I usually shoot black and white photographs, since I can develop them myself and since I tend to find them more aesthetically pleasing, but sometimes color is a very good thing to have. This past Sunday I visited the Butterfly House in Chesterfield, MO, and took along the Konica Autoreflex T3 and my Macro-Hexanon 55mm lens. I loaded it with a roll of Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 film (24 frames). There are no tripods allowed in the butterfly house, so I left my monopod in the car and tried to hold the camera as steady as I could (difficult, when one is focused in so closely). Because of the lack of monopod, I shot the pictures without the extender, so these are not 1:1 macro shots, but rather 1:2. Some of my shots came out fuzzy, but for the most part I was very pleased:

Some more butterfly photos can be seen on my Lomography Wall.

Categories Photography


I bought a Super 8 camera off of eBay a while back. $15, “as is.”

I attempted to first test it out with some old expired Kodachrome, figuring I could develop the film myself just to see if anything appeared at all – see if the camera functioned.

That was a mega-disaster. I had difficulty getting the film into a tank (the film is smaller than 35mm width-wise, but there is so so much of it. 50ft is longer than I thought), so I am pretty sure the film got exposed to light. And then I couldn’t get the ramjet off. At all.

The camera seemed functional, though, and I’ve always liked the idea of projecting movies on the wall. We bought an 8mm/Super 8 projector, and have enjoyed watching a few movies on it – so far we have an Abbott & Costello short, a copy of Buster Keaton’s The General, and a satirical Soviet spy cartoon. So I really wanted to give this a good shot.

Cringing a bit at the inevitable cost, I bought a roll of B&W Super 8 film that included processing by Pro8mm. An expensive gamble that made my stomach turn a bit: 3x the cost of the camera to see if it functioned or not! I shot the roll during one of our days at Six Flags and mailed it in. Got the roll back this week, and, happily, there is movie! I did not pay for them to scan it, because I stupidly thought I could get it scanned here (I can, but it’s very very expensive), so I recorded a crappy copy of the movie as it played on our wall. It’s a bit dark/blurry (the projected version is nice and sharp) and there is flicker (since it runs at a slower frame rate than my digital camera will go down to), but here it is:

It is a pricey venture, so I can’t imagine we’ll make too many of these, at least not currently. I would love to try my hand at some stop-motion movies, but that will have to wait until we have a proper house with space to set things up. I’m also hoping more options will become available when Kodak re-releases all of its Super 8 things at the end of the year – it promises inclusive film/processing/scanning packages. It was, however, very fun to film and kiddo absolutely loves seeing herself in a “wall movie,” as she calls them.

Categories Cinema


To quote the “About” section I wrote for it, “Tango Quick is a simple multiple-choice quiz on the meanings and readings of Japanese vocabulary. It does not have any Leitner-like SRS system behind it, nor does it have “select how correct you were” buttons or clever mnemonics. It does, however, let you select a level (higher levels include words from the lower levels) and it allows for you to pick whether you get the question word alone or in the context of a sentence. I designed it for my own use since I was not satisfied with other flashcard offerings. Feel free to use it as well.”

I’ve tried numerous things for acquiring/retaining/practicing Kanji and/or vocabulary over the past few years. A lot of the SRS flashcard programs don’t really test you, but instead have you select a number between 1 and 5 to designate “how sure you were” about the answer; I find this troublesome because I am not to be trusted and because I don’t want to have to think about my sureness level. I find that question as welcoming as the 10-point “how much does it hurt?” scale at the hospital.

I’ve tried Wanikani, and I like a lot of aspects about it, but the made-up radical names bother me and I find it more exhausting remembering the mnemonics than I find remembering the characters or words themselves.

I’ve customized Anki a ton, but, like with other SRS programs, if you miss a few study days in a row, things start to pile up in an unpleasant way.

I really like, but I also want to be able to work on the words that aren’t typically written in Kanji.

Basically, I just want a very simple program with both Kanji and Kana-based vocabulary, testing the pronunciation and meaning. I know multiple-choice is looked down upon pedagogically, but I think if the choices offered are smart and mixed-up, this sort of quiz can facilitate learning as well – repetition is happening. I wanted something that I could do on my computer or my phone equally well. I wanted something that could be done in short, irregular bursts like while waiting for code to run at work. Not finding anything that suited me, I wrote my own this weekend. It doesn’t have very many questions in it yet, but I will work on adding as many as I can this month, working off of the old Japanese Language Proficiency Exam Test Content Specifications and Routledge’s Frequency Dictionary of Japanese.

So here it is:

単語クイック (Tango Quick)

Categories Japanese, Study


I recently bought a back issue of a Japanese guitar magazine (since it has a lovely solo guitar version of 薔薇は美しい散る, the opening to The Rose of Versailles in it.

The sheet music is standard sheet music, but (with my limited kanji knowledge – must improve!) I was confused by some of the characters I saw printed under the bars of the sheet music. I’ve looked them up, and they indicate what finger to use for fretting with your left hand.

For reference, in case others are attempting to decipher these:

人 – Short for 人差し指 (hitosashiyubi, index finger, 1)
中 – Short for 中指 (nakayubi, middle finger, 2)
薬 – Short for 薬指 (kusuriyubi, ring finger, 3)
小 – Short for 小指 (koyubi, pinky finger, 4)

Right hand notation seems to be the same as it is in Western music – p, i, m, a, and the strumming up and down notations.

Categories Japanese, Guitar


I found this poem in the Los Angeles Times, June 25, 1925. Violence in the media and its effect on viewers is certainly an old topic of conversation:

Just About It

by James J. Montague


In the days when the terrible, terrible Turk
Was whetting his scimitar, stropping his dirk
To land blows on the foes that about him arose,
To frighten or cripple or kill ‘em –
In those days of destruction he never had seen
A movie production portrayed on the screen,
So the raids he essayed and the part that he played
In war’s desolation he couldn’t have laid
To the dreadful American fillum.

When Attila left his Hungarian home
With his murderous hordes over Europe to roam,
And to seek to efface every vestige and trace
That savored of civilization -
When cities and peoples he rudely destroyed,
He knew next to nothing of Keaton or Lloyd,
So he couldn’t have said that he always saw red
Because of the films upon which he had fed
From the awful American nation.

Caligula ruled with a merciless hand,
A thing we confess that we can’t understand -
Unless with the pride that his power supplied
He may have perhaps been demented.
One cannot attribute his uncanny pranks
To what he had learned from the land of the Yanks,
For we know in the times that he practiced his crimes,
The movies, which capture our nickels and dimes
And quarters, had not been invented.

It is hard to account for tyrannical rule
In Moscow and Rome and Madrid and Stamboul,
‘Way back in the days when the cinema plays
Did not influence noble and peasant
To murder and rapine and evil untold,
Resulting from passions too little controlled -
Yet they shed so much gore in the ages of yore
Even more – than we’re shedding at present!

Categories Curious Old News, Cinema

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