Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Local Broadcast News is Making Us Stupid

 Great column by Tina Dupuy.  This is what passes for 'news' in many local markets these days. Tina really nails it and please click the link below to read the entire piece.    It may make you angry, or put you to sleep until the next Lohan or Bieber spectacle hits the airwaves, your choice.
 “The media,” as it’s referred to, is not a monolith. We don’t just have one channel, one paper or one site with one nefarious dude pulling levers. “The media” consists of books, newspapers, magazines, television, billboards, radio, blogs, vlogs, ebooks, webcasts, podcasts and movies etc. The media is a vast and (kind of) diverse way of communicating information.
Let’s talk news. And where the majority of Americans – as in over 50 percent (by most estimates) – still get their news – from their local nightly news show. Any discussion about how unaware Americans are when it comes to news needs to have its finger pointed at the proper culprit: Your local broadcast.
Yes, everyone hates Congress but loves their Congressman. Everyone thinks “the media” is biased, wrong and awful – but tunes in to their local anchor with admiration and trust. A pox on them all, except our guy…
Last week a PublicMind FDU poll went viral with the line, “Fox News [viewers] are five-points more likely than those who watch no news at all, to incorrectly say it’s the U.S. that is bailing out European countries.” The under-reported story (buried lede as we call it in “the media”) was of those polled 67 percent said they watched their local news. And that could explain why 36 percent said they didn’t know who was bailing out Europe and only 30 percent gave the correct answer (Germany).
Did you know that Iceland is having a revolution as a direct result of the economic meltdown centered in the U.S. housing market? How about Syria being sanctioned by the Arab League? Vladamir Putin has gotten himself back on the ballot in Russia?
And it’s not just the “reading off BBC headlines” news the local news misses – it’s the actual local news: Investigative news in the public interest. News about the economy, politics and local issues.
Your local news opts to put a camera in the face of a crime victim and be a staple of “fear porn” rather than ever tackle difficult segments holding the school board/city council/mayor/state legislature/governor accountable for anything.
Why can I assume without sitting down and watching a week of your local newscast that they’re more than likely gleefully doing a recap of what happened on Dancing With the Stars/American Idol/Survivor tonight? Because your local broadcast news is more than likely ratings driven. And because of the last couple of decades of ratings driven local news our Edward R. Murrows have all become Harvey Levins.
And I thought it was just my take on the lousy news coverage.

The rest is at Tina's site, HERE.

And so it goes.

A Break & Roasted Brisket

View from forest floor at picnic grounds near New Hope, PA - 1979. Kodachrome original.
 Tuesday was a productive day, even with the rain and wind. Or, maybe because of it. Had to go out briefly to pick up a few things at the supermarket and got a good soaking in the process.  There was a sale on fresh brisket, so I picked up one and decided it's roasting would give the apartment a cheery flavor on an otherwise miserable day.

Got out of the wet clothes, into some warm sweats, put Louis Armstrong on the player, and set about the business of slide scanning the rest of the morning.  Five trays down and I blazed through everything up to, and including, 1979. 

Took a lunch break and prepared the brisket for the oven.  Brisket requires a long cooking time, so it was timed to coincide with dinner hour. Rubbed it all over with olive oil, salt, black & white peppers, and sweet paprika.  Topped it was diced onion, celery and tomatoes, then the secret ingredient. Put it in the oven and set the timer for 3.5 hours and returned to the scanner.

It was during that time I discovered that the printer toner was low and needed to be replaced ASAP. I took it out and rocked it left & right hopefully getting a few extra pages out of it, and ordered a new one which should arrive in a week, or so.

December is a rough month financially.  Automobile Insurance payment adds to the already squeezed wallet, but toner is a necessity I am not prepared to do without.  So I bit the bullet on that one.

When dinner was ready I turned off the scanner, put on some music, poured a glass of wine and did serious damage to that brisket.  Which was really good, BTW.

Today promises to be better, weather-wise, albeit a bit colder than lately. The city Christmas Tree is up and maybe I'll take a walk over after sunset and steal a few night shots.

As for now, the decade of the 80s is waiting to reveal its surprises so I am off to slave my tits over a hot scanner!!! Don't feel too sorry for me, really, it's an emotional roller coaster and I'm enjoying the journey for the most part.  Pleasure and pain.  It's very confusing at times, but what a ride.

More later.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Stonehenge Discovery Suggests Site Was Sacred Earlier Than Previously Thought

This is fascinating news.  Though for some, not really new at all.  This is one of my favorite places in the world.  Image is from a recently scanned Kodachrome slide. The photo is, in fact, one of my own from my last visit to the site.

Newly discovered evidence of two large pits on the east and west sides of Stonehenge suggest that the area may have been recognized as a sacred site at a much earlier date than previously thought.
Archaeologists with the University of Birmingham believe the holes could have held stones, wooden posts or fires to mark the sunrise and sunset for a "processional route" used to celebrate the summer solstice before the well-known larger stones were erected.
The pits were found along the Cursus pathway, "two parallel linear ditches with banks either side closed off at the end," according to the BBC. Researchers also found a gap in the middle of the northern side of the Cursus, indicating a possible entry point for processions.
The Independent explains how researchers arrived at the new procession theory:
 ..The 'eureka moment' came when the computer calculations revealed that the midway point (the noon point) on the route aligned directly with the [center] of Stonehenge, which was precisely due south...
..The 'due south' noon alignment of the 'procession' route's mid-point could not occur if the Cursus itself had different dimensions, the design of that monument has to have been conceived specifically to attain that mid-point alignment with the [center] of Stonehenge.
The pits were discovered using non-invasive mapping techniques during a 2010 survey conducted by researchers from the University of Birmingham and the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Archaeological Prospection and Virtual Archaeology in Vienna.
The survey, known as the Stonehenge Hidden Landscape Project, strives to "visually recreate the extraordinary prehistoric landscape surrounding Stonehenge," according to the news release. 
 More later.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Camera Drowns but Images Live

 Great story.  I guess digital has advantages over film after all.

