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  Saturday   December 10   2005

i could use some peace and zenlike environments

Art, truth, politics, life, and death. Harold and Joe, below, kind of cover it all. My friend Ken thinks we need more peace and zenlike environments. No shit! That's been hard to achieve. Actually, taking pictures is one way I do that. It focuses you on what is in front of you. The rest of the world falls away. I haven't been able to do a lot of shooting lately and when I do it's been hard to really focus (me, not the camera.) Anyway, here are some peace and zenlike environents.

Josef Hoflehner Photography


  thanks to The Analog Photography Users Group

 01:21 AM - link

harold pinter

Harold says it all. Don't pass this one up.

Art, truth and politics
In his video-taped Nobel acceptance speech, Harold Pinter excoriated a 'brutal, scornful and ruthless' United States. This is the full text of his address

What has happened to our moral sensibility? Did we ever have any? What do these words mean? Do they refer to a term very rarely employed these days - conscience? A conscience to do not only with our own acts but to do with our shared responsibility in the acts of others? Is all this dead? Look at Guantanamo Bay. Hundreds of people detained without charge for over three years, with no legal representation or due process, technically detained forever. This totally illegitimate structure is maintained in defiance of the Geneva Convention. It is not only tolerated but hardly thought about by what's called the 'international community'. This criminal outrage is being committed by a country, which declares itself to be 'the leader of the free world'. Do we think about the inhabitants of Guantanamo Bay? What does the media say about them? They pop up occasionally - a small item on page six. They have been consigned to a no man's land from which indeed they may never return. At present many are on hunger strike, being force-fed, including British residents. No niceties in these force-feeding procedures. No sedative or anaesthetic. Just a tube stuck up your nose and into your throat. You vomit blood. This is torture. What has the British Foreign Secretary said about this? Nothing. What has the British Prime Minister said about this? Nothing. Why not? Because the United States has said: to criticise our conduct in Guantanamo Bay constitutes an unfriendly act. You're either with us or against us. So Blair shuts up.

The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'.

How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal? One hundred thousand? More than enough, I would have thought. Therefore it is just that Bush and Blair be arraigned before the International Criminal Court of Justice. But Bush has been clever. He has not ratified the International Criminal Court of Justice. Therefore if any American soldier or for that matter politician finds himself in the dock Bush has warned that he will send in the marines. But Tony Blair has ratified the Court and is therefore available for prosecution. We can let the Court have his address if they're interested. It is Number 10, Downing Street, London.


 01:03 AM - link

how much light?

Here are some pictures of my new light meter from the 1960s.

It's a Weston Master V. It has a selenuim cell which means no batteries. It's not as sensitive as the Luna Pro that I lost and found but I like using it. It just feels good and works great. It is basically still in production as the Euromaster II. Here are a couple of sites on these classic meters:


Weston Master & Euromaster.

The backside is where the selenium cell is that reads the light. The meter has two scales. For bright light the cell is covered.

And uncovered in low light.

The other pouch has the invercone which turns the reflective Weston into one of the best incident meters. I've found the incident meter to be handy for studio stuff. The Luna Pro has incident capabilities but I've never felt that it was really comfortable being an incident meter. This one is. Now I have two meters that are guaranteed to give different readings!

 12:57 AM - link

joe bageant

I will be adding Joe Bageant to my blogroll when I can figure out how to classify him. I've seen some of his writings and have been blown away. He now has his own blog. He calls himself a redneck marxist. What do you make of a blog with the tag line: Drink, Pray, Fight and Fuck: Dispatches From America's Class Wars? However you classify him he is a silver tounged devil.

Blood and Poppies

My family's ancestral home on Shanghai Road, a great sagging clapboard thing perched on a hill with its many filigreed balconies and porches like heisted antebellum petticoats, sat perched on a hill at the base of Sleepy Creek Mountain. Gnawed by the elements on the outside and woodsmoked by a thousand griddlecake mornings on the inside, where children ran the stairways and mice ran the cellars, my grandparent's house was stuffed and running over with life itself.

It was also a place where people died as well as lived. Died and were "laid out" in the parlor. My great-grandfather Old Jim, was the last one to be laid out there. At the time I very young and was among the last in my family to see the embalmer dump the white enameled bucket of blood over the roots of the wavering red poppies that grew hard by the front yard. In those days and in those hollers the embalmer sometimes came to your house and laid out the body in the parlor. Low lamps burned all night and Old Jim was so still in that satin-lined box, like some ancient felled tree. Then that first realization of mortality struck, killing that innocence it kills in all of us. Maw leaned through the kerosene lantern glow and said, "Joey be real still and you'll hear the angels sing." I did. No angels sang. Not a sound except the breathing of Old Jim's great black dog whose green eyes flashed from under the bier. I also remember a strange chemical smell. They say Old Jim had already picked out his burying suit years before and he smelled like mothballs when he went into the coffin.

