Heading Into Antelope Canyon
desktop background image of wavy rocks at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page Arizona. -- Moody at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page, Arizona -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 2200 — map & image datanearby photos
Moody
at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page, Arizona
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My three weeks in The States visiting my folks is about to end, so I thought I'd post some photos from the previous trip in March, where we drove around the American southwest in a camper. It was a bit overwhelming, and I've barely looked at the photos yet.

今日記事今回のアメリカへの旅行の事じゃなくて、三月の旅からの写真です。 その時にはキャップカーでアメリカ合衆国南西部にうるうろ行きました。写真写るが良い所が多いですが、一番良いのは アンテロープ・キャニオンでした。

One of the most photogenic places on earth is Antelope Canyon, near Page Arizona. I posted one photo from it at the time, here.

At first it doesn't seem promising, as the whole area is bleak and desolate...

Bleak Surroundings 殺風景な周辺は嫌 -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 @ 78mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Bleak Surroundings
殺風景な周辺は嫌

Visits to the canyon are via tour only. We went with this tour operator and were pleased with it. You meet at their office in downtown Page, Arizona, and before leaving to the canyon one of the guides performs a hoop dance that was surprisingly interesting and skillful. YouTube has a bunch of videos, such as this one, showing the idea.

Then you get into the back of pickup trucks and they drive to the canyon, about ~10 minutes by road followed by about five minutes at bumpy breakneck speed over the desert of fine dustlike sand...

Caravan Over the Desert almost no bump was left untested 行く途中 -- Antelope Canyon -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/2000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Caravan Over the Desert
almost no bump was left untested
行く途中
Outside the Entrance doesn't really look promising 入り口の外 -- Antelope Canyon -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/320 sec, f/5.6, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Outside the Entrance
doesn't really look promising
入り口の外

It's an amazing transformation to step into the shadow from the bright light, and in the moments that your eye adjusts, the magical views of the smoothly curving walls envelops you.

Looking Straight Up boring photo just inside the entrance 入っ たばかり 、完全 に 上向 き。この 写真 は余り 綺麗 じゃないけれども 、景色 を 記録 します。 -- Antelope Canyon -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Looking Straight Up
boring photo just inside the entrance
入ったばかり、完全上向き。この写真は余り綺麗じゃないけれども、景色記録します。

You've probably seen a bazillion photos from this place, all sort of the same, all sort of different. It's a really really really photogenic place, and even those haphazardly snapping with their cellphone will likely get great photos to remember the place by.

But to a photographer it's utterly overwhelming because especially in a target-rich place like this a photographer does not passively take a photo, a photographer sees a never-ending continuum of results — some better, some worse — and tries to engineer via position and exposure and timing just the result they want. Probably I'm getting a bit melodramatic, but it's a bit like Neo at the end of The Matrix, except that in this place the sensory overload is more overwhelming.

The photo just above of the entrance documents what it looks like. Here's another photo from almost the same location, looking at the same scene from a slightly different angle....

desktop background image of wavy rocks at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page Arizona. -- Just Inside the Entrance less-boring view この 写真 も 入口 に 入っ たばかり所で 撮っ たが 、結果 は 奇麗 だと思います。 前の写真とこの写真の差は一般者と撮影者の違いだと思います。 -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/40 sec, f/9, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Just Inside the Entrance
less-boring view
この写真入口入ったばかり所で撮ったが、結果奇麗だと思います。
前の写真とこの写真の差は一般者と撮影者の違いだと思います。
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An added challenge is to do all this within the constraints of the tour, which means 1) there are people everywhere, and 2) the tour must complete by a specific time and so moves along at a well-planned brisk pace. Considerate photographers have the third constraint of realizing that they are themselves the people everywhere for everyone else, and trying to sense (and avert) when they are the only thing destroying someone else's shot.

The Reality -- Antelope Canyon -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/30 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
The Reality

Multiple tours are coming and going at the same time, creating and ebb and flow of people. Patience is perhaps not the right word considering the limited time one has, but some forethought, some lingering, and a lot of luck can help...

