Jared E. Bendis

Misc

Photogrammetry & The Dijon Mourners: An Experiment

First, a quick shout out to Dr. Charlie Harper. I knew about photogrammetry before I met Charlie, but I never knew how to make it work right. His thorough understanding of the process, his ongoing assistance, and his offhand comments about looking backwards into previous data-sets made this project possible. (Apparently he approves of this endorsement and would like to see it on all article introductions.)

A look back in time.

In 2005, my boss at Case Western Reserve University sold me half time to the Cleveland Museum of Art as their Virtual Reality Specialist.  For 2 years I had a lot of fun working on cultural objects. While at the Museum I produced a stereoscopic art film about a piece of art (alas in SD), an experimental HD stereoscopic rig, an autostereoscopic visualization (3D without the glasses) of a French table fountain, and a hologram. An honest to goodness hologram – produced by a holographer from turntable data taken in 1/3 degree increments.  Again – I had a lot of fun.

Jump ahead to 2010. My former boss at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Len Steinbach, contacted me about a freelance project.  The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon was about to start renovations and it was suggested that since the alabaster sculptures that surround the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy would have to be de-installed, that the sculptures might go on tour. Before they were to go on tour they wanted to produce a high-tech VR gallery of the mourners and I was hired to create VR photo objects of the sculptures.  Even though the sculptures would tour the US, for various reasons it was easier to fly me (and my gear) to France and do the shoot in the museum itself (which was the Duke’s castle!).

This was a very precision shoot. Each mourner was shot under studio lighting which was coordinated by their in-house photographer François Jay (who was awesome).  This is turntable photography and each mourner was shot in 5 degree increments from 5 different views (above, below, and 3 head on). This resulted in 360 21MP photos in camera raw for each mourner. 39 mourners * 360 photos = 14,000+ photos (in 3 days).

The photos were turned into a series of interactive objects. You could spin, zoom, change views, even view them in anaglyph (red/blue) 3D.  The objects were all put together in an amazing website designed by Rory Matthews. You could navigate around the cloisters and even download any view in full/high resolution (for non-profit use). (Which is what makes the rest of my story kosher).

As projects go I am very proud. Yes, a lot of it is in Adobe Flash, but back then you really had no choice.

A working sample of one of the original mourner objects can be found here:
http://jaredjared.com/vr/mourner/mourner.html

This project was VERY well received.  The tour was amazing (I even got to go to the opening at the Met in New York) and everyone who reviewed the project loved both the physical and the digital aspects of it.  I presented on it several times and Len even wrote an article about it for Curator: The Museum Journal.

Now the sad story.

I don’t know who to blame (and blaming anyone wouldn’t help anyways)  but the digital side of things were not well cared for.  Almost everyone I worked with on the project was a freelancer (myself included) and so a lot of things got lost in the shuffle of “who was supposed to do what” after the fact.  Len, had purchased several domain names: mourners.org, mourners.com, themourners.com, some variants in French etc. It is exactly what you are supposed to do – it makes it easier to find. The problem is that no one (of the many organizations) renewed the domain names and one by one each domain name was lost (snatched/stolen) until all that was left was mourners.org.  After I found out it had been lost, I contacted the owners of mourners.com and they tried to sell it to me for $50,000. This means most of the articles online about the project are now pointing to bad URLs (specifically themourners.org). Thankfully, mourners.org is still online.

And then someone moved servers.  We don’t know how or why but when the website was moved from one server to another it broke. Rory was freelance, I was freelance.  We offered to help but everyone said they would take care of it themselves – and 8 years later it is still broken. It is a big disappointment. That’s why I keep a working sample of one mourner on my site.

On a different front, a selection of the data had been packed and submitted to ArtStor.  For some reason they have it listed as a project but it has been in a pending state since 2010.
http://internal.artstor.org/what-is-artstor/w-html/col-mourners.shtml

OK – enough sad stuff.  These remarks are not meant to embarrass or shame anyone. This isn’t news. The ArtStor link is public, the missing URLs are public, the broken website is public. In reality it was just a perfect storm of institutional bad timing and bad luck. I would love to see the data brought back to its full glory and if the resources or the institutional desire to make this happen are brought to bear I am standing by!

