I was recently playing around with Photoshop’s Content-Aware fill, trying to replace a drab Chicago sky with something more interesting on a phot of the 1929 Carbide & Carbon Building (now in the process of being renovated to the Pendry Chicago Hotel) and accidentally made this piece of abstract architectural art:
Last year, I wrote about a small photo EXIF data viewer I’d built. Unfortunately, I hadn’t really given the project much thought since then, especially since it was written to run on Windows and late last year, I switched back to MacOS.
Recently, however, i’ve been toying with idea of porting it to MacOS, especially since Microsoft’s Xamarin lets you write .NET code and compile it with MacOS as the target OS. However, to do so, I needed to rewrite for the Windows platform.
The first problem is that the original was written in Visual Basic.NET, which is great for rapidly-building applications, but is not a modern language and is on its way to being deprecated by Microsoft.
The second problem, and this is somewhat-embarassing considering that I’m a software development manager and solutions architect at my day job, but the application was poorly-built (I threw it together in a couple of hours). No modularity. No proper design patterns. Logic intermingled with UI. Lots of global variables.
So, to port to MacOS via Xamarin, I’d need to rewrite the code in C# (since VB.NET isn’t supported) and I’d need to make it more modular, so that the processing/backend was abstracted away from the user interface. This way, I could use the codebase that extracts the EXIF data in my Mac version without modification and will only need to build the UI elements for MacOS.
At any rate, I’ve started making my first stabs at writing the Mac version, but until then, the Windows version is available on GitHub here. You can download the installer here.
I welcome feedback, contributions and pull requests!
For the last couple of years, I’ve been undertaking the arduous task of digitizing the thousands of slides and negatives that I inherited from my father. While they are mostly treasured family memories and reminders of great days gone by, there are the occasional photos that pop up where I say to myself “Why did you waste a shot on this?”
History lesson time for the kids: Before smartphones and digital cameras, we had to use film to take photos (the hipster kids will already know this). So, you only got, typically, 24 or 36 photos per roll of film and you had to pay and wait to actually see them. So, unlike today where you’re really only limited in how many photos you can take by your device’s memory or battery, back then, you were limit by cost (initial purchase of film and, once you’ve used it, developing and printing expenses) and by how much film you could carry—a bunch of film canisters could take up a lot of space!
That’s why when I’ve been going through these photos that my father took, I wonder what compelled him to take some of these photos.
So, for your enjoyment(?), here are a few that perplex me.
My “best guess” is that the first few are somehow related to my father’s work in the East Texas oilfields as these appear to be oil field service companies, though why he felt he needed photos of them is a secret that died with him.
The last, however, is perfectly obvious as to why he took it:
They misspelled their own company name on their own truck!
First, I want to apologize to my loyal readers for the unexpected break in posting over the last month. Unfortunately, my day job as a software architect meant that I was put on a project that consumed most of my free time. Free time where I would’ve normally been scanning ephemera and writing blog posts.
The lack of free time also meant that I didn’t have time to watch as many films as I am accustomed to. However, now that things have started to slow down, I’ve started consuming more feature-length medias (media? mediums?).
I was recently reminded of the Disney Channel…something I admit that I hadn’t really thought of in ages. Specifically, that it had launched in 1983 and we’d subscribed not too long after that when it was available in our town.
My memories of Disney Channel content in those early days consists mostly of shows that were aimed at kids younger than me, such as Welcome to Pooh Corner, which, despite its title, isn’t a show about perfectly position a cat box. I also have distinct memories of repeatedly watching The Black Hole and Tron.
One other film that they seemed to run a lot but that held no interest to my eight-year-old mind was Never Cry Wolf, based on the book of the same name about Farley Mowat spending time in far north Canada observing wolves and whether or not they were the cause of declining caribou populations.
Upon remembering this film, I decided that I should watch it to see if it was as disinteresting to me in my mid-Forties as it was when I was eight.
The weirdness for me came a couple of minutes in when I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu…a scene of the main character and narrator sitting outside a train station in the fictional (maybe?) town of Nuutsak (I’m assuming the spelling here, as it sounds like he’s saying “nutsack” but I have to assume that it’s an Inuit word rather than someone actually naming their town after scrotal slang) seemed strangely-familiar to me.
I was certain I’d seen that setting before. Not in another film, but in real-life. Considering it for a moment, it came clear in my mind…this was clearly filmed in the small Yukon town of Carcross…which I visited several years back while exploring the Klondike.
In fact, I have a photo from near that same vantage point:
To confirm my certainty, I enhanced and cropped the screencap above, and it’s clearly the same railroad bridge:
Things changed a bit between when the movie was filmed in 1982-ish and when I visited in 2013, but it’s interesting that the buildings in the background are still there, just maybe a bit-more-ramshackled.
