Camera Girl Angers the Lightning God

Many years ago, when Camera Girl was just a simple housewife.  This was before she became a jet-setting companion to a high-powered photographic dynamo; me.  One day while I was at work, I got a call from home.  She informed me that the fire department had to be called because our electric stove had malfunctioned and burst into flames.  The highly professional volunteer firemen had heroically dragged the stove out of the house and it was lying on the driveway like some stricken beast brought low by forces beyond the control of nature.  And she further informed me that the meat loaf was still in it and unless I wanted to try carbonized beef we would need to eat out.  Now, I know for a fact that she’s always disliked electric stoves and ovens.  She claims that only gas stoves provide the kind of temperature control she needs to cook food correctly.  I’m not saying she sabotaged that stove but it is true she was glad to get a new one.  Even if it was also an electric model.

Well yesterday lightning struck again.  At about 4 pm I heard a loud crackle of electricity like something out of the Frankenstein laboratory scene coming from the kitchen followed by Camera girl screaming something incoherently.  I ran into the kitchen to find smoke pouring from the oven.  I shut the power to the oven and turned on the vent fan above the stove.  Then I took the smoke alarm off the wall and put it where it wouldn’t go off.

Sure, enough for the third time in her career as chief cook and bottlewasher in “Chez photog” the heating element in one of her ovens failed.  This time I was there so the fire department wasn’t needed.  I could see the element was cracked and the sound I’d heard was power arcing over the gap.  After gently coaxing Camera Girl off the ceiling fan, I comforted her in her terror and convinced her that all would be well once we got our local appliance store to send a serviceman to install a new element.

But when I called them, it wasn’t as simple as that.  After providing them with the stove’s model number they informed me that they would have to order this critical part.  And when I asked them when they would be able to send someone to install it the pleasant young fellow on the line said, “In three or four weeks.”   I dared not tell Camera Girl that her stove would be out of service for a month so I asked the guy how difficult would it be for me to install it myself.  He thought it would be quite simple and foolproof.  So tomorrow morning I’ll go and pay fifty bucks for this replacement part and spend some part of the day installing it.

Obviously, this is a double-edged sword.  On the up side, I get to save a hundred fifty bucks in service call charges and appear to be a competent and self-sufficient alpha male.  On the down side if I louse up the installation Camera Girl will mock me mercilessly.

Well, there’s nothing to be done about it.  I must rise to the challenge.  I was thinking of watching some episodes of the Honeymooners tonight to see if I can get any pointers from Ralph Kramden’s technique handling Alice’s bouts of sarcasm.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Where did I put that fire extinguisher?

 

photog Forced into the 21st Century Kicking and Screaming

Life here in Dunwich has become complicated of late.  I need to get a new PayPal account open for a project I’m working on.  But now you HAVE to have a cell phone number to do that.  Very aggravating.  I attempted to get the cheapest plan (~$15/mo.) and the cheapest phone but now that combination has bitten me in the butt.  The phone won’t do the things that the plan needs to make it work.  I spent several hours on with technical support trying to get things working.  They sent detailed but cryptic instructions for accomplishing this.

Some of these instructions were like some kind of athletic game show event.  Turn on the phone, tap-hold an app, put it on the front screen, pull out the sim card, throw it in the air, catch it with the other hand, pat your head and rub your stomach, sacrifice a goat, say Beetlejuice three times and finally slam the phone into my forehead.  And sadly it still didn’t work.  But I’ve been accepted onto next season’s Survivor show.  Apparently they think I’m willing to do anything.

Well, so be it.  I’ll probably get a different phone or plan or both but it has allowed me to wallow in self-pity.  I actually had a nightmare last night that was probably brought on by the angst I was feeling about my status as a technophobe.  I dreamt I was designing and installing a pharmaceutical process train.  And after it was completely done I could see that it would be a death trap for the operators.  It would allow highly flammable solvent fumes to come in contact with electrical components that weren’t rated for the hazardous service.