Luckily, I have all the data and as long as I am working on non-profit research projects I am allowed to play (again it says so on the website).

So it is 2018 and I am working on some experiments with Charlie in photogrammetry and he asks me if I have any older data sets of sculptural things that might be good to test with? And I was like – DO I?

I started with Mourner 44 because it is a simpler model. Nothing too crazy sticking out or around. I only used 3 of the 5 data sets because 5 degrees around the center should be enough that I wouldn’t need the extra 2 orbits around the center that we used for the stereoscopic version.

It’s a long process.  It takes a while for that many photos to load and process.  A day for the rough alignment, a week for the high resolution model. This is intensive stuff and it is NOT automatic.

First you load all of the photos into Agisoft Photoscan.

I could have loaded the 3 datasets in different chunks but I opted to do them all at once.

If you do it right then you will see the cameras positioned where they were in space.  If you are moving around an item it will align both the foreground and the background, so before you move on you want to get rid of that background data so you are working on the object not the object AND the room. Since I was using a turntable I had to make sure that the software didn’t align to the background. When that happens all of the cameras show up at the same spot – the model turns into noise – and you get a perfect model of the wall behind you!

Luckily we had the proper lighting and backdrops and the software distributed the cameras perfectly around the object.

At this point I needed to remove the outlier data. Charlie came in and showed me how to keep the reliable vs. the unreliable points mathematically. This is something I would never have done on my own as it felt like I was throwing away data. I wasn’t – I was throwing away noise.  I then hand removed the big strays, the chunks of points outside of my model or at the fringes of my model. It’s tedious but straightforward. The last selection I did was by color where I was able to select data points that didn’t “look” like my sculpture and trim them away as well.

With this new cleaned up data I was able to tweak my camera alignment and then ask it to create a “dense cloud” – there are of course parameters (thank you Charlie). This took a week. My computer is top of the line, crazy video card, crazy memory card, tons of ram, SSD drive.  A week!

It looks like a 3d model but it isn’t – it is just a very dense data cloud.

The “dense cloud” is then converted into a mesh, decisions of course are made into how to deal with holes and more parameters. This only took several hours.

This mesh can viewed as a surface with or without color.

But if you want it to look awesome – you have to build a texture – more time – more parameters.

Holy moly! I have a 3D object! It’s a mourner.

I have this awesome OBJ file with texture.

Now what do I do with it?

I wanted to make one – physically.

When preprocessing anything for the “physical world”. I use Autodesk’s Netfabb:
https://www.autodesk.com/products/netfabb/overview

With it, I can load the model, rotate scale, fix errors in the mesh, and all sorts of things.

The first thing I did was to stand it straight and then create a box and subtract it from the base to make sure I had a flat bottom.

I export this model as an STL and I am ready to print.

The first one I made was going to be small (just a few inches) – actual size is 16″ tall!

While Netfabb prepares my models but I use Simplify3D to prepare the object for my 3D printer:
https://www.simplify3d.com/

Simplify3D allows me precise control of everything you can imagine, supports, infill, temperate(s), raft etc. It makes all the difference in getting the most out of your 3D printer.

Also I like printing in a PLA wood filament. Very easy to play with after:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1192382-REG/afinia_af_pla_1_75_250_wood_specialty_pla_filament_1_75.html
https://www.amazon.com/HATCHBOX-1-75mm-3D-Printer-Filament/dp/B01092XXD4/

I print on a FlahForge Creator Pro. It is a dual extruder unit but the wood filament is a pretty good support and breaks way nicely.

Small cute and effective.

Voila!

I was going to print a bigger one on an industrial printer at thinkBox (The University’s Center for Innovation) but solid it would have been thousands of dollars and even hollow it was going to be between $500 and $900. (Netfabb can the hollow model / shell for you which is cool).

Instead I opted to print it on my own 3D printer in 4 sections and then glue, fill, and paint.

The head took 8.5 hours and 37m of filament, the torso – 18 hours and 80m, the legs 13.5 hours and 58m, and the feet 17.5 hours and 75m. This used a honeycomb infill.

Total for this model: 57.5 hours and 250m of filament (which is around $40).

