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Hugged to Death

Posted on August 30th, 2021

Dave!My blog is dead.

It was hugged to death by a Reddit post talking about Lake Powell's water level being so low that junk which is usually underwater is now fully exposed. Like a boat that sank. A comment on the Reddit post had a link to a Blogography post where I had a photo of the same boat 15 years ago...

Lake Powell

And since I pay for the cheapest web hosting available, I don't have the bandwidth available to deal with such a massive amount traffic. Which means my blog just kind of shut down under the pressure of it all. Somebody had to post a link to the page cache on the Internet Wayback Machine.

In an attempt to (maybe?) head off such a thing in the future, I installed a plugin called "Simply Static" which is supposed to help by generating static pages so WordPress doesn't have to generate it every time it's requested. Not sure how it works since WordPress still gets the request and has to reroute it to the correct page via the plugin, but I guess it's worth a shot.

Heaven only knows that a resource as critical as Blogography should stay running at all costs.

On the bright side, getting the "Reddit Hug of Death" did get me an opportunity to upload a higher resolution shot that looks much better, so I guess there's that.

UPDATE: I couldn't get my Simply Static site to work properly, so I ended up reinstalling WP Super Cache. Maybe it will work this time around? I had to remove it a couple years ago because videos wouldn't play. Maybe that's been fixed.

   

The Lowest Common Denominator

Posted on August 3rd, 2021

Dave!So there I was going through some of my old photos looking for a shot that I wanted to use in a Photoshop project. It was an image of Akihabara, Tokyo from the late 1990's that I wanted to combine with a shot of Seoul from the early 2000's that would be overlaid on a photo I took in Prague from 2010. I found all the photos, but combining them was no easy task. The Tokyo shot was scanned from film. The Seoul shot was from a low-resolution hobby-camera. And the shot of Prague was a high-res pro-camera.

The solution is to bring them all down to the lowest common denominator. The Seoul shot gets some grain added. The Prague shot gets a lot of grain added. That way they won't look out of place when combined with the Tokyo shot.

This got me thinking about how often society has to bring itself down to the lowest common denominator. It happens all the time, everywhere, always. Just think of what we could accomplish if we didn't have to do that?

This pandemic has brought this all into vivid relief for me.

   

I Film Porn While Sleepwalking Now

Posted on July 28th, 2021

Dave!It's currently 15 minutes until midnight. I have precious little time to get a blog entry in for the day... and nothing to blog about.

Except...

Just now ehen I was looking through my iPhone photos to see if I could remember something blogable that happened today, I saw this photo taken earlier this evening at 10:11pm...

A mystery photo that's all blurry and stuff. No idea what it could be.

What is this?

Where was I at 10:11pm?

This has to be in my house, but I'll be darned if I know which part of my house it is.

I actually walked around room to room, holding up my iPhone to see if I could figure it out. My best guess is that this is my upstairs bathroom and that rectangular hole in the upper-right is my skylight. But what would I be doing with my camera app running in the bathroom?

AM I FILMING PORN IN MY BATHROOM WHILE SLEEPWALKING NOW?

Wait... I am a sleepwalker?

Wait... I fell asleep at 10:11pm and didn't know it?

I suppose if money starts rolling in from an OnlyFans account (which I also would have had to set up while sleepwalking) then I'll know for sure.

Otherwise?

I'll be darn disappointed if I'm sleep-sexting my homemade sleepwalking porn to people for free.

   

Walt Disney World Is Turning 50

Posted on May 14th, 2021

Dave!This October Walt Disney World will celebrate its 50th anniversary. I know this because I saw an article about it after I woke up this morning. I almost feel obligated to go since I was there for their 25th anniversary. Back in the late Fall of 1997 I was in Orlando for training. My mom asked if she could tag along and so she went too. It was our first time traveling together by ourselves... but wouldn't be our last. Not by a longshot.

