Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dictionary macro

For a while I've had a macro which copied a highlighted word and then looked it up on
But recently that site does not place the cursor in the Search field upon opening, breaking my macro (not even hitting tab works). So I have chosen instead, and I must say it works very well. Actually even better, because sometimes was too slow to load, also breaking my macro, but it never seems to be the case with Dictionary.
It's way faster and easier than using a paper dictionary. Gotta love computers and the interweb.

French adage

Pascal taught this pithy and truthful French adage:

La critique est aisée, l'art est difficile
(criticism is easy, art is difficult)

BW wall

I made a BW version of the picture from yesterday. I think it's rather a nice picture in this version.
I'm sure this used to be the outside of the Market Hall building, and they merged it with the Market Place mall and made it an inside wall.
I do like those windows, I wonder if they have a specific history or purpose, or they just were a pretty idea from an architect?

A "blog" with more pages?

TC [Girl] wants to know how she can make a site or a blog with more than one page, it seems the free blogs are not designed to have that. She says:

Basically, I LOVE the concept of having more than one "section" or "page" WITHIN ONE BLOG where I could have ideas WordPress's 'Pages' idea...but I am finding WordPress a bit of a challenge to figure out how to use a 3 columns template where, say, one sidebar is the usual blog options; then the actual blog, in the middle; and then the various 'Pages' on the left and furthest sidebar...where a person could create however many pages they need per [in my case] book ideas...and the program actually be FREE, still! I know; not asking for much, here! lol! ;-)

Any ideas?
(Note: I do suspect that what TCG really wants is simply a web site rather than a blog. But I don't know if there's a good, simple, and free solution out there for that.)

Making a magazine cover

Here is a nice time-lapse video showing the process of shooting and layout-ing a magazine cover, specifically MacWorld. Do read his "more info" text, and notice the huge setup in the photo studio.

(Hmm, I miss a little bit reading magazines. But since starting to get the news early on the web, I just don't have the patience for mag reading anymore. I have a stack of at least two feet of photo mags I haven't read yet.)

I guess I am thankful that many professionals out there are driving the high end of the camera industry forward by using high end camera gear, like medium format cameras costing the same as a good car. Let's face it, the income generated by artists buying these cameras would never keep the manufacturers in the black!
... But still, looking at this I can't help thinking: isn't that process way overkill? Won't 99% of the readers just cast a quick glance at the cover of a magazine when buying it? How many of them would notice the very subtle difference it would make if the photo had been shot with an ordinary 12-megapixel DSLR (or we could even make it a 22-megapixel one for not much more money, but I don't even think that would be necessary) instead of said huge, clumsy, and so expensive large-format camera setup? I don't think even I would notice, and I'm very interested in photography.

Really, I think the differences would be very subtle. Just look at this article, where M Reichman printed landscapes taken with a Hasselblad (car-priced) and a $500 Canon compact camera, and challenged photography professionals to spot which were which... Basically they couldn't.

So why does anybody pay $30,000 for a camera? Apart from when really huge prints are needed, I don't know. I guess it's a mind-set thing. It's what you do, it's expected, that sort of thing.
(OK, there is a wider choice of depth-of-field options with a larger format. But I almost never see that utilized, and you can get the same with the very fast lenses you can get for full-frame cameras like the Canon 5D2, but can't get for medium-format cameras. Also you can control the plane of focus if you have a large-format (bellows) setup like here. But very few people use that.)

From MR's article:
We can now find DVD players at the check-out counter at Best Buy for $20. Imagine what the price is leaving the factory. That $20 DVD player's retail price includes components, manufacturing, R&D, packaging, documentation, licensing and royalties, shipping half-way round the world, import duties, and retailer margin. Only a few years ago DVD players cost $1,000. Now they're $20. The camera industry isn't going to be much different soon.
RCmedia says:
First of all - the time-lapse video is fantastic and reveals a lot of the production of the photography itself.

I - and many others have worked through this long process many times. From lighting to composition to versions of each; the objective is perfection - not shooting a client's product and getting them to say "aye, mate, it looks alright"...

