Early in 1978, N and I began planning a photographic and backpacking expedition to South America. In preparation, I started taking handwritten notes in a normal, college ruled, spiral bound notebook. Initially used to record names, locations, and facts about ruins and interesting places to visit in Mexico, one of our possible travel stops; and then used to take notes about backpacking and outdoor survival techniques; this notebook (along with two others, throughout the course of over nine months) was ultimately used to keep a day by day, blow by blow account of where we went, what we saw, who we met, what we did, and what we ate, drank, and smoked. These notebooks contain a record of our actions, adventures, and innermost thoughts as we traversed, explored, experienced, and photographed our way through the United States, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
These journals were never intended to be read by anyone except me. Names are often written as single letters, words get replaced by abbreviations or symbols, and many references are made to unexplained sources (N & I know what they mean). Slang and profanity, Spanish words, and poor syntax abound.
In 1993 I began a project to revive and restore the several thousands of 35mm slides N and I took during our travels together. This took many months of painstaking manual slide duplication using a complex flash - slide stage - macro - bellows - camera setup, the result of which was one of the world's best privately held Slide Shows. This experience of revisiting all of our 20 year old images reawakened my rememberances of the South America experience, and I wanted more.
So, In 1994, I undertook to transcribe my original handwritten journals into typewritten text, both for the purpose of making legible copies for posterity, and for the opportunity to relive and remember as much of those days as I could. During this transcription, I duplicated, as exactly as possible with typewritten text and computer graphics (on an old MAC, using FrameMaker software), the precise appearance of those notebooks, literally from front cover to back cover, preserving the individual content of each page, each paragraph, and line. I included "margin notes" in their exact out-of-line positions, and I included recreations of doodles and illustrations drawn to accompany some of the entries. After my return to the United States, these journals were stored away in a cardboard box, accompanied by associated receipts, letters, hand drawn maps, and odd bits of paper gathered during our adventures. I transcribed those, too.
Years passed. Digital technology, and my ability to utilize it grew. In 2001, with the help of a Nikon LS2000 digital scanner, and programs such as PhotoShop, I began to scan and optimize many of our best photographs. It became apparent that with the new techniques available to me, these images could be reproduced with a quality never before possible using only analog tools. I could now remove dust spots and scratches, correct color balance, adjust contrast and saturation, sharpen and crop, all within the computer. So, with digital images now available, I undertook to create a web site containing these images in combination with the text of my journals.
Unfortunately, the software and techniques I had used to transcribe my journals were not compatible with web based publication. To create a web site with this text required a reformatting of the text, which on the one hand, destroyed the precise page by page and line by line accuracy of the transcription, but on the other hand, allowed me to sanitize (slightly), spell check, and otherwise format the text to be more accessable to the unknown reader.
Thus, April Fools is the combination of our best images, digitally re-mastered, and of my journals, transcribed and reformatted.. But what does "April Fools" mean? You'll have to read it to find out.
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Each of the original journals has become a "Book". The locations of the separations between books does not correspond exactly to the originals. Except for the first few pages, the front and back covers of the journals, and certain specific notes and miscellaneous scraps, which still preserve the look and feel of the original, all the text has been re-formatted into paragraphs and divided into chapters that never existed in the original. The margin notes and doodles have been converted to footnotes. Click the numbered links within the text to see the footnotes, click the footnote's number to return to the text. Where photographs are mentioned in the text, click the camera symbol to see the photo. Some images are "animated": usually a "blend" of pictures. The blinking camera symbol indicates animations.
Beginning with the Prologue and continuing with all the numbered chapters, the text and photos will be presented in a frame based format, with with the text in the left hand frame, and photos in the right. The thumbnail photos are in a more or less chronological order. Picking any of them will bring up another window showing the picture at a larger size. The large size photos average 100k to 120k; not fast with a slow speed dial-up connection. The animations can be more than 200k.
Links at the top and bottom of each chapter that will take you to the previous chapter, the Table of Contents, and to the next chapter. At the tops and bottoms of the single pages you will find links to take you backward, to the Table of Contents, and forward.
All of the chapters now have music. Some of the music is even appropriate for its chapter. Some of the music is original (not by me or N.) and some is blatently pirated from tapes, LPs, and CDs, and friends with tapes, LPs, and CDs. Each tune is in the RealPlayer format. You can downloaded RealPlayer for free. The music controls are at the top of the page, and you can pause, stop, or start the tune again.