National Debt Food for Thought

I’m not very political. Well, I am in the sense that I have no use for either politics or politicians. But I noticed in this news article that the wealthiest 400 Americans have a collective net worth of about $2 trillion. That’s a lot of clams!

In comparison, I bopped over to the national debt clock where I see that the national debt is about $16 trillion. Hmm…

So, if the federal government elected to strip the 400 wealthiest Americans of their wealth, it would only amount to about one-eighth the national debt — at this moment.

So, all the talk about soaking the rich for “their fair share” seems like a lot of (ahem) political talk.

As my father-in-law would say, “There ain’t no squirrel up that tree.”

Post Processed Pink Flowers

Pink Flowers

A friend asked to use this image, shot with the Pentacor 135/2.8 a few mornings ago on walkies. So, I decided a bit of post production work would be appropriate to bring the image up to my standards. I generally post test images without much post because it better reflects what comes from the lens. However, for actual use they need some clean up.

The adjustments I made were pretty straightforward. I adjusted the contrast and luminance using curves. Then I sharpened the image just a bit to clean up the edges. I passed the result to an external program, Dfine2, for noise reduction. Finally, I exported the result as lossless PNG for delivery. The entire process took me a few minutes. (It took longer to describe it than to do it.)

I decided to post the result (reduced size, of course) here for comparison with the original. Enjoy.

Pentacor 135/2.8 Test Shot

Pentacor 135/2.8

My glass-pushing friend Jimmy loaned me a Pentacor 135mm f2.8 compact lens a while back. It’s in the Practika B mount, which is a bayonet. I didn’t have an adapter for my NEX, so I had to wait for one to be shipped from China.

The adapter arrived late last week, so I put the lens on my NEX the other morning for walkies. The image quality is quite good. The colors seem a little cool (probably the Zeiss heritage), but the lens is adequately sharp wide open and has a very well behaved bokeh. The out of focus background is smooth and not busy. I rather like the lens.

If I didn’t already have so many 135mm lenses, I’d probably keep it. If the price is right, I’ll probably keep it anyway. 🙂

Flutterbye Reprise

FlutterbyeWednesday near noon I took a short break. The Girl was bored and wanted some time together playing in the backyard. We played a bit, then returned to the house so I could work.

On my way back from refilling my water bottle, I glanced out the back door and saw another flutterbye. The lens on my NEX was the Yashica 135/2.8. It’s good glass but doesn’t focus as closely as either the Pentacon or the Kiron (macro, of course). Nonetheless, it was what I had at hand, so I grabbed it and slipped out the back door.

The insect only allowed me a couple of frames. I took what I could get.

Later, as I ate lunch, I wondered to myself whether Wife is sending these creature to me. I love to watch them and they are so beautiful.

Soon it will be time for the quail to come around again. I’ll start putting out bird food near the end of October as the days grow shorter, colder, and there is less forage for the little creatures. I’m going to move the feeders around so I can get pictures of the birds as they work. I have tools that will let me get close. I’m looking forward to those images as well.

More Flowers

Oly 35/2 Test Shot 2

The other morning while the Girl and I were one walkies, I came across this patch of flowers that begged to be photographed. I had the Olympus Zuiko 35/2 on my NEX. It’s a new-to-me lens that has been begging to be shot for a couple of weeks. So, I made a few captures while the Girl did doggie things. Then we went on our way. I really find the bokeh of this lens interesting. It’s unlike any of my other lenses.


Yard OrnamentI’ve been working at home a lot the last few weeks. With all the smoke from the Rim Fire, I didn’t want to go down into the valley south from my house. The smoke was always worse there. I have remnants of my childhood asthma to this day and atmospheric conditions like heavy smoke are just not healthy.

So I worked from home. The truth is that I have a better place to work at home than I do at the office. One of the advantages of setting up my own workspace is that I can make it the way I want it. It’s just not like that at an office. In addition, I have control over my environment. I can play a little music lightly while I work. This is good because of my tinnitus. I don’t disturb anyone with my music. I make my own coffee and use the brand I like. I am uninterrupted by my neighbors. I have a quiet house, which means I have a quiet workspace.

As I wrote before, I don’t need anyone looking over my shoulder to ensure I’m working. I’ve been autonomous most of my life and nothing is different now.

The space gives me opportunity to grieve when it’s necessary. I have a profound sadness with the loss of Wife that just doesn’t go away. It’s not awful, but I know what is lost. That’s not going to change. I’m learning to live with it. It will take a long time for this to pass, if it ever does.

“You can have what’s second best, but it’s hard to get enough.” says the David Wilcox lyric. It’s simply true. I had no idea it would be worked out this way in my life.

Butterfly IIIMonday I broke for lunch about noon. It might have been 1230. It doesn’t matter. I haven’t been regimented in a long time. As I sat at the table eating a bite of lunch and looking out the window, reflectively, I noticed a butterfly come into the yard and begin working one of the butterfly bushes. I thought how excited Wife would have been, nearly as much as had a hummingbird come in. (I’ve seen several of them lately as well, and thought of Wife.)

I watched the beautiful insect working the small flowers, fluttering from one to another. I recalled how I learned to call them flutterbyes because of my dad. Wife and kids always got a big kick from that pun. I thought “I should go get my camera,” but elected to finish my bite instead.

