . . today my fashion mail comes from another source . . .


The Koi Pond

we have 2 large, 1 medium and 30 baby koi in the pond that is settling into winter. that's really too many fish for the pond (who knew they would make babies in a backyard pond ! ! ). in the spring we have to at least double, maybe triple the volume of the pond, but my immediate worry is winterizing so they survive. so i spent the day draining and changing half the water and making and installing a winter style filter, that i will clean only one more time before it freezes and God takes over as to whatever happens until April.

don't know how the fish live through it, my hands were frozen in the water and it's 450F on its way down to 250F.

The Sandman's Last Dream

I will never make the 50,000 word target (see above). Probably get to 25,000 at most.

My "novel" is an episode in the life of Wesley Dodds, aka The Sandman. At lunch today, I had the opportunity to explore some of the plot issues with my legal counsel (that would be Christine M. Tree, Attorney at Law, aka Chrissy), and based on some of the eye movements I saw hovering above her espresso cup, I decided to come home and add this explanation into my novel about why The Sandman does what he must do.

This is a conversation between Wes and his girlfriend, Diane, who just found out that he is The Sandman, a mysterious hero who administers justice when the system has failed.

(If you can't stand this level of excitement, feel free to skip to the next blurb.)

"Wesley, you can't possibly mean that. These people are permanently comatose, and you put them there. You made yourself the jury, the judge and the executioner, and you essentially gave them all death sentences. How do you justify that? You, "The Sandman !" Your no better than a common vigilante with a homemade gas gun. Who are you to dispense justice in the dead of night?"

Wesley Dodds was not fast with his answer. He wiped his hands on the napkin. He stirred his coffee. He looked at the clock. He glanced at Diane, then glanced away.

This was not an idle question and they both knew it. Diane's father was Judge Arthur T. Belmont, and Diane had her father's respect for the letter of law. Wesley had a great respect for the intent of law, and moderate respect for the letter of law and a great disrespect for the execution of law.

"Something is missing, Diane. Something is disconnected between the intent of the law and the execution of it. The intent of the law is to make the world, or at least the community, a safe place to live. The execution of the law, due to inneptitude of the police, the DA's office and the bungling court system undoes that intent. Their faults actually make the community more dangerous. Someone has to fix that. Someone has to step out of bounds and fix what is wrong with the execution of law."

"And that is you, I imagine."

"Not me. The Sandman."

"Stop hiding behind the Sandman's gas mask, Wesley. That's you back there. The Sandman is your disguise in the dead of night."

"Then what about my dreams? Why do I see what no one else sees. Why do I see the crimes, the hidden evidence that is never found, the details that are overlooked, the facts that are ignored. Always they are true. Always, I am the only one to know. Why do the dreams shows these things to me, Diane?"

A pause.

He went on. "Because part of me is more than a person, more than just a man. Part of me is connected to something that I don't understand myself. Part of me exists out of bounds. That's who The Sandman is. That's who dispenses justice in the dead of night."

"Gassing the bad guys into comas?"

"Gassing the bad guys into comas, yeh. That's what I do, Diane."

jpg In the middle of the night

I woke up and wrote myself a note, based on true events up here regarding police inneptitude and laziness and making the community worse for everyone except the bad people. I will write something like this into my story (which I haven't worked on now in 2 days).

The Nine Best Looking Grandchildren on Earth


Left-to-right = Rebekah, Jack, Christopher, Andrew, Jacob, Matthew, Ryan, Sarah and Rachel

Family Circus

A lovable comic strip that I have enjoyed for many years . . .


The Door to an Abandoned Tropical Fish Store


shooting film again

Trekking through the forest you sometimes go over your old footsteps, and that's how it is with me now, as I am rediscovering film (despite that I have digital cameras that I enjoy enormously). "The right tool for the job", I guess is what you'd say. And, despite the barely mediocre success of my first two rolls, I am all pumped up on shooting film in medium format now, with 35mm as rock-solid, dependable backup.

Happily there are a lot of die-hards out there who are still expert in film photography and ready to share their knowledge of how it works in this digital age.

And it is pretty well accepted that, in terms of quality, film wins hands down, and for actually printing large images, there is no contest - film is how you do it. The downside of course is your money and time. Digital is fast and cheap, but in my opinion it has turned the lot of us into mindless snapshooters with very low standards of what's good and what's bad.

At lunch today, I met the head of the film lab at Fitchburg State College. She invited me to come over and get a lab tour some day (next Tuesday ?) and see how they do things. She said that it is incredibly cheap and easy to process and print your own film at home. We'll see. I have the time and the basement space.

Owl and Sparrow

Very neat indie film about this Vietnamese runaway orphan . Once you get over the hand-held / in-the-face camera style and the mean uncle, whose ass you would dearly love to kick up and down the street, you should like this one (but even if you don't like the movie too much, you must utterly love this little girl).



jpg Another small "indie" movie, shot for probably $1000 per actor, and the director and producer and camera operator worked for the love of art.

This drab, boring Danish plumber (whose wife just tossed him overboard for some hot young dude) marries the young sister of the Chinese guy who owns the restaurant he eats at so she can get a Visa to stay in Denmark. The Chinese guy gives the Dane $8000 to marry her, because the Dane owes his ex-wife $8000.

But then the Chinese girl dies.

An excellent movie (I turn off bad movies and send them back, so if I finish it, I liked it ! ) that shows (as ever) the common people are fundamentally the same everywhere you go.

The movie is spoken in Danish and Chinese and I didn't even realize this until half way through because I have to read the English subtiles anyway !

A really sweet and sad movie, with a humanistic (is that a word ?) end.

From the New Yorker


the first roll out of the Fuji came back today

this is a shot of my new favorite scene around the Audubon meadow in Princeton
(postprocessing via the GIMP)


Her Guardian Chicken

Lexi (the new cat) and Abbie (the old cat) had a skirmish this morning that cost Lexi a slashed eye and cost me a trip to the vet (interrupting my furniture arranging for tomorrow and my badly timed decision to clean the fish tank). Lexi is down for the count at the moment (that's my sweater she's sleeping on), and I noticed her favorite chicken happens to be watching over her, so who could not grab a camera and record this for future generations of chicken lovers.



happily, we survived another holiday dinner gif, and Lexi's eye is looking better.

to change the subject, i noticed two things that i do that are carry-overs from my office years:

1. i over-anticipate upcoming events and overthink various options available should this or that happen. this is the GE idea of "anticipate all possible outcomes and have solutions ready should any of them occur".

2. i over-answer questions, always starting with enough background so the listener will follow along and agree with my punchline or conclusion. this is another GE habit to answer question before they are asked and tell the story in one smooth narrative, so when you're done everyone's head is shaking "yes".

but ironically,

1. 99% of the events that i anticipate and mentally prepare for actually never occur, and

2. in social conversation, people get bored with long stories and it's not really important to sell them on your punchline or conclusion, in fact by the end of your story, they have most often drifted to sleep and you have to wake them up and repeat it at least twice before they nod "yes" gif.

Happy Birthday, Loretta !


Actually it was on Thanksgiving Day this year and I neglected to post it here.

Happy Anniversary
Ramona and Bob !


They still have it . . . don't they ?


Lacey: "How much longer can they keep us apart, honey?"
Dave: "Wait 'til next season, babe, we'll show 'em how it's done."
Lacey: "Oh, Dave, you're the bees knees."
Dave: "Yeh . . . I gotta be honest, babe, I am, I am."



Index of My Journal Pages

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

page written by Dave Leo