Monthly Archives: August 2008

We Can Save Everybody This Time

Hurricane Gustav tilts toward New Orleans this Sunday

After a historic week in which the first black American was nominated for President by a major political party, a dangerous new storm Gustav with the capacity to re-flood New Orleans tilts toward the Gulf Coast. Some Democrats are saying this is proof of a God, calling the disruption of the Republican National Convention by Hurricane Gustav divine justice. Tell that to the millions slowed down to a crawl on the highways North out of the evacuated bayou.

The mayor told anyone who might insist on staying to keep an axe with them so that when the flood waters rise they are ready to chop through the roof of their house. Already twenty foot storm swells are expected by the National Hurricane Center. In the worst case scenario Gustav goes Category Five on its journey across the Gulf and leaves Louisiana the shape of Florida. The eyewall winds would chew up flying birds like a pepper shredder.

While I’m slinging eggs to baggy-eyed, hungry-mouthed folks, my mind may roam to thoughts of the people of the city of New Orleans. I hope they’re all right.

Red Sneakers

Somehow I got myself into one of the production stills from my friend Brenda’s new film, Red Sneakers.

Inserting myself into the independent film Red Sneakers

While I am so happy to finally include a link to her film on my blog, the unfortunate result is that I look like John McCain in this production still. Even the smile on my face is vaguely John McCain… as if I’m thinking, “Where’s my million dollar milk and cookies?” Anyhow, big ups to Brenda for making this movie, and congratulations to everyone involved for the awards its won at independent film festivals.

Barracudas and Bearcrabs and Veeps, Oh My

Snowcrabs and bears and veeps Oh My sarah palin 3rdarm

The excitement of watching Obama speak last night, delivering, “The American Promise” speech to the most live, television and internet watchers ever for a political speech, got me all wound up. I ended up watching Project Runway in the wee hours of the new morn, with still-baited breath and a bitemark. Yes, finally, this lifelong watcher of Meet the Press has been bit by the election bug. I want to go outside and say, come on people, we’ve just won the Olympics now lets take back the Presidency!

Or something. The effect of an election bug bite is similar to insomnia. Except that instead of counting sheep, yours truly will be counting swing states and points awarded in political crossfire from various situation room fortresses. Let’s begin with the bombshell dropped by the McCain camp today; Sarah Palin as pick for vice president on his ticket. The two most stunning lines of counter-attack I read on the interwebs thus far both compared Sarah Palin, who is pretty unknown to the American people, to two female politicians that we are all familiar with:

“Sarah Palin is to the movement for women’s equality what Clarence Thomas is to civil rights. She’s an extremist and an enemy to the cause that has been fought on her behalf…. Someone should stand up and say: ‘I know Senator Clinton. Senator Clinton is a friend of mine. And Sarah Palin is no Hillary Rodham Clinton.'” Van Jones at The Huffington Post

On the Ms. Alaska page put up by the NYT, jo comments, “McCain’s pick of Sarah Palin as his running mate is more like George Bush’s nomination of Harriet Miers to be a Supreme Court justice: an insult to the office and to the voters, no matter how admirable a person she is.” If my opinion is taken as an amalgamation of the professional political personages who I read online, which it is, then my impression right now is…

This mother of five including a baby with Down Syndrome has very little experience in the public sphere and a checkered background. But at least she looks like Tina Fey.

America, This is One of Those Moments…

To have your cake and eat it too…

Barack Obama for President and 3rdarm for Cake Eater

“I believe that as hard as it will be, the change we need is coming. Because I’ve seen it. Because I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it in Illinois, when we provided health care to more children and moved more families from welfare to work. I’ve seen it in Washington, when we worked across party lines to open up government and hold lobbyists more accountable, to give better care for our veterans and keep nuclear weapons out of terrorist hands.”

Christina and her Obama cake we ate the Hope part the rest is frozen for Election Day

“And I’ve seen it in this campaign. In the young people who voted for the first time, and in those who got involved again after a very long time. In the Republicans who never thought they’d pick up a Democratic ballot, but did. I’ve seen it in the workers who would rather cut their hours back a day than see their friends lose their jobs, in the soldiers who re-enlist after losing a limb, in the good neighbors who take a stranger in when a hurricane strikes and the floodwaters rise.”

Ari and Suzanna hosted the party on Obama night of the DNC

“This country of ours has more wealth than any nation, but that’s not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military on Earth, but that’s not what makes us strong. Our universities and our culture are the envy of the world, but that’s not what keeps the world coming to our shores.”

Webmaster Els eating the E of HOPE

“Instead, it is that American spirit – that American promise – that pushes us forward even when the path is uncertain; that binds us together in spite of our differences; that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen, that better place around the bend.”

-Barack Obama, Thursday, August 28, 2008, “The American Promise”

Black Eyed Susans

The blackest pup and the palest 3rdarm

One of the best Sundays of the summer, yesterday was. After working brunch, I went out to eat with two of my coworkers in Harvard Square at Le’s (formerly Pho Pasteur.) We watched music videos including a new tribute to Obama, “American Prayer,” and the first single from the new Brian Eno/ David Byrne album, “Strange Overtones.”