When I did, the insect was still working the flowers. So I grabbed my camera (the Pentacon 50/1.8 happened to be on it) and went into the backyard. The light wasn’t great, but no matter. It was an opportunity. So I worked the flutterbye as it worked the flowers.

After a few frames, I decided to run back into the house and grab my Kiron 105/2.8 macro lens. It was already on a NEX adapter, so it was a quick switch to get out the bigger gun. I think f2.8 was a bit thin for depth of field, so I set the aperture to f5.6 and ran with it.

Butterfly II probably shot 35 frames before the insect had enough of the bush, or enough of me, and fluttered off to the other side of the house.

I returned indoors and set my camera aside. I cleaned up my noon mess and went back to work, reflecting on how much Wife would have enjoyed that and how she would have enjoyed the images. I can still hear her excited voice when a flutterbye would come into the yard. I know she tried to photograph them several times, but could never really get close enough.

I miss sharing these things with her. I always will. I hope you know I’m thinking of you, love. I hope you know…

Busy Saturday

Oly 35/2 Test Shot``My sleep is currently running the split shift. I hit the rack about my normal time (2100), sleep until about 0200–0300, wake and am for a while, then return to bed and sleep a bit more. Lately I wake from dreaming. These are journaling opportunities and I usually sit at my work table with my fountain pen and journal and write what I remember and then think about what it might mean.

I think dreams are some combination of subconscious processing and subconscious communication. I am aware that the subconscious part of my mind is a tremendous storehouse of information not directly accessible to my conscious mind and a great powerhouse processor of those materials. I’m also aware that language is not the mode of communication for the subconscious/conscious link. Herein is where I think dreams can be important.

I have no doubt that I’m processing a lot of changes over the last two years. When Jimmy and I met for coffee yesterday (Yes!), he mentioned that he’s watched my changes over the last couple of years. I am processing a lot of changes, both the external and internal versions thereof.

But I am ahead of my story. After I finished my morning routine yesterday, I asked Young Son to watch over the Girl for a few minutes while I made a short errand run. I shipped three boxes to my distant children and bought a couple more heavy shelving units for the garage. It was just faster/easier without the Girl, although I missed her company (as always).

When I returned home (less than an hour), the Girl wiggled and jumped on me in excitement. I love how dogs are like that. Young Son and I assembled the shelves (only two minor mistakes that were easily rectified) and put a few of the remaining boxes on them.

There are still a few more boxes to sort through. Some of that material is the remaining portion of my journal paper library and I’ll simply scan those, then process them over the winter months. The paper can be discarded. There are also some more books in some boxes. I’ll need to open those, review them, and decide whether they are keepers or they are going away. There are still about 20 cartons of old records for me to go through and grind. I finished a box yesterday and will do another today.

I think I can arrange my garage with just a bit of work so that my 4Runner will fit inside and there will be room for me to use my exercise equipment.

I am about to enter a new phase of my life. I will continue to grieve the loss of Wife and will continue to miss her terribly for some time to come, perhaps forever. The initial purge of all the low-hanging fruit is nearly complete. I am almost done dealing with all those material things that needed dealing with. There will be a second (and maybe a third) purge, but that work will be more challenging (many decisions to be made) and can be done over the winter months because less outside (garage) work is required.

With my major tasks behind me, I will be free to pursue those things that interest me. As part of that path I want to get back to a regular exercise regimen. I can’t say I enjoy strength training, because the resistance of my body to being pushed hard is physically unpleasant at times. However, I take great satisfaction from completing each session and the physical and mental benefits are substantial.

I want that back in my life. I want the benefits that come from the regular discipline of exercise.

So with my garage substantially cleared of stored materials and my first purge coming to closure, I feel like I can redirect some of the time and energy consumed by that to regular exercise again. I think I need this both mentally and physically and I’m looking forward to the experience.

The afternoon was spent with my friend Jimmy, who completed his grueling Burning Man time. A part of his duties is to ferry RVs back and forth to the playa for his employer. God-only-knows how many round trips he makes every year and it’s a tough gig. So, he was happy to have a day off and I was happy to spend it talking to a friend over iced tea. The Girl was there with us and she enjoys Jimmy and the time out and about. I don’t think we solved all the world’s problems, but we sure examined a few of them.

It’s smoky again this morning, so a long walk probably won’t happen until the winds clear the valley this afternoon. But my Girl wants her kibbles and I want to get out into the garage and move a few more boxes around. I’ll probably spend some of my time this afternoon grinding old records and reducing that load. I also have my weekly chores to attend to.

I might be able to park my 4Runner in the garage this evening. That would be a first.

The image is a test shot made with a (new-to-me) Olympus Zuiko 35mm f2 manual focus lens. It’s not the sharpest lens in my collection, but it has interesting image quality and a fascinating bokeh.

Backlit Flowers

Backlit Flowers

Yesterday morning, the Girl and I left the house for a short walk. Smoke from the Rim Fire hung in the air, not so badly as some mornings the last couple of weeks but bad enough that I didn’t want to be out in it very long. The neighbor’s flowers were backlit and had a bit of shadow behind them to give some contrast.

The glass was a Konica Hexanon 135mm f3.2 manual focus lens. The aperture was set about f4.

Dan Tyminski

MercylandOne of the things to come out of a collection of music like Mercyland is that I am introduced to new musicians. Dan Tyminski is featured on Mercyland and his song is a standout, although they’re all very good.

I will be purchasing Tyminski’s recordings this week. I can’t wait to hear them. Bluegrass is fine by me.