price-compare results for meta vendor sites


30 December 2006

I'll Have My Trashy Fiction Wry, Thank You. Or Should I Say 'Serve mine with rye, please. With a dash of limey.' ?


This is a mere experiment. I'm trying to give readers a taste of the tongue-in-cheek descriptions written by Angus Wilson in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes (Penguin, 1958).

I think it is possible to just slap down a scan from the book as an image and let you read that, if I make the thing large enough. If you cannot read the text, which I will attempt myself on a cheap monitor tomorrow, just click on it a couple times and it should return enlarged on a separate page - we'll see. If that doesn't work, I will OCR the thing and upload the text. Here goes:

From page 55.

With Camera Angles Straight, Lights Right, Nail It All Down and Snap Away


This is a shot without much diffusion because the light is aimed at the opposite fabric screen with what spills onto the book's cover raking across the surface. A shot like this will show every bumped corner, crease, as well as edgewear. Sometimes this is what is called for by the customer considering a book purchase.

This example is apt. The childrens book has a gnarled upper corner (to your left).

The small accessories, such as tape, a measure, et cetera, are all familiar to photographers who have done product shots.

This image of a black, 35 mm film camera could use still more fill flash than I gave it. The same material used as a backdrop was drawn forward over a cross beam made from a monopod camera stand and attached well over the 'nature morte' arrangement. Computer screen monitors vary and the low resolutions I use for all image uploads hide the fact that the original image DOES have detail in the darker shadows.

Sorry about the 1% lean to the right. I was just being lazy about image editing.

Light Box Folds Up Neatly After Giving Nice Image Results


Where are images? Jeez, is this ever taking a long time to load!

The greenish cast (in the image below of the carrying case), not the one above (taken INSIDE my newlighting setup), is caused by reflections from the table's green surface. It is exactly the sort of ambient light that using a lightbox prevents from spoiling your images.

I have attached a strap to the bag that is long enough to sling across the shoulder in such a way that it stays snuggly against your back if you are, say, riding a bicycle.

In the next post, you will see all the standard equipment and accessories that any and every table-top photo exercise requires. All of this stuff is inside the case, except the tripod which is attached to the side by its strap.

Under $20 Photo Light Diffusion Unit


To photograph books (or any table top arrangement of small objects) I have assembled inexpensive supports for a backdrop, a base, and two diffusion screens.

In a post here I stated that this could be done for under $20 with a bit of scrounging in flea markets. Well I got everything I needed for almost exactly $20 despite the fact that I bought the main light new at a hardware store for $13.

It is impossible ,in a single post, to load all the photo images needed to show readers how the setup is assembled and how I transport the various items for working on location in a bookstore. So I will run consecutive posts with headers that point to the relevant images from this morning's 'dry run' to test various lighting arrangements on various objects.

The first two items I found were standards to hold fabric for diffusing the light from two high intensity lamps. You could also use the neon variety of screw-in bulbs, each in a reflector. (Price = 2@ $1.99 = $3.98)

Next I found a flat plastic affair with creases that divide the unit into two tall panels and a slanting platform. You will see it; it's the blue contraption. I place a book on the slanting section after draping a towel or other backdrop over the back, front and sides of the boxlike frame. (This thing was made to fold shirts. After draping a shirt over it, one folds the panels on the side and then the front section and the shirt has straight folds for packing or for stacking in a drawer.)
(Price = $0.50 Balance = $4.48)

Finally, I bought a new goose-neck high intensity lamp that holds a 20 watt halogen quartz bulb. (Price = $13.00 Balance = $17.48)

This is starting to add up like the card game Blackjack, or 21. My outlay of cash did break the $20 challenge I set myself if you include the halogen quartz bulb I purchased to replace one that burned out on a lamp I intend to use for a second light. That cost $7.98. But since I did not use this lightsource in any of the photo images you will see here today, we won't count it.

Total cost: $17.98 Refer to the post HERE to look at a commercial unit costing $99.


The Dragon's Almanac - 30 December


from Justin Wintle

"Make a fire in seven places and smoke will rise in eight.."

