October 25th, 2014


A Gorgeous Autumn Afternoon

Blue sky, bright sun, temp in the 60s and gusty breezes all day. Had windows open and had to out on a sweatshirt. Not too shabby.

It's been a bit of an odd fall color season here. Lots of yellows. Lots of trees yellow on top and green below, resulting in later half yellow, half bare trees later. A few of the younger trees in bright salmon and scarlet. Many yellows amongst the bushes and weeds. And fluffy. Lots of really good fluffy weeds as they release their seeds for next year.

Fantastic produce season still yielding some nice tomatoes. And now we're in the hard squashes and tasty cabbages.

Of course I am inside grading PHYS-1070 Exam 2. My grader for the other class just got me the results from their Exam 2. I've graded all of Problem 1 on my exam -- the multiple guess problem. Huh. Good news, worst results were 3 of 10 right. Bad news, not a single person got the entire page right. Not a single one. Most people screwed up on Uniform Circular Motion or Newton's Laws or both. Most people got at least one of the two collision problems. Sigh...

But enough of that! The day, the day!

I did go out for an hour at noon to finish the roll of Fujicolor in the Nikon F3. Ended up taking a lot of glowing backlit shots of leaves, berries, weeds, fields and fall leaves. The field corn is finally dry enough the green is gone. It rustled in the breezes.

Spoiled by digital -- you can take more shots and preview exposure. Either these will all be really pretty or they'll all suck. Concerned with focus. The 28-200mm f3.5-5.6D AF NIKKOR can be used with older manual focus cameras, but I really need a different focusing screen. I used to be good at ignoring the blacked out split image prism of a Type K screen and concentrate on the microprisms at f5.6. But I am decades out of practise. Looking for an F3 Type R screen -- its split image is designed for f3.5-5.6 -- I had one for the Nikon F2SB back in the late 70s. And I just discovered that rewinding the F3 with the bulky DA-2 Action Finder is a pain. No wonder nearly all the Action Finders were on cameras with motor drives. I'll go back to using the auto-focus and built-in motor drive F4s until I buy an MD-4 for the F3.

In the meantime, Mrs. Dr. Phil dropped off the rolls from the F3 and the N2020 for processing and scanning. So we'll have some Michigan Tech and fall colors pictures Real Soon Now.

But what a lovely day!

Dr. Phil

November Pre-Lab Theatre

Word on the street, or at least on Facebook, was that Netflix had added The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. With Part I of Mockingjay -- and isn't it weird that Mockingjay is in the Kindle's dictionary, but blockquote is not -- coming out in a month, we decided to do our pre-lab.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Netflix streaming

There is no intro. You are expected to know what's going on, which is perfectly reasonable for a series. It's been a year since the movie came out and a couple of years since we read the books. It is, of course, beautifully filmed, and is much darker than The Hunger Games. Woody Harrelson's Hamish is spot on. And Epie turns out to have a heart, even if her worldview is distorted by the Capital. I continue to rave about Stanley Tucci as the big TV emcee. And Donald Sutherland as President Snow. Sigh. It's truly creepy when some lie or horrible sentiment is delivered in the same smooth velvet that Donald uses to sell orange juice. Be afraid of the juice. (grin)

As for the victims, er, Tributes, there is a very different feel in the second story. We had no reason to think about it in the opening installment, that that was the 74th Hunger Games. Magic number 75? The 3rd Quarterquell? Can you say screw the Victors and turn most of them into victims? MAN, that is one devious plot twist. If this movie has a weak spot for me, is that compared to the book, they've pared down the key players. From Katniss on down, it's solid casting. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss as flawed, scared and rough. Not as the too-beautiful-to-be-believed heroine.

In earlier reviews I'm sure I commented that Katniss reacts, not acts. That's not the whole story, because everyone is shielding her so she doesn't know the whole story. Let's just say she has trust issues. When the President personally wants you dead, I suspect you'd have issues.

Much like The Maze Runner, the sheer COST of running both the centralized bully government and the high tech we-spared-no-expense Hunger Games makes you wonder. If they just spent the money on humanity, wouldn't everyone be better off? Well, no. The pigs freelancing in the Capital, like the front end passengers on Snowpiercer, would find the gravy train over, the decadent waste ended -- can't have that. Big difference between Hunger Games and Mazerunner -- the Hunger Games venues are used once, like the Olympics, whereas the Maze looks weathered like it's been there a while and used for more than one time.

I applaud the decision to split Mockingjay, the third novel into two parts. The novel has a big division between the battles in the Districts and the battles in the Capital. Neither should be given short shrift.

We're ready now.

Dr. Phil