Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, June 17, 2021

Rather than repeat last year’s “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”-inspired cheekiness, I thought I’d mark my birthday with something in the way of demographic information. Particularly, I had it in my head that my life-expectancy was 72 years of age; and since this is b-day number 36… Well, you do the math.

But wherever I got that 72 from, it looks like it’s not accurate. The current magic number for Americans is 77.9, and I presume that’s only if you’re being born right this minute. Worse, the life expectancy for the average white male born in 1970 was/is 68; I’m guessing the needle didn’t move too much for 1971 white-boy newborns like me.

So as best as I can figure, I’d already hit the downward slope of life a couple of years back. Or not. With my luck, I’ll probably hit triple digits — of which prospect I have mixed feelings. On the other hand, it means middle age won’t start for me for another decade or so.

Whatever. It’s not like there’s an expiration date on immaturity anymore.

In lieu of any more aborted examination of this accumulation of years, I’ll close with a listing of celebrity birthdays that I share. I know there are others throughout history — I recall finding out years ago that some high-ranking Nazi was also born on this day — but this rundown is diverse enough:

- Tennis star Venus Williams born 1980

- Speed skater Dan Jansen born 1965

- Actor Joe Piscopo born 1951

- Musician Barry Manilow born 1946

- Artist M.C. Escher born 1898

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/17/2007 10:45:05 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (2)

lay it down
It’s been more than a month since I got the use of a Nikon D80 SLR digital camera. While the provider of the camera — PR agency MWW Group, via Tom Biro — isn’t obliging me to do a product review on it, I figure I should relate my impressions on it so far.

Further background can be had in this blog’s archives, but the basic deal is that I’ve been lent this camera for a six-month period. During that time I can use it as much or as little as I want, display the resultant photos/videos anywhere or nowhere, etc. just as long as I cite the context. Exceedingly low-pressure tactics, I know. I figure it’s a public-relations Jedi mindtrick, aka reverse psychology: Deemphasize the obligation, and it paradoxically becomes weightier! (Not that it’s worked flawlessly: The structure of the campaign has prompted accusations of shady dealing; I think that’s a crock, and judging from the lack of wider agreement on that charge, it seems to be a fringe opinion.)

Anyway, I’ve posted a few examples of the point-and-clicking I’ve done under the Photography category. I’ve also loaded a handful of photos on Flickr, including cross-posts to the dedicated Nikon “Picture This” project. Also of note are photosets from a Bronx Zoo trip and a Brooklyn bar gathering.

That covers the photo-output part of this exercise. As for the camera itself:

I’m approaching this product review as the most amateurish of amateurs. I haven’t owned a camera for long stretches, and when I have, it’d sit in a drawer somewhere for months on end. I like photography enough to appreciate quality examples, but I’ve not been enthused enough about it to make it a hobby.

From that perspective, the D80 is ridiculous overkill for me. The big zoom lens, the 10.2 megapixel resolution, the million-and-one sensors for optimal image quality — all this screams professional-grade, or near enough to leave me in the dust. Frankly, my cellphone camera is probably more suited to my out-and-about needs.

That said, here’s my rundown:

- It’s pretty hard to take a bad picture. The sensors indicate light level and everything else, popping up the flash only when needed (I’m keeping in mind to try that ingenious upside-down flash trick at some point!). Low-light, bright sunshine, indoors, outdoors — nothing’s really fazed it yet.

- Battery life seems excellent. I don’t know how it would perform under prolonged, sustained use, but after a couple of weeks of moderate use, it still had 50 percent charge left.

- USB sync-up to the computer is seamless (although I haven’t bothered with the image-management software that was included — SOP with me).

- The zoom lens is something else — I’ve been able to get close-in detail from untold yards away. Here’s a good example shot, taken on Houston Street.

- It’s a bulky beast, especially with the extended zoom lens attached. Not optimal for casual, shoot-from-the-hip use.

- Maybe it’s just my amateurish gripping methods, but the placement of the memory-card slot (I was given a 1-gig card as part of the package) seems bad. It’s on the right-hand side of the body, where your right hand grips it. I’ve found that my fingers tend to slide in such a way that I accidentally pop open the latch. There’s no danger of the card falling out, as that would require the second step of press-ejecting it out, but still.

- The lens-cap on the zoom lens also seems a bit prone to accidental popping-off.

- I haven’t been able to figure out how to adjust the zoom lens scale or resolution mechanically — only via manual hand-twisting. I have to believe there’s a way to do it, but I haven’t been able to figure that out.

- The on-board menu options for manipulating photos seem a little lacking, i.e. renaming filenames, etc. Again, I probably need to familiarize myself with it more, but it doesn’t seem intuitively structured.

That’s about the size of it so far. Overall I’m happy with the experience, although I’ve determined that I’m more suited to trying it out in controlled situations (pre-planned events like parties or outings) versus waiting for spur-of-the-moment opportunities to crop up around me. I’d also like to try my hand with black-and-white photo-taking. That’s my plan going forward.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 06/17/2007 02:31:03 PM
Category: Photography | Permalink | Feedback (1)