Sunday, June 20, 2021

Sunday Five - Uninhibited

The photo, I took in High School in the 1970's, I have no idea who it is.  I do hope that he is wild and crazy today, as he was then.

1: Have you ever taken a nude photograph? 

2: Do you sing Karaoke? 

3: What is the largest audience you have ever spoke to? 

4: Have you ever acted in a play? 

5: Would you do five minutes of stand up comedy for a large financial reward ? 

My answers: 

1: Have you ever taken a nude photograph? A long - long time ago, a friend of mine brought home a stripper, she didn't like wearing clothes. 

2: Do you sing Karaoke? Nope, never have, never will. 

3: What is the largest audience you have ever spoke to? In person, about 1,400, online, 3,650 one day this past year. 

4: Have you ever acted in a play? Not since elementary school. 

5: Would you do five minutes of stand up comedy for a large financial reward? I would agonize over it, and yes, I would. 

Please share your uninhibited answers in the comments. 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - A Photographer's Lament

Reduce by one, the number of working camera I own.  The shutter in the 2 1/4 twin lens has stopped working.  This was the last photo taken with it, a few months ago of the only real snow of last winter.  The camera is a Chinese copy of a Japanese copy, of a German design from the 1930's.  I bought it new, in San Francisco 15 years ago.  I have only put 3 or 4 rolls of film through it.  It was cheaply made (not necessarily cheap to buy) at the time it was the only thing like it being made in the world. 

I periodically get the urge to return to my photographic roots, film, black and white.  The old cameras force me to slow down, compose, focus, set exposure.  The cost of film and processing, encourages me to shoot one or two good shots, instead of 100 quick shots knowing that one or two will be good. 

Back when I was in High School (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) I bought a Yashica Mat 124G,  probably the best mass market 2 1/4 twin lens cameras available. As I recall I paid about $200 for it new.  At the time a used Rolleiflex was $300-$400 and was likely 20-30 years old and most looked like they had been through a war.  I used it for a couple of years.  Then I bought a Pentax 6x7, a 2 1/4 by 2 3/4 inch format. The Pentax 6x7 was a single lens reflex, with interchangeable lenses.  It was a massive piece of professional grade equipment. A couple of years later, someone offered to buy the Yashica, and I think I sold it for $100 or $150.  A sale I have long regretted.  After I gave up on making a living as a photographer, the Pentax was sold, for more than what I had paid for it new. It is worth even more today. 

If you have a 120/220 roll film camera stuffed in the back of a closet you would like to get rid of, let me know. 

In recent years, film photography has experienced a  renaissance. It has become hipster cool. All of the major manufacturers have stopped making film cameras.  The used camera market is hot.  The only Yashica Mat 124 G I can find online is $400 and the light meter does not work. A working Rolleiflex will fetch $1,500- $2,000 and there are waiting lists to buy one from reputable dealers (dealers who will test it to make sure it works.)  These are cameras you couldn't sell of $50 ten years ago.  Probably the only "bargains" right now are Hasselblad, you can buy a good working one, for under $2,000, a little less than what they sold for new, 40 years ago.  More than twice what they were selling for five years ago.  

Over the years I have said thanks, but no thanks, to people who wanted to give me old film cameras.  Opps! 

I am going to get really camera geeky here for a couple of minutes, if you are into cameras enjoy, if you could care less, leave a comment and check back tomorrow for the Sunday Five. 

