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April 30, 2006

California High Desert, Two

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CameraHolgaroid 120GF
LensHolga Glass 60mm f/8
Shutter @ Aperture1/100s @ f/8
Film / ISOPolaroid Type 89 / 100 ISO

Taken outside of Lancaster, California in a remote field of poppies accessible down a lonely dirt road.

My brother and I skipped through this field. In our best Wicket Witch of the West voice remarked over and over, "Poppies! Poppies! Poppies!!!"


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Main > Photoblog

April 29, 2006

California High Desert, One

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CameraHolgaroid 120GF
LensHolga Glass 60mm f/8
Shutter @ Aperture1/100s @ f/8
Film / ISOPolaroid Type 89 / 100 ISO

Taken outside of Lancaster, California in the high desert.

During the spring time, the high desert is so colorful and awe inspiring that no matter the window you put to the world it still looks impressive.

A funny little story from this field: after I took this shot my brother wanted to take one as well. I gave him the camera and started to walk back towards the car, a distance of perhaps 100 meters. The wind was cold and strong and I didn't want to risk having the wind snatch any trash from my hand into this beautiful country and the car offered perfect shelter in which to dispose of the rather wasteful Polaroid 80 process.

My brother came back to the car, unopened and developing Polaroid exposure in hand but with no camera! He had left it among the poppies! We had to carefully retrace our steps on the trailless land looking for this grouping of scrub in order to find where he set down the camera. Ha ha.

My brother and I could loose anything anywhere. It runs in the family. Once he managed to leave two meter and a half walking sticks that we had just used to climb mount Fuji with on a bullet train destined for Akita after we had just disembarked in Tokyo. Surprisingly, due mostly to the attentiveness of the Japanese cleaning crew, we got them back later that same day!

Similarly, I had once left my camera bag with about US$5,000 worth of equipment in it in a park full of "troubled" drunk and drinking Japanese youth at 1:00am. After having walked back a half-mile to the apartment in which we were staying, laying down to rest, I awoke at 2:00 am to realized my error! I returned only to find that a group of mean looking kids had been watching it for me, just in case somebody dishonest would have been interested in taking it. My brother and I owe a lot to the honesty of the Japanese and the emptiness of the high desert.


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Main > Photoblog

April 24, 2006

Evan at Ozu's Grave

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CameraKonica Minolta MAXXUM 7D
Lens (35mm Equiv.)Minolta 24mm f/2.8 (36 mm)
Exp. Prog. / Shutter @ ApertureAperture priority / 1/200 s @ f/5
Metering w/Adj. @ ISOSpot w/0.00 eV @ 200

...a continuation from a few days ago.


Following printouts of excellent directions we found on-line, we finally made it to Ozu's gravesite: a giant polished granite block carved with the Japanese character "mu" on it. "Mu" more or less means "not anything."

Why Ozu Yasujiro would have this emblazed on his grave, I'm not sure. But I do know a story invovling the character "mu" as told in the form of a Zen Koan.

In short, a monk asked a Great Master Shinsai of Joshu, "Does even a dog have the Buddha-nature or not?

The reply from the monk was simple, "mu."

It was really quiet in the graveyard. Evan and I dwelled in the shade for awhile to escape the heat before we took a walk back to the train station and went into the city of Kamakura to go and find the Daibutsu.

I haven't bothered to try and translate the characters off to the left of "mu" (see detail, left). Are there any Japanese-speakers out there who might be able to enlighten me?


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Main > Photoblog

April 23, 2006

Pontius Pilot

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One week ago and a day we were driving up to the high desert towards Lancaster, California. My father's financee Lauren told us we should stop in Vasquez and look at the Vasquez rock formation: a sedimentary stratum of geology jutting up and away from the Earth at a 30 degree angle no doubt the result of some earthquake long ago.

It was the day before Easter Sunday and we were surprised to find the place overrun with people looking as though they had been born from a nativity scene: brightly colored Israelite-themed clothing plus the odd roman soldier.

CameraHolgaroid 120GF
LensHolga Glass 60mm f/8
Shutter @ Aperture1/100s @ f/8
Film / ISOPolaroid Type 84 / 100 ISO

My dad sprang from the car like an excited child to an amusement park with his camera in hand to go off and interview people. I climbed a round on the rocks a bit with my brother who was wearing a pair of custom made goggles with IR filters. To these godly country folk we must have appeared to be aliens from another planet.

They were putting on a passion reenactment, the crucifiction of Jesus. Later I talked to Pontius Pilot and got the skinny that they were rehearsing for their 5:00am Easter Sunday performance. I asked to take his picture and I popped the Holga on him.

When we looked at the resulting photograph I think we both appreciated how the aesthetic of the resultant image and the theatrical subject both appeared to be misplaced in time.


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Main > Photoblog

April 22, 2006

Back From the Dead

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CameraHolgaroid 120GF
LensHolga Glass 60mm f/8
Shutter @ Aperture1/100s @ f/8
Film / ISOPolaroid Type 84 / 100 ISO

Spring in Minnesota is such a nice time of year. The snow yields and the ground begins to green. Tiny buds and flowers appear to make the trees illuminate in soft pastels. The sun begins to feel warm again.

