Bringing Things Back

Today’s news chum post looks at a number of things from the past (some of which are being brought back):

P.S.: While working on this post, I was reading my FB Pages feed, and I discovered that Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) is bringing back my buddy Thomas and his friends in April (April 1-2, 8-9). This was a surprise to me; upon investigation, I discovered that OERM is now your only place to see Thomas in SoCal, and that he’ll be back as usual in November as well. We can’t make it to volunteer in April as our schedule is too booked up (you’ll see why in my theatre post tomorrow), but you should if you’re into the Really Useful Engine. We’ll be there as usual in November.


Some Tasty Afternoon Stew

Observation StewNow that the highway pages are done, and the water heater is repaired, I can start some stew cooking on the stove. Loads of interesting articles in here. I’ll group them the best I can.

Things Dying and Dead, But Then Again….

  • The iPod Classic. Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPod Classic. Last week, they introduced the iPhone 7. The iPod Classic had 160GB in a spinning hard disk, for $349. The iPhone 7 can have 256GB for almost $850. Is this the replacement for the Classic, finally? Or, is it still better to get a 7th Gen iPod Classic off eBay, or from that drawer you’ve been hiding it in, and replace the hard disk with a Tarkan board, some solid state memory (I put in 512GB), and keep the classic. Going the Tarkan route is less than $400, and gives you more memory for about the same cost. Oh, and it gives you a 3.5mm headphone jack as well, so you needn’t pay for adapters or lost AirPods. Then again, the headphone companies don’t care. They’ve got product to sell you.
  • The Colony Theatre. Oh, the poor Colony. We thought you would survive. Now you’re having to rent out your space just to stay alive. And your poor subscribers: We’re left holding the tickets for shows that we will never see (literally — there’s no way I’m gonna see Patty Duke in Mrs. Lincoln — both are dead). Will the Colony come back? At this point, I’m highly skeptical. What they need is new artistic direction, a new board, and a new way of thinking about things. Their collapse shows the perils of keeping the same leadership for far too long.
  • The Advertising Jingle. Perhaps you hadn’t noticed, but the advertising jingle is dead. Who killed it? Cover artists and the licensing of modified lyrics, that’s what. Those are more easily recognizable. So, our hats are off to you, “I’d like to teach the world to sing”, “Like a good neighbor”, and “Plop Plop Fizz Fizz”. We’re just left with the Empire Carpeting jingle.

Los Angeles Development

Sensitivity and Culture

  • Tiki Bars. Here’s an interesting question: If you were going to add a third arm to your body, where would you add it? Whoops, wrong question. Try this: Are Tiki Bars offensive to Polynesians? NPR endeavored to figure that out. It is hard to know: Tiki bars are about as close to something really Polynesian as the Chinese Food you got downtown in the 1950s and 1960s was to real Chinese food.
  • Napalm Girl. The furor yesterday was over Facebook and “Napalm Girl” — the famous photo of the napalmed Vietnamese girl. First it was taken down. Facebook banned it. Then they reversed themselves. It makes me think about a debate that occurred many many years ago when that photo was first published: Should photos like this be published? When does news value override sensitivity? These questions are still relevant today.

And the Rest…




Saturday Stew: Clearing out the Groupatwos before Pesach

Observation StewIn the Talmud, there is a learned Rabbi who opines that groupatwos are to be considered Chametz during Passover. Luckily, this week was so busy I accumulated a bunch of groupatwos. So let’s get that feather and that candle and get them out of the links list before Passover starts Monday night:



Fathers and Photographs

My father died in 2004 (story at grandpa_a). One of the various collections I inherited* was his collection of photo albums… at least 200 of them. Although my dad had lots of cameras, he wasn’t the best of photographers. There were a fair amount of blurry pictures, which he would dutifully put in albums. He would also go on lots of accounting seminar trips with my mom, and take loads of pictures of scenery and random people (I have a picture from 1977 in front of me labeled “George. George’s Wife” — I have no idea who George is). There are also a fair number of pictures of clients and people who may have been dear to my parents, but whom have no meaning to me. So I’ve been going through these pictures and condensing the albums. I’ve been tossing pictures that have faded beyond visibility (old color film does this when stored in a garage). I’ve been tossing scenery without meaning. I’ve been tossing pictures of people I don’t know. So far, I’ve condensed 48 albums into 7½ albums, and I’m up to the beginning of 1978. I’m sure things will go even faster after I move out of the house in 1979.

