Salvation Army donation

Salvation Army donation
Nikon FA, 50mm f/1.8 Nikon Series E
Foma Fomapan 200

As I prepare to leave my home of ten years, I asked my sons to go through their things and pile in the living room whatever they no longer wished to keep. A decade of childhood memories soon filled my living room. My younger son was his usual pragmatic self: don’t need this, don’t need that, okay, I’m good. My older son wanted to make sure I was okay if he gave away his twelfth birthday present, a skateboard and all the associated regalia. It’s so like him to want to care for the emotional lives of others. I admire both my younger son’s pragmatism and my older son’s deep heart.

And oh, hey, there’s the TV my friend Steve gave me when I moved into the one-room apartment after my first wife and I separated. I watched dozens of movies on it, all borrowed from the nearby library, as a way of distracting myself from my troubles. My younger son used it most recently to play games on the vintage Super Nintendo system I bought him for Christmas some years ago. He does love his retro gaming.


single frame: Salvation Army donation



Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

I’ve had little time for blogging lately thanks not only to the bathroom remodel (see Friday’s post), but a hard drive crash. Thank goodness I have good backups! But the recovery road has been littered with setbacks and my main machine is still not fully back. What a mess. To give me some time back, I’m rerunning this post from March of 2011. I now own two of these vintage tripods.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1The more old cameras I buy, the more challenging it becomes to store and display them in my little house. Cameras line the mantle of my fireplace, fill a bookcase in my office, and occupy every unclaimed knick-knack-sized spot in my living room. The cameras I don’t have room to display I keep under my bed and in closets. And at the moment, my desk is cluttered with six cameras I bought recently but haven’t used yet.

So I’m ever looking for creative ways to cram in more cameras. I’ve been trolling eBay for reasonably priced vintage tripods, figuring I could could screw old cameras onto them and stand them in underused corners. I had been envisioning wooden tripods, but the first one I found at a nice price was this metal tripod in fine condition. Meet the Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Collapsed, it measures 15½ inches long. Each leg contains three successively narrower sections and you can extend as many of them as you like. Fully extended, the legs are 48½ inches long. Of course, you have to spread the legs enough for the tripod to stand, so effective height is shorter by a few inches. I screwed my Kodak Junior Six-16 Series II to the tripod for this shot.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

The tripod’s head is stamped with the dates of three patents, so I fired up Google Patent Search. It found two of the patents, one that appears to cover the head mechanism and one that describes the mechanism for extending, locking, and releasing the legs. Check out this page from the latter patent.

Here are some of the same details from my tripod.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

Opening this tripod is simple – you unhook the leather strap that binds the legs together, and then just pull out the legs until the locking tabs snap into place. You can extend as many or as few of the four leg segments as you want. The legs are made of brass, with the first leg section painted black and the remaining sections plated in nickel. To close the tripod, on each leg you press in the top locking tab and push from the leg’s foot. The other locking tabs give way and the legs collapse in a jiffy. A metal guide is attached to one leg, and you lay other two legs’ feet into the guide’s slots. Then you wrap the leather strap around the legs and hook it closed.

Kodak sold this tripod for at least 26 years. Thanks to Google Books I easily found advertisements for this tripod (and its brothers, the No. 0 and the No. 2) from as early as 1911 (left, below) and as late as 1937 (right). Given that my Junior Six-16 Series II was made sometime from 1934 to 1936, it is contemporary to this tripod and makes a perfect display pair. My Kodak Six-20, which dates to 1932-1937, would also be a good match for this tripod.

I was fortunate that my tripod came with its original box.

Kodak Metal Tripod No. 1

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Recommended reading

Some weeks are just chock-a-block with great blog posts. This is one of them.

Remember Johnny Carson? If you’re older than about 35 you might. If you’re older than 45 you absolutely do. Television writer Ken Levine tells of his one encounter with the man, for those of us who get how much of a cultural force he was in his day. Read My day with Johnny Carson (for those who remember Johnny Carson)

Stephen Dowling polled his readership and as many other film shooters as he could, asking after their favorite film cameras. The results are in, and he is counting the top 50 down. Here, he shares numbers 50 to 11. Read 50 Favourite Film Cameras: 50 to 11 And then he shares numbers 10 to 1. One of my favorite cameras took the #1 spot! Read 50 Favourite Film Cameras: 10 to 1

You’ll probably recognize her face instantly, but you’ll be surprised that you don’t know her name. Mark Evanier tells why her appearances on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson (wait, didn’t we just talk about him above?) were a milestone for women on television. Read Smart-Funny

Have you experienced this on your blog? A reader you’ve never seen before suddenly rapid-fire liking five or six posts and following you? Val Boyko has experienced it a lot lately, and encourages those likers to slow down and enjoy the blogging journey. Read New Bloggers, Blogging and Life

David Heinemeier Hansson, writing for Signal v. Noise, has a blunt take on the ouster this week of Uber’s CEO. In short: the board tolerated the toxicity he created right up until it put the company’s massive profits at risk. Read Uber’s CEO is out because of pressure, not some ethical epiphany from the board

I love film-camera reviews and experience reports! Here’s this week’s crop.