And in the nightmare I was trying to convince management to decommission the equipment I was commissioning without ever using it.  It was one of those dreams where it’s obvious there’s no escape but you have no choice but to keep looking for the way out.  Maybe I should have blamed Putin’s Price Hike.

Well, anyway, somehow I have to resolve the great smart phone standoff and a whole list of other chores.  I’ve got to sell some old lenses, plant some seedlings, get business advice from an expert, make some insurance decisions and figure out what to write about today.  And that doesn’t include the fact that I have to catch up on the novel.  The last few days I let things slip.  Well really I’ve been trying to resolve a problem with the plot.  I need to invent some new characters.  And it has demotivated me.  But I think I figured out what to do.

And it’s raining today.  But it’s been a good few days on the site.  On Saturday and Sunday I got linked by two aggregators and that accounted for five or six hundred extra readers those days.  That was enjoyable.  So there have been some wins and some losses.  Okay.  So, on with the parade!  Maybe I’m the the Master of Ceremonies today or maybe I’m the guy with the broom and the trash can cleaning up after the elephants.  Either way, I’m moving forward.

The Story of Amasis and Polycrates (and photog)

One of my frequent readers, Ed, said that my story of lucky laziness reminded him of Heinlein’s story of the man who was too lazy to fail.  Well, to give an alternate interpretation here is the story from Herodotus that informs my expectations for the future.

Back in the fifth century B.C., Polycrates conquered the Greek island of Samos.  He made a treaty with the Pharoah Amasis of Egypt and after they exchanged gifts they corresponded and became good friends.  Now Polycrates embarked on a career as a conqueror, bringing his navy of one hundred triremes to bear, he conquered many islands and plundered the mainland.  He eventually earned the reputation for being unbeatable and protected by fate.

Eventually Amasis heard the same rumors and became concerned for his friend.  He wrote and warned Polycrates that anyone who never had any misfortunes was marked by the gods for disaster.  He recommended that to avert disaster Polycrates should take his most prized possession and cast it away so that no one could ever find it again.  Amasis felt this would save Polycrates from his fate.

Polycrates took this advice seriously.  So, he took a ship out to the middle of the ocean off Samos and in view of his men he tossed his favorite possession, a seal ring, into the deep and then headed home terribly depressed by this loss.

“But on the fifth or sixth day from this it happened that a fisherman, who had taken a fine and great fish, and desired to make a gift of it to Polycrates, brought it to the door and said that he wished to see Polycrates. This being granted, he gave the fish, saying: [2] “O King, when I caught this fish, I thought best not to take it to market, although I am a man who lives by his hands, but it seemed to me worthy of you and your greatness; and so, I bring and offer it to you.”

And of course, the ring is in the fish.  Polycrates is ecstatic and afterwards writes Amasis to relate the amazing occurrence with the ring.  When Amasis reads the letter, he knows that Polycrates is doomed and not wishing to see a friend destroyed he writes back to Polycrates dissolving their friendship.  Years later the Persian satrap of Sardis, Oroetes had Polycrates ambushed and killed.

So that story seems to jibe with my idea of how crazy good luck works.  If you have nothing but good luck then at some point you’ve got to run out.  And then the bottom drops out.  Seems fair.  Besides, the first half of life is the most fun.  If you can have that without grief, I figure it’s reasonable to go over the falls in a barrel somewhere at the tail end without squawking about it.  Anyway, that’s my take on it now.  We’ll have to see if I can be so stoic about it when the rubber meets the road.

