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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Grandpa, Salida Park, 1980


I took about a dozen trays of 35mm slides home with me from Arkansas. These date all the way back to the mid-70’s.

I purchased a flatbed scanner with a slide attachment last night and tonight got around to trying the scanner. The film seems to be deteriorating. The clarity has suffered, the color seems to have shifted heavily toward red, and, of course, there are a good number of marks and scratches. This is the first one that I scanned and saved, so I’m still in the learning stage, but I’m worried that some of the older slides might be beyond saving.

I worked the curves on this to reduce red and introduce a bit more blue back into the mix and I’m reasonably happy with the results. It is still far too red in some areas, though, and I’ll need to establish a decent workflow if I want these to be done before 2012.

Still, I like this picture. It was likely taken by my grandmother (or perhaps my Uncle Billy) and my grandpa is seen walking their little poodle. Sadly, they are all gone and no one is there to tell me about this trip. He passed away back in 2005 and I still miss him.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Glad to be Home

I’m not a big fan of LA. The traffic is hideous, everything is expensive, and where I have to stay is about an hour away from the ocean. Flying in and out of LAX is fairly miserable (although the security lines are much quicker than what you find on a bad day at Denver International Airport) and you tend to run into people talking loudly on their cell phones about the TV shows that they’ve been involved in recently.

That isn’t to say that the place doesn’t have its charms. The weather was wonderful and there are some truly wonderful people in the area. While I never really think of it as a friendly town, the truth is that I usually have some great conversations with absolute strangers and in the most odd places.

The young lady who worked the front desk, the lovely lady and her son who were seated with my co-workers and me at Tokyo Wako one night (a place similar to Benihana), a serviceman coming home from a trip to Australia with his family, and a Rhodesian gentleman who left his home country after Robert Mugabe’s government took his home all helped make my days a little happier. LA will never be my kind of town, but, if I were to be honest, there are far worse places to spend a few days.

Anyhow, these are a few pictures from the trip. All were taken with my iPhone and were then modified either on the phone or on my laptop.

This first picture is dark because I was more interested in the shapes and the shadows than I was in the colors. The view is from the hotel and the gentleman to the left is the Rhodesian man I mentioned earlier. After fleeing Zimbabwe in the early eighties with only what he could carry on the plane and a few dollars in his pockets, he made his way to the US and started a business. He provides limousine services and says that business is great. We chatted a bit while he waited for Doctor Suchandsuch and I waited for my ride to the office. Typically I rent a car when I’m in town but decided to let my co-workers shuttle me around this time. I’m glad I did.


I’ve never flown American Eagle, but after my last few trips on United I decided I needed to find a new carrier for my business trips. I wasn’t disappointed. The folks at American and American Eagle were wonderful and the flights got me where I was supposed to be with minimal fuss and very nearly on time. Through my own stupidity, I also managed to miss my flight Friday morning but making changes and finding a later flight was easy and painless. It did leave me spending a good portion of the day at LAX, though, so I spent $50 for a day pass to the Admiral’s Club where the seats were nice, I had high speed Internet access, and where I could find a clean bathroom. I don’t fly often enough to need a membership, but it made the wait much nicer.

I plan to fly American again when I head to Vegas in January and look forward to giving them an opportunity to keep my business.

One of the odd things about flying American Eagle into LAX, though, is that the planes go into a small terminal a few minutes away from the main terminal. Passengers check in and go through security just like anyone else, but then they board little buses that shuttle them to the little building after driving around the runways. When we flew in, the bus driver played a canned tape that explained that we would be going to the main terminal and that the trip would take a few minutes. “Airplanes have the right of way,” the recording helpfully explained.

This next picture was taken in that little terminal. I snapped it when I noticed that people had started to gather around when Bill Clinton came on to explain why Democrats should embrace the Obama-negotiated tax deal. Most of those people had been ignoring the TV until Clinton showed up and I was struck by a few things: first, that in the world of former Presidents, Bill Clinton is a bit of a rock star, and, second, for all that President Obama has been lauded for his speaking skills, he has nothing near the skill of Clinton. Clinton has warmth, humor, and an easier manner, he showed a better grasp of the political situation, and, simply, he has a charisma that our current president can’t match.

Now, Clinton was also in love with the sound of his own voice (and his State of the Union addresses were testimonies to his own unbridled ego), but it was interesting watching him working the press corps with such skill.

I still can’t decide whether it was brilliant to bring in Clinton to help sell the deal or if it was tremendously self-destructive because it showed President Obama to be a much weaker politician. It felt a bit like a Hail Mary pass from a president who still has two years left in his first term and that speaks of an administration willing to take a big risk for a small win. Perhaps that’s not how the Democrats see it, but my Republican mind is smelling a little desperation.


