Dave's Journal, November 2014
November - cold, raw, windy .... downright nasty month, probably because it's our first warning of what's ahead.
Of Nickels and Bottles . . .
On the ballot this week is "Should we (Massachusetts) expand the Bottle Bill to include other plastic and metal drink containers?". Or something like that.
That is . . . should we expand the "deposit&return" system to include water and juice containers (and maybe some other stuff I haven't kept track of).
I say "No, we should not. In fact, we should do away with the Bottle Bill altogether." Here's why I say that . . .
The Bottle Bill was passed 30 years ago to help clean up the streets, when people tossed their empties out of car windows and the streets looked like garbage dumps. Someone then imagined that if every tossed can was worth 5¢ , then street people would pick up that trash and redeem the nickel. (The premise of this system is that each town will have enough poor street people and homeless people to keep the place clean by picking up after the upper income slobs who toss beer cans out the car window on their drive home from the office.)
Tell the truth, that plan has worked out very well. Happily, we have enough destitute homeless people to keep the town streets clean.
But . . . 30 years later, we now have town recycling systems that pick up recyclable material at the curb, every week along with the "garbage". It's easy and it works. Deb and I actually put out more in the recycling bin each week than we do in the garbage bin. It works great !!
Right now, we need 4 bins for "export" - (1) actual trash, (2) curbside recycling stuff, (3) supermarket bottles and cans, (4) beer bottles and cans. The last two have to be returned at two different return centers. At the supermarket center, you have to wait behind a line of people at the one automated machine as each person inserts (one at a time!!) each f$%^ing can they have in their plastic bags. At the beer can center, you have to line up all of your cans on the counter and wait for the nice lady to finish her cigarette, come over, put on her sterile latex gloves, remind you (with a condescending scowl) that the cans should have been washed, dial up Freddie in the back to ask if Molson Ale cans are redeemable (Molson is a Canadian brew), count your cans and write you a ticket for $1.60 that you then have to get on line to redeem at the cash register...... geeee that's so much easier nicer than tossing the stuff in your recycling bin and have them collect it at the curb, plus being well worth the $1.60 return on your investment.
I also note that because you returned the cans yourself (you didn't toss them in the street) some homeless person (shown above on the right) is going hungry tonight.
So . . . I say, let's delete any deposit&return system and just let people toss all their bottles and cans in their existing recycling containers every week.
Yikes . . . what got me off on that topic ???? (It's the weather, I think.)
After a walk on this nice day, I made this picture for our photo forum.
It is supposed to be "camera and coffee", but I got a little creative about
how to get the coffee into the picture.
The 5th of November
V, for Vendetta . . . one of my very favorite movies. Watch it, and love it again every 5th of November.
Off to the Worcester Art Museum to see an exhibit they billed as "Strange".
Compared to pictures I have on my computer, they should have called their exhibit "not nearly as strange as Dave's pictures".
I skipped up to the classical painting floor - had the place to myself, so I stared at some of my favorites for a while and then drove home, happy that I did not pay to get in (free library pass).
At this point the day was fairly much screwed, so I made the best of it by baking my first bread since last winter. It's not too bad, actually.
All my wine is now (as of yesterday) bottled (90 bottles !) and waiting.... waiting.... And I have just enough storage for one more batch of 30, so I think this coming week, we'll start the next batch, and then lay off for a long while - devoting myself to consuming the stuff !!!
First the good news . . . the snowblower started . . . then it spent about one hour "hunting" for a steady speed, and never found it. This means that, if the next tankful + gas cleaner does not work, I get to replace the carburetor.
The last carburetor I replaced was my Jag 3.8MarkII, back in 1967.
I bought the Jag to impress a girl - Linda O'Bryan, which seriously pissed off the girl that I was dating at the time (whose name I have forgotten - Betty? Barbara? something like that). Linda looked like Betty Davis. We drove up and down Rodeo Drive in the Jag, fitting in ever so well with the Hollywood crowd. (That's a true episode from Dave's life - he was 22.)
Saw the movie "Interstellar" at a theater yesterday. Of course could not hear a word of it, but the acting looked good and some of the plot looked REALLY good (esp where he gets inside a 3D "library" that allows him to float from room to room, each room representing a different time within his daughters room over the last 100 years - takes him and the audience a while to figure out WTF is this place? and what can I do about this? - wicked cool scenario).
