The Media of Being Social

I’ve been pondering, brooding, stewing, and struggling over an idea lately that has my brain and emotions all in a twist. It’s a simple, yet complex idea that involves the human psychie and our need to be included. Have we allowed social media to replace and blur the lines of social interaction? We all have a want to be included in parts of the social masses, to be involved with our friends and families, to be a part of groups, to have our likes and hobbies be appreciated by others. But where do we drawn the line and say that this is for me to experience as a person, by myself, and I don’t need to bring anyone else into the experience with me?

This whole line of thought has been brought on by my own conscious acknowledgement that I am far to concerned with posting on social media, or rather, the persistent checking of acknowledgements or comments on my posts. “Chimping” if you will, to borrow a colloquial term from the digital photography world. Chimping is the act of looking at the digital capture screen immediately after taking a photo to see if it is right. It is a self approval and occurs after every single photo. Instead of trusting your skills, your knowledge, your talent, whether you have everything right or everything is wrong, you have to check to see if the photo is approvable. Before the immediacy of digital photography you had to wait until your film was developed before you knew if you had captured the photograph as you intended. It may be days or even weeks before you see the finished results and the emotional connection to the moment has either been firmed in your memories or it has faded. A kind of cooling off period. Then, you can objectively look at the photograph and see if it has flaws, if it still stirs your emotions the same way as when it was taken, if their are aspects you like or some you don’t, or if you need to improve your skills. Then you can decide to share it with the world or keep it just for yourself. Social media has become a way of “chimping” on our lives. We don’t have a cooling off period before we blast our feelings, hatred, love, silly ramblings, opinions, or what we ate for lunch to the whole world. Then we immediately start looking for approvals, comments, “likes”, “hearts or thumbs up”, “dislikes”, or any of the social media approval connotations. Often times it’s just to see if someone saw our post. We need to know someone saw what we posted. But why?

That’s a whole box of worms I simply can’t open. It’s far to complicated to delve into the psychology of the mind and I know far to little about it to even try. But, I do know that we are social beings and require social interaction to promote healthy and sound minds and emotions. That’s where the social media crutch has skewed things a bit. Our minds are being tricked and are slowly, or fastly in reality, becoming addicted to the immediate approval by our “social networks” of every single thought, opinion, our likes, our dislikes, what we eat, what we wear, what our kids are doing in school or sports, right down to whether the new shoes we bought are “liked” by our followers. We have no opinion of ourselves only the opinion of ourself, by our followers, on the other side of the social media “like” button.

The really upsetting part of all the social media drain on our lives it that our children have been in a world that doesn’t know any different. They have never known a time when you couldn’t post about the new clothes you just bought, or the expensive restaurant you ate dinner at, or the home crafting project you just completed, or the rant you have about a bad situation you experienced. They have never had to wait to have their pictures to be developed, a letter or card to be delivered to a friend by the post service, or a special evening or event to wear that new outfit they bought for everyone to see. As soon as it happens it’s posted to “the platform”. Their inner monologue of self checks and internal review is being bypassed for more clicks of the “like” button. Their ability to make sound decisions based on their likes and dislikes are being superseded by the underlying quest to attain more likes or more followers. They are simply not enjoying their lives for themselves, they are enjoying what they think, other people will think, that they think, that they are.

So where in all of this media of being social do we draw the line between self gratification for our own personal well being and the quest to satisfy the masses of social junkies following our every move? Well, the easiest place is right at the end of your finger tips… your smart phone. The ever convenient device whose humble beginnings started as a fast and easy way to summon help. Now, we can call, text, snap, post, blog, blurb, or whatever else we want to on a device not much bigger than an average wallet. That’s the problem, it’s too easy to pick up your smart phone, snap a picture, and post to a platform. We need to disconnect ourselves.

There are two main avenues that the smart phone and social media have lead us down in this rabbit hole. One, the smart phone has allowed social media and messaging to become instant. Again, no cooling off period. You can air your gripes to the world immediately. Two, there is no face to face or person to person interaction thru the “device”. You can post and text all day and never see or speak to any of the people on the other side. You can see pictures of them, but you can’t speak to them and see their facial response or how their body language changes as the conversation progresses. There is a lot to be said about the nuances of the human brain, but one of the most fascinating is its ability to pick-up on the slightest of changes in another person’s face, body language, tone of voice, and overall demeanor. Your brain can’t do that through social media or text messages!

