07:03 Sunday, 31 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 38.34°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 6.13mph
We spent the last couple of days in Charleston, South Carolina, with Mitzi's daughter and son-in-law and her grandson. We were there after the rain.
But we were there when the former governor, Nikki Haley, bungled a question that should have been easy to answer as the former governor of the state that was the first to secede and fired the first shot in the Civil War. Something that was very much on my mind as we walked the streets of Charleston.
It wasn't my first time there. Mitzi and I were there several years ago for a wedding, and I was there at least a couple of times in the navy. I wasn't thinking about the Civil War when I was there in uniform. Thinking about it a lot these days.
I wonder how Florida State fans feel about paying to go to the Orange Bowl to watch an embarrassing blow-out? I have to think this will only encourage the school and the state to pursue litigation.
Money ruins everything, doesn't it? Well, greed, anyway.
There's an asteroid that's going to pass within 20,000 miles of earth in 2029! Visible from parts of earth to the naked eye at night. Apophis first got everyone's attention back in 2004 when it was discovered and an impact could't be ruled out. Since then, we've had more observations and a collision is out of the question for at least a century.
But we are going to get a close look at this one. Hope I'm still around to see it.
I've probably got some maintenance to do on the marmot to make sure the transition to 2024 goes okay.
Lands and Titles and the Divine Right of Kings
06:46 Wednesday, 27 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 60.58°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4mph
Mitzi just finished a re-watch of The Crown. I've never watched the whole thing. I've seen parts of episodes, and overheard much of it (too much). She likes that sort of thing. Big Downton Abbey fan.
I have no affinity with the aristocracy.
We don't have titled nobility here in the good ol' US of A. But we do have billionaires. Instead of kings, we have CEOs. Instead of dukes, we have venture capitalists. We don't have a pope or bishops, we have politicians. I'll leave it to others to figure out which are the Catholics and which are the Protestants. We don't worship God, we worship money.
The battles aren't fought over land. They're fought over marketshare. Indulgences aren't sought, tax breaks are.
We're so much more sophisticated than the Europeans.
Maybe knights are celebrities. I heard a report about the economic impact of Taylor Swift on Kansas City. Something like $200M. When you're a celebrity, you can do anything.
I don't know. It's probably wise not to think about this too much, and I've been thinking about it a lot since yesterday.
The royal family must hate The Crown. I know I got sick of various incarnations of Prince Phillip lecturing Diana, and various actors portraying Charles whining and complaining and skulking around with his hands in his pockets. Horrible people, all of them.
We are social creatures that form social organisms, and the various roles within the organism form a "natural" hierarchy. And we do love a hierarchy. That's how you can tell who's "up" and who's "down," and where we are. Where we fit in, or where we want to fit in.
Light a Candle
06:03 Monday, 25 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 64.27°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 97% Wind: 13.8mph
We watched The Man Who Invented Christmas last night. Somehow, its existence has eluded me for the past six years. It's a wonderful movie, well done.
I was reading something about a "climate shadow" being a better metaphor for considering one's individual impact on climate change instead of "carbon footprint." The idea is that there are other dimensions to the emergency besides merely the consumption of energy from fossil fuels that contribute to its size. Your actions in those other dimensions contribute to the size of the shadow you cast. And the shadows grow long now indeed.
I've never read A Christmas Carol, I suppose I ought to do that soon. I know "shadows" figure in it somehow, as part of the warning to Ebenezer.
Cognitive dissonance is a consequence of two mutually exclusive or contradictory ideas as a fundamental part of one's foundational view of the world, one's core beliefs. Compartmentalization is one of the ways we try reduce the burden of cognitive dissonance. We view those contradictory beliefs in separate contexts, so the contradiction doesn't intrude in our day-to-day existence, creating discomfort or internal conflict.
Distraction is another method of alleviating it. We have become masters of that, aided by those who would have us distracted to do what they must do out of sight. In the shadows.
Watching another depiction of the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge is an invitation to experiencing acute cognitive dissonance. Best done at night, before going to sleep. Sleep, blessed sleep.
I do a little better these days. For much of my adult life, I hadn't given very much to charity. For a while, shortly after I went back to work as a civilian, I made an effort to never pass a Salvation Army kettle without putting something in it. I haven't done that in quite some time.
Mitzi and I were talking about it the other day. I'd gotten a thank you card from 1000 Friends of Florida. I'd given them $500 on Giving Tuesday. And the day before, WJCT had called to see if I meant for my monthly sustainer pledge to be $125 a month, or just $100. (My previous pledge was $25 a month. It was meant to be $100. Nice of them to call. I love WJCT.)
Mitzi was telling me she was proud of me for my support of non-profits. I also give to the St Johns Riverkeeper, the Matanzas Riverkeeper, the North Florida Land Trust, the Guana Tolomato Matanzas Estuarine Research Reserve, the Jacksonville Arboretum, and the Tidewater Wooden Boat School. There may be a few others. I'll need to pull all that stuff together for taxes, though I still don't think we'll be able to itemize this year.
I told Mitzi it was her example that made me start giving to non-profits. She's always given a lot of money to non-profits. She's a very kind and generous woman, which is just one of the many reasons why I love her.
For all of my Navy career, there were two charitable "campaigns" every year that we were expected to support. Combined Federal Campaign, which was really the United Way, and Navy Relief. I know the intentions were good and honorable, but it always felt like someone was putting the arm on you. Literally.
As a result, I'd been disinclined to give unless someone specifically asked me.
But you'll notice that most of my giving relates to the environment, not so much to poverty.
I'm still buying old cameras, books, other luxuries. Money that ostensibly could be put to better use giving to those who don't have enough. So cognitive dissonance still sometimes combines with my tinnitus to make my interior experience a little less comfortable.
Does a blog post diminish the shadow I cast on my brothers and sisters and all the children that come after me? Is it a light in the darkness? Or just a self-serving form of virtue-signaling? Unsure. Perhaps not my call.
I do know that it was the light of Mitzi's example that made me think more about giving, and then do so.
It's intended to be a light, but who knows?
We can all do more.
09:41 Sunday, 24 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 64.11°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 3.44mph
The E-620 arrived yesterday. It's remarkable how fast stuff gets delivered from KEH. They're in Georgia and I'm in northeast Florida, so I'm probably in the sweet spot. It's free delivery, and it arrives virtually overnight.
It was as described, looked barely used. Maintenance menu indicates 4096 shutter activations (2^12!), which suggests it did receive a fair amount of use, so well cared-for I guess. Plenty of life left in it.
Did some tests in the office and image stabilizer works, though it's important not to expect very much much, 3 stops maybe.
Took it on a walk this morning with the 14-42 kit lens, though early clouds kind of diminished the target set. This was just kind of a grab shot. At ISO 500 there was some visible noise, and f5.6 is wide open at this focal length. But Topaz SharpenAI cleaned up all the noise and eliminated the softness. A little menu clicking in Photos is all that's required.
Like the E-420 and E-500, this is a "just for fun," body. They're all a very audible and tactile experience as you hear and feel the focusing motors, the mirror flips and the shutter activation. It's quite the production.
I leave it to the viewer to discern any meaning in the title and context of the photo.
Perhaps it's the season, but I spoke with a couple of my neighbors I hadn't met before, Pete and Tammy. I see Pete often as he's running, so there's little time for much more than a wave and a hello. But they were out walking this morning, and the camera prompted them to stop and say hello and mention the stunning amount of wildlife they see behind their house. They see a bobcat quite often, even to the point where they know it's a female and she's had a kitten, and they're both active behind their place.
It turns out they're relatively new to the neighborhood, arriving in '22; and they're from Clifton Park, where Mom lives! They're young, I think. Still in their 50s. I hope to get to know them a little better and perhaps take advantage of the invitation to investigate their backyard.
07:11 Saturday, 23 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 55.47°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 92% Wind: 3.44mph
I haven't finished The Notebook by Roland Allen, but I am enjoying it. It seems odd that I should find reading about the spread of the use of paper and notebooks thrilling, but I do. In the same way that I find much of the early history of computers or radio or the telegraph thrilling. I'm a nerd, I guess.
Anyway, one of the reasons why I'm enjoying the book is because of the zibaldoni. Kind of the "everything box," people use apps like DevonThink or Apple Notes, or EagleFiler for, only it was done on paper. In a notebook.
Paper notebooks have always appealed to me for reasons I don't understand. Perhaps in the same way that computers do. I was first attracted to computers, not for calculating, not for playing games, but to be able to put text and images on a television.
As a kid growing up, I saw things on TV that other people put there. I fairly distinctly recall the first time I saw an Apple II in a small "home computer" store, and I can recall that what felt most exciting was that it was on the TV.
