Friday, December 28, 2012

What's Wrong with This Image: Addendum

While he's making a separate political point, Daily Beast writer Michael Moynihan finds another fine example of what I was talking about in my last post.  Would any aspiring writer, or even political essayist, have gotten a millimeter of space in The Nation if he submitted this "stew of words" without the name Sean Penn attached:

“Ostreicher, whose innocence was maligned by an arrest where only vague illusions to money laundering have been shown to be fabricated by corrupt officials within the Bolivian judiciary, whose motivation has proven to be extortion.”

Seriously.  He uses the wrong word (illusions instead of allusions), but that's the least of its incoherence.  The whole sentence has a subject, but no verb or object.  The name, Ostereicher, just hangs out there, isolated and abandoned, waiting to make a point of some sort ... I think.

Moynihan finds another writer who makes my point, however:

"It’s difficult to improve upon the brutal verdict of New Yorker writer George Packer, who wondered why 'someone like Penn think[s] he can do this job [journalism], which isn’t his job?'"

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's Wrong with This Image?

So I get a Twitter recommendation, "Suggestions similar to Black Star," and one of the is the Wall Street Journal photo Twitter feed.  Are you old enough to get the problem there?  Traditionally, the Wall Street Journal didn't have photos.  At all.  Zero.  Even to the point that I used to joke that I wanted to have business cards printed advertising myself as a staff photographer for them, and then see how long it took me to get busted.

But of course it's all just part of the changing media world.  For a long time, for example, I've carried around a note to myself to blog about Chelsea Clinton and Ashton Kutcher.  Not that they're an item or anything (now there's an image, isn't it?)  No, it's because they symbolize a lot of what I think is going wrong in the media world.

Chelsea (who I refer to by first name -- if I must refer to her at all -- to distinguish her from her distinguished parents) was recently looking for, I guess, a purpose in life.  Simply getting a job was insufficient.  So she had a meeting with Steve Capus, the president of NBC News.  According to The New York Times, "Mr. Capus said he had met with Ms. Clinton and had a long conversation that began with a simple question. 'I asked her: "What are you interested in doing?"'

How many things are wrong with those two sentences?  Why is the president of a network news division meeting with her?  Why isn't she meeting with, at best, the executive producer of a show, someone who might actually be expected to be doing hiring?  And I guess the question of qualifications or some sort of vetting is unnecessary.  Just look at how the meeting began.  Reading that quote over again always makes me quiver with fury.

And now Ashton Kutcher thinks, or at least acts like he thinks he's a photographer.  Perhaps he's a better actor than I give him credit for (though still waiting for evidence of that from his work).  No, he's on my naughty list for doing Nikon ads.  Now perhaps I should blame the nabobs of Nikon for this concept, but many of the ads are based on how he, with his smug good looks, is just as good as the pros because he uses fancy Nikon cameras.

In one ad,  he saunters into a fashion show, where he gets marvelous pictures of the runway models while amusingly blocking the pros.  In another, he visits a wedding, where he makes dozens of charming photos while the actual wedding photographer is nowhere to be seen.  In all, of course, he smirks and sashays about with that coolest frat boy overconfidence.

In the end, this is my point: there are professionals who do this stuff, people who have worked a long time to become journalists and photographers.  I fail to see how being Chelsea Clinton (even conceding that she may be very smart) gives her any ability to do anything in any form of media.  And it should be no surprise that she quickly foundered in the dummied up job Capus found for her.

And while I can see the concept behind the Nikon campaign (Buy our cameras and make better pictures, duh), the whole scene creates a coarsening of life.  Go ahead, block a real fashion photographer at a Paris show and see what happens to you.  I'm betting the next day's headlines would describe how American actor was found beaten in alleyway.

We work hard at what we do, perhaps harder than many other professions.  In news and news photography, the rule is: What have you done for me lately?  Either keep producing top notch work, or you'll slowly drift into second-rate jobs.  And if you want that first-rate job, well you have to show you can produce at that level ... before you get to that level.

So who's job did Chelsea Clinton take?  What hard working young reporter spent years aiming at the network, only to be told: "Sorry, the president of the news division called."

And if Ashton Kutcher thinks he's going to step in front of me and block my picture, then make it all okay with a winsome smile, he better protect his knees ...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Future of Media

Naturally, I think pretty frequently about where the media -- particularly journalistic media -- are headed.  Will it eventually all be on some form of the internet?  Will there be a place for print, either literal (ink on paper) or figurative (online "publication," like The Daily Beast/Newsweek or, for that matter, this blog)?  And what about broadcast, which sends me my regular paycheck?  Will there be something like TV, something that's a prescheduled, one-way experience, where the viewer arrives at a particular time of day to be fed, passively, a particular program?