It's about utter perfection. Most pro photographers are their worst and most vexing critics. That's one reason I don't have 20 photobooks out - I don't produce junk and low grade photography, graphic design and typography.

Look at the video again - the part when the image of the phones in its huge form is scrutinized is a critical part of the process. Are the highlights in the right place? Can they be moved? Color correction? Interaction between the two phones lighting wise?

Yes, magazine covers and 24-sheet posters (billboards) and bus advertising and 81⁄2 x 11 inch fold outs are produced with high standards. And yes, you - and we - look at such a cover or billboard - and our mind immediately (within 3 seconds) decides if it's wanted. If it is, and we can pay for it and see a value, the magazine is a sale!

As for medium and large format view (bellows) cameras being used, they're used every day in fashion, product, scientific and technical photography.

The digital click-clicks are fine for the lowered grade of photography we've experienced in the last 5-10 years, but if you want to shoot for clients like KRAFT and BOEING and MOEN and PHIZER - and many more without delivering the absolute highest quality in EVERYTHING you do - from communicating with the client, to lighting, and knowing the equipment, and having the talent to give them what they pay for, you MUST know the rules.

And if a guy pays $30K for a camera system and has the portfolio and the talent to deliver, THAT is what clients pay for.

Yes, someone with a 5MP camera can do the same shot - but quality isn't only in the product.

Quality is in everything leading up to creating the final product.

And if you deliver the best, and your client treats you well and pays you well and on time, then you have a quality client.

What goes around, comes around.

Umbra illustrations

I just want to call attention to the illustrations my Italian friend Umbra made for me for my Domai stories page. I think they are just lovely.

Abstract elements in Photos

I like how EmptySpaces has found a way to let the sprocket holes in 35mm film show in the pictures, actually inside the pictures. It introduces an abstract element, which I feel helps the viewer view the photo directly, instead of looking "through" the photo and only looking at the subject.

Some large format photographers used to do something similar, in that they included the edge of the film holder with the photo. The film holder has a couple of notches and such, and it made the photo seem more "physical".

Black and White photography itself is sort of an abstract element.

With the computer, it is of course easy to introduce all kinds of abstract elements. But most of them feel very artificial to me. Does anybody have tips for some which might not seem so dang contrived?

Playboy these days

Does anybody here read Playboy?
I've been told that they no longer show "kitty" as much as they used to, is this so?

I'm interested and a little surprised because I remember the first (of very few) Playboys I ever bought, as a teen in the seventies (maybe '77). If I remember correctly, it had an article and photoshoot (from a river trip, I think) celebrating a lovely raven "playmate of the year", and one of the photos had her on her knees with her back to the camera, looking back with a big smile, and her kitty was very visible indeed, which amazed and delighted us at that age. (Still sometimes delights me, if well done, but not so amazing these days.)

BTW, if the magazine no longer shows shows the vulva openly, surely this is not true of the web site (the "cyberclub")? Anybody tried it?
(Further by the by, I'm amazed at how relatively cheap that site is ($20/month), considering how huge it is and Playboy's status.)

Custom mode for street Photography

(Or: The Virtual Henri Cartier-Bresson.)

I have just for the first time taken advantage of a camera's "Custom" setting. Many cameras have a mode called C, which is whatever settings you want it to be. (Some advanced cameras have more than one.)

So I created a "street photography" mode for the Canon S90. I got the idea when I saw accidentally in the manual that the Custom mode would even record a manual focus setting (!), and a zoom setting.

So I made a setting of Program mode, ISO 250, zoom at 28mm-e wideangle, and a manual focus setting at about 2 meters, which at the wide setting gives a practical depth-of-field of virtually everything in front of the camera (due to the small sensor).

The good thing about this is that it gets rid of the focus lag of the camera, and I can shoot virtually instant shots. The wideangly also makes framing easy, even shooting from the hip, and is less prone to camera shake, so I can walk down the street and snap-snap-snap people shots without having to pause for focus and so on. It's a version of the elusive "Decisive Moment Digital" camera, as Mike Johnston once famously called the dream of such a camera. (And when really snappy autofocus arrives in small cameras, we can have this at any focal length.)

