Jun 172016
 

King’s County had its own special appeal to him that won out in the end:

Stavros Gianottis

Stavros Gianottis. Stavros loved to hum catchy little jigs and reels. When asked who wrote them, he’d just grin smugly and say “Oh, you’ve probably never heard of them.” He then moved to Brooklyn on his 24th birthday and was never seen in these parts again.

 

 

Apr 062016
 

Cassius was a fun relative but a terrible neighbor:

Cassius Lump

Cassius had a habit of getting roaring drunk and vociferously quoting Revelation. It was not uncommon to see him with a bottle of Rye in one hand and a King James Bible in the other on Friday and Saturday nights.

 

His expression of his religiosity was unique to say the least.

Feb 202016
 

Granny Feldspar had moxie – and one hell of a temper.

Granny Feldspar was the area's women's arm wrestling champ. While the local clergy railed against her as being 'unnatural', suffragates lauded her. That is until she punched out one Susan B. Anthony in a heated argument.

Granny Feldspar was the area’s women’s arm wrestling champ. While the local clergy railed against her as being ‘unnatural’, suffragettes lauded her. That is until she punched out one Susan B. Anthony in a heated argument.

Jan 222016
 

Great Aunt Ida did as she pleased.

Great Aunt Ida was a founding member of the local Polar Bear Club.  She swore by those brisk swims, and they may have been something to it as she was 192 when this picture was taken.  She died 6 years later not from old age but from an errant current that swept or downstream to her end.

Great Aunt Ida was a founding member of the local Polar Bear Club. She swore by those brisk swims, and they may have been something to it as she was 122 when this picture was taken. She died 6 years later not from old age but from an errant current that swept or downstream to her end.

There’s something to be said for going out on your own terms.

Jan 092016
 

Jebediah and Ulysses Hardmeat, the explorers who couldn’t steer straight:

Jebediah and Ulysses Hardmeat

Jebediah and Ulysses Hardmeat fancied themselves the explorers of the family. They were heartbroken when they found out everyone already knew about Bora Bora.

I guess a good atlas would’ve done these fellas wonders.

Dec 312015
 

When the Feldspars said they came from an old family, they weren’t kidding:

Old School Feldspar

This is a Feldspar family portrait from circa 117 AD (CE). Getting in good with Hadrian was the smartest thing they ever did.

Just don’t ever bring up the Visigoths in front of them, they’re still a little sore about those guys.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!!!

Dec 292015
 

William “Brute” Brody was the town bully.  But one glorious day, he got his:

William 'Brute' Brody

William “Brute” Brody was the town bully. He especially enjoyed picking fights with the local Amish boys since he knew they wouldn’t fight back. Then one day, he mistakenly picked a fight with a young Hasid passing through. As chance would have it, this young Hasid had been the wrestling champion of his shtetl back in the Ukraine. The look on Brody’s face as he went flying through the air was priceless.

Good manners aren’t just ethical, they’re very healthy too.

Dec 262015
 

The holidays are a time for family, even the ones that are a bit off.  Gwendolyn Durchfallen is one such example:

Gwendolyn Durchfallen

Gwendolyn was, to put it gently, as mad as a hatter. At first glance, many passersby would comment on her pensive stare. What they didn’t know is that she was trying to set their hair on fire with her mind. Candlelight dinners with her around were always…entertaining.

Dec 152015
 

 

Second Cousin Once Removed (and Twice Disowned) Philbert “Smilin’ Phil” Hardmeat wasn’t the most fun relative to be around, but he’s worth mentioning all the same.

Philbert 'Smiling Phil' Hardmeat

Second Cousin, Once Removed Philbert “Smilin’ Phil” Hardmeat wasn’t the jolliest guy. This had to do with his unfortunate constipation issues. Even worse, we discovered these issues (and his shrieking night terrors, we believe) were caused by a parasitic twin who parked himself just behind Philbert’s duodenum.

So, what I’m trying to say is don’t forget to get a colonoscopy as you get older.  Don’t be a “Smilin’ Phil”, ok?

 

Dec 072015
 

As we close in on the end of the year, it’s natural to think of those who have passed.  It with that in mind that I present to you Great Uncle Milton’s children, the unfortunate Herman and Imogene Feldspar:

Herman Feldspar

Herman Feldspar

 

Imogene Feldspar

Imogene Feldspar

 

 

In hindsight, buying a house next to a bog wasn’t the best idea considering how curious Herman and Imogene were.  One April morning, they quietly slipped out the backdoor and that was the last anyone ever saw of them.

