Sunday, August 31, 2008

Through the Viewfinder

Great... thanks to Jim Neill over at Life in the NohoDome I find myself compelled to do something else, Through the Viewfinder photography. That is, shooting with a modern digital camera through the viewfinder of an old school camera like the Duaflex II with a viewfinder on top. I was sitting here this morning looking at old photos and I read his blog about picking up a Duaflex and experimenting with it and a digital camera. Since I had one downstairs, I broke it out, got my Canon and macro lens, and started shooting.

The first thing I noticed was how difficult it is to hold the heavy Canon and the Kodak... Because the macro lens is manual and fixed, I have to focus by moving the two cameras toward or away from each other, all while framing the shot.

The second thing I noticed was how filthy the Duaflex was inside.

So I took it apart and cleaned it.

There's nothing like using a $800 macro lens to shoot photos that look like they came from the pinhole camera you built as a science fair project in 5th grade.

How I Got This Way Part I

Part I of a continuing series of family photos and anecdotes

I was going through my mom's computer and pilfered some family pictures that one of her cousins had sent her and came across these two gems.

My great, great Aunt Olivetta

on verso: Olivetta in Cuba no more reservoir of bones just removal cans

And, her sister, my great, great Aunt Augusta

No explanation. Just two women on holiday in Cuba in the 50's with some skulls in a 55 gallon drum.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Last Days of Summer

My mom, grandmother and Aunt Cissy came to visit for my birthday for a couple of days while en route to Michigan. Today is the first day that I've really had an opportunity to do much with them other than my birthday dinner at Hu Ke Lau.

We made the trek up to Deerfield... fortunately bypassing Yankee Candle, one of my most detested places on earth. The smell of that tourist trap is enough to give me a headache just driving by.

Our first visit was to the Flynt Center of Early New England Life. They had a textile exhibit which I wasn't really interested in seeing, but their "attic" is a collection of items not on exhibit. Frankly, I'd rather see pieces in this sort of setting, rather than a dry, spoonfed display. They had tons of stuff set up in glass, climate controlled display cases.

The most interesting items were the powder horns. These would be the vessels made from a cow's horn that served to hold gunpowder for firearms. Some were engraved as exquisitely as any fine art print while others had a much more primitive style.

Most were created by or for soldiers in the 1760's to 1780's while posted at remote forts. I guess they had a lot of free time on their hands.

From there we went down to the Boyden Carriage Collection. If you like stuff pulled around by horses, you are going to be all over this like a bum on a baloney sandwich. Personally, I'm not too big on the horsey stuff. But the firefighting pump was interesting.

There was a stagecoach that used to carry the mail between Northampton and Boston as well. In the foreground is a tricycle with metal wheels and a seat that could only be termed padded in the most rudimentary sense. It made my naughty bits ache just looking at it.

Eventually we escaped Deerfield and went to lunch at Bub's. I'd never been there and it was as close to real southern barbecue that I've had up here... it almost passed. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't true barbecue. They did have some decent collard greens though. No pics from Bub's... I was too busy eating ribs to snap any.

Then on to Atkins for some groceries... and ice cream.

We met a new friend, Judy. Who names a dog Judy?

Blythe ensured the landscapers would be busy next year killing dandelions.

Grandma kept her Terminator shades on to avoid the paps.

Then home for the inevitable diabetic coma.

Mom and everyone leave for Michigan tomorrow morning. I wish they could stay longer, but I did just see mom and Grandma in Florida last month.

I start classes on Tuesday... I think this will be the last fun weekend for a while.

Friday, August 29, 2008


You know how they always tell pregnant women not to change the litter box? This is why.

I had a patient in today that contracted toxoplasmosis as a child or possibly an infant. The first picture is of the relatively "normal" right eye. The round, white thing is the optic nerve head. The black, patchy things are toxoplasmosis lesions. The dark area to the left of the optic nerve is the macula... the area where the light coming into your eye focuses and is responsible for your central vision.

The left eye wasn't so lucky. The enormous lesion encompasses the entire macula, essentially causing a blind spot in the central vision. The toxoplasmosis lesion has eaten entirely through the retina. All of the retinal tissue is gone and the bright white area is the reflection of the inside of the white of the patient's eye.

Dirty cats.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Retro Design Done Right

I hate being manipulated by manufacturers who offer "retro" designs. Well, I guess I should qualify that. Most of the time they just bollocks it up by pasting on bits of the old design rather haphazardly on something new. Case in point...

