"Yeah, well, you know, that's just like, uh, your opinion, man."


20:27 Sunday, 28 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.53°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 61% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 175

I've been corresponding with Jack Baty, and he was kind enough to send me the Tinderbox file that is the Jack Baty Daily. It's interesting to see how someone else with a lot more experience in these matters approaches the application.

We're also planning to have a "Blogging with Tinderbox" meetup session in February, looking like the 24th. It'll be one of the regular weekly Tinderbox meetups (alternating between Saturdays and Sundays). Jack and I, along with Mark Bernstein and anyone else who maintains a blog with Tinderbox will share our experiences using the app and why we blog with Tinderbox.

If you're running a blog using Tinderbox, you can use the little upgrade I've added to the export template to "Reply by email." We'd be happy to include you in the meetup to share your experience with other Tinderbox users who may not be writing a blog, or may not know how useful Tinderbox is in doing so.

(I'm kind of tentative about this "reply by email" thing, so we'll see how it goes.)

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09:38 Sunday, 28 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 66.15°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 589

I've been re-arranging the furniture in anticipation of Mitzi's sister's arrival. Due to her injury, she requires the use of an armed chair to stand up until she's fully recovered. I was thinking a small .32 automatic. (I'm here all week.)

Well, we have a large, expensive couch where each segment can recline. I usually sit at the same spot because there's an end table there, and I'm a guy and I can never be too far from a horizontal surface that needs cluttering. This has recently become something of an issue in what is otherwise a picture of domestic bliss. It may have something to do with the way the upholstery is responding to my body, or maybe she just wants the end table. Could be both.

Anyway, her sister won't be able to extricate herself from the couch, so my armed recliner has been moved from my office to the living room, where it doesn't really fit, but it's only temporary. I'm debating whether we should remove a section of the couch and store it somewhere (where?), replacing it with the recliner. It'd look stupid, but no more so than the present configuration.

I nap in that recliner, so that's going to be something of a sacrifice. It's only a 15-minute nap (I set a timer), but I usually find it refreshing. I also read in the recliner. I'll have to find some other accommodation.

I've also been relocating Mitzi's office equipment. I took the opportunity to update her OS as well. I made an account for her sister on Mitzi's laptop, so she'll have a machine to do her email and online banking and so on.

Mitzi ordered some kind of toilet seat replacement that has arms, which I'm to install once it's delivered. She sent me the order confirmation email, so I checked out the reviews. They weren't great. She said they looked at dozens of them, and they all had similar complaints. We'll see. I suppose it depends on the user. Mitzi's sister is as thin as a reed, so it's not like she's going to be putting a lot of stress on the thing. It'll probably be fine.

I've rolled up the rug in the living room and stashed that in the garage. It's got something of a profile at the edges, and might be a trip hazard. Our tile floors in the kitchen and bathrooms are slippery when wet, so I've asked her to make sure she has shower shoes, something with some grip so she won't slip. The shower contains two substantial grab bars, and Mitzi will be attending her as well. I gather we're also getting a chair for the shower.

For an over-55 community, Pulte made some genuinely stupid design choices that we were unable to change. We have a walk-in shower, but you step down into it. It's got a glass wall and door, so there's no assist bar there. When I remodeled my condo, I designed the shower with a three-quarter height wall fronting the alcove, and no shower door, and especially no glass. I hate glass in showers, if for no other reason than water marks. But it's just a bad material choice in a home for older adults.

I expect we'll do a remodel of the bathroom in a few years, before anything else, to specifically address that issue.

Well, just wanted to take a break afterA Tale of Two Toasters rearranging all this stuff. About time to call Mom.

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Grumpy Old Man Post

06:58 Sunday, 28 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 67.98°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 516

Perhaps it's because I'm getting old and "stuck in my ways," or because the world is on fire, but I don't get exercised about Apple's corporate behavior and the European Union. I follow a number of "tech bloggers" (developers and "tech pundits" for lack of a better word), and I wish I could filter out any post that mentioned "DMA."

I don't care.

It just takes up finite attention. I skip the post, but I wish I could filter it from my feed.

This is the feature that's missing from NetNewsWire that I most want. A keyword list that will hide posts containing them.

I like the Miami Herald as a paper, and I subscribe to support its coverage of Florida. I like the fact that it has an RSS feed. It only contains click-bait titles and one-line teasers, but it's still a nice feature. It's made much less nice by including all the horror stories from other states about people killing each other for all the stupid reasons that people kill each other. And, for some reason, it carries a lot of stories about state lottery winners! I wish I could filter all that stuff out.

Back to the "app store" kerfuffle... Apps are like junk food. Candy. There are 278 "items" in my Applications folder on my iMac. Believe it or not, there are 59 apps in my Dock! I could probably get by with less than half of those. I have a lot of apps because I read about them, and I wanted to "see what it does." And then it would just sit there, taking up space. They're like cameras and calculators that way.

This is an artifact of a society with too much wealth that is too inter-connected and chasing all the wrong rewards.

Or it could be that I'm just a weak and sorry excuse for a human being. I suppose it could be that too.

Probably both.

Most of the things I kick myself over these days are the time and money I waste on "stuff." I never look at the app store unless someone writes about an app and says something remarkable about it. Which, if you spend any time in the tech world, is a lot. I suppose it's a testament to the strength of my character or the state of my checking account that I have only 278 "items" in my Applications folder.

I just paid to upgrade BBEdit. Why? Because it has super-powers? Because "I might need it someday"?

Yesterday I used Duplicate Detective for maybe the third or fourth time ever. I've had it for years, I don't know how many. Why did I use it? Because I'm a digital hoarder. Could I have done the same thing for free from the command line? I'm sure I could, but then I'd have to learn something.

Maybe it's time I did some kind of digital purge.

Binge and purge. Fall of the Roman empire. Is there a connection?

I should try to be kinder to myself. Soon enough, it won't matter.

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More Reasons to Avoid Florida

08:50 Saturday, 27 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.5°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 72

I happened to hear this radio program yesterday and I thought I'd share it here. It's The Florida Roundup, which is a weekly (Fridays) program on current issues in Florida. The main guest segment was about coastal migration, and I thought it was fascinating. The paper the guests authored is here.

Anyone who is contemplating retiring in Florida should take into consideration the changing dynamics of the state's climate, coastline and demographics.

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Misery Hall

08:32 Saturday, 27 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.89°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 208

The infirmary at the Naval Academy was referred to as "Misery Hall." I only went there twice. Once when I had the flu, which caused me to miss my boxing final. And the other time was because of the makeup final in boxing. I couldn't count the number of fingers in front of me correctly.

Anyway, I refer to our house here, fondly, as "Saul Hall," because it's largely Mitzi's creation. But we're going to be hosting her recovering sister for a few weeks until she's fit enough to travel again. Hopefully not in "misery."

Mitzi has extended her time away until Monday, when she'll pick up her sister and bring her up here to continue her recovery. So I've got a few chores to do to get ready to receive her. Our spare bedroom also serves as Mitzi's office and she's been doing some consulting work in recent months. so I'm going to get her set up in the "dining room" (it's more of an "area") so her sister can have a space of her own while she's here.

And then there's the "tidying up." Mostly that means my "office." I'm blogging about it because that's more fun than actually doing it.

"Procrastination, thy name is marmot!"

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Further to the Foregoing

08:19 Saturday, 27 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 64.53°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 0mph
Words: 194

It occurred to me that I didn't mention why the five stages were relevant in the preceding post. Rather than edit it, I'll just add this.

Chiefly, they describe the process by which we accommodate loss or profound change in our circumstances. We are habituated creatures, and profound change can be unwelcome or upsetting, even as it is often strongly desired at the same time.

Our climate is changing profoundly. Our civilization has changed and is changing profoundly. For the better? There are people who like to be "glass half full" contrarians, and who promote the notion that things have never been better! And yes, the trajectories of many metrics are positive, until they can no longer be sustained by the myths that fueled them. The myths have been frayed for quite some time, and now they've begun to unravel.

The five stages can offer a framework to understand what's taking place, and what is likely to come.

The old disclaimer from Groundhog Day was that I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You're encouraged to do your own thinking.

That's still the case. I'd be happy to be wrong.

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Insomnia Notes

07:21 Saturday, 27 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.12°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 1.01mph
Words: 872

I haven't been sleeping well with Mitzi away. While I'm not sleeping, I seem to do a lot of "thinking." It's always important to recall that the internal voice is an unreliable narrator, but every now and then it may offer something insightful.

As is probably clear from much of the marmot in recent months, if not years, I've been struggling with my emotions regarding the unfolding climate catastrophe. The cognitive dissonance of the world largely carrying on with business as usual while the collapse of this civilization slowly begins unfolding before us is hard to accept.

So the other night I somehow made a connection between the end of my marriage and the end of this civilization. My marriage ended, but I'm still here. This civilization may end, but people will still be here. Between now and then, there's a lot of suffering, to be sure. But there was suffering in my marriage already, and there's plenty of suffering already in this civilization.

My marriage failed because I, probably "we," but I can only speak for myself, believed things that weren't true. This civilization is ending largely for the same reason. I've been happier living "in truth," than in clinging to things that were instilled in me that aren't true. (For one example, no one is responsible for my feelings other than me. ("I"?) Popular culture tells us that others can "make" us happy, mad, sad, etc. That's a myth that we use to blame others, elevate others, control others, and deny our own responsibility.)

I'm aware that the "five stages of grief" are largely in disfavor today; but I happen to think they are closer to being right than wrong, although I agree that the concept of "stages" can be misunderstood. The boundaries may be smeared, and the process isn't strictly one-directional at all times. There can be plenty of moving back and forth between adjacent stages. And I believe the order I use may be unconventional. That is, some place anger before bargaining, but I believe it's the reverse. That is, "denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally, acceptance."

We have been in the "denial" stage on climate for decades, since at least 1980. We are presently in the "bargaining" phase, as we half-heartedly embrace measures intended to address the damage we've done to our atmosphere. These will prove to be too little, too late and what follows then will be anger.

What is perhaps unclear to much of the world is that this isn't just an environmental disaster. The myths we believed that allowed us to foul our nest are the same myths that undergird much of our advanced technological civilization, and many, if not all, are the fundamental tenets of "western" civilization. Myths about "freedom," "growth" and "property." Capitalism itself, and many others.

