31 March 2009
I've shown this image repeatedly here and here, but this is my first palladium print of it that I'm actually fairly happy with. In person the palladium print (also called a palladiotype) looks very different from a normal gelatin silver print. It is completely matte and has a much longer tonal range. Once I make some enlarged negatives I'll be able to show off the process a bit better than I currently can with a night photograph.
For those interested this was printed on 8x10 Bergger cotton rag paper using a mixture of palladium salts and ferric oxalate. It was then exposed under a UV lightbox, developed with potassium oxalate, and cleared with tetrasodium EDTA. The internegative and negative were made on Bergger BPFP-18 film which was blown up from a medium format (120mm) negative.
30 March 2009
In Chicago all the streets are laid out in a grid pattern with corresponding numbers that start at State Street (running north south) and Madison (running east west). The address of that intersection is 0,0 or 0 State and 0 Madison. In Chicago 8 blocks equals a mile.* And major roads exist at half mile intervals for the most part.
For example, going north the numbers as they correspond to the major east west streets are:
Madison Ave., 0 N/S
Chicago Ave., 800 N
Division St., 1200 N
North Ave., 1600 N
Armitage Ave., 2000 N
Fullerton Ave., 2400 N
Diversy Ave., 2800 N
Belmont Ave., 3200 N
Addison Ave. 3600 N
Irving Park Ave., 4000 N
... and so on. By looking at the number and dividing by 8 (really 800 I suppose) you can tell that Fullerton is 3 miles north of Madison Avenue.
For north south streets it's:
State St., 0 E/W
Halsted Ave., 800 W
Sheffield Ave., 1000 W
Racine Ave., 1200 W
Southport Ave., 1400 W
Ashland Ave., 1600 W
Damen Ave., 2000 W
Western Ave., 2400 W
Here's a more complete list.
I used to live at 1034 west Belmont. Belmont is 3200 north, so I was 10.34 blocks west of State and 32 blocks north of Madison. If you understand how this works you can get anywhere with relative ease as long as you know the numbers of the place you're trying to find as numbers are on all Chicago street signs. As an added bonus you can figure out this distance if you feel compelled to do so as I often am.
One more odd note; even numbered addresses are on the west (on north south) and north side (on east west) of streets. Odd numbers are on the opposite. So again using the example of 1034 west Belmont you now know I lived at 1034 W, 3200 N, and on the north side of Belmont.
This is the Lake Shore path. Its end points are Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 N) on the north and 67th on the south. Bryn Mawr is 56/8 = 7 miles north of Madison and 67th is... Madison to 31st is 3 miles (see below*) plus 4.5 miles for the remaining 36 blocks giving us 14.5 miles in total... not bad considering the winding nature of the path. It's about 16.5 miles long according to Google Earth which has a distance and path function so you can track distances... yea I know; amazingly simple, useful, and utterly dorky.
*The exception to this is actually where I live now; south of Madison Avenue. Between Madison and Roosevelt 12 blocks equals a mile, between Roosevelt and 22nd/Cermak 10 blocks equals a mile, and between 22nd and 31st 9 blocks equals a mile. Thus, from Madison to 31st Street is 3 miles.
"For the broader markets to bottom and for the economy to bottom, certain cataclysmic events must occur. While the timing or form of these cathartic events are difficult to predict, you WILL know them when they occur. If GM and Chrysler are forced into bankruptcy, that will be the one of the bottom forming events.
Many more, such as the final nationalization of Citigroup (C) and Bank of America (BAC) and the complete unwinding of AIG are still required. Losses must be taken by all stakeholders, not just tax payers. Balance sheets must be purged and legacy liabilities written off. These companies need to be recapitalized and relaunched with pristine balance sheets. Only then can they contribute constructively to the economy and help engineer an economic revival."
The Pirate Bay now has an app on Facebook (not a great read) to allow sharing of torrents. I'm sure that in many cases it's illegal as hell, but it does beg the question, can't this technology be used to disseminate information freely and legally in some way?
Another money scandal... although this time a company in CA walked out one their expecting (literally) customers who have fetuses growing in surrogate mothers; about 70 in all. Fortunately all of the surrogate mothers seem to be willing to still have the babies even though some of them are no longer receiving compensation. Legally they could abort the fetuses even against the wishes of the donors (biological parents). That's more or less the pinnacle of a moral dilemma.
An internet company works out of a tree house in PA. Just cool. I'd have to imagine that would make you a markedly happier person; at least it would for me. (Hat tip: wired.com)
- Vanilla beans, actually seed pods, are derived from the vanilla orchid which grows as a vine. Great pictures of the whole process here.
- Although there are 110-150 species of vanilla orchid, only two are grown commercially. The Mexican or Bourbon (they're really similar) vanilla plant is native to the Atlantic side of Mexico while the Tahitian vanilla plant is either a mutation or hybrid of the Mexican vanilla plant that occurred in the last 50 or 60 years.
