The Twilight Report

Your Home For Snappy Repartee

discovery

(warning: geeking out about Star Trek).

I was cautiously excited when I first heard that Star Trek was going to come back to television. It was a good sign, I think, when they hired Bryan Fuller who had worked on Deep Space 9 (DS9) and Voyager (VOY). It was less auspicious when they fired him and brought in people who had never worked on the series. I was troubled when I first saw the visuals in various trailers were reminiscent of JJ Abrams Kelvin timeline, despite the fact that we were being told that the series was to be set in the original or “Prime” timeline ten years before Kirk (two years after the first pilot of The Original Series (TOS), The Cage). Still I wanted to keep an open mind; as Garak would say “The essence of intellect”. I was hoping that having a series on television would be better than not having a series on television, even if it made a bit of a mess with canon. There were other things in my life so we didn't watch it right away. Maybe my skepticism kept me away, but I did always intend on watching it. This week I started seeing other fans tweet about the series, and I thought it might be good to watch the thing before someone spoiled it, so last night Lena and I sat down and watched the first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery.

(warnings: spoilers).

First let me say what I liked. I thought the casting was broadly very good. The first two episodes did not include much of the regular cast, but we did get to meet the central character Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green) and her mentor/captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh). The teaser was also pretty fun, I really enjoyed the overhead view of the desert with the starfleet insignia made by the pair's footsteps as the geek out about science.

Things that I didn't like. As mentioned this series looks very much like the JJ Abrams films, which have had their good parts, but I am really tired of the visual style. They have toned down the lens flare a little, but not enough. This series is supposed to be set two years after the The Cage and ten years before Kirk takes command of USS Enterprise, yet it looks nothing like it. I get that when you are making a new series that you want to make it your own. (I also have heard that the series is being produced under the same license as the JJ Abrams films and thus does not have full access to the entire intellectual property of the Star Trek universe; hence the visual reboot). Instead of throwing away visual (and technical) canon, I think it would have been better to set the series in the 24th century, chronologically after Voyager (VOY). In a dramatic sense I think it would have been better as well. Star Trek is supposed to be about the future. Why do they keep setting it in the past? (I was of this opinion of the series Enterprise (ENT) as well, although that show did grow on me in the last two seasons). Coincidentally, Lena and I have been watching through Deep Space 9 (DS9) recently (I am jealous that she hasn't seen it before and is able to watch it for the first time now), and one of the most enjoyable episodes was the one where they go back in time and are digitally inserted into the TOS episode The Trouble With Tribbles. That is the sort of thing that you just cannot do when you toss out the look and feel of the classics.

The Klingons look like a racist caricature of the savage “other”.

Some of the casting is really terrible, in particular I really dislike Sarek (James Frain). In my opinion, if you can't cast someone with the gravitas of Mark Lenard you shouldn't be writing him into the series. (I have my reservations about Harry Mudd who is set to appear in later episodes, but I consider him to be a less serious, less important character).

Lena said that it just didn't feel like Star Trek, but couldn't put her finger on exactly why. I think for one thing you have Martin-Green's character advocating an unprovoked attack on the Klingons, assaulting her mentor/captain and attempting mutiny. In the course of a few minutes. Wait. How did we get here from “You should have your own command” so quickly? You have a starfleet officer in a state of shock take a wrong turn on his way down to the sick bay into the brig ask the lead character “what are we doing fighting? We're supposed to be explorers.” Right before he gets sucked out into space. I see what you did there. You have the Vulcans egging on the humans into violence, which is out of character.

I really liked the mentor relationship between captain and number one, but as mentioned it is completely destroyed when she commits mutiny. I feel like the relationship should be irredeemable at that point, but somehow she is back on the away team a few minutes later?

If you try to forget this is Star Trek, and try to forget what this probably unfairly has to live up to, then you still have two episodes of well produced sci-fi culminating in a dazzling space battle that is at times plodding. I don't see anything so far that justifies the 82% on rotten tomatoes (as of this writing). I think the pacing would have been better if this had been one episode. It might have been even better as a teaser for the “real” pilot which is supposedly coming next week. I am thinking of the contrast of how Ben Sisko was ably introduced in the teaser of the DS9 pilot by showing him at the battle of Wolf 359. I think the producers are trying to do the same thing; to introduce Martin-Green's character. Unfortunately in doing that, what is missing in Discovery so far is “the crew”. The story focuses so much on Martin-Green, it eschews the ensemble nature of TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT.

I'd like to keep in open mind. I do hope it gets better. Maybe when we see the series namesake USS Discovery and her crew next week, things will fall into place and it may start to feel like Star Trek. The first two seasons of Enterprise (ENT) were rocky and played a little fast and loose with existing canon, but I feel there was something redeemable in the last two seasons. (I may be the only one who feels that way). We will keep watching for a while yet.

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random events conspiring incoherently

Lena's parents got us a new fridge. Pepco decided to do maintenance on that exact day and so when the delivery peoples tried to deliver the fridge there was no power and I had to refuse delivery and reschedule. We tried actually to reschedule the day before, but apparently the fridge was already on the truck. And once it is on the truck god knows you can't take it off. Anyway fridge came the next week which was fine, but in the power failure something mysterious happened to the graphics card in my PC, and now it only works with one monitor. There was this thing that was going around twitter for a while in my circles about programmers trying to explain to non-programmers that they needed long stretches of uninterrupted time to concentrate on their work. This being a surprise to non-programmers? No not really it was just a minority of programmers being jerks. Anyway, I don't mind if you interrupt me working if it is something important. Most people know this and most people adhere to these terms and even if sometimes it doesn't work out that way I don't rant endlessly on twitter about it. One thing that really DOES bother me as a programmer is having to use a computer with just one screen. Even if they are small screens I find it hard to organize myself on just one. Sometimes I'd like to have a third. So anyway, I considered various options for repairing the aging PC, or replacing it, and eventually settled on augmenting it with a Mac and keeping the PC for the few PC things that I still need. I have an on-again-off-again thing with Apple. I can't stand a lot about Apple, but there is Microsoft has at least as much baggage, and my bread and butter is Linux, and while it is actually okay for desktop, it lacks key applications that I need for my photography. I did save some money by buying a memory upgrade from NewEgg instead of Apple. I did this the last time I got a Mac as my workstation, which was back in the G5 era. As Apple starts to sell more and more hardware with memory soldered onto the motherboard (and thus not upgradable), the less likely I am to buy their stuff because paying over 2x th price for memory just makes me angry. So anyway, Apple I guess is irritating me slightly less than Microsoft for just right now so I have my dual head Mac and the PC with one monitor. The fridge by the way is fantastic. I no longer need to sit on my ass to find stuff that I need.

