Dave's Journal, Sep 2012

Let's start the month with a few T-shirt laughs . . . .

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September 3rd. Dave sat up at 5:15 this morning and wiggled his toes. Clenched opened clenched opened his fingers. Smiled frowned smiled frowned. Moved his toungue around.
"Okay, you're good to go."
Slipped on his pyjama pants, looked through the window blinds for mysteriously parked cars, dead animals in the street, dead people on the lawn, did it rain last night? why is the TV still on?

Down in the kitchen, he thought "Europe is only 3 weeks from now" and spilled a spoon of coffee grinds that the cat sniffed at and blew all over with a sneeze. "Three weeks. Where did I put the passports? Did I format those SD cards for the Nikon? How obnoxious will those French waiters be?."

The morning rolled on, the clouds gave way to sunshine, he showered at noon, made and ate a "Spanish" omellette with that Mexican hot sauce he's been dying to test out. Cleaned up, took the netbook onto the porch, opened the windows and started typing . . . "September 3rd. Dave sat up . . . . ."

Overhead Light

No one asked, but I am about to explain why photographs made along the seashore look so pretty. Down on Cape Cod, the artists call it "Cape Light", and it really is sweet light, but not exactly because it's on Cape Cod. It's because the light is all over the place.

I mean that the sky along the seashore, and in the desert (NM & AZ) and in places like Montana & Wyoming is like a huge dome that surrounds everything from above and from all sides. The light wraps around everything. It comes in from the huge skydome and even reflects off the ground, so everything is bathed in light.

In places like cities and the forest and small towns, the overwhelming amount of light comes from above. The sidelight is whatever got reflected off the trees or some buildings, and it's a lot less that the light from above. It doesn't wrap around you, you know?

Forest light is horrid because it's green (the sunlight passes through all those leaves - green filters - up there) and it's 99% overhead light. Take a portrait of someone in the woods and their skin will have a green tint; if they are in a "clearing" lit from above not only will they be mildly green (some light reflected off the trees around the clearing) but they will have dark shadows in their eye sockets because of the strong skylight.

Well, like I said, no one asked. But now you know.

Dave's Packing List for Euro2012

Eyes, teeth and getting older
( . . . "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" . . . )

As you may have already imagined (but probably disregarded because you think "this sh#t won't happen to me"), as you age, your eyes get weaker, your teeth end their life cycle. Coincidentally, this is also the time when you (as a US citizen) log into the Federal Health Care system that we call Medicare.

There is a wide and wild diversity of opinions of Medicare. Ranging from the people who are not in it . . ."Why do I have to pay taxes to keep old people healthy when I can't even pay my mortgage?". . . . to the people who are in it . . . "I paid into this system for 45 years and I can't even get them to pay a set of plastic teeth or eyeglasses. I played by all the rules, I gave more than 100%, I paid all my taxes. What happened to the other side of the deal?"

Well . . . in my personal case, my eyes have been ageing and (like everyone else my age) the "reading glasses" you can buy at the book store fall short of what you need, your eyes feel like they are going to pop from the pressure of the little muscles trying to focus them and you wake up every now and then with your eyes flooded with blood because those little capillaries popped under the pressure.

This is nothing unusual. It comes with time. It's part of the life-to-death cycle.

But . . . you know . . . back when I was not retired, and paying all those taxes into the system, I had the mistaken impression that I was paying for the health care insurance I was going to get as I got older.

I was wrong. That's not how it works. So today, I scheduled an eye exam and for eyeglasses that comes out of my pocket. Back when I was a young dude and didn't have to face these issues, the insurance company took my money on the promise that "If I need glasses, they would pay for it." Well . . . I paid them for 45 years and never needed glasses. Now I need them and they wish me well on my life's journey.

"Thank f###ing you" is all I can think of at the moment.

Sep.07.2012 . . . where was I ? . . . oh yeh . . . .

Had my eye exam today. Let me backup first . . . I have been buying reading glasses over the internet for a few years now, and, on the average, I spend $13 / pair. But my eyes are now weakening so I need reading glasses to see everything, and they hurt because cheap glasses have equal strengths in both eyes, which typically is not . . . um . . . typical of your eyes.

So . . . the good doctor says I need two pair (pairs ?) of glasses . . . near and far. Okay, I thought, that gets me to $26 . . . I can learn to live with that level of expense. He says "Our assistant Christina will help you select your frames." . . . . That is especially okay with me if Christina is that chick at the booth I passed on the way in.

Yep . . . (thank those little angels up above) turned out to be Christina.