And if a situation suddenly shows up where I want this camera, I just turn the mode dial to C, and boom, all these settings are there in a second. (Obviously I can tweak them at any time live, and save the tweak if I want.)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Empty spaces

My reader "Empty Spaces" has what turns out to be a pretty cool photography blog.

Pigeon: Impossible

[Thanks to Tommy]
Pigeon: Impossible, good fun Pixar-style video.

Written, directed, and produced by Lucas Martell, with help from his friends. Good work, dude, high quality and very funny story.

Readability online (updated)

OK, this deserves a post of its own: Pogue recommends the browser ad-on Readability.
"Readability is far more than an ad blocker. It addresses multiple unpleasant trends in Web layout these days: type getting too small, layouts getting cluttered and complex, text overlapping with graphics, ads interrupting the flow of the prose, and so on. (You can print or e-mail the cleaned-up page, too.)"

At first try, it seems awesome, look at those two screenshots below!
(And I can add that the first screenshot is how my browser looks even with a pretty good ad-blocker installed.)

Before clicking on the "Readability" button:

After clicking on the "Readability" button:

(I just wish it had a bit finer settings of text size etc. I'd like something just in the middle between the "medium" and "large" text settings myself.)

Update: anon tips us to a more flexible variety: Readable the app. I recommend keeping both, some sites work better with one, some with the other.

... And actually this seems like a very good solution to what I blogged about a few months back: how to isolate text on the screen for reading. (At least for the web.)

It's also great for two of my pet peeves: white text on black backgrounds, and too-small text (on way too many sites, I think it's a majority actually). (I know it can be adjusted, but it's a pain doing that all the time, and it often throws the layout out of whack, something which happens too often if I set the base text size too large in the browser settings. Sigh.)

Big snake meal

[Thanks to Kirk]
This fellah never heard the saying "don't bite off more than you can chew".

"These pics were taken by one of the road crew at Cloud Break (Australia), last week. It took a total of 5 hours for the King Snake to finish off the Goanna. (Sand Monitor)"

A good company? and other Pogue notes

David Pogue reveals some of Verizon's dirty business tactics, and asks the question I've asked sometimes: wouldn't it perhaps be more profitable, and certainly more pleasant, to be a company who the customers really like, instead the underhanded one which squeeze extra dollars out of everybody by sneaky means at every opportunity?

Also, David reviews both my newest favorite cameras!

David strikes third time by recommending "Readability" software for your browser. I'll def try that.

"Watch till end"

Bert points to yet another fine entry in the "art or sport" category.

Lori Cotler, solkattu

[Thanks to Neeraj]
"Konnakol (also spelled konokol) (Tamil: கொன்னக்கோல்) is the Carnatic music - South Indian classical - performance art of vocal percussion. It is also a comprehensive language of rhythm which allows the composition, performance or communication of rhythms in any style or tradition of music from anywhere in the world."

Market hall

These are a couple pictures I took today in Market hall in central Bolton. It used to have many "islands" of little shops, but over big protests and petitions it was changed last year to a modern shopping centre. It took a while.
I don't think they have used the space very well, there are much fewer shops than before, even though it's now in two levels.
At least they've been smart enough to let some of the charming old building stay visible, even if it's pretty much drowned out, not the least this time of year, the Christmas decorations do it no favors.

I was questioned by a female guard by the way, you need permission to photograph. She was pretty relaxed about though, maybe because I was using the diminitive "tourist" camera, Canon S90, and maybe because I was only photographing the old round windows at the time.
At 400 ISO and with stabilization, the camera handled the indoors situation quite well.
And every exposure is perfect, despite the great contrasts in lighting.
I don't always feel I need wideangle, but with the great wall there, the wide 28mm-e setting on the S90 came in handy I must admit.

Alex, old Lancashire "lad", said:

I vaguely remember the old market hall. I seem to remember a tea rooms or shoppers cafe upstairs.

