Heiser Christmas Letter 2001
Paris in the Spring
Loretta and I were impressed with the beauty of Paris. We attended an Elderhostel art history course for two weeks in May. Most buildings have been steam–cleaned for the millennium, so the city sparkled. We always enjoy the company of the other Elderhostel participants, and I was glad to discover ten museums new to me. Ironically, I have always been hungry in previous independent visits to Paris, but with Elderhostel’s guidance we finally learned how to order a proper meal of entrée, main dish and dessert, so we were always very satisfied.
I’m excited to be a new member of the PLATO Society at UCLA. It’s a learning-in-retirement group; each member leads the discussion at one weekly meeting. This Fall, I took a class on the Brain and Mind; next I plan to take liberal arts and literature courses.
This Spring, I plan to audit Karen Kleinfelder’s history of photography course at Cal State Long Beach. She’s a fabulous teacher!
Eli, my spiritual teacher, teaches regular seminars in California. I have attended retreats in Santa Monica and San Rafæl, and look forward to a longer seminar in Ojai in January. Although I haven’t been able to evangelize others, I’m very happy at what I’m learning from him. If you’d like to borrow a videotape, let me know!
Dean Kamen’s Segway personal transportation system gets my vote for product of the decade. Kamen has previously invented an insulin pump and the iBOT dynamic stand-up wheelchair. The Segway is fun, safe, cheap, and will get millions of cars off the streets. I hope some day there will be more Segways than cars!
Los Angeles area readers shouldn’t miss The World from Here at the UCLA Hammer Museum, through January 13. It’s free on Thursdays, and features the most beautiful and historically significant books from 33 local libraries. There’s an excellent website at www.calbook.org/theworldfromhere/
How to Use Your Eyes by James Elkins is a beautiful book of short essays on looking at sunsets, sand, pavement, perspective, scarabs, x-rays, fingerprints, etc. I wish I could send you a copy!
A Minolta DiMAGE 7 camera is my third digital; each camera has been twice as good as its predecessor. This one has five–megapixel resolution and a sixteen(!) element 7X zoom lens. The hard disk is the size of a quarter, and holds a thousand pictures. The electronic viewfinder is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) so exposure corrections are a snap. It gobbles batteries, but I carry spares. The price has already come down by a third since August.
I’ve taken a lot of digital pictures of paintings. They show barrel distortion that I thought was inherent with the wide-angle zoom setting needed for hand-held available-light shots. Bill Attig explained that a proper (fixed-length) lens won’t do that, but I had already figured out how to undistort the pictures in Photoshop, so I’m a solution looking for problems.
I’ve been scanning various images of a famous Maya stone hieroglyphic tablet, and superimposing them in the computer, so I can compare drawings to photos and rubbings.