The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Seen over Chicago

I'm really, really tired, but I just had to post this:

Did I mention how much I love my new camera?

In fairness, my old camera could have done that, too. It's a 200mm lens on a 1.6x digital image chip, ISO-100, f/5.6 at 1/500. My old camera wouldn't have had the detail the new one has, but really, the trick to the shot was the tripod I've had since 1983. (Seriously.)

The moon is actually pretty bright. Its albedo—the amount of light its surface reflects—is about 9%, or about half of an average surface on Earth. So in full sunlight it should read about 50% of the light that it would read at noon here, and, would't you know, it does. In noon sun in the park I would expect about the same exposure. So in reality, the moon is a much duller grey than this photo shows.

OK, I'm off to sleep now. Tomorrow I'll reveal what became of my car while I was in Connecticut.

New York at dusk

The low-light performance of my new camera astounds me. I took an hour-long hike around Midtown Manhattan right around sunset. Cranking the camera up to ISO-6400 allowed me to do this:

That's f/3.5 at 1/30, using available light. Sorry about the nerd moment but: day-um.

Another one, in Washington Square:

ISO-3200, f/5.6 at 1/30. Again: day-um.

To celebrate, I had a greasy slice of New York pizza from a corner pizzeria for dinner.

My new baby

Ain't she purdy?

This new Canon 7D replaces my five-year-old Canon 20D, and finally, finally, gets my digital photography back to the resolution and color fidelity of the film cameras I used from 1983 to 2000. (The shot of my car from this morning came from the new 7D.) Take a look at this snapshot of how my cameras have evolved:

In 17 years I took about 9,000 photos on film. The 20D has shot over 17,000 and I'll keep using it for several thousand more. I expect to shoot even more than that with the new 7D.

I'll put the thing through its paces over the next few weeks, including testing out its video capabilities. It shoots full 1080p HD video, which I have never experienced with an SLR before. I'm giddy.

Mama took it away after all

The last Kodachrome processing machine is gone:

In the last weeks, dozens of visitors and thousands of overnight packages have raced [to Dwayne's Photo in Parsons, Kansas], transforming this small prairie-bound city not far from the Oklahoma border for a brief time into a center of nostalgia for the days when photographs appeared not in the sterile frame of a computer screen or in a pack of flimsy prints from the local drugstore but in the warm glow of a projector pulling an image from a carousel of vivid slides.

In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: "The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010."

I used the film for close to 90% of my color work from 1983 to 2000, when I took my last Kodachrome photo at Lake Sacandaga, N.Y. Red always made the most striking Kodachrome slides; I don't know if a scanner exists that can duplicate it:

Boston Public Garden, 10 May 1986

But wow, was that film hard to use. It had an exposure latitude of about 1 stop, meaning you had to hit the exposure dead on to get a usable shot. A slight underexposure bias seemed to yield richer colors, so I always set my meter down a third of a stop (to ASA 80 when using Kodachrome 64, for example). And it was slow, so slow; until Kodachrome 200 came down in price in 1986, I used 64 (or even 25) most of the time. As side effect, it forced wider apertures to use reasonable shutter speeds in anything but bright sunlight. And at about 60c per shot (including developing), it led to more considered shooting. I probably wouldn't have gotten this using a digital camera or a faster film, for example:

Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Burlington, Vt., 26 September 1992

I miss Kodachrome, but not enough to keep shooting with it. I just hope the dyes last for another 50 years or so, and that sometime before they fade too much I find a scanner that can capture their true colors.

Rolle, Switzerland, 17 June 1992

More from the archives

This came to me in 1988 from the Internet (though back then no one called it "the Internet" and we ramped onto it through CompuServe). Enjoy.


By James Zachary

Every now and again, a caller to the water and wastewater department will ask about issues of national concern.


Southeast plant, this is Zack.

"I am taking a survey for my organization. Do you have time to answer a few questions?"

Ma'am, this is a sewage plant...

"You are a taxpayer and a voter, aren't you?"

Yes Ma'am, but...

"This will only take a few moments. Do you think prophylactics should be on television?"

Say what?

"Prophylactics...condoms...they are..."

I KNOW what they are, lady.

"Should they be on your TV?"

What good would they do on my TV? It never leaves the house...


I could care less.


You seem to be a living testament to that...

"Would advertising them on TV offend you?"

After fourteen years in sewage, nothing much does offend me.

"Now, as a viewer of TV, what names would you find the least offensive?"


"I mean what descriptive name? Condoms...? Prophylactics...?"

Call them rubbers. I don't much care.

"That's a bit crude, don't you think?"

Here at work, we call them whitefish or bottlebass...

"What do you mean 'at work?' You wear them at work...?"

No ma'am. Remember that this is a sewage plant and that anything considered disposable usually winds up being flushed down the commode. Every day we get a few thousand of them buggers floatng in the clarifiers and filters. You seem like you are preparing to lobby for having them advertised on TV, so maybe you can give me a break and tell people to quit flushing them.

"What harm does flushing them do?"

Ma'am, they plug the sewer pipes and everything else. I remember one of the many times that I had to pull a plugged pump. You can never see what is in that mass of goo stuck in the pump impeller, so you just have to reach in and grab hold of it all. Well, some bozo had flushed one of those 'exciter' types...

