Monthly Archives: December 2005

Octopus massager

Octopus massager

The coolest gift I saw this holiday was this octopus massage tool. You grab the head and use the tentacles to massage. I wish it had come to me, but no such luck.

It may be a piece of crap but to me it looked like a cool piece of plastic and a great design and it definitely needed to be documented IMHO.

The power of tags

I know I’m late to write about this but in spending so much time on flickr I’ve gotten used to and excited about tags.

On flickr tags are words or short phrases used to describe an image.

Erin enjoying the holidayTags for this image might be:


Clicking on a tag on flickr will display all of the pictures in your account that share that tag, for instance, Erin.

Tags and categories/sets
Tags are different from categories or what we call “sets” on flickr. In some ways tags replace categories but sometimes it’s useful to have a courser way to sort through large amounts of information. I still make flickr sets and still give posts on this weblog categories although I think the importance of that structural element will diminish in time as more people get used to tags.

Once you wrap your brain around the possibilities you can use tags creatively as a way to sort and find images. In exploring flickr via tag clicking you may notice the link on the left side of pages: See all public photos tagged with erin. This will be true for any tag you use and so, it’s useful to get a sense of what the common tags are if you want your pictures to interact with others on flickr.

You can see a list of the most popular flickr tags at any time, in case you’re undecided about how to tag your photos so they “connect” with others. The way they are displayed is called a “tag cloud,” more use makes for bigger type.

I’ve been using tags to sort out the lenses and camera gear I used to take pictures and it’s been quite useful to me and I’m told, to others who look at my images on flickr. Here are a few of my commonly used gear tags (clicking on these will display all the images I took with that gear):

Canon EOS 20D
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro
Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L
Canon EF 135mm f/2 L
Canon EF 200mm f/2.8 L

Using tags with WordPress
There are various plugins that allow the use of tags with WordPress, the weblog engine used to power this web site. I’ve been looking into both the plugins as well as how high end designers are using them at their sites.

I’ve also been looking into a new archiving system for this web site. There are now enough posts up here so that finding older ones is awkward if you happened to tune in late.

Tags and archiving systems and a structural hierarchy are all things mulling around in my head at the moment. I hope to update this site to reflect that mulling in the coming few months.

Erin enjoying the holiday

Erin enjoying the holiday

There was enough going on with present opening that I was able to sneak around with the camera and get plenty of candid shots of my granddaughter Erin who tends to be a little camera shy. Either she poses (no good) or sticks her tongue out (cute but grandma doesn’t like it).

You know something, family photojournalism is hard. The politics alone could kill you.

Erin tells a secret

Erin tells a secretThe complexity of Erin’s language has taken a leap in the past six months and it’s a lot of fun to watch and listen as she uses language to affect her world. At the same time the complexity of her world is increasing and now she has things that only mom and maybe grandma need to hear, so there are secrets.

Grandpa’s camera can’t lip read but it can catch fleeting expressions.

Erin gets the sweater

Erin gets the sweater

Erin finally got the sweater Anne knit for her and she quickly showed the appropriate gratitude. Even posed for a picture.

However, she was much more interested in fairy tale toys because the last time she was at our house we watched The Princess Bride and she adored it (we were worried it would give her nightmares). Now she thinks Robin Wright is it (who doesn’t?) and is running around quoting Wallace Shawn: “inconceivable!” and Andre the Giant: “anybody want a peanut?”

Morning light on chairs

Morning light on chairs

Every morning I make coffee for Anne and me, feed the cat, start a fire in the wood stove and if it’s cold I sit right where I’m sitting now (near the stove) and look at email on this PowerBook in my lap.

As the sun comes up it beams through various front windows of the house and sometimes a Kitty toy gets lit up. The dining room chairs get lit as well and I generally have not had enough coffee to muster the energy to attempt a photograph when this happens. Yesterday I gave it a shot.

Anne’s holiday bread

Anne's holiday bread

This is a challah-like bread (egg bread) minus some of the eggs and with raisins. Anne just made six of them and the house smells pretty darn good, wish there was a way to get that smell into an image.

On Christmas morning she’ll heat up a few of these and make a glaze of powdered sugar, butter, and lemon juice to drizzle on top. Wish you were here.

Anne’s red musk oil

Anne's red musk oil

This little bottle of scent has been sitting on the bureau and I’ve been meaning to attempt a photograph.

By the way, I learned that oil is really oily (duh) and after touching this vial my keyboard now smells rather musky. The good part is that I have a bit of Anne on my keyboard for a while.

Richard and Anne stretched in a Photo Booth

Richard stretched in a Photo BoothLeave it to me to brave new territory in making a fool out of myself. The thing is, Mac OS X Photo Booth is so much fun and will make you laugh so hard it’s worth it to humiliate yourself. I can see why Steve Jobs almost wet his pants during his last keynote when he demoed this.