So Close 人が多いので人なし写真はほとんど無理です。 -- Antelope Canyon -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
So Close
人が多いので人なし写真はほとんど無理です。

So the low-hanging fruit of a clean shot is to aim up...

desktop background image of wavy rocks at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page Arizona. -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
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... or zoom in...

desktop background image of wavy rocks at Antelope Canyon, on Navajo land near Page Arizona. -- Wall Detail but I really wish I had my Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 for its close-up sharpness -- Page, Arizona, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/10 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Wall Detail
but I really wish I had my Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 for its close-up sharpness
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Sometimes our tour guide would clear a small area and take a portrait for someone. She was really skilled at people handling, and could do this quickly and without making folks feel bossed around. I suspect not all guides were as skillful at it.

Here's a wigglegram I took while someone was having their portrait taken:

Animatable Wigglegram (15 frames) — slowly sweep mouse from side to side to view 3D effect
写真の上をマウスで左右にゆっくり動かすと「3D」な感じが出ます。

To be continued...


Ping Pong Rematch Against Vernon!

Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — image data
The Rematch!
photo by Anthony Matsunaka Friedl

Today we stopped by to play ping pong again with Vernon Weingart, now 91 years 1 day old, to make good on my promised rematch from his beating me the other day.

今日も91歳の卓球チャンピオンと遊びませてもらいました。今回はやっと勝っ!最初のマッチは完全に負けましたけれども、二回目はぎりぎり勝ちました。勝たれましたかな〜?:-)


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — image data
Hand in Pocket
waiting for a challenge that never came

After knocking the ball around for a while with Anthony and me, Vernon and I played our first best-of-three match, and he easily beat me in two games. He was much stronger than the last time.


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 900 — image data
Just Nipping the Edge
he was a master at hitting the edge of the table, making a return shot impossible

We all knocked the ball around again for a while, and we then played another match. This time I won the first game after having gone to deuce a dozen times.... he was toying with me, but I finally got lucky (or he finally got tired of toying with me), and I won the game. Woo-hoo!

The second game was much the same, and I won after a long time at deuce. I think he let me, but it still felt nice. :-)

As a championship-level player for more than 40 years, he's been challenged much more before.... he's had multiple world champions in his basement at the same time (I didn't fare very well that day). And of course with age (he's 91 years old), the ultra-fast younger generation crush him. He recently played against a girl 1/10th is age who trounced him. I couldn't do anything against her. I'm looking forward to see how she plays in the year 2097 when she's his current age.


Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/50 sec, f/10, ISO 6400 — image data

Anthony also played a lot, and was much better than yesterday. Just the little bit of play with Vernon last time really made his game progress, and he was suddenly spinning and smashing with much better accuracy. Another few days of this and he'll be beating me!

We're planning to play again tomorrow.

UPDATE: We did play again, and Vernon crushed me 4-1. In a typical game he'd get ahead 10-4 (in games to 11) then let me get close before putting in the final nail.


I Played Ping Pong with a 91-Year-Old, and Almost Didn’t Lose
Vernon and Anthony their combined age is 103 -- Streetsboro, Ohio, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at an effective 29mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.2, ISO 64 — image data
Vernon and Anthony
their combined age is 103

I played a bit of ping-pong today with a family friend, 91-year-old Vernon Weingart. I almost didn't lose.

今日は91歳の友達一緒卓球をさせてもらいました。 もうチョットで勝ちそうでしたが、結局負けました。 約十年前、高齢者オリンピックでアメリカの二位だった方です。 今でも強いです!

He was the USA National 2nd-place champion, back when he was younger (in his 80s), and Ohio State Champion five or six times along the way. Some of his trophies and medals...

Streetsboro, Ohio, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at an effective 29mm — 1/10 sec, f/2.2, ISO 100 — image data

He is the personification of kindly grandfather type, who walks slowly and with purpose, always has a kind word and an easy smile.

We all knocked the ball around for a while, then as we were about to leave, he suggested an actual game. A real game with Anthony wouldn't have been fun (Anthony would have been utterly crushed), but I offered some hope that he'd have to at least keep one eye open.

We decided on the best two out of three...