Last weekend I explored one of only a couple of real camera shops left in the DC area.  I hadn't been in one for several years.  I would like to add a second camera body, and a longer lens.  Lenses are in short supply right now.  Cameras are in stock. I looked at the step up from what I am using, a Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR,) and at a mirrorless in the same category - a couple of them. In a Single Lens Reflex or SLR, you view through the lens that takes the photo, this is done with a mirror that flips out of the way when the shutter is fired.  In a mirrorless camera, there is no mirror.  For the eye-level viewer, there is an LCD screen that displays what the image sensor is receiving through the lens.  The camera on your smartphone is in essence a mirrorless system, but without the eye-level viewer.  The challenge of a camera without an eye-level viewer is seeing the image in bright sunlight, and in the fine details.  I have been using SLRs since the early 1970's.  Overtime you learn how to analyze and assess what you see in the viewfinder, and how that will render in the final image.  It is not what you see is what you get, but you learn to tell what will likely result based on what you see. I found the mirrorless system displays artificially bright.  What I am seeing there didn't match the light conditions around me.  All of the major manufacturers are moving in the direction of mirrorless.  If mirrorless is what you start learning with, I can see how it would feel right.  But for someone with decades of experience with SLRs, it felt misleadingly artificial.  Mirrorless has an advantage, in that the same view shoots video and still, but I record very little video.  Do I want to relearn, or do I want to stick with what I know and hope the technology works as long as I am taking photos?  The salesman was saying about the mirrorless, "oh you will love the autofocus" but he is saying this to someone who at times wishes there was an easy way to turn off the autofocus on the lenses I have (there isn't.) I remember old guys in camera stores 45 years ago saying the same thing about cameras with built in light meters. Oh, yes, I am getting old.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

Foodie Friday - Soup

 A couple of weeks ago, I was in a mood for a nice soup.  The weather was cool, one of the last cool snaps of the season.  There are wonderfully complex soup recipes, I wanted something quick and simple.  

1 Onion, chopped fine 
    Saute in butter and olive oil until soft
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
a handful of mushrooms, cleaned and sliced 
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into thin rounds 
Two boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into 3/4 inch cubes
    Saute for 5 - 10 minutes
Add 2 - 3 cups chicken stock
Handful of green beans sliced into 1/2 to 3/4 inch chunks
1/2 cup fresh peas (frozen would work fine)
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
Salt and Pepper to taste. 

Serve with crusty bread. 

This is a basic chicken vegetable soup.  Ready in 45 minutes or so. 
You could add rice, or noodles while it simmers.  Rice takes about 20 minutes to cook and absorbs a lot of liquid.  Noodles cook a bit faster, and absorb less liquid.  You will want to add chicken stock as needed.  
Adjust the volume of chicken stock to reach the ratio of liquids to solids you want.  I prefer a denser soup - less liquid.  

A pantry staple for me, is boxed chicken stock.  Find one you like, keep a couple of boxes on hand.  I have made my own, and yes it is often richer and more dense, but the commercial stock works well. 

Chicken Stock
Onion, roughly chopped, saute in olive oil and butter. 
4 or 5 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
3 or 4 carrots peeled, and roughly chopped
Chicken bones - fresh, or roasted, or frozen. 
Add water to cover, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, simmer 1-4 hours.  The longer the more flavor.  It is done when the connective tissue on the ends of the bones breaks down.  Strain, filter, cool, store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze. Stock freezes well. 
The veggies are flavorless, when it is done, they have given their all to the stock, toss them.  You can add other various veggies. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Thursday - Breaking News!

 Breaking News! My office is reopening, effective hours before the memo came out on Monday afternoon.  I haven't commuted there for work, since February of 2020.  I have been there three times in 15 1/2 months, for 2 or 3 hours to pick and drop off things. We were expecting a gradual,  capacity limited return with lots of new rules reopening, and there are new rules, 14 pages of them. What we got was, if you are fully vaccinated, carry on as you were. But, take your computer home each night just in case we go back into lock-down. 

I will go in one day this week, I need a day to clean up the desk, make sure the technology is working, then next week I will start back probably three days a week.  I have been struggling a bit with work life balance, it is all too easy to work early, all day, and then check in with the office before going to bed, when the office and the bedroom are the same space. I am looking forward to going back - but I noticed I didn't run to the office the first day it was possible.  I think the ideal balance for me will be two days a week telecommuting,  three days in the office. Writing and editing is easier to do at home,  producing online training is easier to do in the office.  

