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Gretchen’s Patent Pasta Ponchos


I got a couple of really nice things for Christmas. Carol gave me a Canon G10 camera, a device that probably contains more intelligence than NASA had at its disposal in 1965. In fact, I’m still getting used to some of that intelligence, but…more on that later.

The other thing worth noting is a hand-made item from my sister Gretchen, before whom all things in the textile kingdom bow. Months back, when Gretchen asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I told her, Make me a pasta poncho. I told her what I meant. And she did.

You see the results above. She took an ordinary 48″ X 26″ bath towel in appropriate tomato red, and somehow (this is a black art to me) inserted a turtleneck dead center. So whenever we have pasta now, I just pull it over my head, and I’m set. Nothing to tuck, tie, or button. And when I invariably dump some of the sauce on myself, well, it’s machine-washable. (I always seem to wear white shirts the nights I make our trademark Front Range buffalo spaghetti sauce.)

The photo was taken yesterday evening, just before I lit into a pile of whole wheat spaghetti. I had a minor problem; I’m alone in the house. So I took the new Canon G10, put it on my tripod, and placed it across the kitchen table where Carol’s chair usually is. While digging through the manual looking for how to use the self-timer, I discovered that the G10 has something new (to me): a face-recognition self-timer. It works like this: You set up the shot, select the face timer, and then trip the shutter. The camera waits until it sees a new face in the field of view, and then kicks off the self-timer. So all I had to do was amble (not run) over to my chair, grab my utensils, and look the camera in the, er, eye. Bang! Timer starts running. Five seconds later, photo happens.

It doesn’t have to be a solo portrait. Get the family together in one frame, trip the shutter, and the G10 will wait until it sees you (or at least one more face) in the frame before it starts the timer. Sheesh. For a guy who began in photography with 120 Tri-X Pan film and a motheaten folding bellows camera (patched at a bellows crack with a small piece of Curad Battle Ribbon) this treads on the thin edge of spooky. I can see myself the day after Christmas 2019, arguing with my brand-new Canon G256:

ME: “Hey, lensface, this time take the glint off my skull, ok?”

G256: “Sure thing, boss. I can render CGI hair if you want.”

ME: “Don’t be a wiseass. You know what I mean.”

G256: “That would be an image closer to your genetic reality.”

ME: “A genetic reality that hasn’t been fully expressed since 1982 or so.”

G256: “But that’s the Canon slogan for 2019: Reality never looked this good!”

ME: “Take the best picture you can. Don’t screw with reality. Just. Take. The. Picture.”

And I’d get the CGI hair. Just what the world needs: A WYGIWITRSB camera. (“What You Get Is What I Think Reality Should Be.” )

Not that I’m complaining; the G10 is a pretty spectacular camera, and it doesn’t talk yet. It can take macro shots that are almost like what you’d see through an inspection microscope. The thumbnail at left is a 1N23 microwave diode, slightly larger than life size. (The real thing is 5/8″ long.) Click on it. Dare ya. Count the dust grains. Wow.

Anyway. Gretchen made a pair of ponchos and gave one to each of us. We hung them on hangers in the laundry room just off the kitchen so they’re handy, and as soon as Carol comes home again I’m going to throw her a spaghetti feast like she’s never seen before–and if I miss, well, she’ll be wearing the poncho.


  1. nitpicker says:

    I trust the camera didn’t squeeze the image horizontally, but rather something about the way you prepared it for posting did that. Didn’t you notice how “narrow-minded” that photo makes you look?

    Off-topic: Did you notice that the calendar image for “Posts By Month” is off by a day? It’s wrong for December, too. The year displayed at the top of the calendar page is correct, but the days are mapped to one earlier than they should be.

  2. The photo seems OK here; if there was horizontal compression it wasn’t much. I really do look like that.

    It looks like the WordPress default is to start a week on Monday, so I found the setting and changed it to Sunday. The days were always on the right day of the week, but the calendar looked odd because the leftmost row of days was Monday. Let me know if it looks OK on your end now. Thanks! (I’m still learning WordPress, and may not be an expert for some time…)

  3. nitpicker says:

    The calendar looks good now. I hadn’t noticed that the calendar was starting the week on Monday. I guess I’m not so good of a nitpicker, am I?

    The vertical stretching of the photo apparently is an Internet Explorer 6 problem. It looks correct in Firefox. Sorry, I didn’t think to check that before I posted. Odd thing about that — just now, one of the times I displayed the page with Internet Explorer, the photo was properly displayed. I don’t know what was different about that time. But nearly all the time, at least for me, IE6 shows the photo in about 4×3 aspect ratio (4 in the vertical), while Firefox shows it square. I don’t know why that should be.

  4. Dave Sorgen says:

    Jeff –
    Really like the “new” site. It’s clean and easy to read.

    Re: camera interfaces. It’s really weird that you mention talking to the camera. My wife and I had a LONG discussion about just that topic in mid-08. I had just gotten a new panasonic and was enjoying the improvements when the urge to speculate and “blue-sky” came upon me. Hence the discussion.

    One item I’d surely include in a verbal interface is the ability to store/recall presets for certain types of pictures (e.g. landscapes). The ability to recall and modify on the fly would be nice.

    About a month ago OhGizmo had a brief discussion of a new Canon interface that is, you guessed it, verbal. Should be interesting…


  5. Sam'l B. says:

    Is Gretchen taking orders? 😉

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