After my friends Koh and Christa left my place, I got into comfy clothes and watched Meet the Press, Project Runway (drag queens!), The Hills (another new episode tonight!) and to cure my Olympics withdrawals symptoms, I watched the surprisingly excellent film Kung Fu Panda. Before bed I polished off the Sunday NYT. The queue is now completely clear for the the Democratic Convention which begins tonight. Si se puede!!

Grappling with 3rdarmania!

Anybody who is wondering why I haven’t been writing on my blog about the Beijing Olympics: its because I have been watching the Olympics 24/7. I have watched so much Olympics that I simply have not had the time to update my blog about anything. Some quick things that happened in the past week:

A skunk blocked the path into my building, after work one night. I stood looking at it, thinking, “I hope it doesn’t spray me… ooohh I really hope it doesn’t spray me!” In my head I imagined getting sprayed… when all of a sudden the skunk moseyed right up to me! I shrieked like a banshee and hid behind a nearby car.

I went to Puppy Kindergarten with my aunt and Roxie, the cocker spaniel pup. My aunt told the whole class how I taught Roxie to jump up on furniture. In the eyes of the class I gleamed the scales of moral judgement… During Off Leash Play a spaniel named Rupert ran up to each of the bigger dogs and barked in their face and then dashed away. Bravo Rupert! Somebody’s gotta rile up those pups.

I almost got into a car crash listening to Joe Biden’s first speech as the Democratic candidate for Vice President. I love you Joe Biden! I love anybody who talks as much as I do.

Other stuff happened, too. But for the most part I just watched lithe and weird Olympic bodies writhe in their digital glory on the internets… it just so happens my late-night schedule is perfect for watching live events happen in Beijing! Perhaps in the future I will be streaming Chinese daytime soaps (like the Hills in Mandarin) from midnight til’ 3AM EST. In the meantime, I love the Olympics so much I’m thinking of competing!

Getting two black eyes like the Fuwa panda bear JingJing

Jingjing makes children smile — and that’s why he brings the blessing of happiness wherever he goes. You can see his joy in the charming naivety of his dancing pose and the lovely wave of his black and white fur. Jingjing was chosen to represent our desire to protect nature’s gifts — and to preserve the beauty of nature for all generations. Jingjing is charmingly naïve and optimistic. He is an athlete noted for strength who represents the black Olympic ring.”

Where was JingJing when the Baiji went extinct?!

Grappling with the heavyweights

If I don’t like the ref’s calls, I’ll show him how I really feel with a swift karate kick to the face!

So much for sportsmanship

Summer Vacation in P-Town (Better than a White Line)

Last week I managed to get away from Cambridge for a couple of days. My friend John and I, along with Torstan from Costa Rica (not pictured) put our bikes on the back of my car, and we whipped out to Cape Cod. John’s family owns a famous restaurant in Provincetown, the Lobster Pot, and so we would be staying at John’s cottage and he acted as a sort of tour guide for me. Here is John and I before we left:

John hoota wally frank boston 3rdarm

Seeing my friends Genevieve and Emerson was a major reason I wanted to go out to P-Town… Genevieve and I outside of Bubalas:

Genevieve and 3rdarm outside Bubalas in Ptown

This would have freaked me out when I was younger. As an example of conquering my fears, I had my picture taken in front of this crossed hut. Genevieve said that the architecture was “very Cape Cod.”

3rdarm in front of a Christian cross that looks like the Pagan Zodiac symbol

Genevieve, Emerson, John and I went to the Beachcomber, in Wellfleet, to eat lunch. We had raw oysters, tuna tacos, chips and salsa, onion rings, etc… it was great… Then we took some pictures at the adjacent beach:

Emerson and 3rdarm outside the Beachcomber

A cute picture of Emerson and Genevieve on the bluff

John looking out over the bluff in Wellfleet

Beautiful shot of the beach in Wellfleet mid August

John my cape cod tour guide

Woman in a white dress on the bluff in Wellfleet

We drove back to Provincetown on Route 6A, which runs along the shore on the bay side. I had to stop and cross the highway to take this picture. Drivers-by were not pleased, but I was:

Provincetown in late summer twilight from Route 6A

Getting ready for some night-life, I read newspapers and watched live Olympic coverage while John took a nap. This is inside his neat cottage, which featured no less than two chandeliers:

3rdarm chilling in his Ptown bureau office headquarters

Emerson was DJing that night at the Bradford, in the basement:

DJ White Animal in the basement of the Bradford with 3rdarm

Emerson’s DJ moniker is WHITE ANIMAL (mine is 3rdarm) and we have DJed together before, although tonight it was just me dancing with him and a Diet Coke:

DJs WHITE ANIMAL and 3rdarm in the Bradford basement on a steamy Thursday night in August

On the drive back to Cambridge, I stopped the car at the cottage in Eastham that my family rented for a couple weeks every summer when I was a kid. It had been bulldozed, and a new, larger cottage built in its place. The emotion I am trying to convey is “What happen?”

