Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Gifts!

 From Rosemary, a kitty-cat mug with a tail handle and different sunken pictures on both sides.
 From Dad, a foot-spa to soothe my aching feet.
 Also from Dad, a new bag to soothe my soul!

New Year's Eve Brunch

I went to Cafe Luna this morning with some of my buddies.

 Julie and Dave,
 Lynn and Sue,
 and my special friend Mr. Banana-split French Toast.
 Sue passed along another novelty candle: a teapot with a maple-leaf raised design.
It was proudly designed in San Diego, CA, USA; but made in China.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Relaxing at Home

Unusually mild weather fooled this tree into budding.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Techies Tell Me Why....

Why does my laptop screen periodically have curtain shadows at the bottom?
It doesn't have to do with a low battery; it happens sometimes after the battery is totally charged.

UPDATE:  Here's a screen capture of when shadows manifest.

A Nice Old Post Card

This nice old post card is from a Map Collection collection not-yet-processed, so I cannot provide a call number.  They are using the image to advertise an exibition of the Panama Canal in maps.  It is a rare illustration of Aqua-eroticism.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Retro Office Supplies

While rummaging around in Ranald's cubicle, I found a handsome metal document box.

He told me he had rescued it from the trash.  Why are they always throwing out good stuff and replacing it with crappy new stuff?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weekend Gifts

Dave gave me a bottle of his home-brewed beer, which I must store in a dark place at 66-72 degrees for a least 10 days.  Sue gave me a candle that looks like a piece of cheese.

Romeo was fascinated by the flame.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Foreign Food

Some Japanese librarians were visiting our library.  To thank us for our hospitality, they left us a box of Japanese cookies.  I couldn't figure out what they were made of, because I can't read Japanese.  But they were pretty enough to photograph.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A New Me

I am treating photos to pumped-up hue then the filter "find edges."  After which I usually lighten the shadows or brighten up the whole thing.

Friday, November 25, 2011

So Thankful When I Don't Have to Cook

My neighbor Rosemary and I went out for our Thanksgiving meal to a little French restaurant in Harvard Square called Sandrines.  We had the Prix Fixe, which was a good deal.  Our waiter had moved to from Paris to Arizona, where they opened a restaurant.  But after 9/11, there was such a bad feeling towards anything French that they moved east.
So Hooray east!  Rosemary had a nice cuppa wine (not pictured).
I had a sidecar (not pictured).

The turkey and fixins' were nicely presented.
And the lemon and pumpkin tarts were pretty enough to eat.

The good food reminded Rosemary that she must go back to Paris.
Sandrines is a bit too expensive for everyday eating out.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The All-Seeing Mechanical Eye

Today’s  topic is Mechanical Remote Viewing, (as distinct from ordinary Remote Viewing).  MRV devices allow an operator to view scenes live at a great distance without the intermediary of a spy satellite, helicopter, or surveillance camera.  Some MRV devices can even see through fog, walls, and mountains, and some can also pick up audio.  MRV turns up in science fiction and action shows with a hi-tech component. 
I was thinking about this recently as I watched the wonderful 1950 classic Radar Secret Service.  The cops in this movie had “tele-meters” which allowed them to watch their colleagues clash with bad guys out on the roads just as if they were watching a movie.  The miracle of radar made this possible.  (Did you know that radar started out as an acronym for radio detection and ranging?)

Of course, Captain Video was the king of MRV with his Opticon Scillometer.  Check out some of the episodes here, here, and here.

The Martian Spaceship of Santa Claus Conquers the Martians had a MRV screen that a clear view of various Santa Clauses on the city streets of Earth.

The scientists in Riding With Death manage, in the 2nd half of the movie, to come up with a remote-viewing TV that allows the female lead to watch the male lead’s activities in a bar and parking lot.  The movie’s writers felt obligated to explain scientifically the male lead’s ability to become invisible at will (radiation accident), but the remote-viewing TV is pretty much taken for granted.

My Dad was visiting in mid-October, and we watched the new Hawaii Five-O.  At one point McGarret needed to know if there were any people in a boat on the deserted wharf, so he calls up a Navy friend who pushes a button and retrieves a thermal image of said boat showing one person inside.  She didn’t have to wait for a spy satellite or surveillance chopper.  It had to be Remote Thermal Viewing
Perhaps the audiences of the 50s were prepared to accept MRV because of precision bombing during WWII. Paul Fussell explains that "precision bombing" was something of a misnomer: "The fact was that bombing proved so grossly inaccurate that the planes had to fly well within anti-aircraft range to hit anywhere near the target, and even then they very often missed it entirely.  As the war went on, 'precision bombing' became a comical oxymoron relished by bomber crews with a sense of black humor.  It became obvious to everyone except the home folks reading Life and The Saturday Evening Post that although you could destroy lots of things with bombs, they weren't necessarily the things you had in mind."*   But civilians believed that each dropped bomb landed exactly where it was meant to. If you could drop a bomb precisely from 7 miles up without worrying about wind, then why not MRV?

