captpackrat: (Camera)
(Oh my God!  He's actually posting something!)

My grandfather was an amateur photographer from way back.  He had all kinds of interesting equipment and at one point even had his own darkroom.  He gave me most of my early equipment and encouraged my interest in photography.

I was given my very first camera when I was about 8 years old.  It was a Kodak Instamatic X-15, the last Instamatic model sold in the US.  It had a single element plastic 43mm f/11 fixed focus lens and a fixed 1/90 second shutter.  It could use Magicube flashcubes, which were a pain in the butt.  It used the 126 film cartridges which produced a distinctive square print.  The camera was prone to miswinding, leading to weird double-exposures if you weren't careful.  I took a number of photos with this camera, but they've all disappeared.

When I was 13 I received a Vivitar Tele 815.  It had a built-in flash (no more flashcubes!  Yay!) and two fixed focus lenses, 24mm and 48mm, both f/5.6, which you selected by sliding a switch.  It used the more common 110 cartridges, which produced a more typical rectangular print but had smaller negatives.  I've only been able to find one print from this camera, a photo I took of Yosemite.

My grandfather also gave me a Minox III "spy camera", but it used a bizarre 8mm film cartridge that was extremely difficult to find and even harder to have developed, so I was never able to do anything with it.

When I was in high school my grandfather gave me his old Canon AE-1 SLR.  It was a real 35mm SLR with a 50mm normal prime lens, but the exposure meter was broken, so he also gave me a hand-held light meter.  I could still use the camera with manual exposure by getting a reading with the hand meter and selecting the appropriate settings.  It was a pain in the butt to use, but it was a great camera otherwise.  It taught me a lot about gauging exposure by eye and the effects of shutter speed and aperture.  I think my grandfather gave me a defective camera on purpose, to teach me to not rely on fancy automatic features.

In college I got tired of having to screw around with the hand-held meter and bought a Ricoh KR-5 35mm SLR.  It was a clone of the venerable Pentax K-1000.  It was full manual with an LED light meter inside the viewfinder.  I bought 4 KA lenses for this camera, a Samyang 18-28mm f/4.0-4.5 wide angle zoom, a Ricoh 35mm-70mm f/3.5-4.5 mid-range macro-focusing zoom, a Vivitar 70-210mm f/4.5-5.6 telephoto zoom, and a Ricoh 50mm f/1.7 standard prime.  I also had a Vivitar 2x macro-focusing teleconverter, which let me reach out to 420mm, though with the loss of several f-stops.  Although it had a light meter, the camera was still completely manual; you had to set the shutter speed and aperture for each shot using the meter as a guide.

The Ricoh remained my primary camera for almost 15 years until I bought my first digital camera, a Pentax Optio A30.  It was a 10MP 1/1.8" CCD compact with a 38-114mm equivalent f/2.8-5.4 zoom lens.  It had excellent macro capabilities, better than any of the cameras I had afterwards until my DSLM.  It also had a fairly large sensor for a compact.  I used to carry it around in my pocket all the time until the screen broke a couple years ago.

In 2008 I bought two cameras.  The first was a Panasonic TZ-5, a 9MP 1/2.33" CCD compact with a 28-280mm equivalent f/3.3-4.9 zoom lens.  Although it is considered a compact, it was more than double the thickness of the A30; I couldn't carry it in my pocket, so I attached a small case to the strap of my netbook messenger bag.  I still carry this camera with me whenever I take my bag.  It's still vastly superior to any phone camera and has decent zoom.

The second camera I bought in 2008 was a Panasonic FZ-18, an 8MP 1/2.5" CCD bridge camera with a massive 28-504mm equivalent f/2.8-4.2 super zoom lens.  This was my primary camera until just recently.  Despite being 6 years old, and comparatively low resolution, it has a zoom comparable to my current DSLM with its longest lens.  Like an SLR, it can shoot in RAW format and has full PASM capability.  This is the camera I used to shoot many of my rabbit photos.