To fix this we need to get back in front of each other. That’s right, put down the phones, tablets, and computer screens and enjoy the direct company of someone. Here is a idea that I would like to personally implement in my life and for my kids. We are going to have a trip back to a simpler time, where there was no social media. First off, phones are for phone calls and computers are for doing work and that’s all they can be used for. Everytime you feel like posting a message to a friend, write them a letter and mail it. Everytime you want to rant about a grief you have, or to gush about something that makes you really happy, write it in a journal entry. Want to post pictures of the what-cha-ma-call-it you bought, made, or found? Then take some film photos and wait for them to be developed. Want to get in the chatroom and hang out with your friends? Nope, get yourselves together and go to the movies, the arcade, or bowling alley. Just go somewhere out in public in front of each other. Have fun and enjoy each other’s company. What about a family and friends game night? Get a bunch of folks together, everybody brings a finger food/snack, and everyone plays games. The rules still apply, no social media posts, no messaging, and the only pictures have to be on film. Sounds crazy, I know, but it just…might…work.

We have spent so much time trying to bring ourselves closer together thru the invention of social media, text messaging, and other modern media conveniences that we have actually isolated ourselves even more. We have built ourselves into a prison surrounded by walls constructed with the “likes” or “follows”, the messages received, and the flashing icons indicating someone has seen our post. If we remove social media from our lives then the walls are torn down. We have to tear down the walls! We cannot be confined by what we perceive others think or feel about us. Each moment of our lives can now be about us, how we feel, what we like, silly thoughts that make us giggle, or precious memories spent with family and friends. We can become fully immersed in our own lives, not just a sorter deciding which parts get to be posted. Nothing gets posted, it gets remembered.

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New Finds

Here are just a few of my recent finds while out on a “junk shop day” with my beautiful bride.

Found a Polaroid SX-70 with case at an antiques store for $15. The leather on the camera was dry and cracked, but the camera itself was in good shape. A little time and oil brought it back up to a very usable camera.

Also found a small oil lamp and a chimney at another antiques store for $5. A new wick and some kerosene and it was working, although the flame and burner are not working quite right. It seems to smoke unless you have the flame almost out. That’s way to low to provide any light. I’ll have to look at this a little later.

Next was a Tilley R55 Radiator heater that was in rough shape. It took some time and cleaning but I did get it partially working. I’ve got some spare parts ordered from England (that’s where these are made) and they should be in a couple of weeks.

And finally was a recent eBay purchase for $3. A 1947 Craftex Hollywood Model D to twin lens Reflex camera. This is a 620 film camera with two f-stops (f-11 and f-16), three shutter speeds (50,150,and time or bulb), and a coupled focus ring. The focus ring was seized and the viewfinder was really dirty. I cleaned up the viewfinder and fixed the focus ring, cleaned and lubed the shutter and aperture plate, cleaned and lubed all the rollers and doors, and oiled and rehydrated the leather case. There was a roll of exposed Kodacolor filmin the camera, but when I developed it it was blank. Someone had just spun it thru the camera and never exposed it for pictures. But I do know how to develop Kodacolor in the Cinestill C-41 kit now, so that’s a plus! It also came with some original paperwork stating when the camera was bought and when the warranty card was mailed. Not a bad deal for less than $10 shipped!

Preparation or Fear??

So, in light of recent events in our country and my every increasing desire to be more self-sufficient, I have began to procure alternate means to heat my home and shop and to provide a way to cook in the event the electrical grid goes down. Now, I’m not a “doomsday prepper” nor am I going about this with that mentality. I am simply finding alternate means of heat and ways of cooking should the need arise and unfortunately the need will arise, at some point.

I hate being tied to the electrical grid. Having a home that is totally dependant on electricity puts us in a very precarious situation. At any moment we could be without running water, lights, heat, a way to cook food, or a way to keep our food preserved, i.e. refrigerated. Most people can go without electricity for a few hours, maybe a day, but what happens if the grid goes down due to a natural disaster, terrorist attack, overuse and overloading, or any other SHTF scenario you can conjure up. What if its down for days or weeks? These are just a few of the thoughts running through my mind in the last months.

I’ve looked at several different alternatives to grid power over the last 15 years. Solar, wind, geothermal but they all require great amounts of time to set them up inexpensively or great amounts of expense to set them up quickly. My mind began to churn and I began to think about the humble farm home. Not the one of the 1800’s with wood fired cookstoves, although that is on the list as well, and candles with only an ice box and a root cellar but the farm home of the late 1920’s and 30’s. The ones before electricity came to rural America. The semi-modern farm home if you will. And one of my answers was before my eyes…kerosene! Wait, what? Kerosene? But that’s a fossil fuel, and a part of big oil, and has to be bought at a store. And isn’t it dangerous? Well, let me explain my reasoning.