I got to thinking more about that last as we moved this summer.  As with any move, there is always a gap in services -- that time when your internet service and TV (at least in our case, as we are on DirectTV*) are turned off in the old place, but not yet installed in the new one.  This isn't necessarily a clean break, though, as in this move there was a period when there was TV in the old house even though we were in residence in the new one.

My girls -- six and nine at the time -- took the blackout well, and were most happy when the internet came up in the new place, but there was an interesting point when they requested ... well, demanded that they come with us on our loading trips to the old house so they could watch TV.  And it caused me to wonder: Is there something we crave, something special about that passive watching experience that the new media just don't give us?

I guess, if you think about it, Homer didn't engage in a discussion when he would recite the  Odyssey a couple thousand years ago.  Storytelling has always been a function of human society, as has gathering together to share in that story.  This in the face of my running comment that, in years to come, our children will look at us in disbelief and ask: "So you would go to the TV at the time they told you to in order to watch whatever program they chose to show?"  Will social imperatives cause passive watching at source-chosen moments to survive?

*Here's the thing: in Southwest Virginia, where I live, something like half of the TV viewers get their signal by satellite (either DirectTV or Dish) and around another third get it on cable.  The mountain and valley aspects of the landscape have always made getting over-the-air TV signals a dodgy proposition.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Henri Cartier-Bresson: Terrorist?

A random thought ...

So lately, mostly because of 9/11, there have been a spate of unpleasant encounters between police and security guards and photographers, like this one, or this, or perhaps more generally this.  Usually, they have reminded me of my first trips to the old Soviet Union, when we were warned that photographing such harmless locations as airports or train stations or even major road intersections could result in an unpleasant encounter with the militia, as such locations were considered strategically important.  We all laughed.  But now, it's not unusual for Americans and Brits to have these problems.

When today, for some reason, Henri Cartier-Bresson's iconic 1932 photo, Dernier de la Gare Saint Lazare, popped into my head.  You know the one, the picture that everyone shows when they talk about the Decisive Moment.  In it, a man hangs suspended in mid-jump over a puddle ... not too high, not too low.  It's the perfect fraction of a second.

It's also a picture of a train station, shot between the bars of the fence surrounding it.  What would have happened to Cartier-Bresson today?

Then again, we already know what would have happened to him last year in Boston ...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Makes a $100 Book?

When we produced our book, Rockbridge: A Photographic Essay, there was a debate about price.  I guess we could have actually sat down and done the math in terms of time and film and processing, pro-rated out equipment and gas and production (editing, cropping, etc.), as well as the obvious expense of getting the damn thing printed and shipped from China.  But if we were that good with money ... well, we wouldn't have gone broke in the meantime.

So instead, we just tried to choose a price point that would get us the maximum amount of income without hitting a chill point for the buyer.  $39.95 seemed about right, and that became the cover price.  (You can get it, by the way, at local Lexington, Virginia, bookstores, or on Amazon, or even from the publisher -- makes a great Christmas present.)

Since then, I've seen it pop up on the rare book sites for as much as $107, apparently because it was an autographed copy.  Wow.  I've only paid that much for a book once ... and regretted it.

It was a photographic history, written on a subject that is critically important, in my opinion, but inadequately covered.  In other words, it's the only book about it.  Why so vague?  Because I'm about to be cruel.

You see, the book was written by amateurs -- amateur historians and amateur writers.  It's horribly organized and poorly written, wandering from subject to subject, scrambling events in apparently random non-chronological order.  It's packed with illustrations, most of which I have seen nowhere else, but they're laid out like a 19th Century page of classifieds: wildly cast upon the page as if handled by cats or monkeys.

And yet, I paid over $100 for it, unknowing at the time what a disaster it is.  Nonetheless, perhaps I was extreme in saying I regretted it.  I wish I had paid less -- much less -- but I am happy I own the book.  It really has a great deal of useful information buried within its chaotic pages, information I've seen only in sources that cite this book.

Now, there is a new book, Leica 99 Years, for a neat $130.  (I wonder what the additional $31 are for.  Wait for it, the joke will come to you ...)  Its gotten good reviews from the Leicaratti, and it does look beautiful.  I would be tempted ... but for the price.  Seriously.  $130?