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take a deep breath; it's July

I took a break from The Twilight Report for a few weeks as I was preparing for the National Perl Nerds conference. I had a talk to give on the open source project I have been focusing on this year, which is called alienfile + Alien::Build. I had named the talk “Thriving in an Alien Ecosystem” which is a cutesie name I had come up with months ago and now had to live up to the hype. In an attempt to promote my talk, I tweeted thus:

Which was also cutesie, and so I had to come up with something to live up to the hype. The truth is that I am terrified of public speaking, and my standards are so absurdly low that if at least two people show up and I manage to say my thing in the time allotted I am pretty satisfied.

On the first day, Joel (who originally started the Alien project that I now lead) called me over when I walked into the main hall and introduced me to David, who sometimes hangs out on my #native channel. He is a physics professor, so another scientist. For some reason the tech in Perl that I am interested in is of an interest in a number of scientists as well. (I don't always see the connection, but it seems to be there). I instantly took a liking to David, we had some common interests, but most of all I think he is a good listener and takes an interest in the person with whom is talking. I wish he were around #native a little more often! Apparently he is easily distracted and has to stay away at times in order to get on with his other projects.

The conference was held at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Two of the lecture rooms were behind security, and a popular speaker was in one of those rooms for the first session of the day, and as a result of the bottleneck, everyone was late. To the speakers credit, he started giving lighting speeches until everyone arrived, so I got to hear is whole talk. To the organizer's credit, they added extra space between talks after that incident.

John Anderson gave a talk on the Swift programming language, and Matt Trout did one on the ES6 programming language. The thing I like about this conference is that even thought it is supposed to be about Perl, they cover other languages too. And in a Perl context, which is helpful for me since that is a context that I understand well.

I always have an eye out for people with cameras, and so I noticed someone with what I thought was a Hasselblad Xpan film camera, so I asked him about it right before lunch. He introduced himself as Lee Johnson and we had lunch together. So I got to talk film geekery at a Perl Nerd conference. That was a first!

At the end of each day they do a series of short 5 minute talks called “lightning talks”. I submitted a talk and gave it, which was a little iffy. I came to realize that for me a five minute talk is much harder than a 20 or even an hour long talk. Also lighting talks are done before the entire conference, so it is a larger audience to be terrified in front of.

I stayed the night at a nearby hotel, even though I was technically a local, so that I could practice my talk, and arrive the next day refreshed for the delivery. Somehow it worked because I delivered the thing without stammering too much and with some questions at the end that showed that people had been listening. So definitely a win. One guy asked me a sort of silly question that he has already asked before when I gave a similar talk. Another person who has expressed some criticisms of the project in the past has some interesting questions, and was excited about the direction that we were now going in. It was pleasing to see him to be enthusiastic in the direction that we were heading.

I had lunch with Brock, leader of the local Perl Nerds group, and one of the main organizers. I have been meaning to invite him and Mike over for enchiladas, but somehow it hasn't happened yet. He was enjoying the work of putting the conference together, but also looking forward to the stress being gone when it would end!

After the second day of lightning talks, we had a little social get together in the PTO museum. The food that they served was actually really good. I talked to a couple of guys who used to work at NASA on our project. Actually one of them works at NASA now again, but in a different part. They are more interested in Perl 6, which I don't really find that interesting. But whatever. Then I ran into David, Joel and Chris and hung out with them for a while. I left early because I wasn't staying the night again, since the company wasn't paying for the hotel.

I decided that missing the first couple of talks for the final day would be acceptable, and so I wouldn't rush to get there, but for whatever reason I managed to get their on time. I ran into David after getting off the train and so we walked together and discussed House of Cards and The West Wing (of all things). For lunch we had a “birds of a feather” meeting for #native folks. Actually the politics of this requires further discussion, but I will get into it in another entry. For now sufficit to say it was an unexpected great success.

After that we had some more talks and some more lighting talks and it was all over! Only I stayed around for a while and talked to some different people. The gentleman who leads the LA Perl Nerds group invited me to come out and give a talk, which I would totally do, only with kiddo on the way it probably won't happen this year. Talked to some other people who used to attend the monthly DC Perl Nerds meeting but for various reasons they don't come anymore. Then it was really over!

In summary it was a great success because I constantly and consistently struggle with social anxiety. And you know I chatted with people and stuff. In working on Open Source my main challenge has always been more on the social side, not the technical one (though there are technical challenges as well). I am starting to make connections and build a reputation. If only in a small niche of a not so fashionable programming language.


Honestly there was no rest for the weary, because Lena and I were on to interviewing day cars on Thursday and Friday. We went to two different places so far, and will be visiting a third later in July. One was super new and shiny with high tech hand print identification and everything. The second place was older, (but with staff who had been their for a corresponding longer term), and a bit chaotic, but also much warmer. I think we favor the latter, but I want to see the third before we decide. I am also considering taking some unpaid time off to spend with kiddo, so when we start day care isn't entirely set in stone yet.

Lena's parents and grandma came for the following weekend. Lena's father helped me build a chest of drawers for the room formerly known as the library. I joke a little in calling it, it seems increasingly like kiddo's room rather than that place where I used to keep my books. Sunday we went to the farmer's market and got some Aussie meat pies, which were well received by the Russians.


