Fast Turn-Around

Jack Baty responds.

I agree with his criticism of the video. I concluded that the seemingly excessive references were part of the schtick, and 30 minutes is a lot to invest in a rather niche distraction. (I confess, I watched it at 1.5x speed, having only recently discovering that feature. Perhaps I should have disclosed that?)

As regards the EOS-1Ds, I say if your back can handle it, go for it! You're still a young man.

The foregoing being an example of the power of RSS!

Or something.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 12:12 Wednesday, 6 December 2023


We watched Harvey last night. I loved the movie as a kid. I bought it a couple of years ago, perhaps out of nostalgia.

Watching it again last night, I was struck by a line that I recall I felt struck by a couple of years ago when I watched it for the first time after buying it.

<blockquote>Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.</blockquote>

It troubles me that I may be neither. While there's probably little I can do about the former, "tools for thought" notwithstanding, perhaps I could do something about the latter.

Something to think about.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 11:57 Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Think About It

Is Niklas Luhman remembered more for his contributions to his fields of study, or for his note-taking system? Are Niklas Luhman's written works more valuable, more enduring than his "zettelkasten"?

Did his note-taking method give him more insight, more knowledge? Or did it just make him more productive?

In our culture, do we value knowledge and insight, or productivity?

Do more people recall Luhman or Eric Hoffer? (Few people probably recall either. I knew of Hoffer long before I learned of Luhman.)

I don't know. I'm not even sure it's worth thinking about very much.

But we do so adore our tools.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 11:51 Wednesday, 6 December 2023

Fun and Nostalgic

Jack Baty:

I can't decide if the recent trend of using old digicams is fun and nostalgic or just stupid.

I think it's "fun and nostalgic," and it's "stupid" if you're not having fun.

In the competition for attention that is the YouTube ecosystem (Where by "eco," one refers to "economy" or "economic," not "ecology."), there always has to be something that attracts eyeballs. One of the tried and true tactics is contrarianism, or the counter-intuitive. In a world where we are persuaded that we must always pursue "better" (often conceived as "more" (megapixels, frames per second, aperture) or "less" (noise, weight, size)), it's counter-intuitive to suggest that the "old and busted" can equal the new hotness.

Our restless quest to occupy our surplus of attention, defined by our deficit of cognition, we must seek the novel. So it oscillates between the new hotness, and affection for the underdog, the nostalgic, the trash that can equal the "artistic" prowess of expensive gear available to those with a surplus of cash to equal their surplus of attention, burdened as they are with the same deficit of cognition.

I humbly include myself in these plural pronouns. We all have much better things to do with our time, if only we could figure out what.

In any event, the XZ-2 has arrived and I am pleased. Yesterday I played with a Lumix LX7 I'd intended to sell, but now seem to desire.

I think digicams, particularly the "serious" ones from about 2010 on, are fun and useful. The older ones, with optical viewfinders that suffered badly from parallax, tiny LCDs useless for composition, and media that was slow and fragile (to include the pins on CF card connectors), can make the process of taking pictures less fun, unless you enjoy the challenge.

In any event, I really had a good laugh from this YouTube video. A cut above the average "gear" piece, with abundant references to philosophy and the academy and all our precious notions:

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 10:07 Wednesday, 6 December 2023


I don't know if it's because I mentioned it in the marmot, or if it's because I'm tagging photos now, but I've been getting more views on Flickr in the last few days.

I tried scrolling backward on the timeline, but they vary the scale on the y-axis so it's not immediately obvious when you're seeing a big uptick in views. Suffice to say, I've gone from single-digits of daily views to dozens; and this morning I've already had 123 views.

Yikes! I might start feeling a bit self-conscious.

Mitzi was watching some series on Netflix about Fran Liebowitz, and I watched a little of one episode. She was talking about talent, and she said some people have it and some people don't. She said something like, "Practice can make you better. It can't make you good." And she went on to say that it's all right to do things you enjoy, but if you don't have any talent for it, keep it to yourself. Don't share it.


Well, sorry lady.

I don't think I have any talent for anything. For one thing, I rush through everything. Meals. Writing blog posts. Taking pictures. I try to slow down, but that usually just means not doing anything at all.

To me, the marmot is just thinking out loud.