Manchester's market was in the scrag end of the Arnie, and Stretford had their Arndale as well. I remember Liverpool's market was modern as well. Longsight and Stocky have outdoor markets. Chester's was indoors in the Forum, a 60's brick slab. There are so few Victorian Markets around. Sure Covent Gardens is an excellent example, but it's all flowery tourist stuff, and not an honest to goodness market (mercado for our American friends) any more.

I remember markets from my younger days, dressing rooms made out of tarps, that old stoner selling second hand records and those orange labelled cassettes of concerts. There was the sweet stall with trays of toffee to buy by the pound. The second hand book store where you could by two books for three old ones. There were bolts of fabric, habidashers, butchers with game hung in the window, grinding their own sausage. Green grocers which smelt of gardens and produce, piles of boxes and lived in look.

Add to the noise and excitement of the bazaar the ornate intricacies of Victorian iron work and fussy patterns in the brick. Taint the brick soot black, and paint all the iron in corporation green, and there you are in nameless Britain of anywhere between 1945 and 1975.

At least now they have a tendency to slap a grade two or three listing on these buildings, and the survivors are guaranteed.

There are places where it has worked well, the 1980's modernization of the warehouses at Albert Dock for example, or is that St Catherines Dock, just opposite HMS Belfast in London.

How's the market hall in Wigan holding up? Oh, please, get a bus pass and do a tour of Wigan with your camera. It's like Bolton, but it embraces it's history.

Great now I really want to eat some good toffee. Nearest Thonrntons is about 3,000 miles away. Hmmph!

Sh*t perspective

[Thanks to Philippe]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Banks and monsters

We love to hate banks and such institutions (like Paypal), and it's not hard to find reason to. How come when you're a bank you can lend out money you don't have, and charge interest on them? I'd like to do that also, please.

And we don't like to pay a healthy fee to get money transferred between countries, when it clearly happens in a split second.

But I don't think there is an alternative, and will never be so long as money is so important to humans and so long as humans tend to be selfish and dishonest (and we all have a bit of that).

Imagine you had to get ten grand and you needed somebody to courier it across the Atlantic. Who would you trust with it? A close friend. If none of your close friends are going, you need to find somebody that are trusted by everybody, somebody who does this all the time.

And if somebody is in this position, then everybody also knows he carries money, so he will be mugged, unless he gets bodyguards and security. They need to get paid, and to be trustworthy, or at least monitored. And there's no way he would take all this risk and bother without getting a nice fee for it.

Well, there you go. The only reason it seems easier to banks is because they have built up a business and trust network over decades, and that sort of thing also costs a lot of money to keep running.


Quick note: today when I snapped the test photos for the (much-updated) mini-review below, I noticed on the way home that just this mundane little task had already made me "trigger-happy", or I guess shutter-happy. I wanted to snap more pictures.

I find this strange, and cute, and interesting... how much I love to photograph.
I have no idea why, really. In recent years I have even dreamed about it at night, long complex dreams full of cameras and subjects and light. Funny ole thing.

Caminito del Rey

[Thanks to Jim, Seattle]
Now there's a scary walk. See video. Quite the treat for adrenalin junkies. :-)
"El Caminito del Rey (English: The King's little pathway) is a walkway or via ferrata, now fallen into disrepair, pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, near Álora in Málaga, Spain."
- wikipedia article.
It has killed quite a few people. What a f***ing drop if you do fall, ouch!

... Now that site,, there's a site which makes my web design seem over-embellished! Friggin' 'eck, not a single graphic.

Airventure 2009

Tommy found this fun video of an airshow with all kinds of airplanes, including some of the biggest and smallest in the world (I'm not kidding).
Watch it in HD on youtube. (Note: the music is loud.)

(The page I got was this one, but when one sees an embedded video, it is often available in HD if one clicks on the youtube logo.)

I'm not an airplane buff, but I could see myself going to this show.

