Monthly Archives: April 2007

Mostly Martha

Mostly Martha (AKA Bella Martha) is an absolute gem of a movie. This movie is not a blockbuster, it’s a small, nuanced character study but, what characters to study!

Martha is an obsessive compulsive German master chef who cooks, lives, worries and tries desperately to control everything and eventually loses control and loves. Martha is played by the German actress Martina Gedeck and she is outstanding. I’ve never seen her in another movie, maybe never will, but no matter, she nailed this part. I would say her performance is one of the best I’ve seen in any movie, ever. If you see this movie, make note of how Martha puts on her apron. It’s incredible how Martina Gedeck gets physical nuance. Her face, her gestures, everything.

For me, a dyslexic, to call a German movie with subtitles one of my favorites means something, believe me.

There is an American version of this movie coming out soon with Katherine Zeta-Jones in the lead. I’m sure I’ll see it but I can’t believe I’ll like it better than this original version.

My good friend David Darling did the some of the soundtrack for the German version along with Keith Jarrett.

California Poppies

California Poppy Painting

Flintridge, California. I found a cluster of California poppies off the beaten track at Descanso Gardens and did a small series on the variability in this one square yard of flowers.

California Poppy Emerging from Watercolor Bokeh

Three States of California Poppy

The various plants in this cluster were either about to bloom or in full bloom and the intense orange color brought to mind Buddhist monks in their robes.

California Poppies Aiming at the Sun

California Poppy Lit from the Inside

Unopened California Poppy

California Poppy Bud

gSpell

gSpell is a system service extension for Mac OS X that uses the Google spelling engine to correct spelling. It looks at least as good if not better than OS X’s built in spelling service.

It goes without saying that in order to use it one must be online but these days we’re online quite a bit of the time.

(Source Daring Fireball Linked List.)

In Pursuit of Tea

In Pursuit of Tea will give you everything you ever wanted to know about tea: growing, harvesting, buying, brewing and drinking, with a sprinkling of philosophy and politics tossed in the pot. Dang, tea is deep. I guess I knew that but now I really know it.

Source: Sandrine Harris

xPad is back

Garret Murray has re-released xPad as a universal binary. And, its now free. Great.

xPad is a nice little notepad application for Mac OS X that I used for years. I’m delighted he’s putting time into it again as it’s a useful application.

I also use Yojimbo which is industrial stregnth xPad and more but I think there’s still a need for xPad. I’m glad to see it again.

Balancing Public Safety, Forced Mental Treatment

NPR’s Talk of the Nation had a great show on today: Balancing Public Safety, Forced Mental Treatment.

It’s also available through the iTunes Music Store as a podcast: Podcasts/NPR/Talk of the Nation.

This show both describes a broken mental health system and some of the good that’s come from advocacy groups helping psychotic patients learn how to live in a world that doesn’t understand them and is frightened of them.

Two things:

I’ve been with people having serious psychotic episodes two times in my life and these were the scariest experiences I’ve ever had. I would guess that the reason we find these things so frightening is that we can easily project ourselves into the psychotic person’s place. Dealing with someone who is seriously mentally ill is maybe one of the hardest things any family member or friend will ever do. This show will give you a taste of it from all sides.

As a person with a learning disability (LD) I latched on to the psychiatric rights movement (The Madness Network in my day) because there was no LD adult advocacy movement in the early days. I think social, political, and educational support for LD adults is still way behind the general disabilities rights groups as well as the psychiatric rights groups.

The most heartening voice on the show, to me, was that of David Oaks who is “out” as a psychotic adult and leads a successful psychiatric advocacy group. He both told it like it was and is and offered hope outside of traditional mental health support services which these days are all about psychotropic drugs.

This show is worth listening to.

Coda, one-window web development for Mac OS X

Panic has released Coda, one-window web development for Mac OS X which looks like a wonderful combination of Transmit, their great FTP client, a text editor and a CSS editor all wrapped up in a very nice looking package.

I’m trying it right now and I’m liking it very much. The Panic guys have always been true Mac developers who make solid, inexpensive products and support them well. I can’t wait to really dig into this one. Oh boy, new Mac software!

Warming Up

Steve Simon has an interesting post at Inside Aperture on Warming Up.

