Lapse of Attention

September 30, 2014 at 4:22 pm | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 1 Comment
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I walked into a waiting room in my underpants. No, it wasn’t a dream. It really happened at a yoga centre, in front of a dozen other students, two of whom were male. My long tank top covered the front of my panties, so my underwear wasn’t visible while I faced the group. Then I walked out the door and down the hall for a last minute visit to the bathroom. There I discovered my gaffe. Oh! Did anyone notice? I was wearing white panties and the black tank top didn’t cover my bum.

No use trying to hide it. Re-entering the waiting room, I said, “I forgot to put on my shorts.” Another student replied, “I noticed as you went out. I didn’t know whether to say something.” Two others nodded. They also had wondered if drawing attention to this embarrassing situation would make it worse.

I quickly entered the dressing room, put on my shorts and returned. A few muffled giggles but I took it with good humour and soon after we entered the studio. Before long, everyone’s mind was on the downward dog and not on my momentary lapse of attention.

Perhaps someone thought, “Poor dear. Had a ‘senior moment.’ She’s over 70.” But I wasn’t worried. Before I retired, my academic specialty was memory. Many times I lectured about our finite working memory and how the amount of information we can process at any specific moment is limited.

The capacity of working memory cannot be increased but we learn to perform a greater number of simultaneous activities by chaining movements together. For example, a baby learning to walk falls many times before acquiring the muscle coordination that we, as adults, accept as a single flowing movement. A teenager learns to drive by mastering a complex integration of motor activities and visual signals. Once acquired, these action routines run smoothly using a small reservoir of working memory that is neither completely conscious nor completely unconscious. This reservoir frees up memory capacity to concentrate on other tasks while still using a small amount of attention to monitor our motions. When sensory information attracts this semi-conscious monitoring system, we switch focus.

I can easily understand this by visualizing Britta, the receptionist at our yoga centre. I imagine Britta, with her shoulder-length blond hair, sitting upright at her desk entering information into a computer. Right now, she is concentrating on the computer task. A telephone rings and she immediately switches attention to her telephone-answering task. She can make the changeover quickly because her initial response has become automatic. (“Good morning. Iyengar Yoga Centre. How may I help you?” she says, in a lilting voice.) By the time she reacts to the caller’s question, her mind is fully engaged in the conversation. Then, a new student enters the office, prompting Britta to direct a small amount of her awareness to him. She smiles and holds up a finger, another habitual response, to let the visitor know she’ll address his concerns as soon as possible. After ending the telephone discussion, Britta turns her attention to the person standing at her front desk. Once she has taken care of his needs, she returns to her computer chore.

This is how the brain multitasks – by swapping conscious attention among ongoing activities. Some people believe that multitasking refers to the performance of two or more tasks simultaneously. But we can concentrate on only one task at a time and each switch takes a few milliseconds to refocus the brain. So errors can occur during the restart interval.

Consider driving and texting. Our driving motor skills operate automatically, without need for much conscious thought, until something unexpected occurs and we need to quickly shift total awareness to the driving task. A car swerves into the oncoming lane. A deer darts into the street. If the mind is engaged by text messages, the driver does not have enough time to shift attention. In a crisis situation, a few milliseconds can be too long to delay the change from automatic to focused driving and prevent a crash.

A driver can devote so much attention to texting that he or she doesn’t allocate any working memory to the background task. Just the other day, I read about a woman in North Carolina who concentrated on posting a message to her Facebook page. All her efforts were focused on this endeavor and the small amount of working memory she normally would have used to monitor her driving was allotted instead to texting. She crossed the median of a highway, hit a truck and died.

I usually can talk while changing into my yoga attire, because putting on clothes is a routine task. The few times I need to switch more working memory to the dressing effort are generally triggered by external cues. But I was engaged in the conversation and didn’t notice the shorts tucked in the corner of my bag. And so I committed what psychologists call a ‘slip of action.’ I didn’t switch more working memory to the habitual task at a critical stage.

