Friday, July 31, 2020

Weird Business News

If you follow business news in chaotic times, you expect surprises. But seldom do you see one like this.

Kodak, the ancient photography company in Rochester, was huge and highly-profitable when people had to buy film to take pictures. Kodak made film that every family needed to record social gatherings. It was a mammoth business that nobody ever thought would end.

But along came digital photography -- and, stupidly, Kodak failed to see the writing on the wall. Its management, in a classic case taught in business school, didn't adapt or even recognize the existential threat digital technology posed to its core business. As a result Kodak was decimated. In 2012 things were so bad they had to declare bankruptcy. Since then Kodak has limped along on nothing but fumes. With only meagre IT to sell, Kodak's stock price sat flat at $3 a share for years.

Then, suddenly, resurrection. From an unexpected place with weirdness all over it. This week the federal government announced it is giving Kodak, the film company, $765 Million to manufacture ingredients for generic drugs. 3/4 of a Billion dollars? Drugs? What?!

The ostensible justification for this largesse is to bring drug-manufacturing back to the U.S. from China where almost all drugs are produced. Obviously, however, Kodak (and all American companies) can't compete with Chinese manufacturers on price so it's clear Kodak drugs will cost 30-50% more than their foreign competition. That's where government support matters: the U.S. government is committing to spend your taxpayer money propping up a less-efficient, more costly company simply to have drugs made here instead of elsewhere.

Kodak stock shot up from $3 a share to $60 a share. It's sliding down since then to $45 and now $30.

Weird, right?

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Mermaid Rock

Many years ago I met a wonderful friend named Darlene. She lives in Canada on beautiful Vancouver Island. I met, dined and shopped with Darlene during one of my recent visits there.

Like many of us, Darlene developed a hobby during the pandemic. She started painting rocks. Rocks! Her painting got better and better and now she's terrific. I was admiring her talent when she offered to send me a rock as a gift. Of course, we both agreed it should be a mermaid rock.

Here it is. It arrived with two other painted rocks and a gorgeous pair of vintage earrings. (You'll see them soon, too.)

P.S., Darlene also rides motorcycles! She's a woman of many talents. :-)

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Finger Lakes (NY)

I've fallen in love with the Finger Lakes. They're a group of eleven lakes carved by glaciers into the western part of upstate New York. They're the perfect distance for a weekend trip (4-6 hours) and full of wonderful places to stay, eat and relax.

That last quality is the one I like the most: relaxation. The lakes have a peaceful vibe that causes you to slow down. To savor nature. To chill. Unlike the eastern part of upstate New York (e.g., Catskills, Hudson, Lake George, Lake Placid, Adirondacks), the Finger Lakes aren't crowded with down-staters who travel north and carry an air of frenzy with them. In the Finger Lakes, you don't feel that, you feel like someone living a century in a simpler life.

Which Finger Lakes have you visited? Last year I began with large Seneca Lake (near Watkins Glen). This month I added smaller Keuka Lake to the west. I just made plans for next month to take Robin up to Cayuga Lake, the other large lake, whose southern tip is Ithaca. That will leave four smaller lakes on each side of the big three.

It's good to have goals.  :-)

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Bloggers Art Gallery

Lovely Kezzie of England has arranged a multi-blogger post for today. The theme is art in our homes. Here are the participants:

Let me start by saying Kezzie is one of the nicest people I've know. She's a teacher who cares about others and gives of herself. Her kind and charming personality appeal to me and will to you as well. You should follow her.

The catalyst for my blog, started a decade ago, was a desire to explore my uncommon gender identity. I have always been female in my head but socially fettered into a male role by parents and others. Being prevented from living authentically in the past, I try to experience now what I couldn't then. This blog catalogs my efforts to wear pretty clothes, experiment with femininity and enjoy traditionally female activities.

Years ago I created two spectacular blog-posts which I memorialized with professional photographs hanging in my house. The first is my attempt to re-create a high school prom; the second is my best shot at being a mermaid.

(Photography by Michi Rezin)

Among my passions is the sport of baseball. To celebrate it, I collect baseballs with team emblems on them from every stadium I visit. Over time the collection grew to the point where I wanted to display it so I found an attractive wooden bowl and put the balls in it. The bowl and balls are visible in my house so anyone can pick a ball up and toss it around. I like that -- interactive art is cool!

And finally, if you expand the definition of art to include sculpture that moves at 140 mph, here is my final entry -- my pride and joy, a red BMW S1000R motorcycle. It's not only pretty to look at but can transport you on magical journeys through the realms of physics.