There was some pullaway at one corner of the base, so each piece isn’t as flush to the others as I would have hoped. I used a wood glue and some wood fill to create the solid model.

I then primed and painted it with acrylic.

Voila & Voila!

Last year as a retirement present for a friend and coworker, my boss asked me to 3D print a bust of JS Bach. I thought I could do something more artistic and instead sliced the model into thin sheets which I laser cut and assembled. (I did all of this at thinkBox).

I now own a laser cutter at home and decided I wanted to do this process again. The cutter is a Glowforge and it is amazing:
https://glowforge.com/

First, I to decide on the materials I am going to use.  The thinner the slices the higher the “resolution” of the final model – but the more you have to cut. I found a very inexpensive 2.6mm wood veneer at home depot.  I had them cut it into 19.5″ wide strips which is all I need because the laser cutter has a pass through.

In Netfabb I scale the model to the right size and then slice it to the correct thickness.

Before I do that I add (well subtract) from the model two 1/4″ by 1/4″ rectangular prisms (not shown in the previous image). These small square holes are placed to run strategically through the entire model as close to the top as possible – but not all the way. I later use 1/4″ square steel rods as an armature to align and hold it together through these holes.

From Netfabb I export a zip file of DXF files.  Each DXF file I then load in Adobe Illustrator. When the file is imported it asks how to scale it: 25.4 units = 1 inch keeps everything scaled properly from Netfabb to Illustrator (which is mm to inches).

I arrange the shapes into sheets (as large as the Glowforge bed) as many as I could cram on (and in order). With the Bach I engraved numbers on each slice. This took hours to add and added hours to the cut. Instead I just quickly wrote on each slice with a pen as it came off the laser cutter.

Many cuts later….

It is very spongy. I pushed down on the slices to figure out the most amount of metal I would need and still be most of the way up the head. I then marked it, removed all of the wood slices from the metal, and cut the metal with a Dremel.

I also laser cut a base with deep holes cut into it to hold the metal armature.

I then put the cut end into the base (so I wouldn’t have to worry about burrs) and then stacked it back up – gluing along the way – touch a touch of wood glue).

Cleaning the edges of the wood can be tricky. Some use acetone or alcohol. I often use fast orange hand cleaner. For this model I used a little steel brush and some fast orange wipes because I planned on painting it. I wanted something closer in color to the original. Also from experience I knew I couldn’t get the entire thing FLAT FLAT unless I clamped and cleaned up the squeezed out glue non-stop.  Instead the paint would fill some gaps for me just like with the 3D printed version seen here unpainted.

Painted the laser cut slices and the 3D print.

Now I have 3 copies. Voila, Voila, & Voila!

I had an idea about doing a clear version. But instead of tightly arranging the slices on the laser cutter I was going to create a rectangle around each slice. This would allow me to cut 2 at once, both a positive and a negative shape.  In Netfabb I subtracted my model from a larger rectangular prism (creating a giant hollow) and sliced it thinner (to match my clear plexi – I used the good optically clear plexi $$). I didn’t add the alignment holes because I didn’t want a bar to be visible running inside.

This took a lot of plexi. Home Depot doesn’t cut your giant sheets of plexi for you. I did find however that per square foot it was cheaper to buy the 48×36″ sheets instead of the 48×96″ sheets.

Also, all I needed to do was to cut each 48″x36″ sheet in half and I would have 48″x18″ which I can run through the cutter. Lots of scoring and snapping later and I was ready to laser cut.

The model assembled beautifully. I made a few mistakes in illustrator – I printed a few extra slices  and then later shuffled a few and had to reprint the head – but in plexi everything was gorgeous.

Now I would have to align everything permanently. I created a jig which I could lay on top of each slice (both outside and inside still together) and then added 2 dots with a black sharpie so I could align them later. I used the same spot the metal bars went through.

In my initial tests it looked like both the glue and the sharpie wouldn’t be visible.

It took an hour or so to mark all 175 sheets.

However at certain angles you can see a blue line running through the plexi (which is still cool). I should have used 4 pinholes.