Camera Lost at Sea Returned with the Help of Social Networking

Just how tough is your average DSLR memory card? Apparently tough enough to survive a year at the bottom of the ocean. Naturalist and aspiring photographer Markus Thompson was scuba diving in Deep Bay near Vancouver, British Columbia, when he found a Canon EOS 1000D. Curious, he brought it to the surface and took ut the SD card, and was actually able to recover about 50 photos.
With a bounty of pictures and a desire to find the camera's owner, Thompson took to social networking for help. He posted his find to Google+, including pictures of the camera itself as well as the photos he was able to recover from the SD card. "Approximately 50 pictures on the card from a family vacation. If you know a fire fighter from British Columbia whose team won the Pacific Regional Firefit competition, has a lovely wife and (now) 2 year old daughter - let me know. I would love to get them their vacation photos," he posted.
The social network's hive mind then went to work. Details on just who the camera belonged to were slim at first, but after social network sleuths began scouring the photos, more information began to surface. The camera contained images that were shot at a region firefighting competition, and appeared to suggest that the camera's owner was on the winning team. After comparing faces to those on various websites that covered the event, the possibilities were narrowed down. 
Read the rest HERE.  It's a fun story.
And so it goes.

Restoration or Fade-to-Black?

Some of you may recognize the painting, but not the person.  The year is 1977. (You may click the image to embiggen.) 142 West 4th Street, NYC. A very happy time.

Although this historical excavation could have gone back another 10 years, in retrospect, I am grateful the available slides begin in 1976.  Some are beginning to fade-to-black badly.  Since they were not stored under climate-controlled conditions, many are losing their colour.

The scanner can handle 4 frames at a time; previewing and correction takes time.  Granted there are plenty from the previous life that will not be saved making the progress a bit faster, but the time spent tweaking is substantial and I can imagine this project lasting far into the winter, and that's OK.

I am viewing and reliving some long forgotten trips, outings, street fairs, holiday celebrations and just days of shooting for fun, mostly around NYC. I am grateful for having what I do and will save and re-sample as many as I can salvage; tossing away the rest.  What I can't see is already lost, anyway.

It is also a learning experience to find that all the film developed in Kodak Labs has faired much better than those processed by other, cheaper labs.  Glad I shot mostly Kodachrome for the important stuff.

The scanner wasn't a planned purchase, but I'm glad I went for it; I am thrilled by what I am seeing 35 years later.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Let the Purge & Save Begin

The new (for me) photo/film scanner was waiting for me as I came home from work. I was thrilled. After settling in, the box was opened to find exactly the same packaging care was given to a refurbished unit as to a new one. After removing all contents and following instructions for installation, I was amazed to find the unit was cosmetically flawless, so the initial failure would likely have been an internal, technical glitch which would be repaired by replacing some electronic bit.

It took little time to unpack the unit, install the software, and connect to the computer.  Once Windows 7 recognized the software and the unit everything went smoothly. Followed the "quick start" instructions and am now ready to begin scanning slides and transferring them to digital format.  Camel hair brush and canned air are at the ready.

The template is in place and I am ready to go.  Of course, since I have to be at work early in the morning I will not be scanning more than a few slides, just to get my feet wet and an idea of how the scanner software works; what shortcuts need to be learned.  Etc.

I am so excited!  Wish me luck.
And so it goes.

Post Thanksgiving Caturday

Just like everyone else, thanks to L-Tryptophan.

More later.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Some Silly from OK Go!

In need of a little humor and creativity.  What more could one ask for? Enjoy.

Time for bed. And so it goes.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Scan & a Scam

At the last minute the scanner decision changed. I planned to go with the Ion, though I was still a bit put off by the possibility that the slide handling slot would be difficult for my hands and thumbs to cope with, but an email arrived from the folks at Epson (the only company to reply to technical questions the first go-round) offering the model I was eyeing at a very low cost.  It is refurbished, yes, but with a 90-day money back warranty (which can also be applied to the purchase of a new one.) And the price is less than half of a new one.

I talked with the tech/sales person who sent the note and made the deal.  Shipping is FREE and the box is scheduled to arrive Saturday. I am thrilled and excited and believe I made the right decision.  As I said earlier, something to keep me busy on the long winter nights. And it will be great to see many old faces, a few interesting experimental shots, and good times.

That said, another bit of the ugly was discovered as I began opening boxes labeled slide trays. Wanted to sort by year and get organized for the transfer to run smoothly.  Deceit from the previous life reared its head.  Many boxes were not marked properly. Though he had written "slide trays" on the outside no trays were found in 5 of the boxes.  Only old text books and other junk packed tightly with old pillows and linens - and I do mean OLD! All is awaiting garbage pickup in the morning.