At the Naval Academy, computers were teletypes. After I was commissioned, I'd seen, and used, those little Sharp handheld computers, with a single line LCD display. Aboard GLOVER we had an HP "desktop calculator" that had a built-in, single line, red dot matrix display, a built-in cassette interface and a thermal printer; and it was attached to a green-screen monitor. It was the ECLIPS, which I think stood for Electronic Calculator Linker Interface Processing System, or something like that. It took Link-14 data, which was just a stream of text that went over radio, normally to a teletype, and processed those text messages into graphical polar display, non-realtime. Anyway, it didn't thrill me.
Seeing that you could type stuff and have it appear on a TV is what did it for me.
I also read a lot of books as a kid. Maybe it's the same thing with notebooks. I could put my words on those.
But I seldom did. When I was working one summer at the office supply store where my dad worked, I bought a blank sketch pad. Nice paper, without any lines. I filled that thing up with drawings of spaceships. Not great drawings, either. But lots of them.
I got my first Apple II, a ][+ near the end of '82, not long before the //e came out. Then I got my first word processor PIE:Writer (Programma International Editor). From then on, most of what I wrote, or drew, was on a screen.
I used notebooks. Little green ones that fit your back pocket. Had to have one of those at officers call, to let the XO know you were paying attention to him. My memory was pretty phenomenal back then, I didn't need to write anything down to remember it, but if you weren't writing it down you were asking to get yelled at.
My late friend was a huge note-taker, and he also maintained a 3-ring binder that might have been considered a zibaldoni. He called it "the bubble book." The "bubble" was how you knew which way was up when you were underwater. Every day, stuff went in and out of the bubble book. Schedules, exercise reports, operations orders, task organizations, threat assessments, weather forecasts.
When I became an Ops Boss, I had an OS, an "operations specialist," maintain a "bubble book" for me. He maintained two, actually, one for me and one for his chief petty officer. I never developed the habit of maintaining a paper notebook.
When I went to shore duty the first time, ThinkTank came out for the Apple II. I maintained my situational awareness in an outline in ThinkTank. I bought an Apple //c, complete with the little 9" white monitor and Imagewriter printer to keep in my office for that purpose. VisiCalc sold a lot of Apple IIs. ThinkTank sold at least one.
Ever since then, most of my "thinking" has been done with a screen.
I'd have to look it up, but my first "everything box," was WebArranger, which was first released as Arrange, by Common Knowledge Software. It originally sold for, I think, $495. It didn't do well in the market and was acquired by CE Software, who released it for a tenth of that price as WebArranger, which is when I bought it.
Arrange was a lot like Tinderbox is, and I loved it. It's different enough that much of my initial confusion in Tinderbox was because the similarities masked the fundamental differences between the two programs.
Arrange never made it to OS X, and CE Software folded or stopped maintaining it. But I used it for a few years until Tinderbox came along, and I just thought it was the greatest software ever made. Tinderbox is better, but we're much more sophisticated today.
But I've gone far afield here, and I need to get out and take a walk, so let me kind of return to the point of this post and why I love the idea of the zibaldoni.
I kind of enjoy reading about other people's notebooks. I took a course in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and a day planner was part of that discipline. It was the GTD of its day.
I've always envied the people who could maintain these elaborate notebooks. People who had devised these highly defined systems, like bullet-journaling. People who could do morning pages, every morning. I admire that.
Similarly, I look on what people do with their PKM ("personal knowledge management") systems or processes. Obsidian, Roam, zettelkasten. Amazing stuff.
I can't do that.
I don't have the patience, the discipline, the interest in investing that much into process. I gag on the word "workflow."
I love the idea of zilbaldoni. The marmot is a zibaldoni. My Apple Notes are a zibaldoni. Zibaldoni is a centuries old practice. Read the chapter on Leonardo DaVinci's notebooks. Are your notes "disorganized"? You'll feel better.
We're not supposed to compare ourselves to others, and I try not to. But I see all this bullshit about PKM and "the graph," and so on and I feel mildly deficient somehow.
Then I read The Notebook.
And I feel great.
One Thing Leads to Another
05:57 Saturday, 23 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 56.17°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 4.61mph
My YouTube problem seems to be resolved. One thing I don't like about not being able to use "native" controls, is that I often relied on the little "skip ahead 10s" arrows, which was more convenient than dragging the timeline.
In any event, I still seem to be something of a sucker for videos about "film-like" cameras. Most YouTube videos embrace those click-bait title schemes, and I took the bait about a mysterious camera in The Most Film-Like Digital Camera Wasn’t Made By Fujifilm.
I suspected it was about either the Olympus PEN-F or the OMDS PEN-7, both of which include dedicated b&w profiles with a couple of different "grain" settings, and which have received ly favorable reviews from people who care about such things. In any event, I'm always interested in a new video about an Olympus body and this looked like it might be one.
To my surprise, it was about an Olympus body, but not either of those two cameras. It was about the E-620 and one of Olympus's Art Filters "Grainy Film."
Grainy Film first appeared on the E-30, which was the first Olympus camera to feature Art Filters. They were also incorporated in the later flagship model, the E-5, which added Dramatic Tone. (And maybe a couple of others, I haven't checked. I do recall that Dramatic Tone was introduced on the E-5.)
The Art Filters were never universally accepted or praised by the "serious" photography community. Disparaged as "gimmicky," or "nothing you couldn't do in post," they nevertheless subsequently appeared on every Olympus mirrorless body and many of the later compacts. I was first able to use Dramatic Tone when I bought an XZ-1 on sale. I suspect Olympus market research found that consumers liked the art filters. I know I do.
So I watched Ms. Lumen's video and enjoyed her surprise and delight, and many of the images she included.
It got me thinking about the E-620, which I'd never owned.
Out of curiosity, I checked KEH.COM and they had one in stock, EX+ for $195, battery and charger included. It uses the same batteries as my PEN-Lite bodies, so that wasn't an issue, but nice to have another battery.
I have the 8MP E-500 with the Kodak CCD sensor. It's a fun little body, and I enjoy the experience of shooting with it in a "retro" sense. The sensor isn't stabilized, but I mostly use it with the 25mm/2.8 pancake, so it's not a big deal. I did buy an 18-180mm super-zoom for the four-thirds mount, and I had the 40-150/f3.5-4.5 "Made in Japan" kit lens, but I seldom use them because of the necessity of steady hand-holding technique. (I can, but it's like anything else, it takes practice and if you don't do it all the time, because you're spoiled by IBIS, it takes a while to get good at it again.)
I also have the E-420, which was marketed as the smallest DSLR ever made. Olympus was big on small. I think I have it because I recalled enjoying using the E-410 with the 25mm pancake, and it was cheap, so why not? Anyway, I have the 10MP LiveMOS (Panasonic CMOS) sensor, which first appeared in the E-410/510 bodies.
The E-620 uses the same 12MP LiveMOS sensor as the E-30 and the first three generations of PEN bodies. One of the criticisms of Olympus was that a 4/3 sensor was too small, but also that it wasn't updated as rapidly as Sony, Nikon and Canon. But I liked the files I got from that sensor. The 10MP LiveMOS has issues with chroma noise above ISO 400, (200 in the shadows if you have "Auto" gradation turned on, which lifts the shadows.) the 12MP is much better controlled with noise appearing primarily in luminance. They're both much "worse" than the 16MP Sony sensors that first appeared in the E-P5 and OM-D, E-M5, but they were decent sensors for at least the first part of their time.
I owned an E-30 for many years. I bought it a year after I got the E-520, after I'd shot a wedding for friends with that body. I'd decided I needed something "more serious." Shot a few more weddings with the E-30. (By agreement, I was never paid. They wanted "nice pictures" and I had a "nice camera.")
So I have thousands of shots with that 12MP sensor, and I think I'd enjoy revisiting it now and then. And I do have those telephoto zooms, so it'd be nice to have some IBIS to help get some use out of them.
So I bought another body. After going to some lengths to reduce the number of camera bodies I have cluttering my shelves!
I recall distinctly the resolve that I had that I would confine my photographic efforts to my OM-1, my E-M1 bodies, the two 20MP PENs, my XZ-1, and the Stylus 1s. (Itself an absurd number of cameras.)
To be clear, I'm not excited about the E-620 for "Grainy Film," I have that on every other body. In later versions, Olympus added a second variation that was a little less contrasty and grainy, but still rather unsubtle. I may play with it some more, I don't know. I've never felt that strong connection to b&w that many people seem to have.
And, as a bit of a "completist" sometimes, I'll have all the different sensor manufacturers Olympus used in its cameras. I had an E-1 with the Kodak 5MP sensor, which is also beloved for reasons more nostalgic perhaps than technical. The 8MP Kodak sensor in the E-500 is a refinement, I think. So, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 20MP sensors. Kodak, Panasonic and Sony manufacturers.