I nearly puked when I saw Ford's retro version of the Thunderbird. I was never a real fan of the original, but I could appreciate its design. Then Ford decided to offer this abortion of a car in 2002 to capture the "retro" market.



The guy who designed that should be made to drive it through Gehenna and back. I guess that's what happens when you have a Canadian design a retro version of an American classic.

Then sometimes a person creates a design that seamlessly transitions a product from our salad days into our gritty, real life present.

My dad had two Datsun Fairlady Zs when I was a kid... a 240z and a 280z I believe, yellow and green respectively.


I always loved those cars and when it came time to buy my first car, dad and I both settled on a Nissan 240sx. There was a bit of a family resemblance there, although watered down a bit.

Hell, if I could find one that hadn't been beaten all to hell by drifters, I might buy it. But I digress...

Today I saw something truly beautiful.



It was designed by Lars MÃ¥rtensson on a lark. Just. Because. There's more over at Japanese Nostalgic Car.

Now that, folks, is how you do it. Would that Nissan took notice and hired this guy on.

240sx photo courtesy MonkeyDodge

Sunday, August 17, 2008


The concept of Freecycle is brilliant. How many times do you have something in your house that is perfectly serviceable, but no longer needed? Say you're redecorating and buy a new couch. The old couch is fine and still has years of use left in it. Or you are downsizing or moving and would rather get rid of things than lug them to a new place. What do you do?

You go on and place an ad. You offer the item for free to someone who will be able to make use of it. You get rid of something you no longer need, someone else gets something they need, and the amount of stuff going to local landfills is decreased. A win-win situation, right?

Except in Holyoke... I don't think the people here quite grasp the concept. This is what you expect to see:

OFFER: Vitamaster Fitness Airmaster (Holyoke)

Vitamaster Fitness Airmaster exercise bike. More than just a stationary bike, it has movable parts so that you can exercise your arms as well, sort of like an eliptical but not nearly as advanced. Also has a digital screen. In very good shape, needs to be cleaned up because it's been in my garage for a few months.

Makes sense, right? Poor schlub gets exercise machine in a fit of low self esteem and desire to lose a couple pounds. It turns into a place to hang dirty clothes and then gets relegated to the garage. Make it some other fatty's problem. Win-win.

Instead you get post after post like these (all misspellings courtesy the poster):

wanted:S.Hadley, cordless phone, canoe paddles, leapser or nintendo
I tring to list everything I've needed but haven't had the time to list. We broke my fathers paddle on a canoe trip and need to replace it. It was plastic and it cracked on the rocks. Any will do though.

We need a cordless phone any kind

our five girls have leapsters game systems and nintendo ds systems. I spent soo much money on these for a plane ride and I'm hoping to find some used games for the girls because they have played the same ones for awhile now.

Also we have three leapsters and two working because the glass cracked from being stepped on during vacation in the car. They are fighting over the two left. I would take a broken leapser to replace the glass on this brand new game system or a working one.

Hi, i am looking for a piano one that works pls. if u have one u wanna get rid of pls. let me know thanks

WANTED: Pinking sheers (West Springfield)
I have a pair somewhere, but can not find them for the life of me!


wanted....bean bag chairs
hello, i am looking for 2 bean bag chairs. If anyone can provide one or both please email me. Thanks in advance.

What the hell is wrong with people? I can understand if you have need of something like a fridge after yours died and posting, but a pair of pinking shears? To replace the pair that you lost? Or a paddle that you borrowed and then broke? There is something wrong in America when this mentality is accepted. I've got an idea... throw the damned Nintendo DS away (or post it on Freecycle), go to the library and get your short-attention-span daughters some books to read.

Couch surfing photo courtesy SighlentJ.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ruby Red?

When I was in Florida last month, my wife picked up some grapefruit at Pell's in the Farmer's Market. It was a little late in the season for Ruby Reds, but I had a craving and my mom's tree had none on it. When she returned home, I tore into one to discover the worst grapefruit I have ever eaten. If it were a woman it would have been Jessica Tandy. I was thoroughly disappointed... not that I didn't eat it. mind you. Picking through the rather dry fruit, I came across a couple of seeds which had sprouted. It really was an old grapefruit.

