February 28th, 2005

5th street los angeles 1905


It's a good thing this was a fairly cold night, because I gave Sluggo a workout downloading pictures from the Arnold Hylen Collection linked from this page at the California State LIbrary's web site. There are other collections, too, but I went for Hylen's photographs first, because it's full of pictures of Los Angeles from the 1940s-1960s, and I remember a lot of those buildings and street scenes. Most of them are gone now.

Next, I think I'll take a look at the Frederick Martin Collection, a larger and more diverse group of photographs taken in various parts of California betwen 1910 and 1930. They include some shots of Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and the Monterey coast. The site also has some collections of old stereographs, dating from as early as the 1850s. I'm not sure how many pictures from each collection are available online yet, but I nabbed 160 of the Hylen photos, out of a total of about 500 in the entire collection, and there are apparently more available, so if the percentages of the other collections are as high, it could keep me busy for weeks. This is one of those times when I really want broadband.

The site isn't as well arranged as it could be, but it's usable despite its quirks. Library sites (and the sites of academic institutions as well) are seldom of the best design. They're a lot like sites operated by technology companies, in fact. They make you jump through digital hoops to get what you're after. Well, the libraries and tech companies probably hire the graduates of the academic institutions' web design courses. I know dozens of large sites developed by individuals which are easier to use. We obviously need more dropouts.

One thing to note about the picture collection pages- if you select the page views with thumbnails rather than those with simple lists, the entire, full sized image files will load onto your hard drive, and will appear when you click the thumbnails. It takes forever on dialup. As I intended to nab every picture in any case, it wasn't a problem for me, but if I'd wanted to make a selection from among the images available, not having actual independent thumbnails would have been very annoying. As I said, bad design.

The rain has slowed to a light sprinkle now, and I think it might clear later. If the cold front passes through, I'll be assured on one more cold night, at least. If it makes Sluggo happy, it makes me happy.

Pale light among the eastern clouds already. Sleep.
laszlo moholy-nagy_chx


There's a big yellow ball in the sky and it's trying to burn me! The cool, soothing air won't let it yet, but the air itself might be burned within a few days. For now, there are big, fluffy clouds helping out, providing shade now and then. I'm not sure how long they'll last. Blades of grass still cling to a few bright beads of rainwater, but those might evaporate before nightfall. My front door is swelling as the afternoon light heats the moisture retained by the wood. I have to lean on it to get it closed. The sky is full of crows. Kids are playing in the street. The cat is napping at the base of a mote-filled shaft of light. I am sneezing from the pollen. Say goodnight, February.