I was going to weld each sheet using acrylic weld but I am allergic to a lot of chemicals and instead opted to use a super glue gel. (The aftermath of which was me being deathly ill for 2 days anyways). The gluing went well, you can’t see it from the side. But several slices weren’t as flat as they needed to be and the adhesive just wouldn’t work.  For those few spots I used a clear epoxy (more death for me) and that explains the duller lines you see on some of the slices because – they just don’t lay as flat.

The negative space model is amazing. But I am afraid to glue it, so for now it is just a careful stack. I created 5 sides of plexi which I used scotch tape to hold as a sort of box until the weather turns nice enough outside to play with the acrylic weld.

Next time I am going to cut things out of a circle!

So 5 copies in 3 materials!

But wait there is more!

And in a future post I will discuss how we got the object to work in augmented reality with HP Reveal, augmented reality again with the Microsoft Hololens, back on the web using HTML5, and a few other interesting output techniques!

Hope you enjoyed.

One last note: Take this all with a grain of salt. This is just how I do it – or did it – this time. I am sure there are better ways – there are always better ways and I appreciate learning new things as I go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jared’s 2016 Holiday Gift Guide!

Back by popular demand – Jared’s favorite holidays toys for 2016!

Some are new releases – some are classics and some are just great gift giving opportunities.

Jared’s 2013 Holiday Gift Guide

Back by popular demand – my favorite holidays toys for 2013.  Some are new releases – some are classics and just great gift giving opportunities.  I try and indicate along the way if I own the item (or one similar).  Enjoy!

The Robotic Pet

So 2013 is the year of the Robotic pet and I own all of them. The Zoomer Pet Dalmatian – is very interesting – recharges via USB – responds to voice commands and moves very organically.  As robotic pets go this is pretty fun.  The cats don’t approve because it is like a real animal. The Tekno Robotic Puppy – is very different than the Zoomer and probably for a younger audience.  Uses batteries and feel much more robotic.  It can do an amazing flip and has an app for control of many features.  So you really have to decide if you want more of dog or an RC toy.  And while 2012 brought us the New Furby – 2013 has brought the even newer Furby Boom! They are fun – crazy – chaotic and now they sort of even have an off switch – if you hold the tail yanked they fall asleep. They come in many flavors so you need to find the right one – the smart phone app takes it into an entire new realm of toy.

 

Portable Gaming

For portable gaming I am a big fan of the Nintendo 3DS XL.  It is fun, flexible, big enough to see and also has the cool 3D without the glasses thing going on (which you can turn off).  I have played with it but do not own one (it’s on my wishlist). And it really is for all ages.  However, new for 2013 is the NVIDIA Shield (I have one). This is a 16GB Android Tablet with a 5″ 720p horizontal display with a built in controller for all your hardcore gaming needs. There aren’t a lot of games for it – yet – but it also allows gamers to stream their desktop video games to this device using an NVIDIA video card. If you are a PC gamer this is a must item to check out!

Console Games

Good luck getting your hands on either the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4 – the hottest new consoles for 2013.  They are more than just for gaming and are really your one stop for all media.  Of course the Ninetndo Wii-U is easier to find – because no one wants one – sorry Ninentdo. But don’t fret – the ultimate in video game technology is cheap and fun and ready for purchase – The X-Arcade Tankstick.  It has 2 joysticks, buttons, and a trackball that plugs into your computer (or with optional accessories ANY console). To give you a real arcade gaming feel.  Don’t own one yet – but I want one!

Food Technology

I don’t need it but I want it – (and probably won’t use it) but the SodaStream thing seems fun (and also messy) – I don’t want to use their syrups – I want to make my own. I own this Cotton Candy machine  and it is crazy fun – it is a party in a box!  You can even use hard candy to create the cotton candy with and I have used Werther’s Originals, Root Beer Barrels, Lifesavers and more.  Great for all ages a MUST have for the holidays!  The Zoku Quick Pop maker just allows you to quick freeze any liquid in 7 minutes – a fun summer kitchen toy – oh wait it’s winter.  Well still I want one.  And how about going on a ‘flavor tripping’ part with some Miracle Berry Fruit tablets – they make sour things sweet!  Just a bit of fun.

Media Subscriptions

A gift that keeps on giving is a media subscription!