And suddenly his demeanor completely changed. Gone was the kindly smile, replaced by eyes with laser focus and determination. Take no prisoners. It was a shocking transformation, but in retrospect it's unsurprising, given his competitive achievements.

Streetsboro, Ohio, United States -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
iPhone 6 Plus + iPhone 6 Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2 at an effective 29mm — 1/15 sec, f/2.2, ISO 64 — image data

I'm not great at ping-pong, but I'm not bad either. I can inflict some wicked unpredictable spins, and at times can smash with thunderous power, even from behind and below the table.

I won the first game after going to deuce.

He won the next two. Both games were close... I suspect that's how he crafted it, to keep it interesting. He aced me on his serve only once.

We ended with a firm good game handshake, and a promise that I'll give him a better game next time.

But in my defense, he's not really 91 years old yet... his birthday is tomorrow.

UPDATE: I gave him that rematch.


A Hazy Visit to Onyu Pass with Arthur and Neil
Hazy View From Halfway Up Onyu Pass, Shiga Japan (小入峠、 滋賀県) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 32mm — 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Hazy View From Halfway Up
Onyu Pass, Shiga Japan (小入峠、滋賀県)

Last month before heading off on my trip to The States to visit my folks, I did a nice little bicycle to Onyu Pass and back, an 85 mile (137km) round trip over two other major passes each way. I was joined by veteran riders Arthur Lauritsen and Neil Holt.

My first visit to Onyu Pass had been during a day of incessant rain a month prior, and as such the supposedly-spectacular views were shrouded in clouds. I hoped for something better this time, but was left disappointed due to the extreme haze of the hot (35℃/95℉) humid air.

At first glance it may not seem so hazy in the photo above, but that's the result of a lot of post processing, including the new dehaze feature in Adobe Lightroom.

能見峠から降りた時にこんな花畑を見つけました。 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1000 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
能見峠から降りた時にこんな花畑を見つけました。

I didn't pull out the camera until three hours into the ride when we came across a field of flowers in front of an old farmhouse while descending from Nomi Pass. They were pretty, though this camera (or my skill with this camera) doesn't do them justice.

Money Deposit flowers are 10 for 200 yen (about $2) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/500 sec, f/2.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Money Deposit
flowers are 10 for 200 yen (about $2)
“ Fence is Electrified at Night ” for keeping critters out -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Fence is Electrified at Night
for keeping critters out
Arthur Lauritsen will kindly help you cut your flowers -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/400 sec, f/2.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Arthur Lauritsen
will kindly help you cut your flowers
Old(ish) Farm House -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 50mm — 1/100 sec, f/6.3, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Old(ish) Farm House
desktop background image of a bed of purple flowers -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.3, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
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On The Road Again taken while riding at 25 kph (16 mph) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/800 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
On The Road Again
taken while riding at 25 kph (16 mph)
Lovely Scenery taken while riding at 33 kph (21 mph) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1000 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Lovely Scenery
taken while riding at 33 kph (21 mph)

3½ hours into the ride we came to the last vending machine before the hot climb, so I stopped to load up on drinks. Had to wait in line behind this little frog...

Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Unamused seemingly -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Unamused
seemingly

A separate little friend tried to hitch a ride on Authur's bike...

Not The Safest Location To Stow Away Luckily Arthur noticed him before riding off -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 37mm — 1/80 sec, f/5.6, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Not The Safest Location To Stow Away
Luckily Arthur noticed him before riding off
“ Look What My Tire Found ” 12:03 PM (from start: 4h 34m / 64 km / 39.5 miles) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/7.1, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Look What My Tire Found
12:03 PM (from start: 4h 34m / 64 km / 39.5 miles)
Neil Supervises The Tire Change (sort of... he really just checks email ;-) ) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/10, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Neil Supervises The Tire Change
(sort of... he really just checks email 😉 )

The main climb to Onyu Pass is 4.5km at 8%, which isn't so bad except that there's no tree cover the whole way except for about 10 seconds about halfway up, and it was a hot humid windless day.

Neil rocketed up in an astounding 17:28, just missing the course record (among those using Strava) by two seconds. I took more than 40% longer at 24:44.

Arthur came up some time later looking hot and uncomfortable, but not so much that he couldn't ham it up for the camera...