Why? I don't know.
YT VC Update
10:18 Thursday, 21 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 56.16°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 8.05mph
I've been screwing around with this for the last couple of hours, and I'm fairly confident I've resolved the issue. But I don't think I can ever be certain.
The issue is related to StopTheMadness. I deleted the app and played several videos with no volume issues.
I re-installed the app and the issues returned. Same symptom this time, volume is reduced but not muted.
I should add here that I didn't take detailed forensic notes, because this is enough of a pain in my ass. But I want to say that the first or second video I played after reinstalling STM, each time I deleted and reinstalled it, played without issue. It was the subsequent videos, and every subsequent video that exhibited an issue.
Yesterday I had two videos play normally after reinstalling STM, which made me think the problem was resolved with the update. Today only the first video played normally, and the issue returned on the second and remained for each subsequent video.
There is a setting in STM to "Show native controls." Native refers to the standard video controls offered by Safari, with the volume control being a vertical slider at the right side of the frame. I had that setting enabled.
YouTube has its own control layout with the volume control being a horizontal slider on the left side of the frame, after the play/pause and chapter controls.
When I disabled "Show native controls," in STM I don't have the issue in YouTube.
To summarize, I recently began experiencing the audio being muted consistently at about three quarters of the way through a video, regardless of length. I would increase the volume and the video would play to the end without issue.
After that, I began getting notifications from YouTube that they'd detected an ad blocker, asking that I white-list YouTube or subscribe to Premium. I ignored those warnings and continued to watch videos and adjusting the volume after it had been muted.
This went on for several weeks. Last week, I got a much more specific warning that I would be allowed "three more videos," after which I wouldn't be allowed to watch anymore. In hindsight, I probably should have tested that to see if they would indeed somehow block playing videos. I think I watched at least four after getting the warning, but it kept popping up and was annoying.
I started my trial subscription to Premium (Google/Alphabet/YouTube will charge your credit card $1 to make sure it's valid, then refund that amount.) All seemed well at first.
Then I got a new problem, with the volume jumping to max. And it would do so repeatedly, after being adjusted.
Yesterday I updated STM and got another new problem, with the audio repeatedly being lowered, not muted, not max'ed.
So, three different manifestations of audio issues with YouTube.
For now, they have been resolved by disabling "Show native controls" in StopTheMadness. It appears that Google/Alphabet/YouTube want to control every aspect of your experience on their site. That doesn't appear to be the case on embedded videos.
07:00 Thursday, 21 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 49.5°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 5.75mph
An update to my YouTube problem. Had a bit of a back and forth on Mastodon with Tommy Williams, one of the guys on the curmudgeon.cafe instance generously offered by Rob Fahrni. Although I'd seen many references to people having similar issues, I may have left the impression that nearly everyone does, and that wasn't my intention.
If everyone had to endure this, YouTube wouldn't exist!
I figured it had to be an interaction with something running on my Mac, so I started with Safari. First, I should note that I didn't observe the problem in embedded videos, only on the Youtube site. In Settings for youtube.com, I unchecked "Enable content blockers." No change. Next, I looked at browser extensions. I disabled Vinegar first, and that made no difference. Then I looked at Stop The Madness.
The first thing I noticed was that an update had dropped six hours before. So I deleted STM on my Mac, and tried a few videos. No weird volume issues. Ok, looks like something to do with STM. I checked the most recent reviews and saw no mentions of problems with YouTube. But the What's New section referred to some YouTube issues.
So I deleted STM on my iMac, and tried playing Stephen Colbert's monologue from the night before. No problems. Went back to the video where I'd been having the issue and tried it. Played fine for over 8 minutes, previously the problem would appear within the first two or three minutes.
I concluded STM might be the problem. But I like STM, so I updated it, quit and re-launched Safari, and tried again. I watched the problematic video through the entire talk, but I didn't stick around for the Q&A. No problems.
Then I watched the livestream of the Starship test fire. No problems. I'm congratulating myself.
Clicked over to a livestream of a National Space Council meeting and, uh-oh! Audio problems.
Only now, instead of going to max, the volume decreases. It doesn't mute, which was the issue I had repeatedly before I went to Premium. Switched to another video, same issue.
That's where I left it. I get pretty tired screwing around with bullshit like this.
I'll try again today sometime. A cynical man might suspect Google is detecting STM and just screwing with the audio to be pricks.
Movies: Star Trek The Motion Picture
06:28 Thursday, 21 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 48.16°F Pressure: 1028hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 5.75mph
The 4k Blu-ray arrived yesterday, so Mitzi and I watched it after Slow Horses. Well, I watched it. Mitzi slept through it.
I don't recall ever watching the movie again after seeing it in the theater in December 1979 in Newport, Rhode Island. I think I'd completed Surface Warfare Officer School, and was in the Communications Officer course by then. Anyway, I do recall looking forward to seeing the movie, and maybe even standing in line.
I suspect that I may watched it on the small screen on something like HBO back in the 4:3 standard definition days.
In any event, this 4K restoration, with new(er) digital effects is a much better looking film than I recall from the original.
It's held up ok. I don't think it's a great movie, but it holds one's interest at least in the context of the Star Trek universe. I think I actually understood the movie better this time around, at least in terms of the origin of V'ger. (I did recall what V'ger was, I didn't recall how it had become semi-sentient.)
We'd watched The Wrath of Khan the night before, and one of the things that stood out to me was when Kirk handed things he was carrying to people, and doing so in a very natural, very entitled way. On The Center Seat, Nicholas Meyer related that William Shatner hated the first draft of Khan. It's a very interesting part of that series; suffice to say that he learned that Shatner wanted to be "the first through the door." That he wasn't just writing a part for a character, but he was writing a script for a star. It took him a few hours to fix the script.
So I was kind of surprised, but then not, in this movie when he first boards ENTERPRISE and he hands the book he's carrying to Uhura without so much as a word, and heads off to the bridge.
He's an admiral in the first two movies, and they usually have an aide whose job is to receive things flag officers hand to them. So maybe he's just been an Admiral for a couple of years, and they wouldn't allow his aide to come with him because of bunk space or something, so he's just used to not having to personally look after his own belongings.
Or maybe that's how they treat "a star."
Anyway, I enjoyed seeing this "director's version," with the updated effects, and surprised at how young everyone looked, even in 4K.
TBPO: Apple News+
09:53 Wednesday, 20 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 55.38°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 21.85mph
Since I'm bitching about online stuff, I figure I might as well get this one out there too.
Apple has done something recently to the News app. I don't live in News, but when I have a few idle moments, I'll check it to see what's going on.
It's apparently now much more "algorithmically" driven, because I'm not seeing "breaking" news or "headline" news, I'm seeing stuff it thinks I'd like. I'm just trying to see what's going on.
That's not the worst thing though.
The worst thing is that I'll be scanning the posters or thumbnails or whatever you call them, and if I see something interesting, I don't click on it instantly, I'm still scanning the opening screen.
When all of a sudden, it "updates." Everything I was just looking at disappears. It seems as though it scrolls down, though I swear I can't find stuff I saw just before it updated. Stuff I wanted to read.
Happens every single time. It's to the point where I'm just not going to bother looking at the thing anymore. Right now, I open the app and just wait until it refreshes before I start reading it. It's a waste of my time.
I pay for that all-in-one tier with Apple Games, News+, iCloud storage, Apple Music and Apple TV+. I'll have to do the math, but I don't play the games. I don't listen to Apple Music. But access to many of the magazines and newspapers on News+ made that feel worthwhile, and with iCloud and TV+ I think I was still netting out ahead. And I'm doing family sharing with my daughter, which is actually also a pain in the ass. I wind up paying for all her app purchases, movie rentals and app subscriptions. I may just pay separately for cloud storage and TV+, and if they didn't have such good shows, I'd drop that too.
I'm starting to really feel genuinely and sincerely hostile toward Apple. The Apple user experience is rapidly deteriorating.
Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man shouting at clouds, but it really feels like it's getting worse.
YouTube Volume Control
09:38 Wednesday, 20 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 53.13°F Pressure: 1029hPa Humidity: 75% Wind: 21.85mph
I use an ad blocker, and YouTube has finally caught up with me, saying I could watch only 3 more videos unless I disabled my ad blocker.
I don't know if they actually would have cut me off. I didn't try "private browsing" or changing browsers or anything like that. It just gets too tedious to play those games anymore. I'm too old.
So I signed up for "Premium," the subscription-based, ad-free experience. Supposedly it's better for "creators."