A1 poster print

Thinking about it, amazingly I actually think this is the first poster print I have ever had made in full A1 size (about 59x84 cm or 23x33 inches).

I used a UK service called Supreme Print for 20GBP including shipping, and I am pleased. The image was taken with the Panasonic GF1 and the compact lens, and it holds up really well at this size. Nobody would look at this and say "dude, that's not really sharp, is it?", something you could not say for the work I did in 35mm back in the day, if I'd blown it up this much.

Canon S90 mini-review

Given that I want to have the best bring-anywhere camera I can get, I got me the new Canon S90, and I've given it a little spin around the block.
Canon's aim seems to have been to put the best enthusiast all-round camera they could, into a breast-pocket-sized shell. And I think they have succeeded.
I would be very surprised to hear of any other camera of similar size which beats it significantly in anything, design, handling, features, image quality...
(The flash is pretty weak though, but that's surely typical.)

One might note that the term "low light" used in the promotion materials for this camera or any other supercompact one, is rather dubious. Up to 400 ISO the quality is wonderful. Best ever. But with this one like all the others, at ISO 800 and over, the quality breaks up very fast.
The thing is you can't actually change the sensitivity of an imaging sensor, you can only amplify the signal, and that also amplifies the noise. And a tiny sensor like this inherently has a weak signal, so...

(If you email me, I can send you the test photos I took via (so it won't clog your email account), it's 50MB zip file. My gmail address is eolake.)

Emptyspaces sez:
The cool thing is that at f/2, ISO 400 "goes further" since you can take the same shot that an f/2.8 lens would have to take at ISO 800. That's the big advantage to me. Why don't more cameras do this?

I guess it's not trivial to keep the image quality, size, and price going from 2.8 to 2.0. (And indeed those cams are more expensive.)

Also I'll add that the lens is only F:2.0 at 28mm-e. At 35mm-e it's a 2.5, and at 50mm-e it is 3.2. At 105mm-e it is 4.9.

But with a 28mm-e setting (less prone to shake), the stabilisation, and 400 ISO, you can go pretty low-light, should be admitted. (And with the small sensor and at wideangle, even at F:2.0 you get big depth of field (sharpness from front to back).)

... I just tested this, I can take sharp pictures at 1/4th second with these settings! Not dead-tack sharp for huge prints (and not every exposure), but near as damn. (See pic on the right for sample.)

The handling is as good as anything I've tried in this size of camera. And I like the control ring around the lens, I use it for zoom, and the click-stops at 28, 35, 50, 85, and 105 are very nice to have.
It can also be used for exposure compensation or ISO setting, or manual focus. (The latter displays a rough meter scale and an enlarged patch for focus.)

There's a custom button, which I use for exposure lock (if I want to leave a bright light or the sky out of consideration).

And it has a very thin ring around the button cluster which I would not even have seen if I'd not read about it, but which makes exposure compensation (in program mode) or aperture/shutter setting easy.

Update: Miserere's S90 review has many helpful tips, especially part II.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The BigShot students' camera

Bert alerted me to this unique digital camera, BigShot. Just for one thing, it can take pictures without batteries, by use of a hand-crank to charge it.
Eight or nine years ago there were rumors that the first Apple iBook would have such a feature, but the power requirements for a laptop are much bigger than a digicam, so it's probably not a practical use for a dynamo.

Also the user (aimed at kids) can take it apart and build it.

Bender's Anti-Piracy Warning

[Thanks to Pascal and Neeraj.]

Ricoh's new system

Ricoh's new camera system is perplexing, but interesting.
DPreview has a preview.

Takako Minekawa's Fancy Work Funk

Repost: I'm just again enjoying an old fave song, Takako Minekawa's Fancy Work Funk. Get it zipped here.

Elephant birth

[Thanks to Kirk]
Pretty amazing video of a mother elephant giving birth and then resuscitating her newborn.

Lawrence Of A Labia

Funny enough, I just got two letters right after each other on the same subject, but prompted by two different sources (one of them BBC). So it seems that one of the new Women's issues is Cosmetic Labia Reduction Surgery.

