Yo! What’s it Like In There

A while ago, I saw this ladybug walking around the rock garden while trimming some shrubs near our mailbox. Usually found on leaves and plants, this one was happily wandering the goose egg river stones, seemingly enjoying the weather, glancing at the nearby “tree,” and peeking deep into the caverns, from which the stem of a dead leaf protruded. I like lady bugs, or Coccinellidae, as they are known to scientist who like to spell things funny. Not only are they amongst the cutest insects (they technically are not “bugs,”) but also feed on Aphids, which are not so cute, and in turn feed on my flowering plants!

But looking closer while processing this image, I wondered what it would be like to be there, inside, amongst the BIG Boulders, underneath that leaf. Then I thought….I’ve been there! I’ve explored, and climbed on the eroded granite surface of these very rocks, and crouched underneath and around, and even sloshed in pristine water of it’s grottos and pools. Yes, a magical place called The Baths, on Virgin Gorda, in the British Virgin Islands, where ancient volcanic eruptions spewed enormous granite blocks into the air to fall in piles on the beach, eventually eroding into an explorers treasure. Maybe if I waited long enough, I could have seen the presence of a gigantic camera lens curiously peering down from above. ImageImageImage

Along The Historical Axis

In the 1980’s When Chinese-American architect Pei redesigned the Cour Napoleon, or main courtyard, before the  Lourve in Paris, he placed a single equestrian sculpture of Louie XIV slightly off to the side of the new and controversial Glass Pyramid,  By comparison, the statue’s tarnished bronze surface contrasts beautifully with the warmer tones of the hundreds of masonry statues adorning the buildings of the Lourve. Within that space, the piece alone, is uniquely set centering  on the “Historical Axis,” an imaginary line stretching miles along the famous Avenue du Champs Elyse’es to the relatively new La Grande Arc, over 5 miles away. From the step-up below this statue, I wanted to get some images directly along this line, but a guy…yes folks, a guy….was sitting there eating his lunch at the exact spot. I had to settle about 4 feet to the left!

The awesome view along the axis, crosses the nearby street, Place du Carrousel, and in a stunning visual perspective, continues under the nearby Arc du Carrousel, to the Egyptian Obelsque, .72 miles, and the Arc de Trioumphe, at the apex of the Avenue du Champs Elyse’es over two miles distant. Not in view, 5.25 miles out and still on the Axis, is the contemporary La Grande Arc. In that vicinity, now the modern business district of Paris, is one of its tall office buildings, seen a little too much in the photo…. because of the GUY – and his lunch!

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Play it Forward 2 – Cassttes

 

There are a number of ways to convert your photos, movies, records and audio tapes, etc., to contemporary media, like digital files. Commercial venues will do the job, but are expensive. Brookstone, Amazon and many other retailers sell media-centric playback/record hardware which come compete with software, cables and instructions. They are easy, but also a bit expensive and potentially of lesser flexibility and quality.

 

DYI online help solutions abound, where by step by step instructions explain how to convert analog content, with existing players, to digital files on your computer. This is what I did to begin the process of digitalizing my cassette tapes. Although there are many fine examples, I found the e-How article “How to Use Garageband to Copy Tapes to CD” a perfect source. http://www.ehow.com/how_6501615_use-garageband-copy-tapes-cd.html

 

My Apple computer has Garageband, a audio file creator and editor, and all that was additionally needed was a cassette player with output connections. My old Pioneer CT-W500 deck fit the bill, still hooked up to my 1980’s stereo system. Since I didn’t need the amplifiers or tuner for this task, I simply moved the player to my desk, for convenience; found an RCA “out” to Mini-Stereo “in” cable, and connected the player directly to the computer. An old set of headphones provided live monitoring. One additional program called Waveform, downloaded free,helped trim recordings and edit where needed.

 

I’ve already had some fun with this.  Coming across an old cassette of a family gathering from years ago, I digitalized it, created a sub-file (with Waveform,) and shared the clip by e-mail. Once converted to digital files, (and saved in I-tunes,) this process takes almost no time at all.

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Play It Forward

Technology – Play it Forward

Down in the basement, thanks to hand me down artifacts of previous family generations, there still are a few boxes of 12” 78 RPM, Long Playing records; thick and heavy… and still playable on rare, capable turntables (which used to be simply called record players!) Some are in good shape (ie, hardly played,) but the better content is usually found on those well worn, as the process of playing induces physical wear. Well worn records sound plain terrible.

Also mostly hidden around our house, are 33 rpm stereophonic records, and 45 rpm records, all these encompassing the same needle on grove technology. In boxes elsewhere, there are some reel to reel tapes, 3 ½ inch, 5 inch and 7 inch reels containing hundreds, if not thousands of feet of ¼” wide acetate or polyester “tape”. There are a few “8 track” cartridges here and there; and a lot of the smaller and better cassette tapes. I even have ½” wide  VHS tapes which in the 80’s could produce impressive audio quality on “hi fi” settings; and a load of micro-cassettes used mostly for voice recordings over the years. A friend of mine even had a kind of cassette player on steroids, called an El Cassette.

Then, there are the CD’s, still an excellent media which with a little care can last supposedly for eons. But they need relatively bulky players, and in themselves can take up a lot of storage space.

The I-Pod came out a little over 11 years ago, and as a portable media player, and ultimate storage and organizational platform, set the standard contemporary way we listen to music and other audio content. This, and other means of disseminating digital “files” are pretty much the game today, for personal music listening, (although “purists” are probably correct in claiming superiority to the non-compressed CD formats, and even pristine LP’s.)

With all that said, today I started digitalizing my old cassettes as to have them available on I-pad, I-pod, computer, or whatever, and …play it forward.  In a few days I’ll explain how. Image

To Run, or Not to Run

Thursday, 8:35 PM 2/7/13

It used to be when there was an ominous weather forecast, I’d be the the one to take it with a grain of sand, (?) and non-chalantly think “I’ll believe it when I see it.”  Maybe it was like a dare in my mind, because I’ve always liked big storms, but rarely saw them approach forecast expectations.  That was until Sandy. Forecasts in late September were as dire as you could get, and the storm lived up to (and well beyond) the worst. We rode that one out, right there on the water, and were amongst the lucky ones.

Maybe not as dramatic, but the automatic phone alert systems are ringing again tonight, as “a Monster Snowstorm” is headed our way. “Take necessary precautions,” and “expect power outages…” I’m not so blasé tonight. But neither am I secretly craving a record breaker, a snowy show-stopper, a “memorable monster event.”  In fact, we’re entertaining the idea of getting out of town…here, from northern NJ, and heading….to the shore tonight, where the likelihood of paralyzing snow is far less, and the only thing of concern, is a Nor-Easter!