Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fun at MASS MoCA

Last week's Friday Funnies post featured work from an exhibit at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA). we were there in August on an anniversary road trip. Finding this museum was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise as we hadn't traveled to the Berkshires specifically for this purpose.

We spent several hours exploring the buildings and tried to see as many exhibits as possible.  Shown below are more pieces from artist Lonnie Holley artist, creator of the piece shown in the Friday Funnies. 
To update fellow bloggers who expressed concern over the demise of the instruments in comments, NO musical instruments were trashed for its creation. Holley, an African-American artist, art educator, musician and performance artist, fashions his art from "found" materials, the stuff folks trash. He's often referred to as The Sand Man because his art began after a family tragedy when he made sandstone tombstones for his sister's children killed in a fire. Articles about Holley and his art have appeared in Art in AmericaContemporary Art DailyHuffington Post, and Garden&Gun among others.

Holley's art and that of fellow southern artist and writer Dawn DeDeaux, from New Orleans, LA, were jointly featured in a MassMOCA exhibit. Like Holley, DeDeaux also experienced early tragedy with the death of two siblings. They shared other similarities: DeDeaux worked in the prison system. Holley was incarcerated at the Alabama Industrial School of Negro Children. Both lost artwork: DeDeaux in Hurricane Katrina and later a fire; Holley when his work area was bulldozed. Yet, despite these similarities and geographic proximity, they never met until invited to exhibit at MASS MoCA.

The above two works by DeDeaux were featured in the exhibit. She is regarded as a pioneer in media art. Her work uses two-dimensional imagery and sculptureHer work requires more than just a first look, as apparent in these pieces.

DeDeaux has exhibited in the Whitney Museum of American Art, Armand Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and the Baltimore Museum of Contemporary Art. Like Holley, she has been featured in many publications including The New York TimesKnow Louisiana, and New Orleans Living Magazine

Holley and DeDeaux were not the featured artists when we visited MassMOCA. That distinction went to artist Nick Cave of Chicago. His exhibit, Untilthe museum's costliest and most elaborate one to date, was housed in Building 5, an open, column-free, football field sized space. It's also the museum's largest exhibit space.
Cave's “Kinetic Spinner Forest” lets people follows a path of 12,000 spinners suspended from 1,500 thin cables. Some spinners had tiny motors keeping them in continuous motion. Others bore images of bullets and targets, a very unsettling sight.
“Crystal Cloudscape,” another part of Cave's exhibit, featured an enormous hanging chandelier which at the top contained an assortment of "tchotchkes" that resembled yard sale finds, including 17 black-faced lawn jockeys. Several ladders were provided to allow access to the top. The description said the piece was meant to symbolize racial evil.
Internet image

Cave is a fabric sculptor, dancer and performance artist who is best known for creating "Soundsuits," wearable fabric sculptures described as " bright, whimsical, and other-worldly." Fully concealing the body, they obscure race, gender, and class, allowing viewers to look without bias towards the wearer’s identity. Cave regularly performs in the sculptures either dancing for the camera or in a public space. (None of these pieces were included in the Mass MoCA exhibit.)

MASS MoCA is located in the western Massachusetts town of North Adams, a small town in the Berkshire Mountains. Opened in 1999, it's one of the largest museums in the world with 25 buildings on 16 acres, galleries the size of football fields, and exhibition space that exceeds 250,000 square feet. Its focus is on contemporary visual art and performing arts (as evidenced by the exhibits we saw there). 

In 1985, the former factory complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the U.S. federal government's official list of sites, buildings, structures, and objects deemed worthy of preservation. 

The museum is in a former factory building complex that housed two local industries.

Arnold Print Works, a cloth printing firm was one of the world's leading producers of printed textiles operated from 1860-1942. At its 1905 peak, it employed over 3,000 workers. The company closed due to the low prices of cloth produced in the South and abroad as well as economic effects from the Great Depression.

