Archive for January, 2010


25 January 2010

This is Janine, at Grammy Wilma‘s 90th birthday party six years ago.

We got word this evening that she died, suddenly, of unknown cause.  Janine was one of my mother’s favorite cousins, so much so that mom made Janine my middle name, though my mother has rarely seen her cousin since their childhood growing up in Florida.  My mother left Florida when she went to college, and recently Janine had been living in Marietta, GA, taking care of her mother Marjorie who died this past fall.

I remember once spending a day with Janine on a visit to my grandmother.  It was over spring break, and Janine took me to the beach.  I body-surfed the waves for what seemed like hours.  I got the worst sunburn of my life that day!  I remember boasting of it in social studies class on my return, making a big deal about not being able to lean back in my chair because of the pain from the SUNBURN I’d gotten in FLORIDA.  I was what? 12 years old? I think I was in 7th grade.

Mom was planning on visiting Janine this March.  They’d been corresponding often over e-mail.  I’m so sorry they won’t get to hang out this spring.  I’m sorry I didn’t know Janine better!


21 January 2010


Positive Reinforcement

18 January 2010

A lot of the time, I have a difficult time accomplishing tasks I don’t enjoy.  This includes housework and grading papers.  Last weekend, however, I was able to get a lot of papers graded by using a system of rewards.  For every 20 papers I graded, I could have 45 minutes working on my bulbdial clock kit.

I love projects that involve soldering.  I love my nifty soldering station with electronic temperature control that heats up quickly and has a pre-tinned tip.  I love watching the solder wick into its place when the components are heated just right.  And I love having an electronic doohickey that works when it is all over.  It saddens me that I was not a teacher in the heyday of Heathkit.

The system worked well, and I steamed through 80 assignments on my way to completing my clock.  But this weekend, I have no exciting soldering project to embark on as a reward.  I have not graded any assignments these three (well, 2.6) days of weekend so far.  Truthfully, I don’t really want my house to become overrun with electronic doohickeys, either.  I need another reward activity.  Ideally it would be something I could do in 45-minute chunks, that I love doing, would not result in excess clutter/useless items, and would not be too expensive.  I have a few ideas (no particular order):

  • origami or kirigami
  • learn more Japanese
  • paper/cardboard sculpture
  • mobiles
  • sewing (I have several sewing projects on my sewing list)

Unfortunately, I love none of these things as much as I love soldering.

Out with the old

17 January 2010

My first real camera was an instamatic.  It took those little “110” cartridges of film, and could be used with a disposable flash.  I remember taking a lot of photos that had a finger or thumb in it, since the viewfinder was to the side of the lens, and I started out pretty young.

When I was 16, my parents gave me a good SLR camera for my birthday.  I eventually acquired a flash, zoom/macro lens, a remote shutter switch (a short cable that attached to the side of the camera and operated by pressing the end as if pressing a syringe), and a tripod.  I used that camera continually through college, then after I was dumped by my college boyfriend after graduating I stopped having the heart to use it.  Photography had been a mutual hobby, and we took many photos on hikes and ski trips.

Eventually I started taking pictures again, but not as often.  I acquired a 35-mm point-and-shoot for taking school pictures, and didn’t use the SLR so much.  Then, when I was about 30, my then-boyfriend (now my husband) gave me a digital camera.  It’s hard to believe that it was nearly 10 years ago.  It was basically a point-and-shoot, with a few extra features like some zoom and the ability to take short videos.  I started taking photos of all sorts again, since there was no costly film development to pay for.  When we got married, that camera served very well on our honeymoon to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos islands.  I keep thinking that someday I should put all those photos on flickr…

Eventually, however, I started getting annoyed with the “long” time between taking a photo and being able to take the next photo, and it seemed like forever between squeezing the shutter button and having the image be captured.  I took over usage of the camera my husband had bought for his trip to Africa in 2006.  It has a good zoom, image stabilizer, 5 megapixels, and operates on AA batteries.  That feature alone is very useful, since while I am using rechargeable batteries, if I run out of “juice” it is easy to quickly get more batteries, either from a friend or from a store.

At some point I wound up donating my old SLR to the art department at my school, for use in photography class.  I think they still do work with film, even today, though digital photography and digital manipulation are now definitely a part of the curriculum.  I also gave away the case, the remote shutter switch, and the zoom lens.

For a little over a year now, I’ve had a Flip video camera, another gift from my husband.  I love it.  It is incredibly light and handy, has survived being dropped in soup, and is easy to attach to myself for video-ing rides at amusement parks.  And for Christmas less than a month ago, my camera-happy husband bought me a Casio Exilim pocket-size camera capable of high-speed video at 1000 frames per second, and bursts of still photos at up to 30 photos in one second!  I have yet to exploit all the features of this camera, but I have played with it a little.

But the point of this blog post is actually about the tripod.  The tripod that used to be my dad’s, that he gave me to use with the SLR camera he chose for me when I turned 16.  It’s old.  I don’t know how old.  It’s nice and lightweight, but one leg has a tendency to collapse (or extend when it is supposed to be locked up).  That trick leg is missing its rubber non-skid foot.  I did actually try to fix it, but I couldn’t figure out how to take the leg apart enough to get at the problem area.

I bought a new tripod this month.  It is strong and sturdy, and its rubber feet can be twisted to expose pointy spikes for use on surfaces where pointy spikes would work better than rubber feet.  It has TWO mounting plates that you can leave attached to two different cameras, and each of them has a spirit level.  They quickly attach or detach at the top of the tripod.  So what do I do with the old tripod?

Dad, do you want it back?

Winner camera photo at top by marlinsgirl93, found on flickr.