Viv’s general and continuing desire for ever-higher levels of illumination always leads me to musing about how to solve her need while preserving the murk I desire and yet illuminating the art in a specific, spotlit manner.

I usually don’t find anything that suits. Today is no exception. 

However, as I was musing and idly click-click-clickety-clickin on the internet a couple of ideas presented themselves. 

One, the installation of dimmable LED indirect-source lighting in the form of LED tape slotted into a picture rail, crown molding installed several inches below the ceiling for the purpose of hanging art, an interior design trend that went out with, uh,  plaster and lath, I guess. Natch, there are some interesting DIY tutorials (gakk) but no apparent mass-market and therefore cheap and therefore of interest to me millwork or moldings that fit the bill. Whatever, brain. Shut up already.

Two, an offshoot of the expressed desire originating with Viv, reflecting my ongoing acquisition of and desire to look at art. I want an LED picture light, battery powered, which is attached directly to and extends out from the frame of the picture. I want that light to operate in three modes, via a remote and wireless switch, much like a security light. 

Mode one: on/off. Rarely employed. If you want constant lighting for your art, you are literally just burning money in order to brag to yourself and nobody cares. Stop that, you horrible shit. 

Mode two: timed on/off. On between 5pm and 10pm or whatever time you get home from the casino robbery or dive bar or whatever. The idea here is that like Sebastien’s toys in Blade Runner, the light – and the art – is there to greet you at the end of a hard day’s grift.

Mode three: Proximity sensor, with timer shut-off. This allows you to approach the art in a darkened room, possibly while crawling or on your knees, for whatever personal reasons might have led you to express your relationship with capitalism in that manner in a darkened room, religious, depressive, fetishistic, poor schedule management, like, WHATEVER, ok? No judging. No judging here.

Like, the light could be shining on some hotel art you stole when you were twenty or whatever. It’s cool, technology gives no shits, man. You know that. You knew that already.

Oh yeah! Proximity sensors and a timer shut-off. Just wave your hand in front of the highly collectible big-eye Keane print or painting, and “let there be light”. After an appropriately respectful but still-too-short period of illumination,  your image will be plunged in darkness once again.

Sadly, my google-fu fails me on this last product.


Working on my newish MBP today I noticed it beachballing like crazy. So I pointed Disk Utilities at the boot drive and kept working. After repairing permissions I had DU run a Verify Disk and the report instructed me to reboot into recovery mode and run DU / Repair Disk from there. It’s been years since I felt like I had to be suspicious of Apple’s maintenance toolkit so I just toddled off and did that last thing before bed.

DU couldn’t repair the drive and suggested a hasty immediate backup followed by a wipe and restore or reinstall. No problem, thinks I, and went to reboot the machine into the main partition.

Naturally, it won’t. 

Casting about for the external boot drive I used to set the machine up a few months ago I am surprised to note, oops, I cannibalized them when I finally bumped us all over to Yosemite, two years after that vesion of the OS was released. I do still have the original bootable Mavericks drive that was migrated up to Yosemite in August or whenever it was, so I can rebuild from scratch, but fuck me, it’s Christmas! I won’t have time to do that for a fucking week.

The data I want and need and have been working with is all fine, my habitual local working directories are all mirrored to other machines in the house and I can just work from the Mac Pro downstairs to finish the specific deliverables I have for a client in the morning. So there’s some good news. But what a colossal pain in the ass, and what an idiot I am for not putting on the bakes and running a quick clone to an external drive before fucking around with the recovery tools. Lesson learned, I suppose. Yeesh.

Cuba project links

After our return from Cuba in September, I spent more than a month working on a dual-media project for our photos and such to distribute to the family. The components were a large glossy hardback photo book and a DVD, with the DVD tipped into the back of the book. 

I ended up ordering four copies via, at my aunt Anne Tayloe’s suggestion. The first round of books had a serius error in the submission and I ended up having to argue with them to get the order refunded while placing another. The first order was discounted at 50% and the second at 40%. The 86 page books cost individually about $60 in the end, taxes and what not included. They are large, like 11 x 13 inches or so.

Anyway, the books have started to land in the hands of their intended owners, so it’s time to make the PDF available.

Of course, as soon as the books came in, I found typos in the essays I had written for the material. At any rate, there are maps showing where we were, a timeline, and brief captions. I hope you enjoy it.

CUBA 2016

That’s a link to a google-hosted copy.

The books use about 300 pictures out of the 2000 or so we took while there. I used about 600 of these for the DVD. I also made that set of pictures available as an Apple-hosted picture gallery.


I have a couple thousand words of mostly raw notes that I do intend to use as the basis of a series of blog entries here. That will come in 2017, I expect.

I am posting this today, Christmas of 2016, to provide a single point of access to the gallery and PDF.


