2/27/15

Better Science Through Living.

Walkie-Talkies built from kit, $12.95. Manufacturer is also developing model featuring
quarter-mile range thanks to high-gain quarter-mile antenna.

Also available: pistol that fires continuously unless trigger is held down.

No joke necessary.




2/26/15

Sanka - Coffee with quotation fingers.

Hah! remember Sanka? Sanka does. Apparently they're still around, poor things. In that last sentence, I would have made the words "still around" a link to Sanka's website, but holy smokes, they don't seem to have one! Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the only multicellular life form on the planet that doesn't have a branded presence on the web. Wowzers! The first three links in a Google search on "sanka" are Wikipedia, Amazon, and Amazon.

Why such a big cup? Because it's 97% caffeine free and this is what you'd need to get going. Wooo!

Here's a Sanka commercial from 1959, the year this ad ran in Life Magazine. Is "flavorsome" a word? I'm doutious it is. And when did we add the extra "E" to the end of "caffein"? Collins Dictionary says it's from the german word "kaffein", which is from their other word "kaffee". Dictionary.com says "also 'caffein'". BORR-IIING! Which means it's probably the whole story.



And here's one from The Seventies with a chorus of excited people singing how great it is to be the third largest coffee in America. No kidding. You'd think it would sound better to say you're "the leading decaffeinated coffee in America" than "the third largest coffee in America", right? I guess The Seventies weren't about achievement, were they?






2/25/15

Gun bed.



Joke #1 -  "I asked for a seven THIRTY wake up call!"

Joke #2 - "Wait a second. One of you guys has your hands in the air like you DO care!"

Joke #3 - "Freeze! The both of you mugs! Now make like you're trapped in a glass box or I let you have it."

Joke #4 - "Okay, hand over all your sheep. Nice and slow. One at a time."

Joke #5 - "You. Get in, and don't make any sudden moves. Then, make a bunch of sudden moves, and then make no sudden moves again, then make some sudden moves, then no sudden moves, then some sudden moves, and then get lost in my eyes."

Joke #6 -"All units be on the lookout for white male, age twenty-eight to thirty-two, brown hair, medium build. Last seen in a twin size bed with blue sheets. He is believed to be armed and sleepy."

Joke #7 - "Excuse me son, do you know why I pulled you over? Whoa! Take it easy. Let's not do anything rash."

Joke #8 - "Don't be crazy, Jake. You'll never get away with it. Have you seen those new beds the cops have? They're fast, I tell ya."


Never one to miss an opportunity for butt jokes, Mr. FancyProctologyPants_2 sent us Joke #9. he does not disappoint. Thanks, MFPP2! - " Male nurse or not Doc, did you see the size of his fingers??? Ain't no way he's goin' near my hiney!"

[Commenter jokes will be added to the post.    -Mgmt.]





2/24/15

Vintage Lens Test - Three Russian primes. What a country!

Today we bring you three Russian lenses: A Helios 44 m-4, a Jupiter 9, and a little Industar 61. They're all primes, so they don't zoom at all. The similarities all end there, since they have different focal lengths. This is an exhibition, not a competition. Please, no wagering.

I have a bunch of old lenses, and there are some generalizations that can be made about different kinds. Japanese lenses are refined. They feel very intricate and meticulous in design and construction. The focus rings on Japanese lenses tend to have a short throw with light action, so you don't need to wind them around forever to get from minimum focus to maximum.

Russian lenses feel like they're built from old tank components, and built from fewer parts that are twice as thick as necessary. They tend to be heavy, and this heaviness can also be felt in their focus rings, which not only are stiffer to turn, but they also tend to require more turns from one end of their focal scale to the other. There's no "whipping" into focus with a Russian lens. They take some spinning to get them sharp. I've read in a few places online that Russian lenses are lubricated with tank grease. The Jupiter and Helios definitely feel like it. The focusing action is not light. These may sound like criticisms, but they're not. It's just the character of the lenses that, to me at least, is really interesting to discover. To their credit, the Helios and Jupiter seem as though, if you dropped them, you may worry about your floor.

Carl Zeiss AG is a German manufacturer of lenses, and was originally founded in 1846. They've always been famous for the high quality of their product. After the defeat of Nazi Germany, Russia "somehow" found themselves in possession of the Zeiss manufacturing equipment and design documents. Quite a prize. Purely by coincidence, Russia soon began turning out lenses based on the Zeiss designs, which have been in production since the Fifties. I have to believe that Zeiss AG are at least a little miffed about this.