Both my correspondents pointed out that large labia can be sexy.
Heck, there's even at least one fan site (note: adult site).

The bulk of one of the letters I put up at the GoddessNudes letters page (last on the page).

Paypal fees

A friend of mine sent me $550 over Paypal. He had to pay a $21 fee, and the transfer is not finalized for a few days, since his Paypal account was not funded.
Now, he tells me there is some indication that if I had sent him a "request" for the money first, he would not have had to pay the fee, and also the transfer would have been instant.
Does anybody know if there's any truth to this?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The camera hobby

It's something which comes up regularly: why care so much about the camera? It's the pictures which count, and if your pictures suck with a poor camera, they will also suck with a big camera.

I will admit that too great attention on the gear can be a compensation for some blockage in the creative arena. But...

For one thing, one can see it as two different hobbies. One is the pictures, one is the camera appreciation. You can do both, or either, but they need not compete.
I suspect that many of the people who like to argue endlessly about the technical subtleties of camera tech are not picture hobbyists, they are camera hobbyists. Nothing wrong with that. In fact the camera manufacturers could not survive without them.

But also, you can't make good landscape photos with a 2MP camera, pretty much. And you will struggle to make good sports/play/action photos if you don't have long lenses and really snappy autofocus (which at the moment means a big DSLR). So it's not like the camera never matters.

iPod ebook reader app

iPod ebook reader app.
Also for the Nano! And here am I thinking the Kindle's screen is a bit small for an ebook reader!

Model gets Naked @ Bus Stop (UPDATED)

Update: I did an interview with Laurie a couple years ago.
"My interest in photography started when I was still at secondary school. Although I was well on the road to becoming a professional classical musician, I discovered photography in an evening class held by one of the chemistry masters. When I saw an image on photographic paper appear as if by magic whilst being developed, I was totally hooked. Plus, I was dating the best looking girl in the school by far, and she wanted to model nude for me, music as great as is, had to take second place."


I'd not seen this one before, but the photographer is my very good friend Laurie Jeffery in action.
(Sadly the nudity had to be censored for it to be on Utoob.)

2D bar codes

TidBITS article.
"For instance, you could take a photo of the 2D barcode on one of our articles using a special iPhone app as a way of getting the article's URL into your iPhone."

I've seen these used in Net-generated postage "stamps", pretty interesting.

To do it like her

This will appear in the Domai newsletter, but I thought it was so unusual and powerful that I want to present it in another setting also. - Eolake


To Do It Like Her
by Maggie

when i rhyme for you it feels like i have no clothes
your hungry eye sees all it thinks it knows
and when i don't the skin there is still yours
broken beneath the cover of the sleeve

— to do it like that, by nancy

My dearest friend Nancy indulged in all types of poetry, from the strictest sonnets to the wildest free form, from the remote venerable classics to the most intimate one-night-stand impromptu pieces. Yet despite how wide-ranging her tastes in verse, a single common theme seasoned every single poem she experienced, whether her own compositions or those of the most published authors: she saw every poem as the body of woman, and she loved the body of woman as poetry. Whether a poem ventured specific reference such as in the short piece of hers launching this letter or was directed to some completely different topic as distant as war or death or taxes, she could still see the female form without so much a stretch as it might take to wake up one of her own legs from sleep's yawn.

Back then we spent several nights a week up in Jen's loft, drinking and smoking and talking poetry and politics and whatever else came up, riding night past three the next morning, no agenda, no deadline. And no routine, except it became a standard of most gatherings that someone would encourage Nancy to give us a performance of one of her new poems. Which almost always end up with her ditching her clothes, using her own body as part of her poem. Not a striptease act any more than a doctor's examination, both of which she had enough experience with to draw the distinctions; this was exactly what she made of it and what we took from it — a poetry reading merged with an exploration of feminine beauty.