Once all "slide tray" boxes were emptied and sorted by year, the truth was clear. No images before 1976 - the year our relationship began.

I started shooting slide film while working at the NY World's Fair in 1965 and shooting it exclusively by 1968.  There are no trays from that period on until 1976.  All images of family, friends, trips, outings, vacations, Pride Festivals, and just days playing around NYC in Central Park, or The Cloisters.  All the old pictures while growing up and the scrap books, they are all gone.  All friends who are gone, who died of AIDS, I have only memories of them now.

I am left with 25 years of slide trays (we went digital in 2002) and nothing more.

It boggles the mind because after moving to this apartment and getting all my things out of storage I found a small box that had been packed with my things by mistake.  The box contained his high school diploma, photos of when he did local theatre, high school pictures of friends and cousins and the like.  I thought he would like to have those things and contacted a mutual friend asking that he deliver the box to the EX.  Which he did.  No "thank you" was expected, and none came.

I could have thrown that stuff away, but I didn't.  I couldn't. It belonged to him and he had every right to have it. I don't know what to make of this and I am too angry to analyze it right now. I don't think it's even worth the time and effort. It is on his soul.

Just when I thought I had little to be thankful for this year, I realize there is.  I can only hope this is the absolute end of anything to do with him and that twisted mind.

I await the arrival of the scanner so the purging and saving process may begin.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

UC Davis Pepper-Spray Incident Reveals Weakness Up Top

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone nails it yet again. Here's a taste:
(W)hen we abandoned our principles in order to use force against terrorists and drug dealers, the answer to the question, What are we defending? started to change.

The original answer, ostensibly, was, "We are defending the peaceful and law-abiding citizens of the United States, their principles, and everything America stands for."

Then after a while it became, "We’re defending the current population of the country, but we can’t defend the principles so much anymore, because they weigh us down in the fight against a ruthless enemy who must be stopped at all costs."

Then finally it became this: “We are defending ourselves, against the citizens who insist on keeping their rights and their principles.”

What happened at UC Davis was the inevitable result of our failure to make sure our government stayed in the business of defending our principles. When we stopped insisting on that relationship with our government, they became something separate from us.

And we are stuck now with this fundamental conflict, whereby most of us are insisting that the law should apply equally to everyone, while the people running this country for years now have been operating according to the completely opposite principle that different people have different rights, and who deserves what protections is a completely subjective matter, determined by those in power, on a case-by-case basis.

Not to belabor the point, but the person who commits fraud to obtain food stamps goes to jail, while the banker who commits fraud for a million-dollar bonus does not. Or if you accept aid in the form of Section-8 housing, the state may insist on its right to conduct warrantless "compliance check" searches of your home at any time – but if you take billions in bailout aid, you do not even have to open your books to the taxpayer who is the de facto owner of your company.

The state wants to retain the power to make these subjective decisions, because being allowed to selectively enforce the law effectively means they have despotic power. And who wants to lose that?
The UC Davis incident crystallized all of this in one horrifying image. Anyone who commits violence against a defenseless person is lost. And the powers that be in this country are lost.

They’ve been going down this road for years now, and they no longer stand for anything.

All that tricked-up military gear, with that corny, faux-menacing, over-the-top Spaceballs stormtrooper look that police everywhere seem to favor more and more – all of this is symbolic of the increasingly total lack of ideas behind all that force.
It's an insightful and frightening read.  It's all HERE.

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Film Scanners, Cheesy Mac, & Enduring Pain

I've spent all free time online the past week searching for and reading reviews of film/slide scanners and finally narrowed the list down to 7 brands, all claiming to do a better job than the others, but all with different image quality bells and whistles, and speed. Microtek, HP, Minolta, Ion, Pacific Image, Epson, and Plustek were the finalists.

A few had compatibility issues with Windows 7 that I didn't want to deal with. All came with mixed/good reviews, priced under $100.

I wrote questions to a few companies asking for clarification of details that were vague in the product descriptions and only one answered in detailed layman's terminology.  My kind of folks.

Reading the reviews of each was informative and educational. While I do not require extremely high resolution (some slides are up to 40 years old), I do want an image that might be enlarged and printed if I chose to do so.  Last night I whittled the list down further, and after re-reading the reviews of those 3, have decided on the one for me.  It's green with a fairly high resolution output, not the fastest, but it has manual overrides so tweaking things like colour, dust removal, and back-lit situations will be easier.  Other programs can do some of that, but I can do it all at once in the initial scan of the original.

Now on to searching for the best price.  At least this hobby will keep me busy over the long winter months to come.

I have today off and it's rainy and dreary, though not cold, outside. I'll be doing some household chores and a bit of cooking, as well. The Plumbing company is due sometime today to change filters and perform annual maintenance on the heating system, so it would be an indoor day, anyway.

Oh, and BTW, that beefy cheesy Mac recipe I made a while back turned out really well. It's based on a high carb recipe that Saints Quarter Back Drew Brees dines on before games and it really knocked my socks off. 

CAUTION: Not for the Kraft Mac&Cheese lightweights out there.  If you're interested let me know in comments, or by email.  I will post it here, or email you personally.