. . . (1457) Chinese

29 December 2006

Dar es Salaam to Magical Zanzibar - via dcm's iPod


dcm is blogging as he hitchhikes up the east coast of Africa.

I caught the following from this dcm travelpod entry:

Dar es Salaam to Magical Zanzibar

Nothing prepared me for the Chirundu entrance into Zambia. It took 1 hour to get my passport stamped, then we had to take EVERY item off and out of the bus, so the customs officers could pick through them with a fine comb. Upon further investigation I was told it would take us at least 4 hours. I removed my backpack from seat 35 and headed for the border. This time I forgot my shoes – I told myself to stop doing that!

I walked through the big black gates and started looking for a ride to Lusaka. The pack of money changing vultures were the only ones interested in taking me for a ride. I found a very big yellow luxury bus – with aircon, reclining seats and wait for it – Nigerian Movies.

They felt sorry the pink-faced Mzungu (white person) and let me board for K20,000 – around R40.

I fell asleep on the cool bus, my iPod drowning out the noise of the drunks drinking Mosi beers and playing ‘pick up your fucking phone’ ring tones. I sat next to a big Zambian Mama who was more inquisitive than I was – 20 questions became 50 – including how religious I was and if I would be interested in black woman. After an hour I shut her up after telling her I was born Jewish but didn’t really practice anything, and that I had been married and divorced twice and lost 3 children. She didn’t speak to me for the rest of the trip.

Wyndham Lewis ? 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die


1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
edited by Peter Boxall
Cassell £20, pp960

On one of these blogs that exist with just one post on them . . the ephemeral sort that draw me back to see if the author has returned after abandoning his or her initial web posting . . I discovered an unlinked, unattributed list of books that are must-reads.

Browsing, I found the source and a pertinent review of the list (from last winter) on the Guardian site:

Sunday February 26, 2006
The Observer

1001 Books and surveys of its kind exist to remind us of what we have known and half-forgotten, what we are vaguely aware of but have never quite fully apprehended and what we have never even heard of.

. . .

Part of the snobbish parlour-game appeal of compendiums such as these lies in spotting the omissions, but, in all truth, why would anyone want to read - or read

about - no fewer than 11 books by JM Coetzee and seven by Wyndham Lewis, and yet forgo making the acquaintance of Rose Macaulay, Rosamond Lehmann, Olivia Manning, Rex Warner, Elizabeth Taylor, AL Barker or Ivy Compton-Burnett?

The review makes a passing mention of 'Man Without Qualities' (1933) by Robert Musil, calling his book an ' exhaustingly cerebral novel . . . '

Regarding the Musil book (and many others listed in my opinion) Guardian review states:

Bearing in mind the death sentence hanging over our

heads, we might balk at spending precious time reading

2,000 plotless pages.

My own (Blogaulaire's) scanning of the 1001 books listed revealed some huge gaps in my reading, especially for authors published within the past half century:

177. Vertigo - W.G. Sebald
178. Stone Junction - Jim Dodge
179. The Music of Chance - Paul Auster
180. The Things They Carried - Tim O'Brien
181. A Home at the End of the World - Michael Cunningham
182. Like Life - Lorrie Moore
183. Possession - A.S. Byatt
184. The Buddha of Suburbia - Hanif Kureishi
185. The Midnight Examiner - William Kotzwinkle
186. A Disaffection - James Kelman
187. Sexing the Cherry - Jeanette Winterson
188. Moon Palace - Paul Auster
. . .
212. The Afternoon of a Writer - Peter Handke
213. The Black Dahlia - James Ellroy
214. The Passion - Jeanette Winterson
215. The Pigeon - Patrick Süskind
216. The Child in Time - Ian McEwan
217. Cigarettes - Harry Mathews

Click THIS LINK to see the entire 1001.

This blog you are on is 'Cheap Priceless Editions' and, in keeping with the name, there is a search box at the top of every page that lets readers search for secondhand books across nearly a dozen vendor sites for used books. But that is not the way I would go to 'discover' the authors I do not yet know.

What I will do, if I ever decide to read the ones I've ignored so far (before I die) is to look for these books in brick 'n' mortar bookstores (before USED BOOK BOOKSTORES die and disappear).

