There Is No Cat

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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Late night radio

As part of my playing around with film cameras, I've decided to teach myself how to develop black and white film. I doubt I'll be building a darkroom to actually wet print photos, but the actual film development turns out to be surprisingly easy and something that you can do without a full blown darkroom, as the processing takes place in a light-sealed tank. I've shot a couple of rolls of Ilford 3200 speed film in my 1960s vintage Diana F, which was really the impetus for me to learn to do this in the first place. (As I explained a couple of weeks ago when I got my Holga, I got sick of hearing the guys at the local 1 Hour Photo place griping every time I brought something shot with the Diana in because they had to do a lot of manual work with it.)

I think I overdeveloped the first roll, and I fogged about a third of the second roll wrestling it on to the developing reel, but I did get a few reasonably good photos. I particularly like this shot of my 1960 Diora Calypso, a Polish radio that was, um, inspired by West German radios of the era by companies like Grundig.

The dial of a Diora Calypso radio, showing various European cities and their places on the dial

The shot is pretty dark; I shot it at about 3 o'clock this morning in available light, which as it turns out here was basically the light from inside the radio dial. The AM dial on the radio has a bunch of European cities listed on it, basically as a tuning aid. The Polish stations, like Poznan, have a little cross hatch in their tuning bar to make them easier to find. I had a close up lens stuck to the front of the camera with gaffer's tape so that I could get this nice close up; usually the camera doesn't focus any closer than 4 feet, but I was about 8 inches away for this shot.

The 3200 speed film doesn't really work that well in the Diana, or maybe I just need to adjust my expectations for how much light it needs even with that wicked fast film. I've got one more roll of 3200; I think maybe I'll load it in the Holga and see how that camera does with it.

Posted at 9:29 PM
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Friday, February 23, 2007

The best part of waking up

Much excitement in the Brandi household this morning. Because of our somewhat secluded location with all the trees around, it's not unusual for people to leave us gifts on our lawn. Typically they're things like empty cases of beer and fast food wrappers. But when I woke up this morning, I found this offering to our greatness on the lawn:

A purple Mercury Grand Marquis on our lawn

Needless to say, this wasn't something I could just cart off to the dump or place in the approved garbage receptacle. The door was unlocked and the window and glovebox were open. I poked my head in and found a registration card that didn't list one of our neighbors, so I immediately removed myself from the scene and called the police and gave them the license plate number. A couple minutes later, they called back and said that it appeared to be a car that a neighboring town was looking for.

Yup. Someone gave us a stolen car.

Ah, what a pleasant way to start the day. The car was just taken away a few minutes ago. I had a brief conversation with the officer to establish when the gift appeared, sometime between 8:30 last night when Laura got home from a dance class and 9:15 this morning when I went outside to take out the garbage. I wish I had looked outside when I was awake between midnight and 4 am so I could give them a better idea....

It was awfully considerate of them to refrain from parking us in.

Posted at 10:28 AM
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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Kissing Booth

After years of resisting, I've finally joined Flickr and started uploading photos there.

I'm not sure how much duplication there will be between my Flickr photostream and what I post here. This photo, shot a couple of days after Valentine's Day in Red Bank, is also up on Flickr, but there are some other photos there as well that I haven't posted here.

Kissing Booth - Kisses Free Today

I think this is all part of feeling a need to more fully explore the "social software" sites out there. Generally, I like doing things on my own; I wrote my own content management system to run There Is No Cat and Geneablogy rather than adopting something off the shelf, for example. I like learning how to do this stuff. The social software sites are less amenable to self-implementation, though. I have very mixed feelings about giving up control over my own content, over its presentation, over relying on a third party, and over provding the requested information to a behemoth like Yahoo! So this is an experiment for now, I think.

Posted at 6:08 AM
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A very hot show indeed

Laura and I went to see re-formed 1980s independent pop sensations The Bongos at Joe's Pub in Manhattan last weekend. They played their album Drums Along The Hudson in its entirety and in order, which is kind of strange, because it's a collection of singles, not a concept album or anything. Go figure. I brought my new Lomo LC-A camera to capture the action. I had no idea how hot the show would get. I certainly didn't expect spontaneous human combustion on stage.

Bongos singer/guitarist Richard Barone's head ignites

Posted at 3:14 PM
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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Heart wood

This tree in our back yard would like to wish you a happy Valentine's Day.

Tree with a branch scar in the shape of a heart

We hope your weather is better than the ice storm we're currently experiencing. Good thing we didn't have plans to go out for dinner tonight.

