Cynthia Ann Coppess (1948-2018)

Figure 1 – Cindy c. 1975 at Saranac Lake, NY. (c) DE Wolf 2018.

After a very long struggle my wife, Cynthia Ann Coppess, unexpectedly passed last Saturday night. I will always love and miss her. Here is my favorite photograph of her taken in Saranac Lake, NY around 1975.

Cynthia Ann Coppess, 69, of Sudbury and formerly of Hudson, passed Sunday, January 7, 2018.

She was born on February 17, 1948 in Springfield, Ohio, the daughter of Donel Blair and Virginia (Benesh) Lauver Collins.  She attended Springfield North High School and graduated with a BA from Wright State University in Psychology. She was Research Coordinator for the late Prof. Harrison Trice at the Cornell University ILR School, where she researched the effectiveness of alcohol treatment programs. She subsequently worked as a researcher for ACTION and as a Support Manager at Dun and Bradstreet Software.

She was married for 39 years to her beloved husband, David E. Wolf, whom she met and fell in love with watching the sunsets on Cornell’s Libe Slope. She was the devoted mother of Andrew Wolf, of Brooklyn, NY, and in recent years cherished time spent with his significant other Megan Thorsfeldt.  She is deeply missed by her beloved cat, Cloé.

Cynthia grew up working with her mother for the Girl Scouts, and one of her fondest memories was teaching swimming in the snow at Eagle Island on Saranac Lake, NY.  Cynthia loved art, classical music, and cooking.  She was active in the Concord Academy Parents’ Association. Cindy was a loving spirit who believed in a gentler and kinder world always looking to help others. She loved and was loved by her many friends.

 A memorial service will be held in the spring and will be announced.

In lieu of flowers please donate to either the Pine Street Inn or Beyond Benign.

For additional information, tributes, and guestbook, please visit:

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Happy New Year from Hati and Skoll

Figure 1 – Seeing into the mist that is the New Year, Sudbury, MA. (c) DE Wolf 2018.

Well celestial mechanics being what it is, we seem to have reached the New Year once more. So it is both time to reflect and to look forward. First, I would like to thank all of my readers and friends for a wonderful year. Friends always are our greatest blessing. So Happy New Year one and all.

I have been saving Figure 1 as representative of the New Year. There is a window, where the future is out of focus as if shrouded in a fog – “the veil past which [we] cannot see.” And based upon the lens of the present we seek to see and understand the path forward. Even that is out of focus; the colors dispersed in aberration. But importantly there is a path forward.

It is pretty clear that 2018 will be dangerous year, both in America and in the world. For American democracy it will be the most challenging and and momentous year since 1968. Indeed, for the millennialls it will likely prove to be their defining year.

Some people as so iconic and memetic that we have come to call them by a single name – hence, Newton, Einstein, and Lincoln. Let me the cathartically quote Hume and say:

“It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place… it’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.”
So dear friend, dear reader, take my hand and let’s go into the furture’s mist together! Perhaps we may reach Avalon together.
And just a note for those of a physics inclination. It seems common knowledge that lenses invert images. Why then is the image of the trees and snow upright? I’ll leave you to puzzle that as just one more enigma for the New Year.
Good things for all of you, good friends!
Canon T2i with EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens at 200mm, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority AE Mode, 1/1000th sec at f/13.0 with no esposure compensation.
Posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings

Schrodinger’s cat and the principle of relativity

Figure 1 – Schrodinger’s Cat, origin and copyright status unknown.

It is the last day of the year, which means that it is my last opportunity, at least for this annum, to do something that I have never done before on Hati and Skoll. That is to share something I’ve seen on social media. Several times this year I have seen or been sent the image of Figure 1. I do not know its origin. Erwin Schrodinger admitted defeat, when his cat smugly proved that the box both exists and does not exist at the same time…”

Obviously this is a jab at the whole Schrodinger cat in the box quantum entanglement thing.  But it is so much more than a simple play on the meme of Schrodinger and his cat. As all lovers of things cat, physicists and otherwise, it is symbolic that ultimately the cat is master of his or her domain. And to the cat there is no ambiguity. The box is. The cat knows that it is, but asserts that if it is absolutely still and silent, you may not observe it. That is your problem, fur sure. Also Schrodinger’s assumption that there are two states of cat, alive and dead, ignores the fundamental quantum point that while dead is dead, the state of cat being alive is nine-fold degenerate. Also the transition of the cat between the dead state and one of the nine alive states requires the absorption or emission of a caton – not to be confused with a cation, which is something altogether different.

