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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014

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Is there still a significant number of people shooting casual photos with film?
Is there still a significant number of people shooting casual photos with film?

A future for film photography?

In the same way that Polaroid film fell by the wayside, is it only a matter of time before it becomes more and more difficult to find and develop 35 mm film? Driving past Walgreens, I noticed the digital sign read "We still process 35mm film," and it occurred to me, that sooner or later they may not.

Mainstream stores like Target, Walgreens or CVS, previously processed wet lab prints daily but now, they gear all advertising, product sales and processing options to the digital audience. Of course, most of these large service centers will still process your film but often it has to be sent out to a secondary developing lab.

Will there be a point at which film is no longer processed? Like eight track or mini disc players, will film photography be relegated to rummage sale shelves and eBay purchases?
 

Several herbs sit on the surface of the liquor invigorating flavor and aroma.
Several herbs sit on the surface of the liquor invigorating flavor and aroma.

Concocting something bitter

 I’ve decided to extend my repertoire of homemade goods into the liquid realm. After visiting a friend in New York who makes positively everything from hot sauce to hard cider to jams from scratch, I’ve embarked on the creation of bitters.

Bitters, used most commonly in drinks like the Manhattan, Hot Toddy or Old Fashioned, is a liquor dabbed in small quantities to cut through sweet flavor with just the right amount of sour spice. If you look on the Internet, you’ll find methods ranging from 10 step infusions to dropping fruit in grain alcohol. They run the gamut of complexity and simplicity and I was hoping for something in the middle, a recipe that posed a slight challenge without draining me physically and financially.

Pulling a recipe from a dry, witted food blogger living New York City, the marinating mixture I chose calls for about 20 herbs, spices and roots, each to be added and strained at certain points over a 3-4 week period. On the surface, it sounds slightly labor intensive but really, once you find the ingredients, it’s less than an hour a week of your time.

The ingredients on the other hand, were a slight challenge. I started at the Spice House, made my way to Outpost, El Rey and Attari Market. The key ingredient, a bittering agent like gentian, angelica or quassia, was the one elusive item, even at a Chinese Herbalist out on Hwy. 100. The only option is to order it online or have someone in a larger city, pick some up at an herb shop and send you a sampling in the mail.

And so the great experiment has begun. I have large jars of whiskey and rum sitting on the counter stewing and soaking, ready to be mixed in three or four weeks.

The "smiley face," consisting of a colon and parentheses is common text and email lingo these days.
The "smiley face," consisting of a colon and parentheses is common text and email lingo these days.

Plagued by the :)

I started doing something I swore I'd never do.

You know that little smiley face, used in texts, emails, instant messages, created by the combination of the colon and parentheses? I hate that little smiley face and somehow I've started using it.

I used to send sarcastic texts or messages and just hope and assume the recipient would catch the context and the tone. If they didn't, I relied on clarifying myself the next time I saw them in person.

But lately, I feel the need to make clear in the text-as if that smiley face indicates that what I'm saying is meant as a joke or in a friendly tone and without it, the essence of the message would be completely lost.

I remember the first time I used it, last week sometime, in a message to someone I don't know very well, thinking I'd use it just this once to simplify my friendly attitude toward said person. Now, it seems to be entering more and more of my daily routine and finding itself into all sorts of texts and emails. 

I have to admit though, that overall, I'm becoming more and more lenient in my texting and emailing standards. I used to text solely with full punctuation and capitalization, as if unwilling to give up the stylistic tradition of formal letters. But now, just like anything over time, I've gotten lazy and throw in abbreviations and half phrases as much as possible.

 

Recent warm weather made a Saturday in November ideal for a Zoo visit.
Recent warm weather made a Saturday in November ideal for a Zoo visit.

Hot wax and pressed pennies

Over the weekend, I returned to the Milwaukee County Zoo with my niece for the first time since I was probably 10 years old.

I've been to the Zoofari Conference Center for events but it'd been well over a decade since I'd wandered through the Zoo's animal exhibits, slurping down slushies and racing for my favorite animals.

But for everything that's changed since I was a kid, I was happy to see my memories of the Zoo are still alive and well. Sadly, the train has stopped running for the season but in the warm summer months, kids can still tour the small track and wave to visitors on the path.

Equally important when I was young, you can still watch a wax animal mold press figures right before your eyes. Granted, hot plastic presumably isn't on the list of child friendly toys in 2009, but the monkey or elephant souvenir is in warm action.

And just the same, you can turn a penny into a lifelong souvenir for just 50 cents. Located throughout the grounds, you can still watch as your penny is pressed with into a memorable zoo style souvenir.