Sprague Electric Company (1942-1985) purchased the site to produce capacitors and in WW II, operated 24 hours, employing a largely female workforce. At its 1960s peak, in a North Adams community of 18,000, Sprague employed 4,137 workers. Its shutdown came in the wake of economic difficulties caused by cheaper Asian-produced electronic components and changes in high-tech electronics.

The shutdown of these once-vital industries seriously impacted the North Adams economy. It has been somewhat, but not completely, revived by the establishment of this world-class museum. Could it be that not everyone knows of its existence?

We certainly didn't and both agree that it was was one of the best art experiences we've had. We're planning a return visit. If you've ever in western Massachusetts, look up MASS MoCA and allow a lot of time to explore.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Simon Says . . .THANKS

BIG Thanks to you, fellow bloggers for voting in our Clocktower Apartments 2017 Downtown Nashua (NH) Scarecrow contest.

Simon Scarecrow & Family made it to the Top 10 position — at #10, but came sooo close to moving up to the #9 spot. 

Voting was supposed to have ended yesterday, Friday, Oct 13 at midnight . . .but we were able to get in a couple of votes earlier this morning.

(So, if you want to give it a try as well, here's the voting site and Simon is the #12 entry reading from top left.)

Whoops heard from a couple of bloggers that they got the message voting was closed. The Top 6 vote getters were listed; Simon was #10 . . . better luck next year.

Grenville and myself and the other member of Simon's build team had a lot of fun. Next year, we plan to start our voting campaign earlier.

Top vote getters were 2 local elementary schools with over 1700 and 1600 votes each — Congrats to both!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Friday Funnies

Maybe you were expecting an update on Simon the Scarecrow?
(There will be one at the end of this post)
Today it was time again for a photo funny.

No More Practice or a Frustrated Musician ?

This exhibit photo was taken at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA) in August. I don't recall the title for this work, but am sure it had one.

The results for the 2017 Downtown Nashua Scarecrow Contest will probably be posted in a few days. Grenville and myself have really appreciated the votes from all our fellow bloggers — THANKS for your support (keep those votes coming).

Simon Scarecrow remains in the Top 10 as of 6 a.m. today.
psst . . . you can still vote here today "as it's not over till it's over"

Thankfully, it will be at midnight tonight. We're hopeful that Simon Scarecrow can hold onto that the Top 10 position and claim those braggin' rights.

Simon Says — Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Simon is in Top 10 !

The postings will continue until morale improves
(apologies to Captain Bligh who uttered something similar, but much nastier)

UPDATE: Simon Scarecrow as of 9:00 a.m. today was (still) in the Top 10 @ #10 with 109 votes. The #9 spot is currently held by a bank with 141, so today's mantra is BEAT the BANK.

Admittedly, this may be one of the only times we ever get to do that, so WHY NOT?

This Simon Scarecrow voting campaign has been a bit of fun as our British friends might say. I've been posting here on the blog, and contacting friends through messages and emails since I don't use other social media. Voting appeals have also been posted on the Clocktower resident's portal, which unfortunately doesn't get a lot of attention, except when folks complain.

BIG THANKS to all fellow bloggers who have voted for Simon (a "single" scarecrow dad).

Vote early and Vote often here at least thru Friday the 13th 👻 which YIKES is tomorrow.
(and it's also when these posting will finally end)

AND, when the voting results are all in, an update will be posted — of course, you'd expect that.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

CDs and Comments (Simon Update)

Simon the Scarecrow says THANK YOU !

He was in the Top 10 in the downtown Nashua scarecrow contest as of 8:30 a.m. today. 
Simon needs Votes daily. Voting ends on Friday, Oct 13 👻 (so will these updates).

VOTE here daily for Simon  (voting open to all).
Thanks, fellow bloggers for your support. 
GO Team Simon 🎃

It was great to read the comments from fellow bloggers and photographers on a previous post about my project of backing up photos from CD/DVDs onto external drives. 