By my calculation, to fill a few gaping holes in my reading list, I need to make up a spending budget.

Knowing in advance that some of the books I have not read nor heard of are unavailable at local used bookstores, I am facing either the cost of shipping and handling plus purchase price OR many, many trips to my local and our provincial library collections. Even at that, I keep staring at unread authors and titles (especially specific titles) that will probably have ticket prices high enough to break even a $2,000 budget . . with a mere dozen books. (Maybe, I hope, I'm being overly pessimistic.)

The problem lies in finding the precise title, not just any title, by a given author.

Of course I can quibble with the list. But if I have enjoyed one or two books by an author yet have ignored the title on the list, how can I claim that it is not far and away a better pick than the title I've been lucky enough to find and to have read?

I give up. Screw the list. I'm back to catch-as-catch-can for my fiction reading.

The review in The Observer Magazine (a Guardian tip-in publication) concluded with its own pared-down list:

10 heavyweight must-reads

Clarissa Samuel Richardson
War and Peace Leo Tolstoy
Ulysses James Joyce
USA John Dos Passos
Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes
The Unconsoled Kazuo Ishiguro
Bleak House Charles Dickens
Middlemarch George Eliot
A la recherche du temps perdu Marcel Proust
The Brothers Karamazov Fyodor Dostoevsky

I still cannot decide whether my reading glass is half full or half empty. Damn these reading lists . . and the reviewers tauting every new title as if it tops all of the 1001 by every measure.

(Does it strike you reading this that the unique female author listed used a masculine pen name or that the British rate three books while Americans and the rest of Western Europe come it at but one? And then what about Canada, Australia, Africa?)

The Dragon's Almanac - 29 December


nude man sandwich board

from Justin Wintle

"A teacher should never abandon his books, nor a poor man his pig."

. . . (1450) Chinese

28 December 2006

Angus Wilson: Cruel-Kind Enemy of False Sentiment and Self-Delusion


Margaret Dabble Says I Made the Right Move Picking Up Angus Wilson in a 1950s Penguin Edition:

The New York Times
January 29, 1995

Angus Wilson: Cruel-Kind Enemy of False Sentiment and Self-Delusion

The writers we discover for ourselves hold a special and lasting place in our affections and our imagination. I first read Angus Wilson when I was an undergraduate at Cambridge in the late 1950's. Nobody had recommended him: I found him for myself. 'Anglo-Saxon Attitudes' had appeared in a Penguin paperback in 1958, and maybe this was the novel that introduced him to me -- or maybe it was a volume of short stories, or his first novel, 'Hemlock and After,' also available in Penguin. However I came upon him, I rapidly read my way through all that was available, and began to wait eagerly for the next volume. I can remember to this day the sheer physical pleasure of sitting on the flat roof outside my tower room at Newnham College, in the warm sunlight, when I should have been studying for some examination or other, reading Angus Wilson instead and knowing myself to be in the company of a master. . . .

. . . The excitement of discovery had a subversive element. Cambridge in the 1950's was heavily dominated by F. R. Leavis and his Great Tradition: we were more advanced than Oxford, for we were permitted -- indeed enjoined -- to read and admire D. H. Lawrence. But there all curiosity ended. . . .

. . . His critical energy, in the 1950's, was akin to that of the heroes of his own youth, Aldous Huxley and Evelyn Waugh, and he spared neither young nor old -- horrible and pretentious children as well as pompous and sadistic venerable bullies abound in his work. But his writing also had a great and growing humanity: later novels showed a profound and compassionate insight into the lives of women in a society that denied them choice, autonomy and dignity.

I knew this pile of Penguins from the 1950s was a precious find. The covers, a far cry from the artsy invitation to design our own covers for 'My Penguin' Classic (see the Penguin Blog), do it for me more than the 3-D variety for pop fiction so current today.

Packin it in on Richard North Patterson's 1984 Novel "Escape the Night" on Page 102


This secondhand fiction find was promising because it combined the NY City publishing world, the anti-communism of McCarthyite redbaiting of writers and the angst of forbiddingly distant fathers.