Like this morning. I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about yesterday's meetup. I figured I'd write about it in the marmot. I proofed it before I posted it, and then found a few typos after I posted it. Then I saw something that I thought was unclear and added a sentence that I'm not sure made any difference.

But, it was done. At some point, it's just done. It's not "deathless prose." It's a blog, and its' definitely "over it."

I take pictures of things that catch my eye. I edit them to make them "better," according to the standards I've absorbed spending (wasting?) time on photography websites or videos, and I upload them to Flickr. Sometimes I think they're cool. I mean, the moon has looked the same since forever, and I've established that I can get some fairly nice telephoto shots, why bother doing more? I really don't know. Sometimes they're just things that I thought were interesting.

Some of my neighbors like them.

Well, one of my neighbors anyway.

Something to do. Pass the time. Hopefully there's still some beauty in this broken world and maybe it's worth sharing some of it. Hopefully I can see it, and I'm not just adding to the noise.

Who knows?

Anyway, my pics are getting more views.


Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:17 Monday, 4 December 2023

Fools For Thought

I don't know the magnitude of the set of passions embraced by humanity. Certainly, a single human being can only embrace a tiny fraction of the universe of passions.

We are drawn to others who share our passions, and so it's possible to believe that "everyone" or "most people," or "society" share our passions, when it's really a very tiny fraction.

Conversely, it's possible to believe that we're special, because we are so few.

I say all this because as I was lying awake, thinking about this, I kept using the pronoun "we," but then it occurred to me that the vast majority of people don't know or care about what I was thinking about.

What I was thinking about was a current passion among some of us, "tools for thought."

And let me also add that it is only we, the privileged, who have the "cognitive surplus," who can indulge our passions. We're not fully engaged just trying to meet the requirements of survival, as many people are. Or trying to achieve something of whatever we believe the narrative arc of our life should be.

We have the time to "think" about "tools for thought."

I should stop using "we" and confine my "thoughts" to the first-person singular.

I don't think we understand what thought is, how it arises.

Existence precedes narrative.

This was my emotional reaction to Dr. David Weinberger's internet triumphalist declaration that "We are writing ourselves into existence."

I maintained we were painting ourselves into corners.

Existence preceded language, therefore "thought" precedes language. Language is an abstraction that makes the interior product of thought accessible to other minds. I can show someone how to chip flint to make an axe (If I knew how to chip flint to make an axe.). I can show someone how to make fire.

More complicated ideas require abstractions and language was probably the first "tool for thought."

Except it wasn't necessarily for thought, because thinking can occur below the level of language. Language imperfectly reifies thought, and allows it to be shared, again, imperfectly.

"You don't know what I mean."

I was educated as an engineer. I have had a lifelong interest in technology, especially the advance of technology. Why was this? Was it because as a child I watched television and I saw moving images of airplanes set to thrilling music?

"From out of the blue of a western sky comes a new breed of lawman, Sky King!"

In the early hours of the morning, before I had to go to school, a Detroit TV station broadcast a cartoon called Space Angel. Later I watched Jonny Quest in prime time. (Checking to see if I was recalling this correctly, I learned that Space Angel and Jonny Quest both came from the same artist. I did not know that. Or, if I did, I'd forgotten. Makes sense though. He liked big fins on his air and space craft.)

Did television imbue in me an emotional response that stirred an interest in technology? Jonny Quest appeared in 1964, when I was seven. I was a mediocre student in elementary school, as I would later be a mediocre student at the Naval Academy. But in the sixth grade Mrs. Lupica, our librarian at Peterboro Street Elementary School, introduced me to Robert Heinlein with Have Spacesuit — Will Travel. (She'd previously convinced me to read a book called Henry 3, about which I recall little except it was about a lonely boy and perhaps a hurricane in New York City.)

Well, Heinlein did it. I read every science fiction novel in that library. Math and science became interesting and I guess puberty had something to do with re-wiring my brain because the rest of junior and senior high school were a breeze. Everyone thought I was an outstanding student, when in fact it was just all so easy and I learned nothing about being a student. Hence going on to be a mediocre student at the Naval Academy.

Anyway, I studied engineering at the Naval Academy because I wanted to be a pilot and then an astronaut. But because my vision wasn't 20/20, and I was a mediocre student, naval aviation was barred to me. But I still loved technology.

