Monday, May 25, 2015

Adventures in Marketing



   This screenshot is from the Amazon Warehouse site. A cute little camera. It is about the size of a deck of cards and weighs less than a pound—a perfect size for my feeble constitution. I've had my eye on this little gem for quite a while, for it will accept (with adapters) lenses from almost any other camera (I’ve got at least a dozen that it will accept).

   Amazon’s pricing algorithms have always been inscrutable trade secrets. This item was no exception. When I first started to price this outfit it ran from about $400 to $600. The Amazon site had a couple which were new but with damaged packaging for about $260, quite a discount! I kept watching the site, and the price would go up and down every day or so. Finally, last Wednesday evening, the price sank to $247. I went for it. Since then the price of the remaining kit has inched steadily upward, as of Sunday it’s nearly $300.

   I don’t really understand it, but I’ll take the deal I got Wednesday.

UPDATE: As of today it’s priced at $302.31!

By Professor Batty


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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Matinee - #21



Tom Ryther Host, Minneapolis, 1975

By Professor Batty


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Friday, May 22, 2015

Advise and Consent



   Back in their old apartment, Mary and Sean were ‘entertaining’ the two FBI agents. The agent from Virginia spoke first.

   “You've been ‘off the radar’ for a couple of weeks. That may have been a good plan.” said the agent to Sean. “Of course, since the stabbing incident in Virginia we know that there is a certain group of people who wish you harm. We have reason to suspect that they are starting to intensify their efforts, have you been aware of any activities toward you that might be considered part of this?”

   “We are well aware of the group and their intent.” said Sean, “The incident in Decorah, for example. We evidently just missed being attacked at my Aunt Tina’s farm.”

   “What do you know of that?” said the Seattle agent.

   “My Aunt Tina is being held incommunicado, is it not so?” said Sean. “We’re aware of the incident from news reports.”

   “You were in Iowa?” said the agent from Virginia. “May I ask why?”

   “You are holding Tina?” Sean slipped on his wedding ring as Mary asked the question.

   “She’s in protective custody.” There was a pause in the conversation.

   “They know a lot more about this than they are revealing.” thought Mary.

   “How much should we tell them?” thought Sean. “I doubt they’d believe anything about communicating with Emily.”

   “We’re going to have to deal with them sooner or later.” thought Mary, “I think we should tell them about The Brotherhood, telling them what we know from Billy’s report and Roger Ramsen’s files.”

   “That will incriminate Sally. We’ll have to get some assurances.” thought Sean. “Do you think we can deal with the FBI?”

   “I don’t think we have a choice.” thought Mary. “Go ahead, and talk to them. I’ll keep quiet, it’s best that they don’t know what I’ve been up to. As if they’d believe it anyway. Make sure you get as much information as you give.”

   Sean broke the impasse:

   “I’ll be as direct as possible. What can we do for you, and what can you do for us?”

   “Let’s start from the beginning, I’m going to omit some names, but you may already know who some of them are.” the agent from Virginia continued, “The F.B.I. became involved with you at the request of a certain member of congress who had the cooperation of a sub-director. The entire affair with your half-brother William, the interrogation of Ms. Berenson, was all done in violation of established department protocols. That sub-director is no longer with the agency. After you were attacked in Virginia, a special task force was created to find the perpetrator and his motivation. We were ready to arrest him when he suddenly died from natural causes. We had some evidence to suggest he was part of a larger group, but have been unable to discover it. As evidenced by the incident at your Aunt’s farm, they are evidently still active and extremely dangerous. There is also evidence that the group has connections with foreign agents, agents who might pose a threat to homeland security. We have come here to warn you, and to seek your help. It is our understanding that you already have some knowledge of this.”

    “Yes, we are aware of the danger, and we have some knowledge of that group.” said Sean. “That said, much of what we surmise has been taken from sources which would not be considered proper evidence.”

   “Of course.” said the Seattle agent. “In any investigation there is information that, while not admissible in a court of law, nevertheless helps to lead us to a satisfactory conclusion.”

   “And some of what we know has been obtained from sources who acquired it in ways of questionable legality.”

   “Of course. We are willing to accept anything you may offer as ‘background information’, with no questions asked as to its legality.” The agent from Virginia said. His phone began to ring. “Excuse me for a moment.” He stepped out of the apartment and onto the balcony. Shutting the door behind him, he began talking. When the agent returned his face, which had been non-committal, now exhibited a grave demeanor.

   “There has been a new complication.” the agent began, “You know Sally McDonnell, from the incident in Iceland?”

   “Of course.” Sean answered.

   “She’s been found dead, not far from here.” said the agent. “Have you been in communication with her recently?”

   “They’re getting closer,” thought Mary. “I don’t trust these agents completely, but I think we don’t have any options. We need all the help we can get.”

   “I’m inclined to agree.” thought Sean. “We don’t need to protect Sally now. Heaven help us.”

   “Does the name ‘The Brotherhood’ mean anything to you in the context of this investigation?” asked Sean.

   The two agents looked at each other.

   “Yes.” said the agent from Virginia.

   “And the name John Regelind?” said Sean.

   “Yes.”

   “Sean, would you make us some coffee, please?” said Mary. “Gentlemen, fasten your seat belts.  You’re in for a wild ride.”




