Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gramping, Learning My New Computer And Software - Testing iMovie - The Wind

There are two grandkids here now.  That's a big distraction.  The older one and I mixed bread dough today.  She paid very close attention and we didn't make too much of a mess.  This is a very simple recipe from a Josey Baker bread book I got at the library - just flour, salt, yeast, and water.  But it does call for it to rise at least three hours and then spend the night in the refrigerator.  So maybe all the fermenting will give it interesting tastes.

I'm also getting used to how to do things on Yosemite (the new Mac operating system) and figuring out how to find things in the various other updated software. iMovie is proving a longer haul - partly because I have about 30 minutes of interview with Attila Szász, the director of The Ambassador to Bern which will show in the Anchorage International Film Festival in December.  So I'm transcribing it and figuring out how I want to edit it.  Part of it is a discussion of taking a real historical event and then fictionalizing it.

It was taking so long that I decided to just make a short video from start to finish - it saves video in different ways that I'm trying to get my head around - just to do one.  It was windy this morning when I woke up, so I took a picture of the evergreen out the window blowing in the wind.

The windows here muffled the sound pretty well, so I looked for some wind sound effects - found 'cave and wind' - and I also tried out the video effects.  The video is short, but look at the difference between the raw footage (what I normally would have used with the old iMovie I was using) and the enhanced video with the added sound.





This is a little related to the discussion of taking a real event and fictionalizing it.  For creative film makers, this offers lots of possibilities: the enhanced mood of the video effects and the sound of wind from the sound effects tools.  But when you compare the beginning few seconds to the second part, you can see the dangers of this sort of editing for people putting up the news.  It's easy to make the video far more exciting than what it really was.  Of course, everyone knows this, but I haven't had such easy access to such smooth and easy enhancements.

So, as you watch video on tv or online, look for whether you're seeing what the camera caught or what the editing room wrought.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Digital Cameras As Mirrors

My little angel, not even two yet, is fully aware of what a camera is.  She even poses and wants to see the picture right away.  She knows it's her.  But she was also eager to see the crow pictures.  And she likes how you can zoom in and see details.

I'm a little creeped out about this.  She also thinks nothing of Skype.  It's natural to her.  Totally normal.  But then so were phones for me.  Though my mother took a long time to get over her childhood lessons that long distance calls were expensive, even when they became  inexpensive.

It got me to wondering how people reacted when mirrors first started being available.  Did they worry about how kids used them?  How adults used them?  Was there concern about vanity?  I suspect it's like digital cameras today.  Some people love them and don't think about the kinds of questions I'm raising.  Others wonder how much time kids should be playing with these things.  Others use them as babysitters - just handing the devices to tiny kids so kid won't fuss while they do other things.  I understand the temptation as I spend long time periods with my angel.  I'm 'the device' my daughter is using to distract her child with.

I'm not terribly worried about moderate use.  My parents didn't think mirrors were any big deal and I'm sure they delighted in my first encounters with them and recognizing myself.  In some way the popularity of selfies suggests that many people aren't self conscious of how they look.  But I suspect that there is a sizable part of the teenage population that dreads friends with cameras on their phones.

I was going to leave it like this - just some notes in reaction to what I'm seeing.  But I did take a quick look at what the internet has to offer on this topic.  It's depressing how many websites there are now that hire people to write short facile answers to every conceivable question, like "What is the history of mirrors?"  And they show up right at the top of searches.  From my early blogging experiences,  I know there's a market for people willing to write such breezy answers to get people to look at the ads that surround the posts.  Finding the meat is getting harder.  But they all say that mirrors go back thousands of years.

I did find one longer post at SIRC (Social Issues Research Centre) that looked at the impact of mirrors from a lot of different perspectives - age, sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.  This snippet has relevance to my interest in this:
"Age
Children: Female dissatisfaction with appearance – poor body-image – begins at a very early age. Human infants begin to recognise themselves in mirrors at about two years old. Female humans begin to dislike what they see only a few years later. The latest surveys show very young girls are going on diets because they think they are fat and unattractive. In one American survey, 81% of ten-year-old girls had already dieted at least once. A recent Swedish study found that 25% of 7 year old girls had dieted to lose weight – they were already suffering from 'body-image distortion', estimating themselves to be larger than they really were. Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls (some as young as 6) thought they were too fat. Even normal-weight and underweight girls want to lose weight."

Rehab and Job Training: 1896 Style - Feedburner Test

My feedburner connection for this last post didn't work.  I'm trying to see if I make this short post with a link if it will work.  Here's the link to the post.

[UPDATE 11:16am:  It worked this time.  Never sure when feedburner doesn't update links on blogrolls if it's something in my post that's the problem, or that feedburner just isn't catching it.]

Rehab And Job Training: 1896 Style

'There's only one reason you're here, and it's got nothing to do with Skeantlebury or Billy Maitland.  You're here because you're a drunk. . . Well, Carmack, for the next four or five months you're going to be stone sober for the first time in years."

Voyage, by Sterling Hayden, takes place in the year 1896.  By page 172, the Neptune's Car,  "the first steel sailing vessel ever built down East" is finally ready to take off.  Up till then, the author was introducing a long cast of characters.