Now there is evidence that while Schrodinger lived in Oxford in the nineteen thirties that he owned a cat named Milton. This raises the question of why Schrodinger’s equation is based on the Hamiltonian rather than the Miltonian operator. In Hamiltonian mechanics two variables may be canonically conjugate in the Hamiltonian sense, while in Miltonian mechanics, they may be catatonically conjugate in the MIltonian sense. We may conclude, perhaps, that it should have been the Maltonian operator because, as pointed out by A. E Housman, “malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man.”

As natural as a cat sitting in the middle of a box-shaped sunbeam may be, it does point us to another principle of modern physics – the principle of relativity. Loosely the point is that if you do an experiment, say a chemical reaction, on a carousel, you will see the same results regardless if the observer is sitting on the carousel or on a park bench beside the carousel. “In physics, the principle of relativity is the requirement that the equations describing the laws of physics have the same form in all admissible frames of reference. For example, in the framework of special relativity the Maxwell equations have the same form in all inertial frames of reference – from the Wikipedia, if you prefer.

So from the cat’s frame of reference, you both exist and do not exist until you open the box and look in. Actually, truth be-knownst, the cat doesn’t really care if you exist until it is time to be fed. And finally, as shown in Figure 2, and as all cats know – the principle of relativity must be extended to take into account the fundamental feline recognition (for they are much wiser than thou or me) that the box is everywhere and in everything. Happy New Year, Everyone.

Figure 2 – Cloe’ wears the pants in her family and demonstrates the ubiguity of “the box.”. (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Posted in Essays on Photography, Personal Photographic Wanderings

Reassuring moments in physics #5 – snow on the side of the barn

Figure 1 – Snow on the side of the barn, Christmas Day, Sudbury, MA. (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Figure 1 is another photograph that I took after the storm on Christmas.It struck me as a bit incongruous that the snow had stuck to the side of the barn, and I particularly liked the fingers of snow offset by the texture of the barn wood. 

Ultimately, this is I think, a wet snow phenomenon. If the ground and air temperature is below 32 deg. F you wind up with light powdery snow. On the other hand if it strikes a “warm” surface the snow partially melts. You have wet snow. You know, the stuff that snowmen are made of. Of course, you can still make snowballs out of powdery snow if you use warm hands and a lot of pressure. Pressure causes snow to melt, because water is denser than ice near 32 deg C. That is why you can skate on ice, but not say dry ice, which is carbon dioxide not water. But I digress. Here the warmth of the barn has melted the snow allowing it to stick to its outer surface. Of course, there is a limit to the weight that can be borne, before plob…

Ain’t physics wonderful? Damn straight it is.

Posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings

Snow and ice on Christmas Day

Figure 1 – Snow and ice on Christmas Day, Sudbury, MA. (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Christmas day in New England began with a snow and ice storm and ended with a magical ice world set against perfect blue sky. In the early afternoon i went out to take some photographs intrigued by the gem like  quality of the ice covered trees. In Figure 1 we have a snow-covered pine with icicles dripping in the sunlight. The tips sparkle like little stars and I am reminded of why, despite the cold, New England is such a wonderful place to live. It is as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said:

“Winter giveth the fields, and the trees so old,
their beards of icicles and snow.”

I have tried this kind of subject before, sunlight through icicles, and to some extent, I am invariably defeated by the depth of the dynamic range. I am somewhat pleased by this image. But it still seems to fall somewhat short of capturing the total beauty of the moment.

Canon T2i with EF70-200mm f/4L USM lens at 70 mm, ISO 400, Aperture Priority AE Mode 1/640th sec at f/13.0 with -1 exposure compensation.

Posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings

Seasons Greetings from Hati and Skoll Gallery

I want to wish all of my dear friends and readers Happy Holidays, A joyous season, and all the best wishes for the New Year!

We awake this morning to a white Christmas in New England. Let’s hope that it is auspicious of good things. And remember that good things do not just come about; they must be worked for. The possibilities are infinite!

Now we are slaves. Next year, may we be free men.”

Posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings

The white rose

Figure 1 – The white rose, Concord, MA, (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Christmas is, of course, a colorful time of year and is meant to challenge the grey December bleakness. The traditional colors are red and green, silver and gold. To be different, I thought I would offer something different today – a pure white rose.  I have tried this type of image before and am invariably unhappy at some level with the results. Ah well! I will point out that a white rose while complementing winter on one hand is like the colors of Christmas diametrically opposed to it on the other hand. The white rose speaks to spring and summer – to purity and rebirth. In winter it remains the symbol of Persephone still trapped in the underworld.

The relationship of the albino rose to its carmine relatives it but a matter of … Well, perhaps Shakespeare said it best in Henry VI.

“Prick not your finger as you pluck it off,
Lest bleeding you do paint the white rose red
And fall on my side so, against your will.”