The task is on-going and time-intensive, so I'm taking a break. Even though I'm not planning to use CDs for future storage, I looked up some info on this popular storage media specifically if they deteriorate over time, why and how.

Did you know that CD deterioration is called "disc rot?" 

And that most types of disc rot are caused by careless use or storage, but it's not always the user's fault.

A CD contains different layers. Standard CDs usually have a reflective layer made from aluminum. When exposed to air, aluminum oxidizes, usually around the edges of the CD. But, degradation of the reflective layer is not the only cause of disc rot.

Another form called "bronzing" is caused by a manufacturing fault. This happens when the outer coating of the CD erodes, leaving a silver layer exposed. When silver is exposed, it tarnishes and the CD is ruined. 

Part of what makes it hard to preserve CDs is that they are not uniform. As with most products, there were various manufacturing standards, many dependent on the year and the factory.

For most CD users, two questions prevail: 
How long do CDs last? and What's the average age of a CD?

There's no clear answer and no average lifespan or average disc. 
CDs can last for many years, if properly cared for. Aside from purposely cutting them up, the most common way to destroy CDs is by leaving them in a hot environment, like a car. Music CDs that are played a lot — are often the ones most likely to be damaged.

All this information could be irrelevant, as CDs may become obsolete in time (remember 8-tracks and cassettes). N
ewer computers don't come with CD drives.

Now onto your comments . . .

Sandra (MadSnapper) Like you, I'm using several external drives too and putting certain categories on each. I've also heard that external drives can "crash" just like PC hard drives. Solid state drives are said to be better as there are less moving parts, but the price range for the capacity wasn't an option. I'm also not storing images in the cloud.

Michelle (It's a Small Town Life!) Like you, I've saved (copies of) some of my favorites on the PC and also to external drives. 

Cheryl (The Farmer's Daughter) I also have some USB flash drives and have moved some images onto these, but they are not large enough for all my images.

Baili (Baili and I) So glad the post gave you some useful information. That said, my task is far from done as I've only completed going through family events.

Lorraine (Mamas Mercantile) Thanks for the compliment. This project has been long overdue, as with many projects. I always admire the projects you complete and post about.

William (Ottawa Daily Photo) As a photographer, I know you also take many photos and was wondering about your comment that you store them in different email accounts.

John (The AC is On) You're right and I am using multiple external drives to separate my images into categories, like family events, road trips, scenics. My plan is not to overload any one drive. I've also heard that many professional photographers store their back-ups in another location, which I'm not doing now.

Gigi (Gigi-Hawaii) While I also have several external memory sticks, all of them combined have less storage capacity than one of the external drives I am using.

Ludwig (Cafe Ludwig) I really appreciated reading your comments, as you are quite an avid and accomplished photographer. I know that raw photo files are much larger than jpg files, which I mainly shoot. I can certainly understand your need to do back-ups both before and after processing, but doubt that I will do the same. The searching by tags certainly makes it easier.

Denise (An English Girl Rambles) Glad the information was helpful. And, like you, I also appreciated the advice left in the comments. It's so true that we all "learn" better after a computer mishap (unfortunately).

Emma (Leaves on My Tree) I agree that it's so easy to lose precious images, which is exactly why I'm doing this project.

Thanks, everyone, for letting me know how you handle your image storage. I always learn new ways to do things from others.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Simon Says — VOTE !

🎃 Afternoon Update 🎃 - Simon is climbing in the scarecrow contest ratings. Thanks to everyone's help, he's made the Top 10 at #10. BUT there's only 5 votes between Simon & the #9 scarecrow . . . Thanks and keep on voting folks 

Thanks fellow bloggers YOUR votes helped Simon Scarecrow & Friends climb (a bit) in the 2017 Downtown Nashua (NH) Scarecrow Contest voting.

Selfies with Simon count for 5 EXTRA voting points, and that's what we did this past weekend. 