Wednesday the next week after work we flew out to Salt Lake City to celebrate Chicken Noodle Day (CND). (CND, for those that do not know, is this holiday that I invented when I was younger as a way to obfuscate my birthday). As a sort of joke I live tweeted the day with the faux hashtag #🐔🍜. That is the “Chicken” and “Steaming Bowl” emoji if your browser doesn't display it. Anyway, apparently you can't do emoji hashtags, but that didn't stop me! I am embedding these tweets mostly so that you can see the pictures. But don't worry true to long form blogging, I plan on adding extra detail that you don't get on the Twitscape. (Also I have discovered this great website called emojipedia).

Lena had already given me a KEH gift certificate that had been delivered too early and a new backpack as early gifts, but she also gave me a gift certificate to get massage. So that will be interesting. Mum and Don had also already gotten me a Nintendo Switch, but also gave me a book for on the day. So yeah my family is pretty neat.

(more details more pictures)

Mum made blueberry pancakes which was lovely. Definitely a good start to the day.

Then I hooked my Switch up to Don's new 4k TV and played New Zelda on the big screen. Coincidentally I was just about ready to try out the final battle with the game's final boss, Calamity Ganon. So I took him on on the big screen and was victorious! Seriously, he wasn't that hard to be honest. After Don got his hair cut we went to Red Iguana 2 for lunch. Red Iguana is my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake, by far. They have these really great moles and lovely enchiladas. When they had the National Perl Nerds conference in Salt Lake two years ago I proudly took some people I knew there. I prefer New Mexican food; (contrast with the Red Iguana's Mexican style Mexican) but I think there is something to appreciate about different styles of things that you still like. I am not the only one who loves Red Iguana; it is so popular that they built a second restaurant called Red Iguana 2 only a couple of blocks away. It is often less crowded. Because. You know, stuff that people are used to. This was the first time that I'd been to the new restaurant, and actually I have to say I kind of prefer it. You can eat outside. I was so excited that I had two margaritas and I was deliriously happy. We even had dessert, which was fried ice cream, and it was sooooo good.

After a bit of a nap we went out to get some cheese and meats for a picnic dinner to follow that night. On the way I saw some odd arty things around town. And a piano. The only thing that I can play is Frère Jacques. But Lena and Mum are musically inclined and they played around a bit. We were reminded of the time when they had a piano down in Woolloomooloo in Sydney. By Harry's the pie place. It is a small world I guess. But why not have out door pianos for the fun of it?

Just as an aside, as mentioned previously we weren't announcing the impending arrival of kiddo to The Facebook or to The Twitscape, but photos were totally fair game and Lena and I discussed the possibility that people might start noticing with some of these pictures, and sure enough. A few people actively noticed. Not sure how many passively noticed, but were too polite to risk asking “are you pregnant?” lol.

The place we went for the cheese and meat allowed us to sample. Stuff was delicious. Armed with several meats and cheese I noticed they also had really pretty chocolates. Mum had other chocolates for the picnic din dins, but was won over and we bought some of the pretty chocolates.

The final entertainment for CND was to go to Saturday's Voyeur. Which is this oddball local political satire set to music. They take well known songs and rework the words to make political jokes. I was a little concerned that it might be a bit too local, but actually it was totally accessible to non-Salt Lakians. We had a table right next to the stage and had our cheese + wine + meats + chocolates. Like I mean right up at the stage.

Then we were on our way back home. As I mentioned I was deliriously happy. And sleepy. And ready for bed.


The day after CND was Friday, but I had already forgotten which day of the week it was. Mum and Don had business with a lawyer in Provo, so we went through there on our way to the Utahraptor museum in Price. In Provo we went to this Navajo / Southwestern fusion restaurant for lunch. We all had the special which was a cross between a chimichanga and a chili relleno. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Everything about this meal was amazing. The dinosaur museum itself was only okay. I mean, I love dinosaurs, but I have a pretty high standard when it comes to dinosaur museums. After the museum we grabbed dinner and stayed at a hotel. I was interested in a Mexican place, but apparently after Red Iguana and Navajo / Southwestern fusion nobody was interested in Mexican again. Except me. Let me put it this way. I live on the East coast which doesn't have the sort of Mexican food that I like, so when I am out west, (or better yet Southwest) I like to partake of every opportunity. Alas. The next day we went to Nine Mile Canyon, to see the petroglyphs. It was pretty and quiet. And oh yeah HOT. It was an interesting tour of somewhere where I had never been before. We were back in Salt Lake by the end of the day.

Saturday was a rest day, but we did go up to Alta in the mountains for some cooler weather. Lena was especially happy to be some place pretty. I think her notions about Utah have really changed for the better since our first visit. Monday we went up to Mirror Lake which I think was even prettier. Actually Monday we went to Mirror lake by way of the Bank which delayed us somewhat. But we did everything that we wanted to do, including a nice meandering walk around the lake. Two thumbs up.

Tuesday was Independence Day. Don's siblings came over and I took photos of them. They do this every ten years. That reminds me I have to go through the raw pictures and tweak them. Formal portraits are about the only time I ever use flash, so it is a fun excuse to use some of my kid that doesn't otherwise get a good workout. Burgers were for lunch and then we were back at the airport to return home.

Oh I forgot to mention earlier, that we had somehow lucked out on the way out to Salt Lake and got three seats for the two of us. And then, somehow on the way back we also got two seats for the two of us. We watched Star Trek for a bit on my lap top and then I played some more New Zelda. As we were landing in Baltimore we could see lots of fireworks. Including one example, which was either a finale or an explosion in a fire works factory, I am pretty sure.

We didn't get home until quite late. Today I am back at work.

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June The Crazy Busy Month

June is often the busy month for us. This year has been no exception! I've been somewhat stressed about giving my talk at the National Perl Nerds Conference (YAPC). Also several medium sized projects at work. Then there is also the impending joy of a baby girl. Lena said that “impending” was the wrong word for the baby shower invite. She was definitely right, but I have a playful relationship with irony and tone. This last weekend we went to the Silver Spring and Olney farmer markets. As a result we ate lots of nice stuff. In particular I am a big fan of the tomato place at the Silver Spring market and the Aussie meat pies (of a ll things) at the Olney market. We also had this really nice cherry pie... mmmm... which we had just enough vanilla ice cream for one serving à la mode. Yes!