Jehovah’s Witnesses bought me a toilet

I have been undertaking, or paying others to undertake, a bunch of projects as I get my house ready to put on the market. I’m working to increase curb appeal and remove obvious objections to buying this place. I’m behind schedule, as I had hoped to be ready to list the house June 1. August 1 feels more likely now.

So the chain-link fence is fixed where it had been broken and mangled by the people who removed my 21 dead ash trees two years ago. And the network of cracks growing in my asphalt driveway are now well sealed. I paid people to do those jobs. Meanwhile, I’ve been painting walls every spare weekend. And I took up the worn-out carpet in the hallway to reveal the hardwood floors, and then discovered they’re in iffy shape and that carpet runners are way cheaper than having the floors refinished.

But the big job, which I finished last weekend, was fixing my bathroom floor.

Longtime readers might remember that when I bought my house, the main bathroom was a fright. Here, take a look.


That’s fake brickface painted yellow, with laminate sheeting glued to the wallboard above. The medicine chest provided the only light in the room, except three of the four bulb sockets didn’t work. And whoever laid the floor had to have been drunk or high while they did it, as the tiles were all at an angle and didn’t meet properly at the corners. And they didn’t bother to remove the toilet to place the vinyl tile underneath it. They just cut the tile around it and squirted some caulk to fill the gaps.

I got my house at a good price after it had been on the market for a year. I assume prospective buyers took one look at that bathroom and bolted. But the price and location both worked for me, so I bit.

Side note: nine years after the housing bubble burst, after considerable investment in my home, it looks like I’ll be able to sell it for about what I paid for it. My part of town has been slower than average to rebound from the housing crisis. It’s disappointing, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

It took me a couple years, but I finally commenced Operation Lipstick on the Pig to make the bathroom look not awful. Here’s how that turned out. New sink, new light fixture, new towel bar, mirror and side cabinet replacing the medicine chest, fresh paint, and some painted railing to finish the raw edges. I even put folding doors on a closet that had none, and added shelving. A valance and a better privacy covering over the lower six windowpanes came a little later.


But the one thing I didn’t tackle was the floor. There was a little water damage around the toilet and tub that needed attention, and I wanted to lay better-looking flooring. It all sounded expensive and possibly beyond my skills, and besides, my bathroom had been torn up for weeks already. I was tired of the mess. So I put it off for another day.

And then that day kept not coming. The water damage by the tub got worse; the subfloor by the tub became positively squishy. I slathered on some caulk to keep it from getting worse, and then I lived with it like that for six years.

Preparing a house for sale will motivate you to tackle those jobs you’ve been putting off.

I started two weekends ago. I figured I’d remove the toilet, remove the old vinyl, remove and replace the water-damaged areas of the subfloor, lay new vinyl, put the toilet back, bada bing. Oh good heavens is that not how it went.

I knew things were not going to go well when I discovered that my toilet has always been attached to the floor only with caulk. Caulk! CAULK. It’s a wonder the toilet stayed put these ten years! I said an unkind epithet out loud to the previous owner of my house as I stuffed a rolled-up rag into the hole to keep sewer gases at bay.

I removed the old vinyl with my hair dryer and a putty knife — time consuming, but not hard. But in doing that I discovered that a layer of 1/4-inch plywood had been screwed to the floor. It, too, had been cut around the toilet! Another unkind epithet passed aloud through my lips. The previous owner’s ears had to be burning. And then my weekend ran out of time. I’d have to live with my bathroom like this for a little while longer.

Fortunately, I had long planned a few days off the next week. I just never expected I’d use them to work on my bathroom. And it took four of the next five days to do it all: remove the plywood, fix the water-damaged subfloor, put on a layer of cheap, thin vinyl where the original vinyl tile was missing (so that there were no low areas), and then lay new, bright, cheerful vinyl over it all.