Finding stuff like this is always a surprising treat when watching a movie or TV show. One thing my wife and I enjoy doing when there’s nothing else on TV late on Friday or Saturday nights is to find a channel running old Cheaters reruns. Since the show was primarily filmed in Dallas and we’ve lived in the Dallas area most of our lives, we love trying to figure out the locations.
A while back, I shared that I’d found a souvenir set of postcards from late 1930s Austin, Texas, amongst my grandparents’ cache o’ stuff.
One of the items in there was a postcard of the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium:
Which is a far cry from how it looks today:
(but it still has arches!)
Built in 1924 with a capacity of 27,000, Memorial Stadium was dedicated to the nearly 200,000 Texans who fought in the Great War (as it was called then, since WWII and the forthcoming WWIII hadn’t happened yet). Over the years, it was steadily expanded to today’s 100,000 fan capacity. And, in 1996, was renamed after legendary Longhorn coach Darrell K. Royal to “Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium”, which was confusing if you didn’t know the origin of the name as Royal was still very much alive at the time of the rename, but it sounded like it was a memorial to him.
It’s an impressive venue, for sure, but my favorite on the UT campus is the Frank Erwin Center, mainly because of its bizarre architecture (bizarchitecture?):
Built in 1977 in a modern style I like to call “Loganism” after the set design and locations in the classic sci-fi film Logan’s Run, I’ve always loved the way this edifice has loomed over I-35 as one drives through Austin.
Unfortunately, this fine building is being replaced with a new, less-bizarre structure, the Moody Center:
Light and airy, the Moody Center might be more-attractive to visitors, but it lacks the imposing presence of the Erwin Center. And I think that’s a loss. (My inability to visualize structures as people-friendly or approachable is probably part of the reason I dropped out of the architecture program in college in favor of computer science/engineering).
A weirdly-defining memory of my childhood was how much I hated watching the news. Every night, my parents would turn on the news and I’d hate it. It wasn’t entertaining to five-year-old me. It had no relevance…I was too young to understand that whatever was happening outside my immediate surroundings affected others and could, potentially, affect me. It was boring.
Ronald Reagan shot? Wall-to-wall coverage on the three channels we got (cable hadn’t come to our town yet) and no cartoons. (Even worse was Sunday mornings, when the local affiliates ran church services).
Even when there wasn’t breaking news, they’d sneak it in to the middle of your watching with a “news break”. The three networks (no Fox yet…just NBC, ABC and CBS) would, a couple of times a night, forego commercial time with quick newscasts before getting you back to watching Lou Grant or Alice.
A while back, I uploaded a CBS Newsbreak from February 26, 1984 sourced from an old VHS tape to my Youtube channel:
A quick breakdown:
This newsbreak is presented by Charles Osgood, who only just retired in 2016 after a very long career at CBS, starting in 1971.
In 1982, a multinational force entered Beirut for peacekeeping to oversee the withdrawal of the PLO-backed forces from Lebanon as part of a cease-fire agreement between the PLO and Israel. After 17 months of mixed results that included a terrorist bombing of a barracks that killed 241 US Marines and 58 French paratroopers, the MNF withdrew in late February.
More war: The Iran-Iraq War lasted from 1980-88 and resulted in over 1,000,000 dead. The US supported Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and was complicit in his use of chemical weapons, and we all know how he repaid our help…
Used to be that merchants had to charge the same to customers paying with cash or credit cards, the S. 2335 (98th): Credit Card Protection Act was supposed to extend these protections if passed. Spoiler alert: it didn’t pass. And to this day, you are still occasionally charged a “convenience fee” for using your credit card or still see gas stations that charge higher prices for card use:
This spot supposes that Heineken is the best beer. Spoiler alert: it isn’t.
The New Hampshire primary is the first election primary of the presidential election cycle and, thus, has mostly-unwarranted importance in the eyes of the American media and electorate. In 1984, the Democratic front-runner, Walter “Fritz” Mondale was confident he’d win the primary and chose to campaign in neighboring states instead. Spoiler alert: he didn’t. Gary Hart, now mostly-remembered for destroying his 1988 presidential campaign by having an affair (remember when politicians were held to a moral standard?) won. But we got this photo out of it, so yay?
Mondale did go on to win the nomination, however. Then spectacularly lost in a landslide to incumbent Ronald Reagan (who’d recovered from his assassination attempt by this time).
I can’t find anything definitive as to when the networks phased out newsbreaks. I can’t recall seeing one in the last 15 years, but it’s probably been much longer. Now that we have always-on internet access in our pockets and 24/7 news channels, these are a relic of the past. And could you imagine a network today passing up a couple of minutes of ad revenue to inform their viewers of world events? Hell no.