So while the evidence is very clear that our climate system has entered a new, disordered phase as it transitions to some new equilibrium eventually; it's less clear that our civilization has entered a new, disordered phase on a course to "degrowth" or "collapse." (Depending on your degree of optimism.)

Efforts to broker peace agreements in the Middle East and eastern Europe represent efforts in bargaining. The crisis at our southern border is an example of ongoing denial (by both parties, though Republicans are crueler, and happily so).

It hasn't become clear yet that the trajectory of this civilization is one of decline and fall. Musk may actually land a Starship on Mars (and it'll probably fall over), but the course is set. Some elements will continue to rise before all, ultimately, fall. Like the wealth of billionaires.

We will reach the stage of "anger" during the violent collapse of this civilization. How violent it will be is uncertain. We should be very lucky if we can avoid any kind of nuclear exchange, though regional ones at least seem likely.

I don't think anyone can say with confidence when all this is likely to occur, only that the process is underway and it's irreversible. I'm inclined to believe it will be before the end of this century.

Billions of people will die.

What follows immediately will be depression, grief, sadness, remorse. I rather expect there will also be plenty of denial among some of the survivors. ("I was a good German!" An affect, not an aspersion against Germans as a people. A more contemporary example would be "I was a good Republican!" Again, not an aspersion against Republicans as people. They will suffer as much as everyone else.)

Eventually, acceptance. Life will go on. Humanity will not go extinct. I suppose it's possible it could; but I think that's highly unlikely and if it did, well, there'd be no one around to care. The question is, what will we remember?

The seeds of our destruction lie in our own nature. How will we avoid repeating the same mistakes? Perhaps we won't. But we also won't have enormous quantities of fossil fuels to accelerate our growth and hubris. Maybe we'll become wiser if we grow more slowly. I don't know.

But I do know it's not possible to live an authentic life believing in things that aren't true. Believing lies inevitably leads to disaster.

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Black Bellied Whistling Ducks

09:14 Friday, 26 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.75°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 119

I wasn't configured for birds in flight, but I took a chance. Cleaned up in Topaz SharpenAI

Didn't make it into the preserve this morning, but I brought along the OM-1 on my walk hoping to see a bird or two. Got shut out on wading birds, saw a bunch of mockingbirds, but then I spotted a pair of whistling ducks headed my way. I got the camera up in time and managed to get them in the frame for a few shots.

I wasn't configured for birds in flight, but "you miss all the shots you never take." This cleaned up fairly well in Topaz SharpenAI.

I'll try and get into the preserve more often before the weather gets hot.

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Get Out of The House

11:10 Thursday, 25 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 75.33°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 80% Wind: 5.01mph
Words: 481

West bank of the Tolomato River (Intracoastal Waterway) looking north.

Mitzi's in St. Pete visiting a museum exhibit and an old friend (and her financial advisor), so I'm rattling around here by myself.

I had my eyes examined the other day to make sure there weren't any issues with my retinas. There aren't. We discussed "floaters" and I told him that I've always had them. I seem to notice them more when I'm reading and he said that's not unusual. They're most visible when you're looking at a blank surface and so the brain "notices" them more, whereas it's busy constructing the visual scene in other environments, and they just become part of the noise.

I suppose something similar goes on with tinnitus. Last night it was screaming. Normally Mitzi has her CPAP machine going, and I don't notice my ears ringing. Once I notice it, it's hard to let it go. So I played some music through the little HomePod mini on the nightstand and fell back asleep eventually.

Before I went to bed, I kind of made plans to get up early this morning and head down to the kayak launch point and watch the sunrise. I overslept a little because of the tinnitus interruption, but managed to make my way down there in time.

I brought along two cameras. I had the OM-5 on a sling with the 12-45mm/f4 zoom; and I carried the E-M1X with the 100-400mm zoom mounted on the Cotton Carrier on my chest. Spent a little over an hour down there with no discomfort anywhere. I could have stayed longer, but I'd taken a lot of images and wanted to get home to look them over.

Ran into someone leaving as I got there. He said I'd just missed a pod of dolphins. Water was slack and like glass, but the tide started coming in while I was there. The most exciting thing was a dolphin surfacing and exhaling not more than a few yards from where I was standing. Of course, I didn't have a camera raised. I got a shot of the ripple where it descended.

Sunrise was unspectacular, so I went wandering back on the trail north of the launch point and spotted a bunch of snowy egrets, ibises, egrets and a little blue heron. There was even a wood stork, but I didn't get a shot of it, it left as I came upon them. I put a dozen or so up on Flickr, beginning with this one and you can work your way back if you're so inclined.

I took the RAV4 down this morning, rather than the golf cart. The road is a mess and beats the hell out of the golf cart. The RAV4 handles it much better, and is faster too.

I should do this more often.

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Data Point

09:41 Wednesday, 24 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 69.01°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 66

If moving weren't such a huge pain in the ass, and the fact that my grandkids all live here, we'd leave Florida. Mitzi and I have talked about it, and if we're ever in the position of having to recover from a catastrophic loss, we'd scrape the slab, sell the lot and move.

But some people feel otherwise. One of my neighbors has moved to... Canada!

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Planning Ahead

09:30 Wednesday, 24 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 68.7°F Pressure: 1022hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 211

If you're considering Florida as a place to retire and age in place, I would encourage you to think again.

This state has been owned and operated by the Republican Party for more than a generation. Gerrymandering has ensured that Republicans retain a grip on power, and so any "competitive" races are Republicans running against Republicans in closed primaries. And that's a competition about who's most "Republican," which means "like Trump." So we have a legislature with a lot of bullies and bigots.

Mostly the party just hand-picks the candidates, gives them a lot of money and there is no real opposition because... Money. But the money comes from their PACs and that comes from corporations and billionaires, so you wind up with a group of legislators beholden not to their constituents, but their party patrons. The legislature serves the party, not the people.

The state is corrupt, and mean and cruel and incompetent. There are two Floridas, one for the privileged and the other is just ignored. With the insurance debacle, even the privileged are beginning to suffer from the incompetence and corruption.

But the weather is mostly nice (summers are getting hotter), and there's no state income tax. We prefer to fleece the suckers. Er, I mean, tourists.

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11:05 Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.79°F Pressure: 1027hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 976

Garret suggests that I look into DXO Photolab for night sky shots. First, thanks for reading the marmot, Garret. That's also one of life's little rewards these days.

But let me politely say that I appreciate the suggestion, but I probably won't be looking at PhotoLab 7 or any other editor, at least in the near term.

Creative people are passionate about their tools. And that's probably as it should be. If you have a good relationship with a good tool, you feel as though you have a super-power. It allows you to do things you might not have been able to achieve otherwise. At least not with as much ease.

That's kind of how I feel about the E-M1X with the 100-400mm zoom (with the 2x teleconverter) and handheld high res shots. Using it feels like a super-power.

And "gear-heads" in photography, which may or may not include me, often chase cameras or lenses in search of new super-powers. Or to not "miss out" on the super-power experience they read or see others extolling in the forums, or on blogs or YouTube.

Editors, software applications that allow you to manipulate digital images, are not much different in that regard. They all seem to attract their own fans, some of whom feel passionate about them.

Photos is about as pedestrian an editor as you might expect to find. It comes free with every Mac and iOS device! The "extensions" feature kind of changes that equation a bit, but even without it, you can do quite a lot just within Photos, and I'm still learning things about it.

But there have recently been a number of AI or ML (machine learning) innovations in image editing software that afford some remarkable capabilities. Topaz DeNoiseAI was, I think, one of the early ones in this regard. DXO celebrates its DeepPrime XD feature for noise reduction in RAW files. I mostly use DeNoiseAI on jpegs or tiffs. I haven't quite managed to figure out the RAW workflow, though I confess I haven't spent much time looking at it yet. Of noise reduction apps, the DeepPrime people seem to be the most passionate that I've encountered.

Of the dozen or more image editors and utilities I have on my iMac, I use only 4 regularly. Photos, Affinity Photo, RAW Power and Topaz SharpenAI. If I'm successful at learning Affinity Photo 2, I'll likely be using RAW Power less. I should also add that I use OMDS OM Workspace occasionally as well, because it's especially designed for Olympus cameras, and replicates the built-in jpeg engine of the cameras. It's also kind of the clunkiest to work in.

Now, DXO PhotoLab 7 may be a better editor than any of the ones I currently use. I know that there are a lot of people who love it in the DP Review forums. But attention and focus are finite resources, and I'd rather build on what experience I already have in these apps than begin with a new one. Granted, a lot of the concepts are likely similar or identical, it's in the implementation where the advantages lie. But I happen to think that, at least in the near term, I'll be better off trying to increase my understanding of my existing tools.

I still struggle with understanding what a "good" image is. I often worry that my bird shots are over-sharpened. Which suggests to me that perhaps they are. But it also seems to me that they ought to be that sharp. Yes, I know about halos and ringing, and I try to look out for that. And SharpenAI can be prone to artifacts in areas that aren't the subject, so I've been masking more often. But I don't know. It nags at me.

My feeling is that a "photograph" ought to be what the camera puts out. But that's all "just numbers," and computers allow us to manipulate enormous amounts of numbers with very little effort. So most of my photos are little more than slightly modified jpegs. Or, "what the camera put out."

I'm also a sucker for warm, saturated colors, so I'll do some of that in post if I didn't get what I wanted from the camera settings. But I haven't really grokked the idea of these heavily modified photos that add "mood" or "atmosphere." I think I may want to try some of that, but I'm not sure if it's a "photograph" at that point.

I'm also conflicted on the whole idea of "noise." I mean, if nobody ever told me about it, or that it was "bad," I doubt that I'd ever even notice noise in, like, the sky. Now that I know about sky noise, I look for it and then I think I've got to make that go away! And that's what introduces color shifts in DeNoiseAI, and then I can't get the sky right, in terms of that "Olympus blue" I usually enjoy. I play with the saturation and luminance sliders in the cyan channel in Photos and sometimes I can get close; but I'd really rather not do it at all. Sometimes you get a lot of posterization if you do that after noise reduction. But sky noise isn't especially challenging, Affinity Photo could handle that, and I could just mask out everything else. Maybe? Might be different in a sunset with a lot of cloud detail or texture, but then you're not necessarily looking at large swaths of blue either.