I had training for two days. While I was in class, mom would sit by the pool at the Buena Vista Palace and read a book. On the third day we moved to Disney's Wilderness Lodge for the remainder of the week. At the time there were only three parks... Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney MGM Studios (eventualy named "Disney Studios"). Animal Kingdom wouldn't open for another year yet. I had been to Disney World once before, but mom never had, so it was a lot of fun.

The iconic symbol of the entire 25th anniversary celebration was turning Cinderella Castle into a massive, heinous, pink birthday cake (NOTE: All these photos are old scans from a cheap APS camera, so they don't look great... sorry)...

The hideous Cinderella Castle Birthday Cake all gaudy in pink and yellow.
This was supposed to be an APS "tall print" but got printed regular,
so it's chopped off... my mom is still there though!

You could see the ugly thing from afar...

The hideous Cinderella Castle Birthday Cake all gaudy in pink and yellow.

Disney's Wilderness Lodge is my favorite of all the on-property resorts. It's pretty much an attraction unto itself. There was all kinds of things to see and do... including renting tiny little speedboats. Despite being in the Navy, mom was afraid of water since nearly drowning as a kid. Even so, she was a trooper and had a great time as we went buzzing around Bay Lake...

Mom in a mini speedboat.

Mom in a mini speedboat.

It's definitely the best vantage point to look back at the Wilderness Lodge...

Disney's Wilderness Lodge as seen from the waters of Bay Lake.

Interesting to note that DisneyQuest... a kind of advanced arcade... was being built at the time I was there, though it wouldn't open until the following Summer. It would close in 2016 once Downtown Disney was transformed into Disney Springs..

The DisneyQuest Building at Downtown Disney, which is now known as Disney Springs.

The following week was spent driving over to Kennedy Space Center... then onward to Disney's Vero Beach Resort for a couple nights... then driving down the coast to Ft. Lauderdale and Miami... then finishing our trip in Key West...

The Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center

Ft. Lauderdale Beach Sign

Key West Southmost Point in the Continental USA Buoy.

Downtown Key West.

Sooooo... yeah... that was 1997, 24-some-odd frickin' years ago when I was young, handsome, and had the world at my feet. Not like now where I'm old, grizzled, and have been buried by the weight of the world.

I do have a much better camera now, however, so there's that.

   

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

Posted on November 13th, 2020

Dave!Back when my iPhone was mostly used as a phone, I didn't care so much about upgrading. But now that my iPhone is used mostly as a camera, getting the latest model has become increasingly important to me. The better my camera-phone gets, the less I have to lug around my "real" DSLR camera. And thanks to the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program I can actually afford to upgrade. This year, getting the best camera came with an added surprise... it's not available on the "Pro" model, it's only on the "Pro MAX" model. AKA Apple's "HUGE F#$!%@ PHONE" model. Knowing Apple has a two-week return policy, I decided to see if the MAX was something I could live with because I want that phone.

And today it arrived.

Let's just go straight to the elephant in the room... or, to be more accurate, the elephant in my hand. This phone is ridiculously huge. Almost bordering on comically impractically huge. And heavy. From a usability standpoint, Apple seriously should not have gone this large. Because there's simply no getting around the fact that this is a two-handed device. Even when Apple has features like a slim "side keyboard" for typing one-handed, you will still have way too many controls out of reach and end up using a second hand. Even when you have fairly large hands like I do.

But we'll get to that. We'll get to all of that
   

Packaging and Contents

The packaging for my new iPhone is a classy, minimalistic affair. Apple kindly has pull-tabs on everything so it's easy to unwrap and open...

The iPhone 12 Pro Max sitting in its box.

I bought the Pacific Blue color, which is very nice... though difficult to photograph. As has been widely reported, Apple does not include a charger or headphones. All you get is a cable. Apple says that this is because there are too many charger bricks out there already, but it's an absurd stance to take. The vast, vast majority of chargers are USB-A. Furthermore, even if you have a USB-C charger, it's very likely not the 20 watt brick which means you won't get fast charging. The brick I got with the 11 Pro is only 18 watt, so even last year's model isn't good enough. I guess I'm not too mad about it... my phone charges overnight so it can be slow... but it's still more than a little bit infuriating.
   