As nice as the FZ-18 was, by 2013 it was beginning to show its age, and with a crop factor of 5.6, it was lacking a bit in the quality department.  Just before Christmas Costco started selling the Samsung NX2000.  It had better specs than the similar Canon EOS-M and was a lot cheaper, so I bought it.  It's a 20MP APS-C DSLM (Digital Single Lens Mirrorless, similar to a DSLR, but without the bulky reflex mirror & pentaprism).  The kit came with a compact 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 mid-range zoom, a 50-200mm f/4-5.6 OIS telephoto zoom lens and an external pop-up flash.  I've since bought 6 other lenses, a 12-24mm f/4-5.6 wide-angle zoom, 10mm f/3.5 fisheye prime, 30mm f/1.2 standard prime, 45mm f/1.8[T6] 2D/3D telephoto prime, 60mm f/2.8 macro-focusing OIS telephoto prime, and an 85mm f/1.4 telephoto prime.  My favorite lens is the 85mm, which has a magnificent DOF.  However, I usually leave the 30mm lens on the camera when I put it away; it's the smallest and lightest lens I own, it's a standard lens (i.e. no magnification) so it's good for quick snapshots and it's simpler and faster to use than the mid-range zoom (precisely because it has no zoom) and has a 2-1/3 f-stop wider aperture (f/2.0 vs f/4.5).  The camera has the ability to connect to my Samsung phone so I can use it as a remote viewfinder or to upload pictures.

Now I'm looking at upgrading to the Samsung NX30 or NX1.  The latter will be Samsung's first professional-level camera, but I'm not sure if pushing an APS-C sensor to 28MP is a good idea.  It's also got a professional-level price tag, $1200.  The NX30 is Samsung's current high-end offering and is nearly half the expected price of the NX1.  It uses the same 20MP APS-C sensor as the NX2000 (entry level) and NX300 (mid-range) cameras, but has a proper viewfinder (the NX2000 has no viewfinder at all, just the screen), a higher-resolution rotating screen, integrated pop-up flash (freeing the hot shoe for accessories), faster shutter, faster drive and faster hybrid autofocus.  Which ever one I decide on will be able to use all my existing NX lenses.
captpackrat: (Calligraphy)
Pretty banal, really.  This letter was sent 11 years after the birthday card in an earlier post, yet the postage had only gone up a single penny.  My grandparents had that same post office box until 2006!  The return address is General Delivery, Atlanta, Texas.















captpackrat: (Grandfather Marine)
I'd seen these before, but it was only today that I figured out what their significance was.  These originally belonged to my Grandfather's Grandmother, Leila Grubbs!  I have a photo of her wearing them!



The frames are 1/10 12K gold filled with mother of pearl nose pieces.  The manufacturer's mark is LoC, though I can't figure out what company that is supposed to be, possibly Liberty Optical Company.


This was folded up inside the case.  Love the 5 digit phone number.

Dr. Stephen P. Hill was apparently a member of the Florida State Board of Optometry from at least 1923 until 1933.
captpackrat: (Camera)

My grandfather in uniform.  I can't see any rank insignia, so he's probably a Private, which would have been 1946 or 47, I think.  This photo was probably taken in South Carolina (he went through boot camp at MCRD Paris Island), North Carolina (after boot camp he was stationed at Camp Lejeune), or Florida (his mother lived in Jacksonville).  I tried Googleing the Gardner Hotel Supply Co, but couldn't find anything relevant.


Camels!  I also tried doing a Google Image search to see if I could find this ad, but it was like searching for a cigarette butt in a haystack.



Judging by the Nerf Indoor Golf set that I'd received for Christmas, this was probably from 1986.  No wonder I'm good at putting, even though I suck at everything else in golf.



A photo I took of Yosemite Valley, some time around December 1986 or January 1987.  I'm amazed that I managed to find this picture, I thought it was lost long ago.  Not a bad shot considering the weather, and the fact that I was only 13 at the time.

This photo was probably taken from Tunnel View on Wawona Road.  You can see El Capitan on the left and Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Fall on the right; it's winter, so the falls are barely a trickle.  Half Dome would be just to the left behind Sentinel Dome in the center but is completely obscured by fog.  Yosemite Falls isn't visible from this vantage point.
captpackrat: (Grandfather Marine)
I was digging through some boxes today and came across a birthday card sent to my grandmother from her aunt in 1949!


Only 3 cents postage!  The postmark is from Klamath Falls, Oreg, November 7, 1949.  My grandfather was stationed at MCRD Paris Island at the time.