All of which is probably why some people like to shoot exclusively in black and white.

Anyway, all of this should probably be filed under TBPO. (The Band Played On. A category of "problems" that are irrelevant in the presently unfolding catastrophe. The great unwinding. De-growth. Collapse.)

But I welcome the distraction.

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Humble Brag

10:41 Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 62.62°F Pressure: 1027hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 434

Last night I went with some neighbors to hear Donna Deegan, the first woman mayor of Jacksonville, speak at the Ponte Vedra Democrats club meeting.

I haven't interacted much with Donna since she was elected in July. I left X(Twitter) immediately after that. We would occasionally correspond by DM during the campaign, much as we did during her campaign for congress.

Since then, I've been content to watch and admire her work as mayor from a distance, over here in Saint Johns County.

The room was filled, and I got to speak a little with a friend, Erica Connor, who is one of Donna's assistants in the mayor's office. Erica and I were on the Soil and Water Conservation District together, and she ran Donna's campaign for congress the same year I ran for state representative. I wasn't sure if Erica had to commute into the office every day, or if she got to work from home occasionally, but she does the daily commute. She loves her new job, and I'm very happy for her.

The meeting began, Donna was introduced and she began going over her prepared remarks. She's looking around the room as she's speaking and when she gets to me she stops mid-sentence and says, "Well hello, Dave!"

I'd say it made my night, but it'd probably be more accurate to say that it's made my year. At least so far.

A little later on I got another shout-out. Someone asked a question about what her agenda was for the beaches, and she talked about how important the beaches were to Duval County; and then she said, "You're just going to have to close your ears, Dave, because I know you don't believe in this," and then went on to describe the "beach renourishment" efforts. I had a good laugh.

For what it's worth, the problem I have with "beach renourishment" is that it is, ultimately, a waste of money. If it were part of a comprehensive plan, to "buy time" while we implemented a long term effort at managed retreat, I'd feel better about it. As it is, we're ignoring a rapidly approaching reality that will incur more cost the longer we delay. But, as she stated a couple of times, "It's a process."

In any event, Donna is very happy in her new role and it shows. I liked all that she had to say, though I wish I shared her optimism about the future in Florida. She's a genuinely remarkable human being, and the entire region of northeast Florida is better off for her efforts.

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Trying Something New

06:41 Tuesday, 23 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 57.83°F Pressure: 1024hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 0mph
Words: 460

Processed this from RAW in Affinity Photo 2. Moon.

(Larger version here.)

I've been watching some YouTube videos from Serif on using Affinity Photo 2. I've really been impressed with the value and capability of Affinity Photo, though I mostly only use it for stitching panoramas, which it does really well.

I've never really grasped the concept of "layers" in photo editing. In Aperture, you could brush adjustments in, you didn't have to create a mask in a separate layer and composite it in. In Topaz SharpenAI, you can create masks so that you're only sharpening the subject, but there are no "layers" involved.

Mostly I do global adjustments in Photos, to my own philistine taste, and then run it through Topaz SharpenAI since you can round-trip that right from Photos. I used to use DeNoise AI, but you can no longer do that from within Photos, and Topaz Labs doesn't seem inclined to restore that capability. But SharpenAI includes a nice noise reduction feature as well.

I'm somewhat dissatisfied with all that. Or I feel as though I want to try to do something a little more sophisticated, where I have a bit more control over what's going on. I think you can accomplish a great deal in a good global editor, which I think Photos is; but I often struggle with the sky and color shifts so I think I want to try and figure this layers thing out. (I qualify all this by saying "I think" because I may wind up feeling as though it's more effort than it's worth.)

So I started with something that doesn't really require masking, and usually turns out pretty well in right from Photos with some help from Topaz, the moon.

I take pictures of the moon a lot, just because it still thrills me that I even can. I usually work from the jpeg from the camera. There is a high-res RAW file as well, so I figured I'd try to work on one of those in Affinity Photo 2.

So this was one I took the other day, on the 19th. And what is posted here is a jpeg created from editing the RAW image.

I posted the original jpeg to Flickr after I'd cropped it and made some adjustment in Photos, then ran it through SharpenAI. I liked it, but it seemed a little flat. I probably could have added some additional contrast.

The two images appear sequentially, though the one above appears first in the photo stream. I think the one I processed through SharpenAI does appear sharper, but the newer version seems better to me in terms of the contrast and range of tones.

Anyway, something new to learn.

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Aging In Place

06:31 Monday, 22 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 50°F Pressure: 1029hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 744

One of life's inevitable realities for the lucky is getting old. Now, I'm 66 and in fairly good health, but it must be admitted, the margins are much slimmer, even if my waistline isn't.

We went down to Maitland last week to visit with a couple of Mitzi's sisters. One of them owns a condo there with her husband. They're all older than us. One of her sisters was supposed to fly back to her home in New York City on Friday, but tripped on some carpet at the Orlando airport, fell and broke her pelvis. She's being moved to an in-patient rehab center in Orlando today.

Her husband passed away not long ago, and she has no family in NYC, nor in Kingston, NY where she has a condo with stairs.

The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston, often writes of his health issues. He's having a pacemaker installed this week. He lives alone in the Finger Lakes with no family nearby. Friends though. We should all have friends.

I'm very ambivalent about over-55 communities. I feel as though in some ways they're a kind of, very nice, ghetto. We self-segregate of course, but it is "out of sight, out of mind" for younger people. There may be an advantage however, at least in terms of healthcare.

In this planned development (Development of Regional Impact - from back when Florida had sane development laws. Now they just do whatever they want.), Nocatee, our over-55 community is a Del Webb and it's one of the largest communities in Nocatee. Del Webb, a Pulte brand, is even building another, smaller, over-55 community immediately adjacent to this one. So there is a significant concentration of the older population in one relatively small geographic location. (Ghetto.)

One of the largest health systems in Florida, Baptist, has a significant presence here, catering to the Medicare eligible. I'm enrolled in their AgeWell program; and I learned at my last visit that I'll be seen once a quarter, alternating between my physician and a nurse practitioner. The idea, I gather, is to identify issues early before they require more expensive interventions.

That's fine with me, given how convenient their facilities are here. The local office is close enough to take the golf cart or even bike to, though I suppose biking there might skew my vitals. There's a hospital about 20 minutes away, an easy drive. They also specialize in stroke, which is nice.

As if this "planned community" thought of everything, there's also an assisted living facility here with an integrated memory care facility (lock-up). The only thing missing is in-patient hospice. This being Florida, there is no shortage of providers fairly nearby. It's not like you'll be commuting there anyway.

One of our neighbors has just moved into hospice, having lived mostly independently in her home. One of our other neighbors has moved into an assisted living center and her house is now on the market.

We've offered our home to Mitzi's sister, when she's released from in-patient rehab. There's a major rehab provider (Surprise!) also not far from here, if she needs continued rehab and we expect she likely will. There's no surgical fix to her break, just a very painful recovery. She'd not have to deal with NYC winter, and have family to help her get to appointments. We're pleased that she's seriously considering it.

In an odd bit of sad irony, Mitzi and I talked about trying to get her sister to relocate here to be close to us for just this reason on the drive down to Maitland.

Two of my three children live relatively nearby. Ideally, we'd live closer, but at least they won't have to fly in to visit me if I'm hospitalized or when I can't drive anymore.

We had a little dinner party the other night and one of the jokes was about the number of single women living on our street and what makes a single man a hot catch is if he can still drive at night!

Anyway, if you're in your fifties and haven't thought about such things, now may be a good time to start. Moving is a major pain in the ass, and you don't want to be like our next door neighbors who are on their third over-55 community because they couldn't stand their previous choices. Moving from Texas to Tampa and finally here, next door to us.

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10:32 Saturday, 20 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 42.04°F Pressure: 1023hPa Humidity: 57% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 119

Selfie of a cold Floridian

It was 36°F out, but there was a little breeze too. Crisp and clear though. I brought along the E-PM1 in case I didn't see any birds. (I did see a hawk catch a frog or something. Sequence on Flickr.)

Figured I'd play with taking a selfie. I liked this one because of the shadow, and the silhouette of the OM-5 hanging on my hip.

I bought the hat at an alpaca farm up on Cayuga Lake a couple of years ago. Don't get to wear it too often, but I like it so I enjoyed the opportunity to put it on.

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Hero Pose

07:53 Saturday, 20 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 35.71°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 66% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 209

Low angle shot of a yellow fire hydrant against a blue sky with a suburban landscape in the background with a contrasty

Went out for a walk yesterday afternoon and took along the little Oly E-PM1 with the Lumix 12-32mm/f3.5-5.6 zoom. I should've brought one of the OM-Ds with a long zoom, since there was a hawk perched in a tree at about eye level by the back pond. Would have been a nice shot.

Anyway, it's a suburban landscape of new houses and manicured lawns so you have to kind of make do to find something visually interesting. I used the "dramatic tone" filter for a lot of the shots, because it turns everything into this kind of post-apocalyptic, gritty, high-contrast image. For whatever reason, I'm always drawn to fire hydrants and on some kind of whim, I decided to give this hydrant its moment in a "hero pose." This was pretty much a blind shot, since the E-PM1 doesn't have any kind of articulated LCD. Shot three. I thought this one turned out well.

And it is kind of heroic infrastructure. Always ready, standing there, silently, day or night, in the heat of summer or freezing nights.

Yeah, I know, "Don't anthropomorphize fire hydrants. They hate that."

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Mission Accomplished

19:36 Friday, 19 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.55°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 68% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 276

Bit of a drive to get there, but I got to the shop that was hosting KEH. Kevin was the buyer. He's out of Chicago and travels all over buying camera gear. Had a nice chat with him.

There were two guys with appointments ahead of me. The first guy had a huge Pelican case and another large suitcase full of Nikon gear. It took an hour to appraise all of his stuff. While that guy was getting served, the next guy came in and started setting up a view camera. He had several smaller cases of gear, mostly large format film. He was over an hour getting appraised. He got a check for over $3K.

Kevin took a break before sitting down with my gear. He'd been sitting at the table for over two hours. I think we only took 30 minutes, with time out for Kevin to find a power outlet so his laptop didn't die while we were working. Some of the stuff I brought in will go to recycling; but I got money for all the stuff I expected I would. Walked out with a check for $690, and a lot more room on my shelves.

