Saturday, 26 January 2013

10:32 – I’m doing laundry while Barbara continues to clean and organized the finished area in the basement. When she finishes down there she’ll start labeling bottles. She has to go over to her parents’ house to meet a real estate agent mid-afternoon, but otherwise we’re in for the weekend. The roads and sidewalks are still covered with ice. Fortunately, it’s to warm up enough today to melt off some of the accumulation.

I’m still organizing and counting our raw materials inventory for the science kits. We’re in good shape on most stuff and great shape on some. Both to minimize working capital and storage requirements, I try to maintain raw materials inventory at pretty low levels on stuff that’s easy to get and has multiple sources. On the other hand, I try to maintain pretty high levels of stuff that’s frequently back-ordered, particularly if it’s inexpensive and/or available from only one source. For example, we have only one reasonable source for the 5/10/15X pocket magnifiers we use in the biology, forensics, and life science kits. I ordered 300 of those last week. They arrived yesterday. I can order those, if necessary, from another of my wholesalers, but at a cost about 75% higher. Same deal on alligator clip leads. I can buy those nearly anywhere, but one of my suppliers sells them at about 60% the price other suppliers charge. (They’re exactly the same product…) So I ordered 500 each of the black and red leads, which also arrived yesterday. It’s worse for a few items that are single-source. For example, the exact stainless-steel spatula that we use in all of our kits is available from only one source, and they’re sometimes backordered. Without those, we can’t build kits. The things cost us something like a buck each, plus shipping. We’re down to low inventory on that spatula, so I’m going to order 500 next week and up the re-order quantity to 200 on that item. I don’t mind devoting $200 to $500 in working capital to an item that’s a showstopper.


13:23 – Barbara was in the shower about 11:30 when her sister called to tell her that their mom had fallen and had some cuts and scrapes. Tom, the guy from the retirement village, was in their apartment with them. He said it didn’t look too bad, but Barbara’s mom wanted to call 911. So Tom called, expecting that they’d just patch her up and leave. Instead, the EMTs transported her to the hospital. I guess at her age the fact that she hit her head (her face, actually) was enough for the EMTs to decide she’d better be seen by the doctors. They took Dutch along, too, because he fell while he was trying to help Sankie get up. Barbara called a little while ago from the hospital. They don’t know yet if Sankie will be admitted or sent home. I hope the former, because I think she needs to be under observation at least overnight, if not longer.

54 thoughts on “Saturday, 26 January 2013”

  1. In the process of scanning my wedding pictures. I have the 2.25×2.5 negatives. They are starting to show signs of age (almost 38 years) and it is time to do something. A tedious process as each negative has be scanned, color adjusted, exposure adjusted. Not trying to be really accurate as there are problems with the negatives because of the age and the nature of film photography.

    http://www.raymondthompsonphotography.com/Wedding

    Is what I have so far. These were taken July 26, 1975 so excuse the white shoes and belt in a couple of the pictures. Disco was king at that time.

  2. Very pretty girl. How did you convince her to marry you?

    Clever deception.

    Actually, according to her, she told her friend that she was going to marry me when she first saw having yet to speak to me or know my name. Must have been the USAF uniform as she was working at one of the computer centers we used for our software development.

  3. I don’t know how to say this diplomatically Ray, but…

    A guy I knew got married in 1975 in a purple suit. People did strange things back then. I thought you’d done the same, then in the next photo your suit was blue. Did your beloved insist you put on a decent one or didn’t you adjust the colour properly? Later (at 147 IIRC) you were flanked by two lovely young ladies, and I wondered if you were a Mormon.

    I agree with our host, you got yourself a lovely girl there.

  4. Miles the choice of suit color was mine. That was the only decision I was allowed to make during the wedding. The color has not been adjusted much, just enough to restore some of the color from the slightly faded negatives. If I want to reprint any of them I will spend more effort into attempting to make the color better. But when color is gone, it is gone and is difficult to put back.

  5. Ah yes, the wonderful 70s, when disco was king. I had just left active duty that year but wouldn’t get married for another thirteen years. No one cared about my spiffy USAF uniform with the 1545 (is that number right?) French blue dress shirt and fruit salad.

