Thursday, July 26, 2007

Photos - fwiw...

I have been playing around with the old camera again...

This is an image that I can not get Shirley's digital to produce. There may well be others about that can.

No photo-shop, the image is produced "in camera".


I first saw this kind of image as a prop in a tv programme - goodness knows what the programme was - and it really grabbed me. It was based upon a woman's high-heeled shoe. It took me about a week to work out what that image was, and another three months to work out how it was done.

This is the base objet for the image above. It is a small vase ( el cheapo well made in Vietnam ) that Shirley liked the look of and which it occurred to me had some possibilities.

How was it done...

And if anyone can point me in the direction of a digital camera that can replicate the technique I will be sorely tempted.

Oh, and I am not 100% happy with this effort either. I need to set up the old Minolta so that I can set the flash to light the back-board and remove the shadows on this version. Does that give a clue? No, not really.

Rand-om Thoughts 1

It is strange, in a way, to start reading a "new" author such as Ayn Rand particularly when the writing is preceded by the kind of reputation that Rand has.

As a matter of accident as much as anything else, the first reading was Capitalism – The Unknown Ideal; a collection of essays rather than a consolidated study. Included in the book are "guest" essays from Nathaniel Brandon, Alan Greenspan, and Robert Hessen. To further compound the confusion, I did not read the essays front to back, but began with the first essay What is Capitalism then – because of Rand’s own references – to the Appendices comprising The Nature of Government and Man’s Rights.

At least I can give Rand top marks for honesty – the very first two sentences in her Introduction read –
This book is not a treatise on economics. It is a collection of essays on the moral aspects of capitalism.

To debate the morality of a topic is – as I have already found out – extremely difficult. It does however explain the first of the misgivings that I have about these of Rand’s writings. There is nothing that one can say is "wrong" in the same way as one can not vote "No" in a Statutory Referendum that asks the question "I support the principles of Law and Order". It also leads to the first of my criticisms, as far as they go –

It is a pity perhaps that Rand died before the internet and particularly the blogiverse were developed. The prospect of serious debate between Rand, (to choose contemporaries of hers) Friedman, Samuelson and Galbraith in a public forum would be just too juicy to let pass. Sadly, it is not to be. For me to critique Rand’s economics is a cheek indeed but one which is not put aside too easily.

But the connect between Rand and internet has another aspect; one which bothers me somewhat.

Her essays read very much like the kind of items that I have penned as the probligo on both my own site and as comment on others. Not so much in content or message as in form. You know, the kind of thing that TAOTB, Dave Justus and the rest get their knickers knotted about like "Where is the supporting data?"... But then, if you are talking morality there is no supporting data, huh!!

So, the initial reaction based upon what I have read thus far is of a blancmange – a junket – of dubious consistency and made from low fat milk. Put another way, the content of the three essays read so far has been very difficult to disagree with. The principles expounded by Rand are so general and of fundamental basis that any disagreement is nonsensical. However, that is like the Statutory Referendum I referred to earlier. The statement is formed in such a way that any other answer is wrong. If you accept the fundamental premise then Rand’s argument is indisputable. In order to disagree with Rand you have to disagree with the base premise. It is not that black and white I believe...

I shall ponder and shall write further, as time permits...

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hmm, thanks TF... I think...

There has been quite a number of these “meme” things floating around over the past few years. I have responded to some, others are just dead. Not just dead boring; just dead.

TF started with food – his breakfast – which quite surprisingly sounds not too different from my own Usually toast and marmalade or plum jam; porridge with brown sugar and milk. This morning being Saturday it was poached eggs on toast. I have just put a focaccio loaf into the oven and I am making a good minestrone for lunch when we expect number one son and grand-daughter. Almost-daughter-in-law is sick and so is staying home in bed. So perhaps there is the first thing about the ol’ probligo – I like my food. I enjoy the creation of coooking in its widest sense because some of the best things I make are uncooked.

Taking a different angle on the ol’ probligo and you will find words. Lots of words. Too many some might argue, and not well put together or thought out. If I choose one word, the immediate response (this morning anyway) is “curio”. Not just that one word, but the development of the whole etymology that flows from the original Greek root. Curio – a reminder of things from the past, a souvenir, an aide-memoir. Moving along the line and we get “curious”. Both senses of the word apply. Curious – enquiring, interested in, seeking experience. Curious – Strange, out-worldly, out of the ordinary. How curious is that? But we have more of the road ahead with “Curiosity”. Well, perhap I cheat there a bit as it is first of all a combination of the first two meanings. But then I can console my self with the idea of “The Old Curiosity” – something that you might find in “Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe”. Not inappropriate for a probligo.

