On cameras

Out here we’ve been having a lot of fun watching the two babies. They both just turned one. They have really different personalities… not really surprising but it’s nice to see them become their own individuals.

I’ve had a Canon PowerShot camera for a long time. It’s not high end. I prefer buying mid-range devices.  Often my theory is to buy the second least expensive or second most expensive.

I never use my phone camera. For a long time I had it blinded until I wanted to take pictures of the Magna Carta and Declaration of Independence at the library. I’m sensitive to privacy concerns and go to longer lengths than most people, thus the blind camera.

So, the real camera I have includes some nice properties that I like.  Some are on the phone but I haven’t used them consistently to know how to put them together with the phone.

I like being able to power the camera up in a moment’s notice.  The optical zoom is convenient for taking pictures with closeups, for example, of kids and an adult.

My sister is a professional photographer so she explained how to use features I didn’t know were there. I’ll get the real manual to learn more.

I like exploring the different options of a technology to see how they work. One feature I’d never used was changing the criteria for light metering. I wanted to take some pictures that were back lighted by a window.  Changing light metering and the manual option let those come out well. It looks like controlling the auto-focus and automatic light metering independently may not be possible.

It would be fun to write reviews for software or devices after becoming an advanced user. My first impression may being unnecessarily negative or undeservedly positive.

Another thing that is nice about the real camera is that I can hand it to someone else. They’ll know right away what to do. I don’t have to worry whether they’ve only used a Windows phone and won’t know how to use mine without some encouragement.

Almost everybody left a little bit ago so I won’t be taking many more pictures.

We’ll head home tomorrow.  First we’ll go to Indy and then Fort Wayne… not the direct route,  but my car is in Indy right now and my sister’s step-grandson needs to be in Indy as well.

This afternoon, my sister left for Cornell to do more research for her history PhD. Part of her studies are about disabilities rights and their evolution. It’s a challenging topic because personal autonomy and desires may not match the expectations of the majority. Most people have their own definition of what is a “valid” life. A doctor or legislator may demand a certain lifestyle as if it was the only one that is acceptable.  On one hand, it is desirable for a person to achieve all that they are capable of, and on the other, a person may choose for themselves to reject that expectation.

It’s so easy to look at a few specific examples of a life and generalize that it applies to everyone.  Life has infinite complexity, so deciding for someone else their needs uses broad brushstrokes. But that ignores the subtleties and nuances where the artist has used the lightest touch… where meaning resides.


ThoughtsI’m on vacation with family at Lake Milton OH.  There’s lots of road construction between here and Indy.

Google maps suggested going on 670 In Columbus which is messy even without construction.  The Mazda GPS suggested 270 which is a lot easier. However the Mazda also suggested taking some non-existent roads near the lake.  Then we found out that there were “no outlet” streets that, if they went all the way would be correct.  lol

The house we’re renting is really nice for sixteen.  However I almost bashed my head flopping down into a bunk bed.

They arrested the person who caused the fire an Eckhart library last weekend.  It was incredibly stupid how the fire got started.  Totally unnecessary and something any person would say “no this is a bad idea” before they even started considering it.

I’m thinking off making a page that tells how many percent of your life is over as it dynamically counted down.  I’m not sure how fast that will end up being but it could be a little uncomfortable to watch your life time out in real time.



IPFW Hollerith Card

Punched Card


Wow! I was cleaning up a drawer with 10,000 old warranty and instruction manuals and found a pile of these cards. I knew I’d kept them, I just didn’t know where until today.

It’s from a bygone era 35 years ago.


IPFW (was) Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. It’s become a victim of the two parent organizations who treat the school like a second class technical school. They decided that most of the curriculum isn’t profitable enough for IU so they’re splitting the university down the middle. In addition, the liberal arts programs don’t feed the coffers of wealthy (modern) robber barons quickly enough so they got slashed too.

I surprised myself in knowing that the card’s technical name is Hollerith, also known as IBM card or punched card. This one was from a summer project with a professor at IPFW simulating epidemic propagation using the language SimScript, a simulation language.

They’re based on a system where the pattern of holes in each column of the card represent different letters. In a way they’re an ancient form of SMS because they only old 80 characters, like a text message’s 160. They would be created with a punch card terminal that one would type on a keyboard and the correct holes would be selected. A program would be a stack (deck) of these cards and heaven help you if you drop them!

They’re similar in concept to Florida’s voting punched cards from the 2000 US presidential election. However, these cards never have “hanging chads” because that would cause data errors which weren’t acceptable in the world of technology.

Gifts, unearned blessings

What do I get when I am looking too hard for something to love? I end up stirring up trouble and getting far away from my goal. Often, the things that I desire are not really good for me. I try to get an answer and it ends up that I just get more confused. The world doesn’t run to the song that I hope for and as a result I can get unhappy.

When I am patient and waiting, good things come to me. I get new qualities and I wonder where I had been to not see that I needed the grace to be happy again. The world is full of mysteries. Things that are not possible to understand are even less possible to predict. As the days go on, I find that the upward climb can be interrupted at times by an opportunity to rest. Days come and go and I remember that I have been getting stronger. The challenges of yesterday aren’t the same challenges that I have today.