The plot is just too dependent on omniscience: the sort that gets into a badguy's head and still tells you point blank he's a looser and out for Oedipal revenge. Not very complex a complexe, ehh? If the sex is supposed to be graphic, why should it be linear?

No. Book Closed.

. . I wish I remembered where I put down that Sillitoe or that E. L. Doctorow novel Daniel . . I put them away for later when guests arrived for the holidays . . . Then there are eight or so novels printed by Penguin Books in the 1950s in simple off-white and orange covers, all by authors I've barely even heard of, let alone given the attention of careful reading. You know the Penguin's I mean: on the back cover it invariably reads: 'Not for Sale in the U.S.A.'

My two guests were both reading novels by recent Nobel Prize winning author Orhan Pamuk -- but neither one of these novels was left behind, only a couple older pop lit titles were orphaned in the livingroom this time . .

. . maybe this French from France blues and boxing title no one but no one outside the writers' coop publishing circle knows . . .

FINALLY ! It Looks Like Some Serious Snow Fell Last Night


Snow cover that stays will make my day what with our lack of the brilliant, bright, beautiful substance right up through Christmas day this year in southern Quebec.


Now I know I will get out there and 'taste' it with my ankle-high boots. (My trusty lace 'n' latch military-style boots, with long black tongues, the better to lick snow with.) I have only worn these things twice since last September -- and that time only for working in the mud.


Here are some Canadian critters (they've grown tremendously since this photo) snoozing through Montreal's Snow 'Fest of Winter '05 - '06. They did not yet have to pull a 'traineau' yet they already had snow in their bloodstreams:

I hope I do not have to explain to YOU how snow before, during and after the holiday season in Canada is like a thermometer for environmental health (as well as for the thinking citizenry nowadays) and that until the snow started to fall yesterday (though that bunch melted away) and now again today, up until now, we had failed to pass the grade and saw a miserable endgame coming in this game of chess with Mother Nature.

On a longdistance call from South Africa we tried to explain to a relative from the American Pacific NorthWest Coast the importance of snow. She had just been out looking at tiny penguins that have never seen ice and seem perfectly content. Well thanks but no thanks. We don't need our polar bears turning black!

The Dragon's Almanac - 28 December


from Justin Wintle

"Warriors and gold may be idle but they never rust."

. . (1448) Japanese

"I wish I could say the same for motorcycles." . .(0001) Blogaulaire

27 December 2006

Big Versus Small Press Publishers: Writers Prefer Support to a Cash Advance for Their Latest Title


Recently, the Canadian book blog Bookninja blogged US blogger Maud Newton's piece under a title that should have been edited to read "Maud examines the recent trend of big time authors who opt for "small"(er) publishers."

My edit was made to reflect the fact that these publishers are only relatively 'small'; relative to the majors who had already printed and distributed umpteen other, earlier titles by said major authors cited in the source articles Maud used for her own post.

Somehow (duh!) Bookninja blogging a US blog to run in Canada and using the words Small Press Publisher in the first paragraph is misleading. At least when the subject is really about top-name-recognition US authors. This fact means this small press talk is all about promotion and distribution within the Big Leagues of Fiction Titles, where book promotions costing tens of thousands (if not hundreds of k) are common practise.

From 'Maud' via Bookninja:

Increasingly, even established writers like Kurt Vonnegut are looking beyond big-name publishers. They’re signing small press deals that guarantee heightened publicity and higher royalties; in return the authors accept drastically reduced advances.

I just switched from a fairly big name press to a small one for my next book. It’s a different story for us poets, but it comes down to the economics of the whole thing. The decision was partly political, partly practical. If you’re treated like afterthought dirt at even the largest press, you’re still just afterthought dirt. Besides the increased production values and care given by smaller presses, you also get more personal attention from the people trying to sell books. They really care about what they’re publishing and do nothing out of habit. This is the advantage of living so close to the edge. It keeps the senses sharp. At my former press, poetry is really just a charity program that’s now done out of habit. They do believe in it, in principle, but have no resources or time to devote to it when there are lucrative fiction and nonfiction titles to promote. So four books a year get published and left to stand on their authors’ reputations. However, if you’re still developing that reputation….. So, what’s the point of having all that name-brand muscle behind you if no one lifts a finger to help? And regardless of where we poets go, we all have drastically reduced advances.

