Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Eleanor Rigby in Jorge's kitchen

I took this video in our friend Jorge's kitchen in Buenos Aires, in February, 2005. His son, Julian, and his partner, Julia, stroll around Plaza Serano, playing for tips. Here they perform Eleanor Rigby in response to my question whether they know any Beatles tunes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Battling With Satan

We discovered that Satan had invaded our property in Door County. He appeared in the spring in the form of a weed-like sprig and transformed himself into a stand of trees by early September. He did not disguise himself as just any tree, but as an invasive, fast growing monster with a tenacious running root system (tentacles from hell).

I had made an appointment with local landscape architect John Meredith to discuss planting along our property line to screen the new house next door from our view. Before he arrived we wondered if we could simply let the Satan Trees grow to serve this purpose. John came by Saturday morning, took one look, and recommended we destroy the beast. Surprisingly, he was not familiar with the Satan Tree.

The first photo (above) shows how quickly the beast grew over the summer. From a sprig to about four feet tall! Exorcising the beast takes a lot of energy (see the movie clip below).

After all of the tree and it's demonic roots had been pulled, we annointed the area with holy water (a deadly Ortho brand chemical) to guard against its return.

Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.
To get the best idea of the battle, see the video.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


I almost never take portaits. I always assume that people don't like their picture taken. Yet, I often see people that I would like to photograph.

Recently, by way of Flakphoto, I was introduced to the portraits of Keith Dannemiller, a photographer who lives in Mexico City. His portaits are honest, straightfoward, and intimate. Many are taken on the street. I find them very compelling and wish I could take portriaits that are similarly profound. I corresponded with Keith and he gave me some pointers and encouragement.

I dropped off some shoes at the repair shop at lunchtime today. Something about the two guys behind the counter caught my eye, but I left the shop and got in the car. I sat there for a moment, thinking about how I'd like to get a photo of those two. I thought about Keith and made my decision. I went back in and asked the younger one if the other was his father and he replied, "Yes." I asked if they would mind if I took their portrait. Not at all. In fact, the seemed pleased.

Of course, this portrait is nothing like Keith Dannemiller's portraits. But he's been at it for a long while.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Yesterday afternoon I was searching for a photo and came across this one of a beaver dam that I took in Tennessee a couple of years ago. Today I found a stump of a tree in a friend's office . . . gnawed off by a beaver (in Evanston!).

Sunday, I took a photo of a building across the street from the Art Institute. Monday morning, I spoke with a fellow at the School of the Art Institute. His name had been given to me as a reference by an architect. After the telephone call I referred to the architect's proposal and found that the building this fellow was sitting in is the building I took a photo of the day before. The photo in the proposal booklet was the same building.

Does this happen to you? i.e. where you become conscious of some fact or item repeatedly in a relatively short period of time. Don't be frightened. It happens to me all the time. Finally, I found the name for this: Baader-Meinhoff Phenomenon. Thank god it's not a syndrome!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In Memorium to Burt, the dog

Loving friend to Ralph Murre and Nancy Vaughn
Even the fish will miss him

Thursday, September 06, 2007

IKEA hacks

There was an article in the New York Times today about IKEA hacks. i.e. using IKEA stuff for something other than the original intent of the product. Mei Mei Yap (Kuala Lumpur), who is profiled in the slideshow that accompanies the article, maintains the website IKEA Hacker, which is worth a visit. Some of the hacks are quite clever, others, like the one I am about to describe are modest. Perhaps my next hack will be more ambitious. Maybe I'll build a locomotive from the extra hardware they give you.

John's hack:

This may be too simple to consider to be a hack, but I thought it was a good solution to two very real problems:

Problem 1: We had no place in our bedroom for a clothes hamper.
Problem 2: Each morning my wife goes into the master bathroom to get us each a cup of coffee (we have a coffee maker in the bathroom). My wife normally does this as I am incapable of waking up before she does. In addition to getting the coffee, she turns on the bathroom heater (we like it toasty in the bathroom), which means she has to close the door. As she left the bathroom, there was no place to set down even one of the cups so she could close the door. She would have to set one cup on the floor (very awkward in a barely awake state), close the bathroom door and then journey over to the bed to pour the coffee down my throat. (She is a marvelous wife)

Limitations: Not much space. The only unused space we had is a shallow alcove next to the bathroom; about 8" deep and 42" wide.

Solution needed: Something that would serve as a clothing hamper and a which would provide a surface my wife could rest a cup so she can close the bathroom door.

Solution: We took an IKEA SANDNES shoe storage cabinet, threw away the legs, and mounted the cabinet directly to the wall. Instead of using it for shoes, we use it as a hamper. The two right flippers hold whites and the left ones hold the darks. We didn't need a lot of hamper storage as the washer-dryer is in the adjacent bathroom. Works for us.

Incidentally, all of IKEA's shoe storage solutions appear to be designed for men with extremely tiny feet. For example, only three of my shoes (not 3 pair) will fit into one of the SANDNES flippers.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Labor Day Weekend