Roy's Blog

As can be seen in other parts of the web site, I like to write about things I find interesting/important. All of those things that interest me are not all significant enough to warrant a full essay; therefore, I've decided to create a Blog for myself. It will not be like most blogs in that I'm not using any blog software. If you want to comment/argue/disagree with anything in the blog (or anywhere else in my web site) just send me an email rwl@lobenhofer.com and if I deem it appropriate, I will post it. Be aware, I do not believe commercials are appropriate, nor language that isn't PG. (Okay, I'm a prude - but I'm an old prude!) That being said, I'd love to hear your comments especially if you disagree. By understanding why you disagree, perhaps I will see the errors in my thinking.

A word of warning before going on regarding proof reading: if you read any of the following you will soon be asking, “Doesn’t he proof read this stuff?” The answer is yes I do proof read it and that is why there are so many errors. You see when I proof read my own work, I see what I meant not necessarily what shows up. Sometimes when I reread things weeks later, I will catch some of the errors and correct them. Until then, my apologies!

Date Posted: Saturday, November 16, 2019

General Area: General

Title: Justice?

Roger Stone was convicted yesterday of lying to the congress and other crimes. The picture under the headline showed him getting in a car leaving the court. (In case you are not aware, Roger Stone is a wealthy supporter of Donald Trump.)

If, instead of the wealthy Roger Stone, it had been a poor felon accused of shoplifting, there would not be a picture of him getting in a car. If there was any picture, it would be of him being put into handcuffs and led off to jail. Who is most likely to flee before sentencing, the shoplifter who may have trouble getting together bus fare home, or the millionaire who has a private jet?

That doesn’t seem like justice to me, it sounds like the justice system being biased to the wealthy. The shoplifter might have had a freshman public defender talking on his behalf while Mr. Stone most likely had the best attorneys money could buy. With that information and knowing they both were found guilty, who are you most confident is really guilty?

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a tirade against friends of Donald Trump. A few years ago the same lack of justice appeared to me in the way Jessie Jackson Jr. and his wife were treated by the justice system. As you may recall, both were convicted of wrong doing and sentenced to jail time. Their jail time was scheduled so their children would not be left without a free parent. Once one of them had completed their time, the other served theirs. Certainly the justice system was accommodating. Can you picture the same thing happening if it were a husband and wife shoplifting team? I can’t. (By the way, the length of time between conviction and the first beginning to serve time was considerable by my recollection.) I felt like jail time was being arranged for when it was convenient for the Jacksons.  

The “justice” system is stacked in favor of the rich. They can know the people who can many times make things “go away” and they can afford the lawyers and investigators to look for loop-holes. Does the justice system also need to make punishment of the convicted wrong doers at the convenience of the guilty?

Date Posted: Tuesday, October 22, 2019

General Area: Photography

Title: Criticism & Competition

I received Hank Erdmann’s Blog about addressing “criticism” recently. As my contacts with Hank’s efforts have been highly positive, I read his blogs carefully when he sends them. (If you’re interested, you can be put on his mailing list by asking at hankphoto@sbcglobal.net.) I’ve attended classes taught by Hank, been at meetings where he has provided critiques of work, and have observed many of his photographs. HE KNOWS WHAT HE’S TALKING ABOUT! If you ever have the opportunity to take one of his classes or attend one of his talks, I certainly recommend it. I haven’t been on one of his shoots, but I’ve heard great things about them as well.

In this latest blog, he points out some of the dangers of having photographs critiqued by some judges – and mentions some of the benefits.

I’m afraid I lean more toward the danger side. I’ve entered many competitions at the local level and have even judged a few such competitions. I no longer do either.

Hank points out much can be learned from critiques from knowledgeable photographers, that is exactly why I shouldn’t be doing judging and/or critiquing. I certainly don’t consider myself knowledgeable. Judging at local competitions is generally done by people outside of the local organization and, therefore, of completely unknown qualifications to do such judging and/or critiquing.

There’s another problem with my judging and critiquing – and I think with many others who do the judging. I am biased. I like nature and animals. Portraits of people and pictures of architecture typically don’t do anything for me. If you show me a portrait of a middle aged semi attractive woman that is wonderfully lit, perfectly focused in the right areas and soft in the right areas, I would most likely say it is nice and give it an above average score. If the picture was of an animal (or maybe a beautiful young women) my rating would most likely be higher. On the other hand, if the picture is something avant- garde, I wouldn’t give a good score. (I’m a Remington type person as opposed to Picasso.) That’s not fair to the photographer and part of the reason I don’t judge.