    So Ray; what can be done about snapshots dating from the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries? I have a few old family pictures that I’d like to get cleaned up, ‘maximized’ for their potential clarity and color if possible, and enlarged for framing. I’ve seen photography shop ads from time to time claiming this can be done.

  6. The images first need to be scanned to convert them to digital. Then it is just a tedious process to remove scratches and other blemishes. Sometimes a lot of cloning using photo editing tools. But if the color is not there, such as no blue in the image, there is little that can be done except to convert the image to B/W. I suspect in your case all the images are B/W which makes the process easier.

    The key is to get a really good scanner, Native resolution at 1200 DPI or better. Not this interpolated crap like HP makes. Epson is pretty good at scanners and that is what I am using. But most of my images are in fairly good shape, especially the negatives and transparencies. The Kodak Kodachrome are in the best shape, Ektachrome a little worse for wear, Agfachrome is nothing but red lines and shadows, the one roll of Seattle Film Works that I tried is basically clear.

  7. I should add that the Epson that I have has holders for transparencies and negatives and wills scan those quite nicely, including seperating the images on negative and reversing the color. It can scan negatives and transparencies because it has a scanner light in the lid which is absolutely necessary for transparencies or negatives.

    It is also nice to have software that will rotate and flip images as some negatives it is difficult to tell which side is which. It is easier to just scan and flip/rotate the images in the software.

  8. Yeah, non-substantive color processes like Kodachrome have much better archival stability than color-coupler processes like Ektachrome, as do the dye-destruction processes like Cibachrome. The SFW stuff was 5247 and 5271 movie stock that was never intended for anything else.

    OFD, if you have color images that really date from the 19th and early 20th centuries (before Kodachrome was introduced in 1935; Agfacolor was available before that, but any really old Agfacolor images are long gone), they’re most probably Lumière Autochromes, which are dyed starch grains and are reasonably stable. They may also have been produced by any of several Technicolor-like processes that actually shot three B&W negatives through color filters and later recombined the images into a color image. The original negatives are stable if they were processed and washed correctly, but the color images may or may not be stable.

    Paper prints may also be dye-transfers, a process that I played around with quite a bit back in the 60’s and early 70’s. Those are pretty stable, but they’re relative rare because the process was very time-consuming and relatively expensive. (You had to make three matrices, one for each primary color, dye the matrices, and then physically transfer the dye to a sheet of paper.)

  9. Nice royal blue? suit. And nice wedding! And pretty bride! And the cleanest beetle that I have seen in decades. I remember those white patent leather shoes. My FIL wore his until 2000. He probably still has them.

    Most everyone was so skinny back in the 70s. I blame it on the smoking.

    I picked a baby blue suit for my wedding in 1982. Or else someone picked it out for me. I basically just showed up to formalize our relationship so people would leave us alone when we wanted to have some private time.

    BTW, Walmart has a slide to jpg conversion service for mass quantities. They do OK, nothing special. Probably 200 dpi at best. Maybe 100 dpi.

  10. Thanks for the info, guys; so I could essentially do this work myself; a decent scanner and the sw I have already might do the trick without handing it all over to some shop down the road here.

    IIRC, the handful of photos I have in color date from the 40s and 50s, and I have some much earlier pictures that are of a sepia color; majority are black-and-white.

    Examples include my great-great-grandparents and my paternal grandfather and his brother with their little girl cousin from Nantucket in 1898 as small children, cute little Quaker outfits.

    The temp here has rocketed up to 10 degrees and it’s sunny with not a cloud in the sky; feels like summuh!

  11. BTW, Walmart has a slide to jpg conversion service for mass quantities. They do OK, nothing special. Probably 200 dpi at best. Maybe 100 dpi.

    I prefer to do my own. I am much more concerned about quality control than Walmart. I clean the scanner plate before each scan, wipe the negatives and slides and take care to orientate the final image properly.

    It does take time. I previously had scanned some 2,000 slides into my system over the course of last winter. This last batch is what the wife found while digging through her stuff. We knew we had the wedding picture negatives somewhere. It was just a matter of finding them.

    I do scan all my images at 600 dpi which seems to be good enough. The transfer is never perfect. It is close enough for most purposes. It was time to get all the images digitized for long term storage and safety. I can now keep them offsite stored on an external hard drive.