I used to amuse my students by telling them about other blunders, such as the many times I ended up driving to the wrong place. For example, going home via my usual route, planning a side trip to the bank, I’d end up in my own driveway, having forgotten to make the turn that led to the bank. Or intending to go to the rec centre that was two blocks past my office, I’d instead find myself in the university parking lot. I often drove familiar routes on autopilot – until two minor fender benders in my early 60s motivated me to re-evaluate my driving habits.

The capacity of working memory reaches its peak at age 21 and declines steadily thereafter. It drops more sharply after 50. Now I keep my mind on the road while driving. No daydreaming. No writing reports in my mind. Older drivers learn to accommodate for working memory decline until eventually, around 80, they lose the ability to drive safely. This doesn’t mean we lose our minds as we age, just the ability to monitor several sources of information and switch attention quickly when needed.

I doubt that I’ll ever again forget to put on my shorts in the changing room. In the future I’ll allot more attention to dressing. But I know I’ll do something equally silly, like forget where I parked my car (I now carefully note its position, especially in underground parkades), or mislay my keys (I have one designated location but if my routine is interrupted, it can take hours to find them), or walk through the front door without the book I planned to return to the library. I’m not losing my mind. As my working memory loses capacity, I must allocate more space to the focused task and less to the reservoir containing rapidly changing sensory information. But this means that sometimes I miss a signal directing me to rapidly shift my focus. No more multitasking for me.

Me in downward dog in the yoga studio.

Me in downward dog in the yoga studio.

Me in the downward dog in the yoga studio.

Me in the downward dog in the yoga studio.

My Photo Album (Part 1)

March 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 3 Comments

While printing photos to sell on eBay, I decided to produce a set of “favorite photos” for myself.  All these pictures are stored on my computer, organized so I can easily find them (although I doubt anyone else could).  When I use Photoshop, they are depicted approximately the same size on my 27” computer screen as they are in print form (approximately 7½” x 10”).  So why spend the money?  Each print costs $2 to $3 in photo paper and ink.  (I only use premium paper and my top-quality photo printer eats ink cartridges.)  After considering how many I discard because of errors, the price is closer to $5 per photo.

The answer is that a printed photo often has a different impact on the viewer when compared to one on a computer screen.  That is why, after printing what appears to be an excellent representation, I sometimes notice errors that must be fixed.

The answer does not lie in the pixels per inch (ppi) measure.  My personal computer images are maintained at a high ppi.  Even when drastically lowering the ppi level for posting on Facebook or one of my WordPress sites, relatively little definition is lost.  If blown up, that low ppi image has jagged edges, but at a relatively normal size, one that fills a 14” computer screen, there seems to be little information loss for the viewer.

Therefore, the brain must process information from the different mediums in distinct ways.  When I view a photo produced using a high dot-per-inch (dpi) printer, I experience a “Wow” effect.  Sometimes.  Not always.  I’ll talk about the exceptions later. 

I have discovered a similar dichotomy between books and e-readers.  Books allow me to slow down and speed up at will, depending on the nature of the material.  They permit me to linger over a particular phrase, a complex paragraph.  A story on an e-reader seems to say “go, go, go – don’t linger.”  For this reason, although I own both an e-reader and a tablet (a Kindle Fire), I have stopped downloading books that I really want to digest.  The Kindle Fire is a perfect companion for ferry trips and waiting in doctors’ offices.  It is suitable for reading magazines or James Patterson novels – highly redundant material – but not for stories requiring careful attention to details and thoughtful reflection.

Although the e-reader provides a better overall reading experience than the tablet, I still find it more challenging to read well-written books on it with the same thoroughness I give these books in print form.