I found a precision bombing propaganda pamphlet that Fussell mentioned and  scanned it.  Here's one image from it:

 Please check out the pilot I have pointed the green arrow at.  Tell me what you think: "Dude looks like a lady," "Dude, that is a lady," "Other."

*Paul Fussell, Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War, New York: Oxford UP, 1989, p 14.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Can a Big Thing be Subversive?

I was doing the Veterans Day shift, when a young man asked me if I didn't think the locking down of Harvard Yard was "subversive."  The question sounded odd; and I wondered, "Why does this question sound odd."  It was the word "subversive,"  which, in academia usually has a positive value.   Note these titles of academic articles and books:
Das entfremdete Subjektsubversive psychoanalytische Denkanstösse bei Lacan und Derrida
LinkA subversive voice in China : the fictional world of Mo Yan
Unvarnishing reality : subversive Russian and American cold war satire

In modern academic literature, "subversives" are the powerless chipping away at the Powers That Be.  They are intellectuals challenging received wisdom. They are avant-garde artists.  They are despised minority groups.
Probably this positive spin on "subversive" is a reaction to earlier (mostly conservative) uses of the word:

LinkGuide to subversive organizations and publications (and appendix)

Subversive activities control act of 1950. Report ... Eighty-fourth Congress, first session

Interim report of the Special commission established to study and investigate communism and subversive activities and related matters in the Commonwealth. April 26, 1955. [Appendix A ... Resolve reviving and continuing the Special commission ... until February 1, 1956.

Subversion in racial unrest, an outline of a strategic weapon to destroy the governments of Louisiana and the United States. Public hearings, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, March 6-9, 1957

The web of subversion; underground networks in the U. S. Government..

However, in both cases we are talking about small subverting large.  Small communist cells would be slowly subverting the whole United States.  So, can a big thing subvert a small thing?  There's nothing in the definition of subvert to suggest that size is important.  So I suppose the question was not odd.

Monday, November 07, 2011


The tree in the Pusey hole looked quite brilliantly red today.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Everything's Better With Photoshop

Barb and I in Times Square, improved.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Do Shoes Come From Heaven?

wait for the other shoe to drop wait for the next or final thing to happen. North American *

Sure!  Shoes come in pairs, so when the other shoe drops, you have a complete pair.  Then it's time to walk.

But why does the shoe drop?  What's it doing way up there?  My shoes are on the floor or hanging on my closet door.  Do other people keep their shoes on such high shelves that they must knock them down with a pole?

Or maybe shoes used to grow on tall trees, and people had to shake the trees to get the shoes to drop. (Thus, the "shoe tree.")

Do shoes come from heaven?

*"shoe"  Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Edited by John Ayto, Judith Siefring and Jennifer Speake. Oxford University Press Inc. Oxford Reference Online. Oxford University Press.  Harvard University Library.  17 October 2011

Friday, October 21, 2011


On Thursday Diane and I had Chinese takeout for lunch.

We made JB call in the order because he was being such a lazy boy.  (He doesn't like to be photographed, but this is his cubicle.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Missed Kay Ryan

I was going to hear Kay Ryan at the MFA last night.  But the heavy, cold rain held me back; I just wanted to go home and get in bed with the cats.  Here is a poem of hers based on a museum experience.

Outsider Art
by Kay Ryan

Most of it’s too dreary
or too cherry red
If it’s a chair, it’s
covered with things
the savior said
or should have said—
dense admonishments
in nail polish
too small to be read.
If it’s a picture,
the frame is either
burnt matches glued together
or a regular frame painted over
to extend the picture. There never
seems to be a surface equal
to the needs of these people.
Their purpose wraps
around the backs of things
and under arms;
they gouge and hatch
and glue on charms
till likable materials—
apple crates and canning funnels—
lose their rural ease. We are not
pleased the way we thought
we would be pleased.

Monday, October 03, 2011


When JB gave me the robot ornaments, he asked me if I recognized them from movies.  I didn't.  He thought maybe they were toys.  I found images of 2 of them.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

The Great Outdoors

This afternoon Rosemary and I checked out the Oktoberfest in Harvard Square.  As usual, there were no beer-bearing M√§dchens, just the usual outdoor-fair paraphernalia.