I think for any activity where we expect to be “on” we need to warm up before the “on” time. Dancers know this as do jugglers and actors and performers of all types. Thinking of photography as “performance” isn’t far off the mark, not to put extra pressure on ourselves, but to better understand one of the reasons why we can have a “bad hair day” with our cameras. Warming up is one more way to help us get closer to “on” when we want to be.

I really like this idea and I’m going to try the improvisation exercises Steve recommends.

Chinese Political Prisoner Sues in U.S. Court, Saying Yahoo Helped Identify Dissidents

Chinese Political Prisoner Sues in U.S. Court, Saying Yahoo Helped Identify Dissidents: “The company is accused of abetting the commission of torture by helping Chinese authorities identify political dissidents who were later beaten and imprisoned.”

The fact that Cisco, Microsoft, and others have complied already as a cost of doing business in China is no excuse. Yahoo seems to have gone out of their way to help the Chinese government prosecute this man.

If we’re going to frown on US companies doing business with Iran and North Korea, I would think that we ought not hold China to a different standard just because it’s such a lucrative market.

(Source NYT > Business.)

Yahoo supplies information that gets Chinese journalist jailed

I was driving home just now and heard a piece of this story on All Things Considered. I looked around on the web and found little trace of it. Amazing.

The media watchdog [Reporters Without Borders] accused Yahoo of becoming a “police informant” in order to further its business ambitions [in China]. Developing story at BBC News.

If this turns out to be true I will be very upset with Yahoo and will start to move away from flickr, a company Yahoo owns.

Using Google’s web-based apps exclusively

WIRED’s Michael Calore spent a month using Google’s Web-Based Apps and documented it.

This is a useful read for anyone considering moving some or all of their work online.

Bottom line: even if the entire process was bulletproof, until one can be connected all the time, anywhere on earth (I’m sure Google is working on it) this is a tough road to go down because when you lose the connection, you don’t have access to your work.

Great Blue Heron on Our Pond

Great Blue Heron on the Hunt

Warren, Connecticut. The most beautiful great blue heron I’ve ever seen landed on our pond today. He had a black pony tail and a "beard" of feathers in front the likes of which I’ve not seen in herons that land on our pond and he was big as herons go. He circled the pond on foot four times, catching a few fish and guzzling them down his skinny, long neck. It was raining so I moved camera and tripod from window to window trying to get the best shots of him. I wish I could talk to him and let him know that I’d never hurt him, touch him or do a thing to him and we could come to an agreement: he gets all the fish and frogs he can eat, I get all the pictures I want. Maybe in some other universe this is possible. One can hope.

Great Blue Heron Swallowing a Fish

In this image he’s just eaten a small fish and its in the back of his mouth, on the way down his long throat.

Great Blue Heron Searching for Fish

He continued looking for fish and found two more before he left.

Canon updates EOS Digital Rebel XTi / 400D Firmware

Canon updates EOS Digital Rebel XTi / 400D Firmware

This firmware update (Version 1.0.5) incorporates the following fixes and improvements:

* Fixes the printing of lens names when using PictBridge.
* [Redeye 1] can now be selected when connecting with specific printers.
* Improves the reliability of communication with the Speedlite 380EX.

This firmware update applies to cameras with firmware versions up to 1.0.4 installed. If your camera’s firmware is already version 1.0.5, it is not necessary to perform this update.

(Source Digital Photography Review (dpreview.com).)

Swollen Stream

Swollen Stream

Warren, Connecticut. As some of you who live on the East Coast of the US know, we’ve all had a few days of intense rain. This type of storm is called a "nor’easter" because the storm moves from south and west to north and east (diagonally up the coast) and as it reaches New England circles back counter clockwise pulling water off the ocean and dropping it on us as rain or snow.

Our meandering stream is a torrent and lapping at the bottom of the bridge I built and am standing on to take this. It’s not a bad thing to wash out the gully every now and then, get rid of winter debris and get ready for spring flowers. Even with all of the windows closed, we can hear this roar in the house and its constant and both soothing and menacing at the same time.

Of course, with the invention of The Weather Channel and to a lesser extent CNN, what used to be just another storm is now a huge event, hyped to the max and dramatized with it’s own logo and music, all to sell soap and get us worked up. There have been enough cries of "wolf" in the past few years so that if, god forbid, another Floyd (our mini Katrina) came through, we might not believe it until it was upon us.