Viv and I went to Pacific Place this weekend to see the movie “Arrival.” I liked it a great deal and found it respectful of Ted Chiang’s original work. I don’t think that Vivian liked it as much as I did. we had forgotten that this was the last shopping weekend before Christmas this year so when we arrived the mall was a zoo and it was impossible to get anything to eat except for hotdogs at the movie theater. After the movie went to the Mexican restaurant on the top floor of the mall which is currently called Mexico, and which has previously been several other also-Mexican restaurants since it opened sometime in the 1990s.

The mall felt tired, and over, and the restaurant moreso, just worn out and finished. There weren’t any vacancies in the shops, although the top floor restaurant space that has only ever had mayfly restaurants in it remained vacant. There were, however several shops that were not high-end national chain stores. I wonder if this represents a longterm change in shopping, a local matter, or something else. 

Pratt from Milt

Years late, I’m finally getting the chance to dig into Hugo Pratt’s landmark of BD, Corto Maltese. Immediately it’s apparent how indebted Pratt is to the master of non-underwear pervert adventure, Milt Caniff. Seems I’m not alone in the insight.

The wire

Well, looks like I might have cut things a bit too close for holiday delivery of the various Cuba-related stuff I’m hoping to distibute at Xmas this year. I finally got the text proofing on the book completed and went to submit it to the publication  service and their Pdf proofs show an unacceptable (and unsourced, in my generative InDesign files) tint to the type boxes. So that means I might not get everything wrapped up before Thanksgiving. Dammit.

We have one more, mercifully brief, trip this year. I’ve traveled more this year than I have since 1998, I think? What’s clear is that I hate constant travel maybe even more now than I did when I was younger. It takes me about two weeks to recover from a trip in terms of getting back to routine, doing the daily things that are necessary to the maintenance of a 21st century household. So if I take a trip that lasts five days, I have to project 14 days of recovery time to get back to efficiency with regard to data entry and financial management. So there’s a total loss of approximately 19 days for a short trip, in addition to the added expense of dining while away from home, renting a car, and lodging. 

Just drives me nuts.

Like wearing lead shoes

The flip side of running old tech is falling off the forum horizon, where the software and hardware you are working with lacks a critical mass of interested commenters and experts. I have been assembling and proofing a DVD of pics from out trip to Cuba to distribute in conjunction with some photo books and similar stuff for Xmas gifts. The book’s nearly done, looks great, and should be ordered on Monday. 

I thought the DVD was done more than a week ago, but I keep finding a persistent error in two slideshows, always on the same slides, even when the assets have been reencoded from scratch. I even rebuilt the whole project from scratch.

I’m using Apple’s long-discontinued iDVD. I started the process blissfully unaware that the software has begun to break in fundamental ways – for example, building slideshows from JPEGs, even ones exported directly to iDVD by Photos, produces a duotone bluish-purple pallette shift in iDVD which is obviously unacceptable. The solution is to export the pics and batch convert them to PDF, and the colorshift does not occur.

Now that was a solution surfaced via fora searching. But these slideshow hangs? Crickets.

Anyway, I think what I have to do is export the slideshows in question as Photos slideshow movie files, mpegs, hopefully with the sound embedded. I did that early on in the project as an experiment and found that the movie I had made lacked audio, so I had to lay that back in via iMovie. It was always time consuming to build these things, which is why people didn’t throw themselves into it with abandon when the tools were given to them. But this project is setting some records in this house.

Other thingummies

Speaking of what’s new and hot on the old hardware, I noticed a Wacom Fineline 2 on eBay for $25 shipped, compatible with my old-and-not-the-hotniss iPad 3.

I have used a Wacom Creative with good results (especially in Procreate, obtuse UI left undiscussed here) for years but the broad, spongy tip always left something to be desired, so seeing a small-nib pressure stylus for this elderly device at such a low price was a sure buy.

The jury’s still out. It’s no Wacom tablet-and-stylus combo, but that’s cool, I can always move a given piece over to the fancy monitor tablet I have. The advantage of working on the iPad is it’s always in my hand, whereas I have to go to the machine with the tablet attached for finish work.

Anyway, the pressure sensitivity is nice. There are some issues with nib alignment that are puzzlingly arbitrary. It seems as if the stylus is still limited to either a broader or a darker stroke when more pressure is exerted rather than interactively blending the two output variables, which remains a limitation rendering the input device inferior to the dipped-nib ink pen or brush.

But whatever, I have to go to my drawing table and set up my pens and find the right paper and where is my blue pencil and what the fuck did the cat totally chew off the end of this superfine sumi brush and so the superiority of availability remians apparent, even if my output is somewhat subpar.

Story of

When did I first read this? Must be 2001. Maybe, maybe before 9/11? I suppose within a week of hearing who Ted Chiang was? So maybe after spring 2002?

I haven’t reread it tonight yet. I have vague memories of irritation with the dead child motif. Very pleased to learn that the just-opening film “Arrival” is an adaptation of this story. Here’s hopin’ Ted got paid and got points.