Saturday, March 4, 2006
Just because I walk with a cane and my beard is now white instead of its original black, people seem to think I need assistance of all kinds that I don't really require. If I drop my cane, which I do a number of times a day, there's inevitably some kind soul there to offer to pick it up for me. It's not that I don't appreciate the offer. I understand the compassionate intent, but I don't have any trouble bending over. It's walking that causes me pain.
Quote of the Day: "What people say behind your back is your standing in the community."
-- Edgar Watson Howe
I'm sure my standing in the community is pretty low.
I've started packing things for our move in late April. I really hope we can find a place. I shiver to think of staying here for another year. I've been throwing a bunch of things out, but we've not put acquisitiveness on hold in the two years we've been here, so we've probably gained as much as we'll get rid of. Oy!
Sean and I went to a nice concert at the WVSU Capital Theater. It was the Abaca String Band. They comprised 8-string guitar, double bass, violin, mandolin, and viola. It was an excellent program by five consummate musicians. We got to speak with them briefly after the program. They seem like very nice people as well. I'd love to have the opportunity to see them perform live again, but in the meantime I bought one of their CD's. If you get the chance to see them, definitely do so.
Sunday, March 5, 2006
I've been involved in computers since the first kit computers came out (Remember the Sinclair?). I've been taking photographs since before that. My first camera was a Brownie. Not too long after that I got an old viewfinder 35mm (actually it was new at the time). Not too long after that I got a Mamiya-Secor 120, then a Yashika SLR. The Mamiya got stolen. The Yashika got broken. After I got married the second time I bought another Yashika -- a viewfinder, then a Minolta SLR. The fixed lens on the Yashika got bent and eventually I just lost track of it. The Minolta got stolen. There seems to be a trend here. . Yashikas get busted, if they start with an M, they get ripped off. I didn't have anything other than cheap 35mm point'n'shoots for a long time. I bought a Canon EOS Rebel X several years ago, followed by a EOS Elan 7. Now computers and photography have converged. My first digital camera was a Fujifilm S3100. My latest is the Canon EOS 20D. I'm getting accustomed to it and as soon as the weather breaks I think I'll have a really good time with it. Recently I bought a Taschen book, A History of Photography. Maybe someday I'll be in such a book.
Here's another of the photos I took on the snow trip out route 16:
This photo might load slow if you don't have broadband access. I had to keep the quality fairly high to, er, ah, keep the quality fairly high. You know what I mean.
Quote of the Day: "The threads of circumstance that lead to tomorrow are so tenuous that all the fussing and worrying about decisions is futile compared to the pure randomness of existence. And I must admit I like that. I like it that my career has all the predictability and continuity of a children's nonsense rhyme."
-- Nick Bantock, The Artful Dodger, p. 5
My career has all the predictability and continuity of a children's nonsense rhyme, too, but I'm nowhere near as good or sucessful as Nick Bantock, although I admire his work, and in some aspects, certain veins of mine resemble some of his, through no intent of my own. Maybe I should send him a piece of my art. . .
Monday, March 6, 2006
Staples had an ad in the paper Sunday with several things I've been thinking about buying at decent prices. I went up today and got two of them, and some ink cartridges for both printers. One of the items was a 512 MB SODIMM DDR memory module for laptop computers. I brought it home and cracked the case. It didn't fit. I went to the PNY (memory manufacturer) website and looked up my machine. It said that the memory is available only from Toshiba! I checked the Toshiba sales site: $99.00!!!!! For a 512 MB memory module! Ridiculous. I hate proprietary parts. Anytime you can only get something from one source it's going to be more expensive. That's one reason (among many) that I'll never own an Apple Computer.
The other item I bought was a Maxtor 200GB External Hard Drive. It cost $109. Pretty cheap until I realized that it's only USB. No firewire. Drat! Still, it's cheap. It seems to work pretty quick with the laptop. I've not hooked it up to the desktop machine yet. It came pre-formatted using the FAT32 file system. I guess that's so it will work with Windows 98 SE as well as XP. Probably a better choice than NTFS for a portable, removable device.