Nov 282015
 

Happy post-Thanksgiving.  In the spirit of all things filial, let’s take a look at dear old Auntie Lucretia:

Auntie Lucretia

We all thought Auntie Lucretia would live out her days as a spinster until she met and rapidly married a smooth-talking Hungarian noble named Laszlo. We found out he was actually a Savoyard grifter named Giuseppe a year later when he was arrested for trying to barter her for two donkeys and a wooden cart.

Nov 212015
 

Hello everyone!  Welcome again to my look back at some of my family (and the occasional peer).  This time ’round, it’s a neighbor from down the street, Dorian Borz:

Dorian Bors

Dorian Borz lived down the street from us and was as normal a fellah as you could ever meet except for his obsessive hoarding of black construction paper. He had reams of that stuff.

Nov 092015
 

Yesiree, folks, when I look back upon my forbearers and their contemporaries, I am duly impressed.  These were hardy sorts, and they deserve to be remembered.  Come, let us look back fondly and give them their due:

That 'stache, tho.

Great grand-uncle Milton Feldspar’s favorite hobby was competing in mustache-growing contests. He kept winning, and before he knew it, he made it all the to the World Mustache Championship in London, England. He won. Being a deeply religious man, he publicly thanked the Good Lord Jesus for his victory. Two weeks later, the runner-up began writing Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

Jul 262015
 

Hey, peeps, I found another site called Psychic VR Lab that lets you feed images to Google’s Deep Dream algorithm.  Take a look:

Hagia from VR Labs

The Hagia Sophia went to the dogs rather quickly.

Rasputin Deep Dream

The demons that dogged Rasputin finally come to light?

 

Again, I noticed, as have others, that images of dogs keep appearing, as in, almost all the time.  “Why is this?”, I wondered.  Well, it turns out there’s a very clear and simple reason for this:

A neural network’s ability to recognize what’s in an image comes from being trained on an initial data set. In Deep Dream’s case, that data set is from ImageNet, a database created by researchers at Stanford and Princeton who built a database of 14 million human-labeled images. But Google didn’t use the whole database. Instead, they used a smaller subset of the ImageNet database released in 2012 for use in a contest… a subset which contained “fine-grained classification of 120 dog sub-classes.”In

If I understand this correctly, it means that Deep Dreams sees what we’ve told it to see.  We’re getting better at training computers to recognize images, but we haven’t got to the point of being able to teach them how to teach themselves.  Yet.

Jul 232015
 

So, Google has a program called Deep Dream, which basically feeds visual input into a neural network and lets the A.I./Network translate what it see.  The results can be arresting.  Thanks to Wired, I found a site called Dreamscope which allows anyone to play with this neural networking setup.  Here’s an example of what I was able to do:

 

I fed this image through the "Trippy" filter seven times and the "Self-Transforming Machine Elves" filter three times.

I fed this image through the “Trippy” filter seven times and the “Self-Transforming Machine Elves” filter three times.

The original.  My friend Christine & I.  And, uh, an interloper.

The original. My friend Christine & I. And, uh, an interloper.

 

Nightmare fuel courtesy of Google Deep Dreams.

Aug 212014
 

Today’s Daily Post asks “But what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?” It wants to know “…what is it about a scene, a place, or a moment that makes us reach for our cameras and snap an image?”

For some, I’m sure it’s the beauty and wonder of nature. For others, an attempt to catch a moment of affection or quiet dignity is what drives them to snap way. Others still look to moments of high energy (e.g. runners in a 100 meter dash) or drama (e.g. anything that made the news in this God-awful month). Me, I look for vanity plates. I guess I’m kinda shallow that way.

 

In my defense, I have a few good reasons for doing this:

  1. It’s free.
  2. It’s a pretty benign hobby that keeps my brain occupied.
  3. They’re funny.  Well, they’re funny to me at least.
  4. It gives me a recurring feature for my blog.

 

Here’s my all-time favorite example.  This is the one that started it all:

SXL CHOCOLATE VANITY PLATE

Ansel Adams I ain’t, but come on!  Who wouldn’t want a memento of something like that?

If you’re curious, check out some of my other vanity plate pictures, starting here.