My colleagues have often commented that a bias towards landscape photography exists in in our area. Pictures of animals, portraits, architecture, and others don’t score as well in our opinion as the landscape photos. Not fair? I suppose not, but it’s the way it is. If life was fair I’d be young, rich, and good looking.

So the judging isn’t fair, what’s the problem? That’s the way it is. The problem is what it does to the neophyte without the self-confidence to see through the bias. My colleagues and I have watched long enough to not let it affect our work that much. We know the bias that exists and how to react to it. But, the young person bringing their first competition attempts are liable to throw up their hands and give up photography when they can’t figure out why their efforts aren’t rewarded.

I guess the answer is to find someone with the capabilities of Hank to give your attempts critiques, otherwise learn to critique your own work. I believe learning to critique your own work is not only one of the most rewarding things you can learn in photography, it’s one of the hardest.  Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not very disciplined, (If you need confirmation ask Pam) and critiquing requires discipline. Critiquing your work involves looking at all you photos and not just asking whether you like it or not but why. It’s pretty easy to scan through your day’s shots and decide if there’s anything worthwhile. It’s not that easy to really look at the shots and say what you could have done to make it better. And, what I find is even harder to look at a picture I like and try to define why I like it. You might also try critiquing pictures you see in magazines or other places. (I tend to get more where I have to figure why I like than when I just look at my own.)

Once you do this self-critiquing for some time, you’ll start to see a pattern of not only what mistakes you continually make but also what you really like in your photography. It will lead to better photographs. (However, if you’re like me, you won’t think so. What will happen is that you’ll get pickier, but others will think you’re getting better.)

Date Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2019

General Area: General Thoughts

Title: Do It

Why is it so much easier to say “I’m going to do …” than it is “I’m doing …”?

Date Posted: Monday, September 23, 2019

General Area: Major League Baseball

Title: Who’s to Blame?

According to the rumors it appears Joe Maddon will not be the manager of the Cubs in 2020. Now, I like Joe! What Cub fan wouldn’t like the manager who brought the first world championship to the team in 100 years? Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t agreed with all of his decisions throughout his tenure. At times, I think he has played “his” favorites instead of those who would have provided more positive results, but every baseball fan feels that way about his/her team’s manager. It appears Joe has gone from the toast of the city in 2016 to not being adequate to manage in 2020.

I have a hard time buying that. I can understand players’ skills diminishing once they pass a certain age and playing them would be detrimental to the team. I suppose there is a time when a manager’s mental acuity diminishes to the point where they are no longer as sharp as they once were and a replacement is needed. Is that the case with Joe and why the Cubs didn’t do well in 2019? I do remember one of the prognosticators picking the Cubs to be in 4th or 5th place at the end of the season before the season started. Since it looks like they’ll end up in 3rd, Joe got them in a better place than expected.

One of the things I feel is the problem is the “help” we have been getting from the trades and free agents we’ve been bringing in, particularly in the pitching area. In 2019, after struggling in 2018, we had a number of changes in the pitching area – a new pitching coach and numerous new relievers. Yet, towards the end of the season, if we weren’t leading by double digits by the late inning we fans knew we were in trouble. Did Joe make the decisions as to who was being brought in? Obviously he was in each particular game, but was he responsible for who was available to select from? If not, perhaps one should look at how those decisions were being made.

I understand the frustration with having one of the highest payrolls and not making the playoffs; however, instead of focusing the attention on the manager dealing with all that high priced help, perhaps some attention should be given as to how it is decided where all that money is being spent!

Date Posted: Friday, September 13, 2019

General Area: Education   

Title: Tell ‘em why!

Because of my son and his wife being out-of-town, Pam and I went to our grandson’s “back-to-school night”. He’s in middle school and it was one of those things where you followed the student’s schedule. In each class period the teacher then told you about what was going on in their class and the expectations for the students.

As I had a recent conversation with someone who was expounding about the waste of time learning algebra was, I noted the complete absence of any mention by the teacher of explaining why they were learning algebra. I use algebra all the time and had told the person questioning about the need for algebra. He hadn’t seen the connection of when he was using algebra to its being algebra.