Feelin' Fine 12:54 PM (from start: 5h 25m / 70 km / 43.3 miles) arriving at Onyu Pass (小入峠) -- Onyu Pass (小入峠) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 44mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Feelin' Fine
12:54 PM (from start: 5h 25m / 70 km / 43.3 miles)
arriving at Onyu Pass (小入峠)
Onyu Pass (小入峠) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 75mm — 1/250 sec, f/10, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Arthur and Neil at Onyu Pass -- Onyu Pass (小入峠) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 30mm — 1/125 sec, f/10, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Arthur and Neil
at Onyu Pass

After a rest and some snacks, we turned around to head home by the same route we came.

The road up to Onyu pass is mostly clear, but perhaps particularly with a typhoon that had come through a few days earlier some areas were strewn with rocks.

Occasional Rocks -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO 400 — map & image datanearby photos
Occasional Rocks

It's apparently much better than it was a few months ago when a larger group from Cycling Kyoto came through and got a total of five flats (from the sharp rocks) among them. No rock-induced flats for us today.

Interesting Layered Rock -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Interesting Layered Rock

Part of the way down, the view opens up to the valley below and you can see the road you came in on winding itself up the mountain. The extreme haze made for an unspectacular view, but I've eked a few shots out.

Neil Descends he's the spec in the road at the lower left -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 37mm — 1/80 sec, f/8, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Neil Descends
he's the spec in the road at the lower left

I waited for Arthur and Neil to make their way down to where I could see them on the road below, and I was surprised that it took 5+ minutes for them to get down there. It feels long on the way up, but somehow I usually think the descent shouldn't take any time at all. But it does.

Arthur Descending he's an even tinier speck in the middle of the road -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 50mm — 1/100 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — map & image datanearby photos
Arthur Descending
he's an even tinier speck in the middle of the road

Eventually I made my way down to find them waiting for me in the shade at the bottom of the mountain.

Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 35mm — 1/125 sec, f/8, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos

The 20km-stretch south of the Onyu Pass area is really lovely and quaint.

Old Abandoned Something-or-Other taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1600 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Old Abandoned Something-or-Other
taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph)
Abandoned House taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/3200 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Abandoned House
taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph)
Trying (and Failing) to Catch Up To Neil taken while moving at 48 kph (30 mph) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 30mm — 1/640 sec, f/2.2, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Trying (and Failing) to Catch Up To Neil
taken while moving at 48 kph (30 mph)

The road is usually fairly narrow, but during a section that was wider I wanted to get a photo of Neil from the side, but he was just too fast for me to catch up to. By the time he slowed down enough, the road was narrower and the background less interesting...

Neil Holt Finally Slowing Down taken while moving at 35 kph (22 mph) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/640 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
Neil Holt Finally Slowing Down
taken while moving at 35 kph (22 mph)
taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph) -- Takashima, Shiga, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/1000 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos
taken while moving at 32 kph (20 mph)
Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Panasonic LX100 at an effective 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/1.7, ISO 200 — map & image datanearby photos

I don't know what the colored ribbons on the trees are. They seem to be more involved than simple forestry/timber markers, yet not involved enough to be tree huggies. I doubt it's just decoration, but I'm at a loss to guess what it might be.

Very pretty area, though.


Delight and Dismay at the Apple Store

The other day I got to witness the most amazing experience of watching a lady in her 70s touch an iPad for the first time, and right before my eyes the delight and sparkle on her face transformed her into a young girl again. It was magical.

Yet this experience at an Apple Store in Ohio was marred by some shockingly un-Apple bumps in the road.

I'm in America visiting my folks, and took the opportunity of being here to help Ann, a family friend in her 70s, buy her first computer. Until now her most technically-advanced electronics were a flip-phone and a television, but she was ready to take the plunge into email and Facebook. She was familiar with the unrelenting grief and despair Windows caused her husband, so she wanted something different. We headed to the Apple Store.

It was packed, which as an AAPL shareholder I always like to see.

We were soon attended to by staff, and I let Ann interact with them, describing what she wanted a computer for, and listening to their ideas and recommendations.