It's a pop-up card, which doesn't really translate too well when squished flat on a scanner.
captpackrat: (MLP Lazor)

String

Sep. 29th, 2011 02:00 pm
captpackrat: (Music Machine)
With a ball of white string,
I can do many things;
Tie a bow on a gift for you,
Fly a kite free, tie a star to a tree,
Strap a sling, make a ring,
For a trick or two.

Twist, twirl and wind things,
Tie up and bind things
But there are some things that string can never do.

String can't bind a broken heart
When it's been torn apart,
Mend a friendship that's almost through.
Can't pull hate out,
Tie up fear, wrap up doubt.
String is useless when it comes to me and you.
captpackrat: (TV)
On Sunday evenings, our local RTV affiliate shows old episodes of the 80's TV program That's Incredible!  It was an early reality television show featuring people performing stunts and stories of unusual or miraculous events.  It was hosted by John Davidson, Fran Tarkenton and Cathy Lee Crosby.

On this particular episode, they show a child named Dustin Domine, son of Randy and Shelley Domine.  Dustin was born with a rare immune deficiency which confined him to a sterile hospital environment for the first two years of his life.  He eventually received a "miraculous" new medical treatment which allowed him to live at home and live a semi-normal life.   "Miracles of Medicine!"  End of story.

Nearly 30 years later, I can punch that name into Google and find out immediately what became of little Dustin.  Unfortunately, the story didn't have a happy ending. 

I wonder if the producers of the show had ever imagined the existence of the Internet and the ability to instantly search for names, places and events.

Young plush

Apr. 8th, 2011 05:42 pm
captpackrat: (Plush)



Look at that artistic talent.  I still have the black and white bear.  I don't know what happened to the blue one.
captpackrat: (Fail)
A rather surprising guest star on today's episode of Hawaii Five-0, originally broadcast in 1975, titled "Computer Killer".

(Click on images to enlarge)

A shifty-looking "computer consultant" watches a gentleman meeting up with an attorney and heading into court.  He notes the man's license plate, then gets back in his car and makes a call on his car phone.


His rotary dial car phone.


Then he opens the suitcase sitting in the passenger seat, revealing a keyboard and screen.


He turns the unit on, clearly revealing the model, an ADDS Envoy.


The terminal boots up.


He attaches the headset of his car phone to an acoustic coupler on the side of the terminal.


The modem connects to the Department of Motor Vehicles, which apparently hires "computor programmers".


The guy hits some keys on the keyboard, which has mysteriously changed colors (continuity error!)


DMV data for the car owner very slowly begins to fill the screen.  The baud rate looks to be about 8 or 10 bits/sec.


After getting the data he needed, he writes it down on a pad of paper.  I guess he spent so much money on the portable terminal and car phone that he couldn't afford a printer.  Notice the keys are orange again.



There are several other more traditional terminals and oldie computer equipment (IBM, Control Data, etc) in the episode, but the portable terminal and rotary car phone were the most interesting.  Oddly, I can find almost nothing about ADDS on the internet, and there don't appear to be any photos of this particular model of terminal.

Teh horror!

Nov. 1st, 2010 06:34 pm
captpackrat: (Aaaaaaa!)
I read The Call of Cthulhu today and it got me thinking, I really don't care for modern horror.  You ask someone today what are their favorite horror stories, and they'll likely say Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Saw, or other gore-fests.  I don't like any of those movies.  I much prefer the horror stories of 50-100+ years ago. 

I don't think having blood and internal organs spattered across the screen really does anything to create a feeling of horror.  No, the greatest terror is inside your own head, your own imagination.  The old horror writers would plant the seed of fear in you and then let your mind do the rest.  They less that's shown, the more your brain has to work with.  That's why I think radio dramas and books make for much better horror than movies.

The acme of the horror genre, in my opinion, has got to be Orson Welles' radio version of The War of the Worlds.  Well written dialog, with some simple sound effects, mixed with the imaginations of millions, led to mass hysteria.  Countless people actually believed the world was coming to an end.  Radio stations and police were swamped with calls from frightened citizens.  And there were no pictures. no video.  It was all in people's heads.

The best horror stories are those that give you an idea about something terrible, something unknown or unspeakable, and then leaving it to you to fill in the blanks.  No graphic disembowlings, no hockey masks and chain saws.  No, far more horrifying is the idea that some horrific creature could be out there, lurking, waiting.

