2008 Boston Yel­low Pages: 1451 pages
2009 Boston Yel­low Pages: 1075 pages

December 31, 2008 December 31, 2008 observations by Scott 3 Comments

May you all have a very mer­ry Christ­mas!

December 25, 2008 December 25, 2008 friends by Scott No Comments

Christ­mas means trav­el­ing with two bags. I arrived at the air­port for my first expe­ri­ence in this checked-bag­gage-not-includ­ed world. To my sur­prise, they have not installed cash reg­is­ters at the tick­et counter! So how does a guy who uses a cred­it card only for large pur­chas­es check lug­gage on Delta Air Lines? Fol­low these easy steps:

  1. Iden­ti­fy your­self to an auto­mat­ed kiosk.
  2. When prompt­ed for num­ber of bags to check, touch “1”.
  3. The next screen asks you to swipe your cred­it card now to be charged $15. You nev­er said you want­ed to pay by cred­it card, so touch “can­cel.”
  4. When prompt­ed for num­ber of bags to check, touch “1” again.
  5. When asked again to swipe your cred­it card, call for human assis­tance. Ask where the cash option is.
  6. Human will advise that the only way out is to choose “0” bags (an option now help­ful­ly labeled “Free!”).
  7. Approach counter with bag to check. Iden­ti­fy your­self to counter agent.
  8. Agent will scan board­ing pass 3–5 times before declar­ing it unusu­al that the com­put­er will not per­mit her to check your bag. Wait for a super­vi­sor to reach the same con­clu­sion before ask­ing, “Is it because I declared zero bags at the kiosk?”
  9. Agent will accom­pa­ny you back to the kiosk to mod­i­fy your check-in.
  10. Agent will advise you to again select “1” bag, but this time to answer “yes” when it asks whether the lug­gage con­tains sport­ing goods, live ani­mals, dry ice or firearms, even if it does not. “I real­ize there’s no way you would have known that,” she will add.
  11. A help­ful pop-up screen will now advise you to see an agent at the counter.
  12. Return to counter with the agent. Pro­duce $20 bill.
  13. Agent says she will be right back and car­ries the mon­ey to the back room.
  14. Smile help­ful­ly at the peo­ple behind you in line.
  15. Agent returns in 5–7 min­utes, hav­ing com­plet­ed the nec­es­sary paper­work to make $5 in change, and you are on your way. What could be eas­i­er?

December 24, 2008 December 24, 2008 travel by Scott No Comments

I knew some­thing was amiss when I awoke to find that the breeze from my slight­ly open win­dow was uncom­fort­ably cold. The heat stopped work­ing overnight. Hav­ing made a spe­cial effort to be up ear­ly to run errands, I was furi­ous to dis­cov­er that the hot water was also out. There are two things in this world which, if missed, will make me instant­ly irri­ta­ble: meals and show­ers. I ate break­fast.

I start­ed call­ing the land­lord. The boil­er in my build­ing dates back to approx­i­mate­ly the time of James Watt, so one or two major mechan­i­cal fail­ures per year is cus­tom­ary. The sys­tem close­ly resem­bles Frankenstein’s lab­o­ra­to­ry. Wires, bare and cloth-insu­lat­ed, twist and turn like vines along walls. The win­dows of gauges and sight glass­es are mot­tled by the accu­mu­lat­ed crust of decades. Obso­lete parts are bypassed but left in place. Unable to trou­bleshoot it myself, I call hourly for sta­tus updates. I found it curi­ous that it was tak­ing hours to dis­patch a repair­man. What could pos­si­bly be wrong this time?

The answer became clear after lunch when the “repair­man” final­ly showed up, not with a tool­box but with a tanker truck. Who lets their tank of heat­ing oil run dry!?!

December 21, 2008 December 21, 2008 rants by Scott 1 Comment

As I biked past my neigh­bor­hood Sub­way restau­rant last night I spot­ted what has become a strange­ly com­mon sight in down­town Boston: a bat­tery of lights set up on the side­walk, blast­ing at the front win­dow. A hand­ful of grip trucks and a make­up trail­er were parked out­side.

