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While I was at my mother’s she mentioned that she had a whole lot of slides she didn’t know what to do with. We had a good time one day looking at all them with a little hand-held viewer that used to belong to my grandfather and that I’ve hung onto for years. I was thrilled to see some photos I’ve been looking for for ages. When I was about twelve or thirteen, my grandfather gave me his old rangefinder camera.  Few people these days are familiar with rangefinders. They are a mirrorless camera usually designed for thirty-five millimeter film. It looks like a single lens reflex camera but it’s not quite as heavy. It was completely manual. Cameras with auto-focus lenses were only just  beginning to be produced for the general public at that time and I didn’t know anyone who had them and wouldn’t for a number of years yet. In a rangefinder, you don’t see directly through the lens. Like in the old 110 or 126 film formats, the image you see is slightly above and to the left of the image that will be exposed to the film. For shots that are far away, if barely matters, but for close-up shots it’s good to bear that in mind. In the center of the viewfinder, you see a double image, and when the image is united it is in focus. They’re considered more difficult to use than an SLR, but some years later I would buy a manual focus Nikon SLR when the film advance stopped working and I didn’t find it easier to use at all. The old camera was made by a company I’d never heard of, Aries, but it took beautiful pictures.

She took the slides to a photo store and was told that it would cost five dollars each to scan them. I found some less expensive places online, but that involved sending them off somewhere. So I got the idea in my head to buy a little film-to-digital converter. Since I have slides of my own, I figured this would be useful. I’m ambivalent about the purchase. I find the quality of the scanned images to be quite low. This might not be much of a problem for some “snapshots,” but it’s a little disappointing for some of my juvenile photography efforts. I believe Andy Warhol said, “My idea of a perfect photo is one that is in focus and of a famous person.” I think it might be hard for people today to realize that prior to auto-focus systems developing the skill of getting things in focus and getting the exposure correct was more of a challenge than it would become. So the low quality of the scanning is a little disappointing for me.

For my early efforts my poor sister was often pressed into service as the subject matter. Pretend she’s someone famous.

I can tell this is one of my "artistic" efforts by the low focal point.

I can tell this is one of my “artistic” efforts by the low vantage point.

A teenage girl on a bicycle.

So seventies! She bought this t-shirt in 1979. Those shorts, by the way, are terry cloth. That was a thing back then, a thing I nearly forgot. Yes, the brief fad of terry cloth jogging shorts.

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Spiky leaves on a bush.

Instead of doing the reading I intended to do on freedom of speech, I went down a rabbit hole during the past week. Despite my affection for animals, I’ve always ignored animal advocacy groups and animal welfare groups. Mainly, it stems from my tendency to back away from people who are too fervent about anything. PeTA puts up an ad with a naked woman, feminists start screaming and, despite liking animals and despite considering myself a feminist, I think to myself, “Didn’t you want to read In Search of Lost Time in French? Yes, you did.”

So it was surprising to me to learn that there’s an entire world of Pit Bull advocates, some of whom are dogfighters, animal hoarders posing as animal rescue groups, and a very large animal rights organization that was founded by a cult which insists that it’s not Satanic because Satan was only one of four deities they worshiped. You can’t make this up.

I’ve also started following a course through Coursera.

Oh, yeah, there’s actually a “Nigerian Puppy Scam.”