Helios 44m-4      (1958-1992)     ~$45
This lens is pretty much the darling of the Russian lenses on the Intertubes. There are lots of pages dedicated to it. It can be had on eBay for about 45 dollars, and that's a bargain. Focusing actions is smooth but heavy, and takes longer than you want to get from one end to the other. But for your money you'll have a great lens that will be there at your funeral, unless you drive your tank over it somehow.

It's a 58mm, which is a little longer than a typical 50mm, but you can use it more or less the same. The f/2 aperture is nice and wide, letting in lots of light, so you can get away without using flash in more situations.

Jupiter 9     (1965?)     $125-$180
This lens is really pretty, big and heavy... a little smaller than your fist, and it shares the Helios' long focus threads, too. It seems like there are more elements inside it than the Helios. It's kind of Japanese in that way. There's also a black version. They go for about $150 on eBay. That's kind of expensive, but after reading some gushing reviews, I had to go find one of these for myself.

The Jupiter is an 85mm focal length, which is kind of long. Don't think of this as a general purpose lens. You wouldn't shoot a landscape with it, because you'd need to be standing on the moon to get all of Mount Rushmore in the frame. It's more of a portrait lens. So, for outdoor parties or cookouts, it will give you nice intimate head shots from a non-intrusive distance with soft, blurry backgrounds. It also has a big wide aperture, which will help soften up the backgrounds, as well as giving you the option of shooting indoors without annoying people with a flash.

Industar 61 b     (1990-ish)     ~$20
This version of the Industar is a weird little thing, and I'm not sure what it was originally for. My guess it was just a kit lens for a holiday camera. It's smaller and lighter than the other two, and it feels like it is of a simpler construction.

At 53mm, the Industar is just a little wider than a standard 50, but you could probably use it as you would a 50.










Coffee and Wodka
This is a pair of Skyy vodka bottles and a coffee maker. It's as good a place for some test pictures as any. The sun was coming through the window pretty nicely, so why not?
Strong contrast and saturated colors. I almost always like to keep the lens wide open, because I'm still infatuated with shallow depth of field. This was shot with the aperture all the way open to f/2, so if you look at the coffee maker, the handle in the foreground and the spout in the back are both out of focus, while the fluted chrome in the middle is sharp.
As you'll remember, the Jupiter is an 85mm lens, so our view is pushed in a lot more, despite the fact the camera is in the same place as the other picture. It's softer overall (but I may have just focused poorly), and with more tones in the midrange. This gives colors a mellow, creamy look.




The Industar's contrast is similar to the Helios, but with a little more DOF. It's a 53mm, and the Helios is a 58. You can see the slight difference in the less pronounced blurring in the out of focus areas.




Hardware, Stored
The Helios gets softer near its edges. The nearest stand is in focus, but if you follow it up
to the top of the picture, you can see it getting fuzzy. This is, technically, a flaw in the lenses'
design, but it's part of the reason it has become a cult favorite. If you're looking for a

technically perfect lens, look elsewhere. If dreamy character is your thing, get thee to a Helios.

Again, you can see the Ju[iter's paler colors in the paneling. But look at the bokeh in the
background. Every little highlight in the chrome springs to life as a little bubble of light.
Image from kurtmunger.com.
An interesting thing about the Jupiter 9 is it's aperture. That's the part of the lens that lets in the right amount of light. It's a mechanical version of the pupil in your eye. When you look into a mechanical lens and mess with the aperture ring, you can see this thing getting bigger and smaller. It's a wonder to behold.

Anyway, a normal camera has maybe six or seven blades in the aperture (also called the "diaphragm"). The sample picture to the left has seven. Very inexpensive lenses sometimes have four. The shape of the hole in the center is revealed in the shape of the "bokeh balls" in reflective objects. What you want is nice, round bokeh, so, more blades is better, but this makes the lens harder to manufacture.


Image from here.




The Jupiter 9 has fifteen aperture blades. That's pretty extravagant. This ensures that any bokeh produced by this lens will be smooth and round.
Interestingly, this time the Industar didn't match the Helios' contrast and color.
There's more chromatic aberration than the others, too. See the blue fringe
around the chrome legs of the cymbal stands? Areas of high contrast will show
you your lenses' propensity for CA. Here, it's where the bright sunlight on the
chrome meets the shadowed carpet behind it.

And your Bird Can Sing

I think I missed the focus a little here. Two Sheds wasn't standing still. The colors in the backgroud seem
less saturated than in the Jupiter's picture below. Weird. Could be that the sun was moving around, changing the light in the room? How rude.

Two things give you shallow depth of field (blurry backgrounds): Wide aperture and long focal length. Here's the shallow depth of field you get from the 85mm Jupiter 9, as compared to 50-ish focal lengths of the others. His eye is (nearly) in focus, but his beak is already starting to fall into the fuzz. Remind me to have the P.A.G! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Brigade  put a severed finger in his mouth.