Left a little after 9:00, got home a little after 2:00, but it was worth the time and effort.

Also dropped off three rolls of 35mm film I shot some years ago. No idea what's on any of them. Should know in a week or so. I'm guessing they're mostly throw-away shots, because I don't recall trying to do anything remotely "serious" with the old film cameras I'd bought. Maybe I'll surprise myself.

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Load Shed

07:58 Friday, 19 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.35°F Pressure: 1012hPa Humidity: 89% Wind: 5.01mph
Words: 599

KEH, the used camera dealer, is going to be in town today and tomorrow. I've put together a big box of stuff to put back in circulation.

It's always an interesting exercise in trying to decide what I want to be rid of. Partly because I've done this about three times now, and it seems like things that I once wanted to be rid of keep finding their way back to me. (At some expense, naturally.)

So I really kind of wrestled with the four thirds stuff I have: three bodies, five lenses. I'd previously sold a 25mm/f2.8 pancake when I got rid of all my four thirds stuff several years ago. Then I bought another copy because I decided I really loved its "rendering." I bought a four thirds to micro-four thirds adapter so I could use it on my E-M1.

So when I happened to travel down the well-worn path about Kodak sensors and color science, I already had a lens I could use with an E-500, which had the last Kodak sensor in a four thirds mount, which made it easier to decide to go ahead and buy an E-500. Then I wanted a good normal zoom to go with it, the fairly large but quite nice 14-54mm/f2.8-3.5, so I got one of those. Anyway, one thing leads to another and now I have three bodies and five lenses that I don't use very often and take up quite a bit of my limited shelf space, and attention.

So that's all going. And I'm hoping that this experience will prevent me from doing the same thing all over again.

There are also a couple of "special" cameras that I once thought I'd be interested in but seldom use, the DJI Pocket 2 and the Olympus TG-Tracker. The Pocket 2 is a little gimbal mounted 1/1.7" sensor camera meant for vlogging, which I don't do. And the Tracker is an "action cam," and that's pretty much out of the question for a 66-year-old fat man.

Then there are a handful of lenses that I have duplicates of because they came with cameras I'd bought, some accessories I didn't know how to describe or grade on the web site, a bunch of batteries that I don't need that hopefully they can resell or recycle and some other bits and bobs that might be worth a buck or two.

I have four Olympus XZ-1s. I debated selling two of them, one is new in the box, the other is the "limited edition" Titanium (silver) model, which included an evf, the VF-3. When I bought it the evf had been removed by the seller to sell separately. I bought another one and put it in the box to make it complete. I figured those might be worth a little something, but I love that little camera so much that I know I'd end up buying another one if something happened to my much-used cameras, a white one I bought new from Amazon on closeout over a decade ago, and a black one I bought used and mostly shoot with today.

I also debated selling the Pentax MX-1. I decided that I haven't used it enough to really know how I feel about it, and they're rather dear on the auction site. So that's sticking around for the time being.

Anyway, I've got to get all that stuff in the car and head on out.

If only they had a similar reseller for calculators...

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05:27 Thursday, 18 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 45.64°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 72% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 790

Photo of Steve Wozniak seated on stage at the Florida Forum January 17, 2024

Went to the Florida Forum last night. It's a fund-raising program for Wolfson Children's Hospital. Mitzi bought the tickets, I'm not sure I would have. I am glad I went. Of course, we talked about wearing masks, which we had in the car. Somehow, after finding parking, it completely slipped our minds again until we found our seats. So I'm hoping I haven't contracted COVID.

Surprise bonus, Apollo astronaut David R. Scott was in the audience and was recognized by the moderator before the interview started. He stood up and waved at the audience, which gave him a standing ovation. He was in the expensive seats and I tried to get a shot, but it wasn't great. As heroes go, he's perhaps the closest I've ever been to one. Pretty cool. Though I did speak to Senator John Glenn in 1987. He visited STEPHEN W. GROVES after STARK was hit, and I described the FFG-7 detect to engage sequence in CIC for him and Senator John Warner.

Anyway... At the opening they announced that photography was strictly prohibited. But I'd brought a camera and so I made a calculated decision to be "one of those guys" and take a couple of pics anyway. I understand the nature of the prohibition. Some folks can't figure out how to turn off their flash. Some would bring monster gear that would be distracting. There'd be focus confirmation beeps, focus-assist lamps, LCDs glowing everywhere, shutter sounds, etc.

Well, I brought the little Olympus Stylus 1s. 1/1.7" sensor (smaller than a 1" sensor, bigger than 1/2.3" which is typical on most compact super-zooms). The big attraction is a constant f2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range which extends to 300mm effective focal length. It has a tiny leaf shutter which is for all practical purposes silent. I turned off the LCD panel and relied on the electronic viewfinder. I also turned off the focus assist lamp and confirmation beep. Unless they were looking directly at me, I doubt anyone would know I was taking a picture.

The result seen above is straight out of camera, cropped a little. Not a "professional" image by any stretch, but enough to share.

Woz was fascinating. He rambled a bit, and occasionally forgot what he was originally responding to, but he was very entertaining. Mitzi said he sounds like me when he was complaining about how we don't own anything anymore, and they keep changing everything. He said something like, "In the old days, you'd buy a tool and it'd do the same thing it did on the first day, the whole time you owned it." Today, they keep changing our tools. And not always for the better.

The moderator asked him what his favorite device was, and after "the computer," it's his Apple Watch. He interacts more with his watch than with his phone. He doesn't like the e-sim in the iPhone 14. He said that Apple caused a Denial of Service attack on a cruise he was on. The ship had "adequate" internet access until 100 or so people with iPhones all tried automatically downloading a 1GB software update! When he pulled into port, he bought a data sim for his iPhone 13 and he had high-speed internet while everyone else basically had none.

He mentioned a few times that he decided very early as a young man that he would never be political, and that he'd never voted in an election. This was dismaying to me, as there were a lot of young people in the audience and Jacksonville already has an indifferent and disinterested electorate, and the faithless, feckless, Republican-dominated city council to prove it.

Toward the end of the conversation he mentioned it again, "I've never voted in an election..." Adding, "Until the last one."

He's not big on AI. He thinks it may be another dot-com bubble. He does appreciate that technology empowers the good and the bad alike. He's in litigation over a deep-fake that had his voice calling people about a bitcoin scam, "You send me one, I'll send you two."

My impression is that he's every bit the very nice guy that everyone I've ever heard talk about him has described. Very humble. He wants to be happy and "Happiness is smiles minus frowns." Don't do the things that cause frowns. He said he doesn't like blaming people when things go wrong, he just wants to fix them. Which is admirable, unless there are a bunch of powerful people who rely on things being broken to keep their power.

All in all, a very pleasant evening.

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TBPO: Apple TV (again)

16:59 Monday, 15 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 63.86°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 177

Been meaning to add this to my litany of complaints about how Apple TV is turning to crap. In the old "Movies" app, you could look at the store, or look at your purchases. If you looked at your purchases, you could select a movie and you'd get the same splash screen that you get in the store. You could watch a preview if you wanted. You got the actors, the director, etc.

In the new craptacular unified mess, er, interface, if you look at your library, everything seems smaller, and if you click on a movie, it goes right to play. What if you don't remember what the movie was about? I have over 500 movies in my library, some of which were kind of obscure and I may not recall why I bought them. (Alcohol may have been involved.)

Apple sucks. Used to be a pretty good company. Now it's too big with too many people trying to justify their paychecks, changing things for the sake of having something to put in their performance review.

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10:41 Monday, 15 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.94°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 174

Listened to this story on NPR Morning Edition this, er, morning. It was all fascinating and moving, but what struck me was the fact that some whites reported that they were feeling "invisible."

That just sounded absurd to me. I'm not doubting that people reported feeling that way, but why?

My only guess is that when we begin to bring attention to race and racism, and the injustice and inhumanity that has been perpetrated on African-Americans, their sense is that less attention is being given to them; and that they already feel as though they don't receive enough attention. These are the lonely and disaffected white people who can't recognize their own privilege because it doesn't extend to those areas of their lives where they feel most left out, or left behind.

Part of this is our media culture, where we monetize attention, often through story-telling. They see others' stories, and not their own. Their perspective is shaped by their own suffering, which they may not see in the media they consume.

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10:11 Monday, 15 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 60.46°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 79% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 217

Sidewalk suburban landscape, neat lawns, American flag, recycle bin

Maybe this is becoming a photo blog.

I'm wrestling with the usual anxiety and discomfort that comes with having to interact with the healthcare system. I'm glad it's there, but I don't like using it.

Anyway, I've figured out why living here imposes its own sort of cognitive dissonance. This is an over-55 community, and for many of the residents, significantly over-55. The ambulance is a regular feature at night, red lights intruding into the living room darkness during the movie.

I now know some of the people living here.

Anyone over-55 has lived what, for most of human history, is a lifetime. Faces and frames show age and injury and experience. Yet they all live within these brand-new suburban houses. They hide the struggle and worry inside. Not that it's all "struggle and worry," a lot of these folks are party animals and they've got the COVID infections to prove it!

Nothing in the landscape reflects that experience. It's all a masquerade.

(What I thought was a throw-away shot from the E-PM1 this morning. For some reason, which I now think I understand, these rows of perfect suburban homes demand my attention and arouse some discomfort.)

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Rows and Flows

09:21 Monday, 15 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.18°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 1.99mph
Words: 563

Cloud train over a suburban landscaped illuminated by low morning sun.

Not that this is going to become a photo blog or anything, but I wanted to mention the little E-PM1 I got the other day.

The Olympus E-PM1 was my first micro-four thirds camera back in 2011, I think. I'd been shooting with an E-520 and later an E-30 four thirds cameras for about three years. Micro four-thirds was the new hotness, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Long story short, I was sold on the system and haven't looked back since, though I've bought some used four thirds bodies just to play with from time to time (E-410, E-420, E-500, E-1, E-620).

The E-PM1 was something of a revelation, given its size and the kinds of images it was capable of producing. Today, it's something of a relic. As an entry-level camera, it was never as advanced, sophisticated or robust as its more expensive siblings. But it had the same sensor and image processor.

