January 31, 2007

Heritage Project

I started a long-awaited project this month. It’s to digitize the collection of 35mm slides and 16mm movies that I inherited from my grandfather when he passed away over twenty years ago. I’ve lugged them around ever since. They were taken over several decades (I’m not sure of the entire scope), at least the Thirties through the Fifties. It’s a sizable collection: over 3500 slides and approximately 8000 feet of film.

After some research, I settled on scanning the slides myself and sending the movies out to a service. So, just after Christmas, I purchased a Nikon Coolscan V ED slide and film scanner. I’ve had it a couple of weeks now and have scanned over 100 slides (this will take a while). The process is easy enough and the scanner has enough controls to do a pretty good job with some of these very old slides.

My grandfather was a dedicated amateur photographer, taking slides, prints, and movies. Nearly all of the photos I have of myself as a baby and young boy are his. He wasn’t, however, an exceptional technician; he’s somewhat famous in the family for his poorly composed shots. I think some of that is unfair, but I’ve run across quite a few oddly composed, hopelessly underexposed, or just hopeless (a lit up window from inside a dark building, for instance) shots in the few that I’ve so far processed. Still, the idea isn’t so much to find a hidden masterpiece as to see some of what he saw, to understand what he saw as important. And that comes through pretty strongly, even this early in the process.

The best examples are a couple of movies that I was able to screen before the projector (also an antique) quit on me. One was a terrible-looking, technically speaking, shot of a lit-up Christmas tree. There was no color, just light and dark, but as I watched the camera pan over the tree, I imagined that my grandfather wanted to film this, not so much because the film would preserve or communicate the sight, but because it anchored the memory of something beautiful. The other example included both my father and his brother, but in a strange way, so that I had a hint of something new in the, somewhat troubled, relationship that my father shared with his.

I haven’t come across anything that striking in the slides, so far (only a few thousand to go), but I have seen some interesting images. I’ve selected a sample to share here. These were all taken, as near as I can tell, in 1947 (at least they were in a box from the processor with a 1947 postmark on them). My grandfather was stationed in Alaska during the Second World War, in the Aleutians (the only part North America occupied by Japan, though down at the far end of the chain), and I presume that these images are from there. I find the colors and the strength of the images interesting and impressive. (Click on the images to see a slightly larger version.)

January 27, 2007

“President Bush is Insane”

So said Dwight Pelz, Washington State Democrats Chair, in a short speech this afternoon at the Heritage Park fountain, which followed a pretty successful (as far as success can be measured for these symbolic events) rally against the war along 4th Avenue today. Of course, his use of the word insane was based on the folk definition of insanity, which is doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results. Not a real diagnosis, nor even much of a rhetorical step above cliché, but it does make a good lead.

I went to the rally not because I it might bring about a change in policy (I’m not insane, by any definition), but because I thought it was time, once again, to stand out in public with others who think the same as I do as witnesses to our belief that the war is wrong, has always been wrong, and should be ended. Now.

There were more people out than a year ago and the responses from those driving over the bridge, going about their daily business, were more weighted to the positive side. Whether this was because of a change in thinking, which subsequently led to the recent election results, or because of those results themselves, I’m not sure. It’s probably both. I wouldn’t be surprised to start to hear whining about how hard it has become to support the war.

Cross-posted at Oly Blog.

January 25, 2007

Meta: Back in the Blogger

The work project I was bending all of my energy toward through the fall has, more or less, been completed. (When is an application development project ever finished?) It’s taken me this long to recover my energy from that push (and to get over my irritation over how under-appreciated it was).

I’ve converted my blog to New Blogger Beta a few weeks ago and I’m going through my old postings and tagging labeling them.

With the exception of that last quarter collapse, the first year of blogging has been interesting. Not much of a readership, only a few comments, but I find it interesting to make myself write and to do so publicly. I try to actually write something, rather than react or just post something someone else has written. That means it takes some inspiration and some energy. It also means I try to stay close to what I know, which limits me considerably, and calls for even more inspiration. I think I’ll keep it up.