Photo Booth is only bundled with new iMacs with built in iSight cameras now but at some point it will be de-coupled and sold. Until then there are copies floating around and one landed on me. I just happen to have an iSight camera. The rest is, well, you can see.

Hey, what's that smell?Yes, Anne gave me permission to post this so don’t go crazy.

The thing that’s cool about the older iSight (and not the iMac with iSight built in) is that the camera is on a long firewire cable and you can take it where no video cam has gone before… aim it at your wife sitting on the couch and with a wireless setup, walk around the house and outside with it.

Check out more outrageous Photo Booth stuff here: Mac Photo Booth

Anne’s feet showing delight

Anne's feet showing delightAnne was just finishing a white sweater for Erin and I tried like mad to get some images of her doing the final work on the neck and of course, I’m not happy with the results. This shot of her feet, showing delight in finishing a nice sweater for her granddaughter is more like it. I’d love to crop out the piece of yarn but I found it hard to get enough of her feet and pants in doing that so there it is. This is my first RAW image. No post processing save making a jpeg for flickr.

Oh boy, Mamen, Dale, Carlos, Aaron… here I come.

Salt and pepper at Sardi’s

Salt and pepper at Sardi'sNote that even a relatively fancy place like Sardi’s has dented caps on salt and pepper shakers. Maybe after this picture gets around they’ll clean up their act.

The cool thing about a place like (a theater district landmark) this is that my 90 year old mother ate there when she was a young “hottie” in New York. Now, if we could somehow find out if in fact she dented this pepper shaker…

Anne taking in the bar scene

Anne taking in the bar sceneA good friend asked us to meet him for dinner in New York City last night. Funny thing is, he lives up here in Connecticut too but he was there for a play and thought it might be fun to have dinner together.

While waiting for dinner in the bar, I caught Anne taking in the rather animated discussion across the room. It’s fun to eavesdrop on people eavesdropping (me, Anne, them).

John Alter

John AlterThe reason I brought my camera to my wife’s school holiday party was to take a picture of John Alter.

John is the head of the English department at the school and he’s a most interesting person who I always enjoy talking with.

His father was a missionary in northern India and that’s where John grew up. John is worldly, literate, warm, funny, and wide open to provincial, less well read types like me. These qualities that I like in him make him a spectacular teacher and students adore him. You would think my wife’s students, many of whom are dyslexic and find reading difficult would hate this guy but they love him too.

John takes a small group of students from the school to India each summer and one of these days Anne and I are thinking of either stowing away or trying to go as bag wallahs.

For those of you who live in India or are familiar with Indian cinema and television, here’s a special treat: John’s brother is Tom Alter, the famous Indian movie star (plays villains I hear).

Erin’s next sweater

Erin's next sweaterAnne knits, and what’s amazing is that for her it’s a background activity. I guess all knitters know this but for those of us who are challenged in ways that make knitting difficult if not impossible (attention, counting, pre-visualization, dexterity, patience…) it’s a big deal.

In the last few months Anne has made me a vest, made her two daughters sweaters (more than one each I think), a scarf for my mother, a new hat for Erin and a black sweater to go with her school uniform. She’s also made numerous things for herself. And this white sweater won’t be the last thing she makes before Christmas.

By the way, she does all of this with the cat chewing on the ends of the yarn and when Anne puts the knitting down to do something else, the cat immediately jumps up and lays down on it, hairing it all up. Everything Anne has knitted in the past 15 years has cat hair included, no extra charge.

I channelled Anne’s smile to you

I channelled Anne's smile to youLast night my wife Anne dragged me to the holiday party the head of her school throws each year. I really shouldn’t say “dragged” because I’ve gotten to know some of her colleagues and they’re wonderful people. It was a great party but I don’t work there so I felt a bit awkward at times.

So, after I ran out of conversation I went into the room where we had piled our coats and pulled out my camera. Nothing better than a camera to hide behind at a time like this. It’s also a great conversation starter: either people go nuts over your equipment or they tell you theirs is bigger, longer, fancier, simpler, blah blah blah. No competing with me last night though: I had the 85mm f/1.2 mounted with its hood. Dang, that’s one kick-ass looking rig and I was shooting away like I knew what I was doing (most of my shots turned out like crap but they’ll never know).

Toward the end of the evening, after dinner I spotted Anne in conversation from across the room. She has the most open-hearted smile and it’s for real: she really is an open-hearted person.

I doubt I’m the only person on earth who knows what a great person she is, but the fact that I was able to capture it with my camera and share it makes me feel good about me.