The 53mm Industar has the least-blurry backgrounds of the three. No surprise there.







Temple of Maroon

For this next set of pictures, we went down to the VIsta Del Mar lounge and set up some knick knacks. Here's a knight templar and what seem to be a couple of tikis having "teh butt sex", loud and proud. The Helios's bokeh tends take the form of almond shapes that orbit around the center of the picture. The more detailed your backgroud, the more almond satellites you'll have. This has the terrific effect of focusing attention on your subject. I don't know what those little green broccoli bokehs are doing there (broccoleh), down in the lower left, but they're pretty cool.

The Jupiter seems to really love the reds in the background. They're not just saturated, they're frikkin' soggy. "You chose.... wisely."

The Industar produced some nice, round bokeh balls up there. Impressive, little Industar!

Achey Bokeh Heart

Lastly, we just threw each lens way out of focus and pointed it at the Christmas lights. Bokeh time!

The orbiting almonds made by the Helios only appear out from the center. In the middle, bokeh is nice and round.

The Jupiter's bubbles are very round, and only slightly ovalized at the edge.

The Industar turns in a respectable bokeh performance for being so tiny. I like the sharp ones with translucent centers.


2/20/15

2/19/15

Revere Movie Cameras - Watching the kids.

Who doesn't like going to the beach to film children in bathing suits? Nobody, that's who doesn't! Revere wants to help you capture the moment on your next beach holiday.



Oh, wait. Those are his own kids. Well, that's okay too. Back in 1948, they didn't have to worry about anybody misinterpreting the photo in this ad. To be sure, our century did not invent pedophile sickos. They've always existed, but among the readership of The Saturday Evening Post, this notion was inconceivable.

So, thanks, 24-hour news cycle, for making sure that we think of perverts first and parents second!

Maybe you're still pure of heart and mind. Maybe you're having trouble seeing this ad in a sinister light. Well, that's what the Phil Are GO! Graphic Blandishment and Photoshoppery Squad is here for. Without putting too fine a point on it, we have managed to enhance this ad so that even the most puritanical zealot can view this ad the way we view it.



There, isn't that better? I mean... isn't that much much worse? Unless you're a monster, you'll now feel the need to have several showers. You're welcome!



2/18/15

Dauphine's Inferno and electric burnouts.

After our hard-hitting expose' blew the roof off of the "The Renault Dauphine was a Cute Little car" secret, our mail server was inundated with a flood of one email. Diligent Reader John (surname redacted) created a piece of art with our humble little Dauphine PNG. Top of the optional features list for our Dauphine PNG file is a transparent background, which John fully exploited to put it right at home in hell, apparently.


That's some good masking and drop shadowing, John! I'd swear the car was actually surrounded by naked naughty people!

In the private hell reserved for petroleum industry executives, that Dauphine would be an electric model. What's that you say? I already have a picture of an electric Dauphine? How absurd! The very idea!

Gasp of outrage! What have I got here?




Yep! Somebody made an electric Dauphine for some reason... probably because the original motor just fell out of it after a light rain. Once you dump all the batteries in, and the motor controller, it looks like the car had room for possibly two people and a clipboard. Still, though, a useable electric car of any kind was pretty cool back in 1960. Let's see how this Dauphine's numbers stack up against a modern electric car designed by a huge team of geniuses, 54 years into the Dauphine's future.


Nissan Leaf
Electric Dauphine
RANGE
75
60
TOP SPEED
93
35
RECHARGE TIME (standard AC)
6 or 8
8
PASSENGERS (incl. driver)
4
2
COOLNESS (scale of 100)
3
86

The Nissan Leaf, now unavailable with glow in the dark paint.

That's as may be. It's still a Leaf.

Hmm. The Leaf does out-perform the Dauphine in basically every area, except coolness. The Leaf looks like an emasculating joke, even with the not-available-for-purchase glow in the dark paint. Yes, really. But the Dauphine's numbers are pretty impressive for 1960. You'd think we would have made more progress in 54 years, but automakers didn't start taking alternative fuels seriously until maybe ten years ago.

The Dauphine tallies up a coolness score of 86, which is very respectable. "How could it be cooler?", you ask? It's top speed is 35. That could be improved upon by doing what Plasma Boy Racing's John Wayland did to his 1972 Datsun 1200. He shoehorned in a pair of electric forklift motors for something like 400 horsepower and 800 lb-ft of torque available from zero RPM. That would be pretty neat. Hellaciously cool, one may say.



Click for big.



2/17/15

The window visit.



Joke #1 - "Elope? Oh, my goodness! This is so sudden! What's your name?"

