Archive for Steampunk

Pendulums Swing; Weights Fall; Time Runs Out

Posted in Reflections with tags , , on January 15, 2014 by Verge

Pendulums Swing Until Weights Hit Bottom

This week I’ve been  preparing the best I can to go away for a while.  I’ve never been gone this long before.  The people that mean the most to me will have to live without me, and realize that they can.

Not everyone gets a chance to prepare for missing home, or being alone, or losing someone you love.   I get that luxury that many people in life don’t get.  The comfort of knowing I’ll be missed while I’m gone, and that others hope I’ll be back soon.

Some of us never know the warmth of being loved, or suddenly find that what we thought was love was just an empty hollow hunger.  No one should ever have to feel that way.  It’s inhuman to do that to a person.

But time still ticks, in my head, in my home, in my life.   In everyone’s life.  And time will always tell.  It will tell what’s true, what’s right and wrong, and what are  just words and what is  reality.

So I stay true to the things I knew when I was younger.  That the emotions I feel I will never apologize for.  That I should do to others what I deserve of myself.  That I should admit when I’ve done someone wrong, and fight for what I think is right.  That I know I’m not perfect, but no one is, and when we accept that as people, we can finally move on together.  That accepting change in life is something to embrace, and not fight, because allowing ourselves to clutch to the past only causes pain.

Time unfeelingly marches forward.  In time, feeling empathy for one another moves us all forward together.

Is it weird that my concern is which of the clocks I wind in life will be stopped when I come home?

Random Recent Pictures

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , on February 1, 2012 by Verge

Eno learned quickly how to climb a ladder, but wasn't really sure how to walk backwards down them again.

I had to go see a doctor in Philly, and on my walk back to the Patco train, I came across the remnants of a classic Philly Toynbee Tile.

If you have no idea what the above picture is all about, clickey here.  The above one can be seen next to a parking lot near 8th and Ludlow

If you go to find the tile, find this mural at 8th and Ludlow and stand at this perspective. then look at your feet.

on the way home, I took a side trip down Jackson Road between Atco and Medford. This was the sunset

another day, I got stopped at an intersection by this freight train. this line runs all the way to Camden, through Moorestown and Mt laurel

at Costco, they now carry Mexican Coke. It's just like American coke, but they use cane sugar instead of corn syrup, like in the olden days. Tried it. Taste the same. Fancy bottles, though.

and at home depot, they have these awesome retro light bulbs that look like they're from the late 1800s. I now have to find a lamp or lantern that has an exposed bulb so I can put these to good use.

Why You Haven’t Heard From Me

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , on June 9, 2011 by Verge

Well, it’s Summer, and we’re busy.  We’ve got the garden.  We’re trying to work out and go running.  We both have part time jobs.  There’s all kinds of parties we are invited to attend.  And, on top of it all, we decided that we are sick of our house, and it’s time to remodel, even if we don’t have the money.  It’s just time to do something for us.

Well, it’s going in stages, and stage one was our downstairs powder room.  We’ve hated it ever since we moved in…four years ago.  I wish I had a shot of the intensely ugly vanity and sink before I ripped it out, but if you’ve ever used our bathroom, you know first hand how horrible it was.

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Almost done the first room.  Gotta find a suitable light fixture, and when we’re ready to do the entire first level, gotta install the stone tiles.  But, it’s no doubt the finest bathroom in the house, maybe even the whole block!

Library of Congress, Packard Campus

Posted in Daily Pictures, Good Times with tags , , , , on October 13, 2010 by Verge

For work this past weekend, some colleagues and I traveled to Culpeper, Va to tour the Library of Congress’ image, film and audio archives in Culpeper, Virginia.  It’s kind of geeky, but for us film preservationists and archivists, it’s truly awesome.  If you think you were impressed with some of the shots I’ve posted of NFL Films, prepare to be overwhelmed with dorky overload.

 

This is the exterior front door. The building was built partially out of the remains of a secret bunker that housed currency for the federal reserve during the Cold War. This is part of the new construction.

 

 

The first stop on our tour were the nitrate vaults. Nitrate film, manufactured in the early days and for the first half of the last century, is extremely hazardous. It spontaneously combusts, and burns quickly, even when completely submerged in water.

 

 

As a result, many of the gems of history have perished in huge warehouses on the lots of film production houses. At the Library of Congress, all nitrate films are stored in sealed, concrete vaults, isolated from one another, and closely guarded with fire suppression systems. At NFL Films, when we find nitrate film, we ship it the hell out, right to this place.

