The airport

So there I was with no functional cell phone and Mrs. Mack505 due at the airport in an hour.  I was ANGRY, and a bit afraid.  I was about to fail at a simple promise to my wife.  Simplicity had suddenly turned ridiculously complex.

A brief pause is worthy here.  In the days before Uber and cell phone lots, people still got picked up at the airport.  I could park in short term parking and meet her at baggage claim.  I could cruise in circles until she appeared at the curb.  (Ever been to Boston Logan International?  While possible this would be torture.) I could at least call her cell from a landline and leave a voicemail explaining the problem.

I could also use my daughter’s iPhone!  Problem solved with a simple text which the Mrs. would get as soon as she landed.

Which brings me back to my phone saga.  It took two more phone calls and a trip to Walmart (I swallowed my pride. . .), but I finally have a working burner.  It’s a simple flip phone which makes calls and can text.  That’s it.  I had something similar in 2002.  I feel like I should be making drug deals, ordering mob hits, or fleeing from Jason Bourne with it.

It’s been powered up for almost 24 hours and the battery indicator hasn’t moved from full.  Stay tuned. . .

Upping the ante

I awoke yesterday morning with a brainstorm.  Somewhere in a drawer I had a very lightly used circa-2012 LG phone.  It’s a cute little handset, approximately 2.5″ by 1″ with a sliding keyboard and no smart features.  We bought it for Beth at a very young age to have on vacation in case we became separated.

For most of its life it has done nothing.  It waits patiently for the day when one of us loses or breaks our smartphone.  It would finally get the chance to fulfill its potential.

A simple phone call to AT&T would drag my cellular technology back to pre-2007 levels.  If I only knew. . .

I won’t bore you with the details, mainly because it’s too early in the morning to raise my blood pressure again.  Two phone calls to AT&T and one visit to the store later, I had succeeded in permanently bricking the LG and disabling the SIM in my iPhone. It would be out of service for at least 3 business days.  I had downgraded my communications technology to pre-1995 levels.

There was panic.  I had to pick up Mrs. Mack505 at the airport in less than an hour, and we were planning to use the cell phone lot!  The digital detox was off to a bad start.

Stay tuned. . .

From the Archives:
Week 53 – Voigtlander Bessamatic Deluxe

As week 53 marks the beginning of a new year, I’ve decided to return to my roots.

Introduced in 1959, the Bessamatic was Voigtlander’s answer to the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex and the Kodak Retina Reflex.The Deluxe version debuted in 1962. It is a heavy, leaf-shutter SLR with interchangeable lenses and a Selenium match needle meter. Aperture and shutter speed are mechanically linked; once an exposure is set, changing one value will automatically adjust the other accordingly. Speed and aperture are both adjusted on the lens barrel, and a periscope above the light meter cell makes them both visible in the viewfinder window. An ingenious system of tabs on the lens barrel moves to indicate depth of field as the aperture is adjusted.

From 2/28/14

I have a long history with this camera, as it was (and still technically is) my father’s. Dad was drafted by Uncle Sam and sent to Germany in the early 1960’s. While there, he bought a full Voigtlander camera outfit and set about to document his travels. Throughout his time overseas, he periodically shipped slides home to Mom and the rest of his family.

Growing up, the Bessamatic was the Big Camera in the family. It came out for family portraits and special occasions. Later Dad entrusted it to me for a high school photography class, and it is now the core of my camera collection.  Although the 50 year old leather case is showing its age, the 35, 50, and 135mm lenses and original Vivitar flash are still going strong.

Kodachrome may be long gone, but in honor of it’s history I’ve loaded a roll of Fujichrome Velvia 50 for the week.

(Edit: results)


Camera Wiki

Mike Butkus has the manual, of course.

eBay has them, but prices and condition vary. It’s a mechanically complex camera, so buyer beware.


The Twitch

I have a small confession to make.  I’ve been lazy in my writing.  Yesterday’s digital detox has actually been ongoing for at least a week.  Here are a few observations.

I’ve found that I don’t miss Facebook at all.  There was much more drama there than I had realized.  If something important happens with my family or friends I will hear about it eventually.

Instagram: I didn’t use it much anyway.  It’s no loss.  Ditto for Flickr.

Twitter is the issue.  For most of the week I found myself having twitches to tweet something.  Upon further reflection, most of the comments were not worth relaying later during my designated Twitter time.  I suspect this is true of most social media posts.