3rdarm says What Happen to the cottage his family rented in Eastham as a kid

Just a couple other thoughts… Genevieve’s coworker Kim, a really nice lady, coined the phrase of the summer, “Shitshow.” Any restaurant worker in America’s recession knows what that means. For the record my favorite song that DJ White Animal played was not “I want to break free” by Queen, which I requested, but rather, “Never Been Any Reason,” by Head East, which I had never heard before. Lyrics, people!

“Did you see any action? Did you make any friends?
Would you like some affection? Before I leave again.

I’ve been walking behind you, since you’ve been able to see.
There’s never been any reason, for you to think about me.

Did you have any bad dreams, did you break any glass?
Would you be my companion, is there even a chance?

You’ve been talking in circles, since I’ve been able to cry.

There’s never been any reason, for ever telling me why, yea, yea.

Save my life, I’m going down for the last time.
Woman with the sweet lovin’, better than a white line.
Bring a good feeling ain’t had in such a long time.
Save my life, I’m going down for the last time.”

Oyster and Rockefeller

Here are some cat pictures. Do your friends call YOU Whiskers? Are you curious like a cat? Well I am. The bigger cat is Oyster and the small cat is her younger brother (one litter removed) named Rockefeller… Oyster’s Rockefeller. Cute!

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

Who you looking at little buddy?

The big cat is Oyster and the small cat is Rockefeller

Photography as a Zone System

3rdarm is a contributing commenter on Errol Morris Zoom blog for the NYT

*Lately I have been involved in a discussion of photography’s merits on Errol Morris’ NYT blog, Zoom. Following a conversation between Morris and Heny Farid, an expert on digital photography and professor at Dartmouth, about amongst other side notes, the digital manipulation of the Iranian missiles, I made the following comment… which drew the following responses… which interested me, maybe you?*

August 12th,
1:36 am

I have a question regarding the nature of true photography versus fauxtagraphy. Aren’t all photographs, by definition, an altered view of reality? One Photoshop technique that mesmorizes me is High Definition Range… in which the same photo is taken over and over while the photographer adjusts the exposure values (EV)… then all these similar but differently lighted photos are combined in Photoshop to produce a High Definition Range photo that captures much more of the spectrum of light that the human eye might see if a viewer was standing where the photos were taken. This range is not possible in just a single photo, because of the inherent limitations of a camera’s lens versus a human eyeball. In a sense, that means even with the purest intentions, that every photo is by definition an altered rendering of reality, vis-a-vis those limitations, and the choices the photographer makes in creating the photograph. The same reason that all photographs can be considered “art.”

Anyway, reading this conversation sure got me thinking… great post Errol. Thank you,
Arthur Mullen

— Posted by 3rdarm

August 12th,
1:29 pm

Arthur Mullen makes a good point in his response. We have all seen photographs of humming birds in flight, their wings outstretched and seemingly motionless. The high speed camera shutter offers us a glimpse of reality not available to the naked eye. Would any of us consider this an example of “fauxtography?”

— Posted by Walter Gajewski

August 12th,
1:45 pm

@6: I think you’re talking about High Dynamic Range photography. In fact, HDR can more closely approximate what the eye sees than conventional film or digital photography can. The inherent limitations of the photographic process as regards the range of luminance that can be captured within a single image results in images with greater contrast than what we can perceive with our eyes. So it’s a mistake to compare HDR to vision the way you have; HDR certainly gives a result that is very different from what we have been trained to regard as a realistic image by decades of exposure to photography, but it can (depending on how it is used) result in an image that is very similar to what you can perceive with your eyes alone.
Of course it is a manipulation, any recording of reality inherently involves manipulation.

— Posted by Eugene Mosier

August 12th,
2:50 pm

In reply to Arthur Mullen in re HDR (reply 6), the technique of compressing a high contrast image has been done with film for over 70 years by the likes of Ed Weston and Ansel Adams using The Zone System, in order to hold highlight and shadow details.

Instead of shooting multiple sheets of film and then compositing them in the enlarger, though, the Zone System requires the photographer to meter to several spots and determine which brightness “zones” he wants to place them in for the final print, jotting down exposure notes with each film sheet, including — Importantly — shooting ISO for the film.

Then, once the photographer gets back to the lab, he develops the negative, but with two degrees of freedom: The developer used, and the time in the particular developer, all in order to map the image tones to the dynamic range of the film.

The Zone System is still widely used in film photography, but with two caveats:

1) It only works for B&W film, as E-6 (color slide) and C-41 (color negative) film developing must be developed to very tight tolerances, else colors shift all over the place;

2) This technique is almost always performed with sheet film, as the entire roll of film would have to be exposed similarly, as each exposure will be developed identically.

Dan Schwartz
Sayreville, NJ

— Posted by Dan Schwartz

Pastel Liberty aka 3rdshimi Versus the Pink Brunchbots

Here are images constructed by my sister and I. A game for Sunday: can you tell who did what?

The flame of the statue of libety is on the other side of the world as the Olympic flame

Bear on the medals podium