We'd see her ribs and somehow get a whole different perspective of an alliterative phrase in a poem, then just as we caught it she would move slightly in just the right way to make her ribs pronounced in a different way that would shift precisely the way the next alliteration in that poem moved, and we'd catch ourselves watching nothing but those ribs the rest of her performance. Or she'd spread out her leg to show how that stretch of soft skin just at the top of her inner thigh felt just like the volta of a sonnet, and it would be nearly impossible for us to see or think of anything but that even when she would read and reveal the closing lines' resolution of the sonnet's proposition. Or she'd proudly display her back from her shoulders down to her ass, working her way into mysteries of a poem that even the poet could not explore, rather were left to the pleasure of others to adore.

And like the countless images and infinite emotions explored through centuries of poems, no matter how many of Nancy's poems you'd seen, none was ever the same. You'd swear you'd never seen her breasts like that before, noticed that way her hip turned, been so taken by the way her pubic hair dove between her legs, or ever expected her smile and her eyes to carry so simple yet so endless a touch. Like every woman, she was a new beauty every time she undressed, and she used the newness of poetic creation to show that to us at the same time she used each new poem to show us something new of woman through something new of her.

Then came one night when she burst through my lifelong shyness to reach through to my deep trust in her. As natural as it seemed by then for her to reveal her body to our friends during one of her readings, and as well as I knew everyone there and had even had more than a few intimate nights with two besides her, I never would have dreamed of following her example myself. But when asked that night for a poem, she startled me by starting to recite one of mine, one of my early attempts at a villanelle, a strict form built around two lines that repeat throughout the poem. I froze at what she might have meant by choosing my poem, then our eyes met, and I instantly surrendered to her will. I remembered writing this villanelle for her as a response to one of hers, so I knew where she was going with it.

She came over to where I was sitting as she continued reciting and slipped my shirt up off me as I raised my arms up to her. I slipped out of my shoes and stood up to face her, and she bent down slipping my jeans and panties down, moving into the core of the poem, which I recalled as having been one of the most intense moments of writing the muse had ever hit me with. She walked me to the center of the room. I felt a brief hot flush sensing everyone's gaze, that quickly replaced by a warm lasting glow as Nancy's hand tousled my hair playfully to reassure me. Then, as I closed my eyes to soak in her touch, she began the final repetition of the two main villanelle lines while tracing a fingernail lightly to draw a line starting at my forehead down over my nose and parted lips and lifted chin, down my neck to my cross over one of my breasts, across my belly and curving down to disappear between my legs then reappearing far down one of my calves down to the foot; pausing before almost whispering the final line as she traced another line back up the back of my calf then skipping up to my ass and up my back to the back of my neck and disappearing in a soft breeze of her finger through my hair. I stood as still as an artist's model feeling those two lines over and over for what seemed an eternity burning into me until they felt they met inside me, then opening my eyes to find she had quietly rejoined our other friends.

Looking down to where my body still tingled with her touch, I found she had followed the edge of a shadow made by one of the far lights across a post in the loft, and I guessed that either a similar shadow fell on my back or that she had imagined the echo of the shadow in front. I remained motionless as I looked down at what would have been the shadow's straight line follow the curves in my body, then saw it flip as my body fit into on what seemed the flow of the shadow's edge, then ease back to the shadow tracing my body, and again my body answering the shadow, rocking lightly back and forth into the repetition's of the sounds of the villanelle. Then I turned slightly to make the shadow ride up over my breast, then slowly back again, then again and again softly and slowly until the edge lay just to the side of the nipple, then turned my hip slightly the same to move the shadow's haze down into the curves, then held those two places while my body just slid into where the rest of the edge felt it wanted to go. And relaxed there for a moment feeling what that had given to the line traced up my back, the only movement in my body coming from my breathing slightly faster than usual, the only sound in the room being that pause filling in the space after the very last word of a poem.

Only then again did I become conscious that the one usually so shy and quiet now stood in the middle of a group of her friends, completely naked and just as completely absorbed in how her body felt in the light and shadows. I turned back to Nancy to thank her, then remained near the center of the room laughing and talking with our friends who now milled around once again as usual, feeling more natural than I'd ever felt before with our friends there, not getting around to putting my clothes back on for nearly an hour. And since Nancy left, when I make it up to Jen's now I'm the one frequently asked to read a poem the way she used to do so well. Only too pleased to oblige if I can do it like her own poetry, like her own body, like her own vision of beauty.