Of course, using my own equation, your average Leica buyer had a pretty high chill point.  I mean, $7,000 for a camera body ... without the $1,000 lens.  But, for what appears to be a coffee table book of pretty pictures, a celebration of just, well, being cool enough to be Leica?

I suspect the cover price was chosen in a more sophisticated, perhaps Machiavellian,  version of the process we used.  It's expensive because it's something from Leica.  The brand's image must be maintained.

Yet, in my lizard heart of hearts, I know that I would buy the damn thing if I could afford it.  What a sucker.

Maybe I can scam a review copy ...

Friday, November 30, 2012

Who Are These People?

So I was talking with my anchor the other day as we drove to shoot a story, and we were discussing how often TV equipment (including things like nonlinear editing programs) seems to have been designed by someone who has never actually used it in the field.  Quirky functions, difficult to use aspects, impractically fragile parts ... all part of one's daily life with both TV and still photography.

My favorite anecdote on this, though it begins to age now, is about when Sony first introduced the Betacam in the late 1980s.  The camera itself was transformative, in some cases unfortunately, as it made it much easier for broadcast networks to reduce the average TV news crew from two technicians -- one with the deck and audio kit, usually a shotgun mike on a fishpole -- to just one cameraman, as the deck was now part of the camera.

However, as part of that original kit, there was a brand new plate to attach the camera to the tripod.  This was a longer affair than in the past (because of the longer camera), but also had a very different quick release system, involving a trio of bolts that fitted into slots on the bottom of the camera.  When one wished to release the camera, one pulled a small, plastic lever on the side, which caused a series of mechanical pieces inside the plate to move around, which in turn moved the bolts.  Even in my late 20s, as I moved the clever but elaborate piece, feeling the parts inside slide and interact, I knew that it would last about three weeks in the field before something broke.

Then, as now, I joked that somewhere in Tokyo was some bright, young engineer showing this to his colleagues and bosses proudly, saying: "Look what I did!"

But I just know there are people who test these things before release.  I was once told the story that, in the 70s when Olympus made a decent play for the photojournalist market, they dropped some cameras and motor drives by the UPI offices in Washington.  One photographer there already used and liked Olympus, and promptly took them on.  But the motor drives in particular were oddly designed, an intentional step away from the traditional thick bar clamped to the bottom of the camera with a handgrip ending in a shutter release in front of where the camera's own release was (a design developed and long used by first Leica and then Nikon).  Instead, if I remember correctly, the handle went down, like a pistol grip, with a trigger release.

Some months later, the Olympus rep returned to ask what the photographer thought.  "It's over there," he gestured vaguely at a nearby table.  Nothing more needed to be said.  In the intervening time, he had taken the drives apart and taped them back together in the more traditional form.  The pistol grip just wasn't practical.

More recently, Leica has come out with a series of new developments on its legendary M design, finally ending with the Leica digital M.  With each release, for those in the Leica obsession world, there have come stories of a select few given prototypes to field test and recommend improvements, as well as others who are then allowed to borrow the new cameras after they've been announced but before the production numbers are high enough to be seen regularly in stores.  Who are these people?  And more importantly, what do I have to do to get on that list?

Of course, in the case of Leica, it's pure jealousy on my part.  (Though I'm very available and easy to contact -- are you listening Christian Erhardt?However, in the case of, say, Panasonic or Sony, I would gleefully explain to them how what they are doing makes life easier or harder for your average TV professional.  Or perhaps the legendarily uninterested Apple corporation?

But in the end, it still leaves me wondering: Where do they get their testers, or do some of these companies simply not care?  Do they just trust that clever little engineer who is so proud of his complicated design?  What are they thinking?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Ghost in the Machine

So in my quest to continue posting frequently, and also to avoid continuing to clean up the house, I was going through my old posts, and I found the one about getting into Cy Twombly's studio after his death.  As I said in the post, it produced a nice little piece, one I was and continue to be very proud of.  Unfortunately for me, I left WDBJ shortly after I did that to go to work for the Fox 21/27 Morning News, and so my hopes to rack up a few prizes for it were dashed.  So it goes ...

Anyway, I have it still on tape for my personal use, but I haven't seen the piece for a long time.  It runs over four minutes -- exceedingly long for a TV news story -- and has no narrator at all, yet I think tells a good history in an entertaining way.