"How can I help you?" (The rest of my entire life flashes before me in an explosive blur.)
"I need glasses."
"I kinda figured that out already, actually."
"I really like your shoes."
"Oh . . . thanks . . . one of our customers, Debbie, I think, gave them to me."
"Debbie ! ? . . . she's my cousin ! "
"Well, that explains why her name is 'Leo' too. But . . . you guys live at the same address?" (she sneaks a look out the corner of her eyes and wrinkles her forehead)
"Um . . . yeh . . . hey these are nice frames, huh? They don't make me look old, do they? Did I tell you that your hair looks great under these lights? You remind me so much of that famous model, what's her name . . . I'm so bad with names . . . . Kate something I think . . . . "

We chat (me being the ever so chatfull kind a guy). She assures me how great I look in these Italian designer frames. She says it's the same Italian crafters who made her own glasses, and that she has a tattoo - that she cannot show me during business hours - of Brad Pitt wearing these very same glasses. She says, that if I buy these frames, she will give very very serious thought to putting a tattoo of me right next to the one of Brad Pitt.

This explains why I left $600 at the optometrists office today.

An Extremely Sick Friend

A friend, about my age, has been rapidly deteriorating, for the last 18 months, due to something that the doctors change their minds about every 6 weeks. The only thing that is certain is that whatever is wrong with him is caused by non-organic toxins in his system. Pretty much everyone is agreed on how the toxins got there, but that's not important when we are talking about effective treatment.

The experts did this, then they did that then they did something else, and my friend has gotten progressively worse as the various treatments went along.

His current treatment is chemotherapy, which is where they dump toxins into you system to kill bad organic cells faster than they kill good organic cells.

I struggle here to understand the stupidity of the people we trust with our health.

The guy is effectively dying from toxins in his system, and the f###ing treatment is to dump more toxins into him, and it's been going on for 8 months now and the guy is tonight in the hospital on morphine. No one has figured out yet that we need to stop injecting this sh#t into my friend. He needs something that removes toxins from his body; he does not need more toxins.

It's murder ! as far as I am concerned.

Food as "Art"

This image been in the back of my mind for a while, and this morning I went grocery shopping for the ingredients and here it is: #147.


Imagine the village idiot carrying a basket of farm stand groceries down the dusty road just East of town. Wagons and sheep herds (or is it "flocks of sheeps" ?) pass him, and a rusted pickup truck with two pigs in the back bed destined for the butcher. Two carloads of teenies off to the footbal game, then the soda fountain, then the woods.

He takes his vegy's home, rinses them in cold water, arranges them in a tray on the porch (with its wonderful diffused light) and makes pictures of the stuff for his photographic web page.

jpg Comes cleanup time, our beloved idiot slices up the peppers for snacking, and pops a piece in his mouth. (Okay, you've run ahead of me . . . or so you think.)

After he chokes, swallows a bit and then spits out the hot peppers, he sneezes.

Sneezing . . . now there's an event, huh? Sneezing blows everything that was choking in your throat upward into your sinus cavities. (This includes hot pepper seeds if, say, you were stupid enough to eat hot pepper seeds.)

So . . . the village idiot sneezes hot pepper seeds up into his sinuses, (I can see Steve Martin doing this in a movie, huh?)

In the turmoil that follows, the loveable idiot chokes and wipes his face and rubs his eyes to get the pain to go away.

Did I say " . . . rubs his eyes" ? . . . did you say " Yikes . . . he didn't wash his hands after cutting up the hot peppers ! ! "


Tomorrow, being Sep 11, my neighbor George usually has 3000 flags stuck in his lawn to pay respects to the civilian victims killed in that attack. But he is in the hospital and in very bad condition. So today, about 50 old guys from the VFW (plus me, a veteran of no war, and not nearly as old as these other old guys) showed up to carry on George's flag planting tradition.



The global camera show, "Photokina", starts next week (Germany) and the rumors and leaks are burning up the internet. Sony pre-announced an incredible "full frame" digital camera with an intergral, prime lens for $2000. This is cheap! compared to the only other currently available $9000 Leica setup, but more than ever, in these digital times, Leica stuff is "arm candy".

Fuji and Sony are tearing up the photo world with new designs. The old guys, Nikon and Canon, are looking pretty stodgy and out of date these days.

jpgNikon announced a full frame DSLR for $2000 (body only), which we are still debating if that is cheap or if that is a ripoff. . . . the debate goes on.