In case there's anyone who didn't read the previous blog post, Simon is the contest entry from Clocktower Apartments where we live. Grenville and myself were part of the 6-person team who built Simon. 

So, our interest in this contest is personal and "bragging rights" are important, right? (as fellow blogger Michelle previously commented)

As of today's online check of the top 10, the #1 and #2 vote getters are scarecrows from  local schools with over 400 votes each — YIKES !

Yes, we know, that between now and the voting end this Friday the 13th, we won't be able to come (anywhere) near those numbers. 

BUT there's still hope for a placement. Today, the #9 top vote getter had 80 votes and #10 had 74 votes . . . Maybe we can oust one of those and make the Top 10 ? 
(Internet sourced clipart)

Maybe it's wishful thinking or even day-dreaming, BUT we're appealing and maybe even groveling.

We're asking all of you who already voted to keep voting daily. If you haven't voted, please do!

AND, you can also have your friends vote for Simon & Friends too, it's allowed.

Voting is simple, no log-in, sign-on or $$ are involved.

You can vote, 1X every 24 hours here:  2017 Downtown Nashua Scarecrow Contest

Voting ends Friday, Oct. 13
Help us get Simon & Friends (at least) into the Top 10.
UPDATE - as of 1 pm today, Simon is within 2 votes of 10th place

Sunday, October 8, 2017

"Simon" Scarecrow Needs Votes

"Simon" is on the first page, the 11th scarecrow

Fall has arrived in Nashua, NH, and so have the downtown scarecrows displayed on lamp posts along along Main Street. All have been designed and decorated by local businesses and organizations. 

This is the 3rd Annual Downtown Scarecrow Competition.

Clocktower Apartments where Grenville and I live also has a scarecrow entry. Our interest in this competition is personal as Grenville and myself plus a few other residents here designed and built "Simon" the Scarecrow and his friends.

But, they need more a LOT more votes — and you can help, and it's easy. 

Anyone can cast a vote, once every 24 hours at: 2017 Downtown Nashua Scarecrow Contest (click on this link to the voting site).

Voting is open until Friday, Oct. 13
One vote per day; so every 24 hours you can vote, each vote is 1 point.

As of today, "Simon" is doing very poorly, terrible in fact, and getting "creamed" by other scarecrows especially a couple from local schools. (Unofficially, we heard that school flyers go out requesting parents and children to vote and vote often.)

Three top vote getters will be announced later — no prizes, just bragging rights.

If you cast some votes, Thanks from us and Simon too !

Friday, October 6, 2017

Friday Funnies

Open or really REALLY closed?
That's what we wondered too.

This barbershop is located in downtown Nashua, NH; note the street number.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Backing-Up Photos

That's what has been taking up most of my daytime hours (and some evening ones too) the past week. It's a very time-consuming project.

More so because I've been going through over 10 years of family events previously backed up on CDS and DVDs and sorting through and transferring some (not all) to a very compact 2TB external drive. 

Not only did I have too many CDs, but they took up space and trying to find specific images, when needed, usually involved searching through multiple CDs.

Transferring to this external drive now lets me group images by year and/or special occasion, such as births, graduations, holidays. 

Since the external drive is read-write (many times) adding and/or deleting images is easy. This is a big plus as my CDs were (CD-Rs) which used a write-once technology. Simply put it meant that once an area of the disc was written to, it could not be erased.

My task is by no means over there's a lot of road trip and scenics on CDs to sort through soon. I've already bought a couple more external drives.

As for all those CDs, I'm not keeping any and they've already been trashed. 

How do other photographers handle this, I wondered?

A friend told me that she keeps most of her images saved on her desktop computer. And, as far as I know, she doesn't backup to any external media or to cloud storage. That seems risky because if her PC crashes, she could risk losing those images.

A couple of fellow bloggers and avid photographers, Elaine of Our Country Cove Life and AC (John) of The AC is On have told me how they backup their photo images.