Stylings & Construction

My favorite iPhone of all time is the iPhone 4. Absolutely stunning construction with that classy metal band holding everything together like a glass sandwich. They more-or-less carried over the design to the iPhone 5, but the 4 remained my favorite. Everything that followed was a step down... until Apple decided to resurrect the design for the iPhone 12 Pro. And, let me tell you, it's gorgeous. The band is now tinted stainless steel and looks amazing...

The iPhone 12 Pro Max stainless steel band.

I deeply regret having to put a case on the thing because it's just so pretty, but I have to keep it in flawless condition for the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. Oh well. When it comes to construction, the iPhone 12 Pro Max sure feels substantial and solid. The glass back is etched for grippability, but still feels a little slickery. The thickness seems the same as my old 11 Pro... with the exception of the camera bump which pokes out quite a bit more. So much more that the phone doesn't lay flat when you put a case on it and set it on a table. That's annoying, but it's the price you pay for the camera you get.
   

Jacked

I'm going to break this out in it's own space because it' just so idiotic... the iPhone 12 line still doesn't use a USB-C jack for charging or connectivity! They finally moved iPad and Macs to USB-C, but iPhone is still tied to Apple's proprietary "Lightning" connector. This is just inexcusably stupid. Apple says they keep it because there's so many Lightning devices out there, but that's a laughably weak argument to make considering they've abandoned absolutely everything in their recent history. You are trying to tell us that there were not a lot of USB-A devices out there? Go sell that crap somewhere else. Just move to USB-C and get it over with.
   

Setup

A hallmark of Apple products is their ease of setup and use. But that's not always the case, and it seems that setup complications keep getting more and more severe while happening more and more often. Sadly, my iPhone 12 Pro MAX experience was far from ideal. The concept is that you set your old phone next to your new phone when you turn it on and everything transfers over. That part was fairly smooth. My activation and settings magically popped up with no problem. Mostly. Some apps, like Amazon Alexa and Schlage, required a login to get started. Other apps, like Smart Life and Hue, were ready to go immediately. No big deal. What was a big deal was when I got to my Apple Watch. You are not allowed to just click on the Watch app and have everything working. Nope! First you have to unpair with the old phone. Which would be fine. Except I couldn't make it happen because nothing... and I mean nothing I tried work. Either nothing happened or I couldn't get verified by the Apple ID Server...

Verification Failed.

After trying over and over and over to get past this, I finally Googled to see if I could do it another way. Turns out I could unpair by remotely wiping it from iCloud. Jeez. That was a mess with a lot of trial-and-error that took 20 minutes of my time, but eventually it happened. But that was only the beginning. THEN I got this...

Reset your Apple ID message.

Which sucks because now I'm going to have to change the password on all my Apple devices. It's just so phenomenally stupid. YOU HAVE TO LOGIN WITH YOUR CURRENT PASSWORD TO CHANGE THE PASSWORD. IF SOMEBODY WASN'T ABLE TO GET IN TO BEGIN WITH, WHAT DOES THIS SOLVE?!? As it turns out, nothing. Because THEN I got this...

Pairing Failed message.

And this is exactly what I was talking about. Apple's ease of setup is only good when it works. When it doesn't work, the entire system is a massive barrier to getting anywhere. After nearly an hour-and-a-half of work, I finally got my watch to unpair, erase, pair and restore. But holy crap what a stupid ordeal. Do better, Apple. This is Microsoft-Windows-level pathetic.
   

Battery

My iPhone arrived this morning at 11:15am at about 75% full. It's now 10:00pm and it's down to 50% full. My guess is that it only dropped that much because of all the setup and playing around I've been doing. It seems likely that I won't ever have to worry about battery life seeing as how I charge it every night and never once had my iPhone X or iPhone 11 Pro run out of power. I expect that it will continue not being a problem with the 12 Pro MAX. The MagSafe charging puck I ordered hasn't arrived yet, so I can't comment how it works or how fast it is with my 18 watt charger instead of the brand new 20 watt charger you're supposed to buy in order to get fast charging. The phone is so huge that it's tough to position on my Qi wireless charger and I'm assuming the MagSafe puck will be easier. It better be for $30.
   