    The next possible project is to burn all the images to archival quality CD’s. That will take considerable time and I wonder if it is worth it. When I die the kid does not want any of the images. Same as I felt about all my aunt’s pictures. I scanned a few but tossed most of them as I had no idea who the people were in the images. In about 20 years I won’t remember who is in the pictures even if the picture is of me.

  12. One final caution: if you have film stock that pre-dates WWII, it may be cellulose nitrate. Film manufacturers introduced consumer-grade films based on cellulose acetates before WWI, but some continued to use cellulose nitrate. The film industry continued using nitrate stocks until the late 40’s.

    If you open a film can and smell a pungent odor (and particularly if there’s reddish/brownish staining or, heaven forbid, reddish gas) in the container, dispose of it immediately. Cellulose nitrate is unstable, and the breakdown is self-catalyzed. In extreme cases, the film may burst into flame all by itself when a can is opened.

    Cellulose acetate film should have little to no odor, and if an odor is present it’ll smell like vinegar. Also, such stocks are generally labeled on the film edge as “safety film”.

  13. OFD wrote:

    “The temp here has rocketed up to 10 degrees and it’s sunny with not a cloud in the sky; feels like summuh!”

    Great! Just keep your kit on if you go outside.

  14. “. I scanned a few but tossed most of them as I had no idea who the people were in the images. ”

    Roger that. So annoying. Them ancient buggers evidently couldn’t be bothered to write names and/or dates on the backs. No idea who these people were. Bastards.

    Ray, if I may ask; what specific Epson model do you use for your work?

    “Great! Just keep your kit on if you go outside.”

    You betcha. Still a tad chilly for ol’ Davy out there. Next week the weather liars tell us it will be in the 30s and 40s.

  15. <Ray, if I may ask; what specific Epson model do you use for your work?

    I have the Epson Perfection 4490 Photo Scanner. It is several years old but does a good job. Good enough for my needs. If I was buying again I would get this scanner.

    http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/jsp/Product.do?BV_UseBVCookie=yes&sku=B11B200211#1

    It has the adapters for transparencies and negatives with the necessary scanning light in the plate cover. The Epson software works really well to seperate slides and individual images from the negative strips along with handling color reversal film quite nicely.

  16. Sweet, thanks; I was looking at scanners on Amazon from Epson that were two and three times as much; this one is only 80 bucks. Should work here for me.

    I’m working my way through a bunch of boxes in the office here and keep running into some old photos, clearly not organized or taken care of properly during the move or at our last property.

  17. I have the Epson V300, which works very well. I’m not sure what the difference is between the V300 I have and the V330 that Ray recommended.

    The nice thing about Epson scanners is that Linux supports most of them. (Go over to the Epson site and search for “linux” to find drivers.) Just install it per Epson’s instructions, fire up XSane, and you’re good to go.

  18. Yes, that would be the primary consideration here, although I have managed to get a couple of Windows programs, like Evernote and Real Player working on this Ubuntu machine via WINE, which has gotten considerably better since the last time I used it a few years ago.

    I try to run all our stuff on Linux as much as I can and we’re about 95% there; Mrs. OFD needs the Windows PowerPoint for her job because the OpenOffice and LibreOffice versions haven’t been doing all that she needs. When things settle down a bit more, we’ll work on that, too.

  19. I know I don’t really need to tell you this, but …

    Make sure to check Epson for driver support for the exact model you intend to buy. Sometimes a model difference like V300 versus V330 takes you from full or mostly-full support down to sketchy or no support. Of course, the converse is also sometimes true.

  20. I’m not sure what the difference is between the V300 I have and the V330 that Ray recommended.

    I think the V300 has been discontinued and replaced by the V330. The same drivers should work for both as many of Epson’s scanners use the same software. The numbers are close enough that I suspect the drivers are identical.

    The biggest thing to find was the ability to scan transparencies and negatives. Going up in cost from there does not gain you much in terms of quality. There may be some small difference but for the usual photographs and images I don’t think the difference is noticeable.

    To me it was important to scan all my stuff because the negatives and transparencies were losing quality. I don’t have a climate controlled place to store such items and even if I did I suspect the quality over time would diminish. That may not be a big issue as the kid would probably toss them anyway.

