Category Archives: Photography

Links about books, publishing, self-publishing, marketing, video, & photography

High Brow

Excavated Site in Denmark May Be The Royal Hall From ‘Beowulf’
Reminds that it may be time to re-read Beowulf. Last time I did that I was a freshman in college. Also happen to have a copy of the verse translation by Seamus Heaney (R.I.P.) sitting here on my bookshelf. (Though one of the commenters at Amazon thinks that the translation by Frederick Rebsamen is superior to Heaney’s.)


Self-Publishing An E-Book? Here Are 4 Ways To Leave Amazon’s 30% Tax Behind

Self-Publishing A Legal Casebook: An Ebook Success Story

(As evidenced by the two different versions of e-book/ebook above, Forbes copy editors may want to look into standardizing the spelling of that pesky word.)

Still banning books?

North Carolina school board bans “Invisible Man”
(from @DavePell’s NextDraft newsletter 9/20/13)

Still reminding us that books are banned

Did you know it is banned books week?

How banned books week is being observed in my neck of the woods:

Read-Out for Banned Books Week


Video provides payday for publishers
(thanks to @jwikert for the link)

Proof of what Joe describes is happening at the New York Times, where one of the video features is called Op-Docs. One of the recent videos there is:

56 Ways of Saying I Don’t Remember

Louie C.K. on Conan about cell phones
There’s actually a great line in here about letting yourself getting completely sad, embracing it, crying, in order to produce the “happiness antibodies” that will make you completely happy. But screwing around with the phone rather than just sitting there “being human” gets in the way of complete sadness, therefore getting in the way of complete happiness. Brilliant in a way.
(thanks to @DavePell’s NextDraft)


This Guy Turns OCD Hoarding into Amazing Photos
(thanks @Dooce)


New Album “Sparks” Announced
Another musician doing some interesting stuff on the marketing front.


Spam comment at this blog:
Now I am going to do my breakfast, later than having my breakfast coming yet again to read more news.


Recent photos

Walking Boston’s Emerald Necklace, #2

A red granite bridge designed by Shepley, Ruttan, and Coolidge, completed in 1893. Closed now to vehicular traffic. While the waters look calm, there’s a lot going on underneath. This quote found at The Heart of the City website:

When we cleared Scarborough Pond out last year, first time in fifty years, we took a lot of stuff from the bottom. Washing machines, refrigerators, TV sets, a complete set of burglar tools, sunken boats, dozens of sewer covers, golf balls by the thousands (Parks Superintendent George Boutelier, from J. Mirsky, “Who lost the Emerald Necklace? In search of Franklin Park,” The Boston Globe Magazine, 1972).

That was nearly 40 years ago now. Wonder what has accumulated in there since.

Walking Boston’s Emerald Necklace, #1

Scarboro Pond, Franklin Park

I wanted to follow the course of the Muddy River, a body of water that rises in Jamaica Pond and makes its way the Charles River in the Back Bay part of Boston, serving as a border between Boston and Brookline for part of its course.

The Muddy River is also an integral part of Frederick Law Olmsted‘s Emerald Necklace, and since the Emerald Necklace really begins at Franklin Park (the “jewel” of the Necklace), I began my walk there. While I wanted to follow water, I didn’t initially think there was a water connection between Franklin Park and the beginning of the Muddy River in Jamaica Pond.

But there is. When Franklin Park was being designed in the 1890s, a number of Bostonians signed a petition requiring a body of water be included in the park. John Scarborough owned seven acres of land that became the pond. According to Julie Arrison, author of Images of America: Franklin Park (Arcadia Publishing), “Excavation of Scarboro Pond began in June, 1892. The pond was designed with islands for waterfowl habitats. Water in the pond was meant to come from natural sources within the park and the 851,000-gallon Hagbourne Hill Reservoir, completed in 1896.” (p. 40) She also writes, “When Scarboro Pond was built, it was engineered to be filled with eight feet of water in the summer to accommodate boats and fishing. In the winter, the water was lowered to four feet to allow the water to freeze faster and make it safer for skaters. The water was regulated from an outlet near Morton Street. John Pettigrew ordered the removal of this pumping station, which rendered the Scarboro Pond system inoperable.” (p. 29)

That pumping station was connected to Jamaica Pond by a system of pipes that were never used, so far as we know. According to The Heart of the City website, “John Pettigrew, who was Parks Superintendent in the late 1800s and early-1900s, removed the pumping station at Wards Pond because he didn’t like its appearance. As a result, not enough water could be pumped into Scarborough Pond and the water system of the Franklin Park Plan was never fully realized.”