As you probably know by now, I inherited a collection of ephemera—old postcards, photos, negatives, maps, etc.—from my grandparents that they’d collected on their travels. Some items are interesting, others weird and some are mundane. Falling into this last category is this particularly-boring postcard:
The reverse of which tells us that this is a DC-8 belonging to World Airways:
As to why this postcard was in their possession, I can only assume that they once flew World Airways and this was a freebie—my grandfather wasn’t one to pass up on something free and would’ve taken it without intent to send it.
As for World Airways, I wasn’t familiar with it…which is weird, because I’m somewhat of a commercial aviation buff.
So a little research led me to find out that World Airways was still in existence as recently as 2014, though the reason I probably wasn’t familiar with them is that for most of my lifetime, they didn’t offer scheduled passenger service, but instead offered charter and leasing services to other airlines and the government.
But that made me think of other airlines that are long gone. I previously talked about Braniff, but there were others that I dredged up from memory:
Everyone remembers TWA. Whether it’s that they were once passengers on a TWA flight or because of the airline’s many crashes or hijackings, this airline is part of American history. It was founded in 1930, once controlled by crazed billionaire Howard Hughes, and was put of out its misery by then-owner American Airlines in 2001 (thanks 9/11!).
Known for their “flying banana” livery, this airline was formed in 1968 former TWA owner Howard Hughes and was absorbed into Republic Airlines in 1980.
Which leads us to
Formed in 1979 by the merger of North Central Airlines, based in Minneapolis, and Southern Airways, from Atlanta, they bought out AirWest a year later. And then in 1986, were in-turn bought by Northwest.
of course, Northwestwas eaten by Delta in 2008, but not before bestowing on the world a livery that looked like a bowling shoe:
I have to admit that I only knew this airline because of their crash into the Potomac in Washington in 1982 (and I only remember that crash because I vaguely-remember watching the made-for-TV movie, “Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac” as a kid). They only lasted from 1971-84, but that livery is striking:
A lot of criticism is (rightfully) thrown at the for-profit college industry. Most gladly take money from students and leave them deep in debt and unprepared for promised careers.
Surely, there are some success stories, but I suspect that these are people who would’ve succeeded on their own—naturally smart, very motivated and quite amiable people who just needed some sort of degree to get them in the door. But for everyone of these individuals, there must be hundreds that aren’t working in the career they trained for and are struggling to pay back the massive amounts of loans they took out to get their wasted education.
Thankfully, one of the worst offenders, ITT Tech, shut down a few years ago after years of fraudulent activities against both students and the government.
As a interviewer and hiring manager in my day job in information technology, I’ve never once interviewed someone from either ITT or any of the other technical for-profit colleges that was “hire-able”. Technical interviews would show they lacked even basic skills for their chosen career, some even to the point of not being able to write and compile a “Hello World” program in their chosen language. Or they lacked soft skills, inabilities to communicate their ideas or thoughts or even to hold a conversation.
But that’s only my experience…like I said earlier, surely there are those that have found success via the for-profit education route. And, to be clear, my criticism here is leveled at the technical school genre of these colleges. I can’t speak to experiences with online, for-profit universities such as WGU, Strayer or University of Phoenix (though these three do have regional accreditation, which is “more legit” than national accreditation).
That said, all this is just a long lead-in for a stupid photoshop that I made years ago that subtly mocks DeVry Institute of Technology, which now calls itself DeVry University:
My advice for anyone that wants to get into a technical job without going to a traditional university: Get an associates degree at a community college…it’s cheap and will be much-more-likely to get your foot in the door in a company as community colleges are usually seen as “legit” compared to for-profit technical schools.
I was going through more of my grandparents’ old postcards and found this one:
A bit boring, but otherwise unremarkable at first glance. But then I read the description and thought “Huh?”
The problem I noticed is that there isn’t a Platt National Park. Or at least I was pretty sure there wasn’t one. I’ve lived in Texas all my life and have spent a fair amount of time “north of the border” in Oklahoma and was pretty sure I’d remember a national park lurking nearby.
Turns out that there was a Platt National Park at one time, but not any longer.
Established in 1902, it was the 7th national park and was carved out of the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations (and for once, the feds actually bought the land from the Native Americans rather than taking it by fiat) in order to protect mineral springs in the area.
During the Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built out a very large amount of infrastructure in the park, including campgrounds, trails and roads; as well as planting over a half-million trees and other plants.
It remained fairly-popular until the 1970s, when the National Park Service combined it with the neighboring Arbuckle Recreation Area to become the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
As for the park, it seems that it’s been wiped from the collective memory of the nation. There are few resources or images of it online and the NPS barely mentions it on their website.
That said, having done this little bit of research, I think a day trip to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area is in my future.