For most of my life, I've observed the advance of technology, and for much of it I believed in its problem solving potential. Ironically, it's the internet that kind of finally killed that idea, chiefly encountering the thoughts of the minds behind The Cluetrain Manifesto, and Howard Rheingold who wrote a book called Tools for Thought, and also coined the term "smart mob."

Existence precedes narrative. Thought occurs below the level of language, and it is bound tightly to emotion, to feeling. I had a visceral reaction to the construction "smart mob." I don't think Howard Rheingold had ever been near a mob. I had. They are terrifying things, and they are by no measure "smart," nor can they be.

"Go home, Howard. You're drunk."

Technology can be intoxicating. Because it allows us to do things we couldn't do before, and gives us the illusion of power. Rather, it allows us to do things in ways we couldn't do them before.

Technology changes how we do things. It does not change what we do. Our problems lie in the latter. Technology expands what we do in space, and compresses it in time. I suppose our artifacts are an expansion in time, particularly the more durable ones, like the pyramids.

But habits are powerful things, and for better or worse, much of my attention still goes to technology and the news about it. Sometimes it's interesting, and I can still derive some enjoyment from it. But I'm no longer enamored with it.

And I don't believe in the notion of "tools for thought." I understand the "external brain." The use of manipulatives to facilitate analysis, drawing lines in the sand, printing graphs on the computer. But thought occurs in the brain, and we're, well at least, I'm not certain how.

Tools for thought? Caffeine and a sandwich.

How does technology facilitate choosing what to think about? Does it facilitate that? Or does it mislead us? Does it suggest avenues of thought? Recall the drunk looking for his keys under the street lamp, because "that's where the light is."

When you've got a great hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Do the challenges we face stem from a dearth of tools, or an inability to think clearly? To know what's worth thinking about?

Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes? We know, for instance, that building more roads does not solve a "traffic problem." Partly it's because we've created institutions whose existence depends on building roads.

The automobile is a technology, a "tool for movement," that has brought about a whole sea of unintended consequences; because we were, and remain, incapable of thinking past them, imagining what problems might arise. Or because the emotional value of those thoughts didn't overcome the desire to make money by building cars or roads anyway.

The "smart phone" is similarly a new technology that, at first, seems wonderful. So why are we talking about banning them in schools?

We've thought about externalities. We know that our "capitalist" system doesn't doesn't include the cost of our products in their price. We know this, and we know it will doom us, yet we do nothing about it.

"Tools for thought," mostly is about drawing lines in the sand. Or links between files. It can facilitate some forms of analysis, if you're asking the right questions. But focusing on the tool, without thinking about the question, is just mental masturbation.

We are better off thinking about our faculty of attention. It's limited. What do we choose to direct it toward? How do we choose?

We are better off thinking about our ignorance. (The nature of ignorance is that we don't know what we don't know.)

We are better off thinking about how limited our cognitive abilities really are. If we understand their limitations, we might choose to use them toward better aims.

I think this fascination, this passion, for tools for thought is a waste of time.

I think our time is better spent thinking about how we choose to live in this world. What are the consequences of our choices? What is a "good life"? How do we "make meaning," in this life? Is it by "linking all the things." Tending our "digital gardens"?

Time, attention and thought are finite resources. The most powerful thing you can do with them is choose wisely.

I'm not holding myself out as an example. These are just my thoughts as I was able to distill them from an emotional response I had to a little meetup.

As always, I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You are strongly encouraged to do your own thinking.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 04:16 Monday, 4 December 2023

All we ever have are moments to live.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:35 Sunday, 3 December 2023

Bon Voyage

Most days I have this feeling that I'm sailing aboard the Titanic. I've heard rumors of icebergs lurking about.

But they're just rumors.

Full speed ahead!

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 12:26 Saturday, 2 December 2023

Wishful Thinking

The Washington Post published an opinion piece by Robert Kagan that opened with this:

Let’s stop the wishful thinking and face the stark reality: There is a clear path to dictatorship in the United States, and it is getting shorter every day.

Pretty bracing, no?

It should be.

Democracy's fatal weakness is human nature. In any population, there is a significant minority of people who welcome authoritarian government, especially if it promises to look after them.

You can't tell me that a parliamentary style of government would work any better. Nazi Germany was a parliamentary model. Britain got Brexit and Boris Johnson. Israel has Netanyahu.