Display

The OLED Super Retina display is definitely pretty. It's bright and saturated and anything you put on it looks great, just like it did on my old iPhone 11 Pro. However... after having seen the new "ProMotion" display on my iPad Pro which refreshes at 120 Hz, the poky 60 Hz refresh rate on this phone seems almost primitive. Other manufacturers have gone to 120 Hz, so I don't know what the deal is with Apple. My guess would be battery life, but it seems weird that they haven't been able to figure it out so that the user can choose whether display or battery is important to them. I barely use 25% of my battery each day, so I'd absolutely click the preference for ProMotion. Because once you've seen the buttery-smooth optics of a high refresh rate, going backwards is really quite jarring. For Apple's sake, I hope iPhone 13 Pro has ProMotion, because anything less is pretty embarrassing.
   

Sound

For some reason I thought that massive size of the MAX would have better sound than the "standard" size iPhone Pro. This doesn't seem to be the case. Out of their respective cases, the sound is not noticeably different between my old phone and new phone. Not that this is disappointing... far from it. I still cannot fathom how Apple manages to get such phenomenal sound out of a frickin phone that's so thin. No, it's never going to rival what you can get out of a dedicated speaker, but what you do get is better than I ever expect.
   

Size

And so here we are. Remember how I was talking about how the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 were my favorite iPhone designs of all time? One of the things I loved about them was how beautifully compact they were. When I made the jump from iPhone 8 to the iPhone X, the size increase was tough to take. Jumping up again to the MAX is beyond tough to take. Just look at the iPhone 5 next to my new iPhone 12 Pro MAX...

The tiny iPhone 5 next to my new iPhone 12 Pro MAX.

The MAX is what's considered a "phablet," which is a hybrid phone/tablet. I never thought I would own one. Who wants a massive phone to lug around? The jump from 11 Pro to 12 Pro MAX looks like this...

The tiny iPhone 5 next to my new iPhone 12 Pro MAX.

After spending the day with it, I'm still not sure how I feel about the size. I really hate not being able to operate it one-handed. With practice I might be able to get some functionality back, but way too many controls are always out of reach. It's hugely frustrating. On the plus side, the other size-related drawbacks that I thought would be a problem ended up not being a problem at all. It fits in my pockets just fine (shirts, pants, jeans, and jackets). I can shoot with the camera one-handed. It's not uncomfortable to hold or use as a phone. And it doesn't seem to get in my way like I imagined it would.

When it comes to what I like about the size? That large screen is phenomenal for looking at photos. This cannot be overstated. The difference is not subtle. It may not seem like a massive change on paper, but the MAX feels more like looking at a photograph. I absolutely love that. I think back to all the times I've shown people images from my phone and how they have to squint and put their face up to it... and it's hard to imagine going back. And then there's gaming. Slow 60 Hz refresh rate aside, the larger size is SO much nicer for playing games. And watching movies. And reading. And just looking at... well... everything. The larger size allows for things to display a touch larger as well, so if you have aging eyes like mine it offers a slightly better experience to boot.

My guess is that I will be keeping the MAX rather than returning it for the "regular" 12 Pro. Even setting the superior camera aside, there are too many nice things about the large screen I'm enjoying which offset the inconvenience of having to use two hands sometimes.
   

