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Friday, 26 May 2023


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Hi Mike,

I am glad to hear you had a nice trip, with many impressions and the joys of a grandfather ! For you and all the friends of this blog, I just wanted to mention the 100th birthday of a world famous photographer, born in my hometown Graz ( Austria, Europe ) : Inge Morath ! Even one of our most serious daily newspapers devoted a double page to her these days. As far as I know, she spent the terrible last years of world war two in Berlin and afterwords worked as a reporter, but not yet photographer for „Heute“ magazine, where she met people like Ernst Haas, until she was finally encouraged to photograph Venice in the rain by none other than Robert Capa. She documented film shootings, worked with Henri Cartier-Bresson, married the author Arthur Miller, traveled to USSR, China, Africa, became member of “Magnum” agency, lived in Paris, London, New York and Roxbury, Connecticut Her pictures not only of celebrities and artists of this time are world famous. But there is a lot more to discover within her oeuvre. I hope, this English Wikipedia site will work for you guys https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inge_Morath. You can find more information on “Magnumphotos.com” and books at “Fotohof edition” and elsewhere.
As a young man in the 1970s, I had the good fortune to meet Kurt Kaindl ( outstanding photographer himself and founder of „Fotohof“ in Salzburg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fotohof# or “fotohof.net” ) and his wife Brigitte, who both had a friendly and intense relationship with Inge Morath in her late years. They did a lot for the publicity of her extensive work, exhibitions in many museums and galleries of Europe and other countries, even in Ukraine before the war, and I think, Kurt also created many enlargements of her negatives on baryta paper himself and edited some books.
As May 27th is also the 65th birthday of my brother Erich, I do hope, this comment will be published and is inspiring. We have an “Inge Morath Street” here in Graz, there is an Inge Morath Place in Salzburg, don´t know, if there is an Ansel Adams Place, or Edward Weston Street, or Henri Cartier-Bresson Boulevard, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange … Avenue somewhere.

Regards, Helmut the Austrian.

Sounds like a wonderful trip, despite the highway trauma. Our legislature just approved the creation of a new train route, the Northern Lights Express, from Duluth to Minneapolis, and while some people are saying it's a waste of state money because you can drive in the same time, I'm looking forward to a stress-free ride on a train, checking my email, and looking out the window (my daughter lives in the Twin Cities and if they ever have a kid I hope they stay there).

Regarding concentrating on photography, and taking it seriously, I finally took a walk the other day without my 8 month old dog, and I felt like I had new eyes. I kept seeing photographs. I realized that I never really enter that relaxed state with the dog. Maybe that will change when he gets older and relaxes more himself.

I should say also that I meant to post more from the road. But, you know how that goes.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

I follow the photo comments closely, but I follow even more closely the driving comments. It's harder to die from taking pictures.

Respectfully submitted at something over age 80.

Good to hear you had a successful trip, Mike. And an important one - a new chapter in your life has started, and it was your first since Covid. I found getting out my safe-practices rut quite challenging when the time came, but by now it feels as if we've forgotten the pandemic.

I was interested to read about your driving experience. I've driven a few times in the US - across Virgina twice, and once around New York state - and my view was that American drivers seemed to be more law-abiding than British drivers. It might have changed, but I don't recall ever encountering any real speed merchants on US roads.

Talking of speed, and specifically when driving through temporary speed restrictions, here in the UK the general practice is to install an 'average speed' camera system. This consists of a set of cameras at the beginning and end of a speed restriction (plus at intermediate points, if required) which are connected to a common timer and which can read number plates. The distance from the start of the restriction to its end is known, of course, and therefore the minimum elapsed time to do the trip at the maximum legal speed can be computed; any vehicle doing it significantly quicker will incur a penalty. There are some additional requirements for this to work, of course - a national database of vehicle registrations (not a problem in the UK; vehicle registration are all issued by the national government and are never changed), and knowledge of the identity of who the vehicle's registered custodian. And voila! - the system works, drivers know that that if they speed through the restriction they'll get fined (and could lose their license) so the limit is observed.