The back and hands are an aggravation in this weather and over night, I discovered a hard lump on my head behind the left ear near a pressure point, so it's likely stress-related.  Can you imagine?  Stress-related?  It is to laugh...hahahahahahaha.Still, it's annoying and painful.

More later.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Police = Pig Again in 2011

This isn't 1968 or 1969 and information flows instantly nowadays.  Unedited, raw. Within minutes the world knew the name and rank of this very rank police...something.  I cannot call him a man.  Real men do not pepper spray unarmed non-violent people quietly sitting on the ground. No, real men need provocation for such an action.

Each and every time I see this series of images I am outraged beyond words.  It's as if he's using bug spray around a picnic area. So trivial, so nonchalant, so laid back because he is not to be stopped. And yes, well, he is quite a porker when it comes down to it.

And I can't help but wonder what a shivering mass of jello he would turn into stripped of all the riot accoutrements. Uniforms do that to some guys.

And so it goes.

Jazz Fest Photo

As promised, here's the photo of the Tim Laushey Trio, the Locos, and Moi.
The guys work many gigs, including studio work and concerts playing around the country.  They are blazing hot when they get going and they throw everything at you throughout their sessions.  Love'em.

BTW, what appears to be sticking out from under my shirt is actually part of Tim's drum set, so before you go insinuating anything else...thought I'd let you know.

The past few days have been unhappy and hectic ones. I am waiting for the dust to settle and my head to clear.
 No more Brunch for the Winter (it will return in Spring) so no more extra early hours at the restaurant on Sundays.  There is that to be thankful for, at least.

More later.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More Rain & Getting Colder

Ain't nobody happy around these parts today.

We are not amused, so the holiday decorations came out and will begin to cheer up the restaurant tomorrow. For now, get through a cold, wet night.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cooking, Caulking, & Carousels

Spent the better part of Tuesday out and about, tying up loose ends, grocery shopping, taking a few pictures, and checking out materials needed to caulk the shower enclosure.  The old caulking is beginning to decay. (Do I sound like a lesbian in training, or what?) As I bounced around from place to place, I also checked out prices for transferring 35mm slides to CD or DVD and was shocked by the jaw-dropping results.  Back home I got online to scout out what was out there, only to come up with more of the same. The least expensive outlet for copying slides digitally was $25.00 for the first 40 and $0.50 for each thereafter.

There are boxes and boxes of Kodak Carousel Slide Trays with each tray containing 140 slides.  That means a single tray, digitally transferred, would cost about $75.00  . The ultimate goal is to digitize those worth saving (omitting all from the previous life), put them on a stick drive, and discard the slides and bulky trays altogether. There had to be a better option

Being the one with the camera, I am the subject in very few pictures, unless there is a group shot.

In my previous life - when money was no object - I found a scanner designed for digitizing slides and negative strips only and, while it did an OK job, the resolution was not what I hoped for, it was clunky, and didn't like to work with many common programs.  It was one of the first of its kind made by Kyocera and cost $700.00 in 2002.  I am sure the EX sold it after the relationship ended, as he did so many of my things.  But, I digress.

As luck would have it, I was reading a few posts on FB last evening and came upon one that contained a slide show presented by fellow blogger Ron, at "Retired in Delaware" that looked fairly good.  So, I left a comment asking what he used to digitize all those slides.  His answer surprised me.  A scanner.  Well, duh!  And it cost under a hundred bucks!  Well, duh, again! (Thanks, Ron!)

So, today (as it rains outside and my pork roast bakes inside) I've been doing my homework to find the right scanner for my needs, coming up with a list of 5, of which only 1 is over the $100. mark. All but one have excellent reviews for ease of use, intuitive menus, green technology, and speed.

I think I know what I'll ask for when I sit on Santa's lap.  Now stop that!!! Dirty minded people. Jeez!

Still, it is something worth investigating further, which is exactly what I am doing (again) after posting this.  It's not like I can afford to buy something right now, and the trays have been in boxes for upwards of 5 years.  There is no rush.  It's nice to know there is an alternative to outside labs with questionable reputations.

I smell roasted pork and olives. 

And so it goes.

Abandoned Post Office Railway

This one is really interesting.  Just a bit scary too, if one has a fear of enclosed spaces. The long story of a few adventurous Brit lads includes many pictures sandwiched between the text of the journey.  Mail Rail.

For as long as I can remember explorers have joked, discussed and cried themselves to sleep over possibility the Post Office Railway could be explored. Those keen to attempt entry desperately clawed at every scrap of information like a starving hobo snacking on bread crumbs. Just the idea of access, let alone the task of traversing the line seemed fraught with impossible obstacles and doubt.
With all the abandoned postal depots now converted or with a foot thick dump of concrete covering what would have been access below, all potential avenues of access pointed solely to the infiltration of live postal depots. In other words, somehow getting into a site and its central building, working your way down an unknown route through a series of passages, locked doors, workers and alarms until you somehow found your way into the basement and with it the depots Mail Rail station. In other words, impossible.
Go see and read the rest HERE.

More later.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A New Range Below the Radar.

The illusive new range that was not delivered on Wednesday, was not delivered on Thursday of last week. No calls from the LL, nor the company from which the new appliance was purchased and was to deliver and install.