Happily there was no romance BS to ruin (what looked like) a good sci-fi story, laced with compassion and personal relations.
That's Lexie over there, and the picture has nothing to add to my writings here, except to show you how very cute she is when she sleeps.
The topic of the moment is
new digital cameras >
lens adapters >
old (1970) lenses >
A decade ago, we all sold off our 1970-1990 vintage film gear at "throw-away" prices, and bought new hi-tech expensive digital gear. Some smart people bought all our old junk at these low prices.
Then some other smart people thought . . . "hey, let's design adapters to fit old film camera lense onto new digital cameras". These adapters now range in price from $12 - $400 (you get what you pay for).
Happily, I have a large collection of old film cameras and lenses, in a glass cabinet in our parlor. One of these is one of my all-time favorite lenses - a Minolta 50mm/f1.4 (Minolta made wonderful lenses, merged with Konica who made even more wonderful lenses and then Konica-Minolta was bought by Sony who put their name all over every patent they bought - what a pathetic system, huh - and made generally awful cameras).
So, I though "What the heck", and I spent a whole $12 on one of those lens adapters to fit that old, lovely Minolta lens on my hot Fujifilm X-E1 digital camera.
Then I thought . . . let's buy more old Minolta lenses (that I always LOVED), and I went on Ebay, and . . . . . you already know the end of this story, I bet.
Used Minolta lenses are now selling for about the same prices they sold for (new) 40 years ago.
In fact, this is pretty much true across the board. Lens adapters have floated the price of old lenses up to the highest levels since the "Digital Age" was born.
Laundry Ticket on the Frig (circa 2010)
I remind myself every now and then that, when making pictures, the only thing that is real is what you see in the viewfinder. In the universe that is defined by your picture, what you see there is the one and only reality. Thinking like that changed the way I see little things that I normally would not notice as I scramble about my day-to-day life.
I have to rediscover this feeling every now and then, and re-believe it. When I do that, my pictures get better. That shot up there was from 2010 and I'm getting those vibes back today.
Okay. Ramona sent up some pictures from Hilton Head (Ramona, Bob, Nick & Michael)
These days, Bob has only about 70% mobility on his right side. They are working on daily exercises to get him up to 80% (which I think ??? is their best expectations ?).
He is surounded by a wonderful support team - very lucky guy in that regard.
Hey, my new CaptionCall phone got installed today. This is a phone and service that is free to us legally deaf guys, and my audiologist got this to happen up for me.
Only tested on one call so far and it worked very well. It uses computerized word-recognition technology (that is evolving very fast these days. There is also a human that stays in parallel (with 5 of these phones at one time) to correct the machine mistakes. It is not 100% perfect but I'd say 80%. My own word recognition ability on phones is something around 10% (I understand one word in 10 by phone).
I will probably go for the cochlear implant solution some time in 2015. But, for today - I can use the telephone again !!!!. (I hope this works out.)
I just checked it again by calling the house phone from my cell phone and talking (to myself). There is maybe a 5 second lag between the incoming talk and the captions on the screen. That is very workable.
Update: I just got off the phone with my grandchildren Ryan, Jack and Jacob. Do you believe this ?? I can't ever remember talking to them on the phone.
You "hearies" (that's what we call you guys) don't realize how emotional it is to communicate with someone in realtime. I mean not just the emotion of your conversation , I mean simply being able to do it.
A few boxes up above here, I was ranting about lens adapters. There's one from Germany (Novaflex) that goes for $400 one from Japan (Metabones) - $100, and one from China (Fotasy) that goes for $11. I sprang for the $11 Chinese job, and it works great. I used it to attachd a lovely 40 year old Minolta 50mm/f1.4 to the Fuji X-E1 and started making "seasonal" pictures of dead leaves and broken twigs (that's exciting, huh?).
I love the Minolta images. I did make this one a bit "glowy" looking by computer; but the untouched pictures are really nice!
Okay, here is one that is pretty much straight out of the Minolta/Fuji setup......
I added this to my cafephotos Gallery #1 and ordered two 8X10's. Damn.... I just realized that I ordered glossy paper ...... wanted matte paper ..... damn.
To paraphrase Bob Dylan .... "The Times They Are A-Boring"
Cold windy and only 4½ more months to go !! I haven't been up to much worth talking about (chores, watching bad movies, etc). Only 3240 hours until April !!!