What little research there is on this topic has concentrated on the differences between reading print versus e-books.  A Scientific American article, after looking at research evidence, concluded that e-readers may “prevent people for navigating long texts … [and] subtly inhibit reading comprehension.” (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/)

And so I’ll stop here for now.  According to the research, this is about as much information most people can comprehend on a computer before fatigue sets in, and they start skipping words and paragraphs.  Stay tuned for “My Photo Album (Part 2).” 

Myarchives.net Is Dead

March 19, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 30 Comments
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The My Archives Vintage Porn internet site has vanished.  In mid-October 2012, its picture gallery disappeared but regular members continued to visit by linking directly to discussion forums.  These forums, and other components such as the chatbox and private message system, remained intact.  At first we were told the gallery was backed up and would return online after a programmer updated the operating system.  But as time progressed, the gallery remained inaccessible and other structures stopped working.  When only the chatbox and discussion forums still functioned, I frantically started copying posts from my 36-page discussion thread.  Among the more than 800 posts to this thread were several thoughtful exchanges that I didn’t want to lose.  Another member told me how to quickly back up the entire thread; three days later, the website crashed.

My Archives lasted less than eight years.

***

How long should internet material endure?  Should it last as long as print material?  Will digital forms of communication replace printed matter?

A while ago, I decided to re-read a Ruth Rendell book of short stories that I first read in 1982.  It was not in my local library system, so I tried Amazon.  An anthology, consisting of her four published books of short stories, was issued in 1987 with several reprints.  Amazon’s third-party dealers were selling used copies.  For $6.50 (which included postage), I purchased a 1991 edition of Rendell’s Collected Short Stories in excellent condition, pages just slightly tinged yellow.  With careful handling, it will last another 30 years.  Ruth Rendell is now 83 years old but her writing will last long after her death.

***

I wonder if Tony T thought his comments would last at least a few years after he died.  Tony T was the moral centre of the My Archives discussion forums. Many visitors to the website ignored the discussion forums; they only were interested in looking at “dirty” pictures.  But a loyal group took part in the forum exchanges, where members analyzed and debated various aspects of the porn industry and model anatomy.  Whenever a discussion became contentious – and several did – Tony T would weigh in with a balanced comment.  Even when there was no controversy, Tony often posted comments that encouraged reflection on a topic.  He joined the community in 2005 when the site contained only photos taken prior to 1980.  About a month before the gallery disappeared, Tony wrote his final post, stating that his cancer treatment had not succeeded and he was moving to a hospice.  We don’t know if Tony has died, or whether his family tried to notify us only to find that they couldn’t enter the site using its entrance link.  Before My Archives vanished, one member was copying what he considered the most important discussion forums.  I don’t know how to access these copies.  All I have to remember Tony are a few private messages and his comments on my discussion thread.

***

Photos posted to My Archives were submitted by members – mostly scans of pictures found in vintage porn magazines.  Images from books that had lasted 40 to 60 years, as well as some 90-year-old postcards.  Print material endures!

Volunteers vetted the posts and ensured they were placed in correct folders.  The domain name was owned by “Tiger.”   He paid for the server space – a major expense given the huge number of posts each day, especially after the cut-off date was changed to 1989 in 2006 and to 1999 three years later.  The few advertisements, all for pay-for-view porn sites, were supposed to cover expenses.  They probably didn’t cover these costs, particularly when a major overhaul of the operating system was needed.

***

One reason expenses overran revenues was internet thievery.  Images posted on My Archives could be copied and pasted to another site.  I didn’t realize this at first, and by the time I discovered it, my pictures were published on numerous tumblr sites.  Tumblr is a network for sharing internet photos.  A visitor would capture an image from My Archives and post it on his/her tumblr site; others would “reblog” the original post until it circulated around the network.  My modelling name was usually included with the image (that’s how I acquired more fans); however My Archives was never identified as the original source, so it never received “value” from this circulation of its images.

Had I known my photos were going to be passed around the internet, I never would have put the private ones on My Archives.  These were pictures I owned that were not scanned from magazines.  Initially I hoped to sell some of these private shots as autographed pictures, but now anyone can copy them without my permission.