Now the funny thing about the story is that many years ago I was on a fishing trip with my father-in-law fishing for striped bass out on Long Island.  He was literally the Old Fisherman of the Sea but for the whole day we didn’t catch anything.  Skunked.  But right at the end of the day, far off, he sees a patch of water that’s boiling with activity.  He starts up the motor and shoots over to it and we start catching huge bluefish.  We catch so many we fill up the boat.  But suddenly I notice that my wedding ring is gone.  The blue fish slime is slippery stuff and the ring must have slipped off while were fishing.  Now my father-in-law was an expert on bluefish and he assured me that a flashing gold ring would have been snapped up by such a huge school of bluefish without a doubt.  So, he laughed at me and said it was up to me to come back someday and try to catch the fish that ate my ring.  And once again my luck holds up.  If a man loses his wedding ring there’s no better way to lose it than when in the company of his father-in-law.  It’s always been a good story ever since.

Years later when I read that story in Herodotus it struck me how lucky we didn’t find the ring in any of the fish we cleaned that day.  I might have ended up like Polycrates and Camera Girl would have been a very pretty widow.

Entrepreneurism is Not for the Lazy.  Or So They Say.

And what a shame for me!  As many who visit here know I am the self-professed, “Laziest Man on the Right.”  I enjoy nothing as much as procrastinating and enjoying life.  Of course, I prefer to think of myself as, “The Most Interesting Man in the World,” but I don’t have his killer fake Spanish accent.  Boy, that was a great advertising campaign.

But of late I have been doing a lot of research and laying the groundwork for a vast commercial undertaking.  Not since the early days of Kramerica Industries has the world seen such poorly planned and shamefully misdirected effort from someone who ostensibly is trying to get something done.

All at the same time, I’m starting a limited liability company (LLC), re-opening my PayPal account, assembling and post-processing my first group of high-resolution photo files, working on my first novel, assembling a fine art photography book and for reasons known only to PayPal buying the cheapest mobile phone plan in the world.  The last item has to do with the fact that PayPal no longer allows individuals to have a PayPal account without a cell phone.  Apparently Big Brother truly does live in Silicon Valley.

As noted, the efficiency of these efforts has been abysmal.  I have to redo each step at least three times because of my ignorance or poor preparation.  The people I contact, even the AI I interfaces with which I interact, seem to be straining not to yell at me to stop bothering them and just give up.  And being the empathetic fellow I am, I tend to agree with them.  And because of my ineptitude all of this effort should be doomed to massive failure and soul-searing disappointment.

And yet, I am heartily enthused and invigorated by the whole confusing mess.  Slowly and painfully, I’m learning the things I need to know to carry out the program.  As soon as I can get the phone thing resolved and the PayPal account up and running, I can load the photos on the commercial website.  And once the LLC is official, I can start paying the government taxes on whatever paltry profits I manage to pull in.

And this is only the beginning.  I hope to follow up on my first novel with the rest of a science fiction series and other writings of various types and lengths.  I have the often-mentioned unbridled enthusiasm and unjustified optimism.  Most people I have confided in about my mad dreams have warned me that I have literally zero chance of success in my endeavors.  They say that statistically it’s an incredible longshot.

I am undeterred.  For I have always been inexplicably lucky.  Not just a little lucky but almost eerily lucky.  Over the course of a fairly long life, I have almost invariably been unreasonably lucky just when I needed it the most.  Even when something bad happens to me something or someone unexpected always shows up and sets things right.  I’ve led a charmed existence.

So that’s what I’m betting on, that my luck will hold out again.  Deep down I know that one day fate will even up the score.  I assume it’ll be something horrendously unlikely or even preternatural.  I’m expecting a meteor strike or a lightning bolt to rub me out.  But when it comes, I’ll face that day whistling a happy tune.  I’ve had the luck that ten men could expect while expending almost no effort at all.  I sometimes wonder what I might have accomplished if I had added hard work to luck but probably it would have mucked things up completely.

So, here’s to the future and just a little more luck.

Rockefeller, Musk, photog?

In the last week or so I’ve taken the first halting steps toward setting up an on-line business.  In reality it’s sort of several businesses.  One is a self-publishing account on Amazon.  Another is a creator’s account with a photo products sales site.  And finally, there is an account with a custom photobook seller.

