Items (Blog Notes)

This post is by Michael Johnston from The Online Photographer

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A few procedural notes before I get going today. I've got busy days today and tomorrow (body as well as blog maintenance to address) so things might be a little quiet around here.

Item: First, I did enlist several longtime readers to assist in Comment moderation. Both, I suspect, are more knowledgeable and quite probably much smarter than Yr. Hmbl. Ed. Hopefully once we iron out how we're going to work together, comments you post will appear much more quickly than they have been lately. (Working alone, I had been letting this get more and more out of control,

to a degree that made me feel mildly agitated.) Thanks, too, to those others who volunteered—I accepted the first two people who offered, both of whom are names long familiar to me through their own thoughtful comments on the site.

Item: A few years back I wrote an obituary of the protean working musician Leon Russell called "Blue, Teddy Jack, Tina Rose, Sugaree, Honey, and Coco," which are the names of his children. Well, the other day I got a lovely note from Blue Bridges-Fox, Leon's daughter (Leon's real name was Claude Russell Bridges) thanking me for the article. She didn't say how she had stumbled across it. It's always nice when these reverberations happen.

Item: I should really (really!) personally thank everyone who contributes to TOP, but unfortunately it's like phone calls, which I do not make…a 15-minute phone call seems like nothing, but 32 of them would fill up a whole eight-hour work day. Everything wicks minutes out of the day. Plus, I'm so disorganized. I can't keep track of things. It distorts my whole life, my lack of organizational ability (if you have that ability, count your blessings).

But I digress. Reader Jim A. sent a $50 bill* as a contribution to keep TOP's motor running and the wheels greased, and it came in handy. That very day, Honeybee Dave was coming by in his bee suit to remove a small paper hornets nest under the eaves. He discovered that the bald-faced hornets who built the place had been kicked out and replaced by opportunistic ground wasps—which explains why it was only as big as a cantaloupe melon: hornets build their paper nests as large as watermelons.

His charge? $50. How nice to owe a tradesman and find the payment for him waiting in the mailbox. The nest was uncomfortably close to the back door, and hornets, which is what I thought they were, can be nasty and aggressive. Thank you Jim. And thanks to Alan Z. and John C., who sent checks, and to every other friend o' TOP who has contributed recently. I apologize for not contacting you personally. But at the same time I'm very grateful.

By the way, the wasps were not killed, but relocated; as Honeybee Dave said in his taciturn manner, with a shrug, "wasps are citizens too."

Item: Speaking of nasty and aggressive hornets: Should you happen to be thinking about a new mattress, I have a warning for you. Never, ever open a single YouTube video of a mattress review, the production of which seems to be a minor cottage industry. For if you do, you will for aeons afterward be pelted and pestered by mattress ads of every description and from every direction, any time you innocently log on to the tubes of the Internets. How I wish someone had given me this advice before it was tragically too late!

Item: It's Print Sale season, and I have four possibilities in the way of plans, but have done nothing yet to bring them about. Hopefully I will get as many as two accomplished before Christmas. Several ideas are for multiple-artist sales, which might be touchy to organize. I'm not great at organizing these things, but I'm moving this from the back burner to the front one, metaphorically speaking.

Item: Last but certainly not least, I wanted to offer a word of tremendous sympathy and concern for any TOP reader (and, really, everyone) who has been affected by the heat and fires in the Western United States. This is a disastrous fire season…and in the US, normal fire seasons are pretty appalling. The stories coming out of the affected regions are dreadful. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Back to regular programming,

Mike the Ed.

*In the Learn-Something-New-Every-Day Dept.: I meant to illustrate this item with a picture of the $50 dollar bill Jim sent, with my fingers holding it and Butters in the bokeh in the background, but when I tried to open the iPhone snap of the bill, Photoshop refused to open it! Up popped a window that said "This application does not support the editing of images of currency…", etc. Or words to that effect. I never knew before that that would happen.

I wish the enlargers in the school darkrooms where I taught had had a similar function: "You are trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, having attempted to print this negative entirely too many times now. It's never going to work; no amount of labor and hope is going to make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Stop working on this and go make another negative, properly exposed this time." It might have saved everybody some time and anguish.

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Featured Comments from:

Phil: " That last paragraph of your footnote had me laughing out loud! In every night-school darkroom class I took, the instructor would at some point politely and exasperatedly say to me 'maybe you should find an easier negative to work on.' If the enlarger would have just refused to print my badly-exposed negative (or in some cases badly-developed negative), I probably would have got further ahead in life.  😉  "

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