Quote of the Day: "If everything seems under control you're just not going fast enough."
-- Mario Andretti
I'm trying to get organized and accomplish something, but it's a tough slog. I got a new case for the notebook computer and accessories. With the extra weight of the external hard drive and it's power module and cables it seems to weigh a ton. A lot of the extra weight is probably in the case itself. It feels, looks, and smells like leather, but the label says man made materials. Hmm.
Thursday, March 9, 2006
It seems that nearly everything I've bought lately has a rebate attached to it. Rebates are a scam. The company is just hoping that a certain percentage of the customers will neglect to claim it. It's not right on more than one level, too. It steals the customer's time, effort, and postage to claim them. Then there's the issue of the time the company keeps the customer's money for their own use. It's unethical and unconscionable. Today I had a go-round with a company over a rebate. They claimed I hadn't sent in the UPC symbol to claim my rebate. This is not the case. The web site where they sent me to track my rebate had no link to contact anyone in any form. I called the customer service line. After getting nowhere at two separate numbers and three different extensions, dealing with an infuriating and frustrating menu system, and finally having the customer service rep put me in touch with someone at the company handling their rebates (they don't even handle their own rebates! I smell a racket here), they told me they couldn't help me since I hadn't sent in the UPC. Well, I told them that if the UPC wasn't with the receipt and rebate form then they lost it. He then asked me if I had made a copy of the UPC. What? Now why would I do that? What further use would I have for it? I told him I don't collect UPC's. I could have said yes, gone to the store, bought another item, copied the UPC, taken the item back for a refund and I would have had an illegitimate copy of it for whatever he wanted me to do with it. I told him that I had made all the phone calls I intended to make concerning this matter and if I had to make another one it would be to the West Virginia Attorney General to report this company for fraud. He condescended to award me my rebate. It really wasn't worth the time and aggravation just for the $15 rebate, but it's the principle. If I have to waste my time and energy and postage then I want my pittance. If they'd do away with rebates and all the bullshit and extra expense of it all, this item that I paid $50 after the rebate and my lost moments, etc., could sell for about $35 instead. And I'd have the extra $30 to spend on something else of theirs. It's frustrating and irritating. I'll go far out of my way from here on out to avoid buying anything that has a rebate attached.
Quote of the Day: "Some editors are failed writers; but so are most writers."
-- T. S. Eliot
The National Gallery is hosting an extensive Dada exhibit until May 14. I'd sure love to see that. With all the surgery and other crap I have on my plate right now, it doesn't seem very likely. Damn.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
At one time I was quite well trained in electonics. I could build kits, troubleshoot problems with everything from radios and televisions to broadcast transmitters and studio equipment. I've forgotten a lot of what I once knew (I even had an FCC First Class ticket). Our television is acting up. It gets a lot of diagonal stripe and sparkling interference that goes away if I turn it off and turn it right back on. I don't remember what causes that kind of symptom. I'm pretty sure it has little to do with the temperature of the set, since turning it off and right back fixes the problem for a while. It's puzzling. At least to me, at this time, it is. I think we may be looking to replace the set soon. I was hoping to put that off until we had moved to a larger place, but necessity may force our hand.
Quote of the Day: "Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd."
-- Bertrand Russell
I've been looking at printers. Epson has several nice ones that use pigmented inks and produce archival prints good for anywhere from 27 to 200 years. There is one that does standard size paper (i.e., 8.5 inches wide) for less than $400. The one I'd really like that does 19 inch wide costs over $1500. I think I'll wait on that one for a while. As long as I'm wishing, I'd like to have the Canon 28-300mm IS-USM-L zoom lens. The list price is about $3200, but I found it for a thousand dollars less online. What a bargain.
My new glasses are not really to my liking. The lenses are too small to adequately handle the progressive gradation. They're hard to keep clean, too. I wish I could have the surgery, but I doubt that I'm a good candidate. I can't do contacts either. I guess I should have just been born with perfect vision. That'll teach me.