Fiction

By Professor Batty


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Thursday, May 21, 2015

High School Confidential - Conclusion



   What really shocked the town and the school is the fact that the key & the library situations involved not hoods, but a lot of H—'s finest, & kids of prominent people. The include the newspaper editor's son (me), the homecoming queen, a banker’s son, a prominent insurance man’s son, a real estate man’s son, a dentist’s son, a school board member’s nephew, the deputy sheriff’s brother, a veterinarian’s son, & the boy who is the National Merit Scholar won a $1,500 a year scholarship for 4 years. Perhaps they will now understand that there is a generation gap.

   Anyway, we all have a $50 fine, & 1 months strict probation. After that we are free except that if we get into trouble during the next year it is curtains. Luckily, not everything came out in court, which would be really wild. As you may suspect, I am holding things back, things that would make the hair fall out of your ass.

   I will enclose the latest Shaft, which is most likely the last, because of recent events. If you publish any more, please send.

G—


Note: This was the last communication I received from G—. 
I did see a picture of him in the newspaper a few years later, however. 
He was burning his draft card.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

High School Confidential - Continued



   A group of us, excluding most of the lighting crew, decided to hide the entire library in the maintenance tunnels under the school. The idea was originally well planned & would have occurred at the end of the year. I am sure now that none of us would be in trouble if we had followed the original plan. Instead, the originator of this plan came bombing in to my house the Thursday before Easter & said he would get some guys together Easter night and do it. I snuck out of the house on schedule but they forgot to pick me up, so I walked to the school to see if we were going ahead with it, which is about the dumbest thing I ever did. They let me in a back door & I about crapped to find out that they had girls in there.

   Anyway we got about 12 hundred books down in the tunnel before we ran out of time. So a couple of birdbrains decided to fuck-up the rest, they threw books all over and dumped out the entire card catalog. Then we hauled ass out of there, at about midnight, & just in time too, because the cops made a routine check about 20 seconds later. Since the operation was pulled off at the wrong time & without preparation it didn’t take long for the cops to finger someone, who sang & sang. Now the two original key people are suspended for two weeks, 7 more have detention, and the 13 in the library incident have been to court and have 1 years probation. Except me & one other guy, who are 18 & got 30 days in jail, suspended provided we follow the probation rules of the others, which were set down by an old coot who sits watching TV wearing a cowboy hat & huddled up in a buffalo robe and is hated by about everyone under 65.


Conclusion tomorrow…

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

High School Confidential



May 3, 1968

Dear S—,

   We have only published one Shaft* since I last wrote you, and it will probably be the last one. It was published about 4-6 weeks ago but I have been too busy to send one. Now, however, I find myself in the extremely satisfying and enviable position of being suspended from school for one week, so I had the time to scribble all this out on the stationary I have accumulated (swiped) in the last 2 years. I believe that in my other letter I indicated that I could tell you tales that would make the hair fall our of your armpits. At that time my lips were sealed out of legal respect. I have just shed that legal respect. The matters I am writing about is the control of our school, which is about as security conscious as the Germans on Hogan’s Heroes. For about a year and a half a group of our most ingenious students have gradually been acquiring keys to a number of the rooms in our school. The process is simple. You borrow the key from a teacher for a legitimate reason. While you have it you trace the outline on a piece of paper with a sharp pencil. They you return the key. If you obtain the correct key blank it is not so hard to file out the shape according to the pattern. (Wax impressions don’t work). The key you make may need some retouching but you usually can get it to work. Last spring these students obtained a master key to the whole inside of the the school & since then nothing has been safe. 2 ways were discovered to get into the school at night. One was through a trap door on the roof & one was a broken door that had never been fixed. A lot of weird things happened. Also, a great number of other students knew about the keys. In fact, it was common knowledge & quite a joke on the administration. Although I personally was not involved in most of the episodes, the other two Shaft-types were more frequently.

Our senior class is one of the weirdest to go down in a long time. We had quite a conspiracy until about 2 weeks ago. Weird things happened, & we had the run of the school. We investigated private files, sat around drinking pop in the faculty room, went swimming in the pool, (one guy brought his scuba equipment), and performed a host of other minor pranks. Since most of the guys were the lighting crew for all school events, the action centered around the bridge (light room) above the stage. They had a safe in there with a small stove, a coffee pot, & other utensils. We have pictures somewhere of all the guys eating spaghetti & meatballs, coffee, cocoa, hot dogs, etc. They used to sneak in during their 5th hour study hall. They actually cooked wieners on the electrodes of the big rheostats, which get quite hot. At any rate it was quite a scene until we screwed it up.


to be continued…

*The Shaft was a short-lived underground newspaper in the high school of a small town in western Minnesota.

I received this letter because we had exchanged underground newspapers.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, May 18, 2015

Art-A-Whirl 2015

Another year, another Art-A-Whirl. This event takes place on Northeast Minneapolis, in the manner of art crawls everywhere. This is the 30th, it really hasn't changed much, except for the plethora of food trucks.  I saw this studio-less sculptor in the hallway with a creature made from old iMac parts:




Auto traffic is really quite impossible in places, even with hundreds of bicyclists relieving the parking pressure. ‘Bike-A-Whirl’:




There are a variety of musical groups performing—it’s a lo-key affair—the ‘green room’ is likely to be a loading dock:



But the real fun is making connections with the artists, I had taken a picture of Alexandra Bildsoe last year (on the left), this year I got to participate in her ‘Send a Postcard’ project:

By Professor Batty


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