john scalzi made me do it

Besides reading his books, I follow the science fiction author John Scalzi on his blog whatever. Yes, it’s really titled whatever. One post of his that led me down the rabbit hole was “The Worldwide Distribution of Scalzis.” I rather innocently clicked the link to Forebears in his post, and well, one thing led to another and now here I am blabbing about the worldwide distribution of Beebes. I’m not nearly as unique as he is (for example I don’t make a successful living writing interesting science fiction that people are willing to purchase) but I suppose I’m unique enough, far more than say Smith or Jones.

About the only other thing we both share is our raising of a pair of kittens. His are a pair of females he’s dubbed the Ohio Scamperbeasts (complete with their own Twitter account @scamperbeasts), while I’ve a pair of ginger males I’ve dubbed the Florida Gingersnaps. Unfortunately my Gingersnaps have just recently discovered the Internet, and through the Internet, the Scamperbeasts, and they’re now asking how much bus fare would cost for the two of them to travel north to Ohio. I told them they could go visit after they get fixed around the start of March. I don’t think Mr. Scalzi would appreciate dealing with a pair of pregnant female cats, especially his beloved Scamperbeasts impregnated by my Gingersnaps…

Posted in Gingersnaps, Scalzi | Leave a comment

olympus is still the brand i use

two of a kind

Older E-M5 with 14-150mm II zoom on the left, and newish E-M5 Elite with 12-40mm PRO zoom on the right.

About a month ago I wrote a glowing post about the as-yet-to-be-released Fuji X-Pro2. Looking at the photos of the X-Pro2 with the Fujinon 2/35mm, I couldn’t help myself being drawn into the system by the overall look of the camera and lens combination. And then Olympus released it’s new Pen F to great acclaim on the various camera web sites, such as Andy on ATMTX (here and here) and Steve Huff (here). And then I did something that I always do when new gear comes out that strikes my fancy; I pull out my trusty old calculator and start adding up how much it would cost to replace what I already have in Olympus Micro Four Thirds gear. Most of the time I stop at that point, but not this time

This time I was inspired to go out and purchase, from B&H Photo and Amazon, another Olympus E-M5 Elite body and a 12-40mm Pro lens, respectively. The E-M5 was on clearance and the 12-40mm was on sale. Their combined price was less than what I would have paid for just the Pen F if it were available, and considerably less than what I would have paid for the X-Pro2 body plus 2/35mm lens if the X-Pro2 where available. And therein lies the tale of modern digital photography: the great expense divide.

I now have in my possession three E-M5 bodies of varying vintage (January 2013, mid-2015, and February 2016). I also have an E-M10 body. All of those bodies were purchased at heavy discount, the E-M5 Elite at considerable discount (roughly 1/3 the cost of the E-M5’s initial release price). I’ve now got four bodies, three of which are identical, the other nearly so, and various Micro Four Third lenses.

Last November I also picked up the 14-150mm II zoom lens when it went on sale. With the 2.8/12-40mm Pro zoom I’ve now rebuilt the Four Thirds system I had stolen in August 2012. This includes grips for two of the E-M5 bodies. The focal lengths of the M.Zuiko lenses don’t match the older 50-200mm and 12-60mm Digital Zuikos, but they don’t have to. The M.Zuikos are considerably lighter, the image quality is noticeably better, and the cost through prudent shopping allowed me to build the system I really want to own going forward, a system that travels around the world a lot lighter than in 2012. That’s what happens when new gear is released; gear from one to two generations back gets heavily discounted in an effort to clear the shelves. And I have learned to be ready for the deals.

There’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with the new stuff, just like there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the older stuff. All of it is far better than I am as a photographer. My ego isn’t tied up in the kind of camera I use, and i hope it never is. With my style of photography the older stuff is more than sufficient.

I’ll use what I have and enjoy using it. Just like I’ll enjoy what everyone who owns an X-Pro2 or a Pen F does with their cameras. I’ll always keep in mind that every time I see good photography using the newer gear, it’s that a talented photographer just happened to be using a certain brand and model when they took that photograph.

Posted in Buying Cameras, Fujifilm, Olympus | 1 Comment

the truth about republicans, by george carlin

In this 1975 photo originally released by NBC, comedian George Carlin is shown in a promotional photo for NBC's "Saturday Night Live." Carlin, 71, whose staunch defense of free speech in his most famous routine "Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television" led to a key Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, died Sunday June 22, 2008. He went into St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica on Sunday complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist, Jeff Abraham. Carlin served as host of the "Saturday Night Live" debut in 1975. (AP Photo/NBC) ** NO SALES ** ORG XMIT: NYET159

In this 1975 photo originally released by NBC, comedian George Carlin is shown in a promotional photo for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

It’s been eight years since George died (June 22, 2008). I wrote this post on my old blog back in November 2011. I’m repeating it here, nearly verbatim, because George was such a genius in his observations and what he commented on in this particular monologue in 1988 still rings true today. It’s as if the Republicans are frozen in time. Maybe the Democrats as well. I really miss George. He had such fun with Ronald Reagan, I wonder what he might have done with Donald Trump…

(From November 2011) In a country heaping praise on The Steve for little more than building lots of expensive widgets and with all the political shenanigans the current crop of Republicans are trying to pull on this nation, I thought it worth while to transcribe this routine George Carlin recorded in 1988, some 28 years ago, and in the process heap some well deserved praise on another important contemporary American. What he had to say in this comedy monologue is truly worth remembering. And note that while he’s ranting about the Reagan administration and the Moral Majority, little has changed in the last 28 years. Especially his observations about Wall Street.