As beautiful and welcomed as these seasonal changes are they do not come without caution: rivers may flood their banks, leaf-clogged sewers can back up, and sneezy itchy-eyed allergy suffers begin to contemplate suicide. Spring comes not without its costs.

Part of the attrition this year was our dear household mail and web server. A fan died and the sun-warmed heat of the office was enough to cook something (processor or RAM, I haven't determined which yet) to death akin to leaving a puppy in a closed vehicle in July. Luckily I'm the type of nerd that happens to have enough parts on hand to construct a replacement.

The old server died exactly the day I returned from vacation in California. I was in a chipper mood and had everything backed up so it didn't really bum me out much.

In fact I was ecstatic from the glow of a purchase of a brand new . In fact, I believe to be the last purchaser of this discontinued back from Freestyle Photo. I have already put it to good use.

Last week my father, his financee, brother and I drove out to the high desert north east of L.A; out near Lancaster. We drove up there to observe the annual spring blooming of the California Poppies.

The above portrait of me was taken by my brother out in a field off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.


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Main > Photoblog

April 5, 2006

Japanese Maples in Front of Engakuji

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My brother Evan researched instructions to find Yasujiro Ozu's grave and Engakuji (円覚寺) temple was the first stop.


Engakuji is just a short one and a half hour train ride out of Tokyo and it makes for a good escape. It is wonderful to get away from all the concrete and noise of the city and excurse towards the ocean. Being welcomed by these gorgeous Japanese maples into the tranquil domain of the temple seemed like scenery directly from Ozu.

This shot is trite. Nothing says "Western Interpretation of Canned Zen" better than out of focus foilage with a temple backdrop more than maples in Japan. Well, I guess at least they are not cherry blossums!

I remember from last year, when I was composing this shot, how it was more of a personal marker to help tell the story of going to find Ozu. I loaded it up in the image editor tonight and scrubbed it up enough to feel that I had made it post worthy.


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Main > Diary

April 1, 2006

Adagio Tea

I've been drinking a lot of tea recently. It didn't help that I bought a big Bodum three serving tea pot from my friends at Namaste Cafe (more on them in a future posting); I can now boil a huge pot of water and have pot next to me at all times while I work.

I've got a lot of places I can buy tea. I've generally purchased directly from Coffee & Tea, Ltd. in Linden Hills, Minneapolis. Tea seams to be a secondary stock item for them (well, I guess it's not Tea & Coffee, Ltd. is it?) but every once in awhile I've found a gem or two in the many glass jars they have squirreled away on their shelves.

If I cannot find what I like there, I've usually ordered from Tea Source. I've never been let down by their tea before and their mail-order catelog is great! I've got a few favorites from them that I re-order again and again. I keep them in big canisters at my house.

If I find myself at the Mall of America—which is rarely—I sometimes wander into Teavana. Their teas are good enough but their prices are horrible. My biggest irk with them is every time I go into their store an apelike urge wells up inside me and I feel like leaving a turd someplace in a corner. I've haven't heard a larger set of reguritated lies and pretension surrounding a set of products since the last time I mistakenly stepped into a Bang and Olafson store. I hate a shopping atmosphere that is engineered to make the customer feel like its a priviledge just to be allowed in there.

I received a gift certificate from Adagio Teas. When I ran out of my staples, some variety of Japanese Green and some variety of Oolong, I decided to pop on over there and place an order.

In general, it's a very clean and well organized site with just about every feature you could imagine for an eCommerce store centered around the business of tea. They've got snazy pictures of the leaves, comments sections, the ability to sort products along several different criteria, user reviews, accessories, and even a free downloadable tea timer!

I had been coveting my co-workers clear mug for a while so I ordered the Adagio-branded "clarity cup" and a couple of teas to go along with it: oolong #40 and sencha tea.

Shipping was fast and my order arrived within the week I had ordered. I was really impressed with their packing ability but mostly of all their packaging. I had expected bags of loose tea but had received instead little metallic canisters with plastic pop-top lids with color-printed labels complete with steep time and temperature that looked like they had been designed out by a graphic design student. The letter on the labels were done according to tea type: green for green and a green-hued brown for oolong. Well done.

It finally made sense as to why you couldn't order any arbitrary quanitiy of tea, they weight out the tea to fit in the container. It seems to make good sense. I only hope there is an option for rebuying the same tea from them in order to refill the container. I'd hate to develope a huge empty collection of these things.

The teas were good, not Earth shatteringly good but exactly as described by the copy written up on their website. I think I've discovered that I like oolongs that are not like "oolong #40" but are more toasty than champagne-like and light. User reviews for the tea I bought were all over the map. Several of them I suspect are not brewing their tea correctly. The clincher for me would be able to add "trust" to certain reviewers on the site that I believe match my palette. I'd love to mask off any clown that would add milk and sugar to an already great tea!

I have no doubts that business for them is going to grow and they're going to bring on some new features. All in all, not a bad site!

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Main > Software > jFlash

jFlash 1.6 Reviewed (in Japanese)

I was just perusing over the referrer logs for the site when I noticed a bunch of hits coming from a Japanese domain. I followed it and found it led me to a review of jFlash 1.6 (Freshmeat). Neat!

The review is here. It looks like they didn't have a bad thing to say! That's too bad because I could probably use some inspiration to come up with a web-based flashcard editor and clean up the front end a bit...

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