Friday, July 29, 2022

New Concepts in Contemporary Lighting

Thanks to recent advancements in LED lamps, it is possible to create effective light fixtures that only use a tenth of the energy consumption of the old incandescent bulbs with corresponding reductions in heat emissions and size. I have refitted some existing fixtures  at Flippist World Headquarters and even built a couple of new ones from scratch, as shown here. NOTE: these are not “UL approved” and this is not a “how to” article for DIYers. I suspect that when this house is sold they will be replaced with the original fixtures (which I have saved.)

We have a three-season (in chilly Minnesota it is actually a 2 1/2 season) porch that was a bit of a wreck when we moved in 34 years ago. It had warped and drafty windows, a broken door, peeling paint and was used by the previous occupants as a place to store their junk. The only light was a bare bulb in a ceramic socket. We’ve fixed it up over the years, now it is a wonderful area to have coffee in the mornings, take dinner in the late afternoon, and now, with the addition of this light fixture (with a dimmer), a cozy place to spend an idle evening in conversation:
It is composed of 14 3-watt LEDs, giving the rough equivalent output of a 400 watt tungsten lamp. This much illumination allows the light to be filtered through onion-skin bond paper, as well as bouncing off the wooden ceiling. Dimmers and LEDs, even if they are designed to work together, aren’t always as smooth as one would like so I added a resistor (4KΩ 50 watt heat-sunk, don't try this at home) to even out the taper and allow the lamps to be dialed down without flickering.

A second fixture, a hall light, is even more fanciful in its execution:
The 8 3-watt lamps are nestled behind industrial dichoric glass filters—Red, Green, Blue, Cyan—which give a colorful light quality to what had been a nondescript landing. It also has “spill” from the surrounding wall to broaden the glow. No dimmer on this one, the idea of a light on a stairwell is to make it seen, not to create an atmosphere.

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Batty Sells Out?

It’s official.

Flippist World Headquarters™ is now on Google Maps. If ever you are in the neighborhood and wish to receive some enlightenment, stop by, the Professor is in. For detailed directions on how to get here just enter “Flippist World Headquarters” in the Google map app:

Does this mean that the kindly professor has been turned into one of the numbered minions of the evil Google Empire? That he has sold out? The literature I received with my enrollment urges me to buy $500 of Google Ads to support my business (and that’s just to start.) That seems to me to be more of a “buy-in” rather than a sell out:
Rest assured, kind reader, the Professor has no sinister connections with any organization, although I did get a free “review us on Google” sticker to place in my front door (see above) as well as this stylish sports jacket and sweatshirt:
I am not a number.

I am a free man.

Be seeing you…

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Music Monday #7

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, July 22, 2022


Nasturtiums and Sunshine, Wanda Gág, 1914

This picture perfectly reflects the state of our garden now.

Nasturiums in full bloom.

The Weaver, doing her morning watering.

A scene unchanged from 108 years ago.

Although The Weaver seldom wears such a diaphanous dress.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Wednesday, July 20, 2022


This is an Amsler Grid, used to test for certain types of retinal damage:
Looking at the dot in the center of the grid, one eye at a time, the viewer should see a grid of perfectly straight lines. This is what I see with my left eye:
The “twist” moves as my eye moves around the grid. I’ll be going to the eye clinic tomorrow. In the meantime, here’s another form of “twisted”:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Monday, July 18, 2022

Music Monday #6

Jambalaya (on the Bayou) as performed by three musical greats (along with some of their friends):

And if that wasn’t enough, here is some more:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 15, 2022

Summer Reading

It’s been a while (five years!) since I’ve done one of these “Summer Reading” posts; a recent spate of new titles has given me the fuel to stoke my literary fires.

An Icelandic Mystery
By Joachim B. Schmidt
Translated from the German by Jamie Lee Searle

The biggest surprise in this batch was Joachim B. Schmidt’s Kalmann, an elegant and original mystery set in the northernmost Iceland town of Raufarhöfn. Kalmann is an intellectually challenged shark fisherman who is tolerated by the townspeople even though he has had some behaviorial issues in the past. After Kalmann discovers a pool of blood near a monument he sets out, in his own peculiar way, to solve the mystery. This is a wonderfully well-written book, it captured my attention from the start and the plots meanders to a satisfying conclusion. It is very funny at times, Kalmann is an exasperating yet endearing character; he has been described as an Icelandic Forrest Gump.

Highly recommended.

The Volunteer
A Novel
By Salvatore Scibona

Dense and complex, The Volunteer is a completely different sort of book, although it too could be classed as a mystery. Vollie Frade, the main character, is a farm boy who joins the U.S. Marines and does several tours of duty, one of which is a black ops affair that finds him stripped of his identity. The story shifts focus from Vollie to a sort-of adopted son who abandoned a child in an airport and leapfrogs to various parts of the United States, Asia and Europe from the 1950s to 2039. It is generally well-written, and covers a lot of serious issues but, ultimately, is a shaggy-dog story—an extremely dark Forrest Gump.