I really haven’t seen this many people in one place since they took the group photographs of all the criminals and law breakers in the Ronald Reagan administration. Yeah! Yeah! Oh! Two hundred and twenty five of ’em so far. Two hundred and twenty five different people in the Ronald Reagan administration have either quit, been fired, been arrested, indicted or convicted of either breaking the law or violating the ethics code.

Two hundred and twenty five of ’em.

And Edwin Meese alone… Edwin Meese alone has been investigated by three separate special prosecutors and there’s a forth one waitin’ for him in Washington right now. Three separate special prosecutors have had to look into the activities of the Attorney General. And the Attorney General is the nation’s leading law enforcement officer!

See, that’s what you got to remember. This is the Ronald Reagan administration we’re talking about. These are the law and order people! These are the people who are against street crime. They want to put street criminals in jail to make life safer for the business criminals. They’re against street crime… Yeah! They’re against street crime providing that street isn’t Wall Street.

And the Supreme Court decided about a year ago that it’s all right to put people in jail now if we just think they’re gonna commit a crime. It’s called preventive detention. All you got to do now is just think they’re gonna commit a crime! If we’d of known this shit seven or eight years ago we could of put a bunch of these Republican mother-fuckers directly into prison!

YEAH!!!!

Put ’em in the joint where they belong and we could have saved the money of puttin’ these pin-headed country club assholes on trial!

Another thing you gotta remember, this is the group of people who were elected with the help of the Moral Majority. Elected with the help of the Moral Majority and the Teamsters Union! That’s a good combination! Organized religion and organized crime, working together to help build a better America!

Another thing… Keep in mind these Regan people are the ones that were going to get government off our backs. Remember that, that was the rhetoric of the 1980 campaign. “We’ll get government off your backs and out of your lives.” Yeah, but they still want to tell you what magazines you can read and they still want to tell you what rock lyrics you can listen to and they still want to force your kids to pray in school and they still want to tell you can say on the radio! The FCC, the Federal Communications Commission decided all by itself that radio and television were the only two parts of American life not protected by the free speech provisions of the first amendment to the Constitution. I’d like to repeat that because it sounds vaguely important!

The FCC, an appointed body not elected, answerable only to the President, decided on its own that radio and television were the only two parts of American life not protected by the first amendment to the Constitution. Why did they decide that? Because they got a letter from a minister in Mississippi! A Reverend Donald Wildmon in Mississippi heard something on the radio that he didn’t like[1]! Well Reverend! Did anyone ever tell you there are two knobs on the radio?

Of course I’m sure the Reverend isn’t that comfortable with anything that has two knobs on it… But hey, Reverend, there are two knobs on the radio. One of them turns the radio off and the other one… CHANGES THE STATION!!! Imagine that Reverend you can actually CHANGE THE STATION!!! It’s called freedom of choice and it’s one of the principals this country was founded upon! Look it up in the library Reverend if you have any of ’em left when you finish burning all the books!

Ehh???

Now I don’t know how you feel but I have personally just about had it with these fucking church people! JUST… ABOUT… HAD… IT! YES!!!

You know what I say we should do with these churches? TAX THEM!!! Tax these mother-fuckers! If they’re so interested in politics and government and public policy LET ‘EM PAY THEIR FUCKIN’ ADMISSION PRICE like everybody else. You know what I mean? Tax ’em.

Hey! The Catholic church alone could wipe out the federal budget deficit. If all you did was tax ’em on their real estate holdings. And speaking of real estate holdings let’s get back to Ronald Reagan and his criminal gang.

When last we left them, they were going to get government off our backs. Yeah, but when it comes to abortion they don’t mind government being in a woman’s uterus do they? Yeah, backs are no good but uterus is OK by them. These people call themselves “Right-to-Lifers”. Don’t you love that phrase? Don’t you love the way these kind of people pervert the English language? “Right-to-Lifers”? You realize that most of the “Right-to-Lifers” are in favor of the death penalty? And they support the South American death squads? And they’re against gun control and they’re against nuclear weapons control? When they say right-to-life they’re talkin’ about their right to decide which people should live or die!

So these Reagan people, these right wingers in general, these, uh, crypto-fascists, they’re against homo-sexuality, they’re against pornography, they’re against sex education, they’re against abortion. Yeah, they’re gonna get government off your back but they’re going to tell you how to live your sex life. And let me ask you this, how would they know anything about it? Have you ever taken a LOOK at those people?!?!? No wonder their afraid of their bodies! TAKE A LOOK AT ‘EM!!!

