Saturday, September 26, 2015


Ansonia, Connecticut

I saw this a few weeks ago while driving north on limited-access highway Rt. 8, but didn't have time to circle back to reach the small feeder road where it's located. Yesterday I was back in the area and had time to get in close. The 'church signs' label nearly fits, though maybe I should begin a church billboards label since I've been seeing more along this line recently.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Brick Walls

Waterbury, Connecticut

The billboard tower in the first picture is there to be seen by travelers and commuters on I-84, which sails across the center of the city a hundred or more feet in the air. The west side of the Naugatuck river valley is steep at this point, far more gradient than allowed in Interstate Highway design. So they built a huge elevated roadway right through the city, just a couple blocks south of the large town green.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Bennet College Ruins

Millbrook, New York

"Bennett College, founded in 1890, was a women's college that closed in 1978. Now an abandoned ruin, the spot is said to be haunted by students who committed suicide and are forever roaming the dorms in spirit." (From the Haunted Places web site.)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Late Summer Wild Flowers

Washington, Connecticut

Perfectly clear blue sky is, most of the time, my least favorite light. For some reason this afternoon it seemed to do well with the end of season wildflowers at Macricostas Preserve. (If you click on the picture the second view will deal much better with the detail.)

Reaching the World, from Ansonia

Ansonia, Connecticut

Friday, September 18, 2015

When Good GPS Units Go Bad

For seven or eight years now I've been using a TomTom GPS (stupid name but since the company is actually in Amsterdam they might not be aware that the name could be offensive). I researched online and found that there was a strong trend of people thinking it had superior mapping and routing abilities. It has performed extremely well, until a week ago. For anyone not familiar with these things, the maps and directions and "smartness" of a GPS have nothing to do with the satellites up there in the sky. Those just send out a signal. Everything else comes from the software that the GPS unit manufacturer installs, and the quality varies a lot. When I'd had it only a short time I was driving back from Upstate New York, from a place I've gone to many times over several decades and know exactly what the best backroads (no Interstates available) route is to return. So I hit the "take me home" button and the Bossy Lady got the route absolutely perfect.

On my 17,000 mile road trip when I got to photograph 107 drive-in theaters in 2012, I found that the Points of Interest database was so good that about 2/3 of the theaters I wanted to reach were listed, so I didn't even have to key in an address to be led to the next venue. Exactly two of these were dead wrong. One by about half a mile, another by a couple of miles. I had to get out the MacBook and look up the theater's street number to fix the problem. It also freaked out completely once when I used it driving into NYC, hoping that its real time traffic feature would be useful. The opposite happened. Real time traffic awareness, driving into town, blew its circuits. I turned it off.

Last Friday, driving to the SUNY New Paltz campus, dementia set in (perhaps there's a 10X factor for GPS years). It took a while to figure out what was going on, but it was misinterpreting the signals and placing the car icon about a hundred yards west of our actual location. The maps were fine, but smoke was practically coming out of Bossy Lady's ears from recalculating the route continuously. She had the route, and the maps, but since we were placed out in the cornfield west of the road, she kept thinking I'd gone out there on purpose and needed to find the next turn to get me back on course.

Over the weekend, I went to the B&H website to look for GPS units and found that they had Garmens (which I've seen a lot of negative comments about) but not TomTom. So I went to the company's website. Annoyingly, it seems that the built-in real time traffic feature has been replaced by one that relies on a link to your smartphone. Problem is, I'm not a teenage girl writing 200 texts a day, so I don't have an unlimited data plan for my iPhone. Our plan has a small amount of data (200 megs a month) so we can check the weather or use the compass once in a while, and I get charged for two or three spam messages at 25 cents apiece each month. It would cost at least $30 a month more to have big or unlimited data, so to use the "improved" traffic feature I would hand AT&T three times as much every year as the damn GPS unit cost. These priorities definitely do not compute.

If only their website and ordering system were as good as the product. The saga continues. Since I wasn't going to use the smartphone-dependant traffic stuff, which is a big feature of the higher line units, I found a unit that cost quite a bit less partly because it only had lifetime maps updates, not lifetime traffic which I would not be able to access. So I ordered it. The dialogs told me it would be shipped FedEx and they could not ship to PO box addresses. Fine. I get UPS and FedEx deliveries all the time at our street address. But for the USPS we use a post box. First, I get a shipping notice with the date of "null." Not promising. It includes a UPS shipping tracking link, which delivers an error message. So I know something isn't going well here.

I'm not heading off to Wyoming, or something,  I just need to replace the tired unit, so I wait a bit. Till Friday. Still can't find any feedback mechanism's at their web site, but join their forum, and quite quickly get a response from someone telling me the USA phone number for customer service. Why isn't that at the damn website? I began the customer service thing for several minutes with someone whose accent indicated he was in Mumbai, but then the line dropped. I'm getting just a little annoyed. I go online and see if BestBuy still exists, where I bought the old unit because, unlike photo stuff, I felt the need to talk to someone in person about getting something in this new tech, at the time, stuff. They want about $30 more for the same unit, so we'll go with this a while. I try again. Partway through our talk, the line is dropped again. But she calls me back. (Is Donald Trump in charge of this malfunctioning system?) Because she is a good service rep and knows that they've fucked up and have to fix it. Why couldn't I find the connection to her and her associates at the website? She's very good, but I had no way to find her before I joined a frickin discussion forum and asked how to deal with this.