People like to talk about "a look" that certain cameras offer, and it's true. Different manufacturers have different formulas for rendering their jpegs, the sensors have differing characteristics that affect that as well, even though when all is said and done, it's just numbers. I've always liked the E-PM1's jpegs. They're rich, saturated and contrasty. Just don't pay too much attention to the highlights and shadows, because there isn't much there. You can turn on "auto-gradation," which lifts the shadows, but this is "normal" and straight out of the camera.

Well, I wanted to play with an E-PM1 again, so I bought one from Japan. Was supposed to be in excellent condition, and for the most part it is. But the image stabilizer is broken. Happens to a lot of this series. A nylon gear comes off the shaft and a lot of unfortunate noise happens at startup and the camera tells you the IS has failed.

Not a huge deal. I turned IS off, and I think, though I'm not certain, that when the camera knows IS is off, it'll send power to the lens' IS system, if it has one. In good light, you seldom need IS anyway. I put a little Lumix 12-32/f3.5-5.6 collapsing zoom on the E-PM1 and, as small as it is, it supposedly has an image stabilizer.

The big advantage is that it's a tiny zoom, with a 24mm effective focal length at the wide end. It fits easily into my vest pocket, where I would often carry a compact like the XZ-1 or XZ-2 in case I didn't see any birds.

So that's what I did this morning. Stuffed the E-PM1 in my vest pocket and put the 75-300mm zoom on the OM-5, hoping for a bird or two. These clouds were cool, I thought. You look for relief wherever you can find it in a landscape that resembles a real estate development sales brochure. This cloud made me smile.

Thought I might have been shut-out on birds, but a little blue heron landed just before I had to turn around for home. More pix at flickr for those inclined. Most lightly edited and cropped.

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Small World

06:38 Monday, 15 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.96°F Pressure: 1014hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 454

Circular fisheye image of the overhead night sky with star trails, aircraft and the International Space Station overhead.

The sun came out yesterday afternoon, hallelujah! I went out and took some pics with the OM-5. Nothing spectacular, because I just walked around the house.

But around dinner, I recalled I'd gotten a text from Spot the Station, that the ISS would be overhead that night. (Often, I forget these things unless I create a reminder. Most often, it's too cloudy to get a shot.)

I thought I'd try something different and use the MEIKE 3.5mm/f2.8 circular fisheye. It's kind of a gimmick lens in that it covers a 220° diagonal, meaning it's nearly impossible to keep yourself out of the frame. (It can see behind itself a little.)

Because I figured I'd forget between when I remembered and when it appeared, I set a timer on my watch and went ahead and set up the tripod before sunset. The ISS would be visible an hour after sunset. I also put the MEIKE on the E-M1 Mk3, which usually does star trail Live Composite duty for me.

About 15 minutes before it was to appear, I mounted the camera on the tripod, checked to see if the focusing ring was at infinity, the aperture was fully open and the camera was pointed directly overhead. I should have bumped up the exposure because the MEIKE is a little more than stop slower than the mZuiko 8mm/f1.8, but the ISS Is pretty damn bright so I knew I wouldn't miss it. Wasn't sure how the stars would turn out.

I pressed the shutter and hoped for the best. The result is above.

This is the text you get from Spot the Station:

Time: Sun Jan 14 6:57 PM, Visible: 5 min, Max Height: 44 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears: NNE­

Looking at the image above, south is at the top of the frame, where my giant head appears. The ISS track is in the lower left quadrant. It appeared at the left edge of the frame, near the 3:00 o'clock position, just below the crescent moon. Max "height" appears a bit less that 44° because we're looking at 220° of coverage, so 110° to zenith from the edge of the frame. It tracks north-northeast, away from my giant head, and disappears in the trees northeast of the house.

The usual north-south commercial air traffic is visible in the frame, along with a few other aircraft. This is about a 30 minute "exposure" or perhaps, "integration" time.

If I do this again, and I probably will, I'll think about putting the top of the camera pointing to the north, so the image isn't "upside down."

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Suburban Subversive

10:39 Sunday, 14 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.98°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 64% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 21

A fungus grows along the margin between the concrete sidewalk and the lawn

Another radical celebration of life amidst decay.

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09:22 Sunday, 14 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 47.03°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 126

I feel as though I should elaborate a bit on the preceding post. I alluded to why I decided to shoot a weed, but perhaps a little more context is helpful.

This little weed was poking itself up defiantly in the middle of the manicured sod surrounding it. I admired it for that. What defines a "suburban bourgeois landscape" more than acres and acres of carefully maintained grass?

It's fortunate that we're in "winter" where the landscapers mow less frequently as the grass is somewhat dormant. Soon enough, the establishment will be along with its mechanized means of violently enforcing conformity.

I could have done a wider shot to establish that visually; but I thought the little flower deserved its moment memorialized more as a portrait.

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Making Do

09:10 Sunday, 14 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.72°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 69% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 98

A weed poking its blossom above the grass.

Weather was decidedly "meh" yesterday. Windy too, which made this little weed tilt and sway like it was dancing. But you make do with what you find on a cloudy day in a bourgeois suburban landscape. Not sure I'd send it to Mom, but good enough for the marmot.

The OM-5 with the, also new to me, 12-45mm/f4 I got on a refurb sale. I haven't photographed a brick wall with it yet, so I'm not sure the lens is "perfect."

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RSS Test

12:37 Saturday, 13 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.74°F Pressure: 1011hPa Humidity: 39% Wind: 17.27mph
Words: 20

Fixed a bit of hard-coded date stuff in the RSS export template. Next January things should go much smoother.

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Cloudy With a Chance of "Meh."

09:58 Saturday, 13 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 56.91°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 50% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 338

Got the OM-5 yesterday and of course the weather is uninspiring. It feels denser than I thought it would, heavier than such a tiny body should be. But lighter than an E-M1!

I'll probably go out in a bit, try to get some exercise and hope something catches my eye. Perhaps some new and exotic fungus or something.

I've been printing and mailing a photo as a greeting card for my Mom every day. The idea is that she gets something in the mail every day. But the U.S. Postal Service seems to have other ideas. She'll go days without a card, then get four or five at once. Kind of defeats the purpose. The ones she likes she tacks on the wall (tapes?) outside her apartment and her neighbors comment on them. In a good way, I suppose.

KEH is going to be in town next week. Maybe I should make an appointment and bring a box of "extra" stuff I have and see if I can reduce the clutter and get a little "walking around money" in the process. That'd be the smart play.

Finished Monarch and For All Mankind last night. Both were, overall, better than I'd expected at launch. If Monarch doesn't return, I think it ended on a satisfactory note, that it was relatively self-contained as a story.

If For All Man Kind returns, I guess we're looking an alternative history of a decade ago. I wonder if the conceit runs out of steam at that point. What's the entertainment value in a subsequent season that offers a vision of the present that is predicated on an alternative past? Beats me, but we'll see. Maybe it's just an "I told you so," moment for everyone who thought we'd have colonized the moon and Mars by now.

Reacher seems needlessly gratuitously violent. That seems to be a thing with some Prime shows, like The Boys.

I've got to get busy and read my 100 pages of The Power Broker too.

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Fool: Succumbed

07:56 Friday, 12 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.62°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 663

Welp... I bought it. The OM-5. Not the "pre-owned" one, a new one. I figured for $150, I might as well have the certainty of getting a new camera. I went back through my email and found the times when I'd bought a "new" camera. Most of the cameras I buy are used, er "pre-owned" or refurbs from Olympus.

I wanted to see what the interval is on these purchases that cause such angst.

PEN F in Mar 2018

E-M1 Mk 2 in Jan 2019

E-M1X in Nov 2020

E-M1 Mk 3 in Jun 2021

OM-1 in Feb 2022 (shipped in Aug 22)

The OM-1 was the most expensive of these, bought at list price on release. The E-M1 Mk 2 was the second most expensive, but it came with the 12-40mm/f2.8 lens. The others were discounted from their launch price, often significantly, in the case of the E-M1X.

Prior to the E-M1 Mk 2, I didn't buy a flagship camera every year. I bought the original E-M5 and E-M1 upon release and then didn't buy another "new" body for five years. I retired in 2013, just before I bought the E-M1. I could live on my navy pension. Though I wasn't "rich," my time was worth more to me than what any employer would pay.

I bought the PEN F because it was going out of production and I wanted a new body, rather than used. It was a flagship camera, the highest-spec PEN body Olympus released.

In 2019 I started drawing Social Security and we moved into a house that was less expensive to own than my condo, so my "discretionary income" increased significantly. The mortgage, taxes, solar and battery loan, HOA fee and CDD (a local development bond repayment) fees are all less than my mortgage and HOA fees were at the condo. Hurray for low interest rates! Can't walk to the beach though. Alas.

But I still have angst about buying these big-ticket, "luxury" items. I bought it yesterday after giving up on wrestling with it, as I suspected I would. Then experienced exactly what I knew I would, this brief, intense period of self-loathing. And now I'm fine with it. Mostly.

It's a ridiculous number of cameras. This list doesn't include a large number of used cameras I have for one reason or another, none of them strictly "rational." It's not a financial problem, it's mostly one of space, shelf and cognitive.

The E-M1 Mk 3 becomes somewhat redundant, given that the OM-5 replicates its feature set, albeit in a smaller body. I may sell it, maybe not. The OM-5 will become my daily walk camera. I'll be giving up the bird recognition feature of the OM-1, but I was doing okay with the E-M10 Mk 4 which lacked it as well.

The E-M1X is the home of the 100-400mm zoom, my largest lens. While its sensor isn't as up to spec as the OM-1, it's "good enough," and it's easier to handle that big lens on that big body, I don't have a grip for the OM-1 and I'm not inclined to get one.

I'm aware of my privilege and good fortune, and some of my discomfort is due to that awareness. I enjoy photography, and it seems I have some addiction to "gear." I'd like to believe I probably won't buy another "new" camera for many years, but recent history suggests that may be wishful thinking.

If the doom-sayers are correct, OMDS may have only one or two more cameras left in its future anyway. But I'll be in the micro-four thirds system for the rest of my life, no matter what. Or until even that becomes too heavy, which will likely spell the end of my practice.

Looking forward to playing with my new toy.

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Another Note to Self

07:54 Friday, 12 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 58.62°F Pressure: 1010hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 3.44mph
Words: 33

Forgot to update the RSS template for 2024. Fixed.

What I ought to do today is make the year an attribute and let it roll over automatically.

We'll see how motivated I get.

