I’ll miss you, Paul

My student and friend Paul died this week. I feel lucky that I got to know him at least a little bit – he was a really talented artist who had a great sense of creativity and experimentation – he would often challenge me with questions that saw things from a completely different angle than mine – something I really appreciated. It was a shock to learn of his passing – my thoughts are with his friends and family.

I didn’t take this photo, I think it might be a self-portrait of his.

My old friend, if you’re out there…

A long time ago I had a friend – she was beautiful, strong and brilliant. She was a painter with a promising career ahead of her – adept at schmoozing galleries and all the right people (a skill I never learned.) She was an amazing person and a wonderful friend – my best friend at the time. But an abusive and manipulative man took control of her life years ago, and they disappeared from our lives despite the best efforts of friends and family. I’ve been mourning the loss ever since.

I’ve recently learned that she’s ok and perhaps even reading this blog lately. If you’re there, my dear old friend, please know that you are loved and missed and that there are people out here looking forward to the day that you are free to be yourself again.

I’m sure someone beat me to it (Bristol Palin in “Juneau”)

But I spent a chunk of my evening goofing around with photoshop to make this stupid thing anyway – it was just too obvious a gag to pass up…

For the benefit of search-engines everywhere I am adjusting the post title and mentioning here that this is a Juno poster adapted to include Bristol Palin and John McCain. Can’t have that other guy getting all the hits… 😉

Where to stay in Cedar City – the Iron Gate Bed and Breakfast

Should your travels ever take you to Cedar City, Utah (not likely for most of you, I know, but one never knows what fate will bring…) allow me to humbly recommend the inn at which I stayed. It is called the 1897 Iron Gate Inn and it is just wonderful.

The building itself is gorgeous – it seems a little out of place on a street of traditional western ranch-houses – to my eye it would be more at home on a mountainside in the adirondacks or berkshires, but that just shows my new-england bias. The location was great too – it was a short walk to the shakespeare festival and to “downtown” (or what passes for one in this small community.)

What really sets this place apart though are its inkeepers. Hotels often talk about their “guests” when they really mean “customers.” Susan and CR, the inkeepers here, took the term “guest” to heart in a way I hadn’t experienced before. Everyone in this part of the country is friendly in a way that we don’t see often back east, but these two really made me feel welcome, almost like part of their family. From the moment I spoke with CR on the phone to make my reservation I knew I had chosen the right place to stay, and this was proven again and again over the two days I stayed with them. They introduced me to their friends, invited me for a glass of wine with them on the patio, and even (get this) took me with them to a solstice festival outside of town. This was a sort of hospitality that I wasn’t expecting, and one that I will always appreciate.

Now, I was their only guest at the time and I am sure that when they are booked solid they can’t offer the same level of personal attention that they did when I was there, but the real point is that this is a wonderful place to stay and I highly encourage you to check it out if you ever find yourself in their area.

Charley vs stupid bikers

I will preface this by saying that although I am not a biker myself, many of my friends and family are avid bike people and I have a lot of respect for that. And since Dana’s accident I’ve been more clued-in to bike safety than I had been before that. So, the below is aimed not at the responsible and considerate bikers of the world, but rather to the asshole who nearly ran me over this morning.Yeah – I was crossing a one-way street this morning on my way to work when some idiot biker whipped out of nowhere going the wrong direction on the street and just barely missed me. Not only that, he was in the middle of the street, no helmet… Didn’t warn me he was coming, didn’t apologize.  Sadly it happened too fast for me to take a picture of the guy.Certainly the wide majority of bikers in the city are law-abiding folks, and that is wonderful. But what I don’t understand are the rest of these losers who think that just because they are on a bike the rules of the road somehow don’t apply to them. You see them all the time – going the wrong way on a one-way street, biking on the wrong side of the road, going straight through red lights, biking on sidewalks. And I have never once seen anyone get a ticket for this either. It’s dangerous for everyone – bikers, pedestrians, drivers.You hear a lot from bikers about ill-behaved drivers. (And yeah, there are a lot of them, no question.) But you don’t hear much from bikers about their own behavior. I’d like to see some accountability.So, bikers – how about you:

  •  Wear your helmet
  • Give pedestrians right-of-way
  • Obey traffic signals
  • Respect one way streets
  • Drive on the left side of the road like everyone else
  • Stay off the sidewalks
  • And just generally obey the rules of the road

The indecisive moment

A story of why I should always carry my camera: I went across the street to help a colleague – as I was crossing I noticed a huge pointy chunk of snow had somehow lodged itself in the middle of the intersection. It’s been so warm, that this “iceberg” was surrounded by a reflective puddle, and I just loved the idea of an urban iceberg in the middle of the street. So I reached into my pocket for my point-n-shoot, but it was not there – I had left it on my desk. I hurried inside to grab it off my desk, raced outside to take the shot, and just as I turned the camera on a big orange public works truck smashed into the iceberg and crushed it. Easy come, easy go I suppose. Cartier Bresson would be completely ashamed of me, I think. 