Well, before I signed up for Premium, I had this very consistent audio problem when watching YouTube videos. I suspected that it might have been a passive-aggressive punishment for using an ad blocker, but I didn't investigate it any further. What happened was that about three quarters of the way through any video, and nearly all of them, the volume would suddenly mute. I'd bump it back up, and that solved the problem.
Since I signed up for Premium, I have a new, inconsistent problem. The audio will jump to max, at random intervals throughout the video. It makes it pretty much unwatchable.
I did a search for that, and apparently it's been a thing for years, with Google, er, Alphabet, claiming at various times it's been fixed.
I'm in my "free" month of Premium. If I can't figure out some way to resolve this issue, I guess I'm going to cancel the subscription and watch a lot less YouTube.
Tube: Iconic America
12:57 Tuesday, 19 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 50.85°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 58% Wind: 17.27mph
Mitzi and I have been watching this PBS series, Iconic America, and it's very good. We've seen episodes 6, 7 and 8 about the bald eagle, Stone Mountain and the Golden Gate Bridge, respectively.
All were better than I expected, though I'd say the one about Stone Mountain is the best in terms of illuminating a contemporary issue, specifically Confederate monuments. The Golden Gate episode is about much more than just the bridge, and deals with the challenges of constructing new infrastructure for our changing climate. The bald eagle episode was interesting without being as troubling as the other two.
05:48 Tuesday, 19 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 45.84°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 11.5mph
Since I wasn't sleeping, I figured I'd set the E-M1 Mk3 up out back and look up at the sky for me. I used interval shooting, and had it create a timelapse movie at the end.
The movie is unremarkable, and I only got one meteor.
I think the LiveComposite images are more interesting. I don't do video and I don't feel as though I want to learn how. I'll probably stick with LiveComposite from now on.
There was a glitch with the image showing up at micro.blog last time. We'll see if that repeats with this one.
04:52 Tuesday, 19 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 47.16°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 13.8mph
Mitzi and I watched the Battlestar Galactica mini-series/pilot the other night, because it was the 20th anniversary of its first airing. I didn't see it when it originally aired on the Sci-Fi channel (I think it was pre-SyFi.) I saw it for the first time when it aired on NBC broadcast television some months later, because it did so well on cable.
I hadn't seen the mini-series in years, but I'd watched it so many times before that I still recalled nearly every line and every hiccup or error. But it was still a surprisingly good experience.
So we've started watching the series again, a couple of episodes at a time. For now we're using my AppleTV library, but I have the entire series on Blu-ray. I'm using the streamed version for now for convenience.
I do recall that the quality was uneven. It endured a writers' strike, and it was one of the earliest long-form narrative series, and they were kind of making it up as they went along. When it was good, there was nothing better on television. When it was bad, it was decent.
I hear talk of a re-boot. Because of course.
TBPO: Apple TV
04:27 Tuesday, 19 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 47.48°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 67% Wind: 13.8mph
I think Apple has reached that stage in its corporate existence when it has an enormous executive staff and everyone has to justify their existence if not just their bonus. That is, they have to feel as though they're being perceived as "doing something" for the company. So the OSes and applications get changed more for the sake of the appearance of "work," than to deploy genuine improvements.
This would be a good moment for the Ghost of Apple Past (Steve Jobs) to haunt the halls of the spaceship and ask people what they're doing and if he doesn't like the answer, fire them.
We just got the new Apple TV interface, where they've gotten rid of any vestige of iTunes, and integrated the movies and tv shows into one store and one app. The result is dark, crowded, cluttered, small, busy, uninviting and unpleasant on my 65" LG OLED TV.
I hate it.
My first reaction is that I will not be buying or renting any content from Apple, just because I find the experience intolerable. I will reluctantly and grudgingly make the necessary effort to find and watch Apple TV+ streaming content. For now, anyway.
To be fair, both Prime and Netflix have changed their interfaces, for the worse, as well. I can figure out Netflix, and it's at least barely tolerable. Prime is a confusing labyrinth of other streaming platforms, "Prime" content, and Amazon purchases and rentals. I struggle to find "included with Prime" content.
I think the confusion on all the platforms is intentional, to create friction so you spend more time browsing and less time watching. Because that means you're less likely in any given evening to switch platforms because there's only so much time to watch, and any time lost to friction is time you've denied to your competitors.
I don't know if it's a classic case of enshittification, but it feels as though it is.
To that point, last night I ordered the 4k Blu-ray of Star Trek The Motion Picture (we've been watching The Center Seat on Prime). Partly because Apple sucks, and partly because of Christopher Nolan and the importance of physical media.
(Reminder: TBPO is an acronym for The Band Played On. This signifies in the post that I'm aware that there are vastly more important things going on that I should be incensed or worried about, and I am. This exhibition of denial is a defense mechanism against the crushing weight of absurdity in our existence that would otherwise leave me in an inert puddle of hopelessness and despair.)
Street Photography In a Bubble
12:00 Monday, 18 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 59.45°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 16.11mph
I made an album of shots from this morning's walk. Carried the red (so red) E-PL6, because it's a week before Christmas, with the 45mm/f1.8 prime mounted because that is a very special lens. Also brought along the XZ-1 in case I needed a wide angle.
Of course, since I didn't have the 75-300, there was a hawk perched on a fence that would have posed for me all morning.
TBPO: No. My hair is not on fire. Why do you ask?
07:15 Monday, 18 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 55.27°F Pressure: 1003hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 12.66mph
"TBPO" is an acronym for "the band played on." It's mostly a reference to the Titanic, though it's obliquely related to the movie And The Band Played On about the AIDS crisis, because of course it is.
Reading articles in the Miami Herald that discuss "climate relocation" ("retreat here, growth there") in the same kind of detached tone that one reads about Trump's increasingly hard-right, fascist rhetoric makes my feeling of cognitive dissonance feel like my tinnitus, an existential scream going on in my mind that I have to ignore because I have to carry on.
I think I'm going to preface mundane, formerly "cheese sandwich" (back in the GHD days), posts with TBPO to indicate that I'm aware that the ship is sinking, the house is on fire, the wolf is at the door, it's one minute to midnight, but yeah, life goes on.
Embrace the absurdity, I guess.
Belay My Last
10:30 Saturday, 16 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 65.95°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 13.8mph
In the preceding post, I mistakenly linked to the wrong Eton radio. The link has been corrected. But just in case, here it is again. The radio you might want is the Elite Executive.
08:56 Saturday, 16 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 63.28°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 14.97mph
I made a brief post the other day about the Netflix movie Leave the World Behind, and I wanted to mention something that struck me about Kevin Bacon's character, who was supposedly a kind of "prepper."
Why didn't he know what was going on? Because anyone who understands our modern communications system, dependent on computers and networks, knows that a good shortwave or "world band" radio is what you need to stay informed. AM ("medium wave") has good propagation characteristics, but the consolidated network of broadcast stations likely rely on computers and the internet to get their information.
So you'd want a radio that has the ability to receive single sideband (SSB) modulation. Then you'd be able to listen to all the hams, and get a variety of first-hand reports of what they were seeing and experiencing.
And many of these radios include the air bands, so you could listen in to the air traffic and perhaps get some insight into why planes were falling from the sky.
C. Crane, Eton (Ed. Derp! Previously linked to the wrong radio.) and Sangean all make a good, small, battery powered radio that can receive these frequencies and decode SSB. The real nerds will want an SDR (software defined radio) that can decode many more modes. There are other manufacturers, like XHData, Tecsun and many others. Most are based on Silicon Labs chips, and they mostly vary by user interface, cabinet design, speaker size, batteries, antenna connections and so on. Performance is roughly similar, though the Sangean 909X2 can be somewhat quiet on SSB.
They all work well enough from the whip, but most include a small wire antenna you can use to improve reception.
Anyway, get a good radio. Just in case.
(N.B. These are not "affiliate links." I don't get anything if you buy a radio. I own each of them.)
Tube: Halo Season 1
08:04 Saturday, 16 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 62.37°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 16.11mph
Finished the first season of Halo, and I'm rather impressed. It's not great, but it's entertaining. The production values are pretty high, which I guess is to be expected when you've got Spielberg involved.
It's free on Prime until the end of the month, then you'll have to subscribe to Paramount+ to watch season 2. I don't know if that drops right at the beginning of the year, though I suppose I could look it up.
For once I'd like a hard sf series that didn't depend on interplanetary conflict with an emphasis on armed warships, people wearing powered armor, alien artifacts, etc, etc.
Lost In Space was kind of that series, but it never really clicked with me. For All Mankind is just getting tedious. It's too "on the nose," without being clever or funny like Upload is. But it's "serious," so I guess it can't be.
Almost Human, with Karl Urban from a decade ago was good. I was disappointed it didn't go on for a couple of seasons. Kind of an Alien Nation series without the aliens.