Camera

The initial hot take from reviewers who got an advanced phone sent to them was that the photography difference between the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone Pro 12 MAX was not quite the leap everybody was expecting. The larger sensor does have slightly less noisy images in low-light... but it's nothing mind-blowing. You get more detail in the shadows... but not so vast that most people will notice. There's extra length on the telephoto at 2.5x vs. 2x... but it's not going to make a massive difference in the long run (so to speak). The sensor-shift optical stabilization reduces shake a bit... but not so much that you'll be able to get radically sharper photos while moving. It's all subtle degrees of change instead of some kind of revolution. And yet... I will take whatever advantage I can get, no matter how small. Most all I care about when it comes to my iPhone is the photos I can take. If the MAX is what it takes to get the best, then that's what I want.

Though the difference between 12 Pro and 12 Pro MAX cameras may not be huge, the difference between them and my 11 Pro very much is. The first photo I took was of Jake when he plopped down next to me after I got home. It was starting to get dark, so it wasn't especially bright. First I shot it with the 11 Pro, which dropped into 1-second Night Mode and got me this image (cropped to about 70%)...

Jake next to my on the iPhone 11 Pro.

Then the 12 Pro Max, which did not drop into Night Mode, got me this image (cropped to about 70%)...

Jake next to my on the iPhone 12 Pro MAX.

Now, I don't mind saying that I was a little disappointed. They both look similar, don't they? The 12 Pro MAX is a little bit more clear, but that's just because it didn't have to expose the scene for a full second. Then I zoomed in further and saw just how much more clear the 12 Pro MAX is. Here's the 11 Pro...

Jake next to my on the iPhone 11 Pro (close-up).

And here's the 12 Pro MAX...

Jake next to my on the iPhone 12 Pro MAX (close-up).

And... there it is. This is why I'm so grateful that Apple has an iPhone Upgrade Program which allows me to afford to upgrade every year. This is not a small difference. This is huge. The 12 Pro MAX has superior imaging which will allow me to zoom in tighter... print larger... and do more... with every shot I take. And this is just the first photo I took! I can't fathom what I'm going to see when I goof around with the camera over the weekend. I'm guessing I'm going to be blown away. I expect to be blown away.

One thing I'm dying to experiment with is Apple's new ProRAW photo image format. The file size is around 25 MB... each... but there's more information with less artifacts and a higher dynamic range. And the raw data you capture isn't touched as you adjust it in the Photos app, so the image doesn't degrade. You can always go back to exactly what you captured at any time. I won't be shooting ProRAW for casual shots, but I'm very excited at having it available when I'm shooting serious shots. Vacation scenery shots, portraits, photos for work... any time the bigger file is worth it. Alas, ProRAW isn't coming until iOS 14.3 which hasn't come out yet, so something to look forward to.

I'm sure early next week sometime I'll be posting photos I've been taking.
   

Accessories

I ordered the (PRODUCT)RED version of the silicone case along with my iPhone like I always do. The red color makes it easy to spot, it will look all Captain America with my blue phone, and the Apple-branded cases have always been quality. The fact that some of the profits go towards fighting AIDS in Africa is just icing on the cake. Now Apple has a new "iPhone Studio" tool where you can see what your iPhone will look like when paired up with various color cases and MagSafe wallets...

Apple iPhone Studio Options.

Apple iPhone Studio Options.

The new MagSafe that intelligently (and magnetically) attaches things to the back of your phone actually is pretty cool. My case is red, so when I pop it on the phone it is able to recognize that and give you a cool special effect that pulses across your display...

Apple iPhone Studio Options.

Had my case been green, the effect would be green, and so on. A nice touch.
   

Conclusion

Nice as the iPhone 12 Pro MAX is, it's not a foregone conclusion that I'm keeping this phone. There are times that I am not bothered by the massive size... there are times that it's just so overwhelming that I don't know if I can live with it. Maybe after a week it will seem "normal" but it sure doesn't now. I hate that it's so bad for working with one-handed. Part of that is just not being able to grip something so big. But a chunk of that is also Apple and 3rd party developers not doing a good job of adapting their apps to function well on a huge display like this.

But then...

...I pick up my old iPhone 11 Pro and it feels like a toy (I pick up my old iPhone 5 and it feels like it's fake). I love that bigger display so much that any time I drop back to a phone without it the thing feels wrong somehow.