Within its own realm, tumblr is relatively innocuous.  Unfortunately, these images are captured by other internet users who place them on commercial websites.  I’ve found my photos on sites selling hair products and espousing political views I don’t agree with.

Other porn sites also contained photos copied from My Archives.  For example, one member found a photo of me on Vintage Stockings.  Although this image had originally appeared in a magazine and conceivably could have been scanned directly from that magazine, I knew that this one was captured from my post on My Archives; unique changes I had made to the magazine image were present also in the Vintage Stockings version.  Management at Vintage Stockings relies on posts by its members and members can “pass off” images taken from other websites as their own scans.

Similarly, some My Archives members posted images from other internet sources on My Archives.  The photo below was posted in the “Gloria Dawn” folder of the gallery by a member who did not know where he initially obtained it.  Since then, I have been trying to locate the original source.   I know it is a Ron Vogel shot and it looks like it appeared in a magazine – but not in any magazine I own.  (If anyone knows its original source, please let me know.)

Gloria Dawn photo posted on My Archives.  (Source unknown)

Gloria Dawn photo posted on My Archives. (Source unknown)

***

When it comes to stealing images, the worst perpetrators are eBay sellers.  About two years ago, other My Archives members informed me that eBay dealers were selling prints of photos I first posted on My Archives.  Because these photos contained my image, I was able to have the auctions stopped.  However, eBay will not halt auctions unless I find the offending photos and fill out a complicated form.  Finding the stolen images among the thousands published on eBay each day is the problem, and I must rely on friends to inform me about them.  In one year, I had photos removed from those listed by slipboy, fleamarketkings, your-usa-seller, ultrararefinds, arieteii and massrappc.  I started writing my name and “My Archives” on each new image I posted.  This didn’t stop the thieves.  Below, on top, is a private photo I just had removed from a listing by t50fox.  Beneath it is the original I posted.  You can see that t50fox simply cropped the image to remove its source (and then had to compensate by cutting off the top and bottom portions of the photo to fit it onto 8 x 10 photo paper).

Gloria Dawn photo being sold on eBay.

Gloria Dawn photo being sold on eBay.

Gloria Dawn photo I posted on My Archives.

Gloria Dawn photo I posted on My Archives.

I sent a message to t50 fox asking:

Did you copy this image off an internet post?

He replied:

I don’t recall the original source of the photo.  As a hobby, I have collected photos from many sources (scans, originals, downloads, etc.) for many years.

My photos are of little consequence to eBay thieves because I was a 1960s model, just one of the horde of unknown 60s vintage models (unknown at least until I joined My Archives).  For every print of my image they attempt to sell, they list 30 different photos of Bettie Page and 10 of Joyce Gibson.  Many of these images were initially published on My Archives.  In their eBay listings, print sellers use words to suggest that they are selling prints of original photos they posses; to mislead buyers, they use phrases like “reprinted from my personal collection,” “60s vintage print,” or “original print.”  What they really sell are copies of images downloaded from the internet.

People who originally posted these images cannot get the auctions stopped because eBay has no mechanism to allow for removal of pictures stolen from other internet sites.  (I can get my personal images removed because the sellers do not have my permission to advertise and sell pictures of me.)  As one former My Archives member wrote to me:

I can recognize my work most of the time and most of these jerks refer to their items as part of “their private collections.”  I knew my Bettie photos would show up elsewhere but I still get cranky when I see my stuff pop up unattributed.  When a dirty little scumbag appropriates a Bettie that I paid $200 for and then spent a gazillion hours reconstituting and refining, I can’t stifle my rage.  EBay won’t answer my complaints and it doesn’t give you a proper way to report thieves.

EBay makes money from these thieves, but given the millions of legitimate auctions that take place each day, I wonder whey they facilitate felonious behaviour to earn a few thousand dollars a year.