Everyone who gets it loves their Netflix – tons of movies and TV shows and it even allows multiple people per account:
https://signup.netflix.com/Gift

Hulu is great for current TV but you get a lot more (including the ability to stream to a device) with Hulu+. Please note – even with Hulu+ you have to watch commercials:
https://secure.hulu.com/plus/gifting

Amazon Prime has a variety of TV shows and movies (no commercials) but it doesn’t include everything that Amazon streams. It does come with free 2 night shipping and a very discounted overnight shipping on a lot of Amazon shopping so it is a great service:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/prime/pipeline/prime_gifting_landing/

TV Toys

I love TV. All of these devices do the same thing but slightly differently.  They stream movies to your TV.  All three work with Netflix and Hulu+ but…  The Roku allows for other channels like HBO and VUDU (if you use those services).  Chromecast streams from a connected device so you need a tablet or computer (which usually isn’t a problem).  And Apple TV kinda does both – works stand alone for Netflix and Hulu+ (and iTunes) but also can stream/clone your iPad or Macbook.  If you are a Macbook user this is awesome – press a button and your TV is your computer.  Remember – a lot of smart TVs already have this functionality so ask yourself what you need and what you are getting. All three are cool.

Smart Watches

Don’t be fooled – smart watches are not ready for prime time yet – but… for $150 the Pebble Watch is a nice add on to your smart phone.

Camera Fun

Digital cameras are everywhere and cheap.  So instead of suggesting the best digital camera I wanted to share some fun ones that I own and use.  The Lytro is the camera where you focus AFTER you take the picture.  You don’t buy it to print – you buy it to post nifty interactive photos online.  The software keeps improving and it really is a fun toy.  The Pivothead Durango is a great set of wraparound sunglasses with an HD video camera and a 8MP still camera built in.  I had prescription lenses put in mine – love it – travel all over the world in them.  And of course the darling of mini video cameras is the GoPro – high resolution – high frame rates – lots of ways of wearing it (check out the chest or helmet attachments) – it is for more than just extreme sports.  Comes with a remote but you can also control from your smart phone.

Tablets

This year isn’t just about tablets  – it is about the smaller 7″ tablets with high resolution displays.  I love the iPad Mini but you can’t go wrong with a Kindle Fire HD or even the Nexus 7.  Don’t just shop by price – shop by function: which software will you want to run and will it run on that device?

Crazy Big Presents

I love my toys – and these are the crazy big ones – and I own all three.  The DJI Phantom is the fun and easy to use quadcopter that really packs a punch.  Goes very well with a GoPro camera.  If you want to start in the 3D printing world – I say jump in with a Makerbot Replicator 2 (sure the 2x has more features – but it is harder to use) – and the Makerbot Digitizer which keeps getting better and better – the new software allows for multiple passes and is the perfect compliment to any 3D printer.

There ya go – my top tech suggestions for 2013! Did I miss anything – email me and I might just add it to the list – Jaredx2@gmail.com!

Living in the Digital Age: Course Materials

For the course Living in the Digital Age – you will need to purchase a Paperback book and the new “2013” Furby Boom.

Please read carefully…

Purchase the book House of Danger in PRINTDo NOT purchase the eBook Version and do NOT read the book ahead of time.

 

Purchase a NEW 2013 Furby Boom – pick the one you list best.  Do not Purchase a 2012 Furby or  Furby Party Rocker – these are different!
Do not put batteries in them or play with them yet – do not read about the Furby or research how it works yet – do not install the Furby app!

(There are other Furby Booms on Amazon or you can purchase from your local Walmart or Target – just be sure it s a BOOM)

Jared’s 2012 Holiday Tech Gift Guide!

Jared’s Ultimate Top Tech Holiday Gift Guide – 2012

Back by popular request – Jared’s top 10 holiday tech toy presents.