Kerosene is a light oil, that’s right an oil. It is roughly equivalent to #1 winter diesel fuel. It has a very high flash point, much, much higher than gasoline. What this means is that you have to heat kerosene up in order for it to produce flammable vapors. Gasoline, because of its low flash point, will produce flammable vapors at any room temperature. Kerosene will not explode, but it will burn with a flame on top of the liquid. You can easily snuff it out. Kerosene is also shelf stable for years if properly stored. It will not go bad like gasoline. There have been reports of kerosene being stored in sealed containers for over 50 years and still being as good as the day it was bottled up. It also has a higher btu output than gasoline or wood and slightly higher than that of diesel fuel. I’d show you the math, but we will save that for later. So, all of these factors combined make it an excellent fuel, but how does this solve the problem of replacing electricity in the home? That’s where the engineering marvels of the late 19th and early 20th century come in.

We all have or have seen the old kerosene lamp that our grandparents or great-grandparents had. We may have even used it during power outages or turned the lights out and pretended we were back in the 1800’s. But that is just one of a huge range of “modern” appliances that utilized this fuel source. Many farm supply catalogs from the late 1800’s thru the 1950’s contained sections for the farm home. You could buy furniture, dishes, cooking utensils, appliances, and a host of other items every farm home needed. Prior to electricity being widely available and reliable in rural America there were many appliance manufacturers that offered kerosene and gas fueled appliances. You could get pressurized kerosene lamps, regular flat wick and round wick lamps, lanterns, heaters, cookstoves, refrigerators, and even incubators for hatching eggs! This is when I realized that kerosene was one of the answers I had been looking for. I could implement it in a passive way, meaning I could gradually introduce it as a fuel source for heating and as an alternate for cooking. In the case of a wood cookstove or heater that would require some major changes to our home to allow them to work. I could store fairly large quantities of it as well, I have several 55 gallon sealed barrels that I could fill. So, it looks like kerosene is the route I need to go. Enter FB Marketplace and antique/thrift/junk shops.

My workshop is not insulated and I had been heating it with propane and a small 9000 btu heater that just wasn’t cutting it when it was down into the 30’sF. Plus it was expensive, $21.95 for enough propane to last 2.5 days! My wife, being the thrifty person she is, found a brand new, opened box Dyna-Glow 23,800 btu kerosene heater at a thrift store for $10. Yep $10. It was in a pallet of returns that the store purchased at an auction. It had been used and someone returned it (probably because they didn’t know how to use it). I cleaned up the wick and put it back together the way it was supposed to go and it worked wonderfully. Lots of heat output and no smell. That was one sticker that I had been hurdling over, I was afraid kerosene appliances would be smelly. But this heater burned with no smell at all. So, I began my search.

I happened upon a curious little item in an antique store that caught my eye. I knew exactly what it was, but apparently the store owner did not. The tag just said, “Aladdin – $40”. I inquired and after some negotiating I bought it for $20. It was an Aladdin Blue Flame heater model 150051. Now this is just a small 8000-9000 btu heater, but it has that neat art deco look to it. It was in good shape, except for a dirty fount full of really old, well…I don’t know what was in the fount but it wasn’t kerosene. I cleaned it up, bought a new wick for it, and lit it up. It produces a beautiful blue flame when its running and quite a bit of heat as well. No smell either!

My Aladdin Blue Flame heater and White Flame Light Co. lamp

Alright, two heaters down and I already have several flat wick oil lamps. Now I need something to cook on. I can cook on the Aladdin, but one pot at a time probably wont cut it. I spent some time scouring thru FB Marketplace, Craigslist, and several classified ad papers and postings, but nothing popped up. Then one Friday night, I came home and was sitting next to my wife on the bed and decided to check Marketplace just for the heck of it. First item on the feed was an old stove. The ad simply stated, “Old Stove, New Perfection. Don’t know if it works, but think its gas. Must go tonight. $100”. I knew immediately that this was what I was looking for. It was only about 40 miles from me so I made arrangements to meet the seller and pick it up. What I bought was a New Perfection Model R-889 kerosene cookstove with oven. It’s a 5 burner stove, 3 for stove top cooking and 2 burners for the oven. It was in great shape. It wasn’t rusted out, all the parts were there, and it even still had wicks in it. After getting it home all it really needed was a good cleaning and a little work to get the burners and galleries back in shape. I put some kerosene in the tank pan and away she went! Working just like the day she was made! I have ordered a supply of new old stock wicks for this stove, so Ill should have enough to last for several years of occasional or not so occasional use.