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Fool: GAS Attack

08:28 Thursday, 11 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 43.09°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 95% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 230

(GAS is an acronym for "gear acquisition syndrome.")

Spent a lot of last night tossing and turning thinking about buying a camera. Ugh. Looking at getting a used OM-5. Not inexpensive, it'd be over $900. I figure if I wait long enough this feeling will pass, but I've almost pulled the trigger twice now.

The attraction for me is that it's essentially an E-M1 Mk3, which I also own, in a slightly smaller, much lighter body. I took the OM-1 and the E-P7 with me to Charleston, but only shot with the E-P7 because it hangs off my wrist comfortably. I took the RRS bottom plate off the OM-1 to make it a little lighter, but with the 12-40mm/f2.8 it still requires a strap. An OM-5 would give me kind of the "best of both worlds." A lightweight body with an electronic viewfinder for carrying around when I'm "out and about." (Which, frankly, isn't that often. Alas.)

I can afford it, but it's like anything else, there are probably a lot more useful things I could do with $900. Like a heat-pump, ventless dryer.

Right now I'm figuring I'll wait until February and see how I feel.

But as they say, "The struggle is real."

And the little neon light show going on in my head has ended. For now.

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Neural Frustrations

08:20 Thursday, 11 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 43.84°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 87% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 256

I have an appointment for a neurology consult on Monday to look into why my toes seem numb. They're not completely numb, but they feel funny and it mostly feels like "numb." Kinda like when I was a kid in New York and it was 20° below zero out and we were outside playing. "I can't feel my toes." Mostly. Not as bad as all that.

Might be something, might not. Might just be decades of walking barefoot on hard surfaces in Florida, running a fair amount and several years of taekwondo. Blood sugar is fine.

But I noticed something else the other day that seems to be happening with increasing frequency. I get these shimmering lines in my visual field. I cover one eye and then the other, and they're present in both eyes, so it doesn't seem to be an eye thing.

Consulting Dr. Google, it seems they might be something called "ocular migraines," and they might be something as well. I don't have a headache, but there's one going on right now and it's also annoying. They pass after a while, but I don't know what prompts them or what they might mean.

I don't know if this neurologist is going to want to talk about ocular migraines on Monday, or toes only; but I have a couple of follow-up appointments with my regular doctor next week as well, so maybe I'll get another consult scheduled.

Otherwise, I'm in ridiculously good health for being as old and as fat as I am.

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Apple Frustrations

08:03 Thursday, 11 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 42.53°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 91% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 435

Against my better instincts, I bought an Apple Watch Series 9 (before the decision, subsequently overturned, that briefly caused Apple to stop selling it). I had one niggling issue with it, the weather complication refused to display any weather data.

Life being what it is, I cursed Apple and ignored it after wasting a fair amount of time trying to get it to work.

Well, yesterday morning, my Apple Watch 9 refused to wake up! Well, stay awake anyway. I'd hold the crown in and enter my pass code, it'd appear to be awake and alert and seconds later, it'd go back to "sleep."

I thought maybe it couldn't detect my wrist. We were heading to the Outlet Mall to spend gift cards, so I grabbed my Apple Watch Series 6, which I use for sleep tracking. I figured when I got home I'd spend some time with Apple Support in chat. Well, the Series 6 did the same thing! Relieved that the Series 9 likely wasn't defective, we headed off to the store.

Toward the end of our errand, I went to the car while Mitzi was shopping. Figured I'd spend some time with the phone and try to figure out what was going on.

Turns out, it was the iPhone. It was "stuck" in sleep focus mode. I had to turn off focus mode entirely, I couldn't get it to switch to "work" (basically, "do not disturb" with exceptions for certain people).

Re-booted the phone and it seems to be fine now. But it was pretty annoying for a company whose products were once praised because they "just worked."

I later updated to the latest WatchOS and the weather complication is also now working properly.

Fast forward to this morning, and the damn iMac didn't automatically shift out of dark mode after sunrise! I didn't notice right away until I went to a web site and the menu bar turned bright red and all of Safari's menu items disappeared. The menubar icons for apps that have them were still present, but the text was gone. Closed the tab, but problem remained.

Switched to Finder and the menubar cleared, but then I noticed I was still in dark mode. Went to Settings and confirmed it was in Automatic, then just selected, what? Light mode? Normal mode, I guess.

Anyway, resolved my question about what I wanted to blog about. Grumpy old man stuff. I used to be an Apple "fanboi," but now they're just another over-sized, over-valued corporation that pretends to care about stuff, but mostly only cares about making money.

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Fool: Speaking of Cameras

10:47 Tuesday, 9 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 72.14°F Pressure: 1008hPa Humidity: 86% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 368

I should know better than to visit the forums at dpReview. It's a "gear" forum and people talk about cameras and lenses and sing their praises or curse their faults.

Someone recently bought an E-P3 and was asking about the results they were seeing, specifically with regard to "noise."

This person has the camera. Their first impression wasn't a great one. They wanted to know if they had a defective camera. Rather than investigate that, have a conversation about the strengths and weaknesses of the E-P3, there were people immediately telling her that the camera was rubbish, and they should return it and instead by a camera with a later sensor.

I normally ignore that sort of thing, but I guess I was weak that day, because I engaged.

To make a long story short, (130+ replies, though I'm only 3 of them.). She's decided her camera isn't defective and is likely to continue to work with it.

But in the process, I was doing some research on that generation of 12MP Panasonic LiveMOS sensor. I was looking at my own images, Flickr and watching YouTube videos.

And I decided I needed a mirrorless camera with that sensor. The E-620 that I don't need has that sensor. But, you know, it's not mirrorless. And I have way more lenses for micro-four thirds than I do four thirds.

So, inevitably, I went to the auction site and I have an Olympus E-PM1 on its way from Japan. The E-PM1 was my first mirrorless (interchangeable lens) camera. I'd had an E-520 and an E-30 four thirds DSLRs before that, but micro four thirds was the new hotness, and I wanted a low-cost introduction. I waited until the E-PM1 came out, foregoing the E-PL1 and E-PL2 in the interim. Although I didn't care for the sound of the shutter, I loved the images it made. (Ephemeral, ghostly bits though they are.)

I don't know what it is about me and cameras, or "stuff" in general (radios, calculators), but here I go again. I'm not too worked up about it. I know I'll enjoy it.

Also, 72°F outside. Oy.

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Why Shoot Color Film?

09:45 Tuesday, 9 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 70.86°F Pressure: 1009hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 23.02mph
Words: 587

Mike Johnston asks, "Is there any reason a film photographer would shoot color today?"

I touched on this just about a month ago in, A Phone Is Not A Camera.

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.

In other words it's more "authentic," as photography, than "digital imaging." While there are likely boomers who are shooting film nowadays out of nostalgia or whatever, for the most part it seems to me to be young people, Millennials and younger, who are drawn to shooting film.

My nephew is a working photographer, touring with musicians and shooting gigs. For that, he mostly shoots digital. But he shoots film to be more expressive. It's a different process, and it requires a different mindset.

My daughter is shooting film as a side hustle. She recently bought a medium format camera. I think it's the same thing with her.

These kids have grown up digital. Everything associated with a screen being nearly instantaneous, and nearly infinitely mutable. A thing's existence is merely a sequence of ones and zeros that must be interpreted by a machine to make them accessible to a human being. There is nothing intrinsic in the artifact itself.

Film is different. Whatever is captured while the shutter is open is all there's ever going to be. Now, digitize it, and it becomes that ephemeral, ghostly entity that only exists as bits. But the negative actually exists.

A phone is not a camera. Even when "taking" or "making" a photograph with a phone, the machine is doing most of the work, and doing it mostly for its own convenience, which is presumably also the user's convenience. (Notice I didn't say "photographer.")

I think for folks who are shooting color film today, they want to be in touch with an experience, a part of the process. To know that the image that results is wholly a result of their choices, their experience, creative and technical.

Can you do that in digital? Sure. Mostly. The machine is still doing stuff you don't know about. Lens corrections. Chromatic aberration corrections. Sometimes you can turn that stuff off, sometimes it's baked into the RAW images themselves. And you still wind up with... bits. A "virtual" thing.

A phone is not a camera, and bits are not "real." We live an era of "deep fakes," because of the infinite mutability of bits and the power of our machines to manipulate them. Film is real. Yeah, you can do clever things making prints, but you have to fight with reality, not just move a slider, click a check-box.

Kids born when the iPhone was introduced are turning 17 this year. Chances are, for most of them, a phone is their only experience with a camera.

For most of the things we use cameras for, I think digital is a boon. I wouldn't go back to shooting film. But I've had that experience. I think young people today, who've grown up knowing only digital, welcome that tactile experience. That embodied experience. The reality of a physical artifact that exists because of their effort, their choices.

I think if this civilization were to survive that numb-nuts Kurzweil would turn out to be right. Everything would be digital.

We would only exist as ghosts in a machine.

I think shooting film is a rejection of that.

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Getting By

06:35 Monday, 8 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 51.78°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 19.57mph
Words: 1128

Mitzi's mom passed away yesterday morning. Not to be all L'Étranger or anything. She was 94 and had been declining in recent months, entering hospice care at her memory care facility a couple of weeks ago.

I was going to call this post, "I'll See Myself Out," but that's a little darker than I feel. Only a little.

I'm at that point in my life where I have no grand ambitions. That foolish effort at running for public office kind of put the nail in that coffin.

Which is fine. Not having "lofty goals" leaves more time for considering the little ones. The art of "chop wood, carry water." Kind of a lofty goal itself, in a sense.

Mostly what I want to achieve in the time I have left shuffling on mortal coils is to do the least harm, and try to be as kind as I can be. Both are challenging.

I'm seeing more and more people writing about the climate crisis and sustainability, which is not unexpected. That will continue to increase as the scope and severity of the unfolding catastrophe become increasingly plain to even the most benighted minds. It's hard to thread the needle on this one.

On the one hand, I'm enamored with the idea of hopepunk. To me, it accepts the reality of the situation, it's not kidding anyone. There's a certain humility underlying it, that we might be wrong and maybe we can land this plane safely after all. Certainly, there's little else that might be considered a better use of our time. We do our best, because our best is what's called for in this situation.

On the other hand, it's hard to know what to think about other people. And still "be kind," I mean.

