I have a new camera that I am so far very pleased with. It’s a Samsung Galaxy Camera. It does 21x optical zoom (with optical stabilization), and has an automatic mode but also a fully manual mode (except for focus, but you can tap on the part of the image you want the camera to auto-focus on). I took this picture the day after I got it. If you look at the the full-size version (warning: huge) and pay attention to the tower, you can see how wavy it is. That’s not the camera; that’s the atmosphere; it was a very hot day. I saw the tower off in the distance and thought it would be neat to see how much detail the camera could capture at maximum zoom. With my naked eyes (well, and contact lenses), I didn’t even notice that the gargoyles were there. The camera showed me their eyes and teeth.
Testing the manual mode, I took some photos late at night (albeit on a cloudy night, so there was reflected city glow) off plumtreeblossom’s balcony that look — except for a few ridiculously bright windows — as if they were taken in daylight. I also took a picture of Saturn, just holding the camera above my head at maximum zoom with appropriate settings, where you can definitely tell there are rings. You can’t see any detail; Saturn is only a few fuzzy pixels, but you can tell it’s a disk rather than a point and you can tell that the rings extend from it (if you know what they are). I think I just got lucky with that shot, but it’s about the best I’d hope for for holding a camera with 21x zoom in my hands. I can’t wait until another clear night when I can try it with a tripod.
But the biggest thing about the camera is that it runs Android and has WiFi (and mobile data, but I can also tether it to my phone via WiFi). That means I can take pictures at a party or an event, and sort and upload them on the train on the way home. I hope this will solve the biggest problem I have around taking pictures, which is that I never get around to sorting and sharing most of them. (And preliminary indications are that it is solving that problem, since I already have the photos I took on the Fourth more-or-less sorted and uploaded to Flickr.)
The one downside is that it doesn’t have a separate viewfinder, just the big bright screen on the back. (The “prosumer” camera I’ve used up to this time has a second internal screen behind an eyepiece that you can use like a viewfinder instead of the screen on the back; I thought that was a silly gimmick when I bought the camera, but I found myself almost exclusively using the viewfinder.) That means I have to use the screen to take pictures, which may constrain using the camera for performances, since I’m not going to want to bother other audience members with the light. There’s an app I can use to dim the screen radically, which may end up obviating this problem. But in any case, for outdoor photos or party snapshots this camera is pretty spectacular.
I have my car back on the road, which is wonderful! If I’d realized how little it was going to cost to fix, I would have gotten it done a long time ago; I’ve spent several times that much on Zipcars in the interim.
You may remember that back in February there was a blizzard that resulted in a power outage in Quincy that caused me, plumtreeblossom, and my cat Chickenfinger to drive to Somerville lest we freeze in Quincy (since my furnace won’t restart without electricity, it was already very cold in the house, and National Grid was saying it might be days before power was restored rather than the hours it ended up being). That was quite the ordeal.
What else was an ordeal was that I had to impose on some friends to let me park in their driveway. (Long story, involving spending about two hours shovelling out several car-lengths of space in plumtreeblossom’s driveway, only to have her downstairs neighbor tell me I couldn’t park there.) Anyway, in the snow and the unfamiliar driveway I couldn’t tell that there was a brick post at the end of the driveway, and pulling out of the driveway somewhat recklessly, I pulled my front bumper most of the way off. It stayed attached enough for me to get Chickenfinger home in it, helped by the fact that what it would occasionally scrape against at that point was mostly snow and ice rather than asphalt, but it wasn’t really drivable. I figured it would probably cost me a sizable fraction of what I paid for the car (and perhaps more than the car is worth) to get that repaired, and in the aftermath of the storm and power outage I had higher-priority things to deal with, so I never bothered looking into it until fairly recently.
Anyway, a month or so ago I felt like I had the money to start thinking about getting the car fixed, so I Googled for reviews and found a place called Paul’s Auto Body which got very good reviews, and it ended up being only $75.00 to get the car put back together. (He didn’t end up needing to replace any of the body panels, although there is a small hole in one that I should figure out how to deal with. It’s a Saturn, so the panels are plastic, but I’m sure the Googles will help me.) And I am so thrilled to have the car back!
I had assumed the car would be a few hundred dollars to repair. It wasn’t. So today [looks at clock] er, yesterday, I finally bought a powered lawnmower. You may have picked up from my journal that I’m not very good at keeping mechanical things running, and this extends to the gas-powered lawnmowers I’ve had in the past. So since I bought this house, with its fairly modest lawn, I’ve been making do with a reel mower (unpowered) and a corded electric weed whacker. The reel mower would do a semi-adequate job if I used it regularly enough, but it only works if the grass is fairly short to start with. So I end up basically mowing the lawn (big chunks of it, anyway) with the weed whacker, and it never looks very good.
Since the lawn is pretty small, and divided into fairly small chunks (so no long stretches of back and forth that would make it hard to avoid running over the cord), I decided to get a corded electric mower. In today’s (er, yesterday’s) heat, I was still thoroughly drenched when I was done, but it did a much better job than the real mower and went a lot quicker. So yay!