There will always be a significant number of people, of any ideological persuasion, who will welcome a "strong leader" to provide simple answers to complex questions. To give the illusion of creating order amidst the chaos.

The people opposing them will be divided, disagreeing about what is to be done, and therefore weak.

Or disinclined to oppose the authoritarian because they don't perceive themselves as among the groups that would suffer under authoritarian rule; and unenthusiastic about the opposition because there's nothing in it for them.

That's what happened in Germany in 1933.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe that followed, most of the survivors persuaded themselves that they were among the "good Germans." They had nothing to do with the atrocities. They didn't support the policies. They were just "little people."

It will be the same way in America.

And while we're not kidding ourselves, we might get around to recognizing that we will never make the necessary effort to arrest climate change. That global warming will bring about the collapse of this civilization.

Extreme wealth inequality leads to political revolutions. Climate change leads to a collapse of civilizations.

Today we live in a global civilization with extreme wealth inequality and global climate change.

The only question is the velocity, and the degree of violence. If we can avoid a nuclear exchange, that would be a wonderful outcome.

In any case, I think it's going to happen much sooner than anyone thinks.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 11:27 Saturday, 2 December 2023

A Deep and Dark December

My affinity for alliteration aside, it's actually sunny out.

I've been mulling over what to do with the XZ-2 with the de-centered lens. It occurred to me that the jpeg engine allows for a different aspect ratio, including 1:1 (square). So I played with that a bit, and it's pretty bad even at that aspect ratio.

So I figure I'll just use it at 1:1 with an art filter for shots when I'm "just playing around." I don't want to sell it for parts or anything.

In other news, I've also been playing around in Flickr. They announced some new feature related to stats, which I confess I don't really understand since I never paid attention to stats before. But since they brought it to my attention, I've started looking at it.

I don't get many views. Most photos get about 5 in the first couple of days after I upload them. I think those are my "followers." The others appear to pop up in searches, and it seems that most searches relate to tags. So I've started tagging more photos.

If I tag them in Photos, the tags get uploaded to Flickr along with the image. For shots that I've already uploaded, I've been using Flickr's Camera Roll editor to bulk tag images where I can.

Which made me take a closer look at Camera Roll. I like the fact that you can look at photos by the date taken. So I can see places and events where I haven't uploaded or made any images public. For a while, I was letting Flickr Uploader just upload every SD card I ever put in my Mac. It seemed to just make Flickr as impossible to manage as Photos, so I stopped doing that. But I'm glad that I did, because I can find some images that seem to be missing in Photos, or I only have a 3MP version in Photos but the full size in Flickr.

So I've been editing a few older shots and re-uploading them. (Download the larger version from Flickr, and edit on the Mac where I'm familiar with all the tools.)

Sent Mom a card with a pic of an old truck I took in Fernandina Beach back in June 2017. That was back when I was very active on FB and IG, so there's only one post in the Marmot from June 2017. I may have shared this truck in FB, I don't know. Anyway, I figure I'll spend some more time squaring my Flickr account away, since I'm paying for it.

I ran out of 5x7 photo greeting card stock for Mom, so I've switched over to square until I get some more. I shot the truck with my old XZ-2, which is what gave me the idea to shoot the bad one in square format, as mentioned above.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:43 Friday, 1 December 2023

Fool: XZ-2 (x2)

Well, I suppose it was inevitable.

Another XZ-2 ("Near Mint") should be here Saturday. Not a bargain, per se, but a fair price. If it's sharp across the frame, I'll be happy.

The temperature in the header is wrong. Well, at least it's not what the temperature is here. It's 40°F out there this morning. There was frost on the roofs of the houses yesterday when it was similarly low.

Skies are clear and sunny though!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:16 Thursday, 30 November 2023

Movies: The Marvels

Mitzi and I saw this yesterday in a matinée at the local multiplex. It was great because the kids are in school and there were only six people in the theater.

I liked it, even though I'm pretty much "over" the superhero genre, heroes and anti-heroes alike. It was different enough in casting, tone, characters and sets to be entertaining. It didn't take itself seriously. It wasn't all "dark." There were hints or nods toward that, but they didn't demand you take them seriously.

("Dirk Dark. Dark Phoenix. Roy. My name is Roy.")