First she was shown the lowest-end MacBook Air, a tiny laptop. My mom has one of these and earlier at lunch had shown it to Ann, and had raved all about it, so prior to arriving at the store, Ann and I thought that she'd probably buy a MacBook Air. Under direction of the Apple sales staff, Ann used a MacBook Air for some basic web surfing and email, and seemed pleased. She took to it easily.

Then she was shown the same basic browsing and email on an iPad Air. Over the course of a few minutes Ann's demeanor changed from mild interest (she'd heard of these iPad things before) to pure, unfettered delight.

I've never seen anything like it, and I cannot begin to adequately describe the situation.

Ann has a youth and vibrance that belies her age, with an easy laugh and smile that I've seen many times, but nothing prepared me for the reaction written across her face... giddy, unadulterated, sparkling delight. There's no other word for it.

As she exclaimed This is it, this is for me!, I told her that the sparkle in her eyes made her look 30 years younger, but in reality the only time I've ever seen something even close is when a young child gets the toy they've been wanting. But this was less materialistic, more pure. I imagined a duck living in the desert for decades not knowing that water even existed, finally entering a lake for the first time. I feel I'm a better person just for having witnessed it.

In comparison, the exuberant amaaaazing reaction of my 23-month-old niece to her first iPad experience seems pale (but if you've not heard the short audio on that post, it'll certainly bring a smile to your heart).

Anyway, Ann bought an iPad Air, a wireless keyboard, and a case/cover, and Apple staff helped her set it up. Both before and after the sale, staff spent considerable time with her, never rushing, never pressuring, always patient. Ann felt truly the center of their attention, with their concern not for the sale but for her happiness and satisfaction. It was a wonderful experience.

That was the good. The rest of this long story is not always so good.


Setup of the iPad involved creating Ann's first email account, and this is where I got my first surprise of the day.

I figured that they would create an iCloud account for her, but no, to create an Apple ID they needed an email account from outside the Apple ecosystem, so they created a GMail account for her. This struck me as very odd, but hey, they're the experts.

They then used her GMail address to create an Apple ID for her, and set up her iPad. They helped her install the Apple Store app, then used that to schedule a free training class at the store next week.

Pleased as punch and floating on air, we went to her house to show her husband, and we sat for some basic lessons. I showed Ann how to surf the web, make bookmarks, do email and create contacts, Facetime video conference, use the camera, check the calendar, talk to Siri, etc. She took to it very easily.

But we ran into some problems that I didn't know how to solve.

Disappointment #1 for the day was that the iPad Air Smart Case didn't seem to fit her iPad Air very well, and the hole for the camera didn't line up properly. When deciding on what model of iPad to buy, Apple staff had explained the differences between the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2 included subtle physical differences like the location of the camera, so it seemed to me that Ann must have been sold the wrong case. Yet the labeling on the box for the case (iPad Air Smart Case) clearly matched the labeling on the box for the iPad (iPad Air) — neither referenced the Air 2 we'd seen on packaging for the newer models — so I was confused.

Disappointment #2 for the day was in my call to Apple Care to ask about the issue. The lady who answered my call seemed utterly uninterested in life, doing her job on autopilot just to get to the end of the shift. I've had more enthusiastic calls with the DMV.

So we went back to the Apple Store and showed the clearly-misaligned camera hole along with the clearly-matching packaging. I figured we be told yikes, sorry about that, here's the proper case, but instead we got an inexplicable Yeah, sorry, it's hard to explain.

The guy tried to explain something that he clearly didn't understand well himself, causing me to finally interrupt him and say look, she just wants a case that fits her iPad. She doesn't care what it's called... can you show her something that actually fits what she just bought?.

Again the response was unexpected. I thought he'd say Sure, just a moment, but instead we got a I don't know, but we can go take a look.. Wow, this was not the Apple Experience I was expecting. How hard can it be?

It was a fiasco. They had a huge wall of cases, with half clearly marked iPad Air 2 and the other half clearly marked iPad Air. You'd think that it couldn't be simpler, but in reality all the cases were for the iPad Air 2, including those marked iPad Air. Why were they explicitly labeled differently when they were explicitly for the same device, and explicitly incompatible with the device for which it was labeled??? It was beyond surreal.