In doing this process, I’ve learned quite a bit about photos and building photo albums. I’ve realized that the albums I’ve assessmbled of my family probably suffer the same problem as my dad’s did. Here’s what I’ve learned; perhaps you will find this advice useful:

  • Photo albums serve two audiences: those who were present at the event, and those far in the future. These are distinctly different. My father used the albums to remind him of where he had been and the good times. After he died, those memories went with him. The albums now serve to remind me of the people, and less the places. So I’m focusing on keeping the pictures with people I know. This leads to Lesson #1: Put people in your pictures. Pictures of just scenery age fast, and are meaningful only to those who were there with you. Having people in your pictures, especially family or extended family, make the pictures meaningful and root them.
  • Memories fade. There are loads of pictures in people I don’t recognize, and good number that I do. It really helps me when the pictures are labeled with date and time. Lesson #2: Label the people in your pictures. Now, these are old film prints, so we can label with a pen. For digital pictures, use the metadata.
  • I’m dealing with physical albums. There are loads of blurry pictures, pictures of random strangers, bad angles, bad composition. My dad just put them in the album. I’m sure it would have been even worse if he had gotten into the digital era. Lesson #3: Weed Before, and Weed Again. When you assemble your album, weed the pictures down to the meaningful. Yes, there will be more weeding to do as the years go on, but why keep the drek now?

After my dad died in 2004, I just stopped taking pictures. I don’t know whether it was my film camera dying. I don’t know if it was my workplace getting rid of the convenient developing service. I don’t know if it was never having a decent digital camera, or a printer for what few photos I took (or finding it much harder to keep digital photos organized than my printed film images). Just recently I’ve begun to think about taking pictures again, but I want to go out and get a decent digital camera setup. I’m sure the 15 or so film cameras I inherited from my dad** are less than useful these days, and my old Canon is dying.

A side note: This process of going through the pictures, especially the pictures of my youth and Jr. and Sr. high school days, has really been bringing back memories. I’ve been exploiting Facebook to reconnect with folks I haven’t spoken to in years (welcome to those reading this), and it is wonderful to reestablish long-lost friendships from that part of my life. I’ve gone to the paid level at Classmates for a year, and I’ll see if that permits me to find more folks to reconnect with. Finding old friends: That’s been an unanticipated side benefit of this process, and perhaps the real gift of this inheritance.

* I also have collections of First Day Covers and Autographs. I’d welcome help on figuring out what to do with those.
** Yes, I need help figuring out what to do with these as well.


Tuesday News Chum

  • From the “I’m Not Dead Yet” Department: This just in… from CNN… Abe Vigoda is not yet dead.
  • From the “They give us those nice bright colors, They give us the greens of summers” Department: However, Kodachrome may be dead. According to CNN, there is only one processor of the color film left, and they are only manufacturing one speed (ASA 64) left, and they only have one 35mm format left, and they only do one production run a year, if that. It has been supplanted by digital and by easier to develop color film (evidently, Kodachrome gives you those night bright colors by being purely black and white when exposed. The three primary colors that mix to form the spectrum are added in three development steps rather than built into its micrometer-thin emulsion layers). Kodachrome is one of those famous films (after all, is there a park named after Ektachrome, or does Paul Simon sing of Tri-X). So, Kodak, don’t take our Kodachrome away.
  • From the “Did you wash your tie?” Department: Your mother always taught you to wash your hands, and you always make sure your doctor does. But that may not be what does you in. According to the New York Times, it may be your doctor’s clothing. In 2004, a study from the New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens compared the ties of 40 doctors and medical students with those of 10 security guards. It found that about half the ties worn by medical personnel were a reservoir for germs, compared with just 1 in 10 of the ties taken from the security guards. The doctors’ ties harbored several pathogens, including those that can lead to staph infections or pneumonia. Another study at a Connecticut hospital sought to gauge the role that clothing plays in the spread of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. The study found that if a worker entered a room where the patient had MRSA, the bacteria would end up on the worker’s clothes about 70 percent of the time, even if the person never actually touched the patient. Thus, it is to your advantage if your doctor wears a short-sleeved T-shirt than looking professional in long sleeves and a tie.
  • From the “No, It’s Not From The Onion” Department: WPTZ NBC 5 is reporting that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals sent a letter to Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, cofounders of Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc., urging them to replace cow’s milk they use in their ice cream products with human breast milk. PETA officials say a move to human breast milk would lessen the suffering of dairy cows and their babies on factory farms and benefit human health. PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman is quoted as saying “Everyone knows that ‘the breast is best,’ so Ben & Jerry’s could do consumers and cows a big favor by making the switch to breast milk.”
  • From the “But Why Are They Building Houses Now” Department: Lastly, an item of personal interest. The Ventura County Star is reporting that a proposal to build as many 13 homes off of Pacific Coast Highway at the southern edge of Ventura County cleared its last government hurdle Tuesday when it was approved by the Ventura County Board of Supervisors. The proposal adds four homes to the nine that are already permitted on vacant land near Neptune’s Net restaurant, near the Ventura-Los Angeles county line. In exchange for the Coastal Commission’s permission to build, the owners agreed to pay for 11 camping cabins at Leo Carrillo State Beach. They also gave up their request to privatize Ellice Street and put a gate on the road. Now what caught my eye in this article was Neptune’s Net, which is at Yerba Buena Road and PCH… across the street from Camp Hess Kramer. The mention of Ellice Street confirms it.

(Now to figure out why my turkey and cheese sandwich just gave me a niacin flush. Ouch!)