This morning I mentioned this to my grandson, and he agreed with me. He had no problem seeing the value of algebra, but struggled with the value of geometry. I wasn’t too much help on that matter as I had struggled with the same questions of the value of memorizing theorems postulates and axioms, but I did point out some of the values of learning analytical geometry.

He then went on to question the value of some of the things he was being required to learn in English. Again, I must confess I never saw much value in learning how to dissect sentences and some things like that. That might explain why I don’t think I could dissect a sentence properly if I had to. And don’t get me started on poetry. I know there are those people who really love it, but I’m definitely not in that group.

I guess my point is there are many of us in the world who struggle learning concepts that we don’t understand why we are learning them. So, if you’re teaching something, you might want to include “WHY” in your lesson plans. It might give your students more of a reason to apply themselves than just a grade.

Date Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2019

General Area: Sports

Title: Football Celebrations

I am an old curmudgeon but I am growing to hate athletes’ celebrations. In particular the football celebrations.  

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand a team celebrating like mad when they win a game! If it’s the first win in 20 tries, it’s certainly something to celebrate. If a win brings a team into a better position, again, certainly something to celebrate.

What drives me up the wall are the celebrations of individual plays by the players. The guy that celebrates a tackle when his team is losing by a bunch, to me is ridiculous. More so the latest trend for defenses having choreographed celebrations of turnovers even when they’re losing. Maybe if they worked as hard on their defense as their celebrations they wouldn’t be losing.

I guess my problem is I grew up when the response to a good play was “act like you’ve been there before.” After all celebrations are usually saved for special occasions. Aren’t these celebrations saying, “Hey, look at me, I finally did what I was supposed to have been doing all along!”?

Date Posted:Friday, August 30, 2019

General Area: College Costs

Title: Why do colleges cost so much?

I graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961 as a metallurgical engineer. I was immediately hired and started my career working for $7200 a year. It was at the time a very good salary.

Lately I’ve been hearing about engineers coming out of college getting $50-60,000 to start. My experience with these graduates has been they aren’t worth much at all and yet they get that much. In fairness, as I look back on my career, I wasn’t worth much when I started, either. I decided to see if those numbers were true and did some searching on the web. I found the average starting salary for a University of Missouri metallurgical engineer to be $60,437[i].

Of course, in 1961 I was paying about $.25 for a gallon of gas. To be fair, I should look at the effect of inflation plays in this “outrageous” salary. I found a web site[ii] to calculate that kind of thing and was embarrassed to find by $7200 is the same as $61,782.98 today. Maybe those young guys aren’t as overpaid as I thought.

That led my weird mind to wonder if all the complaints I’ve heard about the cost of college were just a matter of inflation. I remember my first year at IIT the tuition was somewhere between $800 and $900. (I didn’t worry room and board because I was a “cruddy street car student” – I lived at home.) Since that was 1957, using the inflation calculator in today’s money it’s between $7,304.51 and $8,217.58. I then checked to see what IIT’s tuition is today. According to their web site[iii] it is $47,480. I guess the complaints about the high cost of colleges are factual.

I wonder where all that money is going?



[i] https://mse.mst.edu/prospectiveundergraduatestudents/metallurgicalengineeringwdid/

 

[ii] https://www.usinflationcalculator.com

[iii] https://admissions.iit.edu/undergraduate/finances/tuition-and-fees

 

Date Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2019

General Area: Sports

Title: The electronic strike zone can’t come soon enough for me.

 I suppose I won’t live long enough to see it, but I can’t wait for until the calling of balls and strikes are done electronically in the major leagues.

I’ve heard some say it’s a bad idea, because it takes the “human element” out of the game. To that I ask, are the umpires the important part of the human element or should it be the baseball players? I’ve just watched a ball game where the umpire called strike one on a 3-0 count that was further outside than one of the previous pitches. It seems if the count is 3-0 the next pitch is a strike as long as it’s in the county. Conversely, on a 0-2 count, the next pitch is a ball unless the batter swings and misses. Why? Because that’s what usually happens.

The arbitrariness of the umpires diminishes the capabilities of the hitters who are good at discerning strikes and similarly they diminish the skills of the pitchers who can “paint the edges.” The only baseball skill I’ve heard that would be diminished by the electronic strike zone is the catcher’s ability to “frame the pitch” – in other words, the skill of being able to fool the umpire.

Below is a link to an interesting article on how poorly the umpires did in 2018.

https://brobible.com/sports/article/study-umpires-missed-ball-strike-calls/