End of an era

I was reading headlines online earlier this evening when an interesting one came across my screen.  “Last public payphone removed in NYC today”  That’s not to say it will be the last payphone in the entire city, there are many that exist in private businesses and some homes, and there are at least 2 or 3 full length payphone booths that still are available.

Doing a little digging on the ‘Net, apparently as of 2020 there were still at least 100,000 usable payphones in the entire United States, but increasingly they’re being removed, as people using cellphones are supplanting the need for coin operated phones.  Certainly using an operator to place a call has gone the way of the dodo, and the very concept of a ‘trunk’ call, or ‘station to station’ is unheard of.  Just like the bygone days when one could make a phone call for 10 cents (I was in college when the cost increased to a quarter dollar), putting in scads of coins to make a phone call has quickly become a thing of the past.

Though I do remember being in school and needing a ride home.  Instead of using the time honored tradition of making a collect call, and when the automated voice asked for the name; using something like “pleasecomegetmepracticeisover” we used the system of pressing the number 6 twice to indicate that someone needed a ride home.  That way we saved a dime, and whichever parent was free was able to drive to the school to come get either myself or my brother.

Anyway, it seemed interesting to me, so I thought I’d write about it.  Off to bed here, it’s been a long day.

Full of sh*t

I have an older brother.  We’re both adopted, but that’s only part of the story.  He’s 2 years older than I am, and I think we had a pretty normal childhood.  Though if you listen to his side of it, it was surreal.  Almost unbelieveable.  And you’d be right, because most of the time, when he tells stories of his childhood (or later in life) there’s very little truth in what he relates.

Unfortunately, I’ve been witness to this for years.  And the few times I spoke up to put the truth to his lies, I got shouted down by his followers.  I wouldn’t say ‘friends’ necessarily, because most of them are hangers-on, the people that will abandon you when they finally find out the truth for themselves.

I was reminded of this Friday night as my brother was promoting his upcoming concert tour on a fledgling ad hoc radio station (they broadcast one night a week from the rear of a local grocery store).  As it turned out he was the guest of a local personality that is a therapist and champion of mental health.  Unfortunately, she was completely snowed and wowed by my brother, and he was pretty much given free rein to say whatever he wished, without her even batting an eye over the increasingly outlandish things he was talking about.

It has increasingly boggled my mind over the years how he manages always to get away with stuff.  Even when he has run afoul of the law, there’s always been some loophole, some way he’s been able to skate past responsibility.  I’d say he was a cat in a previous life, considering how many lives he’s managed to use up to still be out and about, but since I love cats, I can’t be that cruel.  Maybe he was a chameleon.  That might be a better analogy, I suppose.

Many friends and acquaintances of mine over the years have espoused that karma is eventually going to come to get him, but after seeing and observing him, I don’t think that’s the case.  Though if it does, when he goes boom, he’s going to take a lot of people down with him.  Not necessarily all worthy ones either.  He’s swindled more than a few people over the years as well.  But he’s very good at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this on pixels.  I’m not going to name names, give any clues or anything of that sort.  I just needed to get this off my chest.  It’s been bothering me.

Thanks for reading.

Preserving my past

As I mentioned in a previous post I have a box of slides that need to be digitized and converted into a better form for viewing.  As I’m discovering, 35mm slides aren’t the easiest thing in the world to work with.  Modern printer/scanners aren’t really all that good when it comes to them, because they’re not print media (pictures), they’re transparent, so they don’t scan very well.  One needs a dedicated piece of equipment to work with them, and the better ones are expensive.

When I first got the slides, I used an app on my Android phone called ‘Lightbox’ which basically did what it says, backlit them so that I could take a picture with a second phone, in order to see the slides as if they were in a projector.  Of course, that’s a quick and dirty method, I need something that can be used to doing the same thing, but with a bit more clarity as well as finesse in bringing out the natural colors and nuances of the slide in question.  I knew that there were dedicated machines to do the work, as well as businesses that are skilled in doing it, but many of the businesses are still in their infancy, charge an arm and a leg for the work, and there’s the bugaboo of sending your memories out to a 3rd party, and you might not get them back.  US Mail has never been an exact science.

20220311_075021[1]When I got home, I had more opportunity to seek out a machine that could do the work and do it efficiently for an affordable price. Oddly enough, I found one that had good reviews on Amazon, and it had a familiar name.  With a little digging, I discovered it wasn’t really made by the company emblazoned on it’s chassis, it was just being used because it was familiar to consumers, but sneakily enough the company name was actually being used in a legal sense.  (Kodak had gone through bankruptcy in the early 2010s and sold off many of it’s lucrative patents) The nuance wasn’t really lost on me, as the company that had processed the slides, made the original film and even produced the camera that originally took the pictures were all one and the same, but it’s definitely a different world.  The Kodak building might still be in Rochester, NY, but it’s most definitely NOT the company it once was.

Even so, after purchasing the unit through Amazon, it took a little trial and error before I could use the unit efficiently.  It has a slider that one can load and push through the unit, which is set up to receive slides of different shapes and sizes, one just has to find the right one and it works pretty well.  I wouldn’t say that it works professionally, but certainly way better than the clunky way the Lightbox app operated.  I was able to hook up the unit to my computer via USB and instantly copy the scanned slides to my hard drive, once I had adjusted the slide for size as well as being sure the slide wasn’t in the unit backwards.  Several times I had to look at a slide to be sure that it wasn’t reversed, going back in my memory about how a certain piece of furniture or light switch was situated in my parent’s house, so as not to give the reverse impression of the items in the slide.

I have about 700 slides and all in all it took me about 3-4 hours to process them.  I did have to scan some of them multiple times in order to be sure they were done properly, since some of the slides weren’t in the greatest of shape after having been stored in various places over the years.  Certainly some of the really old ones (1950s) were completely oxidized and useless, though for the most part they showed people I’d never met and had no idea who they were.  Since my parents are deceased, I can’t use them for reference, and my cousins don’t live close by, so it’s likely they wouldn’t recognize them either.  Who they are will remain a mystery.  Such is the way of historical records sometimes, without proper annotation, it’s just a picture.

But, I’m pleased to have them in my possession, and for the longest time they were just sitting in my brother’s attic, unused, unseen and unknown.  Now I can share them with him, with my cousins and for a new set of eyes, my birth mother, who missed out on my youth and all the adventures I had.  She’s been very pleased and intrigued by the images.  So I’m happy it all worked out.  Thanks Kodak.