I sold off two lenses this week. Comes January, I hope to sell off all my Nikon gear and buy something new from Fuji, like their new mirrorless X100 (over there on the right). This would be a good emotional purchase for me, as I sold off my FUJI 645 film camera a while back to pay for the new Nikon.

There is one slim possibility that I will change my mind, but we have to see what new Nikon lenses come out during Photokina. (Actually, the Korean company, Samyang, just pre-announced a very interesting lens that may make me keep the Nikon.)

Yeh . . . I'm just thinking out loud again . . . .

So . . . here's the plan


Deb's folks are moving in here for the two weeks (thank you!). We are 95% set with every detail. Tomorrow we pick up some Euros and British pounds at the bank, and allergy pills and dramamine and stuff like that.

The airlines have chartered an extra plane to deal with Debbie's luggage.

Need to get away from the hustle and hurry of your busy life ? Pick Your Cabin

They Don't Make 'em Like this Anymore /
Flesh and the Devil (1926)

Watching a classic on TV at the moment. Talk about a multi-layered plot ! ! . . .

"The film is a romantic melodrama about two childhood friends who grow up to be soldiers in Germany. One of the friends, Leo, (Gilbert) becomes infatuated with Felicitas (Garbo), who turns out to be the wife of a powerful count (a marriage about which Felicitas neglects to inform Leo). The count calls Leo out for a dual of honor, but insists that it be done under the false pretense that the quarrel was due to angry words exchanged between the two at a card game in order to protect the count's reputation. Leo kills the count in the duel, but then is punished by the military, being sent away to Africa for five years. Due to Ulrich's intervention, Leo only serves three years before being recalled home. He return journey focuses on his dream of being reunited with Felicitas. Before he left for Africa, Leo had ask Ulrich (Lars Hanson) to take care of Felicitas' needs while he was away, but Ulrich - unaware that his friend is in love with Felicitas - falls in love with her himself and marries her. Upon his return, Leo finds himself torn between temptation for Felicitas - which the young woman encourages - and his friendship for Ulrich. Condemned by a local pastor for carrying on an affair with Felicitas, Leo eventually loses control of his emotions. Felicitas plays Leo for a fool. He tries to kill her by choking her, leading to a climactic duel between the two boyhood friends. While racing to stop the duel, Felicitas falls through a layer of thin ice and drowns. Meanwhile, the friends reconcile, realizing that their friendship is more important than Felicitas."

Miscellaneous Ramblings

We are two days from takeoff and I am ready to leave right now. I picked up my new glasses today, Euros & British Pounds, new shoes, etc etc; am waiting for fedex to deliver yet another perfect lens, the last I will ever need for sure . . . this week I sold the previous perfect lens that I bought last month for this trip to a guy in Ft. Worth . . . almost have the bank account straightened out . . . almost . . watching Greta Garbo and Melvin Douglas on the TV . . . . look how young he is . . . . didn't he use to be an old guy ? . . . Debbie is having her fingernails cut (I did mine right here while I was typing - they look just fine to me)

I think Greta Garbo is a hot chick.

Scam Warning - UMG EDGE Billing your credit card

Yep, I'm an idiot. So . . . with that out of the way . . .

We paid off our VISA card and were about to close the account when we got the new bill . New bill? Yep. . . well, long long story short . . . UMG EDGE (don't ask me who they are) has been billing our VISA account for $14.95 every month since Spring 2010.

How did I miss this ?. . . flash back a few sentences about me being an idiot.

Sent UMG EDGE a few emails today and they say they don't know who I am, even though they bill me for $15 every month for something. They don't know who I am and I don't know why the take $15 from me . . . . Idiot's Delight !

Do an internet search and yikes . . . these are bad people . . possibly operating within the law (you know "Get government off our backs") . . . they have websites devoted to blasting these people on being a scam but apparently ??? they have some legitimate legal reason for quietly tapping into people's credit accounts.

So . . . when you get your next 4 page VISA bill . . . carefully run down the list of who is tapping you for money every month. Ask your spouse "Do you know what this is?" . . . don't assume that it's your spouse's legitimate purchase (which is how I think these guys have existed so long.)

Well . . . this is it

We are out of here at 5AM tomorrow. Our travel agent (Chris ! ) has locked down every detail regarding planes, trains, automoblies, museum tours, boarding passes, etc etc. and we are "good to go".

After weeks of internal conflictions, I have decided to go with the Nikon and one lens (35mm/f1.8 prime) and my panasonic snapshooter (which will probably take 90% of the pictures that I come home with ).

So . . . davesjournal will go to sleep until Oct 7 or 8 . . . . ciao!

Page written by Dave Leo