Well, the focaccio is cooked and I am only two down. The focaccio looks good too...

TF mentioned aircraft. I was right with him until I got to “i-pod”. I am an aircraft nut. Not as one might expect in terms of specific types of aircraft or their use as weapons or vehicles or anything of that nature. It is the science and the principles of flight that fascinate. That is why since the age of about six I have been building and flying (with little talent but great enjoyment) model aircraft. Top of the list in my book is the humble chuck glider – the simplest and most complex aircraft known to man. If you want me to fill anything from a couple pages to “Zen and The Art of The Humble Chuck Glider” it would be done but would also be dead boring for 99.99995% of the world’s population.

Right, the minestrone is on the stove and should be self-sufficient once it comes to a simmer in about ten minutes.

Three down. Hey, TF!!! This ain’t easy!

Number four has to be family. Not only the probligo is “strange”, it is a trait that seems to run in the family. My immediate family is wife, son, daughter, son’s partner, granddaughter, son-in-law (sorry, Big D, but that is how it reads off the tree...) I have one surviving brother. My youngest brother was killed in a rta the Christmas after his 21st birthday. He would have been 55 this year. Both my birth parents are dead. They were both school teachers – I blame that one fact for my very repressed character. My step-mother is still going. She is a retired Anglican Minister. I have great respect for her and she is a lovely person as well. I have three half-sisters all of whom have their own families (in one form or another). My youngest sister is much the same age as my daughter. My paternal grandfather was a real estate agent and land valuer, and spent some years “before the mast” in square riggers. Google image “Pamir” and very likely you will find a photo... Other than that, there is nothing very remarkable at all about the family. The family name is English, not German despite the family emigrating to Hamburg before reaching NZ. I track back to North Shields (Northumberland) and Hamburg on my father’s side, lowland Scots on my mother’s side. Pretty bog-standard mongrel kiwi really...

That minestrone smells GOOD!!

One of the things that I very rarely see in any of the responses to these “meme” things is culture. Not that I have “culture” in the form of being arty or any of the faux-culture meanings. I mean the culture I was raised with, that is the part of my life I can not detach. Coming from a pakeha family, European is the very predominant culture. I think, I act, like a pakeha. But through an accident of fate, or my father’s rather ineffectual attempts to better himself through promotion within the government teaching service, I have learned and retained a strong attachment to the Maori culture. This is not a matter of “doing” kapa haka, or speaking Maori fluently (though that is on my list of ‘to-dos’) or anything like that. It is knowing that I live beside another culture. It is knowing that the world view of that culture is quite different from mine. It is knowing that there is much in that culture that deserves respect and admiration. It is an important part of the probligo because it has opened a window to the rest of the world. I can not look at a person without the feeling that I do not necessarily know his culture, his beliefs, his history. Without that knowledge I am the stranger, I have no right to assume that I am his better, I have no right to believe I may impose my culture and all of its baggage on him. As important, I know that I can not “live” Maori in the way that I “live” European. Even more important is the fact that it leads to the realisation that the reverse is true. Think on that for a while, because it is a critical part of what I see is wrong with the global village these days.

Half way there!!

Pretty boring so far, huh! Well maybe that is just another part of the ol’ probligo. “Boring ol’ fart” ranked high as a ‘net moniker except that there were a number of others with fairly close similar titles. But there is another link – that of profession. Y’see the boring ol’ probligo masquerades during the working day as an accountant. Not the high paid, Partner-and-expense-account type accountant. Just the humble pen-pushing, desk-driving, bean counting accountant. I specialise in systems because that is where I started and moved from there into cost accounting at a very late stage when I realised that number crunching was something that I really enjoyed. So, after schooling in the sciences and mathematics the latter has led me into a profession that is related to mathematics and verges on being an art.

The minestrone WAS good. So was the bread. A very satisfying lunch all round. And I am getting desperate here. I refuse to touch on politics – that is not “an interesting fact about the probligo” at all. “Religion” I am going to leave to last - mebbe.

Let me follow the “art” word for a moment. For some reason I have this hankering to make something out of my interest in photography. There are a few examples of the probligo’s attempts floating around. The heading photo is a photoshop of two images – the toetoe and the cloud is one, the gannet the other. I joined up with the local Camera Club for a couple of years. That was quite a lot of fun I started with the intention of learning as much as I could about “what” to take and “how” to take it. What I did learn is that the first is the talent that I might have in small measure. The second is the science of light and magic that constitutes photography. I went to a seminar (free because the club was running it and I scabbed a complimentary), during the course of which the sponsors (thanks Kodak) handed out disposable cameras loaded with 12 frames of film. That afternoon was spent at the Colonial Village, following which the cameras were handed in and the films processed overnight. I was sitting with one of NZ’s top professional photographers the next morning when the prints were given back to us. He sat there and thumbed through his prints, flicking them out on the table in front of him. After sitting and looking at them for a minute he mumbled “I have $10,000 worth of gear in the car and I have to wonder why...” I quietly pointed out that it was not the camera but the person that took the photo. The equipment he used increased the possibilities for him, increased the confusion for me.