We also went to see Wonder Woman. I thought it was good. Lena said it made her feel empowered. I feel like the DCEU could use a little more humor, and a little less cracked pavement. Apparently it could also use a little more Patty Jenkins and a little less Zack Snyder. Oh we also took kiddo along with us too :) I hope when she is old enough to enjoy movies more fully there are lots of super heros like Wonder Woman.

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singing, brutalism, photography

Here is a video of Lena and her choir singing at the game the other day:

We are proud of her! She is the best one in her row. I think I recognize her forehead in one shot. lol.

The Post had an interesting to me article on Brutalism in Washington. Along with some moody black and white photographs that I thought were pretty decent. The on-line versions do not do even the magazine insert justice. So an early unrelated win (?) for the subscription in the in vain hope that the Post keeps Trumpy in check. I would love to see those in actual silver black and white. I actually like Brutalism (in moderation) and I think it a pity that some of these buildings are getting knocked down. It is a shame that the old FBI building will probably go. Where is The Americans going to film their exteriors!?

So far unmentioned here is that mum and Don are buying an apartment 30 minutes (sans traffic) from our house so as to be closer to kiddo. They looked at the apartment when they were visiting in May. Lena and I were at the inspection in their place since mum is back in Sweden and Don is back in Salt Lake. This was the first time I had a chance to look at the place. The thing about looking at housing with other people's stuff in it is that you have to remind yourself that it won't be this stuff, but some other stuff. But even though I was trying to ignore this stuff, I couldn't help but notice that the owners had a number of black and white photographs on the wall. Family photo stuff, nothing arty. It got me to thinking about my own photography though, which is rather eclectic by contrast. One day I will be shooting B&W black and white for printing in my dark room, then I might be shooting color slide to print using the inkjet. Another day it might be a DSLR to post on the web. (actually the bulk of my stuff winds up on the web, rather than printed out, just for lack of space). I think if I were more serious I should focus on one medium more closely and attempt to perfect it. That sounds tiresome so I am happy to be eclectic.

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notes

Girls/daughters are fantastic. Indeed :)

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play ball

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Lena's choir sang the national anthem at the Nats Mariners game on Thursday. I went down to see them perform and watch the game. They sounded fantastic. I could hear every word. Thankfully I have pretty good eyesight so I could see them even though I was on the other side of the stadium and under the jumbotron (thus unable to see them on the jumbotron). We stayed for the game, though Lena was (understandably) so excited about singing that I don't think she saw that much. The game was okay. The Nats got three runs off a homer in the first innings. All of the points scored were in the first two innings. I am not a big sports fan and thus not a big baseball fan, but it is pretty fun to go down for a game. The local team (the Nats) won 5-1, which put the fans in a good mood. I think this is only my third live baseball and the second MLB game that I've ever seen.

This morning we got up early for the anatomy scan for kiddo. Everything checked out. We also found out that we are having a girl. Lena was worried that I was disappointed, but I don't think I am. Girls can still like dinosaurs[1], and boys can hate them, depending on their preferences. The important thing is for kiddo to be a happy person. I have been thinking though that gender is a big part of the way that people judge you and the way that we define ourselves in this world. The main thing that I want is for her not to be limited in anyway by what others think a girl and eventually a woman can or can't do. Of course I can only control my own actions to try and make that a reality.

(two more pickys)
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Another from my old black and white slides collection. On a cold day, probably early fall, hiking with my friends looking over Cold Spring, New York. Agfa Scala 200x.

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A self portrait that I took in the spring grass at work the other day. There is a unkempt field where I work which gets quite unruly in the early spring. I have been playing Breath of the Wild, so my brain is tuned to think that I might be able to find a cricket or two hiding in there for use later in the game.




  1. dinosaurs here are a stand in for anything that the parent likes and wants to share with their kids; also consider film photography, Lego, classic video games, etc
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more marchers more signs

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Here be a few examples from the final roll of expired Portra 160NC that I took at The March for Science. Thank you for indulging me. I realize there have been a lot, and usually I post a smaller selection of photographs from events and locations. I do feel the systematic political attack on science and reason is a terrifying problem and it is a good thing to amplify in my small way the voices of these individuals.

(signs)
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“defunding SCIENCE defunds our FUTURE”

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“MAD SCIENTIST”

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“THERE ARE NO ALTERNATIVE FACTS STAND UP FOR [too small to read]”

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“I ♥ PEER REVIEW!”

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“FacT = FacT LET Science unify”

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“Solar energy would be everywhere —if Big Oil Owned the Sun”

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“PEACE LOVE ISOTOPE”

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“KEEP ON DRiNKING the SNAKE OiL! Trump's presidential SNAKE OiL From our pipelines to you as seen on Fox”

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“SCIENCE MAKES AMERICA STRONG”

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“THERE IS NO PLANET B”

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“Science is basically an inoculation against charlatans. Neil deGrasse Tyson”

(peoples)
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to boldly split infinitives where no one has split them before

Mum and Don were helping us prepare the room formerly known as the Library for kiddos arrival yesterday. On the way to Ikea, mum went on a little rant about split infinitives. Years ago I had a friend who was sort of a grammar nerd so I asked her how she felt about split infinitives, expecting hellfire and damnation but she responded with a big shrug. So I did a little research about it and found that the “rule” against split infinitives is more of a guideline used by people who don't realize there isn't any good reason not to boldly split your infinitives. About the most compelling argument in favor of the unsplit infinitive seems to be in Latin you can't split an infinitive because it is a single word. This should be noted I suppose when translating the opening monologue to The Original Series and The Next Generation. I suppose. Although given the pool of native Latin speakers maybe that isn't really a good rationale for a made up “rule” with no factual historical precedent. Mum and I got into a friendly little argument of the sort that we are apt to fall into. The sorts of arguments that we get into are almost always the sort that sharpen our wits rather than leave bad feelings. So that is good. Last night I researched again about split infinitives, and I found a more reasonable argument not to boldly split your infinitives:

The only logical reason to avoid splitting infinitives is that there are still a lot of people who mistakenly think it is wrong. If you write from a position of power, split your infinitives as much as you want. Be guided by the sound and flow of your sentence. On the other hand, if you have to please others or avoid complaints, it’s safer to avoid splitting infinitives. There's no reason to deliberately split infinitives when you know it's going to upset people. — Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl on Split Infinitives

Although the same source also argues that sometimes you can't avoid a split infinitive. I am not actually cognizant of how often I in practice split my infinitives in my own writing and speech. I do regardless have a strong opinion on split infinitives apparently.