 

 

This is a mish mash of audio recording gear. I suppose they sometimes use this stuff, but it's really just to showcase some of the historic audio equipment that they've acquired.

 

 

This is the black and white processor. This is particularly interesting for me. Its very informative to see how other labs navigate the delicate problems that can arise with these machines. There is a no-error necessity, and half the work is done in the dark.

 

 

in the center of the complex, they have a sort of museum that showcases some old projectors from the early days of film.

 

 

I'm thinking that they don't use this one to project images so much anymore.

 

 

A shot of the underground stacks. This vault is part of the old bunkers that were built under a hill. It's all concrete. This room was huge and kind of looked like the final shot of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

 

 

film that is not nitrate (usually safety film) is stored here. We only got to go into one of them, but there were literally at least 60. This is the main hallway.

 

 

a shot not unlike the one I took of our own vault back in Mt Laurel. Very organized and unending.

 

 

remember, this is the inside of one vault...one of many. The temperature hovers just above freezing, so you better know exactly what you're going in for and where it is. Not a place to browse too long.

 

 

The building was built by David Woodley Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame. It was then donated to the government as the largest ever private gift to the Legislature. Ivy has begun to cover the building and it will eventually stealth the campus into the hillside, much like the secret bunkers hid themselves earlier.

 

 

out in the center, there is a fountain (not working in this picture). Being pretty close to Washington D.C., and having underground, concrete bunkers makes this fountain look suspiciously similar to an emergency helicopter pad.

 

 

They have a beautiful theater and actually showcase some of their treasures regularly to the general public.

 

 

I imagine it's quite relaxing to work here everyday. The building is very serene and laid back. It looked pretty damn stress free, with great benefits courtesy of tax payers.

 

 

Culpeper, Virginia! My future home if the NFL Labor dispute lasts a long time.

 

 

Road Trip to Ohio

Posted in Good Times, Reflections with tags , , on February 9, 2010 by Verge

Two weekends ago Monika and I traveled to Ohio to help Sam move to a new life.  But, before I get to that, I’ll rewind to last Thursday.

Thursday nights are my regularly scheduled gig at Manny Brown’s in Philly.  This is ideal because I don’t have to work on Fridays.  It was a decent show with Tom on drums and three long sets.  Even though most of the material was recycled, we had mixed the sets up that night, and threw in a few songs that we had just learned.

The next morning, I couldn’t sleep in for too long because Monika and I had to pick up Sam and head to the airport to pick up Tuk who had flown in from Pittsburgh.  His flight was on time and he was waiting to be picked up when we arrived, which is fantastic because I didn’t have to deal with the pick-up area Nazis that yell at you if your car is stopped for more than 20 seconds.

And so, at that moment, when Tuk threw his small suitcase and garment bag into the back of the Element, our brief vacation began.  At 11 am, we headed to Champps in Marlton.  The girls needed to go to Joyce Leslie for some last minute accouterments for that evening’s party.  Tuk and I sat down for a few beers.  Tuk ordered a Yuengling, a beer that’s not available in Ohio, for some strange reason.  I had Hop Devil and a shot of well bourbon.

Eventually we all had a drink together and toasted the weekend ahead.  Sam’s going away party was that night, and we had themed it Steampunk.  Steampunk is a strange mix of Victorianism, Turn-of-the-Century Industrialism and Futurism.  It’s hard to describe, but once you have a grasp, you can spot it when you see it.

We drove to downtown Medford to Scherzer’s Antiques in search of some accessories.  There, surprisingly, we found just what we were looking for.  I tracked down a great clip-on monocles with a gold chain that I later attached to some old keys I had laying around.  We all got ourselves an antique cap gun, and I managed to score a really old Masonic tux button.

The party that night was incredible.  I didn’t expect it to be our biggest ever, but it came close.  I think we had at least 50 people come out to see Sam off to her new life in Ohio.  There’s a ton of photos on all of our Facebooks, so you can track everything that happened that night online.  Monika and I made it all the way to 5 am because we were acting the hosts, and did so accordingly.  Tuk, among others, passed out by midnight, and missed a ton of fun.

The next morning we picked up the best we could before the next party began.  Some who had slept at our house had left, and others hung around for the second round.  I was supposed to play a show on Saturday night in Philly, but because the roads were in poor condition because of the snow, and because Tom no longer had his own transportation, we bailed, and instead, partied.  Monika and Sam made it out at some point to take care of Sam’s dog in Lindenwold, but returned shortly to the festivities.