So as I was looking at the post, I noticed I had hot linked to the video playout at ... and I got curious.  Would it still be there?

It is.  The entire page comes up, complete with a freeze frame in the video player ... but it doesn't seem to play.  Curious. like the aftershadow in your eye after a bright flash.  (Or like the frozen figures in Ray Bradbury's story in Martian Chronicles.  You know, the reverse shadows of the people charred into the house walls after a nuclear attack?)

Guess I'll just have to dig out that tape sometime ...

Monday, November 26, 2012

N is for Neville, who died of ennui ...

Got this email today, from the head of a large photo agency:

Just curious, what sort of photographic projects are you working on?

Which got me thinking ...

Problem 1: The answer is both nothing and quite a lot.  The first answer is the one that inspired me to write this, because -- though I have a lot of things in mind (that's half of "quite a lot") -- I'm not really working on a personal project.  And that's disappointing.

You see I have stacks of stuff, piles of papers and books and files, all the inspirations for various personal projects.  I have all sorts of immediate ideas running around in my head for things I'd like to do right now.  I even have a couple I've made some minimal effort to do.

Like what?  Like this:

This is one of a series of what I've called "test shots" of nighttime views of Roanoke, Virginia.  It's a vague, lazy, passing effort at a larger project of proper, night shots of the city shot with a Speed Graphic on 4x5 film, or perhaps with a Leica using a Zeiss 21mm.  (The Speed's lens wouldn't be wide angle enough for a view like that above).

It's a vague, lazy test shot because I shot it with a Nikon D80, basically on the fly on the way into work on the morning show where I am the staff photographer.  (That's the other half of "quite a lot" -- producing all the visuals for a daily, two-hour show is really time consuming.)

Anyway, this is a continuation of a project I did in DC with the Speed, shooting pictures of the city at night reminiscent of those by Volkmar Wentzel.  And I haven't really put a lot of time and effort into it.  As it is, I keep patting myself on the back for bothering to get out of the car for 10 minutes to shoot these pics.

But the point is: Why am I not working directly on a project?  And why haven't I put more effort into this blog, or my other one?  Well, hopefully with this post, that last part is gonna' end...

Problem 2: Why am I getting an email from the president of a major photo agency?  My ego knows no bounds, and I like to think he's heard of me from my work with the NPPA, or perhaps from friends who work for the agency, but it just doesn't compute.  I think he got me off a list (again, NPPA?) and did a mass mailing.

But why?  What does this say about the state of photo agencies, that he's trolling for new ideas?  In an age where many outlets think viewer photos and random input from Instagram is sufficient, photo agencies -- many of which have vanished or been eaten up by their competitors in recent years -- need to rethink their position and role in the media world.  I think there's a place for them, once the public realizes that any ol' picture isn't as good as a truly well done picture by someone who spends his life making pictures, and then publications (or whatever falls under that term, since literal publishing and its role in the media is a separate question) see a profit from using good, professional photos.  The evidence is there, but I guess it just has to become numerically obvious.

Something to think about.  Maybe while I buckle down and get to work on that next project ...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Don't Panic!

This, ironically, is from a Kodak blog.  They just announced the other day that what is left of the company is trying to sell of its still film products division.  This makes me sad.

It makes me sad in a bunch of ways.  For one thing, there's the obvious loss of another lovely thing in the world.  The tragic but inevitable demise of Kodachrome was bad enough, but that stuff was grossly expensive to make and especially to process.  Yeah, the color was wonderful, but it was a 1920s solution to the problem, rich and glorious but antiquated and, in the end, impractical.

So why, you're now asking with a predatory gleam in your eye, am I calling for the preservation of Tri-X?  Isn't that a 1950s solution to a problem that no longer exists?  (How does one get pictures for half-tone reproduction in newspapers in normal room light?)  Well, yeah.  But it was a helluva' solution, one that was so good that it ended up solving a bunch of other questions too, like how does one get nice candid pictures quickly and easily with simple equipment and exposure by eye?  I mean, TX is incredibly generous in its tonal range, and really dependable once you get used to it.  Depending on how you treat it, and the quality of the light, it can be almost as smooth as lower ISO films or as grainy and gritty as you want.

And it's really simple and relatively cheap to process.  All you need is couple of cans and reels, some D-76 and fixer, temperatures somewhere in the relatively comfortable range, and a dark room (preferably a darkroom, but anything from a bathroom at night to a closet will do) and some running water.  Okay, there are a few items on that list, but compared to other films (like the notoriously difficult to process Kodachrome), this is like saying: "Take stick, bang on stone.  You're done!"

