Archive for March, 2011

Something Different

My good friend Angela is trying to sell her house and asked if I would come take some photos for her. I’ve never done that sort of work before, but she promised food and beer so I agreed to give it a shot.

Strip banks

Recent remodeling of the bathrooms in this house has left me with several bars of light sockets that I do believe I will turn into continuous-light strip banks. It should be pretty easy to fill them with 100W-equivalent daylight-balanced CFLs, shove them in a reflective backing, and pop a diffusion sheet over the front to get a nice soft light source. CFLs probably won’t melt anyone’s face either.

What gives?

It’s no secret that I generally despise social media. Far too much credit is given to these various outlets of information, and forms of piecewise communication. Never before, it is said, has there been so much information so easily accessible to the public. That much is true. It is also true that never before has the general public had so much access to poorly formed opinions, misrepresented data, or outright lies packaged as wholesome truths. The consequence to such “information overload” seems to have been a near collective loss of the ability to think for ourselves.

Nearly every single day I hear someone cite Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook as the source, or foundation, for some claim they’ve just made. Are you really going to read something one of your contacts, who you probably really know little to nothing about, and then base a decision off of that bit of information? What’s worse is this tendency to jump in with both feet as soon as you read something appealing has swept what was once at least somewhat respectable media outlets. The New York Times has trouble running with accurate information for no other apparent reason than something was retweeted 85,000 times so it must be true.

So, why is it that we’re so interested in giving up our own thoughts for a quick shot of what everyone else thinks? What makes the social media engine run when its fuel is 99% pure BS?

Yes, I realize I just ranted about social media from a form of social media that I’ve been using for longer than anyone’s called it social media.

Gallup Poll Proves Majority Consistently Naive

In reference to this Gallup poll, I can only conclude that in the long running history of our involvement in various armed conflicts the American people are consistently both gullible and naive.

These conflicts are most often paraded as actions required in order to support fledgling democracies around the globe, or to protect human rights. The premise is generally that our “unique capabilities” will enable the rapid removal of a brutal tyrant* in order to allow the greater international community to engage in their nation-building attempts with relative safety. Prolonged US involvement will surely be out of the question. Worry not, dear people, we won’t squander hundreds of billions of dollars in a futile attempt to improve the social and economic conditions abroad. In no way will this action prove to waste both money we do not have and the lives of our service members. Unthinkable.

Unthinkable? More like incapable of thought. The general condition of most voting Americans: incapable of rational thought or scrutiny. The poll I linked includes data going back nearly twenty years, and shows a majority of support for each of a number of completely senseless conflicts. The story is the same every time, and Americans go for the bait every single time. Are you naive enough to believe there’s a functional difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to supporting war? There isn’t one. It’s entirely possible that Republicans support the war because they know it’s good for Lockheed, and Democrats report the war because they’d never dream of opposing their party leaders – but that is probably more limited to the halls of Congress than the general public. No, the general population of both Democrats and Republicans likely support the war because they’re unable to process complex thoughts and notice that we have a trend of getting into entanglements from which there are no benefits for any of the involved parties.

Should someone stop the Libyan government from slaughtering its people? Probably. How about Darfur? Or $AnyOfADozenMoreAfricanNations? Also, yes. Does that mean that the US must be involved in all of them? No, not really. There are plenty of capable Western powers right next to Africa, and considering they’re the ones who asked for the NFZ they ought to handle their own mess. Our involvement should have gone no further than the security council vote from which we frankly should have abstained. Either way, what’s done is done. As usual, the public blindly supports the action.

* Ignore for the moment that the tyrants in need of toppling were generally installed, funded, and trained by the US.

Gossen Luna-Pro

Let’s go ahead and add a vintage light-meter to my growing list of photography equipment older than I am.

My lack of interest in super-close-up photography led me to trade the extension tubes I had for my Pentax 6×7 (which I’ll also likely get rid of) for a perfectly working Gossen Luna-Pro. Roaming the house taking incident and reflective measurements with both the Luna-Pro and my Canon 5D Mark II yielded the same exposure information (for reflective) and great exposures (incident).

Trading what you don’t want, and will never use, for something you may not actually need but could still get some use out of? Definitely winning.

CM7RC2 = New life into the Aria

To be completely honest, I hated Cyanogen Mod 6 in its latest releases. The battery life on my HTC Aria got progressively worse with each upgrade. Before flashing CM7, I was lucky to make it 9 hours on a full charge. Yes, I wiped my cache and did everything else to eliminate the typical issues. No, none of it worked. Enter CM7RC2, and life is good. Sure, they added more shiny in Android 2.3. How could they not? Modern development seems to focus mostly on the shiny elements of computing rather than the functional ones. Google certainly isn’t immune to that, nor are the devs hacking away at custom ROMs. At least this one works, and works well (for now).

Kodak Retina IIa

Another vintage film camera has made its way into my hands. This one is a also German made, and sports a coupled rangefinder, a coated 50mm f/2 lens, and a Synchro-Compur leaf shutter. The frame counter is broken, but everything important works just fine.

Retina IIa

Kodak Retina IIa

Test shot

From the test roll

Some more from the Isolette III

A tripod, cable release, maybe a hair too much beer, and a charged up Vivitar 285HV can yield some interesting results. I may have to do this again in the future with a more clear (read: sober) plan for where I’m going to fire the strobe.

G-Man

Long exposure at The Ginger Man - Austin

Then there’s my fence, which isn’t really showcasing anything special at all unless you consider I developed this roll in Ilford DD-X I’ve reused way more than a few times and it still came out pretty nice.

fence

Fence

A day in Austin

Austin was fun. It really always is.

I rode in, kind of last minute, for an event being held by IAVA. It’s pretty easy to get me to come out with promises of free food and beer. It was a good opportunity to finally meet the founder, Paul Rieckhoff, and network with other Texas veterans.

While I was talking to some other guys, stuffing my face, and drinking free beer another veteran walked by and I swore I recognized him from somewhere. After we went through the whole list of units we’d had interactions with, years we spent in Iraq, when we went to jump school, we finally determined where we recognized each other from: high school. That makes the encounter even more strange, because we went to a huge high school (811 in our graduation), were in Iraq at the same time with the same division, and ended up drinking beer at the same event 150mi away from where we went to school a decade after we graduated. Small world. I also met Rudy Reyes (think Generation Kill) and he’s a hell of a nice guy.

Once the IAVA event was over, I led my new friends across the block to The Ginger Man – Austin where we met up with one of my good friends from my Malaysia (and Texas State) days. Beer was consumed, though I kept it sane and cut myself off far before the night ended to switch to water. Motorcycles and insobriety do not mix. Dinner came in the form of ridiculously good hot dogs from Frank. I’d never been there before, but I will certainly be going back on my next trip.

About 28 frames of 120 film were exposed during the trip. I tried some photojournalistic stuff with the Isolette III loaded up with Velvia 100, shot some general city stuff on expired Velvia 50, and did some random bar photos with Delta 400 and a flash. No idea how any of it came out, but I’ll see eventually for sure.

At the Dog Park

Decided to try out some T-MAX 400 at the dog park today.

ripples

Ripples

running 2

Running

running

She's off!

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