But of course, it’s an enormous amount of bother.  One place requires a PayPal account and I had let my account lapse this year so now I have to open a new one.  Then I have to figure out how to pay my taxes on time and whether I should incorporate and whether I should do that myself or pay a lawyer.  I also have to figure out how to advertise my products.  Of course, Orion’s Cold Fire will be central to my marketing plan.  I’ll add links to the store fronts and shamelessly hawk my wares whenever an unsuspecting reader comes looking for political commentary or brilliant movie and book reviews.

What I’ve discovered is that all this business stuff is frightfully distracting from the stuff I like to do, namely take pictures and write stuff.  But what is also true is that participating in some kind of business of your own is very exciting.  What it requires is disciplining yourself; becoming your own boss.  And for someone like me that is extremely challenging.  I have always been the worst employee anywhere I worked.  I find it extremely difficult to work in a manner that doesn’t seem logical to me.  So, if a company tried to get the engineers to perform regulatory clerical functions (that is, validation) my eyes would glaze over and my output would slowdown to a crawl.  Eventually they would be forced to provide me with an assistant who could perform the requisite paperwork handwaving to satisfy the FDA that we didn’t add Ebola virus to the batch by using the equipment I had designed, purchased and installed using good engineering practices, which I saw as my proper function.

So now it will be necessary for me to convince … me(!) that I should perform all the clerical and bookkeeping and sales and marketing handwaving that is necessary to make money in a business.  I have to confess that I’ve already had a few discouraging moments as I realized how many hoops I’ll have to jump through to coordinate all the various requirements needed to transact business in a businesslike manner.  I would much prefer just winging it and paying for my mistakes as I go along but hard experience has shown me that that can be awfully expensive.  The IRS really has no sense of humor at all.

As I embark on this journey of discovery, I find myself full of unbridled enthusiasm and unwarranted optimism.  I’m sure reality will quickly rein in my naïve ebullience and after being knocked around by cruel fate I will reach the correct mind set of all proper businessmen, callous cynicism and calculated misanthropy.

So, consider this your fair warning.  When links appear to lure you to my commercial products don’t be fooled into thinking they represent anything other than what they are; crass commercialism and the single-minded pursuit of the almighty dollar.  Come to think of it, after the fiasco with Russia, it’s not so almighty anymore.  But you get the picture.  Caveat emptor!

photog’s Technophobia

So, as I’ve alluded to recently, I’ve been playing host to one of my descendants recently and whenever he visits, he’s always shocked by how little progress I’ve made technologically since his last visit and in a spirit of charity he tries to modernize my approach to various everyday life circumstances.

For instance, he reminded me pointedly that my camera, the Sony A7 III, still had the original firmware version.  But there were currently versions above revision 4.  And he stressed the fact that one of those revisions included a major upgrade to eye autofocus and tracking autofocus capability.  And since he is painfully aware of my legendary laziness, he begged me to actually perform the upgrade while he was watching, which I did.

Later when he attempted to run a YouTube video on the tv through a DVD player that had wi-fi, he was dismayed at the terrible bandwidth and asked if I had any other alternative devices.  I explained that a year ago I bought a Roku device but it seemed as if I would need to pay for a monthly subscription so in my annoyance at being sucked in, I threw it into my tech scrap heap and forgot all about it.  He assured me that the credit card registration was a harmless feint and I would not be charged for free applications like YouTube and other movie channels that had free services.  He then dug it out, installed it and suddenly my wide screen tv became a new world of high-definition nature shows that he favors.

And the other day he asked me about my photo workflow.  I use Capture One software to post-process my files and I had mentioned that the loading and backup time was becoming unmanageably long.  So, we went through the system and identified that one of my settings had been accidentally changed and I was loading all my files to one folder that was now horrifyingly large.