"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming."
captpackrat: (TV)
They don't make TV theme songs like this anymore.

Skipper Dan

Jun. 2nd, 2010 02:28 pm
captpackrat: (Music Machine)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0cCRRFi1aA

I find this song especially amusing since I've been on the Jungle Cruise ride at least 50 times over 30-something years and the spiel really hasn't changed much.  I laughed out loud at the "back side of water" reference.
captpackrat: (Grinning plane)
Now here's an obscure album.  The Adventures of Coconut Willie and Pukahead, the Magic Menehune by Jack de Mello.  It's a children's record from 1972.  My aunt and uncle bought it when they lived in Hawaii and they made me a copy of it on cassette.  The original album is long gone, but I still have that tape.  I finally got around to ripping it.  The quality isn't that great and the levels are a bit funky at times, but it's still listenable.

The album is about Coconut Willie, a Hawaiian beach bum and his friend Pukahead ("puka" is Hawaiian for "empty"), a magic menehune (something like a Hawaiian leprechaun).  They have various adventures, like trying to figure out who stole Mrs. Oyster Rockerfeller's pearls, or solving the mystery of the Spooky Kooky Hawaiian Raindrops.

It was written for kids, but adults will enjoy it as well.  It's vaguely furry, as many of the characters are animals (e.g. oysters, fish, turtles, a penguin, a whale).  The album uses a lot of Hawaiian slang, like "opu" (oh-poo, "stomach"), "pupule" (poo-poo-lay, "crazy") and "wiki-wiki" ("quick"), but it's easy enough to figure out.

The whole thing is about 47 Megs.

http://captainpackrat.com/Misc/Sounds/Coconut Willie and Pukahead.zip
captpackrat: (TIME:  In Rod We Trust)
I recall seeing an educational TV series when I was a teenager, it was done like a TV news program airing on some historical date, the middle ages, the reformation, etc.  There were sports, business and opinion segments, and even "commercials", all appropriate to the time period for that episode.  The show would always end with the anchor saying something like "And that's the way it was, October 12, 1492."

Anyone else remember this show?  And what the name was?
captpackrat: (Parents)
I was looking through some old commercials on YouTube when I came across this one for Levi's.  It's furry, sort of.  20-something years later and I still remember it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BajEfI7g5A0


captpackrat: (Cooking - Kiwi)
My grandparents always had several orange trees on their property, since long before I was born.  Several varieties, too, such as Navel, Valencia, Mandarin and Tangerine.  The trees did extremely well in the climate of Southern California and under my grandfather's green thumb.  There was always more fruit than we (and our neighbors) could eat.  Chances are my first solid food as an infant was an orange from one of their trees.

I have really missed having an unlimited supply of citrus.   While shopping at Costco today, one of the sample vendors was giving out California navel orange slices.  I took one bite, ran over and grabbed a whole case.  When I got home, I peeled one, bit into it and practically orgasmed right there. They were just so fantastic,  I ate almost a half dozen oranges in one sitting. 


Trivia
:  A mutation in a single orange tree in 1820 created the first navel orange.  Since they are seedless, the only way to propagate them is by cutting and grafting, basically making every navel orange tree a clone.  When you eat a navel orange, you are essentially eating the fruit from that original 190 year old tree.
captpackrat: (Music Machine)
I finally managed to download a copy of the album Tin Tin by the group, err...  Tin Tin.  My roommate has their second album, Astral Taxi, as an LP, and I had found an MP3 version of it a couple months ago, but I was having trouble finding their first album.   Astral Taxi was fairly easy to Google for, but searching for "Tin Tin" yields mostly dogs and French comic books.  Neither was ever released as a CD; both of these MP3 albums are rips from the original vinyl.    FUCK YOU RIAA

Here is one of the songs from the album, and probably their biggest hit:  Toast and Marmalade for Tea


And going from obscure music to (semi) obscure cartoons, The Mysterious Cities of Gold is FINALLY being released on DVD!  I managed to catch the entire thing on Nickelodeon some 20 years ago or so (but I never saw more than a couple episodes of Sparticus and the Sun Beneath the Sea).  I've already pre-ordered it from Amazon.

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Captain Packrat

December 2015

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