- The bloom of a vanilla orchid only opens for one day. If it hasn't been pollinated then it drops and will not produce a bean.
- The seeds of a vanilla pod or really any orchid will not germinate (sprout and grow) without the presence of a certain fungi, mycorrhiza. Orchid seeds have almost no stored nutrition so the seed and fungi form a symbiotic relationship whereby the orchid obtains carbon from the fungi.
- Although orchids are self pollinating the flower can only be pollinated in the presence of a specific stingless bee, the Melipona, native only to Mexico and parts of South America. Because of this the beans must be hand pollinated as most beans are grown outside of Mexico. This is what makes vanilla so labor intensive and expensive.
- Almost all vanilla plants are cultivated within 10 or 20 degrees of the equator with the world's largest producer being Madagascar.
- Once pollinated the pod takes 9 months to mature.
- Each vanilla plant will produce about 50-100 blooms per year, but only 5 or 6 flowers out of about 20 on each raceme (single vine) of these are pollinated to ensure higher quality.
- Vanilla plants remain productive for 12-14 years but take at least 2-3 years to become productive.
- About 97% of all vanilla that is consumed is synthetic. Which is scary because although vanilla can be synthesized in many ways (even from cow dung) presently it is usually made from guaiacol, a petrochemical.
Some people seem to think so, there are many indicators that say so too, but I call BS. 2009 will not be a pretty year financially.
Also, before I remember that I hate blogging about the economy because I don't even know where to begin and it's depressing... here's a truly good read on the Public-Private Investment Program (PPIP) plan by Geithner.
My last two posts have content from The Big Picture.
29 March 2009
20 March 2009
19 March 2009
"We’ve arrived at this unfortunate juncture in our nation’s financial history because of reckless behavior in both New York and Washington D.C. Interest rates were too often kept too low, lending standards were whittled away until they were non existent, and borrowing too much for one’s own good (both corporate and personal) reached the point where it carried no negative stigma. Our nation’s elected officials consistently spent far more than was collected in tax revenue and our nation’s regulators were so poor they wouldn’t have been able to cut it as mall cops.
We learned nothing from the foreshadowing events brought about by the reckless behavior on display at Long Term Capital, Enron, and WorldCom. Bill Fleckenstein neatly summed up the last 15 years in one his best-ever Raps back in January of this year. Anticipating today’s events, Bill wrote, “…initially, in the late 1990’s, we attempted to speculate our way to prosperity via the stock bubble. And then, when that didn’t work, we attempted to borrow our way to prosperity during the real estate bubble. Of course, those two ended the way they did, in an epic disaster, and now we’re trying to print our way to prosperity…” Well said, Bill. Let us all hope the U.S. experiment with pushing the button on Quantitative Easing is more successful for us than it was for the Japanese. But given all the behavior that brought us to this point, we will need to be both lucky and good from this point forward." - Jack McHugh, on The Big Picture
18 March 2009
- 80% of the energy in the coal is passed on in the form of natural gas.
- It's cheaper to gasify coal than it is to acquire natural gas conventionally.
- All pollutants (mercury, sulfur, etc.) are sequestored.
17 March 2009
14 March 2009
12 March 2009
This is the article that got me thinking about this. It talks about how a large group/organization of graphic designers is upset because companies are more and more holding design competitions for logos; that is, crowdsourcing. The result is one winner who makes very little, and everyone else gets nothing. The professional graphic designers are upset because this cuts into their work and what they can charge for work. Dear graphic designers, these competitions are not evil. They merely make the market more efficient by bringing together people with needs (companies who need logos) and designers willing to give it to them. All participants are willing and if the professionals design is really so much better then they will continue to have a niche somewhere in the marketplace.
There is often this (misguided) feeling in society that putting someone out of work because their job is no longer relevant is a terrible thing. I'm not talking about cyclical unemployment. That is, unemployment that fluctuates according to the business cycle. That should be avoidable, at least theoretically, and it has been to some degree for the last 25-30 years... let's not get into why that is. What I'm talking about is jobs that no longer need to exist. The example I always give is that of a blacksmith. Back in the day that was a highly regarded job, now they barely exist. Why? Because it is more efficient to let a machine do that work. In the short term sure that person is out of work and they need to change careers, but in the long run that person can become more useful to society by doing something else. I'm not discounting the pain that this brings on the individual. I'm merely saying that the pain imposed on the individual is less than the "pain" felt by society for allowing that person to keep their obsolete job. Milton Friedman, who right now is taking a beating (which I think is somewhat unfair in that his ideas are actually quite liberal), used the famous example of loom operators in India (near the beginning, interesting read too).
I have mixed feelings on unions. I like that they raise wages for me. Although overall I think the practice of it is a form of collusion which is illegal. That and it artificially limits the number of people who can get jobs. A union's best quality is that they act as a collection of trade professionals who train apprentices. They essentially act as a trade school. This alone may justify their existence. One of the problems I see with unions is that they sometimes employ construction techniques that purposely take more time and are not necessarily better. As an example, in Chicago you have to use conduit (conduit can have some advantages but it also adds enormously to the cost) around all electrical wire instead of romex, and copper tubing (which goes bad over time and is expensive) must be used for water over pex, a plastic form of piping that never goes bad. Both of the unused examples are employed in the South where unions are more or less nonexistent.
