The Coyote’s Ode to the Full Moon

Thursday, March 1st was the full moon. Late Thursday night / very early Friday morning, the local coyote society decided to yip and howl out an ode to the Full Moon.

It started with one coyote making a low keen, a second joined in with a howl, and before you know it a number of coyotes were yipping, keening, and howling – of which started off several local dogs to barking.

The dog barks were in a low, fierce tone. The coyote yips, keens, and howls were at least an octave higher on the musical scale and more delicate. It was as if the coyotes were singing a love song to the full moon.

Tidbits for Your Weekend Reading

Encounter with the Infinite:
How Did the Minimally Trained, Isolated Srinivasa Ramanujan, with Little More than an Out-of-Date Elementary Textbook, Anticipate Some of the Deepest Theoretical Problems of Mathematics—Including Concepts Discovered Only after His Death?

Ms. Jen says – Well written article on Srinivasa Ramanujan, culture, math, and life by Robert Schneider

Gut Microbes Combine to Cause Colon Cancer, Study Suggests

Tales of the Forest

Turning our fairy tales feral again

Beyond the Gaze: Reclaiming the Female Form After Nochlin

An Illustrated Guide to Linda Nochlin’s “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”

Eau de Nil, the Light-Green Color of Egypt-Obsessed Europe

Glaucous, the Greeny Blue of Epic Poetry and Succulents

Mormons want to save the Republican party’s soul. But is it too late?
Ms. Jen says – I believe the Republican Party may be beyond amendment.

The Virtues of Willfulness: How Fairy Tales Teach Us to Look for Truths Beyond the Simple Stories

The Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher In flight, I Vermilion Flycatcher In flight, II Vermilion Flycatcher In flight, III

03.01.18 – I have a new-old ambition that I am going to do my best to start and continue as of today: daily blogging (regular public writing) – even if it is only a little tidbit or bio bit or photo.

Let’s start from the photos of the Vermilion Flycatcher that I took two days ago at the La Paz County Park, Parker, Arizona – which is in a manicured riparian zone next to the Colorado River. Photos were taken by Ms. Jen with her Nikon D800 and a Nikon 70-200mm f/4 lens.

Ms. Jen’s Travel Video: Kofa, Palm Canyon, and the Kokopelli Spiral Labyrinth

This was originally posted as Early Access at my Patreon account.

I have received requests for videos on the adventures of RV living, so here is the first.

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Feb. 20, 2018 – On Saturday of President’s Day weekend, I drove to the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge to camp and take some night sky astro photos. When I arrived, I found the Kokopelli Spiral Labyrinth on the road to Palm Canyon.

The afternoon was beautiful and the earth art spiral was beautiful.

Video taken by Ms. Jen with her Lumia 950 camera phone.

The Tale of Two Cameras, Part I

This was originally posted as Early Access at my Patreon account.

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Olympus Pen - The View From Palm Canyon

Feb. 12, 2018 – I am finding that the differences between the photos that my camera phone, the Lumia 950, and the new Olympus micro 4/3rds Pen E-PL8 mirrorless camera are both evident and very subtle.

As my previous post states, I had hoped to replace a camera phone photo practice with a very small mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. The transition is coming along in fits and starts.

The immediate difference between the two example photos taken yesterday while on a hike to Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is the way that the cameras handle color. The Lumia 950 is rather famous for its yellow-tinted take on the world and the Olympus Pen E-PL8 for its lack of neon saturation.

My eyes have become so used to the vivid to neon saturation that most camera phones produce that the subtler colors and tones of the Olympus Pen appear almost desaturated (top photo) until I look at the Pen’s photo carefully – wherein a world of beautiful tones opens up – esp. at the dusty horizon.

Lumia 950 - The View From Palm Canyon

In the Lumia 950 photo (directly above), the sky, plants and rocks are much more cheerful in color and the horizon is just a few volcanic cones peeping up from the dusty, windy day.

For what the Lumia photo lacks in contrast and strong shadows, it makes up for in bright color. For what the Pen photo lacks in saturated color, it more than makes up for in mood, contrast, contour edges, and shadows.

What do you think?

The $/£/€ 1,000 Smartphone: Oh Hells No!

This was originally posted as Early Access at my Patreon account.

Please forgive any awkward writing, as I wrote it quickly in the Patreon editor in a snit about all the super expensive flagship camera phones.

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Olympus Pen - Lagging Behind

Tues. 01.30.18 – Yesterday, I enacted out a strategy that I have been considering for nearly two years: I bought a small mirrorless micro four-thirds camera with interchangeable lenses that is not much wider than my camera phone in its wallet case.

Two years ago, when the top of the line flagship smart / camera phones were approximately $/£/€ 800 when purchased new and unlocked, I looked around and saw the the cameras on these expensive so-called tech wonders were only OK. Meh – certainly not worth $800.

The years of great leap forwards in terms of technology for camera phones are not necessarily over, but the companies that design and manufacture said smartphones do seem to be more interested in increasing their market cap than giving me the photographer a kick-ass camera phone.

In May of 2010, Roland and I were invited to a private meeting in San Francisco to help Nokia envision the smartphone of 2015. I asked for a mashup of a smart phone and a mirrorless camera system with interchangeable lenses.