It is the 2012 holiday present – the new Furby – sure some think they are creepy looking but these new versions can interact with an iOS app and get a distinct personality based on how you raise it! It’s more than a present its a long term commitment!  OWN IT!
I have an Apple TV (and I love it) but the Roku2 HS does what it can’t – it has 1080p and can stream Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Vudu (and Ultraviolet movies), HBO2GO, Epix and more – it even plays Angry Birds! OWN IT!
Kindle Fire HD! It reads books, plays movies, and has apps – easy to use, perfect size and a great price. OWN IT!
The Ultimate Harry Potter Box set, DVD, Bluray, & Streaming Copies!  I put this under tech toys because unlike many other box sets it includes the Ultraviolet streaming copies and that means I can stream them from anywhere and even download them.
The best point and shoot 3D camera on the market – easy to use – and it has a built in 3d screen on the back. It even shoots 3D movies.   OWN IT!
LG has a new line of 3D TVs that use passive (not shutter) glasses. Technically the resolution is less (because it uses half the resolution for each eye) but the glasses are really cheap so that an entire family can afford to watch at one time. This is the 42″ model (Personally I want the 55″ or larger).
Not just for using your phone out in the cold – these gloves allow you to use your iPad without getting fingerprints all over the screen! OWN IT!
The ultimate it camera gadgets – you focus after you shoot. It changes what photography is and the software just keeps getting better! OWN IT!
1080p video recording in your sunglasses – the quality is great and it is easy to use – I even had prescription lenses put in mine! OWN IT!
Nothing is more fun than chasing your cat or dog around the house with an app controlled rover that has a built in video camera. It is major fun. OWN IT!

Summer Course at CWRU: Multimedia 1

I am pleased to announce that this summer I am teaching an intensive multimedia course through the Art Studio department at Case Western Reserve University. This 3 credit course ARTS 350/450 takes place Mon, Tue, Wed, & Thurs Evenings (5pm-8pm) from  June 4 – July 6 (with no class the week of June 11-14 or on July 4) in the Kelvin Smith Library.

In this course you will learn Photoshop – it is a baptism of fire to be sure – but when you are done I promise all fear of Photoshop will be gone.  We also produce a “How To” video using Adobe Premiere Elements.

Tuition in the summer is half-off! More information on how to enroll can be found here:
http://www.cwru.edu/academics/summer/

Spread the word and tell your friends!

In defense of the Trump Brothers Hunting Trip

It takes a lot to get me to write one of these but I’ve been watching all this vitriol pour out again on the net towards Trump’s sons and their hunting trip.

I’ve spent the last week grading papers in which my students had to talk about an issue of privacy or piracy.  The reason I make them write about this topic is that everyone has a feeling or an opinion but few can truly express in words or in logic what it is they mean and then to truly defend their position.

Let’s cut through all the emotions and look at this clearly.  Two brothers went on vacation, signed up for an ‘experience’ package, broke no laws, and had photos taken.

So what are they being accused of?

Animal Cruelty.  They killed animals.  Is it murder? No – because the animals weren’t people.  Was it poaching? No – because it was legal to kill where they killed and what they killed.  Was it hunting? Sure. You can argue how “challenging” it was but that’s something else entirely.  People go hunting in overpopulated areas or in stocked lakes when they know they will catch something.  We don’t get angry at fisherman.  We don’t get angry at most hunting.  If the Trumps had gone somewhere in the mountains and hunted deer – would there be this uproar?

What’s the difference between this and going deer hunting?  And again – let’s stop – if you find yourself equally angry at them if they had gone deer hunting then say that.  Say “I don’t like people who like to go hunting”.  The rest of the situation is irrelevant to you.  They went hunting – you don’t approve. I get it.  That’s a fine argument.  It’s a fine opinion.

So we continue.  What’s the difference between this and going deer hunting? It cost a lot of money.  That’s one issue.  Clearly this is a luxury thing.  And for some people the argument is “These people have too much money and shouldn’t be wasting it.”  Its a fine argument. But it is their money and they can spend it how they like.  Rich people can do rich people things.  I am not rich but I am sure a lot of people judge me on how I spend my money.  And they shouldn’t.  The Trumps have a lot of money and I would be offended if they weren’t out there enjoying themselves with it.  So – you don’t like rich people?  Say that.  I get it.  That’s a fine argument.  It’s a fine opinion.