Mitzi did have trouble figuring out what was going on at first because we haven't seen Captain Marvel, though we did watch WandaVision. She didn't make the connection though. I explained after the movie. She just rolled with it, and enjoyed it as well.

Pretty fun.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:57 Thursday, 30 November 2023

Tube: The Equalizer (3)

I'm a little embarrassed to admit that Mitzi and I watched this last night. It's mostly more of the same, with some nice Italian locations.

I don't know how much there is a genuine appetite for this sort of mayhem, or if it's just that we like seeing certain "stars," and producers like printing money so they just repackage the same stuff over and over again.

This is just Shane in Italy. Kind of a reverse on the "spaghetti western," I think.

If I had to guess, I think Man On Fire did well at the box office, but it wasn't the kind of movie that lent itself to becoming a franchise. It's sort of ambiguous, but I think it's pretty clear Creasy died in the end. I'm sure clever writers could work around that, but maybe there were IP issues elsewhere.

Anyway, The Equalizer was tailor-made for being a franchise, and it was almost an identical character. So... Denzel as McCall! "Two 'c's, two 'l's."

What made Man On Fire better than your average blood-soaked revenge flick was Creasy's tortured soul and a glimpse of redemption in the eyes of a little girl. (Dakota Fanning. Surprise!) "Do you think God will forgive us for what we've done?"

Moral injury. Something I've been thinking about more and more lately.

Antoine Fuqua tries to bring some of that angst to McCall in 3, but if feels like a veneer, and a very thin one at that.

Anyway, I enjoy watching Denzel Washington. The body count is absurd. The bad guys are really, really bad. And it's ultimately about as memorable, and enjoyable, as a McDonald's (One "c," one "l".) cheeseburger.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:34 Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Giving Tuesday

In recent years, I've given a fair amount of money to political campaigns. With a couple of exceptions, I have little idea of how well that money has been spent. I'll probably be giving to campaigns again, but not just yet. For now, I'm trying to give more to non-profits I care about.

Today I donated to 1000 Friends of Florida, a non-partisan public interest group that's trying to preserve and protect Florida's natural environment through intelligent growth policies.

I became a member of the Matanzas Riverkeeper. I've donated in the past, but I'm now doing a monthly contribution. I also give a monthly contribution to the St Johns Riverkeeper.

I increased my monthly contribution to our local public radio station, because they are a vital resource to our community.

There are a few more. Mostly environmental. This isn't "virtue signaling," because I don't really care if anyone thinks I'm virtuous or not. This is me suggesting to you that you might look around for local non-profits doing work that you think is important and supporting them.

We are in a world of trouble, but there are people out there working hard to make a difference. Let's help them out.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:17 Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Chronic Fatigue

I think NFTU still has a role to play for me, because this is the sort of post I don't wish to include in the marmot.

What brings me to the woodchuck hole today is another missive from the mediocre mind of Moss.

Essentially, it's a promo piece for local Republican pol, Dean Black. I suspect Moss is trying to elevate his profile in local Republican circles by currying favor with Black and getting the party line posted in a local news outlet. (Presumably in the interest of "balance." It's certainly not for its analytical or rhetorical excellence.)

The headline offers, "Love him or hate him, Dean Black continues to shape the narrative."

It's not a binary choice. There are a couple of other options, one being fatigue, the other, nausea.

There is nothing remarkable about Dean Black or the "narrative" he's shaping. It's the same old broken record of division, agitation and dereliction; and I guess I'm saying I'm "sick and tired" of it.

Moss and Dean are representative of what passes for Republican "thought" in Florida politics in the years since the Trump ascendancy. It's an adolescent, zero-sum view of politics, where parties are either "winning" or "losing," and the public interest is entirely out of the equation.

Florida is a failed state, after more than a generation of gerrymandered, one-party rule. It's facing environmental challenges due to the climate crisis and uncontrolled over-development, threatening its unique natural environment and wildlife. There's an insurance crisis that is doing as much to make home ownership less affordable as high interest rates. Florida "leads" as one of the states with the highest rates of uninsured citizens for healthcare. All because of a party-driven, petulant, myopic and simply inhumane refusal to expand Medicaid. Public education in Florida is being discarded in favor of publicly funded, private indoctrination centers.

