Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The iPad

I know a bunch of people who are going to want that. People who are going to want to keep it on the coffee table to play around or look stuff up while they're watching TV and other netbook functions (who would never buy a netbook because they're clunky, or a real laptop because of the expense). For students who also have access to a computer lab for the heavy lifting (which is true at most schools now I think) it would be very useful. It's certainly the best electronic book reader out there, and I bet I'm going to see them on the subway. OK, it won't fit in your pocket, but it slips into a backpack or briefcase even easier than a laptop, and it's a heck of a lot easier to deal with on the train.

Obviously it makes an amazing photographer portfolio - I already get a lot of mileage out of my iPhone when I try to explain to people what I do. It's also great for baby pictures. But I definitely have an image of some grandmas I know who would love it for baby pictures and videos and showing them off at church but also being able to do some email and web surfing without dealing with a real computer. Maybe drop it off at the kids place occasionally for more pictures. (I know somebody who does this with an iPod touch - she has a charger so it only needs to be docked very occasionally.)

Obviously it doesn't do everything, and it's not even attempting to replace the MacBook lineup, and there's going to be a better/faster/cheaper version in a year. I doubt I'll get one any time soon because I have a recent MacBook and an older iPhone already and at some point you only need so many devices. But I'm not necessarily representative of the market, you know? Other than first adopter folks I actually see it being more popular with non-geeks than geeks, but you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.

(Disclosure: I'm long AAPL)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

It's bacon


Hey, it actually made bacon. Really good, too. These bits look a bit odd partially because they're test strips right from the edge of the slab. The idea at this point is if it's too salty it gives you one last chance to try soaking or blanching the bacon before you slice it up. It was really good though - a nice sweet, smoky kind of taste.

It ended up taking about 5 hours smoking with charcoal and apple wood to bring it up to about 150 degrees, and then I pulled it out and let it cool. (it ends up looking a bit cooked on the outside but when you slice it, it looks pretty much raw. At 150 the fat hasn't really started to melt or anything.)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Done curing

After a week of curing, it's ready for the next step. Basically the way you tell that it's done is that the meat should be relatively firm - you can still squish it but it's not floppy or anything. You wash the cure off at this point. I've put it on a drying rack which is sitting in an old cookie sheet and it goes in the fridge for yet another day. This lets it dry out a bit and form a nice surface to take the smoke when I smoke it tomorrow.

There are toothpicks in the one on the left so I can tell which is which later (I used two different curing recipes). The one on the left also looks much fattier because of which side happens to be up in this picture - that's the side that used to have the skin.

Interestingly enough it has no scent at all - no hint of not being fresh, but also it doesn't smell like maple at all.

More Monday after it's been smoked and I've fried up a test piece. If it's too salty you can blanch it, otherwise I'll slice it up and probably freeze most of it. That timing should work out well since Tuesday I have a shoot scheduled and I'd hate to be trying to keep one eye on the smoker and the other on a beautiful naked woman!

(Update - the smoke went fine, I'll try frying some up tonight. I'll blog it Tuesday since as it turns out I'll have more time then - the potential model was getting less and less responsive and I don't know if she intended to come or not but I finally had to pull the plug on the shoot. I just can't be confirming with babysitters if I'm not confident that the model's coming, and this is a pattern I recognize with first timers who are getting cold feet. Basically if you're a first timer and you're interested in this kind of modeling you have to have some basic communication skills or I'm just going to assume the worst and move on to the next person in line. Speaking of which I'll go ahead and schedule somebody else for the studio in the next week or two and then in mid-Feb if it's warmed up a bit I'll see about arranging some of the outdoor shoots I have candidates lined up for. On the plus side the portrait folks have been absolutely wonderful lately, no complaints there.)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Best Product Name Ever

I was half jokingly Googling to see if they make baby helmets after our little one smacked her head and not only do they exist but this one has the perfect name - Thudguard

Love it!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Progress

It's 5/7th cured now. It doesn't look much different to the eye - some fluid forming, more so on the one that had more syrup (this is the one with less). Sunday I'll wash off the cure and let them dry for a day in the fridge, uncovered. Yes, I do have an extremely patient wife, thanks for asking. Monday I'll smoke them and I'll update then.

By the way - I know in places where they put things like mustard in their bacon cure the idea of maple syrup is horrifying - "You Americans and your candy bacon." It's actually not the way we usually do it either, but it's good, especially with a sweeter wood like apple instead of hickory for the smoking part. And it's the kind of thing where they don't do a good job with commercial bacon (because good maple syrup is expensive) so it's a good candidate if you're trying it yourself.

I installed Windows 7 on my 27" iMac. Apple recently put out new drivers and such to make it easier. The only gotcha is that the video card doesn't get along with old drivers on the Windows DVD, and you have to do things to get around that.

1. Make a USB stick with the right drivers and have it plugged in while Windows is installing. Windows will find those and use them instead.

2. When you install the BootCamp off of the OSX disk, make sure you use the one that came with the iMac, not some random Snow Leopard disk you have around, or it will cheerfully install the wrong drivers (and you'll get a black screen until you boot off of a recovery CD and roll them back.)

(3. Then you can go ahead and install the 3.1 drivers via Apple software update.)

I also found that somehow Windows recognized my wireless keyboard right away, but not my wireless mouse, so I had to plug in a USB mouse to get things rolling.

Anyway, it works, and until I can get just a couple of remaining odds and ends running on the Mac side it will make my life easier.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Gonna be bacon




Continued from yesterday...