I guess I'll have to wait and see.

Once thing I do know is that I can't wait to see what kind of photos I can get out of it.

   

A Cold Day in Berlin

Posted on November 10th, 2020

Dave!I am fortunate that my home is fairly energy efficient. It must have pretty good insulation to keep the heat out, because I barely have to run my air conditioning in the Summer. The Winter is a different story. It gets so cold where I live that the heat has to run often just to maintain a temperature of 72º F when I'm home. My smart thermostat drops to 70º F while I'm at work and 66º F when I'm sleeping. The cats don't seem to be much bothered, but they have heating pads to sleep on if things are too chilly for them. As for me? I wear wool socks and extra layers... and I have a heated throw for my couch and a heated blanket for my bed. It's not ideal, but it aves me a lot of money on my energy bill. And it works.

Except when it doesn't.

At around 2:30am I woke up with terrible leg cramps. And I was freezing.

Apparently the heated blanket on my bed has died.

The coldest I've ever been was not Antarctica. Not even close. The coldest I've ever been was at a Berlin train station in the middle of Winter. It was so cold that I couldn't feel my legs... and my fingers and toes (once I managed to heat them back up) were tingly for days. The second-coldest I've ever been was on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine waiting for the sun to rise. That one was on me. I just had to get photos from the first place to see sunrise in the United States. Worth it though...

Sunrise from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia

This morning was nothing that bad. But it sure felt like it. And so I guess I need to order a new hot blankey. This is a no-brainer purchase because the money saved on my power bill will pay for a new blanket in just one month. I toyed with the idea of trying to repair it, but I think an electric blanket is one of those rare cases where that isn't an option. It's just my luck I would screw something up in the electrical system and the blanket would burst into flames in the middle of the night.

Slightly worse than waking up cold, I think.

A shame it couldn't have failed closer to Black Friday though.

That's also just my luck.

   

Life of a Chinstrap Penguin

Posted on November 6th, 2020

Dave!There's a feature in iOS 14 where you can have a "photo widget" on your home screen. It pulls photos from my phone that I see every time I wake it up. Most of the pictures displayed are of my cats because most of the photos on my phone are of my cats. But there are occasional photos of my travels... or my friends... or my mom and my family... or scenery I thought interesting enough to capture. Every once in a while it pops up with a photo I transferred from my "real" DSLR camera to my phone.

This morning when I woke up it was a penguin from my epedition to Antarctica...

A penguin looking at me in Antarctica.

I remember taking this shot with perfect clarity.

You are instructed not to approach within a certain distance of any wildlife... like six feet or something. But it's okay if wildlife approach you. It's not like if a penguin walks up that you have to turn tail and run away or anything like that. This happened to me a couple times. The first time was at Hydrurga Rocks where the above photo was taken. The penguin was bobbing along as penguins do when I dropped down to take a photo of him. He stopped, looked my way, then hopped over within a couple feet...

Penguin checking me out.

Penguin coming over to me.

Penguin navigating rocks to come see me.

Penguin come to see me.

I would have offered him a fish if I had one on me, but I did not, so he gave me a once-over then wandered away...

Penguin hopping away.

Penguin looking back as he wanders off.

And so I found myself thinking about this penguin for a good chunk of my morning. What's going on with him? Is he still around? Still healthy? Hasn't been eaten by a seal or something? How long does a penguin live anyway? What's the life of a chinstrap penguin?

Turns out the Chinstrap Penguin AKA Pygoscelis Antarcticus can live for up to 20 years.

So maybe he's still around. Swimming in ice-cold waters. Hunting for fish. Sunning himself on rocks. Doing whatever other penguin stuff that penguins do.

That would be nice.

I know thanks to climate change things are getting tough for arctic and antarctic wildlife, so it's nice to think that he's doing okay.

Or she's doing okay? Males and females look exactly the same and the only way I could ever tell was if they were next to each other since males are larger than females. Which is probably why they are the ones who end up fighting over pebbles to build nests? I should probably look into that one of these days. Maybe the next time a penguin pops up on my iPhone home screen.

