Sad passing

Closed storefrontA store in our neighborhood closed. I was really sad. Though I was not a big patron of Jo-Ann Fabrics, it will be missed. I don’t know of any new tenant taking over the space, which was a Safeway supermarket many years ago.

Our kids would ride their bikes or walk over to get some candy. Though there’s a convenience store a block farther, it’s just not the same. I feel bad for the surrounding businesses. They will miss some of the “halo” effect of customers Jo-Ann brought in. I am sad for employees who lost their jobs. A few may be hired at the three other locations in the Denver area. And local fabric enthusiasts will now have to travel further to get their thrills.

What recently closed business do you miss — and why?

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Enjoy today by looking back

Nairobi trafficTraffic is part of life in many large cities around the world. The traffic in the busiest of USA cities is nothing compared to the grid-lock that affects many urban centers, particularly in the “developing world.”

I loved our years in Nairobi, Kenya, but I do not miss the traffic. And it’s probably twice as bad as when we left in 2007. The roads were built to accommodate about 1/10 of the traffic they carry. So today it may take two hours to get somewhere that used to take 10 minutes, when we lived there in the mid-1990s.

I am very thankful to live in boring suburban Denver, when it comes to not having to regularly sit in mind-numbing Nairobi traffic.

Looking back at the past made me thankful for today. What experience are you glad that’s in your past and not part of your present?

I took the photo while sitting in traffic. At least sales people would peddle their wares while you were sitting there. Sometimes that was a pleasant diversion. I also wrote about Nairobi traffic when we lived there.

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Governmental regulation can be good

Dodge Dart Grille, courtesy of Autoweek MagazineBack in the 1970s, air pollution was really bad. The average car back then put out literally 20 times the amount of harmful emissions than today’s average car. If the government had not stepped in and made laws that forced car manufacturers to clean up what was coming out of tailpipes, I am sure we’d have dirtier air today.

I haven’t been to China, but I understand the air in Beijing is a lot worse than the air in any American city. Why? A lack of governmental regulation.

I fully understand that not all governmental interventions in life and public policy are beneficial. But some are.

I challenge you to argue with me on this one.

The photo is an enlargement of a shot from Autoweek Magazine. Their May 14, 2012 issue has an article about the new Dodge Dart. Its front grille shuts at certain speeds to improve fuel economy — because of governmental regulations for car manufacturers to increase fuel economy. I think that’s awesome.

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Amazing cameras

The cell phone has replaced the point-and-shoot camera.

If you have an older phone, its camera is probably not very good, but if you’ve bought a recent smart phone, you now know how good a cell phone’s camera can be.

I’ve always been a proponent of small digital cameras. (My second, in about 2002, was a tiny Sony that was incredibly simple to use. I still love Sony cameras — my current non-cell-phone camera is a Sony.) The easier a camera is to use, the more often you’ll take photos. And if it’s small and light enough, you will carry it in your pocket, thus increasing your chances of not missing a shot.

Software is the biggest reason why smartphone cameras rule photography today. I took the photos below with my iPhone 4S and used the Dynamic Light app to add effects. B is way over the top, but the filters make the picture a lot more interesting. I applied filters with a little more care to create D. You might argue that C (the original) is better, but I like the more dramatic result of D.

And then there is the ability to share your photos. With a regular camera, it takes a lot of work to share a photo with your friends. With a smartphone app, it’s just a few clicks away. Creating art is great, but sharing art is even better.

In-phone photo apps are extremely easy to use. A professional using Photoshop would spend ten times the effort to gain a similar result. And yes, a “real” camera will give an amateur photographer better results, at least for the original. But again, the hassle of lugging around a huge camera will cause many lost shots — and memories of life events.

Another photo app I enjoy is Camera Awesome, if only because of the fun messages is provides while the image is processing. “Carmelizing kraken tenacles.”

Go forth and have fun with a smart phone, if you are able.

iPhone photos comparison using filters

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Duplicate sets of cars

Floyd Mayweather, Jr's carsSo there’s a boxer. His name is Floyd Mayweather, Jr. He has two identical sets of cars — a white set in Las Vegas and a black set in Miami. Each set includes a Bentley, a Mercedes Benz SLS AMG, a Ferrari and an unknown fourth car. My guess on the total value (and there may be more than four cars) is about $2 million. Somehow it’s not the money spent that bothers me. It’s the identical-but-different-color aspect.

Of course I’m thinking of how one man has all those opulent and amazing cars, and how the money could have been spent on a slightly better education for kids in either city. Or how some kids in Africa might not die because they have clean water.

But somehow I mostly think of what a strange thing is is to have two identical-but-different-color sets of cars.

(Thanks to the May 10, 2012 Rolling Stone Magazine for the article featuring this photo.)

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