White Balance?

January 31, 2012

Who knew light had temperature?

Well, it does.  Back in the day, if you used a film set for “daylight” full spectrum sunlight, outdoors, you were all set.  But if the daylight was blocked by clouds, then everything was left with a bluish cast.

Even more obvious was if this same film was used indoors under tungsten light!

Then, people suddenly acquired deeply ruddy complexions.  Not because the film was bad!  It wasn’t.  It was simply, accurate.

You see, our genetically programmed brains love sunlight!  We were raised on it.  However, artificial, incandescent vehicles, significantly different from sunlight, are “perceived” as being straight-on white light, like the sun, not reddish or greenish, as they actually are.

This is what we prefer, and this is what our brains provide.

Film, and even digital pictures, that aren’t “color-corrected” for white balance, actually show what colored light is actually illuminating a given scene.  They reveal the real “color temperature”.

But we human beings don’t like seeing other people with greenish skin tones, or even pallid family members suddenly adorned in sunburned splendor.

So, years ago, film was formulated and sold to match specific lighting conditions (daylight/tungsten), and now digital cameras can automatically correct or be adjusted to record acceptable “white-balance”.

It’s great that cameras can do this.

But it’s terrible when people do.  Communities do not need “white balance”.

Quite apart from snap-shots and family portraits, sometimes people can’t see color right in their own city, and even though it’s blatantly there, they would prefer to switch on “white balance”.

It’s illegal to do this overtly or violently.  But subtle and apparently more tangential means can be just as effective.

Long ago, the great anthropologist Ashley Montague showed how concepts of “race” were far more contrived than scientifically consistent.

Yet, beyond mere color and hue, ethnicity is profoundly important, as it has more to do with personal and historical culture and experience.

Yes, our skin tones have little more significance than the tint in our hair.  But our ethnic heritage is far more than skin deep and carries with it far more meaning.

So, whatever your background, research it, and be proud of it.

Regardless of your skin color, be sensitive to, and supportive of those who, on the surface, seem different.

Because, the truth is, when you scratch a tad below the surface, those who seem so divergent from us racially, are actually kindred family.

No matter how it’s perceived, the powerful fact is, we are all sisters and brothers.



A Coronal Mass Ejection (aren’t we lucky!)

January 24, 2012

A Coronal Mass Ejection is a huge burst of solar wind, plasma, and other good stuff, sometimes shot in our direction.

We’re in the midst of one right now, and because of an overload, a little of this radiation will get past the doughnut shaped Van Allen Belts and create a beautiful image in the night sky.  These auroras might even be visible as far down as New York State.

The thing is, without our planet’s peculiar make-up, and the presence of the Van Allen Belts, this solar phenomenon would have kept higher life forms from developing here.  Organisms would have been burned to a crisp.

Mars is very desolate.  Alas, it has no radiation belts to turn raging destruction into raw beauty.

Ceramic customer service

January 12, 2012

Back about 8 months ago I purchased a 7″ Kyocera Ceramic Knife at a Kitchen specialty store in Guilford.  The price was near $70.

It’s a lot for one knife, at least for me, but they’re very sharp, and will supposedly last a lifetime.

Mine lasted about 6 months, then lost a 1/4 inch sized chunk, mid-blade, while my wife was slicing fruit.

So, last November 11th, I brought it back to where I purchased it, being promised I should get word in a few days regarding a replacement product.  Kyocera was said to be a stand-up company, and this would be resolved very soon.

Busy as I am, I never thought much about it until late December.  I hadn’t heard anything, so calling the store I was told that many knives had been returned, it was a holiday period, and, in all fairness, I had purchased the knife several months earlier.

I responded that if many knives had been returned, we must be dealing with a defective product, so there shouldn’t be a whole lot of delay involved.  Then I continued along the line that it wasn’t a holiday period when I’d initially returned the product, not to mention that 8 months light usage of a $70. knife shouldn’t be considered unusual.  Honestly, if the blade was exercised more than 10 times in its life, I’d be surprised.

Even so, I got off the phone.

Today however, since we’re now almost mid-way through January, I called again.

This time I was told that the store had been closed for a week, phone calls were being caught up with, and I really needed to be patient.

Then, when the owner began repeatedly referring to me as “hon”, what little patience I had drained completely, and the conversation quickly came to a conclusion.

“Hon,” she said again, “Maybe you should just come in and get a new knife.”

So, I took a new tack.

“Yes, ‘hon’,” I replied, “That’s exactly what I think I should do, ‘hon’.  I’ll come in tommorow, ‘hon’.”

“Fine!  I hope so!” (hang up).

Heaven knows where the chipped knife is…  Probably never left the store.

The chipped and defective customer service remains, and is pretty evident.

And truly unwise.

Fact is, without even trying, I can get the same knife on Amazon for 25% less…  Less cost and less lousy attitude.

The one thing brick and mortar retailers have going for them is the ability to offer top shelf personal service.

If they can’t do that, well, it’s much easier to save effort and gas and added expense, make a few clicks, and move on.

“History” Channel?

January 2, 2012

Using the word “History” in their title, one would assume the History Channel broadcasts exclusively historical, well-documented programs and footage.

So, when I see a show like “Ancient Aliens” consistently running on this network, it really does make me wonder.  The Comedy Network might consider broadcasting such material, mainly because the episodes I’ve seen have been pretty laughable, but the History Channel?

The content is no better than “Ghost Hunters” on the SyFy schedule, and there again, we have a more appropriate outlet…

But, apart from “The DaVinci Code,” since when did no evidence constitute evidence?

And, with liberally sprinkled words and phrases like “maybe,” and “could have been,” exactly when did no basis become a foundation for purportedly “historical” programing?

Hysterical assertion on TV?  Sure.

But, historical?