Years later I asked why the family laid people out like that. After all, there have been funeral homes around for a long time for godsake. "Well, there was funeral homes in Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs," said aunt Ony. "But they was too far away for everybody to get to in sometimes, then make two trips, one to come back with the body for buryin'. So the undertaker came to the house with the coffin in his truck." Meanwhile the body had been washed and dressed and laid on a door placed across two sawhorses in the cellar to cool. By the time the embalmer arrived people had come from all around, the women with food, the men so quiet with fedora hats in their hands. A few had bottles under their coats to be shared out in the smokehouse during the "sittin' up," as they called a wake.


 12:36 AM - link

35mm kit

I've been working this past year on building a photography kit on a very small budget. It's now complete bodywise. It consists of 35mm, medium format, and large format rangefinders and SLRs and one view camera. This is my 35mm kit.

A FED2, Leica IIIc, and my "new" Pentax H1a.

I started out the year with a medium format Mamiya Universal and wanted something smaller — a street shooter. The Leica IIIc (1949) was given to me by my grandfather years ago and needed new shutter curtains, which I couldn't afford. I found the little FED2s which was based on an ancestor of my Leica — the Leica II. At one time I thought I would have two or three FED2 bodies but then found out that I could get my Leica rebuilt in Russia for relatively little — $60 at Oleg's. So I did and it's a sweet shooter. The lens that was on the Leica is still waiting for it's resurrection but the Russian (actually Former Soviet Union since most were built in Ukraine) lens are fantastic and cheap. This is the 35/2.8 Jupiter 12. The Leica IIIc only has a built in finder for 50mm lenses so all other lenses require an additional finder. That's a Japanese Swallow 35mm finder. I've always been a normal lens kind of guy but I find the J12 on the Leica most of the time.

This is a Soviet 50/2 Jupiter 8. Wonderfully sharp and contrasty. It's hard to ask for more and I paid $35 for this minty example.

How many 50s do you need? This is the Industar 50, another Soviet gem. It's a clone of the Leitz Elmar 50/3.5. A little slow at f3.5 but it makes a very compact package when collapsed. I really haven't shot much with this lens yet but it's supposed to be pretty sharp. I got it for $17. It just looks so nice on the Leica. They were made for each other.

With the Leica and Pentax the Fed 2 is almost not needed but I love the little FED 2. This is the 85/2 Jupiter 9. I paid $27 for the body and I traded the J9 for $14 worth of film. It's a little stiff and needs a CLA ($34 at Oleg's). The FED2 has been working great but a CLA at Oleg's would smooth it out. I still need to adjust the rangefinder arm for close focus to dial it in for this body. It's easy to do.

I hadn't planned on an SLR. I've always gravitated to rangefinders but I had been casting glances at the Pentax screw mount cameras and others with that mount. Lots of great and inexpensive lenses in the M42 screw mount such as the Pentax Super Takumars. The SLR does work better for those closeup shots and longer lenses. I traded this one for a camera wrist strap. He was giving it away for shipping and took the strap instead. It's the end of the line for the first Pentax series of SLRs, made in the mid 1960s. These made way for the Spotmatic. The H1a is meterless, which suits me fine since every other camera I use is also meterless. The camera has a dent on top which cracked the pentaprism. He included a new pentaprism. It's almost like new. This is an almost new 55/2 Super Takumar. A great lens. I will need to put some new seals in it and maybe some new leather. The old covering is starting to come loose a bit. Otherwise it's working great. Still have the first test roll in it.

It also came with a 35/3.5 Super Takumar. It's been used but should be good.

Still sorting it all out. I probably have all the lenses I will get for the Leica and FED. I can see a long lens and some wider lenses for the Pentax. I will have posts on my medium and large format cameras when I can get the pictures taken.

 12:22 AM - link

  Friday   December 9   2005

bloggus interuptus and we are getting to the end of the road

If my last group of posts look like they were suddenly interrupted it is because they were. The situation with Gerry, Zoe's mom, has gotten worse. Her Alzheimer's is more than memory related, it's also affecting her physically. We've done about all we can physically and emotionally do. We have an MRI for her scheduled next week. Her doctor wants to make sure that the brain/spinal fluid isn't causing some of her problems with higher than normal pressure. She no longer remembers that she has a son. She has it in her mind that she has to go back home to Connecticut, that she doesn't live here. (She and her husband Ray moved out here 12 years ago. Ray died almost 6 years ago.) She says that her parents and children are back there. She has been going through her drawers throwing things out and putting things in bags that she takes out to the car. We bring them back in later. More and more she becomes agitated when I give her meds. She, in her reality, knows that she has already taken them and thinks we are trying to kill her. When dealing with an Alzheimer's patient it's important to go along with their reality. It's very hard to do sometime. When she refused to take her meds and accused us trying to kill her, we finally backed off. An hour later she looked at her pill box and asked if she was supposed to take them. And she did. In the last few days she will ask me where that Gordy guy is. She thinks sometimes that Zoe is two people. Probably because Gerry has always called her Jonni, which Zoe doesn't like. More and more I refer to Zoe as Jonni when I'm talking to Gerry. After Gerry's MRI, and the results, we will be looking for a home for Gerry. Zoe and I are both worn out. Postings will be a little light for awhile. I still hope to post but just not so many items.