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INS vs. DMV

I had to call the DMV[1] because my insurance company had mislead me. I angrily told the person on the other end of the phone that it was my insurance company's fault, after she already told me that they would give me a waver for the lapse in coverage. This brings up two memories thanks to the random neurons that fire in my brain.

  1. That time I was describing the agency formerly known as Immigration Naturalization Service (INS) and somebody thought it might be vaguely similar to the DMV. I contend INS was and probably still is in its new form much much worse a thing to have to deal with , because 100% of the “customers” do not have the vote[2]. In this case the person on the other end of the phone (DMV) fixed things fine, and the whole experience was totes better than INS.
  2. I always try to be kind to people in call centers (mentioned previously this week even), because I was good friends with someone who worked in a call center once. Most of the time she just wanted to help people who were having trouble with the product, and she couldn't do that if they were yelling at her! So even though I did pointlessly express my displeasure at someone who probably wasn't in a position to do anything about fixing what is wrong with the DMV, at least I didn't raise my voice and I effusively thanked her at the end of the conversation.

Mum has arrived for a few days. She brought with her my new Nintendo Switch. I played a little bit of new Zelda. So far I like what I see, but it is quite different from the direction that Zeldas have been going in the last few games. Nintendo need more titles for this system. I feel like this might be the last Nintendo console. Although I thought the Wii U might be too.

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I found this funny old photo of me that my old friend Melly took of me when I was visiting her in Houston, many moons ago. Probably at least a decade.

( three more )
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Store window in Beacon, New York. Reads: “Elvis was NOT seen here last week buying one of our guitars... (it was the week before)”.

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The Getty in LA. Tyler and I went there on one of my many trips out there. From memory, I thought the architecture was more interesting than the artwork!

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I added some pictures to my cube at work. The three black and whites are ones that I printed last weekend.

Showed off the room formerly known as the Library (aka kiddo's room) to mum and Don. Don really liked the rocking chair. I told him that he was welcome to come use it anytime he wants to babysit, to which he responded “Ah now you are starting to talk like a dad”. Eek! The D word. Not sure that I am ready to be called a “Dad” or“Father”. Yikes!




  1. called MVA here for some reason
  2. Interestingly, the day that I did get the right to vote, when I was naturalized, the INS and the federal government was conspicuously missing
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Sciencely

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Here are a few more signs and some buildings from the March of Science. Yay for science. A few of these are from the last roll of Portra 400, but most of them are expired Portra 160N.

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“Make the Barrier Reef Great Again!”

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“Cancer, Zika, Antimicrobial Resistance, H7N9, Diabetes, Ebola, MERS SARS, AIDS, etc. Can't be stopped with missiles! The wars we are waging shows us We do need more Defense $ as in Treatment, Prevention, Cures! #SupportScience Save Lives! #MarchforScience2017”

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“I am a statistician. You can count on me.”

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“MAKE AMERICA SMART AGAIN!”

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“CHERISH THE PALE BLUE DOT... CARL SAGAN”

“‘BUILLIONS AND BILIONS’ CARL SAGAN”

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“PENCE IS AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT”

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“BIO-FOOL”

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visual

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“SCIENCE NOT SEANCE

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“The Professor SAYS HAIL SCIENCE”

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“Feline unsure about global warming? www.skepticalscience.com

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“I SPEAK For The TREES I ♥ EPA”

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“FUND SCIENCE NOT WAR”

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“Science NOT Silence”

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“IT'S GETTING HOT! HOT! HOT! RISING SEAS SUPER STORMS CLACIERS MELTING GLOBAL WARMING”

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“I TRUST SCIENCE”

(buildings)
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I have just one more roll to go through and will probably post next weeek.

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existential scandal

Circa 2004.

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More black and white slides. The tech to do black and white slides is considerably more complicated and more expensive now than it was when I took these photos. Agfa Scala film no longer exists. Every now and then I think it would be fun to shoot black and white slides, but then I look at what dr5 is charging for the service and shake my head no. This photograph is taken on Main Street in Beacon, New York. I lived in Beacon for almost two years before moving back to Australia. It was the first time I can remember being able to walk into town from my home, which was nice.

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Close up on a pile of bricks.

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Here is a little islet in Nuclear Lake[1], which was a common hike that I used to do when I lived in the Hudson Valley. Good times.

Okay. So question. Can we not go an entire week before experiencing yet another presidential self-inflicted existential scandal?

Flowers finally showed up on Monday, but no thanks to the delivery service! The actual (incorrect) recipient called Lena and they managed to coordinate and she left the flowers on our doorstep. Still no explanation as to what happened even though the people on the other end of the phone promised me three times to provide status.

Also huge medical bill was in the post for the PT that I had back in April. It seems like it should have been covered, but honestly I have no idea. Experience tells me that you can go to a provider, they tell you that they take your insurance, and then they send you a bill for the full amount anyway. Lena was on the phone with the insurance company for almost two hours. (Currently not sure if I will have to end up paying or not; more painful phone calls will likely be required). I don't understand any of it. Lena says she doesn't understand it either, but she holds her ground and keeps at it. This is what makes us a good team. Different skill sets for handling adversity. I gave her a big hug after.