The guy explained that if you looked on the back of the iPad Air package, the little sticker with the barcode included microscopic text that said (second generation), meaning it was for the iPad Air 2. The logical person inside of me wanted to explode at the stupidity of it... not only of the misleading labeling, but mostly at the unmitigated stupidity of how the Apple Store handled the display and sales. The guy who sold Ann the iPad Air explicitly mentioned the differences between the models and explicitly told her that the iPad Air 2 cases wouldn't fit her purchase, yet somehow didn't realize that the iPad Air cases wouldn't either. This was his job. How could Apple Staff not know this? The Air 2 has been on sale for almost a year... were we the first to discover this crazy labeling. Beyond surreal.

In marveling at the absurdity of the situation, I happened to noticed that one of the iPad Air cases did not have the second generation microtext on the back. Oh, we're told, this one does fit Ann's purchase. Apple Staff hadn't realized they had these mixed in there. Of perhaps the 70 iPad Air cases on display, I noticed three that would fit Ann's iPad Air. She didn't like the color, but it was that or nothing, so she exchanged the case. The guy offered to order her the color of her choice and swap it out when it arrived, but by this time we just wanted to move on.

(The only plausible explanation for the labeling that I can come up with is that when Apple started selling cases for the new iPad Air 2, they still had a huge stockpile of packaging for the original model that they didn't want to waste, so they shoved the new cases into the old packaging and slapped the microtext sticker on the back. When that ran out, new packaging included the proper iPAd Air 2 on the front, and this mix of labels we saw at the store reflected the mix of old and new stock. On the other hand, I have not been able to come up with a plausible explanation for how the Apple Store handles this mix as they do, utter than pure apathy and incompetence.)

Overall, what a disappointing, un-Apple-like experience. Things were about to get worse.

I had two questions about the email app, both leading down holes I never would have imagined.

The first seemed pretty simple: why is there no trash icon when viewing an email message? How do you delete a message? The identical app on my iPhone has a trash icon that's obvious and intuitive, but on Ann's iPad the same spot instead has what looks like a filing-cabinet icon whose purpose didn't seem apparent, and upon testing we couldn't figure out what it actually did.

The guy spent a considerable time in the labyrinth of iPad settings and couldn't figure it out, so we put that on the back burner and moved on.

My second question was about push notifications for new messages. It didn't surprise me that push notifications wouldn't work when connected only via Wifi, so I just asked to confirm this. But no, I was told that they should work. Ann wasn't getting notifications when I sent test emails, so the guy dives again into the labyrinth of settings for what seemed an eternity, only to end up suggesting to switch from GMail to iCloud for her email.

Just a few hours prior we'd been told that a non-iCloud account was required, but now we were being told to switch to iCloud. I didn't want Ann to have to juggle two email addresses, but no worries, Apple Staff told us, we'll switch your Apple ID registration to your iCloud address so that you can completely abandon the GMail address. Geez, okay, why didn't we do this from the start, but okay, let's do it.

So he create the new account and we explained everything to Ann, who for the first time in the long day was starting to show signs of being overwhelmed. Once things were finally set up, test emails from me showed up on her iPad with immediate notifications as we wanted, so it was worth it. Then he went to switch her Apple ID registration over to her iCloud address so that she could completely abandon the GMail address they'd made for her earlier, and he hit a snag... it wouldn't let him switch.

Clearly this staff member was outside his area of expertise, but instead of asking one of his more-experienced colleagues, he starts Googling for a solution. This did not inspire confidence, and I strongly encouraged him to ask someone for help. He did, and the end result was that we backpedaled on the whole iCloud thing, reverted back to GMail, and simply gave up on push notifications. By this point the store was closing and we just wanted to get out of there.

But somewhere along the way he had figured out how to get the trash icon for Ann, so at least we had that going for us.

Overall Ann was thrilled with her first foray into high tech, but wow, the experiences at the Apple Store sure put a damper on things. As a tech geek I was mortified, and as an APPL shareholder I worry how this bodes for Apple's future.