I know, lately this project has taken on a very mundane flavor. I suspect that is because all I've been dealing with is an abundance of mundanity. Perhaps after I get my medical problems dealt with and we get moved I'll be able to get back into the swing of things. Right now it's hard. Most days I don't feel well enough to much other than take care of things like eating, cleaning, shopping, and resting. There is a lot more I'd like to do, but maybe once or twice in a two week period I get out among people. I enjoy these infrequent forays and wish I could do more. Friday I went to Pro-Art. I ran into some people I hadn't seen for a while. It was nice. Good conversations. I also stopped by Merrill Photo and bought a 50mm macro lens. I tried out several and had a nice conversation with Mark about lenses, cameras, and photography in general. I'd love to do things like this two or three times a week, but I just can't muster the energy to manage it. I'm supposed to call Charly Hamilton and get together with him at some point, but it's been a while since I talked to him and the longer it goes between the less likely I am to call. Warmer weather, surgery in the rear view instead of the windshield, and a better diet, and maybe I'll get out and about more and do more when I'm not afield.
The other day when I went to Daniel Boone Park, this was the only semi-interesting duck I saw. There were three other ducks, all grungy looking male Mallards. There used to be a pretty little wood duck that hung out at the boat ramp in the park (see October 26, 2001 entry), but I haven't seen him in years. He's such a pretty little duck. I hope he's okay.
"Is This My Good Side?"
I don't know what it is about ducks, but I think they're great. It's like rabbits. I like rabbits. I used to have a Belgian Giant named Hoggy Wall Bunny. He was a great bunny. I used to take him on walks in small harness for a dog like a chiuhuahua, If I didn't get it on real tight, he'd wriggle out of it and here I'd go running down the street chasing a huge white rabbit. I must have been mistaken for Alex in Wonderland. He got too big and too horny and I had to get rid of him. I still think about him sometimes. Hoggy was one of the best pets I ever had.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Mark Hammer at Merrill Photo turned me on to a site about photography that is serving me well. It's The Luminous Landscape. Lots of great things on there about photography, including reviews of cameras in the 33 to 39 megapixel range. Those make my 8.2 megapixels look like a toy. Thirty! Nine! Megapixels! Whew! And the price? The cheap 22 megapixels are at a reasonable fifteen grand. Man. And I thought film cameras in the medium format range were expensive. Anyway, I was reading some of the tutorials and I came across this:
"The secret [to superior photographs] is the quality of the light. . . [In] the vast majority of cases the [best] images. . .[are] created within 2 hours of sunrise or sunset, or in fog, mist or rain. [The] character of the light is as critical a component of a strong image as is the subject matter itself."
-- Michael Reichmann
I thought about this for a while and I will keep this bit of photographic advice as close to my heart as the bit I put as the "signature" on most of my e-mail: "Injuries heal eventually. A lost shot is gone forever." -- Jim Slater (National Geographic Photographer). I've been thinking about photography a lot lately. Part of it is the new camera. Another part is the weather trying to become springlike. Still another part is the ability to create with a very small and portable set of tools. I'm packing away most of the other materials I use to create art. It's a daunting task, one I'm not sure I'm up to at the moment.
I've been reading my Taschen book on the History of Photography. It's an interesting read, and the photographs are mesmerizing. I'm also on the last of the Outlander series of books I started before Christmas. They're well-written and the story and characters are engaging, but I'm about ready for it to be done. Six books of over 1000 pages each telling a single story, no matter how interesting, engaging, and well-crafted, gets old somewhere around the midpoint of the sixth tome. I even got The Outlandish Companion, which is a volume of information about how the story came to be written, though the companion book was written before the last two of the series, about the author's life and interests, tutorial and reference material that leads somewhat to a fuller appreciation and understanding of some of the things in the books. It was a great ride, but I'm ready to try the Ferris Wheel now.
Friday, March 17, 2006
I keep taking my camera and a bag full of lenses with me most places I go, but I'm not taking many pictures. I think the reason for that is my reluctance to walk very far from the car. It's hard for me to get around and there aren't too many pictures I can snap from a moving car.