If you take a lot of photos too, HOW do you back them up?

Friday, September 29, 2017

Recipe for Infidelity?

In place of the usual Friday Funnies, here's an equally amusing, but true story, and a recipe too which asks the question . . .

Could the brownie recipe of a famous actress lead to infidelity?

That was the claim left 2 years in a recipe comment when The New York Times published Katharine Hepburn's Brownie Recipe. The comments had the usual tales of recipe success, failure, and tweaks, but only one went viral at the time, and then was forgotten, but not by The Times

A few weeks ago, the paper did an article noting that of over 16 million comments ever reviewed, the so-called "brownie infidelity comment" was an all-time favorite.

In case you missed it, here's that original comment as written . . . 
“This has been my go-to brownie recipe for 30 years. In the ’80s, an acquaintance in Germany to whom I brought some of the brownies, and who considered herself a great cook, asked for the recipe but was never able to get it to work. She kept asking me what she was doing wrong and I was never able to solve her problem. Eventually, she moved to the U.S. and stole my husband!”
Names have been omitted, but the story was on NPR and network stations this week. According to the stories, the woman and her husband became friends with another couple when in Europe. The wife was given the brownie recipe, but despite trying couldn't "get it right" and reportedly accused the recipe giver of leaving out ingredients.

Later, that woman, whose own marriage had ended, visited the "recipe giver" in the U.S. She began an affair with the recipe giver's husband. The recipe giver later divorced her husband, relocated and remarried. 

And, that's why this brownie recipe, which was said to be the late Ms. Hepburn's personal favorite, has become as notorious as she was rumored to be.

Coincidentally, it too has a well-known connection to marital infidelity. Hepburn and actor Spencer Tracy carried on a 25-year relationship and he was married throughout it, until his 1967 death. Hepburn died in 2003.

After reading about the "brownie infidelity" story this week, I decided to try the recipe. That said, I'm not sharing it with married friends. Hopefully, none will read this blog post. You might consider doing the same — just to be on the safe side (just saying).

Katherine Hepburn Brownie Recipe

Set oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom of an 8x8-inch baking pan or line it with aluminum foil or parchment paper.

  • 1/2 C cocoa or 2 squares (2 oz.) unsweetened baker's chocolate
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 C chopped walnuts or pecans
  1. Melt butter with the cocoa or chocolate together in a heavy saucepan over medium
    low, whisking constantly till blended. 
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the sugar. Cool before you whisk in the eggs and vanilla, so as not to cook the eggs. 
  3. Stir in flour, salt and walnuts. Mix well. 
  4. Pour into well-buttered square baking pan. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40 minutes till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 
  5. Cool completely and cut into squares. (The brownies may be difficult to slice cleanly; use a sharp knife and a spatula to help loosen from the baking dish.)
NOTE: The 1/4 cup of flour is not a typo. Reportedly, Ms. Hepburn, after tasting brownies made by a friend's father, was said to have commented: "Too much flour; and don’t over- bake them. They should be moist, not cakey.”  She then gave her own recipe.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
(Yes, we did enjoy the brownies.)

Monday, September 25, 2017

Frenzied or Frazzled Fireworks

These fireworks shots were taken awhile ago, and forgotten about until this weekend when I started reorganizing photo files on my computer. The results were not as good as previous attempts, which is probably why I forgot about the photos until now.. 

These displays were shot along the river walk in Nashua, NH near the mill apartments where we live. The viewing location was not ideal as trees and poles blocked a clear view. The camera has a "fireworks" setting, but was handheld with erratic results.

This one reminded me of flames in a fire.
And, this one appeared to look like holiday lights. 

This final shot reminded me of an explosion.
Hope your weekend was a good one and cooler than ours. It's still "summer-like" here in NH and daytime as temperatures were in the high 80s both Saturday and Sunday. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Funnies

Private eyes
They're watching you
They see your every move * . . .