    However the biggest reason for the scanning was for backup purposes for myself. Keeping digital copies is so much easier. The second biggest reason is to show them to people without having to get out the projector and screen. Negatives could not even be shown unless they have been printed.

  21. OK, this just goes to prove that the”war on drugs” is a total failure here in the USA:
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/woman-smuggles-cocaine-in-coochie-478192

    The idiot woman will go to federal jail at $5oK/year for 20 years. $1,000,000 to put her behind bars and feed her over the next 20 years. And the man also. $2,000,000 to take care of them for the next 20 years. This is just another example of why the federal government is hemorrhaging cash all over the place.

    The “war on drugs” has been a dismal failure. Someone needs to put it out of its misery. If someone wants to get high, they are going to do it no matter what.

  22. Bill : I stand (sit?) corrected, I thought that all the statutory holidays were nation wide. But then I forgot the 11th, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, which is a stat holiday in Quebec and ignored everywhere else.

    Ray: does your scanner handle 127 (46mm) film? OFD and others with old negatives may have many on 127 film which was quite popular at one time.

    I have an Epson V500 and the film holders are for 35mm and 60mm (120/620) only. The sensor is a CCD (as opposed to a CIS sensor) with a resolution of 1200dpi. It’s an excellent scanner, I’ve been using to scan old books and I keep meaning to use to start scanning some of the thousands of old negatives that I have. Some of which are old Agfacolor, there is a very long story attached to them, I’m going to have to get those out to look at. The scanner is frequently on sale at Staples in Toronto for $150.

    Got the results from the biopsy (that was fast!) and I’m still cancer free (or rather none was detected.) I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you guys that as you all lurch into old age to keep an eye (or finger) on your prostate. The bad news is that a significant percentage of use will develop prostate cancer, the good news is that most of us will die with it rather than of it.

  23. I’m not worried about cancer or other symptoms of having lived beyond evolutionary advantage. I have every intention of dying, preferably violently, before my 5 1/2-year-old turns 13, under the reasoning that teenage girls are the most annoying thing on the planet and I see no need to expose myself to one. Er, no, wait. That sounds kind of creepy, especially as I’m talking about my own daughter. I see no need to subject myself to one. There, that’s better.

  24. The War on Some Drugs is a cash cow for our prison system and a plethora of Leviathan agencies and departments. It is a dismal and tragic failure, one of many committed by Our Nanny the Almighty State. People were going to max security prisons in this country for a lid of pot or a dime bag of coke while CIA and other State entities were dealing and smuggling the shit all over the world, aided and abetted by their superiors in the Fed monster.

    @SteveF: yes, teenage grrls are incredibly annoying, all too many of them. And evidently much of the behavior continues on into the early twenties, as well. I haven’t seen our daughter since last spring and she’s only an hour away in Montreal and has been back down here in Vermont a number of times. When they’re pissed at you, for whatever reason, legit or not, they stay pissed for months and years. A colleague at work hasn’t been in any touch at all with his only daughter for over three years now. Even got ours Xmas gifts and have still heard nothing. Yet here I am paying for college, books, apartment rental, groceries, spending cash, etc.

    Looking back I can see where a violent and sudden death may have allowed me to avoid a whole ton of shit. But life goes on and other people still talk to me.

  25. When cops do bad things, they do them very badly, even after finding out they were doing them badly. And they usually skate.

    If this happened to me and my family, or even just my long-distance family elsewhere, you can be sure the individuals involved would be hearing from me at some point and it would be extremely unpleasant for them. Just as if it had been a biker gang or a home invasion criminal gang thing. No satisfaction from the courts? No problem. I’ll take care of it.

  26. “The idiot woman will go to federal jail at $5oK/year for 20 years.”

    They must have got the photo and the story mixed up. 22 years old? I’ve seen younger looking 60 year olds.

  27. “No satisfaction from the courts? No problem. I’ll take care of it.”

    A relative who used to be a cop came to an understanding with some fellow cops. If any of their family members had something really nasty happen to them this group would take care of the perps themselves, not let it drag through the courts.

  28. “…an understanding with some fellow cops. ”

    I know nothing whatsoever about such matters, nor would I be disposed to discuss such matters if they did prove to exist.

