Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blending and Converging



Post-Script: Here's a Wikipedia article about William Gibson's Sprawl Trilogy, and here's one on his Bridge Trilogy. His work has helped me understand more fully the past, present and potential future of cities.

Photo via Lumix G5, typecast via Smith-Corona Galaxy 12.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pilgrimage to Site Alpha



Post-Script: Hiking around the city-managed open space just east of Four Hills and adjacent to the KAFB fence line, the inner perimeter fence around Site Alpha is clearly visible, as are periodic patrols by unmarked white trucks.


Also worth noting is clear signage in the open space warning that the area is under video surveillance, something I haven't seen in other open public hiking areas along the Sandia foothills.



Also worth noting is that I located a survey marker near the KAFB fence, indicating the civilian area outside the base is BLM ( Bureau of Land Management), meaning it's federally-protected public open space.

Several decades ago there was a story about a rancher who managed to wander into the base from the Manzano Mountains, in search of stray cattle.

Photos via Fujifilm X10, typecast via Smith-Corona Galaxy 12.

UPDATE 6.24.2015: Some might wonder what's the point of this article, is it excessive curiosity, or some darker, anti-establishment streak?

I see it mainly as history: our nation's history, for the latter half of the 20th century, was dominated by the threat of nuclear weapons; there's the local angle, that of New Mexico being placed squarely in the midst of the nuclear weapons history (and thus presumably having been targeted by our foes), and who's local environment and economy has been affected, both positively and negatively; and personal history, as my dad worked in this field for most of his career.

Obviously, these devices and their knowledge are not disappearing; Pandora's box has been opened, and physics is not easily untaught; nor does this country have a monopoly on the laws of nature, as if we could rescind them at any time. And so pretending like they do not exist, or that the industries and infrastructure in place to support them are invisible, is childishly unrealistic. In the 1950s, as the US was building up a vast arsenal of multi-megaton weapons (and presumably storing many of them here at Site Alpha), the modern suburb of Four Hills was also being built up, under its shadow, just across a wire fence. Somehow, these people were able to sit out on their patios in the cool evening breeze and completely ignore the obvious. So, too, did most of the nation at that time. History has not fully accounted for the mass denial responsible for this phenomenon.

Others too have taken notice of the national security infrastructure, most notably Trevor Paglen, whose intense documentations of various aspects of the these infrastructure made visible are worth the study.

Good fences perhaps do make for good neighbors, but let's not forget that these same institutions also brought us the technology of Google Maps. Here's Site Alpha from satellite. North is up, you can barely seen the fence line in the top of the image where Four Hills begins.


Update #2, 6.24.2015: Correction to the broken arrow reference, the bomber crashed into the mountain in 1950, thus it would have been carrying an atomic bomb. As per Wikipedia:

April 11, 1950 – Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA – Loss and recovery of nuclear materials

Three minutes after departure from Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque a USAF B-29 bomber carrying a nuclear weapon, four spare detonators, and a crew of thirteen crashed into a mountain near Manzano Base. The crash resulted in a fire which the New York Times reported as being visible from 15 miles (24 km). The bomb's casing was completely demolished and its high explosives ignited upon contact with the plane's burning fuel. However, according to the Department of Defense, the four spare detonators and all nuclear components were recovered. A nuclear detonation was not possible because, while on board, the weapon's core was not in the weapon for safety reasons. All thirteen crew members died.

There was a later broken arrow on KAFB in 1957 involving a dropped H-bomb; again from Wikipedia:

May 22, 1957 – Kirtland AFB in New Mexico, USA – Non-nuclear detonation of an atomic weapon

A B-36 ferrying a nuclear weapon from Biggs AFB to Kirtland AFB dropped a nuclear weapon on approach to Kirtland AFB. The weapon struck the ground 4.5 miles south of the Kirtland control tower and 0.3 miles west of the Sandia Base reservation. The weapon was completely destroyed by the detonation of its high explosive material, creating a crater 12 feet deep and 25 feet in diameter. Radioactive contamination at the crater lip amounted to 0.5 milliroentgen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Dispatch From Post 49



Post-Script: It was a fun afternoon at the Post, with enough room to spread out, type, shoot billiards and not bother anyone.

Photo via Fujifilm X10, typecast via Hermes Rocket.

Sunday, June 21, 2015




Post-Script: Typecast via Smith-Corona Galaxy 12.

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Little More Elbow Room



Post-Script: Despite the noise and dust from the addition, the impact to our daily lives has been much less impactful than last year's full kitchen remodel, during which we had to "cook" out of our office using a toaster oven and microwave. Seeing the size of this behemoth gives us reason to pause; it has twelve foot ceilings, with an additional three feet of parapet around the roof, and we've been used to living in our little one-story house for all of these years. We keep asking ourselves "What have we done?"