The folks who support Trump don't think of themselves as "bad people." I think they're horrible people. But how does that help either them or me? I don't know how to change their minds. I'm not even sure their minds can be changed. One day, they'll all be "good Germans" ("good Republicans"), but for now "the left" is worse than anything Trump represents, and they think he's their best hope for saving us all from "the left." It's Nazi Germany all over again, and likely what took place in Hungary and Israel and Britain and Argentina and everywhere else radical right-wing regression has taken hold.

I think that's the best I can do in trying to get inside their minds and understand why they're doing this. They aren't genuinely evil people, but we know that genuine evil doesn't require genuinely evil people. Just folks who are lonely, or scared, or angry. Does kindness fix all of that? When?

One new blogger I discovered lives in a tiny house and has what appears to be a relatively sustainable lifestyle. And he also appreciates the challenge we face. But he also likes "naming and shaming." I happen to think that's fair to do to politicians and billionaires, but random "little people" who post something that might seem oblivious in this time of peril, well, "Don't be a Karen," I guess. (Sorry, Karens. It's the idiom we swim in.)

We can't all extricate ourselves from the culture we grew up in. Some of us probably can. Take a vow of poverty, shed most property and pleasures, atone for the harm we've inflicted. But most of us don't have that degree of will or insight, or fierce commitment. I know I don't.

Which is why I'm still buying plastic disks because I think Christopher Nolan is right, even if it doesn't matter in the mid-term. Not a lot of them, and I do so far more mindfully than in years past. But I still buy them.

I'm looking at mayonnaise recipes. It's nearly impossible to buy mayonnaise in glass jars anymore. All plastic. Mitzi made some mayonnaise a few months back. I didn't like it. At all. So I'm going to take that on and figure out how to make mayonnaise I like, in small enough batches that it'll keep in the fridge until it's used up.

I read that article about the confusion many of us have regarding what the changes are that can have the most impact in reducing the harm our lifestyles inflict on the planet and all the living things we share it with. A bit of low-hanging fruit that had eluded me was shampoo. So I've ordered some shampoo in bar form. Also learned Mitzi's daughter has been using that for years now. Smart girl. I'm going to finish the bottle of dandruff shampoo in the shower first. I should have looked into dandruff shampoos in bar form. But I'll use the ones I have up first. It's not essential anyway.

I'm pleased to say I've never bought "body wash." I'm an Irish Spring sort of guy, though I'm sure the fragrance and coloring pose their own problems.

Every morning I fill up a carafe that connects to a Soda Stream CO2 charger to make the carbonated water in which I'll add some syrup to make my caffeine delivery system of choice. I think I've mentioned before that I try to be mindful while filling the carafe that I have clean drinking water, and many people don't. Even in America.

That practice has evolved into a prayer. Can't say why. Early childhood indoctrination I suppose. But I pray for Gaza, I pray for Ukraine, I pray for my kids. Enough time for a couple of Hail Marys while the bottle's being filled. I think of them and offer my wishes for sanity to return and the hate and harm to cease. Does it do any good? I don't know. Probably not. But if "everything's connected," if "there's more here than meets the eye," than maybe that little moment means something. I don't know.

In any event, the current plan is to use the present inventory of syrups in the pantry and then perhaps stop drinking soda entirely. When we were in Charleston a couple of weeks ago, I didn't have any soda for a couple of days. Didn't seem to offer any particular problems. If I do, I'll have to find another ritual in which to offer up my prayers.

One of my neighbors is reading a book about evangelical Christians and extremism. He keeps texting me that I have to read this book. I finally told him that my existential dread locker was full. That for my own mental health, I have to choose to ignore some things.

It'd be hard to focus on improving my efforts in "chop wood, carry water," if I was suicidally depressed.

We do our best. The rest is not up to us.

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Movies: Mystery Men

07:54 Saturday, 6 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.64°F Pressure: 1005hPa Humidity: 94% Wind: 20.71mph
Words: 92

This is one of the best looks at Mystery Men that I've watched. (There's one where a guy basically reads the wikipedia entry to a montage of film clips. Or the wikipedia entry is just a transcript. Hard to tell these days. Maybe both were made by "generative AI.")

This movie is absolutely gorgeous in 4K UHD.

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Movies: Batman (Burton) and Mystery Men

13:07 Friday, 5 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 65.57°F Pressure: 1018hPa Humidity: 74% Wind: 16.11mph
Words: 529

I bought the Christopher Nolan Batman series on 4K UHD Blu-ray a couple of weeks ago, and while we were watching Batman Begins, Mitzi asked something about the "other" Batman movies. I decided to get a 4K UHD version of Tim Burton's Batman.

I saw the 1989 Batman in the theater, and I recall the excitement many of us felt about this treatment of Batman. At the time, I had the single volume collection of Frank Miller's The Dark Knight comics. (I was kind of into comic books for a while.) The Burton movie, while campy in many ways, felt like a more "serious" treatment of the character; certainly compared to the old Adam West series.

I hadn't seen Burton's Batman in decades. I think the last time I saw it, it was on VHS so I was interested in seeing it again in a premium format.

We watched it the night before last, and I have to say that I don't think the film really needs a 4K UHD treatment. Regular high definition is probably sufficient. While the images were clear, the pallet and contrast were kind of muddy, absent the Joker and his occasional gadgets. It was also interesting to experience the longer scenes, the less frenetic pacing of the cuts and camera changes. And by "interesting," I mean it felt "slow." I watched it more out of curiosity than genuine interest. I also noted that indeed, Michael Keaton couldn't move his head when wearing the cape and cowl. And I'd forgotten how pretty Kim Basinger is.

All that said, I did love Tim Burton's "vision" of Gotham and the practical effects with miniatures.

Right after I'd ordered Batman in 4K, I thought of another super-hero movie that might look great in 4K UHD, Mystery Men.

Now that movie looks amazing (pun intended) in 4K UHD. I was noticing things I'd never noticed before. I only had the DVD version for many years before I bought a digital copy. I can't recall feeling the same sense of wonder watching the streaming version, so I should probably compare the Blu-ray with the streaming version sometime. See if I'm imagining things.

Mystery Men goes in for a lot of the same whimsy in set design that Burton used for Batman, perhaps more so, and I think it's great. I'd love a miniature Herkimer Battle Jitney, even though I don't collect movie miniatures. (My son does.)

I thought it was an interesting coincidence that the villain in Mystery Men, Casanova Frankenstein, intended to destroy Champion City by using a "psycho-frakulator," causing hallucinations in its victims and the citizens to turn against one another, similar to the plot of Batman Begins and the League of Shadows.

Mystery Men has always been funny as hell to me. Tom Waits as a "mad scientist." ("I'm only here for the ladies.") Greg Kinnear as Captain Amazing. The script is very clever, though I gather it was a bit of a mess coming together.

I've always loved Mystery Men, but the 4K UHD Blu-ray version is just a visual delight and really adds to what was already a wonderful experience.

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ISS Overhead Jan 5 24

06:53 Friday, 5 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 53.17°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 84% Wind: 18.41mph
Words: 128

ISS track amid star trails.

Quick test to make sure everything is, in fact, wired up correctly.

The International Space Station is the brightest track beginning at the bottom left of the frame (north) and tracking to the upper right (east-southeast). There's a very bright track in the left side of the frame with no indication of navigation lights, so I think it's a satellite of some kind. Very bright, don't think I've seen one like that before.

There are several satellites. One brightening at intervals, which suggests it's rotating as it orbits, I think. There may be two small meteors. There are the usual aircraft, though the morning isn't as "busy" as the evening.

(Larger version here.)

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Tiny Elves

13:28 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.77°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 52% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 47

I know AKMA reads the marmot, because he reaches out to me from time to time on Mastodon to comment on posts that prompt him to offer something.

And he posts pics of pups dressed as elves.

Also please note the clarification on who does the dressing!

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Further to the Foregoing

13:22 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.77°F Pressure: 1015hPa Humidity: 52% Wind: 12.66mph
Words: 112

An interesting discussion at the Tinderbox forum on using Tinderbox to corral and tame 30 years' worth of notes.

Like cameras, people are passionate about their favorite apps, and there is always more than one way to skin a cat.

Also like cameras, or airframes as Maverick would tell us, it's the person that's more important than the tool.

Some of us begin to identify with the tools we use and the products we choose. Others using something different isn't a reflection on our worth as individuals. And always chasing after perfection consumes time that might have been used to better effect learning out to get the best out of "good enough."

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Note to Self

11:48 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.86°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 63% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 397

Just because I'm making these posts for my future (December) self, I had a little glitch there. I tabbed the This Morning's Hawk post out of the January container, in order to tab it back in and have the prototype fix the html. I could have done that manually, but I figured this was two keystrokes and I was done.

Not so much. It tabbed back in with the "do not export" safety enabled, and I didn't catch it. I exported and looked at the page and the post was missing. Head scratch moment. Looked at the post and the "do not export" tick-mark leapt out at me.

When the script creates the note, it assigns the prototype and seemingly avoids the container's "on add" action, which normally assigns a "p_Post wx" prototype. Image posts use the "p_Photo" prototype. When I slipped it out and back in, the container's "on add" action assigned it the normal post prototype, which is fine in this case, other than the "do not export" bit. The "p_Photo" prototype contains all the html markup and attributes to post a photo. Those were already in place, albeit wrong, pointing to the 2023 Images folder. They don't conflict with any attributes in "p_Post wx", so all the html and note text was still in place and unaltered by shifting it in and out.

But, since the html came from the "p_Photo" prototype and tabbing it back in had the container switch it to a "p_Post wx", it didn't change the html. Because it couldn't.

All I had to do was manually change "2023" to "2024" in the html and all would have been well, a matter of only one keystroke!

Now, a kinder blogger would simply leave the "do not export" safety enabled, and this post will be here in December for me to review to make sure I don't screw this up again, yet not burdening you, gentle reader, with details about Tinderbox that you neither know nor care about.

Since I'm "thinking out loud" here, I think I'll publish this anyway.

And if I haven't absolutely put you off ever even considering Tinderbox, I'll point out that it's on sale in the Winterfest promotion. And if I can muddle my way through using this app, you can too. I've been loving it for 20 years.

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Test Fix (Screenshot)

11:39 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.5°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 157

125% view of the preceding image, screenshot in Photos

Okay, it was the photo prototype, not the template. Easy fix. And it was the Automator application that exports the image from Photos that needed the folder updated.