Samsung released one poorly done mashup in the mid-2010s and it garnered more complaints than users. Since then it appears that no other tech company cares to try. This makes me sad.

I want good lenses, a good sensor, and good algorithms to power my camera phone. The newest versions of this or last year’s flagships have focused on algorithm and have taken out the photographer’s prized manual settings (I am looking at you, Pixel2).

My current $500 Microsoft Lumia 950, as of July 2016, is still performing better than the Pixel2 in a few blogger’s comparisons (Steve L’s post if you are interested) when the algorithmic magic is examined closely and photos compared at 1:1 crop. I have to fight the Lumia’s software’s choices on low light. Why would I spend $1,000 to fight a camera that wanted to make its own decisions about how low light should be rendered?

Most of all, I guess I am now officially Middle Aged, as the very idea of $1000 for a flagship smartphone makes me want to yell and shake my fist. Even with the best components that is over $750 pure profit for the tech giants. No.

Why should I when a vast array of tech companies are releasing more than sufficient Android smartphones for $200-400?

Thus, my new strategy: Buy a good small to tiny mirrorless camera system with wifi and interchangeable lenses on sale with rebates and then get a small sufficient Android when the Lumia 950 dies – all for less than a flagship smartphone.

Then go take photos with a darned good small camera that will fit in a corner of my purse and do all communicating and internet functions on a phone I can root and hack all for less than $1,000 in total.

Yesterday, I implemented the first part of this strategy when I bought the Olympus Pen E-LP8 camera and two lenses (14-42mm and 40-150mm) on sale with rebates for a total of a bit less than $700. My Lumia 950 is doing just fine right now, but when it is not, I will take recommendations for a nice little hackable Android phone.

My future is my now, for less than $1,000.

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Photo of a dad and his two daughters off across the sand for a beach day taken at noon today at the Huntington Beach State Park with my new Olympus Pen E-LP8 using the 14-42mm lens. I am very happy with the quality and color of the photo, I did crop it in Lightroom and do a few adjustments.

The Marble Arch at Dusk

Marble Arch at Dusk

Photo of the Marble Arch at Dusk taken on Fri. Nov. 10, 2017 approximately a half hour after sunset when all the lights would be on but still some light in the sky for the Black & White No Explanation Challenge on Instagram. This is the original color photo before I used the Instagram editing features to make it B&W to post on that site.

All seven original color photos can be found at my Patreon.

Monday Tidbits to Start Your Week Off

Here is a hodge podge of reading links I have been saving in my tidbits folder for you:

Astronomers strike gold – and platinum – as they watch two neutron stars collide

Kodak’s First Digital Moment

In Amish Country, the Future Is Calling

“Lizzie said she was upset by how people had become so attached to their phones.

“People are treating those phones like they are gods,” she said. “They’re bowing down to it at the table, bowing down to it when they’re walking. Here we say we don’t bow down to idols, and that’s getting dangerously close, I think.”

Professor Kraybill said such insights were not unusual among Amish people.

They “are more savvy about the impact of technology on human interactions than most of us are,” he said.”

The Trump Conundrum: Four Factors Sending The Donald Into a Rage/Shame Spiral

The Danger of President Pence

“Trump’s swerve did the unthinkable—uniting Coulter and liberal commentators.”

The Great Nutrient Collapse

“As best scientists can tell, this is what happens: Rising CO2 revs up photosynthesis, the process that helps plants transform sunlight to food. This makes plants grow, but it also leads to them pack in more carbohydrates like glucose at the expense of other nutrients that we depend on, like protein, iron and zinc.”

10 Phrases that Originated in the Middle Ages

The Secret History of Dune

Trump’s Warning to Mueller Proves, Again, That It’s All About the MoneyIt always has been.

How to Kill a Dinosaur in 10 Minutes

In a Warming World, Keeping the Planes Running

Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain

Landscape Photography focusing and Aperture tips from Spencer Cox at Photography Life:
https://photographylife.com/why-hyperfocal-distance-charts-are-wrong
https://photographylife.com/how-to-choose-the-sharpest-aperture

Dancing On My Own :

“As a young person trying to break into a male-dominated field, I spent my 20s afraid of being perceived as a froofy little girl, and acted accordingly. I was a hardcore feminist who’d nonetheless listened to the boys in my MFA program as they mansplained their Raymond Carver tattoos. I consciously practiced not speaking in uptones. I worried I had vocal fry. I limited ballet talk to visits with my mom. I wanted so badly to be taken seriously that I sought others’ approval at the expense of my own.
Oh, we live in a country that hates the dreams of little girls? I thought. Well, I’m going to become a fucking ballerina.

After the election, I lost my patience for this almost overnight. I was furious. Tamping down the desires of my inner five-year-old girl finally felt like the self-effacing erasure it had always been. How many ways do women edit and adjust themselves every day to exist in a world that hates them? I wondered. For me, it had already been too many, and for too long.

And so I began actively returning to the things I’d always loved but had dismissed as too feminine, too froofy, too much. Ballet was one of them.

Oh, we live in a country that hates the dreams of little girls? I thought.

Well, I’m going to become a fucking ballerina.” – Megan Burbank