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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Wednesday, September 1 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

My latest etoy

In Monday's Jonal I began to tell you about my latest etoy but got sidetracked in writing the setup. I've had my antennae out for a digital camera or, as we Silicon Valleyans say, a digicam, for several years. Though I spent the most I've ever spent in my life for any small possession that I can't drive, eat, or type on—a $1000 digital camcorder—five years ago on the promise that I could use it for still photos as well (there are some samples of this use of it in this Home Page feature) when my son Mike bought his Canon digital still camera which can also make short video clips and took it along on our trip to England and Ireland in 2001, I packed up the camcorder to almost never use again. You can compare some of his still photos, and if you have a high-speed Internet service, some of the video, here.

Mike also accompanied me on my next two vacation trips, back to England, Ireland, and Paris the next summer, and to New York City and Pennsyvania last summer, so I wasn't desperate enough to spring for my own digicam. But the most repeated theme in my travel writing and talks has been: For me, the hallmark of a successful trip or tour is the quality of the photos you get. Without good trip pix, you may as well have stayed home. (Of course I know there are sure to be people out there who'll say "there's nothing like spending your whole trip trying to get good pictures to spoil the whole experience," but if you're of that mind you're welcome to send your retort for a future postcard.)

This summer my vacation plans had to be truncated because I began a new job in April and wouldn't have enough vacation days accrued for a trip abroad this year. So when my brother Bob told me in June that he was planning to attend the Vintondale homecoming this Saturday and Sunday I offered to tag along, taking two of my sparse vacation days before the holiday weekend and a third the day after Labor Day. But this forced the moment of truth. Without Mike along, would I recharge the ole camcorder or finally dig down for that long wanted digital still camera? And if so, which of the scores of models ranging from $50 to $5000 in price would I choose?

Of course I considered Mike's Canon, but for what he paid three years ago you can now get a very high-end model. I also got Judy Rose's input, as she has been taking most of the photos added to the Home Page for the past two years on her digital camera, and they are generally of excellent quality. And at a graduation party for son Kevin's fiance in June, I saw a digicam that I immediately fell in love with (metaphorically, of course). It was smaller than a pack of cigarettes and, although I didn't know its owners well enough to ask to get my hands on it, Kevin told me later that it was a 3.5-megapixel camera, which should indicate that it would put out the same quality of photos as Mike's Canon.

I hate to shop, but forced myself to browse the camera department at Fry's Electronics several times in the interim, as my Vintondale Homecoming trip loomed nearer, and also scanned the showcases in Target. Each time, it seemed the cameras were more feature-packed for prices lower than the time before.

Finally, last weekend I return to Fry's where, unlike Target, you can actually handle and even snap sample shots on the cameras on display. And this time, within five minutes I saw two models that seemed as desirable as the one at the graduation party, the same pocket size, a Casio (a brand I've had enough experience with to trust), and a Pentax, a brand well enough known to have confidence in. They seemed identical in most features, identical in price—$349—and differing only in some of the extras. One had some built-in memory, the other came with a memory card that was considerably larger than the other's built-in memory. The Casio had a 1.5-inch monitor; the Pentax's a 2-inch monitor. After talking to a sales rep, I put down some plastic for the Pentax.

Thus far, it seems incredible. With 4 megapixels, it is capable of taking higher-resolution shots than Mike's Canon (a four-megapixel photo using all of its resolution and "printed" for optimal on-screen viewing, is more than four times larger than a 17-inch computer screen, so it's much more resolution than I need, especially as I have virtually no interest in actually printing my pictures on paper).

Bob and I are set to fly to Pittsburgh on Thursday, so this will be my last Jonal before departure, and I'm not sure if I'll be sending anything while traveling; am not able to promise. But if I do, other than a possible (but not guaranteed, either) Judy Rose Saturday feature and a Frank Charney Sunday one, mine will probably be nothing but sample pictures of familiar places captured on my new etoy.

The best thing is that, whereas I'd been almost dreading the trip before I found and bought my toy, now I can't wait!

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Foreign approach

People in other countries sometimes go out of their way to communicate with their English-speaking tourists. Here is a collection of signs seen around the world.

Hotel, Japan: YOU ARE INVITED TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE CHAMBERMAID.

In the lobby of a Moscow hotel across from a Russian Orthodox monastery: YOU ARE WELCOME TO VISIT THE CEMETERY WHERE FAMOUS RUSSIAN AND SOVIET COMPOSERS, ARTISTS, AND WRITERS ARE BURIED DAILY EXCEPT THURSDAY.

Sent by Mike Harris  

Thought for today

Laughter is an instant vacation.

Milton Berle  

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