Friday evening as I prepped supper and was reading email and  news, there came a banging on the door. It was almost 6 pm, dark, and I didn't expect a delivery after regular working hours.  But there he was, gruff, over-sized, and outright irritated by having to be out working that late. Fortunately, I had not gotten to the heating the oven stage, so he was quite pleased.  I was not.

"I have an electric range to deliver here, but I have to remove the old one first?  Is that right?" I nodded. He grumbled and mumbled something under his breath, and after seeing the old range, turned on his heels and headed down to street level.  Returning with a hand-cart he yanked the old range from its space and with the assistance of his "helper" slammed it on the cart, strapped it down, and proceeded down the stairs into the night. I thought it best to return all food stuff to the refrigerator for the duration and very glad I did.

There were a few more bumps in the dark as a range on a hand-cart materialized, was wheeled into the kitchen, plugged it into the outlet, then simply pushed up against the wall.  I pointed out that it was not level and wobbled.  Instead of using shims and spacers, he shoved a nickel under one foot which steadied it (didn't level it), and said, "there, not only a new stove, but I gave you a nickel for balance. Hahahahahaha." At that point I was so enraged that I just opened the front door and let them return to the dark - where they deserve to remain for all eternity.

Unable to pull the range out to clean and vacuum the area, I was only able to slide it slightly, remove that damned nickel, spot-vacuum where possible, shim and level the thing as best I could. Due to the back and arthritis situations, I am unable to do more of what needs to be done.

I have a new range - as cheap as cheap can be.  It is what it is.

A letter will be sent to the LL about this and I will attempt to learn the limitations of the new, cheap, (did I mention that before?) stove.

Note: The oven temperature light doesn't switch off as the internal temperature is reached and maintained.  No, the temperatures vary wildly from one extreme to another. This makes it difficult to roast or even bake anything without hovering close by and monitoring the oven temps.  Frustrating.

Comparatively, the rest of the weekend was a happy time. More on that later. I am still pissed.

And so it goes.

Slave Cemetery Uncovered

Being born in the segregated south, I remember many things that are no more. Back of the bus, white & colored drinking fountains, lynchings. I am currently reading a biography of Louis Armstrong and what that genius suffered personally, and blacks everywhere suffered, takes me aback.  Especially when I think that all this happened less than a century ago...still does in some places to this day.

A similar burial ground was discovered a few years ago in downtown Manhattan that brought construction of a new skyscraper to a halt for a few weeks.  This is only one more reminder of how close we are to our own tragic, shameful history.

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- A 19th-century cemetery, believed to hold the remains of slaves, has been uncovered at a former cotton plantation in Florida, archaeologists announced Thursday.
The discovery of six gravesites was made last year at the Kingsley Plantation in Jacksonville, but the announcement was delayed to allow for further research and to alert possible descendants of those buried there. It brought a sense of accomplishment to those who spent years finding the site and a surge of emotions to those whose ancestors were enslaved there.
"The word emotional almost seems not powerful enough," said Johnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African Art and a descendant of the Kingsley family. "I wept. This is not ordinary; this is not an everyday experience."
A team led by James Davidson, a University of Florida anthropologist, worked with just two vague century-old leads to find the site, which was described as being adjacent to a giant oak tree. Once Davidson found the graves, a smattering of clues helped determine they were, in fact, apparently those of slaves.
Square-cut nails in the coffins helped pinpoint the fact that they were from the 19th century. Five-hole buttons and brass coat buttons narrowed the time frame even further. And measurements on the skeletal remains indicated they were likely those of Africans rather than Europeans or Native Americans.
None of the materials ever left the grave-sites, though, out of respect for the dead.
"We were not going to exhume anybody, we were not going to collect any material," Davidson said.
The remains include a man who appeared to have died at around age 40, a woman who lived to 60 or older and three children. The age and sex of the sixth body was not determined.
More is here.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cat House Caturday

Had you there for a minute, didn't I?

More later.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Remember them and their service. Let's bring them home.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Official Certification

The official certificate from the ServSafe Food Safety class I attended almost 2 months ago, was presented to me today by the locosguys with all staff members present. The locosguys were very proud and happy with the results.  Maybe they initially thought an "Elder Sage" (thanks Ur-spo) like myself wasn't up to the challenge.  Anyway.

I am now formally certified in safe food handling and storage through 2016.  While I already knew I passed the exam, it was something special to receive the physical certificate as well as a wallet card necessary to validate my certification to any Health Department Inspector.

I am pleased with myself tonight with that satisfying feeling of accomplishment.  Hard to explain, really, but it feels real good.

Just wanted to share the good news.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No New Stove? Never Mind...'s not an altogether wasted day.

Stayed close to home all day awaiting delivery and installation of the new stove. Removed everything from the stove area and prepped the best I could without knowing how the stove would arrive.  Boxed, un-boxed; on a hand-truck, or carried up the stairs.  I didn't want any damage to the living room rug that I love so much.  The preparation and waiting were all for nothing.

Sun is down, it's after 5 o'clock, and it is what it is.

Still, it was a productive day here at la petite maison. The Gen. Mgr. at the restaurant came back from Ireland bearing gifts called, "Hardwall Picture Hangers" specifically designed for hanging objects from walls of brick, concrete, and plaster. Since all my efforts to solve that problem met with disaster in the past, it was a joy to find that these actually work.  You see, practically all walls in homes in Ireland are a mix of these products and she was convinced they would be the answer.  They are.  I've already hung a few pieces and re-hung a couple that were hanging on those reusable stick-on things from 3-M Company.  I was never quite sure of those in the first place; the textured plaster walls only increased my anxiety about their holding power.