Doesn’t it strike you as mildly ironic that most of the people who are against abortion are people you wouldn’t want to fuck in the first place?

Hey, I’m the first one to say it’s a great country, but it’s a straaaange culture. This is a place where alcohol ruins more lives than cancer and everybody gets upset when some athlete gets hooked on cocaine. You know, Time Magazine and Newsweek, they put cocaine on the cover but they put the liquor advertisements inside the magazine. It’s the old American double standard. You know, say one thing, do sumpin’ different. And of course the country is founded on the double standard. That’s our history. We were founded on a very basic double standard. This country was founded by slave owners who wanted to be free.

Am I right? A group of slave owners who wanted to be free. So they killed a lot of white English people in order to continue owning their black African people so they could wipe out the rest of the red Indian people and move west and steal the rest of the land from the brown Mexican people, givin’ them a place to take off and drop their nuclear weapons on the yellow Japanese people. You know what the motto of this country aughta be? “You give us a color, we’ll wipe it out!” Got it!

So, anyway, about eighty years after the Constitution is ratified, eighty years later, the slaves are freed. Not so you’d really notice it of course. Just sorta on paper. And that was of course during the Civil War. Now there’s another phrase I dearly love. That is a true oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one. Civil War. Do you think any country could really have a “civil” war? “Say, pardon me…” pft pft pft pft pft “I’m awfully sorry…”

Now, of course, the Civil War has been over for about a hundred and twenty years, but not so you’d really notice it. Cause we still have these people called “Civil War Buffs”. People who thought it was a really keen war! And they study the battles carefully and they try to improve the strategies and the tactics to increase the body count. In case we have to go through it again some time. In fact some of these people actually get dressed up in uniform once a year and re-fight these battles. You know what I say? “Use live ammunition ass-holes, will you please?” You might just raise the intelligence level of the American gene pool.

But whataya expect, hey, come on, this is a war-like country, we come from that northern European, basically the northern European genes, the blue eyes, those blue eyes… Boy everybody in the world learned real quick didn’t they when those blue eyes sail out of the north you better nail everything down mother-fucker. Nail it down, strap it down, or they’ll grab it. If the can’t take it home they’ll burn it. If they can’t burn it they FUCK it. That’s what happened to us.

And it’s a war-like country. I mean come on. Forget foreign policy, even the domestic rhetoric is war-like. Everything about out domestic policy invokes the thought of war. We don’t like somethin’ in this country? We declare war on it. The war on poverty, the war on drugs, the war on crime, the war on AIDS, the war on cancer. We got the only national anthem that mentions fuckin’ rockets and bombs in the God-damned thing! You know what I mean? All right!

[1] Convinced Federal Communications Commission to issue warning to radio personality Howard Stern, 1987.

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revamped mcdonald’s on i-drive

the new mcdonalds

The “world’s largest” McDonald’s, located at the intersection of Sandlake and I-Drive, is undergoing considerable renovation – the original was torn down and this newest multi-story facility is going up in its place. This newest iteration is so big that it’s consuming it’s older property plus what used to be a Mobile gas station next to it that was torn down years ago. The old McDonald’s was to this new building’s immediate left.

When it’s all finished I’ll head back over and grab a few photos. In the mean time here are a few photos I took late one night  three years ago with the E-M5’s line art filter. It’ll give you some of the flavor of the older “legacy” burger joint.

GoldenMickey DPrepare To Be Dazzled

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getting reacquainted with an old friend

iron tulips

I have been using my first Olympus E-M5 again, the one I purchased January 2013. I bought it back when Lucy was still alive. I have the session of her checking it out when I first pulled it out of the shipping box from Amazon. It had developed a crack on the bottom edge of the pull-up LCD, and so I put it in a drawer thinking I’d get it fixed by Olympus, when I could get around to it. It sat in that drawer for a year until I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I pulled it out, put some super glue on the crack, and continued to use it. While the world goes ga-ga over the latest Olympus camera releases, I continue on with the original body that started the current revolution. I still find it’s as good as the day I purchased it.

I’ve taken everything off the body and put on the newest 14-42mm kit zoom, the EZ pancake. With that combination and a spare battery I’ve been going around as light as possible just so I can have something with me a bit more sophistication than the iPhone. No, I’m not backsliding on the iPhone. The built-in camera is still excellent. But I like to have my options open. That’s why I keep turning back to my Olympus cameras.

Today my wife and I went out for Sunday lunch at Chuy’s on I-Drive. I love the place for its food as well as the wild color scheme around the restaurant. I came back home and worked a bit with the raw files using Lightroom 6.4. More to come…

sectionsliving greens

Here’s Lucy checking things out. The other two cats, Lulu and Ellipse, don’t care. The Gingersnaps, now that’s another story. They seem quite curious about my camera gear.

Lucy Checks Out Her New Olympus OM-D

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