Posted by George of Bookninja

If a reader using a browser goes behind the blogs to check out the articles cited, we discover an honest cynicism regarding any new title being promoted by the book biz:

From The Boston Globe

A book and its cover
The work of fiction in the age of blockbuster publishing

By Sven Birkerts | December 17, 2006

Cynical, yes, but I go to bookstores, I keep tabs; I've seen what happens to megaliths like National Book Award-winner Norman Rush's "Mortals" (712 pages), or (Indian novelist Vikram Chandra's) countryman Vikram Seth's "A Suitable Boy" (1,488 pages!). They loom in forbidding ziggurats for a month or so, then they are returned, to be bought up by remainder houses, whereupon they loom again . . .

. . . Writing might be the most solitary and soul-concentrated of vocations, but once a book enters the publishing sluice, it is a collectively-finessed object -- and the greater the investment, the more finessing.

Then there's the genre factor. "Sacred Games" (by Vikram Chandra) may be a work of high literary ambition, but it also offers a lovely hook. Bombay (Mumbai) noir. The novel tracks the progress of a world-weary cop through the labyrinths of the city's gangland underworld. The descriptions have it thick with seamy texture, with criminals and harlots high and low.

I have to keep pinching myself (up until the moment I read the dollar figures being bantied about when discussing these novels) to remind myself that the subject is US and not Canadian publishing with all this multi-ethnicity. I even let myself be mislead into believing that a bookblogger named 'Maud' had to be a Canadian by name if by nothing else!

The clincher regarding the sort of Small Press being examined (and proof that we do not need a microscope for this investigation) is abundantly offered in the following citation taken from one of the sources in the mainstream media for all this blog commentary above:

From The Wall Street Journal

"Traditional publishing functions as an assembly line," says Mr. Morrell (a writer of thrillers, including 'Scavenger').

"Often by the time a book is published the project has gone through various departments and the memory of why certain decisions were made weren't passed along, so nobody can understand what's going on." By contrast, Mr. Morrell says he is involved in every step of the marketing at Vanguard, which plans on publishing only one or two books a month for the near future.

Vanguard says it is responding to the rapid-fire changes that have given the once-sleepy publishing world a distinctly casino-like atmosphere. Increasingly these days books have only a week or two to establish themselves as big hits; otherwise they're quickly washed to the back of the store.

"Publishing is now very much like opening weekend grosses in the movie business, it's about exploding out of the box and selling as many copies as quickly as possible," says Roger Cooper, Vanguard's publisher.

Although such writers as James Patterson, Mitch Albom and Mr. King have been able to successfully ride that wave, many authors with good track records and established fan bases have been cut adrift, he says. Often their publishers are forced to concentrate on each season's biggest bets.

Such authors may still sell well, but often they feel under-published. Vanguard, by contrast, says it focuses on marketing its books three months before publication -- and then three months after publication. In theory, this means writers will have a richer opportunity to reach their fans."

Being published by a Small Press within Canada's borders does not mean that an author's book is out of the running for winning a major literary or nonfiction award, either nationally or internationally. But it does mean that the publisher cannot afford the 'richer opportunity to reach their fans' as meant by the Wall Street Journal piece quoted above. That is if the number of 'their fans' starts getting above a four- or modest five-digit figure.

What Hope Pharmacie Esperanza? Doors are Closed without Notice


For the past week or two, the doors to the café Pharmacie Esperanza have been closed. There is no notice posted to explain matters. Though I have seen customers who have walked up St. Laurent Blvd or east along St. Viateur for 5 or 6 blocks only to face these closed doors, none of us seems to have a clue.

Now the rumour is circulating that they were closed due to either a code violation or a liquor permit restriction. These rumours tell that the back room was the target.

If anyone reading this knows the answer about this closure, knows whether it is temporary or permanent, please post a COMMENT here. Many music, performance and discussion events will be cancelled and rescheduled if Pharmacie Esperanza must stay closed for any longer period running into January, 2007. I hope they can re-open soon.