The future of Florida is dark, "Sunshine State" or not. Gerrymandering and one-party rule have made the state's government vulnerable to corruption, group-think, and extremism when elections are largely decided by primaries, where the most motivated voters are the most extreme ones.

To a Republican mind, this is "winning," because politics are viewed as "sport," entertainment for the masses. Increasingly, if one listens to Republican rhetoric espoused by its leader, Trump, one that threatens to become a blood sport.

At its best, politics is where people of good will, acting in good faith, come together to serve the public interest through cooperation and compromise.

In Florida, politics is all about power and money. The power to raise money, and the power to give public money to favored interests. The public interest has been forgotten.

If Moss had any intelligence, he'd understand that. But he's a partisan climber, not a political thinker. I regret that Jax Today offers him a platform.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 05:59 Tuesday, 28 November 2023

Camera: Disappointment

The sun was giving hints that it might come out this morning, but I wasn't sure. There might have been nice cloudscape shots, or there might be enough light to get a decent bird shot, assuming there were any birds to be found.

I thought I'd be clever and so I brought along the little XZ-2 stuffed into my vest pocket, with the OM-1 on the sling for birds.

As it happened, the clouds rolled in, but before they did there was an "interesting" shot on the street, with low-angled early morning light illuminating the front of the house and a large palm shadow cast on it as well, and a blowing American flag on another house in the left of the frame.

For the rest of the walk, I mainly shot with the XZ-2, doing closeups of mushrooms, playing with the Dramatic Tone filter and just looking for something to shoot.

When I got home, I worked on the house shot and noticed that the left side of the frame was very soft, to the point of being blurry. So I looked at a few other shots and seemed to detect the same thing on a couple of them. In the closeups, it wasn't really detectable since the subject was in the center of the frame and the depth of field was pretty thin.

Well, I wanted to know for sure so I set up a tripod in the library and shot some books. One thing leads to another, and I ended up testing the MX-1, the XZ-1 and both of the Stylus 1s cameras.

The good news is that all of the cameras but the XZ-2 were sharp corner to corner at all apertures from f1.8 (2.8 in the case of the Stylus 1s) to f4.

The bad news is the XZ-2 is pretty decentered. Both the left and right sides of the frame are soft, but the left side is just plain out of focus. I checked my library for my original XZ-2, and it was sharp corner to corner as well. This is just a bad specimen.

As a practical matter, it probably wouldn't affect 75% of the kinds of shots I take. If I wanted to take clinically sharp landscapes, architectural interiors, or some types of documentary work, it'd be a problem. Really, biggest problem is just knowing about it. On the one hand, it allows me to work around it a bit, or only use the camera for "fun" shots. On the other hand, knowing about it nags at me. I only paid $100 for the thing, which is about half what most of them go for on the auction site, so the price wasn't exactly unfair even with the optical defect.

That nagging feeling will probably pass. Most feelings do. I've just got to get comfortable with the idea of never relying on that camera for anything important, except insofar as having fun is important.

On the bright side, I am pleased that the MX-1 is very sharp, and the other Olys are sharp as well. And that Stylus 1s with the "stuck lens" was a real bargain.

Can't be lucky all the time!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:08 Monday, 27 November 2023

Tube: Holiday Season

For many years, my family had a Thanksgiving holiday tradition of watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Since the kids have all grown, it was hit or miss, mostly the latter.

Of late, I've made it kind of my personal tradition to watch Die Hard, because "It's not Christmas until Hans Gruber falls off the Nakatomi Tower."

We spent last Thanksgiving up in DC with Mitzi's older daughter. Their infant son was sleeping when we watched it at their place, and it was a fun time, a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, or Rocky Horror, as we commented on all the absurdities of the film.

This Thanksgiving, Mitzi's younger daughter was here with us, and her two-and-a-half year old wasn't going to sleep anytime soon, and watching the movie after was kind of incompatible with her staying asleep. So we watched Kung Fu Panda instead.

They went home on Saturday, so Mitzi and I watched Die Hard on Saturday night. With just the two of us, it's not quite as much fun as Mitzi doesn't seem to enjoy my commentary as much as I do. Alas. And it's kind of bittersweet because of what Bruce Willis is going through, and missing Alan Rickman.

Which brings me to another holiday film we watched for the first time in several years, Love Actually. I watched that movie every year for several years back in the 'aughts and early 'teens; but it can get to be a bit too much after a while. It's a little hard to believe it's been 20 years since that movie was released.