I attempted to remedy the situation.  I did successfully change the setting and now am no longer making the problem worse.  Score one for me!  But I then attempted to break the catalog into smaller pieces to speed up the processing time.  That didn’t work out so well.  Capture One has several categories of files.  There are catalogs and sessions and folders and even other things that I’m not really sure I understand at all.  I spent several hours chopping up the giant folder into my existing file system.  Then I tried to point the thumbnail renderings to the new file system and that was a total failure.  It wouldn’t locate the files for the thumbnails to work as needed, a crushing blow.  An alternative would be to manually point the thumbnails to the individual files one by one.  But since there are tens of thousands of files, I might not live long enough to accomplish this.  Plan B is to spend several hours combining all the files back into one folder the way they were before I started changing it and then move the thumbnails and files together into separate folders.  It’s sad to know just how inept I am with the software tools I work with.  But an honest man must swallow the hard truth and try to do better.  I have vowed, with Peter Thiel as my witness, that I will get my tech house in order.  I will give a DAM (that’s digital image management) and get my millions of photo files under control.  I will learn how to make my own plug-ins for my website.  And I will spend the time to find the appropriate (and cheap) software I need to optimize my other digital occupations like fiction writing.

Of course, I won’t start today.  We’re having a big get together and I have to help Camera Girl with the set-up and general chores.  But soon!  And from now on!  The world will see a new photog!

Did that sound convincing?

20AUG2020 – OCF Update

First off, apologies on that notification this afternoon.  There was no post.  Something odd must have happened with the software or maybe I’ve got a gremlin.  Hopefully it’s a one off.

Unfortunately the day job is really starting to interfere with OCF.  So I may have to quit the day job.  But bear with me.  Serving two masters (and a mistress if you count Camera Girl’s endless demands) is an impossibility according to the good book.  But that’s where I am right now.  And that is why the paucity of posting.  So I’m checking with the people who count up my pennies to see if retirement is in my immediate future.  If it is then all good things will be possible.  I’ve opened up a Kindle Direct Publishing account and might try my hand at some fiction writing.

Camera Girl is of course worried about her lavish life style evaporating, her mountain gorilla rescue colony on her private Hawaiian island, the Mozart cloning effort going on in Bora Bora, her five alarm chili cooking lessons.  I told her to cancel the chili lessons.

But I have many skills.  Looking through the want ads I saw an interesting opportunity for a rodeo clown.  That’s similar to my present job but with much more dignity and a better class of people.  After all, I don’t think the rodeo has started to kneel during the anthem or accused their employees of white privilege.

I feel a little guilty because I’ve skipped the Dem convention.  In my defense I have a weak stomach and probably would be ill if I watched that much stupidity, but from what I’ve heard it sounds pretty unwatchable.

I read an article by, I guess you’d call him an entrepreneur, living in NYC.  His thesis is that this time the city won’t be coming back.  His biggest reason is that there’s no longer a good reason to live in New York.  Culturally, all the advantages have been cancelled out.  The good restaurants, the theater, the stores are all gone and won’t be coming back, not soon anyway and only in a much more degraded fashion.  Commercially, the office buildings will never fill up again now that businesses have discovered that remote working is a viable and much cheaper option for almost everything except manufacturing.  Plus the retail stores have been looted and burned out of existence and have no hope of customers showing up for months to come.  And finally, the residents who can leave, have.  The loss of all the above plus the rampant crime and fear that it entails has made New York a decidedly unappealing locale for the upper classes.  And when they leave that will change the complexion of life in New York in a decisive way.

When I left New York thirty three years ago I did so because it had become a bad place to raise kids for anyone who wasn’t rich.  Now, unless you have a security fence like the one around the T Rex pen in Jurassic Park and a private helipad, even the rich wouldn’t want to live there.  Well, I’ve already made my peace with being a stranger in a strange land.  Any place that would enthusiastically re-elect Bill de Blasio deserves everything it gets and more.  I just feel bad for the small business owners and working class people.  But it will be a permanent object lesson for all of them about living in a place where marxists are in charge.