The restaurant-café Pharmacie Esperanza, 5490 St-Laurent, Montreal, is a layback venue where writers, artists, and musicians (outnumbered by laptop-toting McGill undergrads whose thirst for 'a unique underground caché' never sleeps) table hop or spread out on huge sofa-divans giving each other sideways glances . . .

On this blogger's world tour site the P. E. made it onto the list of a couple dozen highlights for tourists.

26 December 2006

The Dragon's Almanac - 27 December


from Justin Wintle

"Even an impartial magistrate will fail to settle a family dispute."

. . . (1445) Chinese

25 December 2006

Only a Madman (woman) Never Thinks of Those Less Fortunate


Christmas means many things to many people; Hannukkah, Kwanza (which begins tomorrow) or Ramadan (in the 9th month) are the same: yet it is my conviction that during these celebrations, whether you think mostly divine or banal thoughts, about family or the celestial host, there is something wrong with your head if you do not pause for a moment and consider the condition of people you sincerely believe are less fortunate than yourself.

I have seen Christmas collections of food and money (the passing of a hat) among groups of people who I was convinced were the very ones in need of the charity of others. It did amaze me at one point in my life. Piety or the expression of pious sentiments (which are not the same things) do not strike me as the highest form of either charitable conduct nor as the most effective forms of building solidarity. But even that last sentence is so chock-a-block full of abstraction that I consider it mostly hot air. Yet I cannot fathom how people can imagine they are celebrating a festive day of any significance around the globe without making time to think about people who are less fortunate.

Perhaps all pious phrase-making comes down to parsing these expressions. But whoever thinks of others must, in every perspective I can imagine, be able to look upon the condition of some fraction of humanity and think 'there but for the grace of God go I'. (Capitalize the words that make sense to you: 'Grace', 'god', 'i'. Even Friedrich Nietzsche seems to me, scanning over the Teutonic intelligentsia and tradition, to be saying the same thing.

In this spirit (if not explicitly calling for prayer) I offer a cut 'n' paste from a volunteer Western Euro-American who blogged a diary entry from the East African nation Kenya, where she took a walking tour of Kenya's notorious slum, Kibera:


I brought over about 70 pounds of supplies from some of the money you all collected and am distributing it to a few different places. The sad thing is you have to be careful because the people that run it take it from them and bring it to their own children. You see absolutely nothing that was left from the other volunteers because it just goes missing. I have lots of friends here now that are here for 6 months to a year and know the right places to give it. That is also where i will be giving some cash too. There is a program that helps out with Kibera, just down the street from us, that is in the most desperate need. Ahh...Kibera....a story unto itself!!

We went for a proper tour of Kibera on Wednesday. Now when I say tour, it is not a fun and pleasant Disney type tour, it is just that we were able to go to places that you would normally be hurt or worse if you ever went alone. It's the size of Central Park and has a million people living in it. Sewers-none, garbage disposal-none, homes bigger than 13x13-none! We were taken by a man named Peter who was a Kibera consultant for The Constant Gardener. He met us early in the morning at a clinic and first took us to his home. We all assumed he (Peter) lived outside of the slum but he walked us into a dark small, room the size of about 13x13 that his wife, two teenaged sons and 2 small daughters. It was neat and tidy, and he is very proud of his home. He shows us a copy of National Geographic from 2005 in which he is featured. The title of the article "You think you know Africa? You don't know..." We left his home to travel along the tracks and enter the main part. He is so well respected in his community because of the volunteer work that he does that nobody messes with him or anyone with him. The only time you are in danger is if there are riots and then you must get out.

We travelled to Mama Tunza's another orphanage we are working at. It has been recently upgraded and now has cement floors and a blue painted tin door. It is a small space in the midst of rubbish and rotted out cars. Yet the children are sweet and so welcoming! I brought a world map which they instantly grabbed and Wallace, one of the biggest, wanted to show us where we were all from. He is so smart and says he learns where all the volunteers live so that one day when he can come visit he will know how to get there. I fell in love with him. He is so smart. He is so eager to soak up any information you will feed him. I will be bringing some stuff to all of them. Especially Wallace! We took pictures, they took pictures and we were back on our way. Down the track...if you see the movie, you will see how it looks.