Also, there's this whole question of my having shelves full of film cameras.  Once Kodak goes -- and I guess this might be inevitable in some way; look at GAF's film operation now* -- one's left with the feeling that it's a rapidly accelerating decline into oblivion for 35mm acetate-backed roll film.  Then what?  All my precious Leica Ms become, well, beautiful doorstops.

And I really like film.  It's something that's there.  You can hold it up to a window, and review the negatives without any further technical devices required.  (See above rant on simplicity)  And, with reasonable care, it won't go anywhere.  Open the file drawer, the barrister's box, and there they are, the black and white captures of life, a thousandth of a second from 20 or 40 or however many years ago.  Still there, vibrant and frozen in a moment of life.  How cool is that?  One slip of the wrong key, one hard drive crash, and where are your digital pictures?  Don't get me started on the subject of proof sheets ...

So, I guess I have to remember that almost every past form of photography is still practiced somewhere within reason.  There was a Daguerreotype of the Obama inauguration, for God's sake.  Surely someone will still make roll film. 

But what of my beloved Tri-X?

* That link's not a mistake.  GAF, the successor to, in reverse chronological order, Ansco and Scovil and the E. & H. T. Anthony Company, the place where Mathew Brady first learned to make pictures, now makes ... roof tiles.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our Lady of Street Photography

I sometimes wonder if Vivian Maier isn't some sort of an elaborate hoax perpetrated on the gullible ... like me.  After all, it is generally said if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  Is she really the exception to the rule?

If you don't feel like following the hotlink (your loss; the pictures are absolutely amazing), I'll quickly summarize.  Maier was a nanny who, on her off days, pursued an interest in photography, generally using a twin-lens Rolleiflex and black and white film.  She shot thousands of rolls of film, but apparently the photography was a reward in itself.  The general public knew nothing of this until a large number of her negatives were purchased when a storage bin was auctioned.  The buyer, discovering the quality of her work, began to research who she was.  He located her ... just months after her death.  Here's the long version.

Her stuff stands up with Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank ... and coming from me, that's saying something.  It's revealing and stunningly beautiful, deep and full.  She clearly had a quick, perhaps anticipatory eye, and a really fast hand.  Focusing the Rollei, I've discovered, is far more difficult than you'd think.  The thing has a surprisingly narrow depth of field -- useful in making the picture interesting, but devilishly hard to anticipate without a lot of experience.  It would be interesting to see some proof sheets ...

On top of all that, the pictures are amazingly revelatory.  Of course, that's the purpose with "street photography" in general -- to capture life unawares -- but in many images, her subjects seem blissfully unaware of the woman with the magic box.  How is this?  My days are bracketed with people ponderously announcing, as if they were senators on the way to a meeting of the Trilateral Commission, that they don't want their picture taken.  Fine, pal, whatever.

This usually happens to me while heaving a 28-pound, AJ-SPC700P Panasonic television camera onto my shoulder, so I am a less-than subtle figure.  And this got me thinking: Was it the Rollei that helped her?  The waist-level finder, the cognac leather case, comfortably slung around the neck of that plain woman?  "What on earth," the subject might for a moment think, "is that odd lady taking a picture of?  There's nothing here but a street."  It's worked for me -- the quickly deployed Leica, a la the immortal HCB, or the Rollei casually slung over the shoulder -- but more often than not, I get busted.  My more candid stuff almost always happens when I'm around people who have become accustomed to me, to the point of dismissing the camera as part of the background.

But I have begun to think of late that it wasn't just the creative cauldron of the 1950s that caused all those people -- HCB, Frank and Maier -- to do great work then.  I'm wondering if the inability to get, or perhaps rarity of, pictures like that is because we're all so media aware now.  A DSLR for example is a great, huge, unsubtle weapon of potential personal destruction in the age of the cellphone.  Everyone can make digital pictures, and the very thing I selfishly treasure about my gear (the fact that it announces that I am a professional*) is what kills my chances of candid shots.  "Why is that pro taking my picture?  Where is he going to sell it?"  That is what now goes through the subject's mind.

For Maier, photography was still an unusual, complicated and infrequent hobby.  Sure, families had cameras, but they were hauled out for special occasions and trips to the Grand Canyon.  A single roll of film in the Kodak (yes, children, once upon a time the fabulous Kodak made cameras too) could last six months or a year.  When it was finally shot out, the canister was ceremonially delivered to the local camera shop, where solicitous but elite professionals would carefully swath it in a special envelope for delivery to Rochester, from whence it might return in a week or so.