So, there is a service where FedEx hands shit off to the USPS. This sucks. Because if you use a post office box as your mailing address, as we do, and the retailer won't accept PO box addresses, and sends your package to your street address, but then it gets tracked over to the PO, sometimes they will send it back out of some sort of spite over the rules.

Having finally made contact, which wasn't easy, with TomTom's customer service, they tell me they are dealing with the rejected-by-PO issue by sending my product in a way that will go directly to my street address, bypassing the post office. Everyone lost money on this deal. The damn thing is only $110 plus tax. Not understanding US post office rules as part of their procedure cost them more than the worth of the damn product I'm buying. My rep had to call Amsterdam, to get permission/closure/fixit/dammit on this. It's at least as funny as it is sad.

UPDATE: I went to the post office this morning, and found a package notice in my PO Box. The package wasn't returned after all. My guess is that someone on the staff rejects packages without a box number because they can, while someone else goes and rescues them. Can't see any other reason for the service rep at TomTom to have seen a tracking notice that the package was returned. I've emailed them that the unit is here. Now lets see if we wind up with two and have to deal with returning one of them...


Seymour, Connecticut

Country Trees

Washington, Connecticut

Three shots from a recent late summer walk around Steep Rock Reservation. The fall colors should be coming in soon.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Washington, Connecticut

Bright sky on a late summer day. A whole lot of flight paths out of Bradley International go right over Litchfield county.

On the Rocks

Torrington, Connecticut

As often as I've walked past this tiny liquor store across the street from the town's post office, I've thought that the pun-ish business name carried an ominous double entendre. They were thinking of cocktails, but the older, dire, seafaring usage seems now to be in effect.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Fence, and Crabapples

Waterbury, Connecticut

Urban or rural, apple or, as here, crabapple, trees have gone crazy this summer. We have wild examples of each at our place (the deer certainly are happy). Driving on rural roads through commercial apple orchards last Friday on our little expedition to Upstate New York, the crops looked amazing. Crabapples falling from decorative city trees, even at rundown spots, simply cover the pavement in places. The rest of the litter is less appealing.

More Shop Windows

Torrington, Connecticut

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015


Dover Plains, New York

(As always, click on the picture for a larger and crisper view.)

Now, That's a Weed! and Anniversary

Torrington, Connecticut

This is a strange date in the calendar for us, Bettina and me. It's the date of the national trauma that happened in 2001. It's the date we got married in 1971.

I'd found a placekeeper job immediately out of college, in the PA area, to build up some resources to begin freelance photography, because she was switching from the National Academy, to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (because her favorite teacher at the first, [an established artist who taught only for the love of it] told her PAFA was the real school, just go there).

We found a justice of the peace (we're atheists and needed only a civil ceremony) who didn't charge much, located in the close suburb of Upper Darby. A school friend of Tina's, along with one of mine with his girlfriend, showed up to our studio apartment in West Philly to become our wedding party, and we drove ten minutes out. The Wedding Hall was the basement of the JP's house, which wasn't large, or high ceilinged. It was full of a wedding party in bright colors for the women, and cheap rented gray fancy suits for the men. There was a problem.

The groom wasn't there.

They rushed us in ahead. The JP bore an amazing resemblance to Bugs Bunny, though bigger, I guess, and Tina thought I was over-serious about the civil vow part, but Robin made up for it by yelling honking horn sounds out the back window of our 1970 VW all the way back to the apartment. Tina opened a jar of Ragu and made spaghetti.

Never learned what happened with the other wedding party.

We're off today to a show Tina found at SUNY New Paltz that looks interesting. We'll find a place to have a nice lunch, if we're lucky.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

New Service?

Waterbury, Connecticut

The other day a friend sent me a note with a link to an online publishing service whose "business model" confused us both. It seems to consist of getting "publishers" to pay $26 or $35 per month to upload their publications to an online facility where millions of readers will be able to access them—for free. Say what? Paying money to have your content accessible to an audience who doesn't pay for it is called, "advertising."

For some reason it made me think of this shot from a few weeks ago. As near as I can tell, this is a place where you can walk in without an appointment and for ONLY $35 dollars they will not cut your hair. Won't color it, either. They will blow dry it, however. It isn't clear from the copy on the sandwich board or the window treatments who is responsible for getting your hair wet in the first place. Perhaps a rainy day takes care of it, but I don't know about clear weather.

OK, having recently turned 66, I may be several steps behind the cutting edge of advertising and marketing, but in both of these cases I find myself sort of scratching my head and thinking, "how do they get people to pay for that?"


Waterbury, Connecticut

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Torrington, Connecticut

I think the holder of twin flags is a doll, not a child mannequin, but the "cover your eyes" gesture is enigmatic. Is she avoiding the fake currency, or the severe mannequin dressed in blue and black? This is a Salvation Army Thrift Store, so if there is indeed any hidden meaning here it could include mission beyond sales appeal.


Waterbury, Connecticut

Sunday, September 06, 2015


Waterbury, Connecticut

More heavy, not quite a storm, late summer light. We've had an early September heat wave here. The temperature dropped last night and it was all the way down at 46°F around six this morning, but by 2:00 PM it 90°F again. (As always, you get a better view in a new window if you click on the picture.)

Trees and Truck

Waterbury, Connecticut

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Friday, September 04, 2015