Book Club - New Feature

I’m starting a new feature called logically BOOK CLUB where I review books that I have read.  I have way too many books that I have either not started or not finished.  But occasionally I have to finish a book because it’s part of the Colorado Airstream Book Club.  One recent one was Travels with Charley in Search of America  by John Steinbeck.  John Steinbeck wrote this story or novel as he calls it in 1960 and it was published in 1962.  It is the story of his travels in a truck camper (“He christened his impressive new vehicle “Rocinante,” after the hero’s horse in Cervantes’s Don Quixote.”) around the US in 1960 before the election.  It is amazing how many of his observations are still true today.  His goal was to meet and talk with as many regular Americans as he could.  Below is the map that he adhered to in his travels

He came prepared to hunt, fish and entertain.  He found that most people were not talking about the 1960 election of JFK v. Nixon.  He did however find overt racism alive and well in the South.  Not that it wasn’t present elsewhere but it was on the surface and palpable as when he went to the grade school in New Orleans to have their first black student - a group of white housewives called “The Cheerleaders”  harassed this poor child verbally with some of the most vile words you can imagine according to Steinbeck

For me the pleasure of reading this book was Steinbeck’s observations and his wordsmith abilities.  Here are a few:

Describing a strong cup of coffee: ”…..made coffee so rich and sturdy it would float a nail .”

“Could it be that Americans are a restless people, a mobile people, never satisfied with where they are as a matter of selection? ”

“And finally, in our time a beard is the one thing a woman cannot do better than a man, or if she can her success is assured only in a circus.”

When describing peoples reactions to hearing his plan to travel the whole country. “And then I saw what I was to see so many times on the journey—a look of longing. “Lord! I wish I could go.””

“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.”

“Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession. Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.””

“”Having too many THINGS,” he says, “[ Americans] spend their hours and money on the couch searching for a soul. A strange species we are. We can stand anything God and Nature throw at us save only plenty. If I wanted to destroy a nation, I would give it too much and I would have it on its knees, miserable, greedy and sick.””

In the final analysis I enjoyed this book and should be in the Pantheon of “Finding America” genre of literature.  This is also part of the American Road Trip genre which has and continues to be apart of our culture.  

Rocky Flats

Building 707

Plutonium Button

Wildlife Protest

Rocky Flats is the name given to the plant North West of Denver in the foothills that made plutonium triggers for nuclear weapons.  The  plant was in operation from 1952 till 1989 when a combined FBI and EPA raid shut it down.  Thru mismanagement and the inherent toxicity of Plutonium this is one of the most toxic sites in America.  Building 707 in the middle of the plant had the “Infinity” Room where the needle of the Geiger counter on the higher scale would go to infinity.

The remaining problem is that in the center is still highly contaminated it’s just that it’s 6 feet under the ground - People are not allowed in the center portion and for good reason.  Additionally while the surface of the permitted preserve is within safe health limits there was no remediation done to surrounding area which is now the site of thousands of homes especially in the Candellas development directly south.  Who knows what was buried just below the surface that was excavated to put in the foundations.  My entry point was the south entrance and it is about a block from a massive development.

I recently got a digital Geiger counter as part of a Kickstarter program.  I wouldn’t want to walk anywhere on the property without one.  Here are my results for the 20 minutes I monitored : average counts per minute or 77. Average microsieverts per hour was 0.07 ,total microsieverts was .03.  This translates to about 600 microsieverts per year which is in the safe zone. The upper limit for safety is 1000 microsieverts per year.  I guarantee that would not be the case if you were standing in the middle of the property.


Full Body Burden

Saturday with Wildlife

I just purchased the Tokina Mirror telephoto 500/8 and so I went back to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Preserve to try it out.  I got some decent shots - It requires very careful manual focusing. These were all shot out the window of the car - they don’t let you get out of your car but this the car does offer stability when shooting without a tripod.

Chicago Reunion

40th Medical School Reunion - we are the class of 1981 but because of COVID last years reunion was postponed until this year.  The weather was gloomy but then it’s Chicago and we should be prepared for this.  It didn’t dampen our spirits in the least!

We were told we’d have a view of The Watertower - but I misheard and apparently we got a view of ‘A’ watertower!

Late Entry:  Turns out the reunion may have been a super spreader event as at least four people in our group came down with COVID - including Vicki ( for the 2nd time).  As expected it hit people who only had the initial vaccine ( Vicki) as well as folks with a 2nd Booster.  I had the 2nd Booster about 3 weeks before the reunion so I don’t know if this was what protected me.