I love citrus trees. I guess it comes from growing up in an orange grove. There is nothing better than the smell of orange blossoms, except maybe for orange blossom honey. I've been meaning to get a tree or two to put on our sunroom, and was thinking of a kumquat or calamondin. I have no illusions about getting fruit from them, I just want something to remind me of Florida in the cold winter months.

So I took my handful of sprouted seeds and planted them a bit of Florida sand... because that is what I knew first.

What you know first stays with you, my Papa says
But just in case I forget
I will take a twig of the cottonwood tree
I will take a little bag of prairie dirt
I cannot take the sky

Patricia MacLachlan
What You Know First
Pell's grove is just down the street from our old farm, and the fruit that I ate as a kid probably came from the same stock as theirs. We lost most of our trees in the frosts of the early 80's, but as we didn't have a commercial operation going, we didn't really do much to protect them. I'm sure most of Pell's trees made it, or are at least grafted from those trees.

So I now have six little seedlings of what I hope are Ruby Reds. We'll see if they can stand Massachusetts too. They, and I, will have their own little bit of dirt to remind them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I bought my iMac in 2004. Since then I have experienced exactly two problems with it, outlined here. Customer service has been a dream.

I very rarely turn it off... I know... as much as I'm becoming conscious of energy conservation, this is horrible. As a matter of fact, other than the time we moved into our new house, I can count on one hand the number of times it's been turned off just to turn it off.

So when we went to Florida last month, against my normal instinct, I turned it off. When I came back a week later I turned it on and noticed that the wireless connection wasn't working. So I power cycled it to see if it would connect.

Then... nothing... except a sickening sound from the hard drive. As if the stylus was making like Jackson Pollack on the disk. And this...

I already knew the hard drive was dead, but I took it to the Genius Bar anyway. They confirmed my diagnosis and told me that they would replace the hard drive for $90. This was the first hard drive failure I have ever experienced after using more computers than I can recall.

The thing that really sucked? I hadn't backed up the computer since January when I took it in last. I have two 350 GB external drives, Butch and Sundance, that I made double redundancy backups on. But somehow I neglected to do it before leaving for Florida.

So now I had to explain to my wife how we had lost the majority of our photos from the end of January to July. Luckily I'd posted a number from special occasions on Picasa.

So I went back to the Genius Bar last Thursday to drop it off and have the hard drive replaced. I asked the guy if I could have a larger drive installed and he said no. In fact, he said I was better off going to Beelzebub (Best Buy) and purchase a hard drive there, as it would be cheaper and have a longer warranty. So I went over there and picked out a 500 GB Seagate... never mind the fact that I went to the Geek Squad to confirm that it would work. The idiot over there told me that the G5 iMac required a laptop drive, which I knew was wrong, so I bought it anyway. (PSA time here... don't take your computer to Geek Squad at the Best Buy in Holyoke... you're just asking for trouble). When I went back to the Apple Store to pick up my computer, I told the guy that I felt like I'd sold my soul to the devil and thanked him for his help.

I went home and installed the new drive. Three screws to open the case... three screws to remove the hard drive. I love this computer. I formatted the drive and reinstalled OS X. Over the last couple of days I've been reimporting my pictures and music from Butch. Today I decided to sync my iPod and discovered that I'd saved all of my photos on it. The ones that I'd lost too. I couldn't believe how fortunate I was.

That's when it started syncing with iPhoto and deleted them all. Again.

Needless to say, I now have OS X Leopard installed and it is doing automated backups to Sundance.

Happy Birthday, Baby Girl!

I'm a little late in posting this... like almost a month late. Since there are no good songs for the number four, I didn't make a video this year. So we went to Disney instead.

While we were there we had a silhouette made...

It was hard to sit still with all of the excitement Disney had to offer...

But the woman doing it was pretty quick...

And the result was nice.

Lunch was good at the Crystal Palace... until the group of 150 South American kids showed up.

Dinner at The Liberty Tree Tavern was a little more quiet.

Four is going to be a good year.


Pinch pottery teapot by Barbara Walch. I saw this piece last year and really liked it. My wife has recently decided to start collecting teapots... don't ask me why... but I can get behind it for stuff as interesting as this. So for our anniversary I decided to go back to Pinch Pottery in Noho to see if it was still available. Luckily for her (and me) it was.

Pinch will be hosting The Tea Party Revisited this October. If you're in town for Arts Night Out on October 5th, stop in for the opening. The exhibit will run through December 31st.