The weather has taken on a late summer feel.  Which is still plenty warm but definitely means that fall will be sneaking up on us before we know it.  It also means soon I’ll run out of flowers, plants and bugs to take pictures of.

And, of course, this going to be an election from hell.  We can expect the Democrats to pull out all the stops and break every law in the book to try and drag Creepy Uncle Joe over the finish line.  We’ll all need strong stomachs by the time this thing is over.

So stay tuned.

The Search Begins

For an American man with traditional beliefs living in New England or for that matter anywhere in the Northeast is depressing.  In an earlier post I described it as living behind enemy lines or in occupied territory.  So, for a long time I’ve been contemplating a move.  Much is linked to employment, of course.  But equally important is ending up in a place that maximizes the improvement in quality of life.  I did a search and found a 2016 survey that listed the top ten conservative states.

Wyoming             +35

North Dakota     +31

Mississippi          +31

Oklahoma           +30

Alabama              +30

Arkansas              +28

Idaho                    +28

Louisiana             +27

Montana             +26

Utah                      +26

Tennessee          +26

In order to narrow the search, I added the climate requirements to the mix.  Living in New England has hammered home the disadvantages of living in an area that has frequent and deep snowfalls.  And in general, very cold climates are a definite negative selection factor for me.  That eliminated Wyoming, North Dakota and Montana.  And while not completely eliminated I give lesser preference to extremely hot, humid areas that are also prone to hurricanes.  Until further consideration, let’s put aside Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  That leaves Oklahoma, Arkansas, Idaho, Utah and Tennessee.  Five seems like a manageable number of choices.  Generally speaking, that gives me two southeastern choices, two western choices and one somewhere in the middle.

This is a very rudimentary beginning to my search but it seems to be moving me off the mark pretty quickly.  I was interested in getting some feedback from the OCF audience to help evaluate these five states or any other candidates that maybe I should add to the list.  I intend to make this an ongoing process and I’ll return back to folks here to get additional information if it exists.

And just to make sure it doesn’t get buried I’m giving it a category of its own and a spot on the front page.

Where Do I Stand in the Political Spectrum

For the newer readers of Orion’s Cold Fire this article I wrote for American Greatness sums up my position in the Great Revolt

https://amgreatness.com/2017/11/25/defining-the-space-between-nevertrump-and-the-alt-right/

I consider myself fully aware of the tremendous obstacles to preserving what’s left of the remarkable experiment that is the United States of America but I can’t quite give up on it yet.

 

 

Exciting News For Orion’s Cold Fire

American Greatness is gonna publish a new post of mine on their site.  I’m very excited to be in some pretty remarkable company.  Michael Anton, Angelo Codevilla and Victor Davis Hanson wrote essays last year that summed up where I felt I was in the political world.  I am thrilled that I’ll have the chance to add my own humble words to those of much abler writers.  I’ve been told it’ll appear on Friday. *   And the byline will of course be “photog.”  It’s basically my take on what it’s like to be a “red-pilled normie.”   Or as I jokingly paraphrase Gerry Rafferty, “Cucks to the left of me, Hitler to the right, here I am stuck in the middle with who?”

Come by and leave a comment of support (or protest, all publicity is good).

*  UPDATE – Oooops I guess something changed.  I’ll let you know when I hear from those folks.  Maybe they meant next Friday.

 

And they published it.   https://amgreatness.com/2017/11/25/defining-the-space-between-nevertrump-and-the-alt-right/

 

Since my readers don’t always stop by every day I figured I’d paste this poll on each post for a while to see what folks call themselves.  This is the post the poll came from  Who Are We?

… And that got me thinking. Who are the people who read my blog?  I thought it might be fun to see what the cross-section looked like.  If you feel like saying what you believe in, feel free to leave a comment and/or pick a label from the poll below.  I think it might be interesting.

 

[Total_Soft_Poll id=”6″]