Canon T2i with EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens at 55 mm, ISO 1600, Aperture Priority AE Mode, 1/50 th sec f/9.0 with -1 exposure compensation.

Posted in Uncategorized

Monument Square

Figure 1 – From the Colonial Inn looking onto Monument Square, Concord, MA. (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Winter is a fact of life in New England, and New Englanders embrace it. Here in December, we are on the near side of the Christmas holidays and there is a raw novelty to winter’s bite.  Everything is decked out in vivid color and light. We eschew gaudy light displays and favor, instead, the traditional candle in each window. This, of course, is meant to draw and welcome the pilgrim home.

No place epitomizes Massachusetts more, this time of year, than Concord. It is where our journey as a nation began on a chilly, windy April morning. To those who would threaten or democracy, I echo again the wordss of Edward R, Murrow: “We are not descended of fearful men.” We went today for a pre-Christmas luncheon  with a dear friend. And in the spirit of New England, I had my once in every two years or so New England Clam Chowder – pronounced, of course, as chowda. The Inn dates back to 1716 – so if building could talk, it could tell of that morning.

I brought my camera along for inspiration, as there was the annual gingerbread house competition among local businesses. Why do I feel like I am living in a Hallmark Channel movie? As I stepped onto the Inn’s porch, I took the image of Figure 1 showing Monument Square and Routes 4/2a to Lexington, “the Battle Road.” The church that you can just make out is “Holy Family Parish,” which lies along side “The Old Burial Ground,” built on a glacial drumlin. I guess, that in a sense this photograph displays the two diametrically opposed solstices and their attendant holidays, Christmas and the Fourth of July.

Canon T2i with EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens at 35 mm (unusual for me), ISO 1600 (ever set for birding), Aperture Priority AE Mode 1/640th sec at f/8.0 with no exposure compensation. 

Posted in Personal Photographic Wanderings

The Baker Street Irregulars

Fogure 1 – Children carrying Christmas greens. In the public domain in the United States because of its age.

In my searches for images of Christmases past I came across the photograph of Figure 1. It shows a group of London children, with delighted faces, carrying holly and mistletoe. The picture was from 1915 so both Edwardian and during the First World War. In that context there is a lot going on – poor children, grubbily dressed, both still with happy faces.So it isn’t a charming little image of Christmas in the “good ol’ days,” but rather a rawer image of Christmas past.

To me it is most reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars.

     “At this moment there was a loud ring at the bell, and I could hear Mrs. Hudson, our landlady, raising her voice in a wail of expostulation and dismay.
     “By heavens, Holmes,” I said, half rising, “I believe that they are really after us.”
     “No, it’s not quite so bad as that. It is the unofficial force—the Baker Street irregulars.
     As he spoke, there came a swift pattering of naked feet upon the stairs, a clatter of high voices, and in rushed a dozen dirty and ragged little street…. There was some show of discipline among them, despite their tumultuous entry, for they instantly drew up in line and stood facing us with expectant faces. One of their number, taller and older than the others, stood forward with an air of lounging superiority which was very funny in such a disreputable little scarecrow.”
     Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The Sign of the Four (1890)

As a result, we can see this as a kind of triangle of fiction and reality. Conan Doyle is writing fiction, but describing what he sees and what is familiar. The photographer is making a social statement, projecting what he perceives to what we see. And finally we, as viewers of the image, complete the triangle. We relate it back to the fictional characters that are part of the collective thought of generations of Sherlock Holmes readers. And we recognize, through Dickens, that life was not always so lovely.

Posted in History of Photography

Tufted titmouse

Figure 1 – Tufted titmous, Sudbury, MA. (c) DE Wolf 2017.

Before we get too far into winter, I wanted to post the photograph of Figure 1. Just after Thanksgiving I put up mu bird-feeder for the winter and literally within minutes it was swarming with birds. One of my favorite feeder birds is the little greyish blue tufted titmouse, Baeolophus bicolor, shown in the photo. I can, of course not resist reference here to Gilbert and Sulivan’s Mikado.

“On a tree by a river a little tom-tit
Sang “Willow, titwillow, titwillow”
And I said to him, “Dicky-bird, why do you sit
Singing ‘Willow, titwillow, titwillow'”
“Is it weakness of intellect, birdie?” I cried
“Or a rather tough worm in your little inside”
With a shake of his poor little head, he replied
“Oh, willow, titwillow, titwillow!”

Well, yesterday we had our first snowfall of the season and the titmice (or mouses) (I will not go into that argument again) are scurrying about very busily. Their size make them very hard to photograph well. But you have to love the little Elvis bouffant and the jet black eyes, that speak so well to their reptilian origin.

They will be outside my window all winter now flit to and from the feeder and foraging for fallen seeds in the snow. One cannot help but admire their ability to endure the vicious Northern winter.

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