Thanks for visiting! I look forward to seeing everyone else's art.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Ian Dury

Over the course of a long life, I've had occasion to witness great artists at work, some of whom have since been forgotten. One of those was British punk rocker Ian Dury.

Ian was the most unlikely of rock-stars and yet, in 1978, he was the hottest thing around. His band (Ian Dury and the Blockheads) had the number 1 record in England ("New Boots and Panties!!"). Everyone in Europe could quote its lyrics by heart. During the late-70s, Dury was the most interesting, vibrant performer in rock music. And you would never have expected that from his past.

Ian was born to a poor family in England during WWII. As a child, Ian caught polio from swallowing infected water in a public swimming pool. The disease paralyzed and withered his whole left side (shoulder, arm, leg). For the rest of his childhood, he was teased and bullied -- which had the ironic effect of making him immensely strong and confident. Later Ian toiled at a music career for years and suddenly hit stardom at an unusually old age for that time (31). If you don't know Ian's name, you probably recognize some of his global hits, like the huge "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll." Ian sang with a humorous Cockney accent and his songs rock with driving rhythm.

There's a connection between Ian's physical disability and later success. He didn't have a good voice but he can SELL a song. He wrote compelling lyrics that he performed with brio bordering on braggadocio. His songs grab you hard. I remember the first time I heard him, I had to hear more. I bought "New Boots and Panties!!" in 1978 and wore it out, listening to his voice over and over. I still own that record and other Ian albums.

Ian died in 2000 after several years of suffering with cancer. Despite much time passing, Ian continues to have an active website dedicated to his music and life. Ten years ago a film-biography was made about him, starring talented Andy Serkis, which is as wild as Ian was.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Memento Vivere!

(That's Latin for "Remember to live well, because we all die in the end.)

Monday, July 13, 2020

My New Plates

At a cool store in Corning, NY, I bought ceramic plates. I repeat -- I bought CERAMIC dinner plates. They look like paper plates and make me laugh every time I see them. 

Best of all, normally $18/plate, they were on sale for $5/plate.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes are a region in western New York State. I've seldom been here. I live downstate on Long Island (east of Manhattan). Usually when I go upstate, it's a straight line north to Albany, Lake George, Lake Placid, the Adirondacks, my friend Aimee's house in Potsdam and then into Canada. If you continue north, you hit Montreal which I visited a few years ago.

Having now discovered the Finger Lakes region, I'm singing a different tune. It's beautiful here. Rural country with oases of culture. I went to Watkins Glen twice recently and am now in Hammondsport. The Finger Lakes region has the most wineries in the State, over 100 vineyards. Land surrounding the lakes is perfect for growing wine-grapes.

Hammondsport is at the bottom of Keuka Lake (pronounced "kew-ka"). It's the Finger Lake in the middle with five lakes to the east, five lakes to the west.

Here's a picture I took yesterday...

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Glenn Curtiss Museum

I've long wanted to visit a vintage motorcycle/airplane museum in upstate New York but it's in a remote region I was never near. I ventured there this weekend specifically to see the museum and wrapped the rest of my trip around it.

The museum is named after Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) to celebrate the legacy of the man. Glenn, a mechanical genius, was an aviation pioneer and motorcycle-manufacturer. The museum includes a large collection of early aircraft and motorcycles. As I pulled up I was instantly impressed at its huge size, big enough to contain full-scale planes, cars and motorcycles. It contains innumerable objects with lots of helpful information about them.

The son of Canadian immigrants, Curtiss was a creative inventor who had to leave school in the eighth grade when his father died. Curtiss was naturally curious: his family complained he was so obsessed with taking clocks apart and putting them back together there were gears and screws everywhere in their house.

After designing motorcycles from scratch, Curtiss moved on to airplanes and later even designed camping trailers and gramophones (record players). He founded and grew several companies, as investors flocked to his success, including Curtiss-Wright, a merger with the Wright brothers. Curtiss's main headquarters was in Hammondsport but he also had a large operation on Long Island (Garden City) and a small one in Toronto. Curtiss appeared on the cover of Time magazine and the U.S. Postal Service put him on a stamp -- air mail, of course!

The centerpiece of the motorcycle collection is a famous 8-cylinder motorcycle which earned Curtiss the title of "Fastest Man on Earth." He built and rode it in 1907, setting a new land-speed record of 136.4 mph. That record stood for ten years until broken by an automobile.