Speaking of cars, I had my first scheduled maintenance on the new van today. Essentially I spent $72.00 for an oil change and air filter, which I usually do at Wal-Mart or someplace for about $15.00 or so. What a rip off! I wonder if I can get my oil changed elsewhere and still keep my warranty in effect? It seems like everyone has a racket but me. I need an angle. Maybe I'll try out for that new "reality" show, American Inventor. I could make a million bucks. . . or more. . . or not!
Quote of the Day: "If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest."
-- Thomas Jefferson
I love on-demand cable programming. I've been catching up with the new season of Bill Maher's Real Time show. It's been on three weeks and I had no idea. I guess HBO is trying to get rid of him using neglect and a lack of advertising.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I guess I'm making up for lost time. I went out today and came back with 52 photos. I'm sure not all of them are worth looking at, but hey, that's a lot better than I've been doing. The sky and light are great today. It's still too brown and gray and cold for me to get really enthused about shooting, but hopefully that will change soon. I think a number of the pictures I took today are multiples of the same shot, but bracketed. I don't think I even checked the ISO setting before I started. I know I took a number of shots before I realized the camera was set on macro. I almost always shoot using either aperture priortiy or program AE. For some reason I found the macro setting useful and forgot to change it back. It may be interesting to see how those shots turn out.
Quote of the Day: "Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."
-- Carl Sandburg
I've been thinking about exactly what art is again. I think this was stirred by the Dada show that's going on at the National Gallery, and my friend's invitation to attend it with her. Oh, how I'd love to do that. I may take off some time from fighting with my HMO and others and go do just that.
Anywho, back to the subject of "what is art?" I think, for the most part, that anything can be art, witness Duchamp's readymades, Jean-Michel Basquiat's work, a lot of Andy Warhol's work, Hugo Ball's . Art is simply what art is, given the intent for it to be art. Art arises in the mind of the artist and is manifest in whatever form the artist chooses. The form, the medium, the success or failure of it in terms of societal acceptance, nor any other attribute determines whether or not it is art. If the conceiver is an artist, whatever he posits as art is art.
Speaking of art in the mind of the behoover:
"Persistence of Memory, 2005 Edition"
NOTE: I made this entry Saturday, and in the hectic pace of my life (e.g. "zzzzzzzzzz") I somehow managed to NOT upload it. Oy! Anyway, for once I'm not a dollar short. . .
Monday, March 20, 2006
Just another manic Monday.
Quote of the Day: "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few."
-- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind
I'm still on my quest to take the definitive photograph of the West Virginia State Capitol. This is not it, but I'm getting a giggle at my punny side with it:
"Branches of Government"
I include the shooting parameters of all my photographs since I started using the Canon 20D in the alt parameter of the image tag of each photo. Something strange, though -- I use the Fujifilm download and viewer program to suck the photos off the memory card, since I want to keep the file names consistent and use the same program for both cameras. Well, if I rotate a photo, like the one above, the Canon EOS viewing utility refuses to read the data included in the EXIF portion of the file and won't even display the picture, whereas the Fujifilm viewer knows exactly what's going on and had not a whit of a problem showing me the photograph. Odd.
NOTICE: The Charleston Camera Club meets at 6:30 pm on the first and third Monday of every month at the South Charleston Public Library. For information, contact Linda Weekley. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I had a thoroughly unpleasant experience last night. The cable Internet connection was messed up. I called to see what was going on and went through the next hour of pure hell. In this so-called service economy, with most of the services (i.e., cable Internet access) being provided by large national or international corporations with no way for the customer to talk to anyone of any real consequence withing the organization, the only feedback the corporations get are statistical, and statistics are not very useful in meeting the needs of those of us who do not fall within the statistical mean. That makes me mean. I think we need laws mandating the maximum amount of time (something under 10 minutes) that a person calling a tech support or trouble reporting number can be on hold before getting to talk to an actual human being. The fines for not complying should be hefty and split with the offended caller. And while we're at it, voice response automated systems should be outlawed altogether.