That makes the next a given. I enjoy a challenge. Most particularly I enjoy challenging myself. I have this intention of trying my hand at painting – as in “art” painting. The likelihood of me doing any good is low. I met up with a lady – Freda Simmonds – who had produced a series of paintings of the Parengarenga sand dunes. I wish I had the talent to do similar. I enjoy working with wood. I was taught some rudimentaries of carving by Pakipaki Harrison, a master carver of very high mana and repute. I wish I had a tenth of his talent. In the more recent future, I have all the possibilities in the recuperation from my mitral valve replacement. There are any number of physical challenges that I could set in the course of that rehabilitation. Sorry Al, I will not be trying for a marathon. I will be looking to get into the hills and the bush again, but carrying a camera instead of a rifle. There is so much to see. There is so much to do. There is so much to learn. I intend getting back to the water, not to take up masters competition swimming but as a means of staying fit. The biggest challenge of all – making all of these good intentions happen...

Which by my reckoning leaves one more.

Should I stray from things temporal? Should I have the cheek to start on my thoughts on religion, the spirit? Ah, there is the chink.

I would not be able to handle Service in any of the armed forces, or police; anything that requires the automatic recognition of authority is an anathema to the ol’ probligo. It surfaced for the first time in my teens. Secondary school at that time included an afternoon a month with “School Cadets”. Marching up and down; the occasional session on the butts with .22 rifles of dubious accuracy; for the senior boys carrying a Lee Enfield .303 and the senior range at the end of the beach to practice with Bren Gun, Lee Enfield and for the top score on the day the chance to “try out” the brand new FN carbine. Some of us (I was one, I can admit) got a much better afternoon out of trying to shoot a dry twig – previously identified to the others - off the top of the butts. Nothing on the little paper bullseyes, much to the ire of the WO2 in charge. I was among the better ones at that. A shilling sized grouping (about ½ inch) with a .22 over 30 metres might not sound difficult. Well it isn’t, on a calm day with consistent ammo - neither of which existed in that real world. It is much more fun trying to take out the brown twig just to the right of the canvas or the dried lupin stalk on top of the butts. But the important thing here is that the probligo does not, can not, recognise without question any form of authority. Been on the carpet a few times for insubordination and incalcitrance. Been on the same carpet for stupidity as well more times than I care to remember. It has always been a matter of conflict – teachers who demanded “an enquiring mind” against others who demanded “don’t think, just do”. I certainly preferred the enquiring mind to the obedience. I must confess that is still so, and long may it stay that way.

Who can I pick on –

Al the Old Whig
Neo-neocon – doubt that she would be seen in this particular sewer.
My sister – not likely.
Dave Justus

Nah, too hard. Anyone passing by who likes the idea of these “eight facts” do it for yourself and leave a comment with link here.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Health news - 2

Got the word Tuesday...

The ol' probligo is cleared for immediate action, working half days to start.

Interesting things to consider...

Did you know that anaesthesia affects your ability to concentrate? In my case the effect could last over three months post-op. There is an apparent correlation between time under anaesthetic and the duration of side effects. Others mentioned include depression, mood swings, frustration, panic attacks, hallucinations, nightmares, sleep problems...

I have been very lucky.

Sunday, July 01, 2007



TF asks "Why not?"

Well I guess that the answer to that runs something like this -

Our (15 year old) tv is developing an intermittent fault. The cause is most likely a small capacitor in the colour decode sections somewhere. The part would probably be worth $2, maybe at the outside $10. IF I could find someone reliable to do the repair, it would be worth the bother to get it fixed.

I could spend anywhere from $800 to $8,000 replacing it.

The rebuttal to TF's question is this -

If I spend $8,000 on a new tv, does the extra expense improve the quality of the programmes any?

So it is with i-things. If I spend USD1,000 to have the latest means of accessing the 'net, does that improve the crap (including what I write) any? Does it make a better telephone than what I already got? Judging by the frustrations experienced by the executives at work with their Bluetooths, Sharktooths, Elephanttusks, eyepods or whatever the flavour of the month is, does it make communication any more effective or efficient?

Anyone getting the feeling that the ol' probligo is a Luddite?