  29. Ray: does your scanner handle 127 (46mm) film? OFD and others with old negatives may have many on 127 film which was quite popular at one time.

    I don’t think so. I have nothing to compare so I just don’t know for sure. I have no 127 film with which to try.

  30. I doubt I have any old 127 film and I lost the Kodak Instamatic that had 126 film a while back, with a full roll in it of probably 30-year-old pictures. All I have are actual photo prints of various sizes, mostly b&w. Some sepia.

    I should be all set with that Epson on this machine. Still organizing and finding stuff so it may be awhile.

  31. “I know nothing whatsoever about such matters, nor would I be disposed to discuss such matters if they did prove to exist.”

    Where did I say that you did?

  32. You didn’t. Just clarifying my position on matters that do not exist nor would I be disposed to discuss such matters even if they did exist.

    See Captain Willard on this.

  33. Geez, I haven’t seen Apocalypse Now for over 30 years. Reckon it’s worth seeing again?

  34. No-knock raids must be reserved for hostage situations and other time when lives are in imminent danger. A no-knock raid for any other purpose makes no sense at all.

    Since the current idiots (at all levels) aren’t likely to stop this idiocy voluntarily, the only answer: Decent doors and windows that cannot be broken down so quickly, and armed homeowners. Someone starts trying to break down your door at 2am, well…

  35. Let me finish that for you Brad…

    … five years later, when your case has wound its ways through the courts, you’re bankrupt, a pariah, all evidence that would clear you has been “lost”, etc, etc…

    You get my point? I’m on your side Brad, but the world isn’t like that.

  36. “Reckon it’s worth seeing again?”

    It’s a period piece now. If you see it again, don’t get the longer and extremely tedious ‘director’s cut’ or whatever they call it; waste of time and bandwidth, dunno what they were thinking.

    All the flicks made so far about that war are now period pieces, and badly flawed. Even the few fiction books written are kinda painful to read, and I don’t mean painful in the sense that they dredge up bad memories; it’s just a bunch of old stuff from a different time. It doesn’t have the same resonance for me as books and films about the Great War or our own War of Northern Aggression. No one’s got it right, yet, dunno why that is.

  37. That’s a long-winded way of saying “No”.

    Perhaps you should consider a career in politics 🙂

  38. No thanks; I still have a tiny smidgeon of self-respect left.

    I’ll try to be less long-winded, too; I’ve noticed that lately; I tend to ramble on and on and bore people to tears; must be yet another age thing.

  39. I tend to ramble on and on and bore people to tears; must be yet another age thing.

    Those young whippersnappers just don’t appreciate the wisdom you’ve accumulated along the way.

  40. Is it wisdom or just old fart’s foolishness?

    One of the continuing refrains of my younger brothers and me is “Nobody LISTENS to me!” This is almost always in reference to the other gender in our households but occasionally refers to PHB manglers. And once in a blue moon we hear “You were right.” But usually too late.

    The heat wave in Retroville continues: nine degrees with sun and not a cloud in the sky, ice-fishing shacks beginning to multiply but they’re gonna have to skeddadle this next week as the temps rocket into the thirties and forties.

  41. We’re currently about 28F, but later this week our highs are supposed to be in the mid-60’s.

  42. I’ll try to be less long-winded, too; I’ve noticed that lately; I tend to ramble on and on and bore people to tears; must be yet another age thing.

    No no no! Don’t fight it, embrace it! Think of all the boring, stupid, worthless crap you’ve had to listen to over the years, whether it’s aimless maundering by superiors in the military, worthless meetings at work, whining or deep philosophizing by your children, and all the other nonsense you’ve listened to when you’d really rather be getting something done or relaxing or even flossing your teeth.

    Think of all that, and then realize that it’s not just a few people wasting your time, it’s the majority of the species which, given a chance, would waste your time.

    Are you going to just sit there and take it? No, you’re not! You’re going to take out decades of frustration on the rest of the world!

    Now get out there and start maundering. Start sharing on-point anecdotes where you lose track of the point. Share with the younger generation your years of experience, whether they’re in the mood to listen and learn or not. Arrange for meetings at work with as many people as you can get, with no agenda and no real meeting leader.

  43. Ha, ha, I know you’re kidding, but I just couldn’t inflict on others what was inflicted on me. Gone soft in my late middle age, probably, at least on that score.