It also doesn't help that my brother just put my mother in an assisted living home. She is declining, too. Saturday night my siblings and I gather to split up her things that she couldn't take with her, which is most of her stuff. Sad times.

 10:55 PM - link

  Sunday   December 4   2005

moving day

More later. I have to go help my daughter move.

 11:06 AM - link


Rolfe Horn


  thanks to The Analog Photography Users Group

 11:05 AM - link

global climate change

Nature Magazine: Atlantic Current Is Weakening

The most recent study of the Atlantic currents show weakening of the rate of flow. Some scientists have speculated that a slower current could trigger a sudden ice age if all other meteorlogical and solar actions coincide to produce a plunge in the northern jet stream. The debate about this oscillation possibility rages on. Understanding this process is vital for our survival.


 11:01 AM - link


I've added a new section to my blogroll: pencils and notebooks. They are: Pencil Revolution (leading the way to pencilhood), moleskinerie (all things Moleskine and they linked to my post about my moleskine), Timberlines (by the President of the company that brings us the Palomino pencil), Ninth Wave Designs (I get my Moleskines here), Pencil World Creativity Store (I get my Palominos and more here.)

 10:58 AM - link

pencil sharpeners

John, over at Pencil Revolution, saw my post on my pencils and Moleskine notebook and noticed the pencil sharpener in the pictures. He asked me to write a review of it for him. Here is what I'm sending him.

The heartbreak of a pencil sharpener

This is the second time I've written this review of the hand held Boston rotating lid pencil sharpener.

The little Boston hand held sharpener has a lot of things going for it. This biggest thing is that it has a container to hold the shavings. Even better, it has a rotating top that keeps the shavings inside.

It's big enough to hold a fair amount of shavings but small enough to fit in a pocket. It also puts a nice long point on the lead and the barrel shape makes it comfortable to hold while sharpening. However, there was one teensy drawback. I wrote the first review as I did this one, with my California Republic Palomino HB in my Moleskine notebook. I was almost finished when the little Boston sharpener started to eat my Palomino. The blade had gone dull.

No continuous curls of shaved wood — just sawdust and a broken lead. Oh, heartbreak! Was this relationship to end when it had barely begun? Apparently.

The blade was attached with a screw which means that the blade could be replaced if only I could find a replacement. I googled high and low and not a single replacement blade was to be found. I was looking for a long term relationship with my pencil sharpener and now it appears that I will be forced into a series of short term relationships and one night stands as I search the seedy environs of drug stores and supermarkets for the cheap plastic thrills they offer. I can't do this. I want a good sharpener that I can settle down with and make shavings.

So I googled for a sharpener with replaceable blades. There isn't much. Staedtler had some hand held pencil sharpeners with replaceable blades but I couldn't find anyone who carried the sharpener and the blades. What has this world come to?

Then I found the hand held sharpeners at Alvin — a fine assortment of spiffy sharpeners and their replaceable blades. Unfortunately, Alvin only sells the sharpeners in blister packs containing many sharpeners. I'm afraid I can't afford a polygamous relationship with many sharpeners. I am a one sharpener kind of guy. But they did sell the blades in affordable 3 packs. Alvin has Alvin and Kum sharpeners. The Kum sharpeners had a variety of models with containers. The Alvin brand has some nice metal ones including the sublime Bullet, a sharpener reduced to it's essentials.

I searched the web for an Alvin or Kum sharpener and it's replaceable blades. I only found two sites and the selection on both sites was minimal. Oh, where will I find the sharpener meant for me? Maybe there is hope. I had an exchange of emails with Charles Berolzheimer, aka WoodChuck the pencil pusher, President of California Cedar Products Company, from whom all Palomino pencils flow and I spilled my heart out to him about my fruitless search for a long term relationship type of pencil sharpener. He is going to see what he can do at the Pencil World Creativity Store. Good luck WoodChuck!

Maybe some day in the near future there will be the pencil sharpener of my dreams nestled in my pocket ready to make shavings. A guy can hope.

 09:26 AM - link