But now everyone's onboard, and nearly all the seamen were recruited through Gus Skeantlebury's Parlor.  He got paid their first two months wages of $18 a month.  They've now been dragged and prodded on board in various stages of consciousness and Captain Pendleton is speaking to them:
"Now, men, the name of this vessel is Neptune's Car, and she's flying the black anvil of the House of Blanchard.  And once't this voyage is done with there's none of you need to ever be on the beach again.  Because you - those of you who survive - will be able to say you made a Cape Horn voyage in a Blanchard ship under Captain Irons S. Pendleton.   . . 
"This may just be the finest square-rigged ship on the face of the globe.  She can be a floating home.  Or she can be a floating flaming hell. 
It's all of it up to you.  The mates and me have nothin' a-tall to do with it.  We're here to give the orders.  And see to it that they're carried out.  And carried out fast--- 
So let me make it clear right here and now.  When we speak, you jump.   And you jump fast. . . 
"There's some amongst you look like pretty good men.  And there's some amongst you don't look none too frisky.  And there's one or two I noticed looks like scum.
But let me tell you, boys, it's all of a piece to me and th' mates.  You'll be sailormen before'n we reach fifty south or my name ain't Irons Paul Pendleton. 
"Mr. Ruhl right now is going through both them fo'c's'les searching for weapons and liquor.  What he finds goes over the side.  What he don't find better dan good and well go over the side before morning."

These were jobs that were hard to fill.  The captain seems to have been head of a rehab clinic and apprentice ship program as well as captain of a ship.

But not all these men were drunks, though they all had been at Skeantelbury's.  One of the 'scum,'  Kindred,  was sixty-six and overweight.
"Everything had happened so swiftly.  Less than twenty-four hours ago he and his partner Bragdon had been drinking beer in a place below the Bowery.  They were bound down south to escape from the cold, with the Monk [Bragdon] extolling the languorous delights of an island called Grenada, where, with luck and a contact he had, Bragdon would find work as port captain and Kindred would work in a library."
And the first mate, we know from earlier in the book, is accused of killing three seaman in a recent voyage as well as gouging out the eye of another young seaman.

But jobs for alcoholics, let alone, the uneducated, are pretty scarce these days.  I've got over 500 pages still to go to find out how successful this floating rehab center will be.


How accurate is this description in the book?  I'm not sure at all.

The first steel sailing ships in the US were apparently built at the Bath Iron Works in Maine in 1896, which is the year the voyage in the book took place.

But apparently the most famous ship called Neptune's Car  sailed in 1856.  It's actually quite a story because the young captain's 19 year old wife, Mary Patten, went along and put down a mutiny when her husband fell ill rounding Cape Horn, and managed to bring the limping ship into San Francisco with its cargo intact.  You can learn more about that journey at the San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park website.

And on another note, it seems I'm going to have to turn off the spell check in my new computer's software - there were a number of changes it made in this post I had to go back and redo - for example sailormen got changed to salesmen.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Yesterday and Today

yesterday













The slide's really fast when it's wet.








Today







But we could stay outside much longer today.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

". . . 'stimulating traffic' is airline-speak for dropping fares."

I'm always interested in language, in euphemisms, in code, in people disguising what they say either to hide their meaning or to make it sound more polite.  And translation, in making transparent what was once opaque.

So I took notice when I saw this translation of 'stimulating traffic', while reading Scott Mcmurren's article about Delta Airlines and Alaska Airlines' deteriorating business relationship today in the ADN.  It seems that they've gone from bosom buddies and partners to 'in competition.'

I've got mixed feelings on this.  As a frequent Alaska flier who lives in Anchorage, I've felt reasonably well served, though I do get worked up as I see the air fare lottery when I go on line and look for prices.  I've been reasonably well served because my mom lives in LA and Alaska's prices to LA tend to be decent.  But I also realize that Alaska's near monopoly on many Alaska destinations means they can charge much more for much shorter Alaska flights (than, say the LA fares, which are often cheaper than Seattle fares.)

Just an observation here.  Mcmurren's article is interesting because it also helps us look behind the saccharine language of airline ads and magazines.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Checking Out Boats With My Sweetie





Grandchild beats out blogging.   All you're getting are a few pics.   She's putting words together and walks without thinking about it anymore.  Among our tasks today was a walk around Eagle Harbor.  We also visited our friend who was born 100 years before my grand baby.


















It was a grey day, some light drizzle, but nothing to stop us from walking.

click to enlarge

The water was calm and you can see the skyscrapers of downtown Seattle on the horizon.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Leaving LA




We had to wait as this Southwest plane landed before we could taxi and take off.






The airport in LA is just south of the Marina del Rey which you can see in this picture looking north.


And here's the LA area from the north end of the Santa Monica Bay on a very clear day.



And here's looking down at the water with, what I assume are big kelp beds below the water.  We're cutting in over Malibu just after this.   And after going inland a ways, getting north of the LA suburbs.

The drought meets agriculture.





Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Back On Bike, Feels Good







After wearing the boot for a month, I can finally get back on my bike and get some exercise.  I'm starting gently.  The tendon feels ok, but there have been lingering new problems with other parts of the heel.  I'm guessing from the boot.  Had to work a little harder and breathe harder, but better than I expected after a month.  Fortunately, it's easier here in LA where we're visiting my mom, who's doing well.











Sun was just starting to set when I got to the end of Rose Ave where it hits Venice beach.  Sorry I couldn't stay longer.  Catalina was clear across the water.   Turned around and went home.  Didn't want to push things.