And then Margaret asked, “Do you want the toilet that’s sitting in my garage? It’s essentially new.” I never liked the old toilet much, as it was a weak flusher, so I said yes. Margaret got her spare toilet when her employer, a large church, bought a church building Downtown to be their second campus. The building had most recently been the Assembly Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Witnesses had built a few apartments into the building. Margaret’s church removed the apartments and made the furniture and fixtures available to staff. Margaret snagged several things including this toilet, which she thought could go into a rental house she owns. The toilet ended up not being needed there.

So I took it home and installed it. I had never installed a toilet before. It took me five hours to get it done. The flange in the floor that holds the bolts wasn’t in the best condition, but I didn’t want to try to replace it so I made it work. I had to re-seat the toilet three times because the bolts kept popping out of the flange as I tightened them. I was quite cross by the time I was done. But it did get done, and it doesn’t leak. Success! Bask in the glow of this photo of the completed job.


The new toilet flushes so well! And the new floor looks so good! Too bad I won’t be around here long enough to enjoy it.

Next house I own, I won’t put off jobs like this so I can enjoy them after they’re done.

Yeah, right.


Downtown Fishers

Downtown Fishers
Pentax KM, 55mm f/1.8 SMC Pentax
Ferrania P30 Alpha

Do people actually like apartments like these? I know I’m biased against new construction. I feel like it’s all made with Balsa wood and Elmer’s glue. Give me a sturdy older home any day. Except that within every older home lurks half-assed homeowner repairs and renovations that at some point you’re going to have to tear out and do right.


single frame: Downtown Fishers



Goodbye to the last local grocery chain in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is losing its last, and its largest, local grocery-store chain. Marsh Supermarkets declared bankruptcy in May and last week closed deals to sell some of its stores. The rest will close.

Marsh Hometown Market

Agfa Clack, Ilford Pan-F Plus 50, 2015

Although Marsh was founded in 1931 in Muncie, Indiana, its largest market has always been Indianapolis and its surrounding counties. At its height, Marsh operated 86 stores around Indiana and other businesses as diverse as a chain of florists, a popular convenience-store chain, and a catering company. The company was owned by the Marsh family until 2006, when it was sold to a capital investment firm. The Marshes said that the competitive environment was becoming much more challenging, and it seemed like the right time to exit.

In recent years, Kroger, Walmart, and Meijer have all invested in Indianapolis, building new stores and renovating old ones. Meanwhile, Marsh’s new owners largely left their chain to molder. They did rebrand Marsh’s budget LoBill Foods stores as Marsh, a welcome change. But a few years later the company rebranded again, with some stores branded Marsh The Marketplace and others Marsh Hometown Market. It wasn’t clear to shoppers what the names meant. (It turns out that The Marketplace stores were full-line and full-service stores, and Hometown Markets were budget stores.) And then, strangely, all new stores built were branded just Marsh with a new logo. Most existing stores kept the old logo. It was a confusing mishmash.

iPhone 6s, 2017

But the confusion ends soon. A subsidiary of Kroger bought 11 locations, and an Ohio supermarket operator bought 15. That leaves 18 stores behind, which should close for good by the end of the month. All Marsh stores are liquidating, selling goods at up to 30 percent off.

From where I sit, Marsh’s demise has three major reasons.

First, its owner failed to match its competitors’ investments in their chains. Few new stores have been built and old stores hadn’t been refreshed in ages. Most stores retain a distinctly 1990s shopping experience.

Second, its confusing branding may have alienated shoppers. When my nearby Marsh converted to a Hometown Market, I shopped there far less frequently as it stopped carrying many of the nicer grocery items I enjoyed, several of which you could buy locally only at Marsh. (Such as delicious, but expensive, Stewart’s coffee. How I miss it.) Actually, thanks to items it no longer carries I can’t do all of my weekly shopping there anymore.

Finally, Marsh was the most expensive supermarket in town, full stop. I’m no fan of Walmart, but when they opened a Neighborhood Market grocery near my home a few years ago its far lower prices were impossible to ignore. I do my weekly shopping there, or drive past this Marsh to go to Meijer. So, I imagine, do most of my neighbors.

But it’s a shame to lose the last local grocery chain, a name that was so heavily identified with central Indiana. When prominent local businesses close, a piece of local identity dies. Kroger, Walmart, and Meijer are fine stores, but you can find them anywhere. When you shopped at Marsh, you knew you were in Indiana.

I’ll miss Marsh. But my life won’t change much, as I’d already moved on. Clearly, too many others in central Indiana had as well.