I'm looking forward to a post-apocalyptic series about the collapse of civilization. Flooded New York City or Miami. Fallout zones from limited nuclear exchanges. Regional warlords. Roving gangs. Highwaymen. Small communities trying to keep going, solving problems with food supplies, failing infrastructure, lack of industry, spare parts. All the things our grandchildren have to look forward to. Kind of like The Last of Us, only without the mushrooms.
That'd be a fun watch.
Meta: NetNewsWire Feature Wish
07:27 Saturday, 16 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 61.83°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 16.11mph
I subscribe to the Miami Herald, and they offer their stories via RSS, which I really appreciate.
Unfortunately, they also include "from our partners" posts, mostly sports betting and casinos. They also seem to have a large number of "lottery winner" stories, and "strange creature" stories.
I wish NetNewsWire offered a filter setting that allowed me to hide posts that contained certain keywords or phrases. It's pretty quick to just arrow down through the feed, but it just makes the experience of browsing the news less pleasant. Not that what remains is very "pleasant." They also cover a lot of out of state murders, "cold cases," child and adolescent deaths by accident. None of these things I regard as "news" for me.
Similarly, there are some very high-attention earning bloggers I get tired of reading. So I unsubscribe or unfollow, but because they're such high attention-earners, other people I follow may quote them. In the quotations, I see the same tired rhetoric I saw that caused me to unfollow them. Not to be all mysterious, it's John Gruber.
I wish I could filter any post that contained "Gruber."
It's not that I can't stand him, or hate his writing or anything. I'm just so very tired of it.
It's to the point where I can anticipate pretty much anything he's going to write on any given topic, and it never adds anything to my understanding of a particular issue. I know what his point of view is, it never varies, there's little to "surprise and delight" me. I wonder if he feels somehow trapped by his audience and his need to maintain his readership in order to attract sponsors.
In any event, I unfollowed and unsubscribed, and his writing still pops up in my feeds.
(And I just noticed your screenshots. Oy!)
The cool thing about the marmot is that if you unsubscribe or unfollow, you're pretty much guaranteed to be untroubled by its existence.
Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful
08:21 Friday, 15 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 62.53°F Pressure: 1025hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 12.66mph
The weather is crap. Not pretty, like Garret's.
So, good days for reading books I guess.
Which I did, but I also spent more time fooling around in Flickr. I like the Camera Roll with the timeline in the left margin. I'm able to find dates when I uploaded little or nothing, where I have some nice pics in my Photos library to upload. So I put some up from our trip out west in March '22.
(As an aside, there are two ways to view the Photo Stream. Sorted by date of upload gets the most current effort. Date taken gets the most current images.)
The anti-crepuscular rays post didn't work as expected with micro.blog. I seem to recall it worked properly before. I did a fairly close inspection of the html and rss and nothing leapt out at me, so maybe it's something on their end.
I've begun thinking about how I might go about actually printing Groundhog Day. It's a lot of text ~900K words, so probably like eating an elephant, a little at a time.
A quick search seems to suggest ink jet printing on good paper is probably more survivable than toner.
It's probably one of those projects that I'll kind of halfway start and then abandon. Perhaps I should make a plan. Do the groundhog then the marmot. Learn a little about book-binding maybe.
Why do I care? Probably ego. My growing appreciation of mortality. Bury a copy in a time capsule, maybe somebody digs it up in a thousand years. Writes about it in a book.
That'd be cool.
I wonder if there's anything in the HOA restrictions about burying time capsules?
Fooling Around in Flickr
10:05 Thursday, 14 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 64.92°F Pressure: 1029hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 21.85mph
I stumbled upon flickriver for the first time today, despite the fact that it's been around since 2007!
It has a little facility that allows you to create a "badge" with tiny thumbnails that takes you to my flickr account. The one I created initially was for my most "interesting" photos, presumably as determined by the number of "favorites" they received. Since I've only recently been actively posting and curating to flickr, most of my "interesting" photos are from a long time ago, and may not be genuinely interesting.
I'll probably replace it with this one, which offers tiny thumbnails of my most recent public photos:
09:55 Thursday, 14 December 2023
It's cloudy and windy here again today. I didn't have a new photo to send to Mom, so I looked back "on this day" a couple of years ago. This is actually from December 15, 2021.
I wanted to make sure I spelled "crepuscular" correctly, and I discovered that these are actually "anti-crepuscular" rays. The beams of light appear to converge opposite from the sun.
06:29 Thursday, 14 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 61.09°F Pressure: 1027hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 19.57mph
I read Chapter 4 in The Notebook, by Roland Allen, yesterday and it was fascinating. The preceding chapters were great too, but the explosion of "note-taking" in Florence (and seemingly only Florence) in the 14th and 15th centuries was amazing. All because of paper. (I'm through Chapter 5, which is also fascinating, but 4 is amazing.)
Zibaldoni is one of the three genres of notebooks in the chapter called, Ricordi, Ricordanzi, Zibaldoni. It's kind of like an "everything box," recording things like lists, quotations, recipes, events, drawings, devotions, expenses, well, everything.
It's kind of like what I use Apple Notes for these days.
We know a lot about Florentine Italy because of these notetakers and their notebooks, because so many of them have survived. (Allen refers to them as "survivals," which seems odd to me. Why not "survivors?" Perhaps it's an academic use?)
In any event, apart from two regional collapses since the Industrial Revolution (The World Wars, which spared North America, a huge reservoir of wealth and resources.) Western civilization has continued in an unbroken line since the Renaissance. It's very unclear, perhaps unlikely, that it will continue to do so. So I wonder what future historians, centuries hence, might infer about our note taking practices, so many of which occur in media probably less durable and definitely less accessible than paper.
The book is exciting and inspiring in many ways, and I still have a large number of blank notebooks, despite giving what was probably an equal number of other blank notebooks away to Goodwill earlier this year. It would require a significant re-think of my "personal space," my "office," which is profoundly oriented around this 27" iMac, the Canon Pro 100 printer, my cameras, lenses and books.
When I write a card to Mom, I shove my keyboard under the shelf that lifts the iMac to a more ergonomic height. But I usually have to move batteries, chargers, a camera, AirPods, calculators and other assorted crap to have room to shove it under! Do I have room for a small writing desk in here?
Probably not, but...
07:08 Wednesday, 13 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.42°F Pressure: 1027hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 13.8mph
Amazon Prime is offering a Paramount+ series, Halo, until the end of December. I've binged the first six or seven episodes, and I'm surprised to find that it's better than I expected. It's not as good as The Expanse, but it's not bad.
I won't subscribe to Paramount+ to watch Season 2, but it's an entertaining diversion for the time being.
Meta: The Band Will Play On
07:05 Wednesday, 13 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.42°F Pressure: 1026hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 13.8mph
The marmot will continue to compartmentalize its existential dread and offer routine posts of uncertain quality, with the occasional interruption of hysterical screaming.
Leave the World Behind
06:58 Wednesday, 13 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.66°F Pressure: 1027hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 21.85mph
I enjoyed this Netflix movie. Mitzi did not. She found it too slow, and the ending disappointing.
It was kind of a long episode of the Twilight Zone, a contemporary, expanded take on The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street. (Which I always recall as "When the Monsters Come Out on Maple Street." Glad I checked.)
I wish I spoke Spanish. What was that woman going on about?
06:17 Wednesday, 13 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.55°F Pressure: 1026hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 21.85mph
After posting yesterday, I stumbled on this piece in The New Republic. I think Chris Murphy and David Brooks would enjoy dinner together, I think they have much in common.
Brooks can be tedious and insufferable, Murphy comes close. But I think Murphy's "four sources of our unease" is about on target, and largely congruent with Brooks' views:
These include: a loss of control over economic and family life; an acute loneliness and disconnection from community; a frustration with the pace and nature of technological change; and an exhaustion with suffocating consumerism. The result is a dangerous lack of meaning or positive identity for tens of millions of Americans—a spiritual emptiness—that leaves us casting about for outlets for our anxiety and anger.
It's a long piece, but it's worth skimming over, I think. I don't know if there's any chance we can get a "third way" political movement in America. I'm not optimistic.
This idea of loneliness keeps recurring:
What prepares men for totalitarian domination in the non-totalitarian world is the fact that loneliness, once a borderline experience usually suffered in certain marginal social conditions like old age, has become an everyday experience …
– From The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) by Hannah Arendt
Arendt and Hoffer (The True Believer) both published in 1951. Of the two books, Hoffer's is easier to read and was a popular book among more audiences. I think it was likely also wrong in many ways.
Hoffer embraces a kind of uniquely American notion of "rugged individualism." Itself, a romantic myth that hasn't served us well.
But that's not what this post is about.
I think the "four sources" are symptoms rather than root causes. And I think the root causes are the more fundamental beliefs that underly this civilization.
