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At last, a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim April 24, 2010

Posted by mirl in Uncategorized.
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I can remember regularly browsing the used cameras aisle of Goodwill a few years ago in search of a bargain-priced Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim.  Those of you who are into lomo cameras will know that the "Viv" is among the favorite "toy" film cameras because of its wide lens.  How wide?  22mm.  But its appealing qualities to the lomo buff do not stop there.  The resulting images from this cheaply built plastic manual camera can be really nice, in the way that only film images can be nice.  And it's light and small, with no bells nor whistles.

Anyway, I turned to thrift stores back then to find a used Viv because its price had gone up due its popularity.  One could find them on eBay back then, but at ridiculous prices.  Just today, I checked eBay out of curiosity and found only one Viv listed, and the price was at $30.  Remember, this is a plastic manual film camera—fixed aperture, fixed shutter speed.    That's it. Almost disposable (gasp!).  There is currently a commercially available replica selling at around $25 to $30 depending on where you look.  At that time, a few years ago, I had no luck finding an inexpensive (think one to two dollars) Viv and I eventually forgot about it.  I had several other "toy" cameras after all.

Well today, on a whim, I dropped by Goodwill looking for nothing in particular, but hopeful.  The Viv was the last thing on my mind.  As I was going through the pile of used cameras (this has become a habit of mine whenever I'm at the Goodwill store), what did I find but a Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim!  It took a few seconds before I recognized it and for the find to sink in.  And then I said to myself, "oh".  It looks unused, and everything works.  Sometimes I can be lucky.  How much did I pay for it?

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Cheaper moles August 29, 2009

Posted by mirl in Uncategorized.
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I had recently read about Piccadilly notebooks while I was browsing the web trying to satisfy my notebook fixation.  They are basically Moleskine notebooks in design, at less than half the price.  (Here is a review from Black Cover, entitled "Proving Moleskine is Just a Style: The Piccadilly Notebook".)  They are available at Borders bookstores.  Today, I dropped by the local Borders and picked up three of them:  Two small (3.5 x 5.5 in.) notebooks and a large (7.25 x 10 in.) one.  The notebooks with blue labels in the photo are ruled, soft-cover notebooks, while the one with a yellow label is a graph, hard-cover notebook.  It also comes in a style with blank pages, but I did not see those on the bookshelf that I was browsing.  A medium size is also available, which is the same size as the medium Moleskine.

When I compared the paper of the Piccadilly to that of my Moleskines, I realized that the Piccadilly paper (acid-free) is thicker.  When I tested my very wet fountain pens on the Piccadilly, the paper did much better than the Moleskine paper, which actually did terribly on the fountain pen test.

Borders is having a sale this weekend, so the small notebooks went for a penny less than $4, while the large notebooks were a penny less than $6.  So my total cost for the three notebooks was less than the price of a medium-sized Moleskine.  Thank goodness.

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Striking gold August 15, 2009

Posted by mirl in poetry, reading.
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I read Alison Flood's recent article about the BBC's current Poetry Season where she was campaigning against Kipling being UK's favorite poet (again).  She reveals that Gerard Manley Hopkins is her favorite poet, and her favorite poem Hopkins's "Spring and Fall".  Naturally, after reading Flood's heartfelt endorsement, I followed the link to the poem.  Reading as a treasure hunt.

MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

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Dirty airplane window August 14, 2009

Posted by mirl in thoughts, travel.
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This airplane window was so scratched up and dirty, my camera couldn't auto-focus past it.  Another thing to note about this photo is that prominent brown patch out on the wing which indicates a peeled surface.  It would seem that this aircraft has been in the service long.  So as I was sitting there, on this particular ride, staring at the brown spot, the thought which came to mind while I was also puzzling about the aircraft material that the peeled surface revealed was how much passengers really weighed in the scheme of the airline industry's scale of risks and benefits.  I succeeded in disturbing myself.

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Shadows on the wall July 19, 2009

Posted by mirl in personal, thoughts.
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If worm holes existed, shadows on the wall would be them. This comes
from the realization that shadows on the wall on a bright, breezy
summer day are potent stimuli for the mind which in turn sends a
momentary, paralyzing current through the body. They evoke so much of
the past, not so much in terms of actual memories, but in a sensation
of the past. It is a wonderful trick of the mind, more so considering
that the silently swaying shadows don’t last very long, can be gently
wiped away by a determined passing cloud. Everything, in one fleeting
moment.

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Bird sightings July 17, 2009

Posted by mirl in photography, travel.
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Or some of them, anyway.  There were also fighter jets taking off and landing that day (no kidding), but everytime I saw them my camera was in my bag.  Those things are tiny compared to the commercial planes, but they have fire coming out of their tails.

See the full gallery on posterous

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Milstein Hall of Ocean Life July 2, 2009

Posted by mirl in fun, travel.
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Here are some more photos from the American Museum of Natural History.  This set was taken at the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life.  As you can see, it is a cavernous two-level hall, and the most striking thing about it is the luminous blue ceiling.  That large, cigar-shaped structure that can be seen in the photos of the ceiling is a replica of a blue whale suspended in mid-air.  The structure spans most of the length of the hall.

See the full gallery on posterous

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Star Trek TNG Season 1 June 30, 2009

Posted by mirl in fun, movies, Star Trek, The Next Generation.
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Seven DVDs, twentiy-five episodes, plus extras.  Lots of fun.

See the full gallery on posterous

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Fun at the museum June 23, 2009

Posted by mirl in fun, travel.
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(Note:  Since Gmail seems to have botched my inline images, I am resending this using attachments.  Tsk, Gmail.)

Today I spent a fun day at the American Museum of Natural History.  Boy did I have a blast—the kind of blast that kids have at these kinds of places.  The things one encounters at this museum are exactly the kinds of things that inspired my imagination and awe when I was a kid, and it was good to feel that way again.  (If you knew my profession, that would seem like an odd statement from me, but actually it would be revealing, as it was to me.)  I have been to this museum once before and I didn't remember it to be this much fun then.  I think part of the reason is that I went alone this time and so had the benefit of being left to my own thoughts and musings and to my own insatiable curiosity which was uninhibited.  That and a few other things.

I pretty much spent the whole day there, from museum opening to closing times.  Lunch was from the museum's food court which had a decent salad bar.  It also had the expected fare of burgers, pizza, and hot dogs, but I went for the salad bar.  By that time I was really hungry since I had skipped breakfast.  My fare consisted of lettuce, artichokes, cherry tomatoes, strips of grilled chicken (a little dry), hard boiled egg, some roasted red potatoes, and just a little penne pasta.  These all went into a small plate and which weighed in at around $15 including the soda water.  There was also a selection of desserts which I skipped.  It was a little hard to find a seat since the place was full.  It's not really a place to hang out in, but where one eats in a hurry and then goes to see some more of the museum.  It was also pretty noisy.

The first photo shows the main lobby of the museum—the "Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall"—where one buys tickets.  (My Lumix has a fairly wide angle, but still not quite wide enough for really large dinosaurs.)  I snapped the photo right before I walked out the door.  The second photo is that of the display hall for the "North American Mammals" exhibit.  I'll post some more photos and musings when I get the chance.



See the full gallery on posterous

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Today’s antioxidants June 17, 2009

Posted by mirl in photography, Polaroid, SLR 680.
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Because life is tough.  Ehem.  Yes they're sweet.

 

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