This granite, bronze and electric light sculpture is by Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) on the grounds of the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA. 

* Lyrics from Private Eyes (written by Warren Pash and Janna Allen with arrangement and chords by Daryl Hall) was a 1981 hit single by the singing duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates (Hall & Oates) and the title track from their album that year. The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two weeks in 1981. 

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Massachusetts Potholes

Sure, lots of places have potholes, but how many have glacial ones?
That distinction can be claimed in Massachusetts.

A short walking distance from the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA, brought us to another local sight, the Glacial Potholes at the base of Salmon Falls. This site is one of the largest collection of natural potholes in the world.

Glacial potholes, called kettles in geological terms, date back hundreds of millions of years, most recently taking the form they have today at conclusion of the last Glacial Age. As the glaciers receded, separate pools ranging from 6 inches to 39 feet in diameter were formed. The round holes were ground down by granite by a whirlpool effect of water and gyrating stones of varied sizes. 

As a result of the constant whirling of the granite stones, the potholes took on a symmetrical and rounded shape. They continue to be formed today during end-of-winter snow melts when water levels rise significantly and the grinding millstones, still found in the smaller potholes, are whipped up into swirling whirlpools.

Years ago a soak in the cooling waters of the potholes was a welcome respite on a muggy New England day. But, since 2002, the pools have been “closed” to the public. Swimming is illegal and done at one's own risk. A metal fence enclosure discourages trespassers.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Funnies

Circling the ravi(oli)s . . .isn't like
circling the wagons, but it's what Grenville commented when he saw this canned ravioli display in a local supermarket. (He watched western shows growing up and ate canned ravioli; his taste has improved since then.)

The phrase dates to when the western U.S. was being settled. Wagons of settlers and freight threatened by bandits or hostile Indians would circle the wagons to provide a protected perimeter to hide behind and fire their weapons at the attackers.

Today, circle the wagons can mean uniting a group or team to defend a common interest.

Different meanings but both still concerned with protection in differing ways.

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone.
(Our thoughts & prayers to all affected by Hurricane Irma.)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bridge of Flowers

If you want to see a beautiful and very colorful re-use of a former transportation route, look no further than the Bridge of Flowers.

This 400-foot-long former trolley line bridge has been converted into a garden pathway. Open from April 1 to October 31, the bridge spans the Deerfield River between Shelburne Falls and Buckland, MA. The bridge is covered includes over 500 varieties of continuously blooming flowers from April through October. Luckily, our recent visit was in late August.

The bridge was built in 1908 at a cost of $20,000 by the Shelburne Falls and Colrain Street Railway, so that freight could be picked up and dropped off directly with the railroad. 

By 1927, the street railway company went bankrupt. Automobile usage was increasing and freight began to be transported by trucks. By 1929, the bridge was abandoned and weed covered, when a local resident (Antoinette Burnham) had an idea to transform it into a garden. It wasn't needed as a footbridge, yet couldn't be torn down as it carried a water main between Shelburne Falls and the adjoining Buckland, MA.

The Shelburne Women's Club sponsored the flower project in 1928 and the following year, 80 loads of loam and several loads of fertilizer were brought to the bridge as women's clubs around town raised $1,000 for planting.

By 1975, the bridge structure was deteriorating. Funds were raised for a study that found it required nearly $600,000 in repairs which included replacing a water line. The monies were raised by various local organizations. During the restoration, every plant was removed and cared for privately.
Then, in 1983, the bridge was completely renovated, at a cost of $500,0000 and under the expertise of a local horticulturalist. Today, its upkeep relies on a paid gardener as well as volunteer help from the Shelburne Falls Women’s Club.

The history of the railway is preserved in the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum which maintains Trolley No. 10. This trolley crossed the bridge for 30 years hauling passengers, apples, mail, milk and other freight. It was restored after being used as a shed and chicken coop. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on the day of our visit, which means we'll take a future road trip there.
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