But the animals are exotic/cute/endangered etc?  There is no question that for some seeing dead animals is difficult.  I lost my 19 year old cat 2 weeks ago and when she finally passed they asked if I wanted to stay with her a while. I said no. She was gone and I wasn’t going to hug and cry over her corpse.  It was a personal decision.  I don’t think hunters are sociopaths.  If I thought hunters were sociopaths I would have to think that all carnivores are.  I eat meat.  I have a hand in the death of the cow.  No I didn’t kill it myself – but I’ve killed and gutted a fish.  And when I reeled it in – I was excited – but I wasn’t in a frenzied blood lust.  There was a physical and mental challenge and I was caught up in that moment – not in the spiritually life ending murderous rampage that people are accusing them of.  (If the Trump boys are indeed sociopaths then you should be glad that these outlets exist for them. And if you don’t get that this last sentence was a joke then I plead you to stop reading.)  People are protesting that they wouldn’t kill a leopard.  I get it.  And you didn’t. No one is accusing you of killing one.  They admit they did it.  What don’t you like about it? That it is pretty? That is is rare?  It’s not a threatened or endangered animal.  Just because you wouldn’t do it – doesn’t make it wrong.  Even their father made basically the same argument.  People do have a right to live their lives the way they want – even if it offends you.

Then there is the elephant tail picture.  I don’t argue with PETA or side with PETA – ever – they are crazy – we know they are crazy – they know they are crazy.  But this picture shocks a lot of people.  Several years ago I was in Cameroon and when I came back I gave several talks about my time there.  While I was waiting to give one of these talks people were giving me deadly stares and really upset looks.  Why? Because I was wearing traditional Cameroonian ceremonial dress.  You could feel their venom.  How dare I?  And then I played the video.  The video of the local King in front of hundreds of people putting this garment on me.  Commanding me to wear it in pride and to go home and tell others about his people and my experience.  You want the world to be smaller you have to live in it.  If the custom was to hold the elephant tail – then you do it.  Going along with it is the right thing to do – in fact – that part of the story is what makes it have heart.  It wasn’t about pulling a trigger and walking away – it was about having a cultural experience.  At this point you can argue that you wouldn’t want that experience.  Fine.  You can argue that the world is full of backwards traditions and practices – and while it might be true – they are fewer than you think.  I get it – you are shocked and offended first and calmed and informed later.  Most people don’t get to the second half.  How many people bothered to look up what that tradition was before they condemned it? Because now you aren’t talking about the Trump brothers – now you are talking about being offended by another culture or that they wanted to take part of another culture. How small minded is that?

The meat didn’t go to waste.  That’s a point of protocol. And again they are being harassed for it!  People are saying that those people didn’t want the meat or if you really cared about them you would have just given them money.  How dare you? It’s not your or my place to tell these guys how to spend their money. It’s THEIR money.  I’m sorry you don’t like that they are rich. Let’s be really practical here – for most people complaining the fact that they went on vacation was wasteful itself.  That’s not right.  They stimulated the local economy.  You might not like it but they did.  I have traveled all around the world and trust me – people want your business.  And more often than not – people wanted my business NOT my handouts.

And they took photos.  And yes – we all have to admit this is terrible PR.  No one should have seen these photos.  And who posted them? The photos were from the travel company – and the stupid macho slogans bantered around are from the travel company.  Do you really want people judging you by accusing you with the slogans of the products you use?  The Trump brothers didn’t come out and do a commercial – we don’t have video of them acting the fool here and being all gun crazed yee-haw nuts.  As a photographer and a traveler the reality was probably a lot more sedate (and at times more chaotic).

Before I wrote this I reminded myself of the old axiom: “Never argue with an idiot.  They drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

And then I read this tweet by Donald Trump Jr.: “I don’t apologize to cater to public opinion when I did nothing wrong. To do so would be to sell myself out.”

Amen.

 

 

Goodbye Puppycat

Today was a very sad day.  I had to put Puppycat, my 19 year old Siamese, to sleep.

We came home last night to find her in front of her water bowl unable to move and soaked in her own urine. It was sad to see her suffer and not how I want to remember her.

19 years ago…

My friend Barbara told me her landlord said she couldn’t keep her Siamese kitten Tasha.  Even though she was just a kitten Barbara was already her second owner.  The original owner was very wealthy and paid $1,000 for her and had her 4 paw de-clawed (which I know is cruel and they missed a single claw) and then decided she didn’t want her anymore and gave her to Barbara.