Scrims and flags and light­ing stands blocked my view of what was going on inside—needless to say they were closed for business—but rumor has it that if I had stuck around a lit­tle longer, I would have seen Michael Phelps shoot­ing a Super Bowl com­mer­cial.

December 16, 2008 December 16, 2008 observations by Scott 1 Comment

This week the gov­er­nor of New York pro­pos­es an “obe­si­ty tax” on soft drinks. Good for him! Finan­cial incen­tives for good behav­ior work, and I’m sure the state can use the extra rev­enue.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly it seems like Gov. Pater­son intends to draw a line between diet and non-diet drinks, choos­ing to tax only non-diet sodas. Mak­ing such a dis­tinc­tion seems to con­vey the mes­sage that diet sodas are some­how health­i­er than their non-diet coun­ter­parts. A gov­ern­ment endorse­ment of arti­fi­cial sweet­en­ers like aspar­tame (Nutrasweet) is inap­pro­pri­ate with­out sci­en­tif­ic con­sen­sus. And as of this writ­ing, the sci­ence is incon­clu­sive.

Most peo­ple would agree that soda is unhealthy, so why not tax all soda?

December 15, 2008 December 15, 2008 in-the-news by Scott No Comments

Quoth the New York Times: “And yet, Mr. Blago­je­vich, 52, rarely turns up for work at his offi­cial state office in Chica­go, for­mer employ­ees say, is unapolo­get­i­cal­ly late to almost every­thing, and can treat employ­ees with dis­dain, curs­ing and erupt­ing in fury for fail­ings as mun­dane as neglect­ing to have at hand at all times his pre­ferred black Paul Mitchell hair­brush. He calls the brush ‘the foot­ball,’ an allu­sion to the ‘nuclear foot­ball,’ or the bomb codes nev­er to be out of reach of a pres­i­dent.”

So, Illi­nois: you vot­ed for this guy?

December 14, 2008 December 14, 2008 in-the-news by Scott 3 Comments

I proud­ly sub­scribe to LensWork, the only pho­tog­ra­phy mag­a­zine focused entire­ly on pho­tographs (as opposed to cam­eras). The edi­tor, Brooks Jensen, has a keen eye, tremen­dous expe­ri­ence, and nev­er takes sides on point­less issues. For the longest time, the mag­a­zine was adamant that their spe­cial edi­tion reprints were real pho­to­graph­ic prints, not lith­o­graphs, and cer­tain­ly not inkjet prints.

So it is trou­bling to this young lud­dite, so fond of mak­ing his own B&W prints in the dark­room, to read the results of Mr. Jensen’s tests with the lat­est crop of fan­cy inkjet print­ers and coat­ed inkjet pho­to paper: “They are every bit as good as the gelatin sil­ver paper I print­ed on for years. In fact, the Dmax black den­si­ties are even greater than I was able to repro­duce in the dark­room with sele­ni­um-toned prints! The sur­face tex­tures are love­ly… The ‘feel’ of them is just won­der­ful.”

There you have it. In the short time since I took up pho­tog­ra­phy, I have watched dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies equal or sur­pass sil­ver at a num­ber of met­rics. First in res­o­lu­tion. Then at noise. Then dynam­ic range. And now falls the print. The sig­nif­i­cance is less about ana­log vs. dig­i­tal than about what makes a “fine art” print so desir­able. A gelatin sil­ver print hang­ing in an art muse­um was almost cer­tain­ly exposed from an orig­i­nal, one-of-a-kind neg­a­tive in the artist’s dark­room, burned and dodged with light shaped by the artist’s own hands. Now black-and-white pho­tog­ra­phy enters an era in which machine repro­duc­tions are equal to or bet­ter than what we cur­rent­ly call the “real thing.”

How will we val­ue art when time-con­sum­ing and expen­sive orig­i­nals become indis­tin­guish­able from copies? Will we need deal­ers? Will we need muse­ums? The music indus­try is already ask­ing sim­i­lar ques­tions, but at least they will always have the live per­for­mance.

December 7, 2008 December 7, 2008 observations by Scott 1 Comment