The "New" Harvard University Art Museum
It's sad, and it pisses me off, that most of us grew up being intimidated by "art museums". That was a fault of our schooling. We were made to believe that if we didn't like this painting or that sculpture, then we must be stupid uneducated morons. What complete bullsh#t that was !
Happily, I have lived long enough to understand that most of the crap people tried to teach me was . . . uhmmm . . . what I just called it. My definition of "art" is
"If you say it's art, it's art. If you say it's trash, it's trash. End of story"
Happily (also) I have come to appreciate painted pictures, not necessarily as "art", but as pictures of things, plain and simple. If I like it, it's "good". If I don't like it, it's "trash". End of story.
Okay, having established that background ..... I finally got out of the house this week (all my Debbie chores completed) and went to the newly renovated and re-opened Harvard University Art Museum. Short summary: it was pretty nice. Longer summary follows .....
Mike works at Harvard Univ. and at last we met up (in 260 weather!) and he escorted me from the train to the museum and got his old dad into the museum for free ! But he was on a lunch hour and scooted back to work - leaving the poor museum attendants to deal with me all by themselves !!!
It's only been open one week, and they have coat room and cafe bugs to smooth out (the lockers don't work and food sucks), and I'm sure that they will fix that.
The art collection (mostly paintings) though, is very impressive - specifically the 20th century stuff and a few hot items from the 19th century Impressionist period. The Boston MFA has them beat with European art before the 20th century, but Harvard here has much better 20th century paintings.
They definitely have to make this place more cozy than it is. The entrance area needs some charm - potted plants or something like that. It feels like you're sitting in a train station.
But, overall, it's a nice gallery of art, and I will go back there a few times a year. (After I send them an email telling them to fix all this stuff I'm complaining about.)
We try to do this every year, but, most often, it never happens. Last night, at last, it happened. Audree, Jim, Jane, Bob and us sat around the same table, had dinner and drank way too many bottles and carafes of wine (homemade and store bought). We have known these guys for 25 years !
Wonderful evening that ended around midnight by the fire.
...... this morning, I am draggin' my little red wagon .....
Pellet Guns, Dead Kids, etc.
I have 5 or 6 pellet guns (pistols), and 4 of them are extremely accurate replicas of "real" guns. Same size, same weight, identical appearance. In fact, a few of them are used in training police and military people (pellets are much cheaper than bullets, and no one gets shot dead in training exercises).
In the news recently are stories of kids with pellet guns being shot dead by policemen. Make no mistake ..... if that was my grandchild, I'd be screaming for police blood - but that's a personal, emotional reaction .... nonetheless, I'd want some policemen in jail if it was personal.
But, put that aside. That's just my blind emotions at work.
The question is: was the policeman at fault by shooting a kid in a playground who pulled a pellet gun out of his belt?
You can talk all day, but my opinion is set in stone. The police reacted well to a very bad situation. The fact that the kid is dead is very sad - I'm certain he had no idea of the possible outcomes of his behavior. Poor kid, I really mean that.
Poor cop. Poor cop's family. Poor kids in the playground. Poor everyone.
But the cop reacted well in an extremely bad scenario.
Leaving the "real" gun control issue out of this lecture, I have to condemn realistic looking pellet guns. Don't ask me how to do that. But given that kids can legally carry pellet guns around and that the guns are exact replicas of real firearms, the truth becomes that the gun is more dangerous to the poor stupid kid who is waving it than it is to anyone else. In today's US society, police must must must immediately shoot any apparently deadly behavior in a crowded environment (schools, playgrounds, etc etc).
Pellet guns have become as lethal as real firearms, except that they are lethal at the other end of the barrel.
And the story does not stop when the kid falls dead. It goes on for years and impacts the lives of many people.
Do you have 1min:22sec to watch what today looked like from our bedroom window? Click Here
Planes, Trains & Automobiles .... it's a Thanksgiving ritual for me. I know every word, and laugh from start to finish.
Tomorrow morning is panic time - snowblowing the driveway, moving furniture, setting up tables & chairs, making turkey, keeping the fireplace running.
Wish me luck.
whew .... we survived another holiday dinner !!!.... (too busy to take pictures)
Cold (31o), but pretty this morning (below, at a nearby pond).
Then I dropped into the wine supply shop and got my next batch that I'll start on Monday.
An Italian red "Barolo" wine.
Elise in Her Dorm Room
(Deb and I drove her back to school today)