I should review all my January posts to in December to figure out what to do right next time.

Anyway, the last image is pretty small. Here's a 125% crop screenshot from Photos. The 75-300mm zoom is considered a "kit" (low-end) lens. Does fine for me. There is likely some image degradation from multiple conversions.

(Derp. That little icon is Photos telling me that it has spotted something it thinks it can identify, and I can click on it to get that identification. (Red-shouldered hawk. Is it right? Beats me. It's a hawk.) Didn't turn off the info window before I took the screenshot. Amateur photographer, amateur blogger. Please don't sue me.)

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This Morning's Hawk

11:33 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 54.5°F Pressure: 1016hPa Humidity: 65% Wind: 10.36mph
Words: 271

Red-shouldered hawk perched on a dead limb looking down and to its left

Since I'm usually shooting backlit subjects on my morning walks, I use spot-metering. This doesn't work well for subjects in full sunlight. The exposure is right for the bird, but the sky is way underexposed and it's tough to get the color right. At least, for me it is.

I need to pay more attention to exposure.

Not putting this up on Flickr because I'm not pleased with it. Same bird was on the same tree yesterday, but all the shots I got yesterday had a limb growing out of its head. This morning I tried to pay a bit more attention to composition, but it was a busy background no matter what.

I can erase all those limbs, but that poses its own challenges with the sky. I've found it has to be the last thing I do.

This is sharpened in Topaz SharpenAI and I suppose many people might feel as though it's over-sharpened, and they might be right. I'm just still kind of amazed, so here it is. It's not a great photograph, but I love seeing the hawks and I'm still delighted I can get a shot like this, so I'm sharing that joy.

I hope.

(Wherein I discover I haven't updated the AppleScript that exports the image from Photos to the local Images archive for the site. It still exports and posts correctly, because the export template in Tinderbox is pointing to the old folder as well. I'll have to do some repairs to get everything aligned properly again. Sigh.)

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Meta: Skipping Around the Local Quadrant

07:08 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 45.1°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 93% Wind: 4.61mph
Words: 220

(Ed. Note: "Meta" is a tag for a blog post about blogging. It has nothing to do with Facebook, the antithesis of blogging.)

Bix offers some very worthwhile thoughts about comments in blogs. The marmot doesn't offer comments, but welcomes thoughts and opinions, even if I only read them in others' blogs. Sometimes not even then. I know James is still reading the marmot, because he followed me on Flickr after I blogged about Flickr. It's possible to carry on a discussion in an asynchronous, distributed, decentralized fashion where friction is a feature, not a bug.

Manton points to Matt Mullenwegg's birthday wish, which is hereby granted.

Garret shares his appreciation to Christopher Butler for "being normal." Subscribed. And this is how "discovery" works.

Michael Tsai points to a "mere civilian" regarding discontent with connectors. Also subscribed. Another discovery. (The "hand" emoji is the about page, or colophon.)

AKMA is back in Britain and is apparently dressing his dogs in troll outfits. (Pics or it didn't happen.)

Shelley keeps us up to date on what she's reading, in RSS and on Mastodon.

That's the magic of RSS, folks.

Still some signs of life in the blogosphere. I'm guessing we're at the base level of the ecosystem. Micro-organisms, fungi, unseen but ubiquitous and likely essential to all the "higher" organisms.

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Reading The Power Broker

06:48 Thursday, 4 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 45.01°F Pressure: 1017hPa Humidity: 100% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 150

My wife's daughter mentioned something about a community effort to read Robert Caro's The Power Broker over the course of a year. I told her I had a copy, but hadn't started reading it yet. I bought it after I'd watched the documentary Turn Every Page, about Caro and his editor, Robert Gottlieb. I asked her if she wanted me to mail it to her. She asked me if I wanted to read it with her.

That sounded more fun.

So I went looking for the genesis of this idea. She's a working parent with a precocious 19-month-old, so I thought I could figure that part out on my own.

This seems to be it. So, if you're interested in eating an elephant "one bite at a time," 100 pages a month, here's an opportunity to do it as a group effort. A "book club," if you will.

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Non Sequiturs

06:17 Wednesday, 3 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 41.92°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 90% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 468

Does anyone else think Bradley Cooper is way overrated? Way overrated.

I just noticed that the sound that nuts make when I begin to chew them sounds a lot like a riff or theme in the Batman Begins movie soundtrack. ("Whooom...whoom...whoom...whoom..." Watched it the other night. On Blu-ray 4K UHD.)

I can unlock my iMac with my password much faster than my Apple Watch can. That is, when that actually works.

We don't actually own any of our digital media products. We have licenses that can be revoked. I'm buying less digital media from Apple services because of the enshittification of the Apple TV experience; and because I don't trust corporations to not revoke the licenses without refunding my money, or to not change the digital content without my consent. ("Han shot first.") For movies and CDs I want to enjoy for at least as long as the medium lasts, I'm buying the physical product. Christopher Nolan is right.

Atoms > bits.

I expect corporations will stop selling physical media within the next few years. Claiming "plastic in the environment" or carbon footprint of manufacturing and shipping and so on. It won't be about the environment or the climate. Expect the timing will have something to do with the degree of broadband penetration in those regions where it is currently deficient, and the amount of revenue that represents.

How hard do you suppose it is to subscribe to a streaming service for one month, binge all the content you care about on that service and then cancel? Wait a year or two for your favorite series to return and repeat. I expect minimum subscription lengths or term-tiered pricing are in our near future too. When Season 2 of House of the Dragon is fully unspooled, I'll subscribe to Max for one month.

I already broke one of my 2024 resolutions. On the upside, one of my other resolutions was to stop procrastinating.

Apple News+ is a magazine rack, it's not a "news" platform. If I want to find out what's going on, I know I won't find it in Apple News+.

We're all going to get really interested in learning to grow our own food soon.

I'd never heard of "pot likker" before. I have it for breakfast with my eggs now. Well, technically, the "greens" part. It's easy to grow greens. I like it a lot more than I thought I would.

We need to re-think shoes, from a sustainability standpoint. My soles wear out far sooner than any other part of the shoe, and they can't be re-soled. Doesn't matter how expensive the shoes are, it seems. Mine wear unevenly, much more so on the right foot than the left.

That is all. Carry out the plan of the day.

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10:19 Tuesday, 2 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 48.54°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 6.91mph
Words: 123

A couple of shadowy figures. The

A couple of shadowy figures.

When we were in Charleston, I tried to do "street photography," except for people. Got a couple of people, but mostly environmental stuff. But I'm with family and there's a lot of family interaction going on, so I'm unable to really focus on making images. It's kind of "run and gun" so whatever works is mostly just luck.

Anyway, on my morning walk, I can be a little more deliberate. I'm mostly doing it for the exercise, so I have to keep moving. This image struck me so I figured I'd try for it. Not sure I achieved much, but I'm happy with it.

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10:05 Tuesday, 2 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 46.53°F Pressure: 1021hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 185

My passions seem to wax and wane, tossed as they are on the stormy seas of my interior experience. Photography seems to be waxing at the moment, while vintage calculators have waned to the point where I'm thinking of selling the whole lot.

One of the fairly "new to me" rewards of photography is Flickr, though I've been on the site for almost 20 years (Since 2004). I'm investing more time in it, and my images seem to be getting before more people. I'm not getting many "faves," so maybe they're not very good; but I like taking photos and I like sharing them.

The advantage of Flickr is that people presumably want to look at photos, so it's not like when my family or friends drop by and I subject them to a slide show on my Apple TV!

I'm spending more time following people and groups and viewing other's images in the Activity feed.

I'm glad Flickr is still around and has endured changes of ownership, and the rise of FB, IG and X. I hope it's around for many years to come.

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Tube: Annika

06:52 Tuesday, 2 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 40.64°F Pressure: 1019hPa Humidity: 73% Wind: 9.22mph
Words: 80

PBS Masterpiece Theater comes through with another Nicola Walker vehicle, Annika. This one is mostly episodic with some character through-lines. The most charming conceit is letting her break the fourth wall and tell us about Norse sagas, Shakespeare, Greek mythology and parenting.

I have a bit of PTSD every time she turns her head to talk to the camera while driving a car. Unforgotten fans will understand.

We're watching it on the PBS streaming app on an Apple TV.

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2023 Power Stats

10:23 Monday, 1 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 59.38°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 81% Wind: 11.5mph
Words: 278

We used roughly 10MWh of electricity last year (house + RAV4 Prime). 47% of that (4.7MWh) came from solar directly. 39% (3.9MWh) came from the Powerwalls. 14% (1.4MWh) came from the grid. That's slightly better than last year when we imported 15% of our electricity from the grid. In 2021 we only imported 9% of our power, but we bought the RAV4 Prime in the latter half of 2021.

We imported 1.5MWh of electricity from FPL. 7% of that (97.4kWh) went to charging the Powerwall(s) during Storm Watch events, later consumed by the house. We exported 2.3MWh of power to the grid when the Powerwalls were fully charged and we weren't consuming all we were producing.

Net, we exported more power than we imported, 783.7kWh to the grid.

We generate more power than we consume overall. But because of weather and seasonal daylight variations and battery capacity, we can't cover all of our requirements all the time by solar and battery storage alone.

86% self-sufficient seems pretty good to me. When we installed the system, we didn't factor in acquiring a plug-in hybrid, and we've added additional load with the mini-split AC in the garage. As these batteries age, their capacity diminishes (~2.5%/year) When they get down to about 75% capacity in about six or seven years, I'll look at adding an additional battery, rather than wholesale replacement. Hopefully that doesn't pose any insurmountable technical hurdles.

10 years after that, I'll be in my 80s if I'm still alive. I suspect I may be beyond caring at that point.

Here's another solar+battery blogger who has a much larger array but only one battery.

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New Year

10:08 Monday, 1 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.92°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 46

Low angle sun made for nice colors in an otherwise unremarkable shot.

Figured I might as well test this too. So far, so good.

Unremarkable shot, but I liked the colors. Carried the 12-year-old Olympus E-M5 with the 14-150mm zoom.

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First New Year Test

09:59 Monday, 1 January 2024
Current Wx: Temp: 55.83°F Pressure: 1020hPa Humidity: 88% Wind: 5.75mph
Words: 5

Let's see if this works...

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