One is that man is above nature. We're supposedly created in God's image, and that God was "made man" in order to save humanity from its inherent nature. At least, in one religious tradition.
Another is that material and economic progress are inherently "good." This might be true if we had a complete understanding of the implications of what we view as "progress." Much of our present crisis is due to ignorance, or at least ignoring the implications of material progress.
Also included is capitalism, which is an article of faith so deeply rooted in my culture that it's radical heresy to question it, and heretics should be burned at the stake! (Rhetorically at least.)
Finally, I have to believe that "competition" as a central organizing principle of our culture and civilization has been more bane than benefit. We have lost sight of the value of cooperation, and we view far too many questions through a zero-sum lens.
These are fundamental beliefs, core values, and they're either wrong, or misunderstood. In either event, they have brought us to the present crisis.
I don't know that we have the time to make the kinds of radical change necessary to arrest the unfolding catastrophe. But if we can at least understand how we went wrong, and can record that in a way that survives, perhaps the next civilization might avoid our mistakes.
That would be progress.
Unleash Your Creativity
10:40 Tuesday, 12 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 61.39°F Pressure: 1026hPa Humidity: 71% Wind: 17.27mph
"Release the kraken!"
I read Rachel Martin's interview with Rick Rubin a couple of days ago, and immediately ordered the book (The Creative Act: A Way of Being). It's scheduled to arrive today. I see Jack Baty is already reading it.
I'm also reading The Notebook A History of Thinking On Paper, along with A Book of One's Own People and Their Diaries. To those, add Heresies Against Progress and Other Illusions, by John Gray; Eric Hoffer: The Longshoreman Philospher, by Tom Bethell; Hoffer's The True Believer; and Neil Postman's Technopoly is in the active pile as well.
I shouldn't leave out Two Navies Divided, by Brian Laverly a history of the British and American navies in WW II. That one got a little sidetracked by this "tools for thought" distraction.
I don't know. I've started The Artist's Way more than a couple of times. I did morning pages for a while, until my crowded desk, disgust with my handwriting and the inability to stick with anything for very long, kind of let that slip away. My handwriting is slightly better, well, much better, since I've been writing cards to my mom. My biggest problem is my brain gets ahead of my hand, and I'm thinking about what I'm going to write next rather than focusing on my handwriting. As soon as that happens, it deteriorates. If I can keep my focus on my handwriting, it's pretty legible and almost not embarrassing.
There's a kind of cognitive dissonance constantly going on in my head, as I seem to be watching the death of American democracy, the opening stages of the collapse of this civilization. and the profoundly stupefying inability of supposedly "rational" human beings to do anything about it, carrying on as if none of it was happening or even cheering it on.
I don't know that if I read enough books, or parts of enough books, I'll be able to achieve a sort of spiritual non-attachment to the unfolding catastrophe, but it does pass the time.
There seems to be an unresolved tension in how humanity views itself in modernity. Apparently the individual, especially the rights of the individual have been elevated above, what? The masses? We seem to have all embraced Invictus, masters of our fates and captains of our souls. While simultaneously running the ship of civilization aground despite all the charts and aids to navigation available to us that we are perversely hell-bent on ignoring.
Hoffer regards followers of mass movements as weak individuals, unable to accommodate themselves to the demands of freedom. But human beings are social animals, and we associate ourselves in groups, social organisms of various sizes and scales, belonging to more than one at any given time. "No man is an island." We need to be among other people. We should spend more time thinking about the kinds of people with whom we wish to associate.
I'd say that our understanding of freedom is incomplete at best, and utterly wrong at worst. We lack the cognitive capacity, to say nothing of sufficiently reliable information, to act as completely independent, "rational" agents at all times. We rely on habits and customs to get through our daily activities. We take cues, consciously or unconsciously, from the people around us.
I think Rheingold's artless construction, "smart mobs," implicitly recognizes the liberation an individual experiences being part of a mob, redeeming its inherent and terrifying thoughtlessness through technology, rendering them "smart." We worship our technology as the means of our redemption. And our technology is never as good as we wish to believe it is. It's the defining delusion of modernity.
We have lost the plot, and I fear there is little hope of regaining it.
But I think we have to try. I don't know if anything I'm doing helps in any way. Perhaps it's best to "Don't just do something! Stand there." Unconventional strategies and so on.
Anyway, sorry to be a buzzkill in this "season of joy." Was trying to think of something to blog about and this came to mind. So I gave myself permission to post it.
A Phone Is Not A Camera
09:53 Sunday, 10 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 72.91°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 83% Wind: 8.05mph
After getting the MX-1 and another XZ-2, I started pulling cameras out of the box I was going to sell to KEH. I pulled out the Panasonic Lumix LX7, a red (so red) E-PL6, my old E-PL7 and the relatively new E-PL10. That's all the cameras. Still a bunch of lenses and grips and stuff in there. Probably should figure out what to do with all that pretty soon.
Anyway, it's been fun shooting with them a little bit. Having not used them in months, it's like having a new camera again, which is a fun experience. They all have their little quirks. The feel of the grip, the sound of the shutter, the way the LCD flips (or doesn't).
People emotionally invested in the iPhone, and Apple the corporation, enjoy extolling the virtues of the iPhone camera(s). After the cpu, the camera is the biggest new feature of any new phone. And why not? A phone is boring. It makes calls. It receives texts. Boring!
But a camera can make art.
And people do make art with their phones.
But they're phones. Phones that have little camera sensors and lenses built in that are put there to sell more phones.
When I shoot with my phone, it's because I don't have a camera with me. And mostly it's to document something I need to remember. Or to blow up some text that's impossible for me to read otherwise.
Apple's been adding more cameras to their phones to offer additional focal lengths because you can't make an interchangeable lens phone, and you can't graft a power zoom onto one and still stuff it in your pocket.
Just press your greasy finger on a fake button on a screen and a computer makes a noise that supposedly sounds like a shutter and takes a bunch of data from one of those sensors and puts together something that some programmer thought would be a pleasing image for you. And most of the time, it's fine. Maybe even great.
And for a lot of people, that's the only camera experience they're ever going to know.
I know I don't care for the way my iPhone images look. They don't look like photos. It's kind of like when I watch movies in that super-smooth 120fps, HDR mode that always looks like some weird video thing rather than a movie (24fps, thank you very much). For the record, the best iPhone camera in terms of the images it produced, was the iPhone 7. After that, they all started looking weird.
I know this makes me sound like an old fart, and that's fine because I am an old fart. Kids are shooting film now, I think, not because it's "cool," but because you get to experience making something.
That's what makes it "cool." It's an experience, not some sterile electronic, algorithmic data manipulation performed in "machine learning" units.
Now, film is too much work and too expensive for me. I'm old enough to appreciate digital. But I think all the folks shooting film these days understand that a phone is not a camera. Which is heresy to all the Apple apostles.
I love how the sound of the shutter is different on nearly each of the cameras I own. (The compacts all have leaf shutters, which pretty much all sound alike. Nearly silent.)
The only shutter sound I recall not liking was the E-PM1, Olympus PEN mini (first version, 12MP sensor). It was a racket that sounded like it might destroy itself. But I did love the images it made. People used to bitch about "shutter shock," and I did notice it from time to time. You'd get kind of a double-image, motion blur thing in the vertical axis; but it didn't happen often enough to be a big deal to me.
But there's a whole tactile experience that comes with holding a camera (trying to hold it steady, though image stabilization has largely made that a non-issue these days), dialing in some exposure compensation, or program shift, or changing the aperture of the lens, pressing a real button (Yeah, it's an electronic switch, not a mechanical trigger anymore.) and hearing and feeling the shutter make the exposure. (I'm not a fan of electronic shutters, though they have their place.)
That's the experience of using a camera, not a phone. A device designed and intended to produce images. Nothing else. Whether you call it "making a photo" or "taking a picture," it's you and the device intended for that purpose, engaging in a process, a kind of communion, with the device and the scene and your eye.
Now excuse me but, get off my damn lawn!
Collecting My Thoughts
09:25 Sunday, 10 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 71.58°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 85% Wind: 8.05mph
I started a post yesterday, but didn't finish it. I don't wish to return to it just now, I don't want to publish it, but I don't want to throw it away either.
Fortunately, there's the "HTMLDontExport" attribute. Normally, it's a final sanity check for me, I have to uncheck the box to export and that serves as a final prompt to consider if I want to put this "out there." It was more important back in the day when I was somewhat more intemperate or vituperative. These days, I pretty much talk myself out of writing those posts before I sit down at the computer.
So it'll stay here in the marmot, and maybe I'll return to it one day.