  1. yes real name
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Timon on Mum's Day

Operation Mum's Day began with brekky in bed for my fave mum-to-be, which was well received. I gave Lena the one egg that I managed to fry without running. Two hours later it was time to call my mum and wish her a happy Mum's Day. Before the play, we went to Cheburger for lunch.

We'd gotten tickets to see Timon of Athens at Folgers Shakespeare Library. Like the other stuff that we'd seen there it was a very modern production, with mobile phones, machine guns and rave music. Great stuff. I sometimes reflect on how timeless some of these plays are and how easily they fit into a modern context. The play is about the wealthy and generous Timon is flattered by his “friends” when things go well, but when he goes into debt his friends scurry for the hills and abandon him. In the second half of the play he is homeless and more than a little crazy (in this interpretation, he has clear OCD in the first half of the play which shows an interesting insight into the play). It was a treat to see this play, as it is seldom performed. Good stuff.

Mum got her flowers and sent us some pictures via hangouts. She was thrilled by the gift. Good times. When we got home, I was hoping then Lena's flowers would be waiting for us on the doorstep. Unfortunately they were not, so I sent a message to the company that I had ordered them from indicating that they had not delivered what I had ordered, hoping for a refund. They called, but I didn't pick up because phone was still on silent mode from the play. (Lena rightly complains that I am hard to get a hold of because I do not pick up my phone). (Frequently it is because I have to silent the phone and forget to unsilent it). So I called them back, and actually this is the THIRD time and they gave me the same run around. When I get angry with a company when talking to someone in a call center I always try very hard to balance my feelings of rage with treating the person on the other end (who is likely not responsible for said company's failure). I expressed my rage but also thanked her for their promise to call me later for a status update. Even though I estimate a 1% chance that they will actually do so. I expect to be calling them for a forth time tonight when the flowers still have not shown up.

Anyway, Lena had come downstairs and heard me talking on the phone, I was avoiding her finding out, so I explained to her why her flowers did not come (that she wasn't even expecting; they were supposed to be a surprise). She reminded me of what I had told her years ago, which was all these special days are nice and fun but the thing that really counts is how we treat each other on the other 364/365[1]. So yay for that.

We also watched Space Zombie Doctor Who. Lena said she was going to miss the Twelfth Doctor. Yes, it has once again come to that stage where there are murmurings of a regeneration and we say “don't go” and “we don't like the new guy/gal[2]” until the new Doctor is around for a while and we do it alllllll again.

Mum sent more picture of her flowers which had started opening. Well at least half of the flowers made it!

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Today I am sending off my latest batch of film to Blue Moon Camera and Machine. I am eagerly awaiting the results as usual. I officially endorse both Blue Moon, and thedarkroom.com, the two mail order labs that I use the most often (each have excellent service, each with different pricing advantages depending on what you are processing and whether or not you need scans). I only mention this endorsement because someone asked me about it the other day. Though that was probably an aberration, probably aren't that many people who care where I send my film. (Also if you are shooting black and white I endorse processing it yourself)! (But I know that is not always convenient so if you can't then Blue Moon or thedarkroom.com are a good alternative).

I spent most of Saturday in my darkroom printing. An activity that I hadn't done in a number of months. I expect that I will less often have the opportunity so I wanted to do a little printing before kiddo arrives.

Politically last week was a crazy roller-coaster. With all of the references to Watergate swirling it got me to thinking about the way we think about constitutional crisis or crisis of constitutions. After all, we are told, this is not a constitutional crisis because the President has obstructed justice by simply firing the FBI director; something he is perfectly allowed to do by the constitution. Is it not, then, a crisis OF the constitution that it allows such corruption at the highest level? We are also told that this is either is or is not really like Watergate for this or that reason, but regardless, I wonder if this is what it felt like during that crisis? After all I have always viewed Watergate as history, rather than as something that I lived through. My brain processes it in a more nuanced way, but essentially: “the President did bad and under threat of impeachment resigned; to some degree, however imperfectly, the system worked out in the end”. I never had the opportunity to think (to this degree at least) “the President did bad, but it seems without a hostile congress it seems unlikely for the system to even imperfectly work”. One day I expect to look back and know how it turned out, but I will also look back and remember how it felt. “Interesting times” as they say. Sometimes I think that little has changed since Timon of Athens the (non-fictional) person was doing his thing back in the day. Only with fewer mobile phones, and machine guns and rave music.




  1. depending on leap years
  2. maybe this time?
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wooden horse

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Wooden horse in a store window. Somewhere maybe in Beacon, New York. Shot on Agfa Scala 200 black and white transparency. At least ten years ago.

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Flag in window with blinds.

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more signs more peoples

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“science not Fiction!”

Some more signs and people from the March for Science. These have been picked out of two more rolls of Portra 400.

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“MY HOT FLASHEST ARE NATURAL ~ HERS AREN'T.”

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“Science NOT Silence”

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“Only When The Last Tree Has Died And the Last River Has Been Poisoned and The Last Fish Has Been Caught Will We Realize That We Can't Eat Money”

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“THE UNIVERSE IS NOT REQUIRED TO BE IN PERFECT HARMONY WITH HUMAN AMBITION”

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“a MUTATION in FGFR3 makes ME short MEDICAL RESEARCH keeps ME HEALTHY”

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“STAY Curious SEEK EQUALITY & JUSTICE”

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“I ♥ SCIENCE ‘IT'S TRUE whether you Believe it or not.’ - Neil deGrasse Tyson”

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“ANTY-SCIENCE NOT ANTI-SCIENCE”

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“WE WON'T BACK DOWN”

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“SUPPORT SCIENCE? YOU BET YOUR LIFE ON IT!!!”