— Maggie

Doing a "whole-op"

Sometimes late at night I do a "whole-op". It's my loose translation of a Danish term from the car restoration trade, of when a car is renovated from top to bottom and inside-out.
I've twisted the term to mean when you take some time out to look over your life as a whole, to evaluate how it's going. Especially looking at it from the biggest perspective you can muster, that's important since we all tend to get lost in the details, in daily life.

Try to really take nothing for granted, but what is your purpose? What's your most important purpose? Are you making progress? Are you in the right place for furthering that purpose? Is it the right one, or is it one you've been given? Is there a higher one which could be more important?

I think doing this once in a while is essential, and might prevent that one wakes up at 60 and finds that one has used a lifetime doing something that (s)he now considers trivial, or has not grown so much as one might have, for lack of attention to it.

Night time is the right time

I was just struck by the light. As it were.

Taken hand-held at midnight with the Canon 5DII at 6400 ISO and the excellent Canon 70-200mm F:4.0 stabilized lens, at 4.0, 1/30 second.
I exaggerated the graininess a tad in PS, for effect. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ricoh GXR camera system

Seems strange at first glance, but I'll try to withhold judgment.
1001NC article.

(BTW, there were hints that this video is in danger of being taken down, so I saved it. I could not get keepvid to load, but works.)

IP over avian carriers

After it was revealed that a carrier pigeon is often faster than Internet transfer, we got an anonymous tip of this little known Internet protocol:

There exists an entire internet protocol for this purpose. It's called IPoAC (IP over Avian Carriers), and it's proposed by RFC 1149. It was also implemented by Norwegian Linux user group in 2001.

New pension law

I have an old pension/insurance scheme back in my native Denmark, from the days when still had a day job. It's pretty small numbers, but I've kept it going, heck you never know.

Today I got a letter from the pension company, there's a new law passed in Denmark, which will apparently tax the kind of pension I get, somehow in the future. To make the people swallow the medicine, they have put on a sugar layer in the form of an upfront compensation right now.

The monies due me is 314 Danish kroner ($63). If I want to get them paid out now instead of added to my pension, that's fine, only it will cost me 340 Danish kroner ($68) in fees! :-)

All I'm thinking is, what will all this bullshit cost the Danish people in administration costs, overall? Geez.

I've heard told that in Denmark over half the population is either living off the state in the form of benefits/pension, or working for the state. I guess in another fifty years nobody will be doing any production at all.

Homing pigeons

Under the 60 Gigs post, Pascal posted:

Use a homing pigeon, it's more efficient than the internet.
Really, it is.

A computer company in South Africa tried to send 4GB of data simultaneously through ADSL and in a memory key carried by a homing pigeon, to about 100 km away. The pigeon arrived and the memory stick was plugged and set after 2 hours. Meanwhile, the ADSL had only transmitted 200MB.
Pigeons are hi-tech!!!

They're also used to send blood samples to labs in case of some emergencies.
Not bad for "winged rats", eh?

(And the pigeon could easily carry an SD card, that means at least 32GB at the moment.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

When kids are the offenders

[Thanks to Neeraj]
This article is long on emotion and short on facts, but it has had big impact and should have. Child abuse hysteria has crossed over into blind, raging insanity.

Martian landscapes

Awesome photos.
I like the Boston Globe's "Big Picture" feature. It sure took many years since anybody in the mainstream did something about the tendency to over-miniaturize pictures on the web. (Actually I'd love to have pics like these even bigger, like two or three megapixels.)
(How the first one is a landscape I'm not sure, it looks like an artistic double-exposure to me, with some plants in silhouette.)

Some of these work great tiled on a big screen. (And could be modified to work seamlessly.)

Kid's bracelet

I think this was posted as a joke, not sincerely, but heck, funny if you believe it.