Utility Pole Series

For some reason the utility poles in the neighborhood are all festooned with metal ID tags - I have no idea why - it surely can’t be to prevent them from being stolen although in this COVID era where crime is rampant who knows?

Shot on Summer Santa film 125.  Developed in Rodinal 1:50 - haven’t used this developer in years but it works

A Matter of Elevation

Drove to Kansas today - my goal was to visit Mt. Sunflower which is the highest point in Kansas.  It is just across the border with Colorado and stands at 4029 ft ASL.

Then just for information sake I wanted to find out where the lowest point in Colorado is.  Turns out not very far from Mt. Sunflower, on the Arikaree River just before the border with Kansas at 3317 ft. ASL

Stand Development

This is a sample of InfraRed Film ( Rollei 400IR) that I shot at the White Sands National Monument on our recent trip to Arizona.

I wanted to talk about stand development which is where you place the film in very dilute developer and just let it sit there for 60 min. I used a modification of this technique where you do a minimal agitation half way thru the 60 minutes.  This is said to reduce Bromide Drag: Bromide drag lines are a byproduct of development with no agitation. High concentrations of bromide is produced around the perforations and overexposed areas. Without agitation it slowly slides down the surface of the film, inhibiting development and creating drag lines.

There are some very nice things about this form of development - you can mix different ISO films in one tank and develop both the same.  By extension this means if you exposure is not terribly accurate the film may turn out OK as a film strip shot with different exposures stands a better chance of coming out fine.  

When shooting IR it’s a bit of a crap shoot as to what the correct exposure is.  Depends on the amount of IR there is, the light meter you’re using, etc.

For this film I used Rollei 400IR in the 120 format -3 ml of HC110 in 477ml of H20 for 0ne hour with gentle agitation at 30 min.

These photos were shot on Delta 100 and processed HC110 development for 60 min with one or two gentle inversions at 30 min.  They too have signs of Bromide drag - it looks different than on 35 mm film where the banding is from sprocket on one side to the other.  I had odd looking streaks across the 120 film but not every Frame.  The good negatives were preserved with cropping.

Arizona 2022

We’ve had a pretty rough winter in 2022 and we could hardly wait to get out of town on our way to Arizona for the Casa Grande, Region 11 rally.  It wasn’t as easy as driving south and then turning right.  We had to hook up in a snow storm in Santa Fe and had plenty of cold nites and mornings in  Alamogodo, NM.

Once we got to Alamogordo we dropped our rig and headed to White Sands National Park for stunning scenes at dusk and sunrise.

Special note about the picnic structures - they are not seen anywhere else except at this National Park.  They were commissioned by the Park Service and designed by Lyle E Bennett.  The image below was shot by Gary Winogrand a famous street photographer during one of his paying gigs.

Some more imagery from Alamogordo including the Air and Space Museum high on the hill overlooking the town

Then it was onto Casa Grande for the Region 11 Airstream Rally - it was being held at the Pinal County Fairgrounds which was your typical rural, dusty dirt campground.  I gave a lecture on Alternative Travel Photography which was well attended and people seemed to enjoy it.

While in Casa Grande we went north to Chandler, AZ to the Airstream dealer - They took over an abandoned Big Box store and turned it into what they are saying is the largest AS dealer in the US.  It was their soft opening - they fed us, showed us around.  VP of sales from Jackson Center, Ohio ( home of AS) came to greet us.

Back at the fairground there were several Vintage AS to see - this is a a sub club within the main Club.

Also while we were near Phoenix decided to visit the local art museum to see an exhibit of Japanese photographers hosted by Hitachi.  Some of my favorites were there: Daidō Moriyama Eikoh Hosoe Masahisa Fukase Yasuhiro Ishimoto

Casa Grande Ruins are being preserved and show the structures used by the Hohokum tribe.  They farmed the land using multiple water canals.

Last Leg - Tucson.

Tubac - an artist colony near the Mexican border - I was there 30 years ago when it was quaint.  It has exploded into a much more commercial enterprise.  Many stores selling the same kitsch crap. The only thing I found of interest was their cemetery and the Mission at Tumacacori just outside of Tubac.

Happy Hour at the KOA - Last nite it was hosted by John Holly who put on a great spread of vegetarian chili, corn bread made in a Bundt Cake pan, shots of margaritas, wine tasting from St. Francis vineyards and Woodford Bourbon.

