Monthly Archives: January 2012

What happened to Winter?

It’s currently 61 degrees. I have the windows open, because this place needed airing out. My cat just doesn’t know what to do with herself.

Of course, it’s due to cool down again, so I’ll be closing the windows before I leave for work, but in the meantime I’m enjoying it. Let’s see: I moved here in 2009, and we had the Snowpocalypse. Then last year’s winter was fairly snowless, but it was as I recall very cold and windy. This year it’s fluctuated, and we had a weird early snow over Halloween, then a few snows here and there that were gone by the next day. It’s mainly been warmish and rainy. Weather here in the mountains is more bizarre than it ever was in Florida, hurricanes and all.

Kodak files Chapter Eleventy!!11!!

Why do people write about things they don’t know? Here a photographer says, in a blogpost lamenting Kodak’s demise (and more on that “demise” in a moment), that “film is definitely dead.” Well, he says “based on his own experience” but he doesn’t say what experience led him to that belief; instead he goes on and on about nostalgia and the darkroom and nostalgia and memory and froth like that. Actually the article is really very boilerplate, with all sorts of sleep-inducing sentences like “Photographers have a natural understanding of composition, light and framing, and are able to produce photographs that still amaze others” and “With the passing of Kodak, a little piece of every photographer has died” but I’m not here to criticize dull writing — this time — but to say that Kodak ain’t dead, not at all, even if maybe it should be taken out back and shot.

But you see, a lot of scary headlines like “Kodak goes bankrupt!” and “Kodak files Chapter 11!” appeared and suddenly everyone is like “aw, no more Kodak!” Because, as the past twenty years have proved, most Americans know less about matters financial than my cat. Say after me now, children: Chapter 11 is not the bankruptcy move that means “we’re going belly up, sell everything, run to Brazil.” It means “give us legal protection so we don’t have to pay for a bunch of debts so we can get our act together and stay in business.” It’s been a real long time since I worked for the mortgage company and I was only a lowly office flunky but this is one of the things I remember. (By the way, the bankruptcy most people think about — the one where the company can be said to be officially belly-up, is Chapter 7. And actually that’s a bit of an exaggeration — Chapter 7 just liquidates all the non-exempt assets. Anyway, for some actual real knowledge of the three types of bankruptcy — 7, 11, and 13 — our own government has provided this handy page.)

Anyway, Kodak’s still going to be around, like a bad smell or an old friend, however you want to think of them. And apparently their film division is one area where they are still actually making a profit. And it looks like they have finally realized it. Film isn’t going anywhere any more than paints, brushes, and canvases vanished when film was invented. Digital photography is great for the following non-military/scientific usages: 1) business photographers, who do stock photography, weddings, etc. (i.e., they do it mainly for pay, not the craft), and 2) ordinary people who want pictures of their kids and vacations and stuff. But artists and hobbyists — you know, weirdos — will still use film.

Food for thought

I was going to go through this whole article about growing up poor and the bad habits it engenders, but the problem is none of the things he describes sounds like the habits of “poor” people — instead, it sounds like what it means to grow up with parents who have poor planning skills and no grasp of the future past their next government check. I mean, when I grew up (the Seventies, a time when there was even less government largess and grocery variety than John Cheese, the author, had when he was a kid, I think in the 80s and 90s from what he describes — for one thing, a lot of the “shitty” processed stuff “poor” people depend on now either didn’t exist, or were thought of as expensive luxuries by real “poor” people) my parents thought of beer and cigarettes as part of a daily adult requirement, but they made sure us kids got proper nutrition — there was none of this “I’m too tired to cook so you’re getting tv dinners and Kraft boxed macaroni.” Also, we didn’t think of television as a necessity, so the idea of blowing sorely-needed cash on a new television was unheard of, at least in my house. We used the same black-and-white tube television (which was actually part of one of those wood-encased hi-fi stereo sets: it had an AM radio, a four-speed turntable — look that up, kids — and some really great sounding speakers that I used to blast my Led Zeppelin and Renaissance LPs when my parents weren’t home) for years, long after all my friends’ families had acquired color tvs.

But mostly I can’t identify with the food thing. Most pre-processed stuff in the Seventies was pretty crappy, especially canned vegetables, and frozen ones turned to mush when you cooked them. On the other hand, there was a grocery store within walking distance of the house, even in my urban, working class Miami neighborhood. Some things, however, I grew up eating canned, and hating: beets, spinach, sweet potatoes. My elders were convinced that if I didn’t like something, it was especially good for me, so something I hated was usually shoved on me at every meal. I wasn’t until I was older that I discovered that things like spinach, beets, and sweet potatoes when prepared from fresh were nothing like their canned or frozen varieties, and it was a revelation. I had never eaten a fresh mushroom until I was in high school, when my mother (not usually much of a cook) got it into her head to make a recipe that I think a coworker gave her that called for fresh mushrooms. I was amazed — “where can I get more of these delicious things.” I’m still somewhat obsessed by fresh mushrooms. Mmmm, fried in butter.

Another thing I keep hearing about and can’t understand is the “my kids won’t eat” drumbeat. That was not anything that was tolerated when I was growing up. I had to at least “take two bites and say it’s delicious” or I could expect to sit at the table all night until I’d cleaned my plate. My parents were not control freaks, nor tyrants, nor saints of patience, but they’d grown up in the Depression and knew what it was like to be really hungry. Also, they weren’t infected with this apparent fear of feeling hungry that if you ask me is the chief cause of obesity in America today. My parents had no trouble telling me when I whined that I was hungry that I still wasn’t getting any snacks before dinner because it would spoil my appetite. I would then eat two or three helpings but somehow I remained skinny as a rail until I got out on my own and could assuage every hunger pang with a handful of something, as all the food fads began to tell us we should do. I now am beginning to think strict, structured meal times and no in-between snacks is probably a better way to approach food. Americans had a reputation of being too skinny once (from personal experience I know this is true — when I visited Europe and had everyone tell me this as they tried to shove yet another cream-filled dessert on me and yes I gained ten pounds there). It wasn’t because “everybody smoked” because I knew plenty of non-smokers and I was one of them. I also knew lots of fat smokers. It’s the way we eat now; not just packaged and pre-processed food but no structured meal times and eating whenever we want. I don’t care if that’s how our primitive ancestors did it, and they didn’t actually, they were mostly starving — we’re not living on the veldt hunting mastodons, we live in houses and apartments and hardly move, and we’re lazy and have no discipline. Being “poor” has nothing to do with it.