Notably, that Christmas tree is very nearly the only holiday cheer that I saw in the town. It was surprisingly un-Christmasy throughout.

This last shot is taken from my seat while I was flying out. It never translates quite right, but it was a beautiful sunset and a great view.


I’m glad to be home.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time Out for Art

Do you like photography? I mean, do you like the artistry of photographs? Then I think you’ll like Joey Lawrence.


The photo I’ve chosen to appropriate isn’t his most striking picture, but it shows something that I enjoyed in his work: his eye to bring people and environment into harmony with each other. Notice how the color and the forms of the cloth play so perfectly against the flow and color of the rocks as the subject stands there perfectly relaxed. It feels very natural, but the composition is gorgeous.

Some of his work is strikingly odd, but always involving and compelling.

Beautiful stuff.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Lego Art for Car Fanatics

I’d try to duplicate the effort, but my ex-wife got the Legos in the divorce settlement.

Sad for me.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Because I Need to Remind Myself Occasionally…

Even on a day like today, when I’m in the mood that I’m in, and when the world seems to have gone absolutely insane, there is beauty.

Which is a really good reason to keep “Film is Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny” on the RSS reader.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Some Call it a Miracle. But Not in a Good Way.

Aston Martin makes a car that I don’t want.

I never thought it could happen; every Aston Martin that I’ve ever seen is a car that I want to drive or want to own. Every single one of them right up until now.

Aston Martin’s newest Lagonda, a resurrected name for a strange and awkward crossover vehicle, is blunt, ungainly, and unattractive. It is, in fact, the anti-Aston.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Submitted Artwork, Part 1: Pregnant Albino Lemur

Juanita M. shared her art with me yesterday and I felt the need to share her brilliance with the rest of the world. Or at least that little bit of the world that might stumble upon these pages.

Enjoy.


Pregnant Albino Lemur Cookie

Pregnant Albino Lemur (Or Malformed Snowman w/ Bow Tie) in Cookie Dough and Frosting by Juanita M. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Appalled, Disappointed, Sad, and Proud (And Proud Some More)

Firstly, I am appalled. Whatever message was intended, whatever he wanted to say with the “drunken negro cookies” in honor (?!) of our President, it not only defies sense, but it is in hideously bad taste. He deserves the boycott that is sure to come.

Secondly, I am disappointed. Not gravely, but enough that it brought to mind one of those bits of Kipling that springs up in my mind from time to time:

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but ‘adn’t none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-’alls,
But when it comes to fightin’, Lord! they’ll shove me in the stalls!

For it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy, wait outside”;
But it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide,
The troopship’s on the tide, my boys, the troopship’s on the tide,
O it’s “Special train for Atkins” when the trooper’s on the tide.

Yes, makin’ mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an’ they’re starvation cheap;
An’ hustlin’ drunken soldiers when they’re goin’ large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin’ in full kit.

Then it’s Tommy this, an’ Tommy that, an’ “Tommy how’s yer soul?”
But it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll,
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it’s “Thin red line of ‘eroes” when the drums begin to roll.

You can read the rest here, if so inclined. I read it first, if memory serves, in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers--a love letter to the bloody infantry--and it’s always stuck with me.

I am saddened by the death of Shane Dronett. It’s hard to say precisely why because I never knew him, don’t know if he was a great guy or not, and know nothing about him other than the fact that he left behind a wife and two children, that he was a pretty good player, and that his teammates seemed to like him quite a bit. Maybe it’s just because I know that a guy has to be feeling pretty low to want to kill himself--and, yes, I know and even agree with the idea that it’s a selfish act especially in light of the family that he left behind. But it’s still sad.

Thank goodness there’s a little happiness on this list, too.

I’m ridiculously proud of Mr. Lady’s nomination for the 2009 Bloggies as Best Candadian Blogger. You’ll have to scroll sideways to get to her category, though, which annoys the living hell out of me. Anyway, she may be a freakin’ lefty, but she’s our freakin’ lefty and I hope you’ll all help me stuff the ballot box on this one. The fact that she’s not actually a Canuckistanian by birth, on the other hand, I can’t help with.

I’m just as proud of my friend, Diane, for her cool elephant. No, really, check it out. She’s wonderfully talented and about as nice a woman as you’re ever likely to meet.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Creepy Ass Taxidermy of Doom

While we’re in the mood to wish we were playing hooky today (sorry, but the warm weather is making me feel all springy inside--a feeling that I am sure will retreat when the cold and snow come back to snuff out my happy dreams of beaches and sunshine), you should check out this creepy ass taxidermy of doom. Cool, creative, and more than a little disturbing.