***

The internet is still evolving and many who initially flocked to publish material have discovered that ideas and images are easily stolen.  Many sites will disappear during the next few years; their stories and pictures will vanish.  Newspapers have already found that it was not a good idea to provide information free of charge.  Porn sites that once offered free access are now charging their customers.  At present, I post my images on www.gloriadawn.wordpress at a low dpi and small size so clear prints cannot be produced from them.  They still can be shared by tumblr members using small-sized viewing devices, but if the effort and cost of maintaining my website becomes too onerous, and no one wants to purchase autographed photos, this site too will come down.

***

In an email to me, Tony T wrote:

Like you my main interest lies in the true vintage and retro periods, although I also like the early days of photography, the 1860s onwards – I think the ladies of the 1900s/1920s like the Ziegfeld beauties are something else.

My own feelings about the site have been gradually changing since they allowed firstly the 80s some years back when I voiced an opinion that it was the thin end of the wedge, then the 90s.  This latter has resulted in a takeover of modern posts that can be found on any porn site.

When I visited MA yesterday there were five pages of new posts since my previous visit the day before.  Four of the pages were 1990s videos.  In the gallery updates there were again five pages of which the major proportion was either 1990s models or silicone enhanced 1980s ones.  There were two sets of pictures from Harrison Marks Kamera magazine and a couple of other pictures that were of interest – so I suppose I should be grateful for small mercies.

All this from a site that started out to archive vintage and retro material before it was lost in the mists of time!

Like Tony, I feel that the site lost its original mandate once 1990s material was added.

***

My Archives is dead.  The list of model indices for the 1950s and 1960s – a massive undertaking – is no longer available.  It served as a wonderful resource for identifying models.   Many vintage models who had been identified and allotted folders will return to being “unknown.”  No other porn site provided this service for the vast number of women who graced figure magazines printed in the 1960s.  (The Spiderpool group is still attempting to identify a select group of models who worked during the 1950s.)

I miss the back-and-forth interactions with others who appreciated the classic porn era, interactions that provided information about the industry that I wasn’t aware of, even though I worked in it.  Now I still post stories about my experiences on my two wordpress blogs, but this format does not allow for back-and-forth discussions.

Perhaps it was inevitable that My Archives would die given the unhampered capturing of its images, the lack of protection from theft.  I am seriously wondering if I should continue to maintain the gloriadawn blog, or whether I should just write my stories and self-publish a few copies of a book to give to family and friends.  At least print endures.

My Modeling Names

February 28, 2011 at 4:48 am | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 5 Comments
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For my first modeling assignment, with Peter Gowland for Cavalier, I used my real name at the time – Gloria Moeser – and that is the name Cavalier used as well. I did this because:

  1. I was naive and thought all models used their real names;
  2. Neither Alice nor Peter Gowland suggested I adopt a special modeling name; and
  3. I thought this would be my one and only magazine appearance

When I acquired an agent, he asked me if I wanted to continue to use my real name. I thought about it for a minute. I wasn’t ashamed of my nude modeling and didn’t want to hide my identity. On the other hand, I didn’t want strangers phoning me – I was in the telephone book. So I decided to adopt the name “Gloria Dawn.” These were my first two names. People who knew me would still know it was me but strangers wouldn’t be able to locate me using a phone book. As a blond, I always signed model release forms with my real name and added the stipulation “to be called Gloria Dawn.”

The Model Release Form

In those innocent days of the 1960s, the model release form was the only contract a model signed. It gave the photographer the right to sell pictures of her taken on a specific date. Any stipulations placed by the model on this sale (such as the name to be used) were thus legally binding.

I have checked through all the magazines that feature me as a blond. The majority of them call me “Gloria Dawn.” In a couple – Topper, September 1962 and Flirt (date unknown), I am simply called “Gloria,” and a few don’t name me at all – Bachelor’s Best, Sir, Adam Bedside Reader, Figure Annual, Figure Quarterly, and Peter Gowland Photographs the Figure.