Wouldn't want to misattribute penguin outrage.

In Washington State, so long as your ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it will still be counted even if it arrives at the polling station up to 20 days after Election Day. Obviously we are not a battleground state... WA is about as blue as blue can get thanks to the massive progressive voting block on the Seattle-side of the mountains... but, technically, our election is not over until November 23. So when I hear people in Washington going on a tirade because votes are still being counted in other states... it takes all my willpower to keep from telling them to take a seat. If we were a battleground state deciding the election and the vote was close, WE would be potentially delaying things for weeks. But it's all good. The Office of the President doesn't transfer until noon on January 20th.

Save your human outrage for something else.

   

Bullet Sunday 671

Posted on July 19th, 2020

Dave!The USA may be leading the world in COVID-19 infections, but that's not the worst news you'll hear today... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Psych... Again! NBC's new streaming network, Peacock, launched this week. To entice people to subscribe to yet another service, they are making some content free for a while. Including Psych 2: Lassie Come Home...

I had forgotten how much I love this show. The one-liners are as fast and funny as ever and the story is actually pretty darn good! It features the return of Timothy Omundson (Carlton Lassiter) after his stroke, and he is wonderful. Everybody is. I tell you, bringing back Psych would be a sure-fire way to get me to subscribe to the network, that's for sure.

   
• Coming 2! Heaven help me, it might actually be worth getting infected just to go see this...

With the exception of all the Marvel Studios movies waiting to be released, this is what I most want to see.

   
• Leibovitz? In my work I've seen this many, many times. Photographers shooting Persons of Color the way they shoot white people because they cannot be bothered to learn how to create a shoot for darker skin. And apparently it can be a challenge for even the best photographers. Annie Leibovitz is a true artist, but she completely and totally failed in her shoot of Simone Biles. The Vogue shots are dim, murky, and poorly adjusted...

Simone Biles and her family looking murky and green in a shot for Vogue Magazine.

My guess is that Leibovitz is of a caliber that she can dictate nobody modify her photos, which is a shame because Simone Biles is a beautiful young woman who deserves far better (as does her family). Any pro photographer worth their salt will be able to get stunning shots regardless of skin tone because that's their job. Or, you know, Vogue could hire Black photographers who have a lifetime of experience shooting Persons of Color... just sayin'.

   
• Viola! Case in point? Meanwhile over at Vanity Fair where they hired the first Black photographer in the history of the magazine to shoot a cover story of Viola Davis...

Viola Davis looking amazing shot from the back looking off to the left.

Viola Davis dressed in black shot in front of a gold background looking gorgeous as she looks upward.

Viola Davis would probably look amazing even if she was murky and tinted green... but, boy, this is phenomenal work by Dario Calmese.

   
• STOP! I've seen demos of SawStop technology before. It still takes my breath away to see it in action, and here it is in slow motion...

I use a table saw as an absolute last resort because I am well aware of how dangerous they are. No matter how careful you may be, accidents do happen. SawStop is a pretty brilliant way of keeping the damage to a minimum.

   
• Hobbes and Me! As a massively huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, I can't believe that I missed these shorts when they were released back in 2014...


You can see the entire series right here. You're welcome!

   
And that's a wrap. Enjoy your pandemic, everybody.

   

NEOWISE… But Not for Me

Posted on July 15th, 2020

Dave!It always seems as though I miss out on all the cool celestial events. Usually the problem is that it's overcast (in Winter) or the sky is filled with smoke (in Summer). So many times I've gotten excited because there's a meteor shower or comet or an eclipse happening... then I can't see a dang thing. I thought my luck was changing because I got to see the eclipse back in 2017.

But... apparently not.

When it comes tothe NEOWISE comet, I thought I was golden because "in the Northwestern sky" is what's dicrectly outside my bedroom window!

My bedroom window at dusk.

