Monday, February 23, 2009

Lost ears

Kind of a sad moment of passing. Last Friday, the cleaning crew at work ruined my Koss TD/65 headphones. Somehow, they managed to yank the wire to the left side nearly out, breaking the connection to the speaker inside. I guess it's no big deal, but as I recall, I paid about $90 for them when I bought them, and that was back in the mid-90s. I guess that's the real issue here. I've had them since I was in my 20s, and now they're done. I've brought them with me from job to job to job over the years; the left side had no more retainer and could fall right off the headset; the soft black material that covered the foam has been flaking off and sticking to the sides of my face for years now. But they always worked... till now. So, yesterday when I found that out, I went down to Factory Direct and picked up a couple of pairs of $17 headphones (home and away), and they seem alright. Still, these were good headphones, and I'm going to miss them and the parts of my life they represent.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Canon Pixma MP510

Yesterday, kind of on a whim, I picked up a nice little piece of equipment for not too much money. Business Depot was selling off, at clearance, a nice Canon printer, the Pixma MP510. There are better ones, fancier ones, but this one does most of what I'm after. Two years ago they were selling for around $250 hereabouts, but they were unloading this one for a hundred.

My main motivation was to be able to print photos, since photography's one of my main hobbies. It's never been a big deal to me to be able to print my own shots, and when I wanted to I'd just trot off to Shopper's Drugmart, but something about being able to do it myself really appealed to me. I had to line up there last weekend just to print seven shots, and then stand around for 15 minutes to wait for them... what is this, 1975? So I decided to look around, see what was available.

I have an HP laser printer from about five years ago. It's utterly out of toner, and hard to find the refill for, and when I do (online), it's about a hundred bucks. Couldn't use it to print my photos anyway, but sometimes it's nice to be able to print out things like directions and emails and things, and I've missed that. So it's nice to have the option again.

The printer is also a scanner, which enabled me to retire my old scanner. Combined with that, it came bundled with OCR software that's better than what I had, which is just the ticket.

It's an inkjet printer, not surprisingly since its main job is printing photos. Before I bought it I checked the price of the ink cartridges, and they were reasonably priced at about $22 for the colour ones and about $35 for the black (which is rather larger). Also, it's that more sensible system where you replace the inks separately as they run out, instead of having to replace a whole cartridge because you're out of magenta, while you still have lots of cyan and yellow.

I've printed four photos (one twice, because I printed it on the flat side of the paper rather than the glossy), and I'm pleased with the results. I'd say they're as good as the stuff I was getting out of the machines at Shopper's. All things consided, I don't know if I'm saving money, but I'm not having to go out and stand around and I can work with the photos on the fly to get what I want.

I'll be interested to see how long the inks last, but for now, I think it's a pretty solid score for a c-note.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blooper reel

Blooper reel
Originally uploaded by Lone Primate
A string of extremely short videos that resulted from me trying to take still pictures while forgetting that the camera was on the video record setting. Enjoy. :)

Monday, February 02, 2009

My new masthead

Do you like it? I made it myself. :) I put it together yesterday out of three other photographs. Two of them were taken at a bend in the East Don River a couple of summers ago and Autostitched together. The other was a carving, on someone's lawn in Orangeville, of a shack built out of a tree stump. I composited them in Photoshop, did some work to blend the saturation and soft focus, faked reflections in the water, etc., etc., and posted it on Flickr. Today it struck me that it's exactly suited to the name of the blog, so I came home and adapted the image for use here.

Well, I think it's cool, anyway. :)

Caesar and Cleopatra

A couple of weeks ago, P-Doug asked me if I'd care to join him in taking in Caesar and Cleopatra at one of the Cineplex theatres in town. Cineplex was showing the play on select screens across Canada on Jan. 31st. I'd never seen a play by George Bernard Shaw, and I'm a fan of most things Roman, so I told him to count me in.

The performance was recorded, before a live audience, at the Stratford Festival last fall (a bit ironic because there's also a Shaw Festival here in Ontario as well). In the central roles were famed thespian Christopher Plummer, and newcomer Nikki M. James. She was playing Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the same time, sometimes on the same day, which blows my mind.

The theatre we sat in was packed. There couldn't have been an empty seat. It was only the performance's due, of course. I tend to be kind of cynical about our society but I felt proud while I sat there and took in what's really fine and enduring about Western civilization. We should be remembered for works like this, not for things like Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan. Ah, there I go again... :)

It was thoroughly enjoyable. It took about two and a half hours to show, including a 20-minute intermission, but it didn't feel anything like that long. It was wonderful to see Plummer as Caesar. I'm used to seeing him portrayed as haughty, aristocratic, and asking for what happened to him on the Ides. Shaw's Caesar is more a good-natured man who has come to accept he has this strange, great destiny, and sort of goes with the flow. It's a new way of seeing the man, though I imagine it's overly generous to the true nature of the man. A guy's friends don't tend to inflict two dozen-plus stab wounds to him on the floor of the Senate if he's a regular chuckle-buckets. :) But it was a Caesar I liked.

It was a Caesar Cleopatra liked, too, though historically she apparently liked the real fellow pretty much as well (they had a son together, a fact overlooked in the play — along with the nature of a relationship as gives rise to progeny). But in this telling, Caesar is an old man, and Cleopatra little more than a girl, and a rather foolish and credulous one at that; initially fearful of being eaten by Romans whom she pictures as something akin to one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eaters. After some initial teasing, Caesar takes her under his wing and prepares her to be a queen indeed. Cleopatra takes to Caesar, but she makes no bones about her real love: the Roman called Mark Antony. The rest is history.

I was impressed with the production, and especially the performances. P-Doug remarked that it's rare for someone as young as James to be able to share a stage with someone like Plummer, but she really was an apt choice to play opposite him. In fact, all the principals were striking and engaging. I'm looking forward to seeing it again when BRAVO! shows it this spring on television... though seeing it on TV won't hold a candle to the larger-than-life aspect of the silver screen.

I think I'll go out by saying the thing I got the biggest kick out of was the figure of Britannus, a Romanized Celt from Britain who serves as one of Caesar's aides-de-camp. For much of the play, his part consists of finding fault with, or taking offense at, the ways of other nations. Caesar repeatedly teases him for it, or apologizes to others for Britannus's remarks. He is frequently referred to as being "from the Islands", the end of the world, and being subject to the conceit that his ways are the only proper and civilized ways. This was clearly Shaw, who was an Irishman by birth, poking gentle fun at the mores and opinions of the British at the end of the Victorian Age. Today one might be tempted to script a similar stuffed tunic and style him Americus... ;)