...I'm sure I pissed some people off by following the law to the letter through construction zones!

I try very hard to follow the reduced speed limits in construction zones. There are workers out there close to the road and I respect them enough to drive the speed limit and ensure their safety. Some friends found out the hard way that "Fines Doubled in Construction Zones" can be very expensive!

Note: We just returned from a trip to visit the grandkids, too!

One of my sayings is that they don't have speed limits in Chicago. They have humorous speed suggestions. For example, the sign will say "55mph" but the only speeds you will ever do on that interstate are 75mph or 5mph. And you never know which it will be at any given time.

Glad that you are back after an enjoyable road trip. The best road trips are those that don't follow a strict itinerary.

Lemme guess....you must be now wondering if you should sell and move near to your son, right?

I am curious who looked after Butters when you were away?

As best as I can tell, the only difference between US highways and the Mad Max movies is that most US drivers are (very slightly) better dressed.

I used to enjoy driving, but now I dread it. I grew up in the rural Midwest, and worked for years in the Midwest and West where, at least in the past, drivers were relatively friendly and relaxed. Now I live in the NE, where as best as I can tell every driver is determined to get to their destination NOW! or die trying. Worse, they're not bothered if they take me with them.

It seems like drivers, and 'Muricans in general, are more selfish than they used to be. On the driving front, it doesn't help that the speed and horsepower that used to require a big wallet and/or serious mechanical know-how is now available in every Toyota Camry or minivan, so that any self-important moron can drive >100 mph without any skill or concern for other drivers.

I feel no need to exceed the speed limit to accommodate them. If they get stuck behind me and have a stroke from their road rage more the better. I can recall numerous examples where an out-of-control speeder passed me, often in bad weather, only to end up in the ditch a few miles down the road. I pull over to make sure they're okay (Midwest upbringing again), but I've now been in NY and MA long enough to have learned how the eloquently express my heartfelt opinions about their driving abilities and general position in the hierarchy of human society.

I hope you had a wonderful visit in Peoria. It can be a wonderfully visual city with options from landscapes to cityscapes and urban life. I am not surprised David Vernon was busy. He works hard and the results show it. I am curious where you had lunch.
One of the assets is the opportunity to use Amtrak in Normal and get just about anywhere in the country. Peoria is pushing an effort to get their own Amtrak connection to Chicago.
Looking forward to your report.

It has been a blessedly long time since I’ve had to drive in and around Chicago, and I don’t miss it one little bit. Yes, if you observe the speed limit you will get cursed at, honked at, and possibly rear-ended and/or shot. I often wondered why anyone bothered to put up speed-limit signs when they were so universally ignored.

The iPhone is indeed a very serious camera. I once took a literally prize-winning picture with an iPhone (and not a very recent one), and on several occasions when my “real” camera failed to perform I have gotten quite usable images with an iPhone even in mediocre light. The subsequent adjustments in Camera Raw are sometimes drastic, but a good picture is a good picture. I can think of numerous film cameras with which I got worse results.

Stay with me on this.
I used to live across the street from where a steep road meets a busy road. Visibility is very poor where these roads meet. so there was a stop sign facing uphill. If you didn't fully stop, there was a good chance you'd be hit by a car from either direction.
Lots of people would go through that stop sign without even slowing. Accidents were commonplace.

The solution (according to local government letter we received) was simple. Remove the stopsign... wait... WHAT? To quote the letter "Having the stopsign at such a dangerous place is encouraging public disobedience".

America does not have exclusive access to the most stupid people. Tailgating speeders are everywhere at all times. Spain's drivers are the exception. They set the bar for the craziest drivers on the globe.

I drive from Seattle to Detroit every few years and I find the Chicago drivers forceful but not malevolent. That's in stark contrast to Detroit where they are both malevolent and distracted. Reloading, I assume. The people who employ truck drivers must be doing their travels by private jet as the drivers' universal desperation can only come from corporate culture. Does this us-against-them style also show up when a guy with a camera is seen near a playground? As much as I'd like to take some pictures at a Little League game I wouldn't dare try it.