Joke #2 - "Why, yes, I would be interested in learning more about Mormonism. I'll be right out. I'll need a few minutes to get ready. You can use the time to get your crazy story straight."

Joke #3 - He'd done it again. Margaret was so disappointed. Gerald had stayed out too late, had a few drinks, and lost his keys to the window.

Joke #4 - Margaret was a little disappointed. She'd always carried in her heart a girlish dream of eloping, but in her fantasy, the window she climbed out of had been a bay window, or an awning window, or maybe a casement window... anything but a boring old single hung. It wasn't even double-glazed.  -Steamy excerpt from the Pella Monthly Romance Serial.

Joke #5 - It was getting harder and harder for Uber's drivers to do business while staying a step ahead of the law.

Joke #6 - "Aww, mom was wrong. You're not just the wind. You're not even just a twig brushing against the siding. You're just an ordinary desperate fugitive."

Joke #7 - "Why, hello, unemployable drifter! You must be running for congress. Just a moment. I'll get my rifle."

Jim D. sent us a very timely joke #8, which is probably more captivating than the movie! - "Honey, please understand! The flying monkey uniform, no problem, I can deal with that, I even liked it, but I was just suffocating in that mask, and waiting for you to break into the castle was just too . . . can't we just go see Fifty Shades of Grey and come up with some more pedestrian fantasies to act out?"

Joke #9 comes to us from an International Man/Woman of Mystery. Let's have a big hand for Anonymous! - "Yes Eunice, that totally hurt when you slammed the window on my fingers. And I believe by the smell, that I've just filled an entire leg of my trousers...

[Commenter jokes will be added to the post.   -Mgmt.]





2/16/15

Renault Dauphine - Es car go, just barely.

In 1960, there were still Renault dealers in the U.S. I'm not sure if I would run out and buy one, given the chance, but it's always great to see more diversity on our roads. Back then, one could find the occasional Renault Dauphine on the street, until the first rainy afternoon and the thing disintegrated into a pile of brown crumbs.

At least according to Time magazine, it wasn't a great car. They have this to say about the Dauphine, which holds a treasured place on their list of Worst Cars of All Time. "Dauphine" translates as "runner", which seems like asking for trouble:

The most ineffective bit of French engineering since the Maginot Line, the Renault Dauphine was originally to be named the Corvette, tres ironie. It was, in fact, a rickety, paper-thin scandal of a car that, if you stood beside it, you could actually hear rusting. Its most salient feature was its slowness, a rate of acceleration you could measure with a calendar. It took the drivers at Road and Track 32 seconds to reach 60 mph, which would put the Dauphine at a severe disadvantage in any drag race involving farm equipment. The fact that the ultra-cheap, super-sketchy Dauphine sold over 2 million copies around the world is an index of how desperately people wanted cars. Any cars.
Awww, poor thing. Pity it wasn't any good. It looks good to my Eyes From the Future, which are weary of pointy, jagged cars with big fake grilles that visually pollute our roads today. I really like the tubular bumper and the intakes on the rear quarter panels, which, combined with the total lack of any grille on the nose, tell us that the Dauphine was rear-engined. Tres jolie!

The P.A.G! Research and Googling team was unable to find any Dauphines for sale. Hemmings.com is our favorite place to look at old cars and fantasize about being a Jay Lenoid. Sadly, Hemmings had nes pas les Dauphines (visage triste). Ebay had loads of parts, but no complete examples available. The largest part we found was an engine and transaxle going for $900.


The Dauphine sold for $1645 in 1960, which works out to about $13,000 in modern day futurebucks. That's a lot less than a Fiat 500, which is probably the closest thing we have in the U.S. today. Is it?


No. Wait. The Fiat is fast and reliable, by all accounts. The Smart FourTwo is a closer match. Tiny and terrible, but not without visual charm. Also rear-engined, and also about thirteen grand. I'll take a vintage Dauphine, if I have any choice.

It's been too long since we made a Graphic Gift for you. Here's the Dauphine from today's ad, a thousand pixels wide, on alpha background. That means you can drag it into another document and the windows and background will still be clear. You're welcome!

Get your rude finger ready to push this Gallic little "runner" into the multi-car pileup on your hard drive in three, two, one...rightclicknow!





2/13/15

Little Ads - Get careered! Or huge!

Serving suggestion. Actual pedestrian may be murdered by any model car, or wearing trousers, or a man.

Serving suggestion. Beating self on head with half barbell may not result in fitness. Cash bal cod fob plant.

Serving suggestion. Training may also work on galoots, jamokes, lugs, palookas, goons, lunkheads, doofs,

and bohunks. Training untested on oaves.


Trial lesson: "Gear comprehension". Twenty minutes to complete, excluding review and testing.