    Why contribute even more hot air to that Global Climate Change Warming Thang?

    Oh Lord, the meetings alone, over the years. What a colossal waste of time and bandwidth. Luckily these days I only have one weekly or bi-weekly workload meeting via phone amongst our widely scattered team and it barely lasts a half-hour. Gets cancelled a lot, too.

    In state gummint they would have pre-meetings to discuss pending meetings ABOUT still other meetings and then post-meetings. It was insane. I used to literally stick a pin in myself to stay awake, usually a hen party in a small, overstuffed, over-heated room.

  44. I used to tell people at work that the people running meetings and doing most of the talking should have their chairs taken away and have to stand.

    Meetings are one of the things I won’t miss.

  45. They should have to stand on hot coals while meeting victims get to throw poison darts at them to the soundtrack of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust,” cranked up real loud. Publicize these criteria in advance.

  46. After I’d consulted at NYS DOT for a while, half a year or a year, people started to realize that I ran a tight meeting: convene only for a stated purpose, prepare an agenda, stick to the agenda, leave as soon as the purpose is accomplished. People who were actually competent would come if I requested them. Note that competent people in the IT department were fairly rare and quite overworked, and generally disinclined to have their time wasted.

    So after a while my manager, a government employee and not one of the competent and hard-working people, noticed that competent people would blow off his meetings but the same people would attend mine. He was very upset with me when I refused to call meetings with people he wanted and then put him in charge.

  47. When I was with Forsyth County MIS back in the late 80’s, they were re-doing the department meeting room. I suggested to Jim Cooper, who was the department head, that he go ahead and get a conference table, but with no chairs. He was stunned at the idea of holding meetings with everyone standing. So I suggested getting chairs that were as uncomfortable as possible. We ended up getting chairs, of course, and they had soft padding and (I am not making this up) swivel and tilt. I could have spent a comfortable night sleeping in one of those damned chairs. Not surprisingly, our meetings always lasted hours. John Mikol and I made sure to grab the floor at the start of a meeting, get communicated what we needed to get communicated, and then walk away from the meeting. It drove everyone else nuts.

  48. “…very upset with me when I refused to call meetings with people he wanted and then put him in charge.”

    Typical mangler tactic; reminiscent of Leninist organizing or the Saul Alinksy playbook, and might I guess he was of the Left persuasion?

  49. Public TV was the first, I think, to coin the phrase that work there was a never-ending series of meetings occasionally interrupted by programs. Most people wished they were at their desk getting real work done.

    However, at one place I worked, the boss of our department would not allow meetings unless there was a printed agenda distributed to every participant with a clear purpose about what was to be accomplished and how. He, of course, was copied on the agenda, and if he did not approve or think it was clear enough, he cancelled the meeting. I would say about half the proposed meetings never took place. He also had a rule that no business was to be conducted via voicemail. If you could not get through to a person via telephone, then his rule was one must visit them in person—no voicemails, no memos (this pre-dated email).

  50. Chuck wrote:

    “He also had a rule that no business was to be conducted via voicemail. If you could not get through to a person via telephone, then his rule was one must visit them in person—no voicemails, no memos (this pre-dated email).”

    I used to work with a guy like that. He never returned phone calls. His theory was that if it was important the caller would call back until he got through, or make some other extraordinary effort.

    I really liked this guy, even though he was even more taciturn than me. He got a PhD in atomic physics in the Fifties, and then went into IT, never directly using his physics skills.

  51. We’ve got this one: Epson Perfection V500 Photo Scanner. It has everything for slides and negatives, pretty good software support, and was probably total overkill – but it was what Costco was selling at the time. I love the PDF button! Put the first page in, hit the PDF button, it opens a window on the computer where I can adjust this and that. Then I can keep scanning and adding pages to the same PDF until I am done. Scanning to PDF takes care of the scaling vs image size problem, as whatever dpi I choose the PDF page is the same letter size, the level of detail is what changes. Emailing a PDF at decent resolution has faxing all beat to hell.

    Edit: That unit does appear to handle at least some larger format negatives. The description on the web site (“medium-format panoramic film”) matches one of the cutouts on the frame (about 2.25″x4.76″).

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