24 February 2016

Slogging along

Sloggging along in the mud, that is - after an exceptionally wet fall and early winter, there is no let up in the precipitation. Its rained six of the last seven days - have stopped keeping a record of rainfall, its in the "just too much" category now. Walking across the pasture in the fog yesterday, I noticed that as soon as you lift your foot, the impression is instantly filled with water. The ground basically cannot hold any more moisture, hence a flash flood watch each & every time it rains.

Although this image was made yesterday (its on film... not instant), today began the same way, a dense fog. Then rain, driving rain, pouring rain, sun showers, bright sun, and the cycle repeated itself. Most remarkably the temperature soared to 62 degrees. There were a few crocus in bloom but the wind has probably torn them to shreds. For the first time this year, there were dozens of frogs frolicking (the genteel word for what was transpiring) in the pond. Tomorrow night's low of 24F will likely end their joyful celebration.

Floyd county is in a high wind warning but most counties betwixt here and the Atlantic seaboard are under tornado watches and warnings. Its been a totally no-rules sort of weather day at Stratheden Farms. In walking the canines tonight, one oak tree was on the ground and lots of dead limbs had blown out of trees. Time to do a little waltzing with the chain saw for next winter's heat - when and if the weather breaks long enough. At the moment, its too soggy to take a tractor out to pick up the wood - the tires tracks would damage the pastures, and you just don;t let freshly cut wood lay on wet ground and absorb water.

As the sun disappeared into the speeding clouds, the wind velocity increased further. And the lights are taking to blinking every once in a while, hinting this should be published before it vanishes!

14 February 2016

you win some and you lose some-

And Mr. Fuzzy is not winsome.

Although the doctoral dissertation was accepted in 2008, from time to time, Mr. Fuzzy still works on revising it for publication - and still suffers dissertation PTSD. At least once a week, a dream laden with abounding anxiety about completing the dissertation revisits the unconscious mind. The most common variant is discovering during defending the dissertation, some major source of information was overlooked.

During the "research years," occasionally oblique references to a possibly important source were uncovered but the actual book, pamphlet or journal article could never be located. Sometimes this could be attributed erroneous citations, typos, or, to put it in a nicer light, 'willful imagination.' One title surfaced several times in rather off-hand mentions (nothing as firm as a foot note) but since WorldCat showed no copies in United States libraries and The British Library catalogue failed to list it either, the best evidence pointed to 'mythological.'

Whilst perusing a photo-forum a few weeks ago, lo and behold, a German member claimed to be quoting from it. A near panic attack followed in nano seconds. WorldCat and British Library were double checked but even a decade later, neither showed a copy had appeared.

Q: If the end-all and be-alls of the research world failed to show it, oh, what to do?
A: consult a money making mega book vendor such as AbeBooks or Alibris.

Voilà, there is was - and could be purchased and delivered to the United States for under 20 Euros from a Berlin book store. The 'purchase now' button was immediately activated. It arrived two days ago in fine condition. The first glance was promising; published by the same printer as the most important single work ever written on soft focus lenses, Heinrich Kühn's Technik der Lichtbildnerei, written three decades earlier. Oh no, if it was promising, did that mean the dissertation was somehow lacking or worse, in error? Ackkkkkkk.

After a thorough examination, the good news is that Praxis der Weichzeichnung was essentially a 113 page puff piece for its author, Michael Neumuller, who was promoting his own photography as well as advocating a single brand soft focus lens, the Rodenstock company's Imagon (a skeptical mind might even wonder if Rodenstock underwrote the publication). It has no direct quotations, no footnotes, no bibliography, no images by anyone else, no signs of rigor. Worse, Neumuller plagiarizes Kuhn at length without any form of attribution. Perhaps he thought that anyone who read Kuhn's book of 1921 was not going to read his 1955 tome? A fair assumption with millions of Germans & Austrians of the 1920s now dead and the libraries in ashes...

With the mind at ease, a fine night's rest ensued.

07 February 2016


An invitation to an eighteenth century party in the wilds of Eastern Tennessee brought Mr. Fuzzy to the sophisticated downtown of Knoxville first.

It has been three decades since mine eyes laid upon old Knoxville - the new downtown is thoroughly delightful. Great restaurants, theatre district, arts district, pubs and bars, parks, plenty of off street parking, friendly people and just a warm ambiance that pervaded everything and everywhere.

Its a very alive area with many people living downtown in five to ten story buildings from (mostly) the 1920s. Based on the paucity of notices of units for sale or rent, it appears the living spaces are well filled.

There are no ugly, run down buildings or empty eye sores. It seems the area has become very popular and for good reasons.

One goal was to visit Boyd's Jig & Reel, a Scottish pub with live music and over 200 Scotch whiskeys. Its just the right size to be intimate but not tiny, with booths, tables and a lovely old wooden bar. Two lovely bar maids in wee kilties held court and were a fountain of information about the various delectable delights in the bottles behind the bar. It might seem surprising but my indulgence was a pint of locally brewed dark beer and it was delicious. The music did not start until my bedtime, 10:00 p.m., so I cannot evaluate its qualities. They will see me again.

There were a number of fine restaurants downtown, for dining as well as early day fare. Breakfast repast was at The French Market, a very popular morning cafe. They had a monstrous selection of breakfast and luncheon foods but my eye had already settled on the substantial crepe menu, finally alighting on the salmon and cream cheese. Oh my it was tasty. A sign of a fine cafe is not only the best of coffees but likewise the best of teas, and they did not disappoint.

Readers who know the author well also know he seeks out old and photogenic cemeteries. The First Presbyterian Cemetery, in the core of downtown, was begun circa 1790. As one might expect of the staunch Presbyterians of that era, headstones tend to be very modest in scale and design, nonetheless, there were many of visual and historic interest.

Knoxville is an easy four hour drive from Floyd and based on this visit, another shall follow before the year is over. Should you find yourself in Knoxville, follow the evaluations on Zomato and Tripadvisor and you cannot go wrong. Have a wonderful time there.