So now I have two heaters, several lamps and lanterns, and a cookstove that all use kerosene. Next is to find a kerosene powered refrigerator. That may take a while, so we will end this post here. I’ll be adding separate posts about each item as I go back thru and “restore” them to as close to original as I can get. But for now, if the power grid goes down, I have a good start to not worrying when or if it will come back up.

Frugal Film Project 2021

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Frugal Film Project ’21 January

If you haven’t heard about the Frugal Film Project then your missing out. Started by Sherry Christensen of RR1 Photography and the Embrace the Grain podcast, the FFP is a challenge to use a cheap camera and cheap film to make some photographs. This years rules have changes a little but here is the gist of it:

  1. Spend no more than $50 on a camera
  2. Use 12 rolls of film, 6 B&W and 6 Color. I roll per month and the rolls have to be used consecutively, i.e. 6 rolls of b&w then switch to 6 rolls of color.
  3. You may change to a different camera each month, but the film stock has to remain the same for 6 consecutive months.
  4. Film stocks should be inexpensive and/or available locally or via mail order.
  5. Have fun, challenge yourself, and see what kind of photographs you can make!

For the month of January I chose to start with my Yashica Minister-D and Fuji Superia 400. I bought the Yashica for $15 at a small junk store and the Fuji Superia is available locally for about $5.50 a roll of 36 exposures.

The Yashica Minister-D is a rangefinder camera with split image focusing. I’m not very familiar with rangefinders and the split image of the Yashica is very small. Just a small yellowish square in the middle of the view finder. It is really hard to focus unless your subject has strong vertical lines. Also, the light meter on this camera doesn’t work due to a bad battery contact. I can fix that later, but it will require me to use the Sunny 16 method or my phone app for light metering. To set the aperture and shutter speed you use a concentric ring on the fixed lens. Its kinda like moving around a Rubik’s Cube. You set the shutter speed based on an EV value from the light meter, then you have a choice of one or two aperture settings before the ring moves you up or down to another shutter speed. It’s a little daunting at first, but I”m getting used to it.

This will be a fun project and I’m looking forward to seeing all the pictures posted to the Facebook group. I’ve already got February’s camera lined up and loaded with Fuji Superia 400; a Samsung G70 Compact Zoom point and shoot. Come join the project if you haven’t and embrace the grain and shoot some cool film photos! Ooops! Dig I steal some taglines there?

Digital to Analog

Do you digital? Do you analog? Do you spend all your time staring at a screen of some device (like your doing now)? I’ve found that the more time I spend in front of a screen the less I see of the world around me. Even when the screens are put away they call to us to check our email or check our notifications on social media. Sometimes I just need to be completely away from the digital desensitizing of modern life. That is why I dug out my Pa’s Underwood typewriter and why I’ve almost completely switched to film photography. Most all of my film cameras are completely manual and require no batteries and obviously the typewriter doesn’t need power as well. I can completely unplug, turn the phone off, and go out by myself and not have to worry about what notification I have waiting. No batteries required, I can take as many photos as I have film for and type as many pages as I have paper and ribbon. Both mediums force me to slow down and think about what I’m doing. To look and carefully consider the photo I’m taking or the words I’m about to type. And when I’m done, I have something I can hold in my hand not a digital copy on some screen.

New Photos, Revived Hobby

The Sawmill @ Nana & Papa’s Farm

Years ago, during middle and high school and shortly thereafter, I spent a large portion of time taking photos using a cheap 35mm film camera ordered from a Fingerhut catalog. I had no idea how to use the camera, what an f-stop was, how or why shutter speed was import, or how to compose a photograph. But I took lots of photos. Some turned out great, some not so great. But I literally rolled thru the film.

Georgia pines at sunset

I started getting back into photography some time ago. My wife bought me a few older film cameras, but I wained in my enthusiasm and pushed it aside again. Recent events have left me with a fair amount of time away from work. I’ve had some surgery and have been limited in what I can do, physically. Not wanting to be stuck in the house, I dug out some of the cameras, bought a few rolls of 35mm and some 120 roll film, charged up the batteries for the digital camera, and started to ride the dirt roads and take photos.