But when I looked the past couple nights I could find it. Last night I loaded up the Star Walk app on my iPhone to find out why that is. Turns out that my elevation coupled with the surrounding hills is why...

The comet is too low on the horizon for me to see from my house. So... no NEOWISE for me then. Typical.

I was really hoping to photograph the thing because it seemed like a fun challenge. But oh well. There are so many awesome photos floating around that mine would be redundant (at best) or really bad by comparison (at worst). Guess I'll take more photos of flowers or my cats instead.

   

Icons of The Bible

Posted on June 25th, 2020

Dave!There has been an abundance of research and speculation as to what Jesus and the persons mentioned in The Bible might look like. It's most likely that they were not white.

This topic has come up many times in my Bible study group, and the most cited scientific assessment is that Jesus had brown eyes, black hair, and olive skin. His hair and beard were also likely short, as that was the style most accepted by Jewish men at that time. He just got whitewashed by European artists and the churches who sponsored them so that He would have an appearance which predominantly white Christians there could relate to. And so... depicting Him as Black so that Black Christians can relate to Him better should not be at all controversial. In fact, since Jesus is meant to be The Way and The Light for ALL humanity and ALL things to ALL people, these gorgeous photographs by James Lewis could be seen as endorsed by the tenants of Christianity. As for me personally? I just think they're absolutely stunning works of art. I've posted a few samples below, but you can see the entire series (and find a link to buy prints) on the James Lewis Pinterest.

Black Jesus with long dreadlocks holding a wood branch as a staff with a halo behind his head as photographed by James Lewis.
Jesus Christ, The Only Begotten Son of the Living God ©James Lewis

Apostle Paul with a halo behind his head as photographed by James Lewis..
Apostle Paul of Tarsus, Disciple of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis

Apostle Matthew with a halo behind his head as photographed by James Lewis..
Apostle Matthew, Disciple of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis

The Prophet Daniel with a halo behind his head as photographed by James Lewis..
Daniel The Prophet ©James Lewis

Apostle Moses with a halo behind his head, holding a wooden branch as a staff as photographed by James Lewis..
Moses, Prophet & Deliver of Israel ©James Lewis

A pregnant Mary stands with a halo behind her head as Joseph lovingly touches her belly as photographed by James Lewis..
Mary & Joseph, The Parents of Jesus Christ ©James Lewis

Cain about to hit his brother Abel over the head with a rock as photographed by James Lewis..
Cain & Abel, Sons of Adam & Eve ©James Lewis

There's a lot of characters depicted... and even some abstract concepts, like The Holy Trinity...

A depiction of The Holy Trinity as a body wrapped with white gossamar and a bright light instead of a head as photographed by James Lewis..
The Holy Trinity: Father, Son, Holy Ghost ©James Lewis

I suspect some characters got included just because they're incredibly hot...

Queez Jezebel, looking amazing... and a bit shifty... as photographed by James Lewis.
Queen Jezebel, Evil Wife of King Ahab ©James Lewis

Prince Absalom, looking brutally hot as photographed by James Lewis.
Prince Absalom Third Son of King David ©James Lewis

   
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me. — John 10:14

When I was a kid, there was a show called Gimme a Break! which starred Nell Carter as a Black housekeeper for a white man with his two white daughters (and later, Joey Lawrence?)... in one episode Nell dropped by her family's home with the younger daughter. On the wall was a photo of Black Jesus. The little girl said "I think something happened to your Jesus at the Photomat!" — queue laughter — And that's when I found myself wondering... "How do we know WHAT Jesus looked like?" Since I left the Catholic Church fairly early in life (they did not like me asking questions about stuff they were teaching that I couldn't find in The Bible... like Purgatory) I never got much further than that. But over the past several years that I've been participating in a "Bible Study for Non-Christians" group, it always comes up.

I don't know why these photos would be considered any more "controversial" than all the blonde-hair blue-eyed Jesus depictions, but my guess is that they will be. There's an awful lot of hate and ignorance masking as "Christianity" out there.

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