And we are free to resume business travel.  For the first time in 15 months I have pending airline reservations.  I have been trying to get permission to book travel for a conference in October for weeks. Suddenly it is on for real.  

So the report, I went to the office on Wednesday.  I woke up early and couldn't get back to sleep, so I went down to the swamp for my daily walk, came home, showered, dressed - in a starched shirt and real pants (trousers.) I walked to the station, missed the train and had to wait 12 minutes.  Arrived at the office in little over an hour.  There were a few IT issues, mostly resolved, and I had a long and productive day.  There are about 250 people in the DC office, there were 6 or 7 of us there today.  It felt somewhat normal.  The day before I was having second thoughts, and then I read the news report of the Delta airlines pilot who left a note in a plane parked in storage back in March of 2020 that read, if you are reading this we must be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, I needed to go for the light.  It was good. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The Way We Were Wednesday - Uncle Ben

There was a string of Ben's in the family, stretching back to the late 1700's.  At least in the parts of the family that I know about, my great Uncle Ben was the last.  This picture was taken at Aunt Edith's wedding.  This is his second wife Alma.  I never knew what happened to his first wife until after my father died, and I dug through the family archive. She had appendicitis, in the 1930's, and died of a post-op infection.  He and Alma never had any children.  My father was kind of a surrogate son for him.  Ben spent his life working for Dodge. He was frugal, and conservative.  He was a dedicated church goer, who lived his faith.  He was kind, loving, peaceful. 

When he bought a new car, about once every decade, he kept the old one.  If it was raining, or there was snow on the ground, the new car, stayed in the garage, and he drove the old one.  Alma never learned to drive.  When my oldest brother learned to drive, Ben decided keeping two cars was not sensible, and the old Dodge was sold to my father for my brother to drive.  A couple of years later, Ben died of an intestinal blockage, and Alma sold the newer Dodge to my father.  That is the car my middle brother rolled end over end landing in the flower bed in front of a neighbors house - he walked home - got a ticket for leaving the scene of an accident.  The car was totaled.  How do you go end over end, you get going about 90 miles an hour, slide, hit a steel post that catapults the car into the air.   

My grandfather was one of many sons.  During prohibition the family was living in a second story flat near Tiger Stadium in Detroit (my grandfather was a lifelong baseball fan.) Ben was holding bible study in the living room, while his mischievous brothers were running a speakeasy and poker table in the kitchen. The house next door was raided by the police, and the "working girls" were climbing out a window, and across into the kitchen window where the game was going on.  They hid the cards, and the booze, the girls joined Ben in the Bible study, the police looked around and left. In a pinch, always  look respectable.      


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Travel Tuesday - June 2011 Dallas Texas

 For most of the last 21 years, the majority of my work has been outside funded, by grants and contracts for research and training. The projects tend to be cyclical, at the moment I have proposals pending for a 2 year project, a 3 year project and a 5 year project. If all of them are funded, my job is stable past my retirement date and I can start planning a kitchen replacement.   

When I started my current job, a new 3 year funding cycle just getting started. Three year later we were bidding on another three years.  This is where I was standing when I got the email informing me that I was funded for another three years.  It is an art museum in Dallas.  I was there training at a conference a couple of blocks away.  I had written every word, was responsible for every typo in the proposal.  It was a large amount of money.  I was so pleased, I may have shed a tear or three. This photo reminds me of a major milestone in my career.   

Monday, June 14, 2021

Music Monday: Dancing Queen I Boston Gay Men's Chorus

Anne Marie is going to haunt me for this, at least it is not Abba performing it.  I saw this and I loved it.  The music is good, but even better, not all of the performers on the front row, are 120 pound twinks that look like they just left a porn shoot.  They are real people, in all shapes and sizes, and they have overcome their fears of being seen as who they are.  Accept who you are, enjoy it, it is you.  For many in the LGBTQ community, the last closet to come out of, is hatred of one's own body image. Relax, you are the best you there will EVER BE, we don't need you to change a thing, thin, geeky, average, hunky, chubby, chunky, bearish, you are all perfect.