I've ridden 136 mph but on a state-of-the-art motorcycle with current technology. Doing it a century ago on a primitive bike with virtually no brakes? That took guts. Because Glenn's motorcycle didn't have brakes, after riding it a mile to set the record, he had to ride it another mile just to slow down enough to stop.

Here are some pics from the museum.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Long Hair

I don't need to tell you guys how important hair is. You're women; you know.

When I grew up in the 1960s, hair was hugely significant as an indicator of your political views and overall hip-ness. Long hair on men meant you were against the immoral war in Vietnam; crewcuts meant you supported President Nixon. Rock-stars wore long hair which, if you look at pictures of The Beatles, really wasn't that long. But it was greater length than the Fifties.

Back then, I had long hair. But when I started working as a lawyer, I cut my hair short to meet expectations. For most of my career my hair has been what it's "supposed" to be for a male lawyer.

Lately I've been pondering a return to my roots. (Pun!) I'm growing my hair longer. I don't know when I'll stop but I want to play with it a bit. Yes, I know long hair looks different on a 60-year old than an 18-year old but let me explore and discover.

One of my fantasies, which I don't know is possible, is to have hair long enough that I can style it in two ways: one presenting as female and another presenting as male. I'll check with hairdressers to see if this is possible.

Either way, I need to get more serious about hair-care so I just upped my game. I experimented with some shampoos and conditioners and found two I like. They suit my hair and scalp well, are all natural and give my mane fullness and texture. The brands are shown below.

What hair-care products do you use?

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Letters To The Editor

As a fun project, I recently compiled a half-century of letters I wrote to newspapers and magazines. The letters, going back to 1973, are interesting missives from the past.

I mailed copies of the collection to friends whose addresses I know. If you didn't get one and want a copy, just privately give me a mailing address. (My e-mail is

Saturday, July 4, 2020

My Future

Why do people make art? What is art?

Broadly defined, art is human effort to create and perpetuate culture. What is culture? The aesthetic and intellectual achievements of humanity. They are an inheritance from our ancestors. And our obligation to future generations. Culture separates our species from other animals. "[C]ulture husbands its liveliness in its works of art, they are like storage barrels for" imagination (p. 253).

Should you or I make art? Yes, and we do it all the time, whether we realize it or not. Writing a personal letter, selecting pieces for a clothing outfit, crafting a pumpkin for Halloween -- these are all art. Art is not merely objects wealthy elites own; it is earnest effort by all of us in both exalted and pedestrian arenas.

I’ve spent much of my life admiring and learning about art. Art in galleries, art in the cinema, art in literature. Photography is one of my ways to create art. I search for visual imagery, grab it on film and present results to others. Photography, like other art media, is something you improve at with training and practice.

My plan for the future is to migrate from my law career (ending it when material needs are met) to a mélange of artistic activities. Most of those activities will not be offered for respect or money; they’ll be pursued for the intrinsic joys of creative life. In short, for my own benefit.

In anticipation of this shift, I’ve been studying. “When the student is ready, the teacher shall appear.” Friends of mine who are professional artists recommended an old book to me -- “The Gift” by Lewis Hyde, a poet. Written in 1983, the book examines the human impulse to create art and its role in the community. My mind consumed the book like ice cream -– it explores subjects I care deeply about and stimulates me toward future action.

I won’t try to describe the book to you, but will briefly mention its core lesson: the distinction between commerce and gifts. Hyde spends the first half of the book explaining this point and, in the second half, applies it to two poets (Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound) for illustration

In commercial transactions, strangers meet, exchange a commodity on agreed price and then leave. The transaction generates no personal connection between seller and buyer. Gifts, by contrast, are offered freely and create emotional bond. Gifts have a different purpose than commerce. Their offer and acceptance cause a variety of social effects which Hyde traces among several ancient and remote societies. The principles he outlines become suddenly clear while reading; once they do, you see the world differently.

It’s not an exaggeration to say this book is changing my life. It's altering how I view social interactions and teaching me what happens when art enters society. I plan to use that knowledge to steer my future life.

"The greatest art offers us images by which to imagine our lives. And once the imagination has been awakened, it is procreative: through it we can give more than we were given, say more than we had to say" (p. 251).

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Stayin' Alive

We'll remember this year, distinctly, as a time when our primary focus was "stayin' alive." Which led me to re-consider the lyrics of that classic song:

You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive
Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive

Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me
Somebody help me, yeah
Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me, yeah
I'm stayin' alive

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

New York

We here in New York are taking the coronavirus seriously.

This is a real, un-edited, photo of the New York Public Library.