That's the two raw pork belly chunks. One has 1/4 cup pre-mixed maple sugar curing mix and 1/4 cup grade B maple syrup, and the other has 1/4 cup Morton Tenderquick (a general purpose curing mix) and 1/2 cup of maple syrup. They get to spend a week in the fridge, being flipped every two days. I'll have a quick update in a day or two, but they won't be done curing until the 24th.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Scott Brown

Now, I've always kept this as a politics free zone, mostly because I find it incredibly irritating to be reading a blog by, say, a daddy blogger or BBQ blogger and suddenly they're ranting some dumbass ill informed political BS because they assume everybody reading them must agree with them on all points, and I don't want to be "that guy".

But one interesting aspect of today's election is that Scott Brown posed nude in Cosmo. And apparently he's won. As a Republican. First one they've elected in MA since 1972. And you know what? Nobody cares. Barely was a point of interest. Helps it's an implied nude (if you didn't click the link - his hand's strategically positioned), but still, that's interesting stuff.

I mean, you're a 19 year old college student thinking about modeling nude, you're probably wondering if these pictures will haunt you some day. I don't think I want to go so far as to say the answer is "no, it's just that mainstream now". But it's interesting. And it does confirm a general trend I've seen with more and more people wanting nude portraits.

Now, if your concern is your friends might see your pictures hanging on the wall, this doesn't address that, or a variety of other concerns. But still, I have to think it would have been a bigger deal back in the day...

Not just another piece of meat





Raw pork belly, two chunks (7.5 pounds total), $2/pound. The first shot is skin side up, the second side is after it's been trimmed (skin removed, squared up some) but it's the other side of the meat as well.

More tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rain, rain, I'd like you to go away but I guess technically we're still in a drought...

The local paper's predicting massive storms and flooding all this upcoming week. Of course, they did that a couple of weeks ago and we got a light drizzle, but they could be right. The thing about rain here is if it's raining it's from a storm coming in from the Pacific. There's a couple of scenarios - cold storms from the north, warm ones from the south, but point being you can see them coming a couple of days out on the satellite. So mostly the weather's pretty predictable in the sort term, but they do sometimes speed up or slow down or deflect a bit. For some reason we've just been catching the southern edge of some of the storms lately so depending on the exact angle sometimes it's hard to predict exactly if it will hit us or not.

But the article comments are hilarious - OH MY GOD!!! ITS GOING TO RAIN!!! with 148 up thumbs and 5 down thumbs sets the tone, with some snarky comments about the hyping of the non-drought following. (We've had three years in a row with 70% rainfall which means reservoir levels have been iffy but it's not exactly a dustbowl.) I wonder if newspapers wish for the good old days when the readers couldn't talk back?

Anyway, I have three potential shoots waiting on better weather - if we have our usual warmer February pattern I'll start seeing if I can book some of them then. And I have a model shoot scheduled for late in the month, so if that goes well I should have some new pictures soon, although as regular readers know it's a bad idea to count the models before they're hatched (so to speak).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti

There are already so many scams appearing that folks are making nice lists of reputable charities for those inclined...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Little updates

Well, the good news is that 13 months after buying this house I finally installed the baseboards in the kitchen. Classy, huh? I haven't been getting through my to do list as fast as I'd like because of some distractions but I'm getting there on finishing up those kinds of post-move loose ends.

Speaking of distractions, my daughter just turned 9 months old and is doing great. Everybody warned me (to excess) that everything changes super fast but it's still a shock. I'm enjoying the constant development but at the same time... where'd the baby go?

Why the picture of the ribs? I got a smoker and have been going a little crazy with the meat. Luckily most of the cuts involved are pretty cheap - $9 of pork butt and 12.5 hours of cooking later it's pulled pork sandwiches for ages. I may blog that a little at some point but I'll try not to more everybody too much.

I have a couple of vague shoot plans with a couple of models but they're all outdoors and we're all waiting for things to warm up a bit. It's not really "get naked by the bay" weather. I've had some folks write to me about shooting but since Elizaveta nobody too exciting. Mostly inquiries from people who haven't posed nude before - it's a small miracle that those shoots happen at all - it's easy to sit at home in front of a computer and think "that might be fun" and it's another to show up and actually do it. It takes a special kind of person!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking on the bright side

On the radio today I heard a DJ say she knew things were rough for many people just now, but she was sick of the negativity. "Enough of this 'the glass is half empty' talk. I say things aren't so bad and the glass is at least a quarter full!'"

Kelp

People are so odd. The details of the story aren't that interesting but suffice to say I got called at 1:50 by somebody who assumed I'd be happy to reschedule our 2:00 pre-meet. And it's like, what part of "This is a test to see if you're reliable and will actually show up to a shoot on time" did you not understand?

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Model: Elizaveta

Here's Elizavta, nude shoot #1 for 2010!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy new year!

I'd click on that for best results.

Yep, back to the computer and Lightroom and flipping through shots to find the good ones.

I'm firming up some goals for the year but I'm thinking something more like 24 shoots down from the usual 30-35. That should help make it easier to keep pushing that quality bar up. Likewise there's something like 110 nude shoots on the site and I'm shooting to have it down to 100 fairly soon and maintaining things at that level at most. As always anything in the archive section is at risk of immediate deletion (which isn't new, the only new bit is to set a fairly arbitrary limit on the total number of sets to keep me from letting things continue to slip).

Even with that, of course, there's a crazy number of shots on the website. Over 2010 the process of weeding individual sets down and removing sets will continue. There's thousands of pictures on the site and while I like presenting a lot of choices at some point it's just paralyzing for the customers. How do you know you've found your favorite shot? How long would it really take to look at all of them? How many people are even poking around the archive section and should step 2 just be to dump all of it? These are the kinds of questions I'll be trying to answer in 2010...

...and of course that doesn't even address the nature of the 24 shoots. Studio? Urban? Rural? Fire performers? Do I want to invest in new gear to help me get some certain shot, or try to be more creative with what I have? Sigh...
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