Photography Update

I’ve been so busy helping to get a Dallas hackerspace started that I’ve neglected my blog again. But I haven’t been too busy to continue my photography experiments. On the vintage camera front, I’ve acquired a few new items including an Ansco 1065 fixed focus 35mm and a nice postwar Argus C3. I’m hoping to get the Argus C3 cleaned up and functional in time for Argus Camera next week. So far it’s looking to be in much better shape than the prewar Argus C3 I found last year.

I’ve also made some progress on my goal of doing more photography of actual humans instead of just still life and landscapes. In June I got to do a photo shoot in Deep Ellum with Ofa Santos, a beautiful Filipino-Chinese model. In July I did a very colorful shoot with Lolly Five, a model from Alabama who was in town for the ScrewAttack Gaming Convention (SGC).

Speaking of SGC, I shot a few SGC event photos. I also shot photos of many amusing protest signs at several of the Westboro Baptist Church counter protests in Dallas and Arlington. And if protest signs aren’t your thing, how about art clocks? I shot a lot of photos at the 2010 Art Conspiracy SEED auction, where clocks designed by local artists were auctioned for charity. The new Dallas Makerspace built one of the clocks and ours drew one of the highest bids of the auction.

Finally, I got several paying photography gigs during June and July. Looking forward to more of those in the coming months. It would be nice to do enough paid photography work to start paying for new camera gear!


If you’re in the US, this is the last day to vote. I voted last week during the early voting period. We’ve got two good choices this year and either one is so much better than what we’ve had for the last eight years, that there will be cause to celebrate tomorrow. This is the end of an administration that has overseen the curtailment or destruction of many of our civil rights, they started an unnecessary war that’s killed hundreds of thousands of people, they’re imprisoning and torturing people without due process, they’ve pushed the economies of the US and much of the rest of the world into a major recession. It will probably take decades for the US and the world to repair the damage done by the Bush administration but the first step toward recovery is today’s vote. So be happy. If you’re in the Dallas, TX area and want to celebrate, I’d suggest the NO-MO-BUSH! Post-Election Party and Hoedown at the AllGood Cafe in Deep Ellum from 8pm to 11pm on Wednesday, Nov 5.

Art, Cars, Cows, and Robots

As I stepped out of the Deep Ellum Subway where I ate lunch today, I saw a wondrously strange vehicle drive past. It was a Chrysler covertible covered in bovine-themed mosaic tile, with a giant, longhorn and barbed wire hood ornament thing, and driven by a beautiful girl. We briefly made eye contact as she passed. As she drove away, I noticed the words “Cow Goddess” emblazoned on the back of the cow car. Moo.

Seeing an unexpected art car reminded me that I recently posted a few photos from the 2006 ARTFEST event in Addison and the 2006 Deep Ellum Arts Festival.

Are robots art? I think so. The 2006 Tanner Robot Show was held recently and I shot a few photos there too (if you want more, Tanner’s posted some official photos of the event). I’m particularly fond of Ron’s pink bunny-laden robot, though Frank’s Zombarbie also stands out.

I’m still enjoying my Fuji S5200. While I miss some of the flexibility and image quality of my good ol’ Canon T90 film camera, I don’t miss the cost of film processing.

Storms, Crustaceans, and PQFP Chips

There’s a major thunderstorm passing overhead right now. The noise from the rain hitting the roof of our building sounds like loud applause. Ten minutes ago it was warm and dry outside but that’s Texas weather for you. I’m working late again tonight and I’ve been nervously watching the lightning strikes all around the area and hoping one of them doesn’t take out our power. I replaced the batteries in two of our UPS units this month, so we’re probably ready for it if it happens.

Susan is working late too. We took a little break earlier and tried another of the new restaurants that’s opened here in Deep Ellum. There seem to be new ones opening all the time. Tonight we tried Crustaceans, a creole/cajun place. It’s actually the reincarnation of a New Orleans restaurant that was destroyed by hurricane Katrina. The owner, chef, and some of the employees ended up in Dallas and a local organization helped them re-open their restaurant here in Deep Ellum. It’s the real thing. If you’re in the area and like that sort of thing, definitely check it out. In the past week we’ve also tried Tarantino’s (Italian food, a bit expensive but very good) and Kim’s Cafe (breakfast, burgers and sandwiches – so so).

The website design business is booming lately, leaving me not very much time for more fun things like robotics. The latest group robot project at the DPRG is proceeding nicely without me. I’ve been working on my own robot off and on. Just as I finally felt like I’d wrapped my head around PID algorithms and got some working code, I managed to toast the 68332 on my MRM board. I’m guessing it was a static discharge. It’s a surface mounted 132 pin PQFP chip; not exactly something you can replace with common household tools. I ordered a few new chips, though, and a friend with a hot air rework station is going to swap out the bad one for me.

Deep Ellum Arts Festival 2005

I spent most of the day Sunday wandering around the Deep Ellum Arts Festival looking at paintings and sculptures by regional artists. Since our office is now in the Deep Ellum area of Dallas, the Arts Festival was within walking distance. I took a few fuzzy photos of the arts festival with my little JB1 camera. Susan was suffering from allergies and stayed home. I thought I’d be on my own but I ran into some friends.

Standing in front of the stage listening to a live band, I recognized a dog which turns up at the RBNO sometimes. Sure enough, attached to the other end of the dog’s leash was Bill James, a fellow robot builder. He was there with a couple of friends. One of them, Sarah, is a drummer. She was interested in the band that was currently playing, called Cherry Blossom Clinic. By coincidence, the new drummer for CBC is April Samuels, a fellow website designer who I know from a past consulting job. So after the set ended, I managed to get April and Sarah introduced.

The band members had a photographer with them and spent some time after they got off stage shooting the usual sort of eccentric band photos in a nearby parking lot. This was the first time I’d met the other folks in the band, who turned out to be an interesting collection of people. I only became aware of CBC after April joined the band and this was actually my first time to hear them play. If you haven’t heard CBC, imagine a sort of insane Mr. Rogers playing guitar; add vocals, another guitar, bass, and drums. They have the energy of an early 1980’s garage-punk band combined with music that’s a compositional mix the 1960’s and today. I liked the music enough to buy their most recent CD, Orange (a new one is on the way I’m told). You can listen to a couple of mp3s on their website.

In the end I stayed out in the sun a little too long but it was a beautiful day and well worth a little sunburn.

More on Cats and Moving

Cat Overpopulation

Sophie’s new batch of kittens has arrived. We thought she’d need a comfortable place to park the new cats, so we cut a cardboard box to what seemed like a good size and shape and put some old quilts in it. Sophie didn’t seem too interested when we placed the box in a protected area of the garage. But when the time came she apparently decided it was the best location around. There are six healthy little critters; five appear pure white and one is sort of a calico. Right now they look more like tiny little fur-covered pigs than kittens.

New Office

Our move to the new office proceeded without any major catastrophies. The changeover in Internet providers has proceed as well as can be expected too. The Planet has provided excellent technical support so far, including some onsite help at late hours on a weekend to help with a T1 issue. They even got a Southwestern Bell tech to show up onsite at 11pm one night when one of the new smartjack cards died. Most of the logistical issues have been solved and we’ll be spending the next week or so unpacking boxes. We’ve been exploring the Deep Ellum area and there’s certainly no shortage of resaurants here. We’ll be trying new places to eat lunch for weeks.