To walk the streets with a Rollei was the province of a newspaperman -- someone rarely seen, and then only at news events.  His usually came with a massive flash gun, and was about as unsubtle as artillery.  For that thin, drably dressed, common woman to be walking about with one was ... well, you just didn't see that a lot.  Far from being a curiosity, I wonder if it just didn't register.  The brain didn't expect it, and in the demands of daily life -- a life in which cameras had little presence, let alone import -- the sight was dismissed as unthreatening and therefore unimportant.  As part of the background, Maier was able to approach closer, catch moments more honestly.

Or maybe I'm just jealous.

*I admit a certain amount of ego, as well as professional pride, in being known as someone who is a photographer.  When working as a photojournalist, this carries through in the mentality that I deserve to be able to go where others can't (eg: the sidelines at a football game) because that is my job, and I am not beyond holding a camera very prominently, like a shield, to bully people out of my way.  Surprising how often that works ...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Short Cri de Coeur

I find my world
is boundaried by things I am denied to do,
and filled with
things I must do.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Short Rant on Wardrobe Boxes

Tall and inevitably heavy
(they encourage you to overload them
by their size alone)
They're topheavy by nature,
with the handles in uncomfortable places.

Why do they exist at all?
Are there that many clothes that require hanging?
I thought modern fabrics ended all that.

Really, how long would your clothes be folded?
Would they wrinkle that easily?
More easily than the scratches and cramps I suffer
carrying that goddam thing?

It's just another one of those things
that do more to make us feel better,
more clever, more efficient,
but really do none of those things.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Mote in the Move

So here's a random, if overextended, thought:

I'm moving.  Again.  It's a nightmare untouched by Dorothy Parker's infamous, "What fresh hell is this?"  It deserves a grinding, endless and depressing post in and of itself,  but let's leave that for another day ... if at all.  The thought causes my heart to leadenly sink down somewhere into the vicinity of my diaphragm.

No, today I am fascinated by dust.  Specifically, I was struck by how much dust was on our stuff as we packed and shipped for the move, and then as we cleaned at our destination.  Thick layers of gray, fibrous dust.  And finally, it occurred to me: It's the carpet!

The house we are leaving, though faintly Colonial in design style, is modern and recently built, all the floors done inexpensively in wall-to-wall carpet.  The house we were in before and then one we're moving to are older, with hardwood floors throughout.  The dust comes from the wall-to-wall, which led to another revelation: carpet is, and could only be, a modern development.  In the age of dirt roads and dusty horses, there was already far too much of a layer of grime on everything.  Adding the dust machine of a carpet, especially a shag wall-to-wall, was more than one could bear.  Hardwood, with rugs that could be easily taken up and beaten clean while the smooth floors were swept, is the only way to avoid disappearing in an archeological layering of accumulated filth.  We could have wall-to-wall only in the modern age.

But that's where my mind turns, if only to ignore the traveling horror of moving ...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Philosophy of Gunk

That black gunk you get on your hands from handling a freshly published newspaper is surprisingly similar to that you get after handling very old and mostly forgotten books. 

Of course, few young people in the 21st Century will have either experience.  Electrons don't stick...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Postman Never Rings ...

Okay, so here's a thought:

Apparently postal carriers won't get out of their little jeeps to put the mail in your postbox.  If it's blocked, they just drive on.

So we've been having a yard sale for the last two days.  We're moving, we've got stuff we don't want to move, and frankly we need the money.  So cars (including ours, so as not to block the driveway) are everywhere ... including by the postbox.

Meanwhile, we're waiting on checks.  In the mail.  You know, because we need the money?  But God forbid the poor postman get out of his jeep, like if he had a parcel or something.  So no mail.  For two days.  And Monday's a holiday.

You don't have to be a math major to figure this out...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

When is 27 cents an Omen?

The other day, I put $30 of gas in my car. Or at least, I tried to. The pump snapped off at $29.63, well short of full, and the computer in it took that as completion. It reset and wouldn't restart.

It wasn't worth the effort to worry about it; I simply went back to the cashier and got my 27 cents in change.

But then, on the rest of my drive in to work, I began to wonder: What does it mean? Or does it mean anything? It's a bit of a Rorschach test, I guess.