Quote of the Day: "You cannot travel the path until you have become the path itself."
-- Prince Gautama Siddharta (Buddha) 563-483 B.C.
Spring is here officially, but at the moment there's snow or something like it on the juniper and the plastic rabbit next to my front sidewalk. Sunday, a mere two days ago, the forsythia was brilliantly in bloom and thw sun was shining. Today, it was a white-out day and it's now down to 28 degrees. There's a black ice warning out for the morning and schools are running on delays. Here's a look into the recent past:
"They Call Me Mellow Yellow"
This cold, snowy and rainy weather will probably kill off a lot of the pretty colors that rushed the equinox. I love the nice, pastel colors of spring. Actually I like the darker colors that hide under and behind the lighter, more innocent colors, those colors that hint at the jaded and decadent richness to come in late summer and fall.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Something to consider: sun-dried tomatoes -- how do they dry them commercially and manage to keep the bugs and pollution out? According to about.com, "[S]lice tomatoes in half, place on a raised screen, lightly sprinkle with salt and optional herbs, and place in the hot sun until dry. Depending on your weather conditions, this could take anywhere from four days to two weeks. You'll want to cover them with cheesecloth, raised so it does not touch the tomatoes, to keep out any critters and provide proper ventilation. You will also need to bring them in during the night, lest the evening dew undo your drying process." Even raised on a screen and covered in cheesecloth will not stop the more determined insects, and the small particulate pollution in today's air will easily settle through the openings in the cheesecloth. I was thinking, too, that even cheesecloth raised above the drying screen would probably have a fairly high SPF factor, which would slow down the drying time considerably. I think, if I want to try any recipes calling for sun-dried tomatoes, I'll make my own in a food dehydrator. Indoors.
Quote of the Day:
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?"
-- Rabbi Hillel
Prior to about 1760, there were no sadists. That is not to say that there were no people gaining sexual pleasures from inflicting pain on other, but that it was no possible to be called a sadist before Donatien Alphonse François de Sade obtained his sexual maturity and started gaining notoriety for his proclivities. The Marquis de Sade was born in 1740. The era of liberation and revolution bore the seeds of a revolution of sexuality that did not bear fruit until 200 odd years later. I discovered Justine while I was in school at West Virginia University in 1973 or 1974. Someone, perhaps an English professor, had mentioned the book in the course of a discussion of more widely-read material. Intrigued, I went to the library and looked it up in the card catalog. It was in the Medical College library, and was only allowed to be checked out by students of that school. Others had to have special permission and could only read it while sitting in the reading room. I managed to read about a third of the book before I tired of the trek to the Evansdale campus just to sit for an hour or two and read a fairly tame bit of S&M pornography. Granted it was a groundbreaking bit of literature at the time and contributed greatly to the freedom of speech that the neo-cons are now trying to take from us, but judged from the perspective of the post-60's literary landscape, it hardly rates notice as perversion. Why they had it in a special library under restrictions when students were required to read Madame Bovary for some classes is beyond my comprehension. I know Flaubert is merely a sensualist and de Sade is a thoroughgoing pervert, but I doubt the book is banished to the Med School library because of perversity or violence. It's all about the sex. Puritans!
"Sunlight and Treacle"
I did a considerable amount of post processing (involving masks and other esoteric tools) on this photograph, trying to get it to look as natural and as true to the eye as the actual scene would appear. Unlike a lot of the things I shoot, the capitol dome with its new gilding and paint, is not easy to reproduce. The sun glints off the gold and bleaches the gray paint in the camera's eye. I've shot a lot of frames under different lighting conditions and nothing, unprocessed, satisfies. Even heavily modified as it is, this photo still isn't exactly to my liking. Oh well, there's always the next opportunity.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
It's a crapshoot as to whether I can get an update to this page uploaded to the site or not. Charter cable Internet access has been screwed up since last weekend. I can hardly wait until Internet access gets as reliable and taken for granted as land-line telephone service. When was the last time your phone was out of service due to something other than a telephone pole knocked over somehow or a natural disaster? Phone and electrical service is usually rock solid. In my lifetime, things were a little less than as perfect as they are now. I remember electrical outages and phone service interruptions as a normal part of everyday life. I'm not all that old either. Well, maybe I am. I remember bread for five cents a loaf, too.
