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December 31, 2007

Best of 2007 in Black & White

Last year, Jim Shulman of the Leica User Group volunteered to compile a yearbook of photos by the members (printed by I didn’t know about it (I’m not on the LUG mailing list), but this year Jim got in touch with me and invited me to participate (as an honorary member, I suppose). The yearbook deadline gave me the motivation to finish developing my unprocessed film, and I spent some time yesterday reviewing the year’s meager output. I started with an initial edit of 11 photos, my “Best of 2007 in black & white,” and finally chose two. I put the set up on Flickr. All were taken with an M4 on Ilford FP4 with either a Summicron 50mm or Zeiss Biogon 35mm. Last I heard, 98 photographers had submitted photos. That’s a lot of Leicas.

UPDATE: 112 photographers participated, and the book is on its way.

St. Patrick's Day, Jim Thorpe

St. Patrick’s Day, Jim Thorpe, PA (March 11).

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC

Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC (April 18)

It’s fitting that my “year end” post is about photography. I wish everyone a safe and happy New Year.



I shot all of 2 rolls of film in 2007. I barely squeezed in the last few frames into 2007 on NYE. I have a sinking feeling the film didn't advance properly though so the second roll may be blank.

Albert, I hate when that happens. I lost half my pictures at Laurel Hill because I misthreaded the film on one of my bodies. Now I always make sure the rewind knob is turning. Hope it didn't happen to you!

Beautiful Tony

I looked at the Flickr site as well. I would have had a hard time choosing from the eleven; they are great.

Robin, thanks, you are very kind. The St. Patrick's Day photo was my clear first choice, but it was difficult picking the second one.

December 27, 2007

Bridgewater’s Pub Hot Lobster Roll

Stop the presses—hot lobster roll action in Philly. Tonight I was planning to check out Sláinte Pub (I know, I know, yet another Irish pub. I’m Irish, OK?), New Deck Tavern’s little sister. I had to walk right past Bridgewater’s Pub, however, which has a long history of offering lobster-inspired sandwiches from time to time. Naturally I scanned the menu (which changes often), and my eyes bugged out when I spotted the hot lobster roll. Lobster rolls trump Irish pubs every time.

I sat at one of the high-top tables instead of the bar for once and perused the short but thoughtful, eclectic, and ever-changing beer list. During the course of my meal I tried the two seasonals, Spaten’s Holiday Bock and Corsendonk’s Christmas Ale. I preferred the Spaten; the Corsendonk was really doing that Belgian thing which I’m not sure about yet. Maybe when I get a little older...

The hot lobster roll was described thus: "butter, garlic, celery, vanilla." Vanilla? Anyway, what arrived were two tiny hamburger rolls (echoing the late, lamented lobster roll sliders of yore). The inside of the rolls were grilled, and the lobster was indeed hot and generously covered in butter. I immediately noticed alarmingly large chunks of celery, but it was sauteed and tender and blended perfectly. The rolls tasted mostly of butter then lobster; the garlic was a nice seasoning, and I could not detect the vanilla’s contribution. Overall, a success, although not as sublime as the sliders. The rolls are really appetizer-sized (although the French fries helped fill me up), but don’t order this if you’re really hungry. Instead you might consider choosing one of the tempting dishes I passed up: “Three Little Blue Pigs” (wild boar meatballs, rosemary Gorgonzola sauce); “Silver Dollar” burgers (boursin cheese and smoked bacon); Blackened Redfish sandwich; Caribbean Fish & Chips. I mean, really. I love lobster, but it was a tough decision.

December 26, 2007

Lord, Give Me Strength

Literally. At one point in my life (about 12 years ago, during my mid-life crisis), I decided to try and get into some kind of shape and got a weight bench and began running. This regimen lasted less than a year, but I never felt better or had more energy.

That energy drained away long ago. Now I often make ambitious plans for the evening but end up doing something less challenging simply because I’m “too tired.” I know that exercise is the answer, yet starting to exercise is so hard. Now Anne is interested in exercising, too, so we are hoping to motivate each other. Tonight we dusted off ye olde weight bench and just did a few stretches. Just stretching was surprisingly painful, but you have to start somewhere. Tomorrow we might actually pump some iron. Nothing strenuous, you know, just maybe something like a seven iron.