However, Sassy (v1, n3, no date), called me “Irma.” I am sure that it was not Ron Vogel, the photographer, who changed my modeling name but the magazine editor. Sassy went kaput after this issue. Also, in Madcap, (v1, n3, 1963), a Parliament Magazine, I was called “Annette Carey.” These Madcap photos were taken by Jim Sullivan and were part of a series with a painter that initially appeared in Rogue, October 1962. In Rogue I am called “Gloria Dawn.” Again, I believe it was not the photographer who changed my name but the magazine editor. These two magazine publications broke the written contract.

My modeling names started going wild after I dyed my hair black. During my first brunette session, with Bill Crespinel, I was more concerned with getting paid than with the name used, so my stipulation was that I be paid $50 before any pictures could be published. I don’t believe I stipulated a modeling name. Crespinel called me “Mary Hayes” in a layout he sold to Jaguar (November 1965) and “Ginger” in a layout sold to Frenchy (v1, n3, 1963). No name was attached to a large series of pictures sold to Romper (v1, n1, 1964).

Then I modeled for Keith Bernard. Keith came up with the name “Susan Norman” for me and stuck to this name during the several years that he sold my pictures. In only one case – a small picture in Ace (July 1968) – was a different name used for a Keith Bernard photo – “Brenda Barr.” I’m sure this also was a magazine editor’s decision.

Then I modeled for Mario Casilli in the blond wig. No name was attached to the pictures of me in this wig.

About this time, having returned to my agent, I decided I wanted to return to my “Gloria Dawn” modeling name. Unfortunately the next photographer my agent found for me was Elmer Batters, who worked exclusively for Parliament Magazines.  Parliament was the one company that ignored the model release contract. Thus far, photo layouts from that one-day modeling session with Batters have been found under the name “Sandra Lobo,” “Corinne Curry,” “Dallas Blair,” “Dorothy Eden,” “Gail Gavin,” and “The Mystery Stripper.”   A couple of weeks ago, a new one was found – “Antoinette Desiles.”   Parliament printed almost every photo Batters shot that day – bad pictures as well as good ones.  There could be more out there under new, and sometime incredible, names.

After my session with Batters, I bleached my hair back to blond. It came out dark blond. I never had a magazine photo session with this dark blond hair but I did take part in a soft-porn movie. Two still photographers worked on this movie set. I knew them both – Elmer Batters and Jim Sullivan. The still photographs were supposed to be used for lighting purposes and possibly publicity stills. In fact, the movie was never completed but some of these still photographs appeared in magazines. The Batters’ photos again appeared in Parliament magazines. The name “Leslie Southern” was used in one layout (Late Show, v2, n2, 1964) and in two layouts I appeared as “Donna Cole” (Tip Top, 1964; Thigh High, 1967). Jim Sullivan took photos of the party scene (with me in a blond wig) and either called me “Gloria” or didn’t use any name for me.

The oddest occurrence of being misnamed was in The Big Book of Legs (2008), edited by Dian Hanson. A full page picture of me was labeled “Susan Norman” but it was not a picture by Keith Bernard. Bernard was the only photographer who ever used the name “Susan Norman” in any magazine. I talked to Dian Hanson. The photo was supplied by Yesterday’s Girls, a company that bought all the photos from the American Art Agency which published Parliament Magazines. When they were trying to identify me, the owner of Yesterday’s Girls came up with “Susan Norman,” probably because he had seen pictures of me with black hair in “respectable” magazines where I was called “Susan Norman.”

I wish that the name “Gloria Dawn” had been used for me in all magazines. Not only would that make it easier to find my photos but also it would have increased my visibility as a model, especially as some of the pictures, such as the Donna Cole set, have become collectors’ items.

Shannon Moeser

Dallas Blair by Elmer Batters

Donna Cole by Elmer Batters

Properly Identified as “Gloria Dawn” in the Big Butt Book (Photograph by Elmer Batters)


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