While here, she helped assemble the second IKEA "EXPEDIT" bookcase she picked up for me last  April. Yes, I know, but we worked 6 or 7 days weekly since and this was the first opportunity she had to help get it done. (Actually, she did most of the work - my thumbs make my hands useless.) So the living room is coming together nicely with more storage space thanks to those IKEA units.

It's about time for a few olives and supper prep, and while I am disappointed that the new stove didn't arrive, I get one more opportunity to use this one tonight for a pork roast smeared with garlic and fresh rosemary. 

Gotta go.  Olive and Rosemary are ladies not to be kept waiting.

And so it goes.

500 Fishermen: BP Owes for a 'Campaign of Deceit'

Via Courthouse News Service comes this:
NEW ORLEANS (CN) - Five hundred more fishermen say BP owes them money for chartering their boats for its Vessels of Opportunity oil-spill cleanup, and say BP responded to their requests for payment "with a campaign of deceit designed to manipulate the fishermen and deprive them of their rights." The complaint comes the week after 71 fishermen in Mobile claimed BP used the program as a public relations gimmick and "intended to underpay VoO participants."
     In the new federal complaint, 500 fishermen say, "in many instances, defendants have made it impractical for the fishermen to use their boats for any purpose other than the VoO program by failing to decontaminate the boats. As a result, defendants have forced fishermen to keep their boats idle at the docks and available for BP's use at any time. Yet defendants refuse to pay for this exercise of control over the fishermen's boats.
     "BP has responded to the fishermen's claims for compensation with a campaign of deceit designed to manipulate the fishermen and deprive them of their rights. Among other things, BP has attempted to induce the fishermen to substitute contracts long after the fact that change the fishermen's rights under the original contract. BP has also misled Vietnamese-speaking fishermen while failing to provide key legal documents in Vietnamese, including the contract itself." The plaintiffs are all commercial fishermen whose boats are used for shrimping, crabbing, and harvesting oysters.
"In a purported attempt to combat the effects of the spill, BP enlisted local fishing vessels in the VoO program to identify locations of oil slicks, skim oil from the Gulf, tend and maintain boom, collect sheen and light oil in shallow waters, find and remove tar balls from the water, and transport supplies, personnel and wildlife.
     "BP began executing written contracts with fishermen just days after the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The contracts were drafted by BP, and the terms were nonnegotiable for any vessel owner seeking to participate in the VoO program. As a result, every fisherman who participated in the VoO program in 2010 was subject to the same contract and contractual language," the fishermen say.
     "According to the unequivocal terms of the MVCA [Master Vessel Charter Agreement], the charter term does not terminate until two events have occurred: 1) BP has issued an 'off-hire dispatch notification' to the vessel owner; and 2) the vessel has received 'final decontamination.' ...
 During the football game telecasts at work (on whatever channels), BP has flooded the airwaves with slick ads trying to entice (convince) the public that all is well in the Gulf -  "so come, pay a visit, enjoy our seafood and our sparkling beaches" - but that just ain't true.

The rest is here.

And so it goes.

Secret Train Beneath the Waldorf Astoria

Some readers know that I am fascinated by, and love stories like this.  Part history, part mystery, part deceit, and all American. This is the actual train car that carried FDR and his automobile up to and ultimately into the Waldorf. (Click to embiggen.) There's a slide show, as well. 

From the Gothamist:

Over the weekend we had a chance to visit the long-abandoned Waldorf-Astoria train platform, which allowed VIPs to enter the hotel in a more private manner—most famously it was used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, possibly to hide the fact that he was in a wheelchair suffering from polio. The mysterious track, known as Track 61, still houses the train car and private elevator, which were both large enough for FDR's armor-plated Pierce Arrow car. Legend has it that the car would drive off the train, onto the platform and straight into the elevator, which would lead to the hotel's garage. Trainjotting has some more history regarding the platform, known as Track 61, and notes that the quest for it "has become a holy grail for many urban explorers."
Some fun facts regarding the timeline of the tracks: It was first used by General Pershing in 1938, and less than 30 years after that, in 1965, it was the venue for a party thrown by Andy Warhol (fittingly called The Underground Party).
Click through for a look yourself. This space will likely never be open to the public... unless you're a squatter—"by 1978, the platform was known as one of the many places in Grand Central Terminal where squatters lived." However, current construction on the new LIRR extension has probably taken care of that (though despite the construction, MTA spokesperson Dan Brucker tells us the train car will remain).
h/t JMG

More later.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Update & a Surprise

Thought there wasn't much going on these days at la petite maison - just lots of work, work, and work since my days off last week - but as I began typing there has been more activity than I realized.

A couple of things of note; the pipe in the closet only dripped during 1 of the 3 recent heavy rains.  Of course, that storm was the nor'easter that blew through Halloween weekend. The bucket remains in place. No reason to return the linens to the shelves and clothes to the racks in that section until I know all is as it should be. Yes, it is a large walk-in closet. On Friday, I decided to call the landlord again just in case.