I'm with you, brother. I used to exercise all the I work all the time. And I need to get moving. Your article reminds me of that.

The best kind of iron to "pump", in my opinion, is indeed one that leaves a small divot. ;)

This reminds me of the weight bench I got for Christmas when I was 10 (I think). I used the heck out of that thing for a long time - inspired mostly by those Charles Atlas ads that ran in the comic books - but after the age of 16, not so much.

I'd say I don't even know what became of the set, but just a few months ago my parents sold it when they were getting rid of all the junk in their old house. My father asked if I wanted to take it, and for some reason I said no.

Hope your Christmas was fantastic, by the way.

thanks for all the blessing u give me lord and sorry for all of my sins and i love you so much!!! :)

December 25, 2007

Christmas Carnage

Talk about timing. We happened upon the massacre pictured below moments before police arrived. I can’t imagine what horrible weapons could cause such wholesale destruction or the reason for such a senseless loss of “life.” So much for peace on earth and good will toward men.

Christmas carnage

Right after I took this next picture, the police arrived and one objected to me taking pictures of the crime scene. So I did what any citizen journalist would do—I called him a name and then punched him in the face.

Christmas carnage

But seriously.

We had a wonderful Christmas this year with visits to family and friends that started four days ago on Saturday. Each Christmas seems to tilt the balance more towards the social and spiritual and away from the commercial, and this year I felt like we struck a good balance. We went to church on Christmas eve and that short service was the highlight of the season. I admit that the handbell choir and the standing-room-only crowd helped make the service special. Presents were mostly modest this year, although I splurged and got my brother a GPS.

Today we shared brunch and dinner with dear friends. As much as we enjoy cooking and hosting, it was nice to enjoy a day off without any culinary pressure. And besides, food just tastes better when someone else makes it! Here’s a shot from tonight’s dinner; it’s the schedule our friend Scott (who is an amazing cook) made for the day. I had always heard that it was a good idea to make such a schedule, and next time we host I will definitely be using one. When we hosted Thanksgiving, I was over confident and almost missed some important steps. A schedule would have made for a much less stressful day.

Christmas dinner schedule

By the end of the evening, the schedule had suffered stains from virtually all the food and beverages.

I hope that your holiday was everything you could wish it to be. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


I'm confused. Were you saying it was a "massacre" thinking someone popped the blow up decorations? That type of decoration only inflates when it is plugged in, so during the day, it looks like that. At night, when the person plugs the decorations in with the rest of their Christmas lights, a small fan in the back of the decorations blows them up.

Lisa, It was just a joke on my part, because of the way the deflated decorations look during the day.

December 16, 2007

Led Zeppelin Reunion [nanoblog]

Q: Is it true that Led Zeppelin’s long-anticipated reunion was delayed until John Bonham’s son Jason was old enough to reach the pedals?
A: False. Jason Bonham is 41 years old and has been able to reach the pedals since 1974.

December 9, 2007

Another Lobster Roll

Last year we went to Shiroi Hana for my birthday dinner. This year, I was hankering for a lobster roll (regular readers may recall we didn’t make it to Maine this year), so we headed to Legal Sea Foods (in the King of Prussia Mall on the upper level of the Court near Macy’s). I had had a good one at a Legal in Baltimore earlier this year and figured the one in King of Prussia would be just as good. And it was—it’s the best one I’ve had in the tri-state area. I was told that the lobster roll is so popular that they have added it to the dinner menu. I had the blackened tuna sashimi appetizer to warm up my palate for the lobster roll, but even with that I still had room to split a second roll with a friend. The lobster roll at Legal Sea Foods in King of Prussia

The lobster roll at Legal Sea Foods in King of Prussia.


Mmmm... looks good. Interestingly enough, I've also had good experiences with Legal in Baltimore but have yet to visit the PA version.

I must add that the fried onions (in place of fries) were exceptionally good!

December 4, 2007

“When Your Mind’s Made Up”

For our fifth wedding anniversary back in September we pulled out all the stops and went out to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants and saw a movie. The movie playing at our local uniplex was “Once,” which friends of Anne had highly recommended, although neither of us knew the slightest thing about it. It’s funny, because we had been thinking of going to Ireland for our anniversary, and we did, sort of. “Once” is the story of an Irish busker (Glen Hansard of The Frames) who meets an immigrant singer and pianist (Markéta Irglová), who inspires him to get a band together, and, with money borrowed from his surprisingly sympathetic father, record a demo CD of his songs. There was so much I liked about this movie: its unpretentious scope, its emotional honesty, and its authentic portrayal of musical collaboration and performance.