Quote of the Day: "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. . ."
-- John Donne (Meditation 17, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions)
A friend died last night. Farewell, Griff. You will be missed.
Monday, March 27, 2006
March is nearly over. It's not been a great month. People dying, HMO's fighting me, not being able to eat right or exercise, bad weather, pain, no decent days to fly kites. April is just around the corner and it'll be time to find new digs. I really want to find someplace with enough room so that my entire world won't be clutter and booby traps. Also I'd love to get a corner computer desk that would accomodate two monitors. I really want two monitors. In fact, I have two spares, but they're both CRT's. I'm not sure I want to use one of those -- the 15-inch is too small, and the 17-inch takes up too much room. What? I'm rambling? Hadn't noticed.
Quote of the Day: "The mind can make a heaven out of hell or a hell out of heaven."
-- John Milton
I'm considering a minor format change here. Either every day or some days I'll put an entry title in addition to the date and time. Maybe that will keep my focus a little tighter and lead to entries that are more interesting and readable. Then again, maybe not.
I forgot to upload this entry yesterday (Monday). I almost forgot to do it again today. I'm just distracted lately.
Thursday, March 30, 2006 Bue Skies, Smilin' At Me
It was a gorgeous day today, but I didn't go out with my camera. Instead I was at a funeral and burial. It's hard to let a friend go, but I'm glad it was a pretty day and that the turn-out for the services was good. I hate funeral services (not to mention the effect all those flowers have on my sinuses), but this one was nicely done. I would have liked to have spoken, but I was too emotional and decided against it. The people who did speak did Griff proud. The Masonic Rites at the graveside were tasteful and didn't offend my sensibilities like a lot of the bible-thumping ceremonies do.
Quote of the Day:
"Do not go after the past,
Nor lose yourself in the future.
For the past no longer exists,
And the future is not yet here.
By looking deeply at things just as they are,
In this moment, here and now,
The seeker lives calmly and freely.
You should be attentive today,
For waiting until tomorrow is too late.
Death can come and take us by surprise--
How can we gainsay it?
The one who knows
How to live attentively
Night and day
Is the one who knows
The best way to be independent.
-- Bhaddekaratta Sutra (Buddhist)
I try and try and just can't think of what to write about. I guess I'm depressed. I try to put a good face on it, but it gets harder. Maybe it will be better in April.
In addition to being "the cruelest month," April is National Poetry Month. Contrary to popular belief, poetry does not have to rhyme and the National Library of Poetry did not invent either poetry or the month of April.
Friday, March 31, 2006 Overflow
Sometimes when I have little to write about here, it's not because I don't have anything to say; it's because there are too many things going around in my head, and when I sit down to write, it's like a flood of things that washes away any coherent thoughts. Today is one of those times. All day long I've thought of things to write about but when time came to sit down and put my fingers on the keys, I can't decide and the thoughts jumble together and I can't seem to concentrate on one subject well enough to form the structure in words in order to exposit what I'd like to say. I think perhaps sitting here in front of the televsion contributes to the confusion. I also think the pain I feel constantly as of late has a little to do with it as well, not to mention my IQ has probably been reduced 40 points from the anesthesia.
Quote of the Day: "The shortest distance between two points is always under construction."
-- Noelie Alite
I think I need some quiet time to meditate, contemplate, and consider. I need no distractions, no pain, and a couple bottles of nice bourbon. I think, at this point in my life, I might be able to write something of worth. Right now, however, I'm going to watch the new Dr. Who. series. I love the Doctor. No, not in a Brokeback Mountain kind of way. . .
"One of the wonderful things quartz does"
I think my favorite Doctor was Tom Baker. I loved his scarf. I always wanted one like it.