The next morning, we woke up late, of course, and had to load the truck.  Craig and Kat helped along with Lorie, and we did a damn fine job.  Three pizzas and three hours later, we were ready to head to Ohio.  Intent on getting there by 11, we headed out.

I wasn’t sure if my car was going to make it because I had had a nail in my tire and was worried about a flat.  I was further concerned that the cat that we were toting would not make it all the way to Ohio without going to the bathroom or throwing up.  Amazingly, neither happened.

We stopped several times along the way to let Rocky, who was riding in the cab of the U-haul with Sam and Tuk, run around and go to the bathroom.  We stopped for gas and all met up at a rest stop just outside the Ohio border for dinner.

We did get to Sam’s new home just before 11 at night.  We made it safe though Tuk did score himself a nice little $160 speeding ticket.  It was obviously dark so we couldn’t unpack anything from the truck.  Instead, we improvised a kitty litter box with some torn up paper.  We needed to run out to the store at midnight to grab a padlock for the truck.

Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot to do except party.  This is a picture of the first shot I’ve ever drank in Ohio.  It wasn’t the last of the night.

The next morning we sent the girls out to get breakfast while me and Tuk unpacked.  They discovered a thrift store and so by the time they got back the truck was almost empty.  We put a good deal of Sam’s things in the basement where they could be sorted later, and spend the rest of the afternoon unboxing the kitchen.

Later that night we had to go to Sam’s new job for a minute so she could check in with her new boss.  I had to tell Lorie and Monika to settle down.  You can see why…

On the way home, Tuk treated us all to dinner at a Thai restaurant.  The service was poor, but the food was fantastic.  We were the last ones in the place when they closed.  They had a ton of vegetarian options and the seaweed salad was surprisingly tasty.

We spend the remainder of the night hanging out in Sam’s new living room, watching a movie, then talking over a movie, then all passing out.

The next morning, we had to leave Sam and Tuk and Rocky big-head and Akasha in Ohio.  Lorie, Monika and I made good time coming home, and no one cried when we left that morning.  Perhaps we all wanted to a little, but we think  Sam is going to do just fine in Ohio.

On the way home, we encountered the snow storm that was rolling into New Jersey last Tuesday.  We could see the back wall of the storm in the distance, and then we were inside it.  It snowed pretty heavily for an hour or two, slowing us down for a bit.  But, like Sam, with some persistence and determination, we got through it all, and drove out of the storm unscathed, and made it all the way home.

The Charm of Analog & The Design Argument

Posted in Reflections with tags , , , , on January 4, 2010 by Verge

I really do love technology.   But, it can really boil my blood as well.  I have punched my computers on several occasions as if they might work better if my knuckles were bleeding.

Sometimes, analog just works.  But what’s really charming about it is its simplicity.  Like a Rube Golberg machine, the harmony of specialized parts working together in unison is just plain romantic.

Monika bought me a steampunk pocket watch for Christmas, and I’m in love with it.  I stupidly believed it to be broken until I realized that I had to actually wind the watch to keep it functioning.  Now I can’t keep my eyes off of the spinning wheels, the mechanical way the crown winds the gears, the way the seconds jerks off each passing moment in a way that the smooth movement of quartz cannot.

Recently I’ve been fascinated with nixie tubes as well.  These vacuum tubes from the middle of last century predated LCD displays.  They could display any number from 0 to 10 by illuminating different coils in a tube.  The coils were stacked neatly inside, and when a charge was applied, they would glow a warm orange.  They’re not too useful these days but for the nostalgia of the pre-digital revolution.  If I had more soldering prowess, I might buy some of these on ebay and make something useless and wonderful.

Having come from a background in audio recording as well, I can tell you that the majority of audio engineers still use analog components when they can.  They’re not as clean, not as noise free, not as perfect…but they’re perfect sounding in a whole other way.  They’re warm, and actually sound like the 50’s through 70’s when analog tape was all that was ever used.

I’m not much of an antiques collector, but I’m thinking of becoming one.  I can appreciate the amazing capacity of a micro chip to solve equations, billions of time a second, and how much that that helps make our lives easier.  But I want to see the calculations, sometimes.

I want to see the wizard behind the curtain, to be sure that what’s going on is real.  It’s just fascinating to see the unobjectionable craftsmanship of a watch working, in the palm of your hand, dividing time into hours and minutes and seconds.  In many ways, it’s the same desire as longing  to stare into the face of God.  How can such beauty in the universe not be carefully manufactured?

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