Oddly enough, it has only just occurred to me now that I can use that facility to make the marmot a repository for more intimate musings that I don't wish to share. I don't keep a journal, per se, the marmot is as close as it gets. And it's been useful in that way, though everything I've written here has been with at least the initial intention of sharing it publicly.
Perhaps that's a good thing though. I think about what I'm writing when I intend to post it. Do I want to write things that don't require that degree of effort? Do I want to really think when I'm writing for an audience of one?
Maybe I do.
I'll think about it.
(Funnily enough, the preceding unpublished post was titled "Don't Even Think About It.")
08:25 Friday, 8 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 52.57°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 3.44mph
It's the time of the year when we start getting cards from various friends and family. It's the only time we get actual mail from real people. I shouldn't say that. Mitzi gets thank you notes from people, because she does nice things.
Anyway, I've been trying to keep up with printing and mailing a photo greeting card to my mom every day (except Sunday) for quite some time now. I don't recall exactly when I started, but it's been several months anyway. I just ordered 300 60lb 10x7 glossy scored photo cards from Red River Paper, because I'd gone through the 60lb and 80lb boxes I already had on hand. (80lb is excessive. 60 is about the sweet spot.)
I got the idea that maybe I'd print some holiday cards and mail them to people I know. I have a box of "pano" cards I use, but I don't use them often. One of my neighbors has a holiday setup in front of his house with flamingos and a gator, typical Florida stuff. I figured I'd shoot that and use it for the card.
Wherein I've returned to another circle of hell.
I'd already managed to create a document in Apple Pages that would print a pano card, and I figured I'd just use that.
Well, one thing led to another and I don't know where I went astray, but eventually I ended up with the dreaded, "The media type and paper size are not set correctly. Change the media type or paper size setting, and print again."
To make a long story short, I don't know exactly what resolved the problem because I tried a lot of things. But I think one of the key things was to start with a "page layout" blank document in Pages. Apparently, I was using "word processing." I also seem to have two drivers for the Canon 100 Pro printer, and one works for some cards and the other works for other cards. Don't ask me why.
Anyway, I created the card and did my first test print. Near the end of printing, I heard this mechanical sound I'd never heard before. When the card comes out, about the last ¾ of an inch of the image is slightly out of register with the remainder of the image. If you didn't know to look for it, you might not spot it. Or so Mitzi says.
I ran all the printer tests, alignments and so on, and all seems well. Tried again. Same thing.
This printer is over seven years old, but it's worked reliably for the last several months when I've been printing with it nearly every day.
I just ran a couple of letter-sized prints through it, using some of the sample pages I got from Red River years ago. (Polar Gloss Metallic 255 68lb ULTRAPRO GLOSS 2.0), and I got a communications error on the borderless print ("Fill" in Photos), and the very last part of the image is kind of a gradient fade. The one with a small margin all around printed perfectly.
As an aside, I printed an image of the 1917 Miller Golden Submarine (a car), and that sure prints really nice on this paper. I'm kind of dazzled, actually.
Anyway, I think I may have a driver problem printing borderless. There were no weird mechanical noises on these larger prints. I was worried there was a worn tooth on a belt or gear.
I wasn't too thrilled with the photo I was using anyway. I'll have to see if I can't come up with something I like better, and maybe I'll just go with the 5x7 format.
On the other hand, I haven't sent holiday cards in decades, so why start now? Make myself crazy like this. Yeesh.
12:12 Wednesday, 6 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 59.23°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 50% Wind: 10.36mph
I agree with his criticism of the video. I concluded that the seemingly excessive references were part of the schtick, and 30 minutes is a lot to invest in a rather niche distraction. (I confess, I watched it at 1.5x speed, having only recently discovered that feature. Perhaps I should have disclosed that?)
As regards the EOS-1Ds, I say if your back can handle it, go for it! You're still a young man.
The foregoing being an example of the power of RSS!
11:57 Wednesday, 6 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.82°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 53% Wind: 14.97mph
We watched Harvey last night. I loved the movie as a kid. I bought it a couple of years ago, perhaps out of nostalgia.
Watching it again last night, I was struck by a line that I recall I felt struck by a couple of years ago when I watched it for the first time after buying it.
Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.
It troubles me that I may be neither. While there's probably little I can do about the former, "tools for thought" notwithstanding, perhaps I could do something about the latter.
Something to think about.
Think About It
11:51 Wednesday, 6 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 58.48°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 53% Wind: 14.97mph
Is Niklas Luhman remembered more for his contributions to his fields of study, or for his note-taking system? Are Niklas Luhman's written works more valuable, more enduring than his "zettelkasten"?
Did his note-taking method give him more insight, more knowledge? Or did it just make him more productive?
In our culture, do we value knowledge and insight, or productivity?
Do more people recall Luhman or Eric Hoffer? (Few people probably recall either. I knew of Hoffer long before I learned of Luhman.)
I don't know. I'm not even sure it's worth thinking about very much.
But we do so adore our tools.
Fun and Nostalgic
10:07 Wednesday, 6 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 54.54°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 60% Wind: 13.8mph
I can't decide if the recent trend of using old digicams is fun and nostalgic or just stupid.
I think it's "fun and nostalgic," and it's "stupid" if you're not having fun.
In the competition for attention that is the YouTube ecosystem (Where by "eco," one refers to "economy" or "economic," not "ecology."), there always has to be something that attracts eyeballs. One of the tried and true tactics is contrarianism, or the counter-intuitive. In a world where we are persuaded that we must always pursue "better" (often conceived as "more" (megapixels, frames per second, aperture) or "less" (noise, weight, size)), it's counter-intuitive to suggest that the "old and busted" can equal the new hotness.
Our restless quest to occupy our surplus of attention, defined by our deficit of cognition, we must seek the novel. So it oscillates between the new hotness, and affection for the underdog, the nostalgic, the trash that can equal the "artistic" prowess of expensive gear available to those with a surplus of cash to equal their surplus of attention, burdened as they are with the same deficit of cognition.
I humbly include myself in these plural pronouns. We all have much better things to do with our time, if only we could figure out what.
In any event, the XZ-2 has arrived and I am pleased. Yesterday I played with a Lumix LX7 I'd intended to sell, but now seem to desire.
I think digicams, particularly the "serious" ones from about 2010 on, are fun and useful. The older ones, with optical viewfinders that suffered badly from parallax, tiny LCDs useless for composition, and media that was slow and fragile (to include the pins on CF card connectors), can make the process of taking pictures less fun, unless you enjoy the challenge.
In any event, I really had a good laugh from this YouTube video. A cut above the average "gear" piece, with abundant references to philosophy and the academy and all our precious notions:
06:17 Monday, 4 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 68.23°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 3.44mph
I don't know if it's because I mentioned it in the marmot, or if it's because I'm tagging photos now, but I've been getting more views on Flickr in the last few days.
I tried scrolling backward on the timeline, but they vary the scale on the y-axis so it's not immediately obvious when you're seeing a big uptick in views. Suffice to say, I've gone from single-digits of daily views to dozens; and this morning I've already had 123 views.
Yikes! I might start feeling a bit self-conscious.
Mitzi was watching some series on Netflix about Fran Liebowitz, and I watched a little of one episode. She was talking about talent, and she said some people have it and some people don't. She said something like, "Practice can make you better. It can't make you good." And she went on to say that it's all right to do things you enjoy, but if you don't have any talent for it, keep it to yourself. Don't share it.
Well, sorry lady.
I don't think I have any talent for anything. For one thing, I rush through everything. Meals. Writing blog posts. Taking pictures. I try to slow down, but that usually just means not doing anything at all.
To me, the marmot is just thinking out loud.
Like this morning. I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about yesterday's meetup. I figured I'd write about it in the marmot. I proofed it before I posted it, and then found a few typos after I posted it. Then I saw something that I thought was unclear and added a sentence that I'm not sure made any difference.
But, it was done. At some point, it's just done. It's not "deathless prose." It's a blog, and its' definitely "over it."
I take pictures of things that catch my eye. I edit them to make them "better," according to the standards I've absorbed spending (wasting?) time on photography websites or videos, and I upload them to Flickr. Sometimes I think they're cool. I mean, the moon has looked the same since forever, and I've established that I can get some fairly nice telephoto shots, why bother doing more? I really don't know. Sometimes they're just things that I thought were interesting.
Some of my neighbors like them.
Well, one of my neighbors anyway.
Something to do. Pass the time. Hopefully there's still some beauty in this broken world and maybe it's worth sharing some of it. Hopefully I can see it, and I'm not just adding to the noise.
Anyway, my pics are getting more views.
Fools For Thought
04:16 Monday, 4 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 67.41°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 5.75mph
I don't know the magnitude of the set of passions embraced by humanity. Certainly, a single human being can only embrace a tiny fraction of the universe of passions.