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“LESS INVASIONS MORE EQUATIONS”

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“SAVE THE EARTH because saturn's moon is a bit DESPERATE”

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“Einstein was a refugee”

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“Science TIME MARCH FOR SCIENCE WASHINGTON, DC HAPPY EARTH DAY! 4 22 17”

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“DON'T BE A URANUS BRING BACK PLUTO”

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“NO SCIENCE NO BEER”

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“I AM SORRY BUT YOU'RE JUST NOT SIGNIFICANT”

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“2+2≠5”

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“The oceans are rising And so are we”

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events surrounding the guardians

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Every year this lone flower blooms by our doorstep. Photographed on some wacko expired AGFA hence the colors (plus very slightly adjusted in The Photoshop).

I got tickets ahead of time for Lena and I to see Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2, and then mum messages me asking if we are going to see it together. Wait? What? She seemed really excited about it, so I asked if she had seen the first one, and she reminded me that we had seen it together. Timelines are tricky for me, like Lena will ask me do you remember when you said X while Y was going on. Then I will say oh. Those were related? I remember saying X, and I remember Y happened, but wow, they were coincident? Crazy. (Usually that I at least remember both happening is enough to save me). Anyway, after explaining that Lena and I were going to see it opening weekend, mum decided to watch the film at the same time as us (only in Salt Lake City) so that we could call up at talk about it post credits. (Side note: yes there are like five post and intra credit sequences in this movie, so no we didn't really any more post-creditness). Mum was still excited. That was good.

Saturday I woke up early, and made my gringo adaptation of huevos rancheros for Lena. Brekky in bead! I had eggs the day before so I just had cereal. Oh and OJ that Lena had made, mentioned previously. Then we walked around Lake Frank. We were early enough that the rain was threatening but not manifesting. We got about half way around the loop, but the stream looked tricky to ford and we decided to go back the way that we came. Normally I think we'd do it, but didn't want Lena to have a nasty spill.

We drove into Rockville to find that the streets downtown were blocked off for a little art fair. So we strolled through a few of the vendors to see what they were flogging. One guy was selling black and white (silver) prints and had a fun collection of vintage, but probably not functional film cameras. Another guy was into reflections. Like. For ten years that is all that he's photographed. It's good to have focus! Anyway, I love to photograph reflections, sometimes in water, but usually in glass, so we chatted for a little bit. We discussed the problem of “which side is up?” that you often have with photographs of reflections. I usually prefer to have the picture in the way I took it. What sometimes seems like upside down if the reflection is in a pool of water under the (indirect) subject. People's brains have trouble with this and will want to turn it upside down. This annoys me. (but only a tinylot). The artist related a story by which he was delivering a print to someone and the buyers partner wanted in addition another print, but wanted him to frame it upside down. Sure! Whatever! He said. This is why it is good that I am an amateur, because I would want it right side up! Always! Except maybe. If there was a good reason to put it upside down.

Then the movie. It was good. I thought. But you can go see it to make up your own mind. Excited about trailers for: Spider-Man, Thor, Star Wars. Not sure about trailers for: Wonder Woman. (Not because female lead; need more super hero films with that characteristic; but because DC has been so terrible so far). Unexcited about trailers for: Transformers. (I know dead horse, but can Michael Bay PLEASE STOP MAKING TRANSFORMER MOVIES).

Driving home I asked Lena to call mum so that we can start talking about the film. Only apparently they missed the movie to go protest the abolishment of Bears Ears National Monument. I proudly thought to myself wow, mum's become quite the activist. Also Lena was talking to her mum, who said that we had also seen the first Guardians with them. I was like. Wait. What? Timelines you are trying to confuse me again. Lena's mum said that we hadn't seen it with my mum, but I asked Lena to lookup the opening date for the film, and sure enough it was about a week before we had our courthouse wedding way back in 2014. So. I am pretty sure that we must have gone to see the movie that weekend when both families were here for the wedding. Also another event coincident that I had forgotten.

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expired randoms

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Here are some randoms from an expired Agfa that I took a few weeks ago. Here is some firewood outside the super market.

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Chalk hert on bricks.

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Lena is wearing a T-Shirt with Jean-Luc Picard saying “Make it snow” that I got her last Christmas.

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blue chairs.

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conflicting feelings

Lena put some oranges through the juicer on her day off yesterday so I had some lovely freshly squeezed OJ with my brekky this morning. It is lovely for her to do this since she herself doesn't drink OJ. In the store last weekend I saw there was a new Yoshi game for 3DS. I decided to get it for Lena and made a surprise gift of it this week. Not that I am down on Birthday or Chrissy presents, but I enjoy giving random “ah here is something that I think you might enjoy for no reason” type gifts. Lena tends to play the Yoshi games from the Nintendo catalog. I am more of a Mario and The Legend of Zelda type player.

On Tuesday I went to the monthly Perl Nerds meeting. It was a small crowd of just the four regulars and one other guys who is there to ask Brock for help. Brock is super patient and helpful. He's great. I have been threatening to invite the four regulars (plus partners) over for Enchilada night at our place. Hopefully we will be able to find a free weekend to do that soon.

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A friend made a post that tangentially mentioned flags and it got me to thinking about the things. I don't usually wave flags because I feel they act as a substitute for ideas. The American flag for example is supposed to stand for America and American values. Yet people feel that it should be exempt from First Amendment protections which is a pretty important American value. On the other hand I like to photograph flags because they have pretty bold flags and they look striking especially when photographed on slide film. I took the above photograph of the flags around the Washington Monument the day of the March and even though it was a dark drizzly day there is something inspiring about seeing the stars and stripes. I also for sentimental reasons have a little American flag that I was given when I was naturalized as a citizen here. It sits on my desk near a little paper Australian flag, which I think I picked up at an ANZAC Day parade years ago. I guess I keep them for sentimental reasons. I wouldn't hoist a flag at the door to my home and I likely wouldn't wave a flag on the 4th of July, but I don't think ill of people who do.

BTW- (spoilers!) A great fictional example of the way flags get misused is in Star Trek original series episode The Omega Glory, in which the Communists are finally defeated by the Yankees in a parallel Earth. The Yankees have been living in a barbarian existence for so long that although they still have the constitution and the flag they do not understand what they mean anymore. The lesson you are supposed to learn from this episode is that Kirk and company can teach the savages to embrace their American roots of “Freedom” (referred to as a Yankee “worship word”) and presumably democracy. The lesson I learned from it is that people forget the meaning of the things they supposedly fight for.