I wanted to share one of my favorite scenes at the time, but didn’t think I could do it justice without some audio/visual aids. Then Anne discovered some clips on YouTube and problem solved. My favorite moment occurs at the recording studio during the first take of “When Your Mind’s Made Up.” Glen calls for silence, and the take begins. With the music underway, the jaded recording engineer turns away from the mixing board, sighs, and unfolds his newspaper, thinking these were just another lot of talentless dreamers wasting their money. Another boring day at the office. The track slowly gathers momentum, however, and then at 1:17 (-2:34), the drums enter and suddenly lock the song into a deep groove as unstoppable as a freight train.1 Those drums are what make the engineer put down his paper and pay attention. Just sayin’. By the end of the track, I've forgotten all about the drums because my hair is standing on end and I have a lump in my throat, but still that drum entrance marked the turning point.

1 Please ignore the AIM alert. :-)



Congratulations to you two! On both the five year mark and the movie choice. I enjoyed Once tremendously, and though I hadn't identified the drums as a key to the song, I love the way the momentum of the song builds.

Just wondering, have you picked up the soundtrack to the film yet?

Howard, thanks! Not sure whether I'll get the soundtrack or DVD, which will be released later this month. (The soundtrack is only available as an "album" in iTunes.) Actually I am interested in exploring Frames stuff.

December 3, 2007

Clearwater Lobster Roll

While shopping at Whole Foods yesterday, I spied a small container (7 ounces) of frozen lobster meat (right next to the corn dogs). On impulse I threw it in the cart, even though there was no price on it, along with a package of hot dog buns. The last time I made a lobster roll at home I used actual lobsters, but I thought if I could make a decent lobster roll from this frozen stuff, it would help get me through the winter. The lobster is from Nova Scotia, packed by Clearwater. The package was really too small to make two rolls, but we stretched it to make two. I surgically altered the hot dog buns so we could grill them.

Frankfurter bun with trimmed crust

Trimming the crusts off these ordinary hot dog buns transforms them into New England top-split style. Sort of.

Clearwater’s lobster meat was good quality, tender, and flavorful, but the texture wasn’t as perfect as lobster that has never been frozen (we thawed the meat in cold water per the package directions). I used a little too much lemon juice as well. The buns were a little denser and less tender than the cottony stuff you get in Maine and didn’t grill as well. The finished rolls were satisfying, but nothing amazing. Considering the price of the lobster—a staggering $23—I doubt I will be doing this again soon. I justified the extravagance by reminding myself that that’s about what two rolls would cost in Maine. I conveniently chose to ignore that these were meager rolls of only middling quality.

Lobster roll made with Clearwater lobster

The finished roll was decent, but no more than a faint echo of the best in Maine. It’s going to be a long winter.


When am I coming over!

Not until I source some better ingredients. I would never serve a lobster roll of such mediocre quality to guests. But thanks for your interest! That might make an interesting MealToday.

December 1, 2007

Not Quitting My Day Job Just Yet

Just got an email from Google about changes to their AdSense program, which only served to remind me to yank my AdSense ads. About a year ago, I signed up for Google AdSense and put ads on my five most popular pages (the lobster roll pages). I figured what the heck, it was worth a try. The results have been so pathetic, however, that I took them down. After 14,000 page impressions, those pages have only generated about $25. At the current rate, it would take another 3 years to get a check from Google (they won’t cut a check for less than $100). Naturally I am crushed to learn that I won’t be able to quit my day job just yet, but on the other hand it’s a relief that my life’s work is no longer sullied by commercial considerations. Besides, Google was basically getting those page impressions and click-throughs for free. I wonder how many other low-traffic sites there are displaying AdSense ads who will never see a nickel from Google.


$25? That's more than I expected when I (briefly) sampled AdSense. Never mind that you can't actually collect $25 - the fact that you made that much in theory is impressive enough ;)

Glad to hear I was doing well after all (I didn't have anyone to compare to). In that case, I think my relative "success" was due to the nature of those pages being devoted to one subject, so the ads served were very relevant to people reading the pages.