miscellaneous commentary

Archive for February 2014

Vintage Collection Archivist

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Now this would be a dream job!

What’s great is that National Geographic is not going to let these amazing images languish in their archives… many are available for purchase, and they also post them online on their NG Found Tumblr account

Below: the first photograph of a nature scene in National Geographic — Herald Island, taken by J.Q. Lovell, published in the March 1890 issue. Fun fact: the president of NG at the time of this photo’s publication was none other than Alexander Graham Bell, who was also one of the society’s founding members.



Written by camcarlson

February 24, 2014 at 10:34 PM

Posted in video

325 sq. ft.

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I was reminded a few weeks back by my good friend Mia about tiny houses, and it got me thinking about how I don’t post much about dwellings or simplicity anymore. So today’s entry is an attempt to get back on that horse. I found this video on a small little apartment space in Barcelona that doesn’t look that much smaller or larger than my own, aside from being more narrow in design. The kitchen was retrofitted into the space, and looks far more functional than the rinky dink pocket kitchen I put up with here in the Mandalay. The bathroom looks nice and cozy, as does the minimalist bedroom. I didn’t get a good sense of windows in the main (lower) room… a lack of natural lighting would be a dealbreaker for me. Not crazy about the exposed brick ceiling, but since it’s natural to the dwelling, I’m glad they kept that feature. I honestly can’t imagine any overnight guests sleeping on that sliver of a foam mattress under the stairway. But overall, a comfy little space for one or two people to call home.

Written by camcarlson

February 19, 2014 at 9:48 PM

Posted in Simplicity, video

Criterion saves the day

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A look at the work done by Criterion, resurrector and distributor of great films. I’ve always been a fan of their cover designs. (and I just finally saw “Foreign Correspondent” in December. Great movie.)

Written by camcarlson

February 15, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Posted in Cinema, video

City Lights

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The lead article in the January 2014 article of the CFU newsletter is a plan adopted by the Cedar Falls City Council to install LED street light fixtures in residential neighborhoods across town by the end of this year. The new fixtures will save the city over $4 million in street lighting costs over the next 20 years, and the new fixtures will pay for themselves through cost savings in less than two years. Next year the city will begin replacing fixtures in commercial and industrial areas, and afterwards will decide whether to update fixtures along the Parkade and for rental yard lights in residential areas.  [source]

With that blatant plagiarism out of the way, I have to say this is welcome news. LED lights tackle a common problem among traditional sodium fixtures; that is, light pollution. Most street light fixtures are not designed to direct their light entirely downward towards roadways and sidewalks. A fair amount of light ends up spreading outward, or even upward, creating an annoying haze upon approach. This citywide haze is why, when you’re driving along the interstate at night and are approaching a big city, it appears to glow as if hit by an atomic bomb. That “glow” is light pollution and is caused in part by street lights.

Let’s also not forget how unsightly and unnatural sodium lights are. They cast a sickly, jaundiced, puss-like pale over neighborhoods, one I am all too familiar with from nighttime bicycling. LED lights cast a more pleasant, moonlike light upon the ground.

While city councils can’t control or change every source of light pollution, which also includes car headlights, home and business lighting, and street light reflection, they can at the very least take steps that will have some measurable impact that will also save the taxpayers money over the long run.


Sadly, most people living in urban areas will only see the brightest starts in the night sky. Rural residence can see a fair deal more, but within the US you have to travel the western part of the country, many miles from any street lights, to catch a glimpse of the galaxies. I witnessed this view one time in my life, when I was sixteen, hiking through the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. It’s one thing to see a few recognizable constellations, it’s quite another to see the entire night sky awash in tiny cosmic pinpricks. This was a common occurrence across most of this country a little more than a century ago. Industrial “progress” has since divorced us from our celestial umbrella.

Perhaps I wax poetically a bit too much. But do me a favor — stop reading for a moment, walk outside (if you’re reading this at night) and look up. What do you see?


Los Angeles, New York and other major US cities are already converting their trillions* of street lights to LED, and it’s nice to see Cedar Falls making the switch sooner rather than later. The images from L.A.’s changed landscape are striking…

Screen Shot 2014-02-10 at 9.12.24 PM


LED fixtures won’t allow me to walk outside the Mandalay and see the galaxy spanning overhead, but they’ll help reduce the nauseating yellow glare that’s been cast over this community for far too long. I’ve already seen a few fixtures installed around town; one down on Grand Blvd near Pfeiffer Park (near the turn towards Waterloo Rd) and a row of fixtures in the parking lot where Ray Edwards used to be. That row runs parallel to a row of traditional lights along Seerley Blvd. So anyone who wants a side-by-side comparison of sodium and LED fixtures can just drive on down Seerley and check out the future of better, more beautiful street lighting for themselves.

Written by camcarlson

February 10, 2014 at 9:39 PM

Posted in Cedar Valley

Visual Splendor

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I’ve seen all of these except for 1987’s “Innerspace”. Better add it to the list!

And 2008’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is the most underrated of recent winners. One of those films I like more and more each time I watch it. One of David Fincher’s best, even if the story copies a bit from “Forrest Gump” (mostly the fault of having the same screenwriter).

Written by camcarlson

February 3, 2014 at 10:44 PM

Posted in Cinema, video