We are drawn to others who share our passions, and so it's possible to believe that "everyone" or "most people," or "society" share our passions, when it's really a very tiny fraction.
Conversely, it's possible to believe that we're special, because we are so few.
I say all this because as I was lying awake, thinking about this, I kept using the pronoun "we," but then it occurred to me that the vast majority of people don't know or care about what I was thinking about.
What I was thinking about was a current passion among some of us, "tools for thought."
And let me also add that it is only we, the privileged, who have the "cognitive surplus," who can indulge our passions. We're not fully engaged just trying to meet the requirements of survival, as many people are. Or trying to achieve something of whatever we believe the narrative arc of our life should be.
We have the time to "think" about "tools for thought."
I should stop using "we" and confine my "thoughts" to the first-person singular.
I don't think we understand what thought is, how it arises.
Existence precedes narrative.
This was my emotional reaction to Dr. David Weinberger's internet triumphalist declaration that "We are writing ourselves into existence."
I maintained we were painting ourselves into corners.
Existence preceded language, therefore "thought" precedes language. Language is an abstraction that makes the interior product of thought accessible to other minds. I can show someone how to chip flint to make an axe (If I knew how to chip flint to make an axe.). I can show someone how to make fire.
More complicated ideas require abstractions and language was probably the first "tool for thought."
Except it wasn't necessarily for thought, because thinking can occur below the level of language. Language imperfectly reifies thought, and allows it to be shared, again, imperfectly.
"You don't know what I mean."
I was educated as an engineer. I have had a lifelong interest in technology, especially the advance of technology. Why was this? Was it because as a child I watched television and I saw moving images of airplanes set to thrilling music?
"From out of the blue of a western sky comes a new breed of lawman, Sky King!"
In the early hours of the morning, before I had to go to school, a Detroit TV station broadcast a cartoon called Space Angel. Later I watched Jonny Quest in prime time. (Checking to see if I was recalling this correctly, I learned that Space Angel and Jonny Quest both came from the same artist. I did not know that. Or, if I did, I'd forgotten. Makes sense though. He liked big fins on his air and space craft.)
Did television imbue in me an emotional response that stirred an interest in technology? Jonny Quest appeared in 1964, when I was seven. I was a mediocre student in elementary school, as I would later be a mediocre student at the Naval Academy. But in the sixth grade Mrs. Lupica, our librarian at Peterboro Street Elementary School, introduced me to Robert Heinlein with Have Spacesuit — Will Travel. (She'd previously convinced me to read a book called Henry 3, about which I recall little except it was about a lonely boy and perhaps a hurricane in New York City.)
Well, Heinlein did it. I read every science fiction novel in that library. Math and science became interesting and I guess puberty had something to do with re-wiring my brain because the rest of junior and senior high school were a breeze. Everyone thought I was an outstanding student, when in fact it was just all so easy and I learned nothing about being a student. Hence going on to be a mediocre student at the Naval Academy.
Anyway, I studied engineering at the Naval Academy because I wanted to be a pilot and then an astronaut. But because my vision wasn't 20/20, and I was a mediocre student, naval aviation was barred to me. But I still loved technology.
For most of my life, I've observed the advance of technology, and for much of it I believed in its problem solving potential. Ironically, it's the internet that kind of finally killed that idea, chiefly encountering the thoughts of the minds behind The Cluetrain Manifesto, and Howard Rheingold who wrote a book called Tools for Thought, and also coined the term "smart mob."
Existence precedes narrative. Thought occurs below the level of language, and it is bound tightly to emotion, to feeling. I had a visceral reaction to the construction "smart mob." I don't think Howard Rheingold had ever been near a mob. I had. They are terrifying things, and they are by no measure "smart," nor can they be.
"Go home, Howard. You're drunk."
Technology can be intoxicating. Because it allows us to do things we couldn't do before, and gives us the illusion of power. Rather, it allows us to do things in ways we couldn't do them before.
Technology changes how we do things. It does not change what we do. Our problems lie in the latter. Technology expands what we do in space, and compresses it in time. I suppose our artifacts are an expansion in time, particularly the more durable ones, like the pyramids.
But habits are powerful things, and for better or worse, much of my attention still goes to technology and the news about it. Sometimes it's interesting, and I can still derive some enjoyment from it. But I'm no longer enamored with it.
And I don't believe in the notion of "tools for thought." I understand the "external brain." The use of manipulatives to facilitate analysis, drawing lines in the sand, printing graphs on the computer. But thought occurs in the brain, and we're, well at least, I'm not certain how.
Tools for thought? Caffeine and a sandwich.
How does technology facilitate choosing what to think about? Does it facilitate that? Or does it mislead us? Does it suggest avenues of thought? Recall the drunk looking for his keys under the street lamp, because "that's where the light is."
When you've got a great hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
Do the challenges we face stem from a dearth of tools, or an inability to think clearly? To know what's worth thinking about?
Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes? We know, for instance, that building more roads does not solve a "traffic problem." Partly it's because we've created institutions whose existence depends on building roads.
The automobile is a technology, a "tool for movement," that has brought about a whole sea of unintended consequences; because we were, and remain, incapable of thinking past them, imagining what problems might arise. Or because the emotional value of those thoughts didn't overcome the desire to make money by building cars or roads anyway.
The "smart phone" is similarly a new technology that, at first, seems wonderful. So why are we talking about banning them in schools?
We've thought about externalities. We know that our "capitalist" system doesn't doesn't include the cost of our products in their price. We know this, and we know it will doom us, yet we do nothing about it.
"Tools for thought," mostly is about drawing lines in the sand. Or links between files. It can facilitate some forms of analysis, if you're asking the right questions. But focusing on the tool, without thinking about the question, is just mental masturbation.
We are better off thinking about our faculty of attention. It's limited. What do we choose to direct it toward? How do we choose?
We are better off thinking about our ignorance. (The nature of ignorance is that we don't know what we don't know.)
We are better off thinking about how limited our cognitive abilities really are. If we understand their limitations, we might choose to use them toward better aims.
I think this fascination, this passion, for tools for thought is a waste of time.
I think our time is better spent thinking about how we choose to live in this world. What are the consequences of our choices? What is a "good life"? How do we "make meaning," in this life? Is it by "linking all the things." Tending our "digital gardens"?
Time, attention and thought are finite resources. The most powerful thing you can do with them is choose wisely.
I'm not holding myself out as an example. These are just my thoughts as I was able to distill them from an emotional response I had to a little meetup.
As always, I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You are strongly encouraged to do your own thinking.
06:35 Sunday, 3 December 2023
All we ever have are moments to live.
A Deep and Dark December
13:43 Friday, 1 December 2023
Current Wx: Temp: 77.88°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 76% Wind: 12.66mph
My affinity for alliteration aside, it's actually sunny out.
I've been mulling over what to do with the XZ-2 with the de-centered lens. It occurred to me that the jpeg engine allows for a different aspect ratio, including 1:1 (square). So I played with that a bit, and it's pretty bad even at that aspect ratio.
So I figure I'll just use it at 1:1 with an art filter for shots when I'm "just playing around." I don't want to sell it for parts or anything.
In other news, I've also been playing around in Flickr. They announced some new feature related to stats, which I confess I don't really understand since I never paid attention to stats before. But since they brought it to my attention, I've started looking at it.
I don't get many views. Most photos get about 5 in the first couple of days after I upload them. I think those are my "followers." The others appear to pop up in searches, and it seems that most searches relate to tags. So I've started tagging more photos.
If I tag them in Photos, the tags get uploaded to Flickr along with the image. For shots that I've already uploaded, I've been using Flickr's Camera Roll editor to bulk tag images where I can.
Which made me take a closer look at Camera Roll. I like the fact that you can look at photos by the date taken. So I can see places and events where I haven't uploaded or made any images public. For a while, I was letting Flickr Uploader just upload every SD card I ever put in my Mac. It seemed to just make Flickr as impossible to manage as Photos, so I stopped doing that. But I'm glad that I did, because I can find some images that seem to be missing in Photos, or I only have a 3MP version in Photos but the full size in Flickr.
So I've been editing a few older shots and re-uploading them. (Download the larger version from Flickr, and edit on the Mac where I'm familiar with all the tools.)
Sent Mom a card with a pic of an old truck I took in Fernandina Beach back in June 2017. That was back when I was very active on FB and IG, so there's only one post in the Marmot from June 2017. I may have shared this truck in FB, I don't know. Anyway, I figure I'll spend some more time squaring my Flickr account away, since I'm paying for it.
I ran out of 5x7 photo greeting card stock for Mom, so I've switched over to square until I get some more. I shot the truck with my old XZ-2, which is what gave me the idea to shoot the bad one in square format, as mentioned above.