I had played with Tasha a bunch of times and I always thought she was cute.  When Barbara told me she needed to find a home for her I asked my girlfriend Suzanne if she knew a good home and Suzanne suggested that I take her (which it turns out was what Barbara wanted as Tasha was only ever nice to me).

I never meant to ‘rename’ Tasaha but I started to call her Puppycat and it stuck.

She was a very unusual cat.  She never cleaned herself, she never covered her litter, she would burn her whiskers in candles.  The vet said that she had instinct problems because she was taken away from her mother to early and was mildly retarded.  That aside she was loving and clever – sure she ran away from the litter box every times she pooped but she came when called and was always there when I needed her.

She also knew she had that single claw.  She would come at you with it if she needed to.  When she first went into heat she was crazy and when I took to get her fixed they agreed to remove the last claw.  The vet was very nice and told me that the first vet was a butcher and he removed bone fragments from all four paws.  It left with her one flabby paw – she would nurse that paw and hated anyone touching it.  After that though she became a biter – she would warn before she bit – and she would bite very deep – it was the only way she knew how to express herself.  She never really bit me – but then again – I was the only one she every really liked.

For 19 years she was my loving companion.  She would often play with other cats and she came to tolerate the dog (who really wanted to be her friend) but I think Junior is going to miss her most of all. When we got Junior (my Manx) as a kitten, Puppycat really changed and her maternal instincts kicked in.  Puppycat started to groom Junior (though still not herself) and the two wrestled and cuddled every night.

We all have stories about our pets.  I could tell the story about the time I took her to the mall in a bag, the time she tore open a friend of mine’s bag and ate all his pot, the time she knocked over my friends 5 year old little boy and stole his pizza, or that she would play with a ball of yarn so fiercely that she would tie the chairs to the table.

Her last few years have been quiet ones.  She spent most of her time sleeping on the ottoman and playing with Junior.  I had hoped she would die in her sleep and putting her down was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

Goodbye Puppycat

From Castle to Castle: Ireland episodes 1 and 2

I am pleased to announce that today I posted 2 episodes of From Castle to Castle: Ireland – Day 1
(This is a re-cut of the previously released episode 1)

From Castle to Castle: Ireland – Episode 01 (Day 1)

From Castle to Castle: Ireland – Episode 02 (Day 1)

These 2 episodes chronicle the first of my 12 days hunting castles in Ireland in 2003. This was killer low budget (don’t full screen it) and it represents my first time in front of a video camera (as well as simultaneously behind it). No mics, no lights, no crew just a video camera, a still camera, and a killer mullet. Some fun/weird things happen in future episodes and I think these set the tone for what I will be doing in future episodes.

Enjoy

And here are some great castle resources!

 

The Film Broke!

A strange thing happened last night at the movies.

The film broke.

I haven’t seen anything like it in so long that at first we all thought it was part of the movie – the pause of the film and then the burning of the frame until the screen was a pure white.
I kept having flashes of The Muppet Movie. But after a few moments we all realized that the film had gotten stuck and melted.

So we waited. About 2 minutes later the lights turned on.
No one came out to say anything and we just waited realizing that if the lights were on that someone knew what was happening and probably splicing the film.

We waited.

About 5 minutes later – the lights when ALL the way on and a manager (and a security guard) came in to tell us that they would not be able to repair the film and that if we would leave the theater he would be giving us replacement passes.

So we left and he handed us each a movie pass.

We were at most 5 minutes from the end of the film. I don’t know how it ends (well it was J Edgar so I do know how it ends) but I don’t care to sit through the entire film again to see the ending.

As a regular of the theater I told another manager that this wasn’t acceptable – it wasn’t enough. They ruined my evening – they didn’t get that – sure I got my ticket money back – but what about my time (or my popcorn) or my general disappointment. Was I going to blow this pass on a movie I had already seen most of and didn’t want to sit though again? She said that later in the week I could come back and just pop in to see the ending. This was nice and I might do that but what about everyone else? What about the fact that the free movie ticket was done to make them feel better – to scrape by with the least amount of effort.

No one left that theater happy.

And when the manager brought security with him to inform us we needed to leave – he knew it too.

He just didn’t care.

Shame on them.

JaredJared

I have moved!  I am now blogging directly from JaredJared.com!