We enjoyed it very much, and I think Bill Nighy's character is the funniest. I'm glad he's still with us and doing some remarkable work; LIving and Their Finest being two relatively recent movies featuring him that Mitzi and I enjoyed.

We wrapped up the holiday film festival last night with another classic I hadn't watched in a fairly long time, Grumpy Old Men. Hard to believe that Jack Lemmon was only two years older than I am when he made that movie.

I'm sure there will be more holiday movies between now and the new year, but it feels like we got off to a nice start.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:15 Monday, 27 November 2023

Tube: Hannah

I have a crush on Hannah Waddingham, so I enjoyed her Home for Christmas very much. She's a remarkably versatile artist, and I hope we get to see her in more work in the years to come.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:11 Monday, 27 November 2023

MX-1 vs. XZ-2

After everything settled down yesterday, while the sun was still out, I tried to take a couple of shots with the XZ-2 and the MX-1 to see how similar they might be.

Not very, it turns out.

The most interesting thing seems to be the way the RAWs are handled.

I expected some differences in the JPEGs, so I compared a RAW image from both cameras. If these are the same lens/sensor systems from the same OEM, then Olympus chose to do some lens corrections in the RAW file (suffix .ORF). There is visible barrel distortion in the MX-1 RAW image (DNG format), which is corrected in the JPEG. With the XZ-2, there is no such visible distortion.

I'm willing to believe they're doing lens corrections in the RAW file, because the JPEGs and the RAWs have never been identical in terms of coverage. They differ by one or two rows of pixels at the long side, shifting the image left or right in portrait, up or down in landscape. There is data there, so it would seem there is some tiny crop involved.

I didn't mount the cameras on a tripod, so I can't compare the actual coverage of each one. I may do that later. Crappy weather today, though I could do it in the house I suppose.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:34 Sunday, 26 November 2023

Tube: Monarch

Monarch is pretty good. I'm ambivalent about these franchise efforts, like Star Wars, Star Trek, the MCU and DC and so on. The debates about "the canon" in all these efforts seem tedious and foolish to me, but I'm officially a grumpy old man now.

And frankly, I get tired of seeing the same stuff repackaged over and over again, mostly to provide easter eggs to the fans.

But this still feels fresh enough, despite being nearly 70 years old, to be entertaining. I'm sure they'll ruin it soon enough, but for now it's a worthwhile diversion.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:25 Sunday, 26 November 2023

Tube: Chemistry

I don't know if Lessons In Chemistry will return for another season. I suppose I could look, I'm sure someone knows. But it feels as though it was designed to be a "limited series," and it wrapped up all the loose ends in the finale.

I loved it.

I am disappointed we didn't get more of six-thirty's internal monologue, and that one episode does seem kind of odd because of it. And I'm sure there are many things that one might criticize, but I can't think of any.

I'm glad Slow Horses returns this week.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:18 Sunday, 26 November 2023


Our house guests have departed, and the ensuing laundry effort seems to have dampened (heh) Mitzi's enthusiasm for a ventless dryer. I'll wait a while and revisit the issue.

The other battle I'll have to fight is what color to paint the house. She loves the current (dark) color. It's no longer on the approved list, (the architectural review committee has "freshened" the list of approved colors) but I'm concerned she's going to want a dark color.

Dark colors absorb heat. Even with insulation, that adds heat load. It's a choice that will cost money and/or energy for years after you've made it.

Choices have consequences, and we keep making them as if they don't. Consequences often borne by others.

It's interesting, our house guests didn't seem to have any anxiety about the future of civilization. They're both busy in their careers, raising a young daughter with another child on the way. It's possible they just don't have time. In the brief amount of time we kind of discussed it, they seemed confident that technology would fix whatever challenges we might face.


They live in San Diego and they have a gas furnace. When they got a quote to replace their HVAC system (they also have central air), they included the furnace! I think I convinced them to just go with a heat pump. The prices in California are very high, but there are some incentives. They also have gas hot water, gas dryer and gas stove! I told them about the house that exploded in Pennsylvania, but I don't think it made any difference.

The biggest impact you can make in terms of your CO2 emissions, if you're a daily commuter, is replacing your ICE vehicle. But they were saying something about waiting until they had rooftop solar before they bought an EV!