Now my mixed feelings. As I talked about a while ago things change faster now (it's near the end of the post), so its not crazy to think that people's jobs could become obsolete just a few years after starting them. The Department of Labor doesn't really know (boring) how often people switch careers. They do however know that they tend to change jobs about ten times between the ages of 18-38. The point is that I'm not sure where all this is going. It could be the case that someone spends more money on their education than they could possibly make by working in that field while it exists. In the plumbers example it could also be the case that twice as many plumbers exist but they take half as many hours; essentially a reduction in work and pay. That's all good and fine, but then you have to compete with "hungry" people who are willing to work 60 hour weeks.
I found this passage by Andre Gorz in the Wikipedia article on structural unemployment, "
10 March 2009
09 March 2009
This is a concept I came up with a while ago and it's not really all that crazy original. Although I haven't heard anyone else mention it. Cameras will eventually be insanely tiny, or rather camera phones will dominate the market at be of better quality than any professional camera that currently exists.
There are two main components to a camera; the lens and the image sensor (film). Film is analog, essentially it has infinite depth and is only limitation in enlargement are the instruments used to do so. In order to duplicate film digitally and enlarge (print bigger) it without any perceptible loss in quality you need a 10-15 megapixel sensor. I find that 3-6 MP is adequate for the vast majority of people/occasions. My camera phone is a little over 3 MP and I know some exist that are 5+. Over time sensors will become more and more powerful all the while becoming cheaper. Lenses are a slightly different story. High quality lenses are expensive and in my opinion the most important part of the camera. As image sensors (CCD's) get smaller the lens required becomes smaller. That's why your pocket camera has a tiny lens and my medium format camera's lens is bigger than your entire camera. Phone cameras use a tiny image sensor, so the lenses can be very small. In fact there has been some research done on lenses that utilize a bead of water for the lens and focus (change the shape of the droplet) by passing small electric currents through the water droplet. Crazy stuff. Lenses will become of higher quality and cheaper as image sensors get smaller and as they are further mass produced. Even Zeiss, one of the finest lens makers in the world, has made some lenses for Sony phones. Zeiss makes lenses for the legendary camera manufacturer Hasselblad. They aren't cheap.
Basically my prediction is that camera phones will one day dominate the camera market and their quality will be extremely high. How soon? Camera phones will eclipse point and shoot pocket cameras in just a few years. In the mean time here are some moments when I wanted a real camera but was at least lucky enough to have my somewhat-impressive-for-a-camera-phone 3 MP G1 camera phone.
Chicago finally raised the rates of meters in my area and increased the hours in which you have to feed them. This picture is a broken meter, broken because it's so full of quarters it can't accept any more. I did a quick survey on my 2 block walk. Two meters were still functioning out of about 30.
Okay, now the fun part. HAHAHAHA!
"A tax is only as good as your ability to collect it." - I thought that was Benjamin Franklin, but I couldn't source it.
So here's what happened. The meters in my area went from $1 an hour to $2 an hour. In addition to that the east west streets used to stop charging at 6 PM, now it's 9 PM. Also, Sundays and holidays are no longer free days. It went from $1 an hour for 60 hours a week to $2 an hour 91 hours a week on the side streets. That's an increase of roughly 300%... how does that break down in quarters? From a max of 240 to a max of 728... I know, it's terribly complex. It's so complex that The Man forgot to triple the size of the workforce that collects the quarters from the meters. I wonder if they've figured this out yet? In the mean time raising parking rates has led to free parking.
Here's a few other interesting things I've noticed. The meters for the most part still stay full all the time. I thought doubling the rates would have more of an impact but it really hasn't. Parking spots are only marginally easier to find now. I wouldn't have guessed demand was so inelastic (the change in demand was not equal to the change in price, signaling that there are few substitute goods). The amount of cars circling for parking has definitely been reduced. The streets around my area are less busy now; not that I have numbers to back that up but it's noticeable. All in all I think it's an improvement, but I'm still upset that the city sold the rights to it's meters. It could have all been done better.
02 March 2009
Here's a link explaining this video, but first skip to 2:10 and watch this:
"" - Rep. (D-PA) Kanjorski
Here's a good look at predicting financial collapse based on trading of the S&P in the futures market.
01 March 2009
On the up side that's over for this year, and I solved a Rubik's cube in 4:15.
Here's what I ended up including in my portfolio. It's the directory or whatever:
Man, after reading that again I realized that I have a really hard time removing the informal voice out of my writing style. I'd be worried about putting my info out there but I doubt too many identity thieves are trolling my blog, and if they are; hey, thanks for stopping by! Don't forget to tell your friends!