Posted at 9:40 AM
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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Holga in NYC

More Holga shots. Weekend before last, Laura and I went into the city to see Factory Girl, the Edie Sedgwick biopic. (Don't bother; it wasn't that good.) I brought my new Holga with me.

Ghost Bicycle

A hockey game being played on an asphalt court on Houston Street

More photos and commentary in the usual place.

Posted at 10:06 PM
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Sunday, February 11, 2007


I bought a(nother) new toy camera a few weeks ago, a Holga. I was getting kind of tired of the guys at the local dip-and-dunk complaining about the gyrations they had to go through to print pictures from my Diana; it shoots roughly 4.5 x 4.5 centimeters rather than the usual 6 x 6 centimeters of a square medium format camera, so they had to manually zoom in on each picture and such rather than let their automated machines handle it. Fair enough, I guess. So I got a Holga, which shoots 6 x 6 (or 6 x 4.5, another standard format for 120 film).

I screwed up the first roll I put through it. Classic mistake, a consequence of poor user interface. The Holga can shoot either of two formats, as I mentioned above, depending on which insert you place into the camera body. I placed the 12-shots-per-roll insert in, which shoots square pictures. On the back of the camera, there's a window to show you the frame numbers with a little sliding piece of plastic to expose the numbers for either 12 or 16 shots per roll (120 film comes printed with both). There's a little "12" and "16" embossed in the plastic. I figured you wanted to have the window open next to the appropriate number. Wrong. I missed the embossed arrow on the sliding piece of plastic. It points to the number. So when the arrow is pointing to the embossed 16, the window next to the number 12 is open, and the numbers displayed are for 16-shots-per-roll. Oops. I realized I had screwed up after I shot photo number 12 and started winding only to come across an unexpected number 13. Damn. I figured I would have the roll developed anyway, but not have it printed or cut, just in case there was something interesting on there. And that's how I created this little triptych of my favorite local landmark.

The Circus Liquors Evil Clown of Middletown, times 3

My second and third rolls were better. I had them printed, but wasn't terribly impressed. Where was the vignetting that's supposed to be characteristic of the Holga? Why are the colors kind of flat?

I finally broke down this week and bought a scanner capable of scanning 120 negatives, an Epson Perfection 4990. Turns out the guys at the dip-and-dunk seem to be burning or cropping some of my photos so the vignetting doesn't show up. Scanning my negatives, the pictures look more like what I would expect from a Holga, as seen in these two shots from a recent morning where we had had a dusting of snow that stuck to the pavement but not so much to the grass.

Our asphalt driveway turned white

I particularly like the flaring on this one; it looks like a shock wave of color exploding from the sun or something. The photo is a link to a larger version that better shows what I mean than this thumbnail.

The sun rises through the trees over a wintry driveway

I'm still learning how to use this scanner. Scanning negatives seems rather different from scanning prints. One thing that's interesting is that revisiting my photos from the Diana, they look even more vignetted and distorted. The guys up at the corner are just too good; they want to make my crappy photos look better.

Posted at 11:25 AM
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Thursday, February 1, 2007

What I did on my holidays

I'm delighted to see this announcement from the Web Standards Project of their new working group, the International Liason Group. The ultimate objective of the group is to make the educational resources of WaSP about the benefits of using web standards to develop sites and the mechanics of doing so available in the languages of working professionals around the world.

I've been working on this for the past several months despite my unfortunate linguistic handicap of being monolingual (oh, the shame!). Still, I've been able to pitch in; I co-ran the initial task force leadership vote (with Michael Grosch of Germany), worked up an information architecture for the next version of the ILG site, and wrangled the Google Maps mashup on the page listing the task force members so that it's accessible and works (mostly) in all modern browsers and even some not-quite modern ones (and still functions acceptably in everything else, although without the benefit of the map; I hope to write up what I did to make that happen in the next few days). I think that the two leaders chosen in that leadership vote lo! these many months ago, Steph Troeth and Glenda Sims, have done a stellar job steering the group to this day, and I've really enjoyed working with them. WaSP tech maven and new co-group-lead Kimberly Blessing has also been a joy to work with. And major props to Molly Holzschlag, former group lead of WaSP, whose idea the group was in the first place and who got the ball rolling. It's been a real pleasure working on this, participating in the spirited discussions with a lot of like-minded developers from around the world. I have a lot of respect for the members of this group.

Now the fun (and hard work) starts....

Posted at 11:59 PM
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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi. (E-mail address removed due to virus proliferation.)

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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