During our conversation I suggested that he not pay the roofers until the job was completed to my satisfaction.  While I was on a roll, I asked if he paid the contractor who was supposed to have fixed the burner thermostat on the stove.  Because, I said, I contacted him personally and he promised to come by again and fix the burners, and never showed up.  I called him again (before the tourist season set in) and again he told me he would stop by - then telling me that if he couldn't fix them, or get the proper parts, I would have to make the best of the situation, as apartment-size stoves were no longer manufactured.

Again, he was a no-show. During the summer I left messages twice more (his caller ID must have alerted him so he let it go to voicemail) but never received so much as a return call. I told the landlord I knew he was lying about the stove availability, and was pissed at his arrogance, but didn't say anything. A quick visit to the website or actual store like Lowe's or Home Depot would prove him wrong.  He assumed I was an idiot, I guess.

The landlord sounded annoyed by this information and said he'd get back to me.  The call came yesterday while I was at work.  His office asked if I would mind if he visited the apartment.  Of couse, I didn't mind, had no idea why he wanted access.  With no rain lately, there would be no evidence of the leak, aside from the pictures which are still in the camera I had with me. Three hours later another call came telling me a new stove would be delivered and installed on Wednesday and that the LL was sorry for any inconvenience. 

Now this is a double-edged sword.  I love this old stove with wide, thick coils and perfect oven thermostat (absolute heaven for baking).  As the saying goes, "they don't make'em like that anymore." (Click the image to embiggen.) On the other hand, a new one is likely to be more energy efficient and will save money on the electric bills.

Don't know when delivery and installation will take place, but have to be around to let the workmen in. With any luck they'll arrive early and be out of here by noon, so I can get out, take some photos, and enjoy the spring-like weather.  We shall see.

Found 2 more boxes stashed under the bed.  Opening them revealed winter socks in all thickness and lengths.  Funny, I hadn't even missed them.  A nice surprise and it means my walks to work this winter will be more comfortable than the last. 

And so it goes.

Monday, November 7, 2011

#Occupy Comes to Rehoboth

There have been other #Occupy rallies and protests in small towns throughout the first state and #Occupy Rehoboth numbers were none too shabby coming in at over 300, which surprised everyone, organizers included.  But, most surprised was the town police department, who were apparently asleep at the switch and had to scramble to take some kind of control.  Ultimately, the only thing they could do was fake a fire in a nearby pizza palace, closing off the street to all but fire equipment, which only made the rally move down the boardwalk a bit. 

No smoke was ever seen coming from the pizza place and the fire trucks left after the rally moved a block away.  What was that all about???  Dunno.  I do know that the pizza place will be losing local business from now on.  Hope they make it til spring and the return of the tourists, because we ain't buyin'!

Still everyone attending seemed energized and genuinely happy to see such a large turnout in such a small town.  Folks I know (including 2 of the organizers) stopped in for drinks and lunch after the event and had a few good stories to tell.  Best guess was that the police had no idea what they were up against and a fake fire was the best they could come up with at the time.

I wanted to attend, had to work instead, but had a great view of the rally from the street in front of the restaurant. When I learn more I will certainly post it.

The lack of personal posts is partly due to the locosguys being away for a few days and my being pressed into service to deal with a few minor hiccups at the restaurant.  I'm off the next 2 days and hope to catch up during that time.

And so it goes.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Five on the Fifth: Movement

Stephen Chapman over at “The State Of The Nation UK”, has a monthly feature called “Five on the Fifth” in which bloggers may participate by posting five photos on their blog and exchanging links with his. The five pictures, taken in the days leading up to the fifth of the month, may be random or may follow his suggested theme, which this month happened to be Movement.  Having dusted off the D70 this past week, and spending a few hours getting used to it again, I decided to shoot what I saw as movement, especially at, or near the ocean.

I shot in 2 modes - shutter or aperture priority only - and it will be interesting to see if anyone can tell the difference.  So, here goes.


These were shot not over a five day period, but only my 2 days off this week.  That's what I've got for the cause. You can click on any image to embiggen. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.  Thanks for visiting and viewing.

More later.

Self-Aware Caturday

Yes, it was a fidgety Friday and this just spoke to me.

More later.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Field of Dreams SOLD

First understand that I am not a baseball fan in any way, shape, or form. I find most American team sports boring almost to the point of coma.

That said, I didn't see this film in theaters - only after "Dances with Wolves" more than a year later - but it tugged at my heart from the first 5 minutes until the end.  And it wasn't only Costner who stole my heart in this film; it was the entire cast, direction, and story.  Yes, I am a hopeless romantic, but come on, Costner, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster, and a knock-out supporting cast just blew me away.  And now, the real 'field of dreams' has been sold.  But, the magic will continue.