"What type is that?"

...the kind with antlers. I mean to tell ya, it scared the hell outta me when I latched onto that thing! It was wiggling lite it was alive! For a moment, I thought I had an octopus by the ears...

" mean...there is more than one type?"

Oh, yes ma'am! Should be interesting to see all of the marketing approaches they will use on TV. Should also be REAL educational for the 'ignorant public' that you are so worried about. We used to keep a bulletin board filled with all of the different sizes, models and colors...

"You are kidding of course..."

Oh, no ma'am! We fished out all fo the novelty items and tacked them up for display. My favorite was one that had the American flag on it.

"The flag? Just where did they put the flag?"

About half-staff...


Hmmmm. She must have dropped the phone while saluting...

I did a production of this for WRHU-FM in 1990 that I'm sure made Jeff Kraus wince.

Apparently this gem came from the International FidoNet Association, an ancient online SIG dedicated to the maintenance and preservation of an even-more-ancient software package.

Found in the archives

From 1995, various historical figures answer the age-old question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?"

For the greater good.
Karl Marx
It was an historical inevitability.
So that its subjects will view it with admiration, as a chicken which has the daring and courage to boldly cross the road, but also with fear, for whom among them has the strength to contend with such a paragon of avian virtue? In such a manner is the princely chicken’s dominion maintained.
Because of an excess of light pink gooey stuff in its pancreas.
Jacques Derrida
Any number of contending discourses may be discovered within the act of the chicken crossing the road, and each interpretation is equally valid as the authorial intent can never be discerned, because structuralism is DEAD, DAMMIT, DEAD!
Give me ten minutes with the chicken and I’ll find out.
Timothy Leary
Because that’s the only kind of trip the Establishment would let it take.
Douglas Adams
Forty two.
Because if you gaze too long across the Road, the Road gazes also across you.
Oliver North
National security was at stake.
B.F. Skinner
Because the external influences which had pervaded its sensorium from birth had caused it to develop in such a fashion that it would tend to cross roads, even while believing these actions to be of its own free will.
Carl Jung
The confluence of events in the cultural gestalt necessitated that individual chickens cross roads at this historical juncture, and therefore synchronicitously brought such occurrences into being.
Jean–Paul Sartre
In order to act in good faith and be true to itself, the chicken found it necessary to cross the road.
Ludwig Wittgenstein
The possibility of “crossing” was encoded into the objects “chicken” and “road,” and circumstances came into being which caused the actualization of this potential occurrence.
Albert Einstein
Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference.
To actualize its potential.
If you ask this question, you deny your own chicken-nature.
Howard Cosell
It may very well have been one of the most astonishing events to grace the annals of history. An historic, unprecedented avian biped with the temerity to attempt such an herculean achievement formerly relegated to homo sapien pedestrians is truly a remarkable occurence.
Salvador Dali
The Fish.
It was the logical next step after coming down from the trees.
Emily Dickinson
Because it could not stop for death.
For fun.
It didn’t cross the road; it transcended it.
The eternal hen–principle made it do it.
To die. In the rain.
We are not sure which side of the road the chicken was on, but it was moving very fast.
David Hume
Out of custom and habit.
Saddam Hussein
This was an unprovoked act of rebellion and we were quite justified in dropping 50 tons of nerve gas on it.
Jack Nicholson
’Cause it (censored) wanted to. That’s the (censored) reason.
Pyrrho the Skeptic
What road?
Ronald Reagan
I forget.
John Sununu
The Air Force was only too happy to provide the transportation, so quite understandably the chicken availed himself of the opportunity.
The Sphinx
You tell me.
St. Peter
I tell you, I don’t know any chicken.
To live deliberately...and suck all the marrow out of life.
Mark Twain
The news of its crossing has been greatly exaggerated.
Herbert Marcuse
It was beguiled by false needs. Evidently, it was under the impression that the other side of the road was even better than the side it was already on.
Emile Durkheim
The chicken may have been an individual seeking to express its moral imperative in doing the right thing.
George H.W. Bush
Chicken. Road. Crossed it. Just because.
Rush Limbaugh
Get back here, I’m still hungry! The darn thing just up and took off! And that was not the right thing to do.
Bill Clinton
Well, it could have crossed the road, for some reason, which we will determine after a period of study.
Sinead O’Connor
“Flee chicken! Flee and be free!” The chicken wanted freedom from the chicken–eating big people.
Captain Kirk
Perhaps/probably/it seems/to which direction did the chicken go? Bones? Scotty? Spock?
Dammit Jim, I’m a doctor, not a Colonel!
She’s criss–crossed like a Christmas tree! I’ll need more time!
Logic suggests the chicken required itself to be on the other side of the road. For which purpose cannot be determined at this time.
Is it moral to interfere with the chicken’s choices?
I sense something from the chicken, sir. It’s definitely across the road.
Karl Marx
In order for the chicken to have increased meat mass, the capitalists required the chicken to cross the road several times.
Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate
Can we talk about this? I mean, I’m not so happy right now and I’d rather not answer the question.
F. Lee Bailey
Objection, your Honor. My opponent is leading the chicken.
Spike Lee
It’s a chicken thing. You wouldn’t understand.
Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally...
You know, chickens and ducks can never really be friends.