Some of my blessings I don’t even notice. I am surrounded by people who care. I have people in my life that will help me grow. I forget that I have things to be grateful for… a house, my health, a loving family. When I forget these things, I stop seeing the beauty in my life. Without gratitude, I can’t remember that each day is a gift that I can build on with effort and faith.

Awesome display of foundational documents

Thought bubbleAt the Willennar Genealogy Center in Auburn, Indiana, they just set up a display of 4 documents about the foundations of our government. They’re on loan from The Remnant Trust based in Texas. A lot of the credit goes to Caleb who has a History Degree and is incredibly excited about the opportunity.

One document is a copy of the Magna Carta from approximately 1350. The original Magna Carta was released in 1215. This illuminated manuscript also includes Statues of the Realm and Register of Writs. It influenced the American Bill of Rights and Constitution.

A second is a copy of the proceedings of the Pennsylvania General assembly dated 1777 that includes a copy of the Declaration of Independence as well as negotiations with Chiefs of the Six Nations.

The third is a first edition of the first official printing of the U.S. Constitution after Connecticut (the 5th state) ratified it in on Jan. 9, 1988. It was printed before the Constitution became effective March 4, 1789.

Last is the Journal of the First Session of the United States Senate Held in New York City March 4, 1789. It includes seventeen amendments to the constitution proposed by the House of Representatives that were rejected and 12 passed by the Senate of which 2 were not ratified by the states and the rest became the Bill of Rights.

The Senate journal also contains the first address of President Washington to Congress, the first rules of the Senate and other legislative works. It also contains the tally of the votes for each of the candidates for President itemized by state.

One thing I read that was interesting in the Pennsylvania Assembly document was the terminology of the mechanics of legislative negotiation. The notes said things like “Ordered, That the said bill do lie on the table.” This language is probably the origin of the more familiar phrase “tabled the bill.”

From an entry dated Wednesday February 26, 1777 P.M. “The Speaker laid before the House two letters which he had received from Congress, recommending divers regulations for the well being of the United States, and therewith enclosed regulations of the prices of the necessities of life, adopted by the New-England States, together with the following Declaration of Independence, published by Congress, which the Congress requests to be put on record. Thereupon

Ordered, That said Declaration of Independence be put on the Minutes of this House ; and that the same be entered among the Records of the State, when an office for such purposes shall be established.

The said Declaration follows in these words. ” …

The declaration text is listed including all of the signatories organized by state. Then is the text “In CONGRESS, January 18, 1777.
Ordered that an authenticated copy of the DECLARATION of INDEPENDENCY, with the names of the MEMBERS of CONGRESS, subscribing to the same, be sent to each of the UNITED STATES, and that they be desired to have the same put on RECORD. By Order of CONGRESS, JOHN HANCOCK, President.”

The documents will be on display until the end of July so they arrived just in time for July 4.


I had to take down my dome yesterday. It had been collapsing more and more the past few weeks. Finally, I had to take it apart because it was getting dangerous to the neighbors.

Here’s an old picture with a crimson clematis. I have used it as a trellis for several years.

Dome with clematis

This year, one clematis was covered with dozens of huge blossoms. After a large rainstorm, the weight was too much and the dome started collapsing.

Although domes are aesthetic, they can have a problem: if one part fails, the rest has stress that leads to progressively more severe destruction.

It was only a matter of time until the dome collapsed. I wanted to ignore the warning signs and now I have a pile of broken wood behind my house.

I didn’t ever plan to take it apart. Now I’ve got to make sure my tetanus vaccination is up-to-date. The wood has dozens of nails that can’t be removed. I’ll have plenty of opportunities to get cut as I break it down.

Although I titled this “Down,” that is only in contrast with the movie “Up” written by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy.

I’m leery of watching Disney movies. The studio is quite heavy-handed with movie scores. The studio uses the music to push the audience to feel the best mood for a lucrative box office.

“Up” had a scene with the characters Carl Fredericksen and Russell talking about Russell’s dad and ice cream. It was very emotional, but in a subtle and poignant way. It immediately struck me how, in those scenes, my feelings were genuinely tender. There was no orchestral music swelling in the background.

No one demanded that I have the correct feeling. Just the situation, dialog and facial expressions carried the mood. I think this is a sign of excellence by the directors Pete Docter and Bob Peterson and the team that put the movie together.

I could be really sad about the dome being gone. After all, it was really a source of pride. However, I don’t have any Hollywood “true story” tragedy music playing in the background. I can feel whatever I choose and I choose to be glad that I had it while I did.

The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it

A green thought bubble
I’m binding my poetry into books. I’ve got two books so far of 300 poems. My books of the next 300 will be done soon. I’m working all day tomorrow, so it’ll have to wait until I get home. I love my velobind machine.

I had forgotten that back in 2011, when I would write a poem, I might write a one page meditation about the poem.

Reading them again is like meeting myself a second time. Some feelings are the same, some are less familiar.

One quote I found:

“The world is big, but it isn’t so big that we can’t hurt it.”

All of the shouting about climate change misses the point. We’re hurting our planet. The exact mechanism doesn’t really matter.

Animals are suffering. Plants are suffering. The oceans are suffering. The land is suffering. The air is suffering. People are suffering.

The planet is suffering and we’re to blame.