DYERSVILLE, Iowa -- The sprawling eastern Iowa cornfields made famous by the movie "Field of Dreams" are being sold to a company that will preserve the site's baseball legacy, the owners announced Sunday.
Don and Becky Lansing said they have accepted an offer from Mike and Denise Stillman and their company, Go the Distance Baseball LLC, which will develop the site near Dyersville as a baseball and softball complex. A purchase price was not disclosed.
"We worked hard to maintain its wholesome allure, and our success says a lot about our nation's love affair with its national pastime," Becky Lansing said in a statement. "It truly is a special place."
The land has been in Don Lansing's family since 1906. The couple put the property up for sale at $5.4 million in May 2010. The parcel includes the two-bedroom house, baseball diamond, six other buildings and 193 acres – mostly cornfields – from the movie.
The film, released in 1989, was based on the book "Shoeless Joe" by W.P. Kinsella and starred Kevin Costner. The site has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
The Lansings said earlier this year that they had gotten several inquiries about the site but were committed to finding a buyer that would preserve its legacy.
The Stillmans' plan for the property includes preservation of the existing buildings and development of "All-Star Ballpark Heaven," described as a complex including fields for baseball and softball tournaments and an indoor training facility. Go the Distance plans to offer tournaments for teams of players ages 18 and younger, professional-style training and skills competitions.
"We understand the impact that demographics, market trends and the economy will have on baseball and those who love the game in the next decade," Denise Stillman said. "... We are thrilled to continue the `Field of Dreams' legacy."
As for the Lansings, they'll live a few miles away and make visits to the site, "especially in summer when the corn is high. That's when the field is most magical," Don Lansing said.
I don't own this on DVD though I have rented it in the past. It never disappoints.

And so it goes.

Media Bias

(Click to embiggen.)

Enuf' said.

More later.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

War Contracting Panel Seals Records for 20 Years!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Unbelievable, ain't it? It would appear that the Bush's and Cheney's are safe for another 2 decades. 

Established by Congress to investigate and expose government waste, the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has decided to not reveal its volumes of materials to the public for another two decades.
After three years of work, the commission officially shut down last week, having concluded that the U.S. misspent between $31 billion and $60 billion in contracting for services in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But it won’t allow its records to be opened for public review at the National Archives until 2031, because some of the documents contain “sensitive information,” according to one official. 
Steven Aftergood, an expert on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, told The Wall Street Journal that the 20-year term “seems like a long period of time, particularly for a commission whose whole purpose is to improve accountability and expose waste.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Does anyone know about this?  Does anyone care?

And so it goes.

I Thought So.

More later.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

At Gordon's Pond

Expected to do another hour or so shooting with the D70, but the weather was a bit more nippy than yesterday. More winds and lower temperatures made it inconvenient and uncomfortable.  I did manage to get these shots of a Blue Heron in the water and the gray/white dead tree trunk between live pines before turning back and heading for the car and home.

Big Blue Heron at Gordon's Pond.
Devoid of bark. Bleached clean by sun & wind, yet in company of live trees.
(Click to embiggen the images above.) All comments are welcome and appreciated.

Still going through the images shot yesterday and trying to recall from my notes what I did to get a specific shot.  I am not fond of digital camera buttons.  I'm just a simple kinda guy.

It's chilly and windy and I am in the mood for comfort food.  I believe I have hit on just the right recipe for the evening's dinner.  A spicy baked beefy Mac & Cheese dish with Andouille sausage and tomatoes.  It sounds delicious and easy to prepare and baking takes even less time. I'll let you know how it turns out - if I survive - it's also known as the 'heavenly heart attack casserole' in some comments. Stay tuned. 

And so it goes.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tuesday Afternoon - The D70, Me & The Moody Blues

Anybody remember The Moody Blues? Days of Future Passed?

The rain predicted overnight dumped its load and vanished by the time I hit the road to run errands. Found a small footprint digital kitchen scale that was a real steal, so scooped it up.  I've been on the lookout for one for a very long time, so I was a happy camper. Yes, it IS the little things, isn't it?

And speaking of little things, I've been using a point-n-shoot digital camera for the past few years, thanks to a fellow blogger, and have been comfortable with the limited results. But, the "itch" is back.  So, I dusted off the Nikon D70 and took off to spend a few hours getting reacquainted with the camera, shooting dozens of test shots (I had forgotten just about everything I learned about digital shooting) around town using various modes at a few of my fave spots near the Atlantic and in the marshes. Some knowledge is slowly returning, but there are still blank places in my brain where info used to reside. I may sign up for a digital photography class, if one is nearby.  It couldn't hurt, right?

The camera felt good in my hands. I had forgotten how light it is compared to the film version. I used to have the Nikon F2AS with motor-drive and battery pack, which really weighed me down.I trudged up and down the west coast with that behemoth and lived to tell the tale. I sold the lot on eBay and purchased the D70,extra lenses, a flash, and remote.  I still have an old F body which I will probably hang onto until I die, or film is no longer available.When I shot film I never used a light meter,(thanks, in part, to my film professor at NYU, descended from a well known French film-making family) but had settings in my head for the images I wanted to capture. Since I shot transparencies (slide film) there was little room for error.

The buttons, modes, bells and whistles of digital photography were overwhelming, so I opted to shoot mostly in "Auto" mode when at a social function and reverting to shutter or aperture priority when out on my own.  With the old Nikon F I was able to choose both, but unless I am really dense, so far I haven't been able to figure out how to do that with the's either/or, not both.  (Any and all input would be appreciated.)

Still, it was a fun and informative afternoon and I was happy to be out and about - and near the ocean. Now it's time to download the 70+ images and find out how much I remembered, or not.

The really nice thing about digital is that images can be deleted at no cost.  Not so with film in the old days.  I wasted so much film "bracketing" to make sure the I got the shot.  Bracketing in digital is free, just discard the images and you're done.

Five on the Fifth is coming up and I plan to shoot everything with the D70, no matter what.  If the images are too bad, I will not follow this month's theme - Movement. We'll see.

And so it goes.
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