I don't do much highway driving now, but for me Cruise Control is the best thing since sliced bread. It lets me drive without having to look at the speedo all the time, and especially with a GPS showing the true speed in my vision as well, I can relax knowing I'm not breaking the law. That lets me enjoy the scenery while I'm driving.

I even use cruise control around the suburbs, using it to adjust my speed as required. Magic.

Re US driving, I watch a lot of Youtube clips showing cheap cars that have been crashed on the auction sites. I marvel at the number of late model damaged cars and think, "Are US drivers so bad??!" It's amazing. (I'm in Western Australia.)

[As far as I can tell with a little quick Google-fu, there are 20.1 million vehicles in Australia (2021) and ~275 million in the US. World Population Review says there are 12.4 accident deaths per 100k population in the US and only 4.5 in Australia, so you're doing better than we are. However most of the worst countries are in Africa. On the other hand, most of the European and Scandinavian countries have fewer deaths than you. You do very well, though. We're actually a little worse than Russia, which would astonish anyone who watches Russian dashcam videos on YouTube!

By the way I use cruise control a lot (my car has it despite having a manual transmission)--it works down to about 30 MPH. I have buttons that increase or decrease the cruise control speed, which is handy, but I think I would appreciate having adaptive cruise control for highway driving. --Mike]

...only the tollway part of I-88, the section between Rock River and Chicago, is the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway...

Stands to reason, given Ronny Raygun's love of privatization. :-)

...it's not actually easy to drive the speed limit...

I've been a licensed driver for 54 years, and received only one speeding ticket. Prior to that event in 2000, which took place when I was proceeding on an interstate highway at only around five miles per hour faster than the flow of traffic, I've never again exceeded a posted speed limit. Even in construction zones. I just set the cruise control and let annoyed drivers-in-a-hurry go by, shaking their fists if it makes them feel better. Try it, you'll like it.

My first oversea job was in Saudi, a bit more than fifty years ago. We worked six weeks in the desert and then had a two-week time off in Beirut. We would drink the plane dry on the flight to Beirut, but the half hour taxi trip from the airport to downtown would leave us cold sober. Still the worst drivers I have seen, even considering that my wife learned to drive in Maracaibo.

My driving history shows heavy-footed speeding tickets and enforced driving schools. But I learned to slow down as I got older and found a disciplined friend in cruise control. I travel about twice a month on a 3-4 hour drive to meet up with friends at various campgrounds. I like cruising through small towns to look for possible photo ops to pursue later, but sometimes I travel the interstates. While cruising an interstate, I set my cruise control to 5mph over the limit, and if I stay close to that, my gas mileage is really good. Trucks (semis) and passenger cars do pass me like I am standing still. Some people have money to burn and like to fly. Those were the days!

Mike Asked...
"Are all of you uncommonly interesting people? I think so."

We are Mike, we are.

But enough about me, you are also uncommonly interesting!


And don't forget to pay your tolls, now that you're back. You can do that online - illinoistollway.com. After two weeks, I assume they'll send you a bill with additional charges, but I didn't wait to find out after our most recent trip to the area.

iPhonographer? Isn’t fonograf the old style music player? Keen ear might be more useful than eye.

Hi Mike - I was thrilled to see my pal, David Zalaznik, leave a comment talking me up. David was a longtime Peoria Journal Star photographer who is one of my favorite local photographers. I've got a Zalaznik print sitting just to my left as I type this. His "Life Along the Illinois River" is the touchstone of photography books on the river that runs through Peoria and Central Illinois. I hear he even occasionally shoots in color - but I'm not sure I believe it entirely.

And small plot twist - I live in Normal now, but work in Peoria (although I did live in Peoria for many years). So I spend a lot of time on I-74 between the two towns, where - yeah - nobody observes the speed limit. And we don't have tolls either.

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