I’m still using Netflix and Amazon Video but with a purpose.  45 minutes of TV equals a decent chunk of time on the treadmill.  Bingeing was never so healthy.

My morning hour of screen time is almost up.  I’m off to feed the cats, fill the pellet stove and humidifiers, wash the dishes, and then read a book.  You know, IRL.  See you tonight.


It was probably inevitable.  I’ve been struggling with ‘things’ and minimalism for a while.  I’ve largely concluded that I could survive with many fewer possessions but will never fit in a Tiny House.  That’s OK.

I’ve railed against the media machine before. (Parts of that post are outdated, but the sentiment remains.) I’ve lamented drivers’ use of cell phones, and I’ve noticed everyone around me, family included, walking through life like zombies.  Whether Pokemon or Facebook, the machines have taken over.

I took baby steps.  I resisted Facebook.  I deleted the app from my phone and tablet, and I severely curtailed my ‘Friends’ list.  I would delete my account completely, but I still have a few professional obligations.  I created and curated a block list on Twitter to remove as much politics as possible.  (Neither side is happy right now.)

It wasn’t enough.  I seriously considered replacing my iPhone with a dumb phone.  I have an old one in the kitchen drawer which is suitable for phone calls and texts.  It was very tempting, but I do use the smartphone for one or two important things at work.  Life without it would not be impossible, but it would be harder.

Inspired in part by The Minimalists and pushed over the edge by Ray Larose, I’ve embarked on a Digital Detox:

  • All social media has been deleted from my phone.  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr – all gone.
  • I’ve curtailed my apps; I only have apps which I regularly use and which ‘add value’ to my day.  (Do I really need to access three versions of online banking from my phone?  I’m never more than a few minutes away from a laptop.)
  • Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay are gone.  They only cost me money anyway.
  • I have made a vow that I will only access email and Twitter from a real computer (laptop or my desk) and no more than twice a day.
  • With the exception of writing sessions, no block of screen time will exceed one hour.

Friends and family have my phone number and we communicate primarily by text anyway.

Open-ended goals tend to fail for me, so I’ve planned to run this challenge through the end of this month.  Wish me luck!

#BIFscale17 #BelieveInFilm

I’ve been distracted lately and missed a few self-imposed deadlines.  During the month of February the #BelieveinFilm Twitter community ran a redscale theme.  I respooled a roll of Fuji 400 and shot it at 100 ASA in my Leica M3.

I forgot to remove the yellow filter, so the first half of the roll has a very extreme color shift.  I like them though.  Most were shot on a train trip to Boston.

BIFscale17Central Square

Burned out
BIFscale17Work train
BIFscale17Mosquito camp
BIFscale17Bridge repair
BIFscale17Sherman looks a bit rough after a salty winter.
BIFscale17Buried lead; this is my favorite.  Note the Nikon around her neck.

Developed at home with a Unicolor kit and JOBO processor.


In the middle of Story Land stands a small wayside chapel.  Modern renovations to the park have largely bypassed it, and I suspect many casual visitors never realize it exists.  Although I do not consider myself religious, I fondly remember the chapel from my childhood.  It was always a quiet serene place in the midst of all the bustle.

I was worried that something might have happened to it in the almost-decade since I had visited the park, and I was relieved to find it untouched last August.  Beth has almost outgrown Story Land; I took the opportunity to pause in the chapel to enjoy some nostalgia and say a quiet prayer of thanks for the life of Noah.  It just seemed the thing to do.

Eight months later, we are smarting from the sudden loss of Zebro.  I spent this evening doing chores and scanning negatives. I knew I had a roll of redscale for an upcoming project, and I had a mystery roll of color film waiting.  I was pleasantly surprised to find this:

Wayside Chapel

That is indeed my favorite little chapel, photographed the day I paused to remember Noah, reminding me to be thankful for the time we had and that life will go on.

I don’t know when I will have occasion to visit Story Land again.  It will probably be with grandchildren someday.  I hope whichever corporation happens to own it then understands how special their chapel is.


Flame points
Eyes of blue
That one crooked ear


A long life unknown
A new beginning


Too soon
Too soon
Too soon

Rest easy sweet boy. You had a loving home at the end.

17-365: 051


Please welcome the newest member of the family: Zebro.  Z is an elderly flame-point Siamese with renal failure and a cool backstory.

He’s lovable, sweet, and a great addition to our colony.

17-365: 049


Sammie looks adorable, but she’s in her “move and you will bleed” mode. It’s a Siamese thing.