It is amazing though how pictures cannot capture the reality, the sounds, and smell. The children will run from everywhere when they see mzungus and they all shout 'HOW ARE YOU?' We say 'mazuri sana (i'm very fine)' and they laugh!!!! They are lovely. They run to shake your hand no matter what they were doing. They want nothing, they just want to touch you. I will be taking another tour with Peter so I can video tape as you have to hear them calling out! We kept walking through the garbage, and literally human waste and go to a Nubian family's home for babies. I believe this group of people are originally Ethiopian and have a slightly different version of Ki-Swahili. They were lovely. We had delicious chai massala and I held the babies. It was quite bizarre as among all of the poverty this house had a tv in which we were watching the WB show 'One Tree Hill' while drinking tea...bizarre! We left them, said our goodbye's and moved uphill so we could overlook the entire area.

It is overwhelming, the site that you see! We walk back through the streets again fighting the waste and murky water only to come across a rotting dog and someone that looks as if they had just recently died laying right in the 'street' with children playing all around him. I felt sick, but knew there was nothing I could do. I wanted to cry. Cartoon, our other guide (the sweetest kid) just grabbed my hand and pulled me by. I don't know how anyone could live like this, but I know it is not my place to judge. I just so desparately wish I could fix the situation for people like Peter and Cartoon who want so much more. Cartoon-his nickname btw is a muscian and volunteers at Mama Tunza's. He is 21 and goes to play guitar for the children. In the pics, he is the one in the red Arsenal shirt. He was excited for you all to see the pictures when i told him I was sending them home. I would like to see if I could help him some way. So we finish off our tour with lunch at a local restaurant for 50 ksh which is about $1. That includes rice pilau with a bit of beef and a cold coke in the bottle. I cannot believe the places I am eating at. Nora, I take back all my laughter about your plates in me!! I hope you can all see the movie sometime to give you a sense of what I am seeing. I do love it, it is crazy, but i love it.

Well, I am off to prepare for my children's Christmas morning. I am giving out sweets, and some toys and stickers and books. I am buying plums and bananas so they can eat them right away and will bring bread as well. Some of my friends here are joining me so it will be more fun for them!! We are having a big football and caps match during the day....then we are off to Mama Tunza's for the afternoon. The night will be reserved for a nice expensive dinner out and lots and lots of Tuskers (beer)--it's for the children--we have to collect the bottle caps.

I hope you all have an amazing Christmas and Happy New Year's!! We're off to Maasai land tomorrow, so I will let you know how it is!
Love me!

The Dragon's Almanac - 25 December


from Justin Wintle

"For every man sent by Heaven earth provides a grave."

. . . (1436) Chinese

24 December 2006

Diffusion Lightbox for Tabletop Digital Images of Books


The photo of book spines here:
. . . was taken using ambient light at the McGill Bookfair last fall. It's not an ideal image because the light was harsh, coming from overhead fluorescent tubes. There was a small window immediately behind the books with diffuse sunlight somewhat balancing the colour-shift toward greenish 'neon' tones.

The result is better than having only one flash on the digital camera that sits extremely close to the lens.


This set-up, with the camera on a stable tripodlike stand, two photo floods (like high intensity reading lamps), and a three-sided diffusion-screen lightbox is a nifty setup for taking digital photos of small objects. This particular model sells (when it is in stock) for US $100 plus shipping, taxes and customs duties.

When I have finalized my own secondhand purchases and re-invented this wheel (so to speak), I will post images of the setup I can come up with for well under $20 (not counting the tripod to hold the camera).

If this works out, my lightbox will be even more portable, lighter and more flexible in terms of the size of books and other articles it will accomodate. I believe it will be possible to effectively light and reduce glare or hotspots upon any object up to the size of a coffee table.

The Dragon's Almanac - 24 December


Lawn Ornament Wash Basin

from Justin Wintle

"Don't drink what you can't carry."

. . . (1430) Chinese