So there was, in effect, a water connection between Franklin Park and the Muddy River. It was never used for aesthetic reasons? Hmmm. Do any pictures of this offending structure exist today? And as to what condition those pipes that were to carry water to Scarboro Pond are in today, no one knows.

The photo I didn’t take

the photo I didn't take

The blank space to the left is for the photo I didn’t take on Mother’s Day, this past Sunday, May 8. And why didn’t I take a photo? I didn’t take a photo because I was thinking about starting a “photo a day” project. Lots of people do that, which is one reason not to do it, I suppose, but still I’m interested in writing about photos. (Here’s Jonathan Harris’s photo a day project; for him, it was about memory.) I’m interested in writing, and I find that writing about a photo helps me write. Thus the impetus to put up a photo as a starting place for writing. But sometimes you don’t have a camera or you decide not to have a camera. Sometimes taking a photo changes everything that you don’t want changed, particularly when taking an informal photo of people, which I’m guessing most of my “The photo I didn’t take” posts would be. (I’m hoping to be able to create a black border outlining the area where the photo isn’t. Help?)

Why was I thinking about this project, about photos? Inspired, perhaps,  by the “What They Were Thinking” series in the New York Times Sunday magazine. Photos with text are powerful. Whenever I see photos, I want to know the story behind the picture. Another reason I was thinking about photos was that I recently interviewed Kevin Kelly, author of (most recently) What Technology Wants and editor emeritus of Wired magazine. We were comparing travel stories and I told him how I hitchhiked around Europe during a year off from college in the ’70s and he told me about traveling through Asia. Big difference between us: he took thousands of photos; I traveled without a camera. At the time I had a theory for not having a camera, something about not wanting the act of taking a photo getting between me and the pure experience of traveling. I suppose I also didn’t want to carry a camera and deal with rolls of film and all those little gray plastic canisters that people used for storing pot.

Digital cameras have changed a lot of that. Of course you still have to carry a camera. But you can take photos like crazy, delete like crazy (or not), upload like crazy, and share in a million different ways. (My favorite way to share is via flickr.)

But now to the photo itself; the one I didn’t take. In the photo are my wife, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and my mother. We’re sitting around my sister and brother-in-law’s kitchen table in their house in Portsmouth, RI, with a view across their lawn that slopes down to the Sakonnet River, half a mile wide here, and across to the low hills of Tiverton, RI. Were it warmer outside, we’d be sitting on the back patio, but while it is sunny, it is windy and too chilly, particularly for my mother. All of us except my mother are engaged in conversation. She sits at the end of the table opposite me and stares into space. She’s worried; she’s always worried, has been ever since I can remember, though her anxiety and depression have gotten worse as she’s gotten older; she’s now 92. Physically, she’s in fine shape, in better health than most folks her age. (My dad died four years ago at the age of 88.) But mentally, well, not so good. I suspect she’s been depressed most of her adult life. She’s certainly been anxious ever since I can remember.

You’d like Mother’s Day to be better than this for her. She’s got two children, their spouses, and a grandson there at the table. Most grandmothers would be really happy to be in that situation. But my mom, no, she’s sitting there worried about who knows what; she’s got a lot of free-floating anxiety. She’s always certain that her children are going to die in a car wreck, so much so that if we’re more than two minutes late to meet her, she’ll call. In her mind’s eye, the car has crashed off the side of the road and we’re all dead inside. Whenever leaving her after a visit, I have to call when I get home to assure that we’ve made it in one piece. But even if she didn’t have our travel to worry about, she’d find something else. That is her life: anxiety. It’s sad. She could be doing something rather than just sitting around imagining “the worst.”

But in the photo I didn’t take, she looks nervous, her hands up in the air near her face, as if to protect herself from all the bad things that might happen. Even as I sit there across from her imagining the picture, I realize I wouldn’t want to share that photo with the world.