iPhone initial impressions (and unbox pix)

So I’ve spent a day with the iPhone, and here are some thoughts:

1. Everywhere I have been so far (in rural maine) has had wifi open so I haven’t been on edge yet. Wifi is nice and snappy

2. Nobody has called or texted me yet, so I can’t really say anything about the cellular features per se

3. Mail automatically configured itself to my mail.app accounts and settings – supercool!

4. I didn’t have to enter any configuration info whatsoever

5. Activation through iTunes was a dream, it couldn’t have been easier, took about two minutes.

6. The screen is gorgeous and really works. Multitouch is everything they said it would be.

7. I find the onscreen keyboard a bit easier to use than the Treo’s keypad, but I was never big on the two-thumb approach anyway. I do make plenty of typos, though I did on the treo too.

8. Web browsing is good over wifi, and I am pretty sure that AIM works via the web clients (I connected, but none of my buddies were online.)

9. YouTube is just brilliant on this thing

10. Music, video, YouTube all can use the internal speaker, which is really cool

11. It feels much much smaller than the treo, fits comfortably in my pocket

12. Neither mail nor safari are at all like their desktop counterparts, but both are good.

13. App-switching does feel a little clunky. I miss the apple-tab switching…

14. I’m feeling good about the 4GB capacity. I would of course love to have a 60 or 80 gig model, but failing that, a small-capacity unit is going to feel limited either way, and since it needs to be synced often to charge, I can just use it like I would use a shuffle.

15. The headphone jack is idiotic. I don’t think my koss headphones are going to work (they are at home) and it’s hard to imagine why they did this, it doesn’t make the thing look any better, that’s for sure.

16. The camera is ok, and the photos app is amazingly great

17. Google map app is very very cool, though I haven’t figured out how to use it for “just” a map instead of for directions

18. Call forwarding doesn’t seem to allow you to keep an address-book list of possible forwarded destinations, that’s a shame.

19. The screen can get a little sticky/greasy

20. The DLO “jam jacket” case I bought has got to be the worst case I have ever seen. Don’t buy it! (If you want one (you don’t,) let me know and I’ll give you a deal.)

21. The included ringtones are great. I love the “Old Phone” which is much better than the equivalent ring on my treo.

22. Web and email apps are VASTLY better than the treo equivalents

23. There are already a promising array of cute web-apps for the iphone, including sudoku – this makes me happy

24. The text message my dad tried to send me never arrived. I don’t know what to make of that.

25. The AT+T store salesguy tried to sell me a charger. I said it came with one. The “Apple Representative” at the AT+T store said it didn’t and I should buy one. Guess what? The iPhone does in fact come with a dock and charger, just like everyone said, just like it (somewhat cryptically) says on the box.

26. The iPhone packaging is amazing. I especially like the little lucite tray that it was “floating” in inside the box.

All in all – there are a few rough spots, but they are relatively inconsequential. This is probably the most satisfying gadget first day I’ve had since my first iPod. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my Treo.

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Another day, another camera to fetishize

Mamiya has announced a 22-megapixel medium-format digital kit for $10k. A lot of money for sure, but a MASSIVE bargain in the mf-digital world. Just a year ago, PhaseOne digital backs of this resolution were going for more like $25k-$30k
with no body and no lens. Now Mamiya has a fantastic body and a fantastic back with a decent lens (80mm 2.8) for less than half that price. By comparison, Canon’s closest competition for this guy is the $7k 16mp 1DS2 which would be more like $7500 with a similar lens and software. The mamiya has much higher resolution and a sensor that’s twice the size of the “full-frame” 1DS2, not to mention the medium-format coolness factor. Oh, and you can always swap a roll-film back onto this guy for real MF shooting when needed.

I think this has replaced the Leica in my camera-lust category.

Mamiya 645AFDII ZD

I am so fed up with Canon

In November, I bought a Canon point and shoot (SD700IS) to replace my aging Fuji F10. I bought it on the basis of stunningly good reviews and on Canon’s reputation for making great compact cameras. And boy oh boy was that ever a mistake. (I should have learned my lesson with the two piece-of-crap Canon scanners I’ve owned, but oh no, not me!)

In January, the camera’s lens mechanism broke so that it was completely nonfunctional. I sent it in for warranty repair, losing about two weeks of shooting time. Now, the sensor or meter seems to be going south – every two or three frames I get a completely blank exposure, and about half the time I power-up the camera, I get a dead sensor/meter warning and a blank screen.

This camera is only 6 months old! (In fact, the repaired/replaced camera is only four months old!) What gives, Canon? Is this your idea of quality control? Is this your idea of customer service? I know that this point-n-shoot is hardly pro gear, but our high-end Canon bodies (1D2, 1Ds2) have gone in for repair several times now too, while I’ve never had similar experience with other brands.

Anyway, the SD700 will be going in for service again this week. If it fails a third time, I don’t know what I’ll do, but it will probably be returned to Costco and be the last time I sink any money into Canon gear.