The plow at rest…
The barn fog

These are just a few of the photos from those early morning rides. Not all the photos made the cut, but these turned out decent, I think. Since rekindling this hobby, I have been trying to learn as much as I can but I still have a long way to go. Composition, the rule of thirds, the golden ration, subject matter, focal planes, emotion, storyline, and all the technical and artistic elements that take a photo from just a snap shot to a form of art seem a world away. Learning how to combine them, the ingredients, into a recipe that produces something beautiful, emotional, and thought provoking will take time. But then again, time is all we have. Let the shutters fly!

Morning dew
The rubber no longer meets the road

 

Shop Update: Where have I been?

Here it is August 12, 2019 and I realize that I haven’t posted to this blog in a long, long time. Things have been pretty busy with work and kids and every other obstacle that can come in the way. I’ve managed to expanded the number of tools in my shop from the last time I posted. Back then I basically had a 1980’s 10 inch Craftsman table saw and some hand power tools. Since then I’ve added quite a few, new to me, vintage tools to the stable. Here is a little run down of the list:

1983 Craftsman 10″ radial arm saw

1939 Red Star Multiplex 30-A radial arm saw (needs restoring)

1958 Delta/Rockwell Super 990 radial arm saw

1958 DeWalt 925 radial arm saw

1960 DeWalt 925 DLX radial arm saw

1980 Craftsman 12″ radial arm saw

1945 Craftsman 7″ tilt top table saw

1945 Craftsman 4 1/8″ jointer

1947 Delta/Milwaukee 37-595 combo machine (10″ 1160 table saw and a 6″ 654 jointer on a single cast iron base stand)

As you can tell I have a problem collecting RAS’s! I just love the look of these old saws and how wonderful they are to work with.

Now that I have a shop full of tools I have to get to work building. I’ve completed a few projects along and along for family and friends, but now it is time to get serious and start building some projects for sale. Gotta make back some of the money I spent on all these tools! Here is a short list of the upcoming projects and builds to look for in this blog:

Cutting boards

Rustic reclaimed picture or art frames

Adirondack deck chairs

Picnic tables

Porch swings

Wood coasters

Business card holders

Some interior trim work

Cedar chests

Blanket chests

End tables

Night stand

All of these projects have timelines and deadlines that need to be met so hopefully I can move thru them and keep this blog interesting and up to date. So let’s go let the sawdust fly!

Also check out my YouTube channel! It’s a work in progress so bear with me! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFzT1XpelYAtowVAJN0nRZA

Evening Air

 

 

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I find it often that the hour just after sunset is the most serene.  The sun has completed its rounds, furnishing the necessary light for flora and fauna to flourish.  It sinks into its hiding place just beyond what we can see and quietly tip toes around to appear again when our slumber is complete.  Without the warmth from the sun the temperature begins to subside.  The creatures all have found their place to rest, a quiet place, safe and secure.  The sounds of preparation, to sleep, can be heard.  The hens quietly settling down on their roosts.  Fluffing their feathers to insulate from the declining temperature.  The cow chewing away at its cud and lumbering slowly to find a soft spot to lay.  The birds of the air have found refuge in their nests.  The cool dryness of the air has caused the mosquitoes to go dormant.  The nocturnal’s are beginning to stir.  In the distance a coyote yelps.  Nature is following God’s plan.  Work with light and rest with darkness.

We humans have strayed from the path.  We try to conquer both night and day and bend them to our will to be productive.  A car passes on the highway, a train horn blows longingly in  the distance.  We trudge on trying to get the last bit of work done before collapsing from exhaustion.  Even inside the home, work carries on.  Cleaning, cooking, homework for the school children, it all continues as if there is no end.  Even when the work has ended and we sit, tired and longing for sleep, we stare mindlessly into that empty box, filled with made up reality.  Trying to ease our mind and make ourselves feel less stressed and more acceptable of our own situation.  Where are we?  Here, there, no where?  The constant barrage of sensation and stimuli leaves unable to feel.  To feel where we are and what is going on around us.  We have become numb to the authentic life and have replaced it with a version twisted and manipulated into an unrecognizable form.

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Perhaps, now, we should take those last moments as the sun slowly slips away to reconnect to the world around.   To take in those last moments of light and allow our bodies and minds to prepare for rest.  To once again be connected to the natural ebb and flow of nature and time.  Work and all of our created bustling will be there tomorrow.  Waiting for the sun to rise from its hiding place and once again give its light.  But for now, lets take in the serenity of the dimming light.  Let our minds and bodies follow their natural paths to rest.  Unplug ourselves, for just a moment, and breathe.