A marginal recommendation.

Karitas Untitled
A Novel
By Kristín Marja Baldursdóttir
Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton

Karitas Untitled was written in 2004 but has just been translated and published by Amazon Crossing. This is sort of an Icelandic Little Women: “Spanning decades and set against a breathtaking historical canvas.” I actually bought the book based upon a recommendation but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t buy into its premise. Karitas is one of a brood of sisters living in the Icelandic country in the early 1900s. She has a gift for drawing, the story tells of her trials in coming to grips with her education and the larger world. It has won a ton of awards but I found the writing to be so prosaic and formulaic (think YA) that I couldn’t finish it.

No recommendation.

The Locked Room
A Ruth Galloway Mystery
By Elly Griffiths

I am big fan of the Ruth Galloway series (when will the BBC have this on Masterpiece?) so I have been eagerly awaiting The Locked Room, the latest entry in the series. I had read that Ruth has to deal with Covid crisis so my curiosity was doubly piqued. All the “gang” is here, the biggest strength of this series is the interaction between the regular characters, regular people who have to deal with regular problems in addition to the mysteries and mayhem that besets them. The Covid material is deftly integrated into the plot—it brought me back to the early days of the pandemic (too soon?) As with the other Galloway titles, this book should really be read in published order, the characters age and and their relationships grow in a realistic fashion.

Recommended for fans of the series (which should be read in order.)

A Mystery
By Ragnar Jónasson
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb

Reading Ragnar Jónasson has been a bit frustrating for me; his Icelandic mysteries are generally competent but often uninspired. Ragnar has been heavily influenced by Agatha Christie and his latest effort, Outside, is no exception. In this stand-alone mystery, a small group of friends go on a weekend ptarmigan hunting trip in the Icelandic highlands in late November—what could possibly go wrong? An unexpected blizzard and a surprising discovery in a shelter hut upsets their plans. This is a tight tale, told in short episodic chapters that alternate the POVs of the four main characters. It would make a good movie, perhaps not worthy of a major cinematic release, but definitely worth streaming—Agatha would be proud.

Marginal recommendation.

Salka Valka
By Halldór Laxness
Translated from the Icelandic by Philip Roughton

Finally, saving the best for last, is the new translation of Salka Valka, Halldór Laxness’ earliest masterpiece.

This is a tremendous book and Philip Roughton brings it into the modern world with a terse vitality that the older translation (from the Danish) lacked. Don’t take my word for it, the Laxness in Translation website has several reviews of the book in its first translation as well as links to reviews of the latest version.

Very highest recommendation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Bubbleworld Revisited

Offered without comment:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, July 11, 2022

Music Monday #5

Hard to express the amount of joy I feel when seeing and hearing this man singing again after so many years:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Friday, July 08, 2022

Shake Rag Street

Three charming examples of Cornish/pioneer architecture on Shake Rag Street in Mineral Point, Wisconsin:
While not exactly on Shake Rag Street, the place where we stayed was from the same era:

By Professor Batty

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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

They Came From Wisconsin

More concrete sculpture madness from the Cheesehead state:

By Professor Batty

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Monday, July 04, 2022

Postcards from the Edge

A few brief looks at the town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where we took our “Magical Mystery Tour” last week.

Covid hit Mineral Point hard, the businesses there have always been on the edge of viability; the town’s quaint charms have limited commercial potential. Many of the numerous art studios and classrooms it has are idle or scarcely used:
But there is no shortage of old stuff lying around; picturesque, if impractical.
The classic buildings remain, however. It sometimes appears as if they are timeless sentinels, looking down at the follies of man:
And there is no shortage of people here; a lot of the classic homes are being redone, Mineral Point is on the edge of being commutable from Madison.
Always room for another gallery:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Saturday, July 02, 2022

One Step Beyond

Taking a short break from the coverage of my Wisconsin trip.

One of the sites I frequent is The Pentax Forums. They offer a wealth of information about Pentax cameras, lenses, and general photographic information. I recently “won” a monthly contest, the prize was being allowed to set the theme and be the judge of the next month’s contest. For my theme of the month I choose “One Step Beyond”, taking image-processing too far—excessive contrast, saturation, manipulation, any of those no-nos from your Photography 101 class. These are the images I used for examples.

Here’s the camera I used:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Friday, July 01, 2022

Who’s the Fairest of Them All?

In Southern Wisconsin, about a mile outside of the small town of Hollandale, is Nick Engelbert’s Grandview , a magical concrete sculpture park. Nick’s labor of love was created between 1937 and the late 1950s. The tableaux shown above shows a rather formidable Snow White intimidating her dwarfs, holding what may have been a “stick of discipline.” An over-view of the scene raises more questions than it answers:
There are 8 or 9 similar “concrete parks” in Wisconsin, I visited a different one 18 years ago and wrote about it in one of my earliest blog-posts. Most of them have been somewhat restored in recent years; a project underwritten by the Kohler (plumbing fixtures) corporation.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

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