Photo via Fujifilm X10, typecast via Smith-Corona Galaxy 12.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

My First Week



Post-Script: I went back over to my brother's neighborhood this morning with the intent of photographing that pile of ancient televisions, but alas they'd already been picked up by whichever nonprofit agency had been dispatched; perhaps the Disabled American Veterans?

And so I had no recourse but to compose this still-life setting in my garage workshop, of a still-working Zenith 19" solid-state black & white television, that's been a fixture here for decades. There's also a 12" black & white portable, that once belonged to my mom-in-law. Despite the transition to over-the-air digital broadcasting, there remain several low-power analog UHF stations in the area. Or, a converted box could make this old TV into a funky modern remake. Perhaps the small 12" set might find itself a new life in the Man Cave, serving up artsy monochrome television broadcasting once again.

As for Nestor, he bailed out later that day, and the charges were eventually dropped.

I continued working in the TV repair field for the next twelve years, until I was able to get hired on at a semiconductor fab across town.

But I still pause to reflect, whenever I drive by some old TV relic sitting curbside awaiting its final destruction. If only, I think, if only...

Photo via Fujifilm X10, typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Looking Forward



Post-Script: This image is one such example of a personal time capsule-like artifact, a silver gelatin print I unearthed during last week's cleaning. It was a print I had made, in 1993, in my then new darkroom from a film negative I'd exposed a few years earlier, shot at night on the UNM campus during a nocturnal footrace, the runners being ghost-like due to the long exposure time employed. I remember the adventure of exposing this negative, because it was created during an assignment for a darkroom course I was taking. Some years later I submitted this print to a photo contest held by Camera & Darkroom magazine, but alas it won no honors. Still, the value it holds is in the memories attached therein. Incidentally, the print itself has weathered the decades in fine shape, with no evidence of yellowing of the paper or degradation of the emulsion. I must have learned something during that course!

Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Creepy or Fancy?



Post-Script: Yes, I'm being less than generous. I'm sure there are good business reasons why one store in a chain might be worse than others. Perhaps that store is used for training new employees, or they hire a disproportionate number of disabled in that one location in order to fulfill some mandatory hiring guidelines for the entire chain. But still, it is a fun place to go when shopping for groceries, a chore which I usually abhor but is in fact made more pleasant by its funkiness.

Another reason why I might like the creepy store over the fancy one is that my family used to shop there, back in the mid-1960s; actually, we've been shopping there, on and off, ever since. So there's that whole sentimental thing going on.

Photo via Fujifilm X10, typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Welcome Back



Post-Script: Today I took a field trip up the Turquoise Trail to the former mining town of Madrid, NM, with my handmade 8x10 box camera, and exposed six of these Harman Direct Positive Prints. It's been a while since I've worked with it, and ended up over-exposing most of them in the bright sun. I had forgotten that in shade it's okay to use ISO 1.6, but in bright sun one should rate its speed around ISO 3-6. Live and learn. I do have copious notes made with each print I've created, but they're not in a convenient format, and so I didn't refer to past experience as I should.

But the bright side is that we now have a ready supply of this paper to work with, and so I hope to work the bugs out of my process soon.

The top photo was made under soft, indirect daylight at ISO 1.6. One unique attribute of this paper is that, just like tintypes, the image is reversed left-to-right.

Slowly Learning to Grow



Post-Script: Perhaps I'm not really growing at all. If you have to title a blog article with the declaration that you're getting better, than you aren't. Kind of like saying "Well at least I'm becoming more humble." Not.

What I meant is that I'm becoming more aware of my need for growth. There.

As for those Bad Ass beans, it really is a great brand, I've used almost half the bag since this purchase. I see a return visit in my near future.

Photo via Fujifilm X10. Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Essential Tools: Pen & Paper



Post-Script: This paper's still sufficient to type upon, better I think than standard printer paper, and so I'm going to keep using it for a while. I do miss the yellow/green engineering paper I've used for several years here on this blog, but alas a change is good. As for the TWSBI pen, having used it for a while leads me to believe it feels and writes better than my Pelikan M100, and so I'm well pleased.

It is funny how, in this day and age of seemingly ubiquitous wireless connectivity, something as mundane as pens and paper would still hold us in fascination. Another indication of the true Office Supply Junkie, I suppose.

Photo via Fujifilm X10. Typecast via Corona 4.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Art or Commerce? Yes!



Post-Script: This brings to mind the larger issue of social media itself, which is an economic model similar to broadcast television, but one that makes the viewer also into the content creator. It's creative slavery, giving away the creative output of one's life for free, to be exploited later by others. I'd also include blogging in this category, with the exception of forms like typecasting, which have the unique attribute of being text imbedded within a graphic image, wherein to view the content is to disseminate it further afield.

Photo via Fujifilm X10. Typecast via Smith-Corona Silent.