We made a quick trip up into Tucson to the Center for Creative Photography on the University of Arizona campus.  It is one of the premiere centers for the study of photography.  Unfortunately there wasn’t much to see for the visitor - I think its really a research museum.  Their viewing galleries are contained on an online database.

Next in line to see was Mt. Lemon abut 40 miles from Tucson and 9,171 ft above sea level.  They get snow and have a small ski area there.  

What are HooDoos? A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations.

Sonoran Desert Museum is a must see.  Doesn’t sound all that interesting but they have really done a nice job of explaining the various animals and plants to be found  in the Sonoran Desert.  From here is on to Mt. Lemon which tops out at about 9200 ft asl.

Then all good things much come to an end - we left the KOA in Tucson and headed to the Tullarosa Winery and stayed there over nite for free - it was just a patch of dirt, no hook ups.  They generally like folks to patronize the establishment.  This is thru Harvest Host program.

Hold Whacha Got

Hold Watcha Got

   Hold whatcha got, I’m a-coming home baby
   Hold whatcha got, and I don’t mean maybe
   Been a-thinking about you and I’m on my way
   Don’t sell the house, and don’t wreck the car
   Stay there, honey, right where you are
   Hold whatcha got, I’m a coming home to stay

Well… in my mind I can see
That’s a pretty good sign that I need you
That’s why I can’t wait to get back home
So squeeze yourself real good and tight
I’ll be there before daylight
If you hold whatcha got, I’m a coming home to stay

Well… when I get back, honey, I ain’t leaving
I been too long, a little too much grieving
When I get back this time I’m going to stay
Well we won’t fuss and we won’t fight
This time things is gonna be all right
If you hold whatcha got, I’m a-coming home to stay

Monument Rock

Monument Rock in Western Kansas is an amazing rock formation.  It is a remnant of the Inland Sea that was Kansas millions of years ago.  

Kansas or Bust

Today was my travel day to go to Kansas for my two days of clinic.  There really is no time to look around when I’m actually in Goodland except the day before work.  I made as my goal to see the newly opened Little Jerusalem State Park ( LJSP).  It is South of Oakley, KS on 83 and actually past the entrance to Monument Rock which I also paid a visit to. LJSP is nicely set up with some easy trails to walk to the rock formation - I don’t think you can actually get that close like you can at Monument.  

Going back North for several miles on 83 gets you to the entrance to Monument Rock - It was my understanding that it was privately owned - seems like there are now signs and promotion by the town of Oakley.  When I went several years ago it was not easy to find.

Super Bowl Sunday

Didn’t do much on SBS except try to clean my office which was a partial success.  I did take some shots inside because I liked the light.  I was rooting for the Bengals - at least they didn’t embarrass themselves like the Broncos usually do.  

EZ400 = Fomapan 400

I purchased a few rolls of EZ400 which is brought to us by New Classic Films - classic BW film in a cardboard container instead of plastic.   Thought it was a great idea.  Shot the roll and was very impressed.  It is a classic film and so the grain is present in classic amounts.  Then I did some research and while everyone is raving about it someone on some forum mentions that it is just Fomapan 400 repackaged.  EZ 400 has the same development times as Fomapan over 5 different developers.  That repackaging will cost you about $2.00 more per roll.  [ EZ 400 at $9 and Fomapan at $6.99]. I also learned that 100 ft of Fomapan is very cheap at $69 - most other well known films are closer to $100.  Live and learn.

Good Time Charlies Got the Blues

I didn’t realize this song was so popular to cover by other artists.  First up is the original by Danny O’Keefe

Everybody’s gone away 

Said they’re movin’ to L.A. 

There’s not a soul I know around 

Everybody’s leavin’ town 

Some caught a freight, some caught a plane 

Found the sunshine leave the rain 

They said this town will waste your time
I guess they’re right, it’s wasting mine 

Some gotta win, some gotta lose 

Good time Charlie’s got the blues 

Good time Charlie’s got the blues 

You know my heart keeps tellin’ me 

You’re not a kid at thirty-three 

Play around you’ll lose your wife 

Play too long you’ll lose your life 

 Some gotta win, some gotta lose 

Good time Charlie’s got the blues

Rocky Mountain Arsenal

I’ve been visiting the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Preserve for about a year now.  It’s only 20 minutes from my home but worlds away from the Urban Corridor.  It’s the former site of a nasty place that used to store, test chemical weapons.  It is now the home of Deer, Bison, Prairie dogs, walking trails and several lakes.  I’ve been inspired by the photography of Kelley Dallas who has some amazing photos of this area.

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