H/T to the folks at Veer.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

He Said it Better Than I Did

Earlier today I was talking to co-workers and trying to explain what I like in movies. I told them that movies had to either make me laugh or make me feel, and that all else was a waste of my time. Of course, it’s a little more complex than that, but lunchtime talk only leaves so much time for nuance.

Moving the story along…

This evening I was reading a bit about Noel Coward and came across this quote:

“I will accept anything in the theatre . . . provided it amuses or moves me. But if it does neither, I want to go home.”

Made me feel all warm in side…

YouTube Wonder

This will be the first time (and possibly last time) that I share one of those embedded YouTube videos. Not that I’m opposed to them, I just don’t usually see anything that really catches my eyes. This is different.

Noah Kalina is a photographer who has taken a picture of himself everyday from January 11, 2001. Apparently, on July 31, 2006, he stitched his work in progress together to create one fast-moving view of over five years of his life. The movie creates an odd sense of motion with the changing backgrounds and hair that makes the whole thing compelling to view. It isn’t particularly emotional or funny, but the visual sense of change (maybe even the lack of change) is somehow intriguing.

One of the comments on the video suggested that this might be what it’s like when you’re dying and your life “flashes before your eyes.” Or maybe it’s a testament on the mundane nature of our lives where the years fly by and it’s hard to tell one day from the next. Maybe, for Noah, it’s the ultimate scrapbook of concealed memories that the rest of us can only imagine. Hell, maybe it’s just a narcissistic exercise masquerading as art.

Whatever it is, I know that it caught my attention.

Enjoy.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Cars, Immigrants, and, Damnit, Why Don’t I Have a New Job Yet?

  1. I’m not quite an open borders advocate, but I’ve always been of the mind that a liberal immigration policy would be a good thing. But let’s get something straight: no other country sets our immigration policy.

    Some foreign diplomats suffer under the delusion that they should be allowed to set our policies.

    Diplomats from Mexico and Central America on Monday demanded guest worker programs and the legalization of undocumented migrants in the United States, while criticizing a U.S. proposal for tougher border enforcement.
    [...]
    “Migrants, regardless of their migratory status, should not be treated like criminals,” they said.

    Of course, the fact that a migrant crossed a border illegally absolutely does make them criminals and subject to treatment as such. It’s laughable to suggest otherwise. It’s also good business, as the article goes on to note, since “Mexicans working in the United States are a huge source of revenue for Mexico, sending home more than $16 billion in remittances in 2004, Mexico’s second largest source of foreign currency after oil exports according to the country’s central bank.”

    Mexico’s economic desires do not dictate American policy needs, though, and what is good for Mexico (and the other nations represented) is not necessarily good for America.

    “There has to be an integrated reform that includes a temporary worker program, but also the regularization of those people who are already living in receptor countries,” Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said.

    That is not a decision to be made by diplomats outside of the United States. The necessity of a temporary work program and an amnesty program of some kind is debatable. While the Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary is welcome to share his views, he won’t be setting American policy any time soon.

    Read the rest. (From that Drudge guy.)

  2. Dodge Challenger. Sexy. Perhaps too perfectly an object of the seventies, but boys of a certain age will be instantly captivated.
  3. Chevy Camaro. Not so sexy. I can’t put my finger on why the Camaro fails to move me. Is the front end too blocky? Is it that the lines trailing to the rear of the car are disjointed? Is it that squinty look to the headlights? I’m not sure what it is, but it doesn’t quite work.
  4. Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 Ever since loudly driving a new Mustang through Florida (on my most recent vacation), I’ve been in love with Ford’s cheap little muscle car. A pretty face, a fun car to drive, and easy power go a long way in an inexpensive package. And this is the ultimate Mustang. Gimme.
  5. Ford Reflex (on the same page as the GT500). This car intrigues me. The various pictures that I’ve seen show it to be tremendously impractical. The rear view must be horrible and the body looks like it would be expensive to produce. But something about the squat little thing looks like it would be fun to drive. Even more, that line that extends, mid-body, from the front quarter panel all the way to the back of the car and then switches back to make a trip all the way to the leading edge is just gorgeous. The way it echoes in the lines around it, always in harmony and always flowing, is the kind of design that I love.

    I wouldn’t call it a pretty car, but I would call it an extremely well finished design.

    So, yeah, I want to look closer at this one.

  6. And while we’re talking about it, why the hell don’t I have a job yet? Hmm? I mean, seriously, I’ve been unemployed for two freakin’ days. I’m getting tired of this.

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