Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fences, Gates, Warning Signs

Torrington, Connecticut

Ansonia, Connecticut

Postal Service

Stockbridge, Massachusetts

So, the question now is, does England not only have the most expensive postage in the world, but also the worst service?

In the 2010 first TOP  platinum print offer, the only two packages lost were both to England, and the post office there refused even to communicate about it to the postmaster here in Woodbury. This time I found that postage to England is the most expensive in the world—more than to Sinagpore or Japan—and that insurance isn’t available. I self-insured, overall, because of reliable performance, otherwise, last time, but checked how much it would be to insure the packages to Great Britain, because of that last time. It's the one place insurance isn't available at all. Apparently the insurance underwriter knows something.

Now, a print offer buyer in England hasn't received his package shipped on Oct. 9. The USPS website tracking on the package just stops when it leaves NYC. Another package, sent to London, also just stops tracking when it leaves NYC. A package to Norway shows leaving NY, arriving in Norway, entering customs, clearing customs, attempted delivery, notice to adressee, successful delivery. Packages to England, nothing after they leave the the NY terminal.

Next chore will be to check with UPS and FedEx about shipping replacement package(s). Uninsured international Priority Mail packages all showed an indemnity valuation of about $70—I suspect I'll find that doesn't apply to mail to GB.

UPDATE: It gets more crazy. As near as I can tell using their online package pricing tools, FedEx and UPS both want over $100 to send a less-than-one-pound package from Connecticut to London. Clearly, they've consulted with the USPS insurance underwriter.

UPDATE TWO: The USPS "customer service" response is, Fuck You.

Or, in the long form:

The United States Postal Service does not accept inquiries on First-Class Mail International items and Priority Mail International. Your parcel, however, may receive scans as it maneuvers through the United States, but this is neither a requirement nor guarantee. You may find other delivery options for these services by visiting your local Post Office. If you would like a fully traceable International service, please use our Priority Mail Express International or Global Express Guaranteed services.

The first of those raises the price—for a 12x15x1-inch, 14-ounce package going from Connecticut to London, from $40+ to $50+, and the second option costs $70. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Derby, Connecticut

Yellow Posts

Derby, Connecticut

It's the parking lot for a restaurant and bar, so that might explain the extra caution with all the protective posts.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Political Signs

Catskill, New York

Autumn Is Here

Washington, Connecticut

Lots of color everywhere, country and city. Also, the temperature dipped below freezing overnight, which means an unheated house is...uncomfortable. The cats are really pissed off. We're anxious to find out how soon the contractor can get started on the boiler replacement.

Torrington, Connecticut

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oktoberfest, New Software, Old House Heating

Shelton, Connecticut

The upgrade to OS X Yosemite, which took up a lot of my time yesterday, so far looks very good indeed. In the past, system upgrades have sometimes been too much for aging computers, overburdening their processing and memory power and pushing them over the cliff. This time, our two iMacs and one MacBook Pro (all between four and five years old and with only 4 gigs of RAM) are running much better. Faster, more reliably, not losing the WiFi connection as the MacBook had been doing to the point that I was pricing replacements for it. Apple promotes the new OS as, "Like getting a new Mac—for free!" I have to admit that this is only a bit of an exaggeration. I've only done a little bit of Photoshop work with it, but everything from load times to filter runs are much snappier, so it looks as though Adobe, in this recent, latest release of PSCC, is working closely with Apple on the Yosemite upgrade.

On another front, after much research and consultation, we've been convinced that, as problematic as the steam heat system in this 1744 house has been (the steam is of course newer, but still antique), it will run enormously better with a new state of the art "mega-steam" boiler. It's very expensive, but still $10K less than replacing the whole system with baseboard. Also, no tearing the whole house apart, and the old radiators and exposed two-inch piping are a real part of the aesthetic here. Replacing with baseboard might actually lower the resale value by interfering with the look.

Finally, it's still October, so...

New Milford, Connecticut

More Walls and Weeds

Waterbury, Connecticut

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cracked Walls and Flowers

Torrington, Connecticut

Spent a lot of the morning running long, slow, upgrade procedures to bring our aging computers up into the latest Mac OS, and didn't get around to putting a post here until now. System performance seems improved.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking This Way, and That Way

Torrington, Connecticut

Back in early August, abundant weeds in the parking lot of an idle factory complex.

I'm not certain what the hydrant-like piece of equipment is. Maybe even a hydrant, but it looks more like some sort of metering device. Here's a crop from the first shot.


Athens, New York

Waterbury, Connecticut

Monday, October 13, 2014

One More Time

Woodbury, Connecticut

Making a few more prints of The Church and Steep Rock. As it happened, the number of prints I made in each session came out almost perfectly even, on the last day, with the total number of prints ordered, just a little short of 120. A bit too perfect. Not one order has dropped out, all but one are paid for, and I'm assured that the money order is in the mail on that one, so I find I have only two prints left over.

Trouble is, I've got to close the darkroom and make it essentially into a storage pod as we turn the whole contents of the house upside down to clear all perimeter walls for installation of the baseboard heating system to replace the antique—and deceased—steam system. So if anything goes wrong in shipping—and, while the success rate has been excellent in percentage terms, some things have gone wrong in shipping both our first TOP platinum offer and the similar Kickstarter Rewards fulfillment two years ago on the drive-in project—so I need more spare prints.

Since I had to do a short printing session, I decided to pick two of my drive-in theater project pictures, one an 8x10 original and the other a digital capture, run the files through my standard batch action to produce a digital negative file, then output them onto a sheet of 11x17 Pictorico. After the print offer work, I printed the two new negs at my standard time of 4 minutes. They seemed to do quite nicely.

Yellow, Red, Green

Derby, Connecticut

Stockbridge, Massachusetts