On Friday I watched a clip of Trumpy meeting with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull. (Naturally with US and Australian flags decorating the background). Trumpy made a dig at how terrible the ACA is and how it would all soon be fixed by the AHCA, and how in Australia they had better health care than America. This was pretty hilarious. Somebody probably should have briefed the president on the fact that Australia has universal health care, something that he as a Republican is supposed to be against. Actually I suspect that somebody probably tried, but you know. Policy isn't as interesting as trading personal insults on twitter.

It is a bit of a relief that Trumpy and Turnbull are getting along better now. I have always found US foreign policy troubling, along with Australia's tendency to go along with every US military intervention since World War I. However when Trumpy threw a hissy fit about the refugee deal Obama made with Turnbull it was deeply troubling to me since Australia and the US have always been such close allies.

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signs and people of the march for science

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My processed film was returned last Friday I think, so I was able to get a head start on scanning the negs from the March for Science. Equipment used for this project was Nikon F6 + Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8. I don't usually like to haul the long zoom (the 70-200) with me, but I have to say my faves were taken with that lens, and the weight was definitely worth it. Film stock was five rolls of Kodak Portra 400 and two rolls of expired Kodak Portra 160NC (the pictures I am posting today are all from two of the fresh rolls). I spied a few other people shooting film that day.

(some more signs)
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“Science Shall Rise Again”

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“SCIENCE BENEFITS EVERYONE even you!
Norman Orentreich:
Developed modern hair transplation techniques
‘I got you, bro’”

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“I AM A FORCE FOR SCIENCE FORCEFORSCIENCE.ORG #Force4Science”

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“Don't mess with SCIENTISTS OR WE'LL send you to the MOON. Which we can do BECAUSE science”

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“Know Science NO TRUMP”

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  • We all are born on the same Planet which makes us Earthlings
  • We all are Composed of the same Elements
  • We all need Oxygen; Water; and Sustenance to Survive
  • We are ALL the Human RACE!!!
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“THE ENDANGERMENT FINDING HAS PASSED SCIENTIFIC & JUDICIAL REVIEW. LET EPA DO IT'S JOB”

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“WISDOM begins with WONDER Socrates”

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“DAMN. BE HUMBLE. SIT DOWN. @GOP”

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“SCIENCE IS NOT A LIBERAL CONSPIRACY”

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“IM SURE THE DINOSAURS THOUGHT THEY HAD TIME TOO”

Sadly Unicode doesn't have any dinosaurs (what up with that?), or I would put them in the test version too!

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“CELLS DIVIDE. WE DONT HAVE TO. United in Science!”

You can see the African American museum and the Washington Monument in the background

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“HEY TINY HANDS FUND EPA STUDY QUIT BEING CRETACEOUS!”

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“I KNOW SCIENCE. I have the BEST SCIENCE. It's HUGE!”

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“Mr. Trump: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.”

“POWER TO THE BEAKER”

“TRUMP BLACK HOLE WORLHOLE”

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“HATS OFF to SCIENCE”

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“HATS OFF to SCIENCE”

“SCIENCE IS CHEAPER THAN IGNORANCE”

“Sad.”

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“MAKE GMOs NOT WAR”

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“MAKE AMERICA THINK AGAIN”

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“This is my sine”

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“Science = Life... LITERALLY!”

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“Science TRUMPS Opinion Make the planet great again!”

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“LESS Invasions MORE EQUATIONS”

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“SAVE THE YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLY NO DELISTING NO TROPHY HUNTING #SAVETHEYELLOWSTONEGRIZZLY savetheyellowstonegrizzly.org

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“Scientists. Not just resistors. We are transformers!”

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“STAND UP FOR Science”

(some more peoples)
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March volunteer trying desperately to get people out of the path of the oncoming march!

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Beaker from the muppets. I also saw someone dressed as Bunsen.

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There were some youngsters doing a synchronized dance

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This guy with a press pass was shooting medium format film on his Fuji 6x9. He also had two Nikon DSLR bodies though you can't see them in this photograph.

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A number of people had these knitted brain hats an analog to the pink pussy hats from the Woman's March

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This looks like an manual focus film body hiding from the rain under a brolly.

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“The Element (Wtf) of Surprise”

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the parable of the letter jacket

One of my professors freshman year at uni liked to recount the parable of the letter jacket. Wherein a successful high school jock makes it to college campus and wears his letter jacket until after a few months he realizes this does not make him a big man on (college) campus and ships it back home (quietly) in his second semester. I can't remember which professor it was, but I want to say English. That professor was in fact so fond of this parable that I wonder if maybe he wasn't compensating for something.

I was thinking of this parable when I heard that Trumpy was handing out electoral college maps to reporters hoping for favorable coverage of his 100 days. I don't know if this is a true story, but it certainly does seem plausible given his public tweets of late. I have heard a number of smart and knowledgeable people express dismay at the focus on 100 days and claim that it isn't a real thing. My view is that even if it isn't inherently a thing, people's brains are so wired to pay attention to it that it becomes a thing inherent anyway. As someone who has turned 40 (just once), I can say even for people who don't think arbitrary passages of time are a big deal, you do notice it when you turn 40. It can be not a big deal and a big deal at the same time.

We canceled our trip up to New Jersey this weekend because I wasn't feeling very well on Friday morning. In the event I have been getting better at speed, despite a lingering cough. We could have gone to New Jersey, perhaps, but I think it was just as well to stay home and rest. Saturday we went looking for cribs, and we bought one. On Sunday I put it together. The room formerly known as the library is starting to come together. Lena would like to call it the nursery. She feels bad when she slips her tongue because I liked having a place to put my books and cameras. The thing is though, my books and cameras have a place. But I will still probably call it the room formally known as the library for a while.

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