It was a holiday, and they're Mitzi's family, so I didn't engage very much. But I was surprised by how little the climate emergency seems to factor in their thinking. Maybe we gave them something to think about though. Planted a seed, or something.

Also, given the amount of natural gas being pumped in and around their house, and the greenhouse potential of "natural" gas, getting rid of that might be more effective than getting an EV, to say nothing of the health and safety benefits.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:12 Sunday, 26 November 2023

Ventless Dryer

If that isn't a compelling title, I don't know what is.

I'd recently heard about heat-pump dryers, I think they're more commonly referred to as "ventless dryers," but I'm not sure about that. I thought they were kind of a new thing, but no, they've been around for decades. Just not so much in America.

Of course.

So I spent some time on YouTube yesterday. (I use an ad blocker, and it seems YouTube's response is to mute the audio about three quarters of the way through the video. No big deal. I just unmute it.) And I spent some time at looking at dryers.

I'd originally thought that I'd replace our conventional dryer when it was end of life, but that could be a decade from now. Today, it's about 4 years old and may still be worth a little money. And it'd use a lot of energy in those 10 years.

So I think I'm going to buy an LG-DLHC-1455 ventless dryer. With a ventless dryer, water from the clothes is condensed and stored in the dryer. You can connect a hose and discharge it to the drain pipe, but I don't think I'm going to do that. Maybe we can use it to water plants. Ideally, it'd be captured and re-used for washing clothes, but we're not there yet.

My only trepidation is expectations. I've read enough reviews and seen enough videos to understand that the process is different enough that we might feel as though the laundry isn't "dry" when it's done. And since this is a major purchase, and the old dryer can't live in the house indefinitely while we get used to the new one, at some point we'll be committed to this one and I'm hoping Mitzi won't be unhappy.

The lower temperature is supposed to be better for clothing anyway. Plus we're not exhausting air that we've cooled to the atmosphere, making it up with warm, humid air that we'd have to cool again. So there's another efficiency gain by eliminating the vent.

There is no federal incentive for ventless dryers, but Florida is offering a sales tax holiday on them. If you're considering one, you may want to look for incentives where you live.

While I think it's important to make homes all electric, and more efficient, it's important to remember that if you're driving to work every day in an ICE-vehicle, your greatest energy use is gasoline. So the biggest change you could make to help the transition from fossil fuels is to drive an EV or a plug-in hybrid, and one that is sized appropriately for your actual needs versus your emotional ones.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:20 Friday, 24 November 2023


It's Thanksgiving Day, so maybe we should give a little attention to the matter of gratitude.

I suppose gratitude is a form of self-care. A way of acknowledging, "It could always be worse," and it often was.

Is it a form of worship? Are we supposed to give thanks to God?

Or should we be thanking all the people who came before us and gave us all the things we wish to appreciate today?

Are those things a gift? Did we do anything to deserve them?

Who is the gift from? God? A system?

A system that favors some at the expense of others?

Should we be grateful for the system?

What are the things we're grateful for? And how sure are we that we'll always have them?

Does gratitude suggest action? Or is gratitude merely a "good intention"?

If there are things you are grateful for today, perhaps you should spare a thought to how you might ensure that others may be grateful for them next year.

It could always be worse.

And it likely will.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:00 Thursday, 23 November 2023

Like Savages

Our internet went out at 10:45am yesterday. It's still out. We have a Comcast tech scheduled to arrive between 10:00am and 12:00pm today. Figure maybe about 1:00.

I've got my iPhone stuck in the window and I'm having mixed success with it as T-Mobile doesn't have great coverage here.

It's made me appreciate just how addicted I am to the internet. Even most of my files live "in the cloud."

Since we don't have internet, we also don't have cable. Oddly enough, we do get the guide. The router diagnostics tells me it's receiving some data, but it's not getting any "Unicast Maintenance opportunities," whatever those are.

So no streaming, no cable. Last night we sat out back in the screened enclosure around Mitzi's fire table and talked.

Like savages.

Later on we went in and watched a DVD.

It is a "first world" problem of the privileged. But it's given me a lot to think about. Much like electricity and ready access to clean drinking water and indoor plumbing, it hasn't always been like this, and it may not be again soon.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:37 Wednesday, 22 November 2023