[Taken 23.1.05 | Sunset in winter | Centerville, OH]
This picture of the wooded area next to my apartment complex was taken just before the sun went down. I really like the soft, "old-timey" feel that it has.
Sixty years ago today thousands of prisoners were freed from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. Did we as a people learn anything from the atrocities that were committed during WWII? Looking at everything that has taken place in the decades that have passed between then and now, I would have to sadly conclude that we have learned nothing. Sixty years from now, what will people remember?
Events like this help us look at the world in a different way. It is like why I am into photography I like the fact that it helps me to see the world in a different way, and that it makes me stop and really look at things, as opposed to just seeing them. And now this is turning out to be a really depressing and introspective entry, even though I certainly don't mean for it to be. It is just something that needs to be acknowledged and remembered.
Ans to end on an uplifting note... tomorrow morning I hop on a plane for Ithaca, NY. I will get to see Clay and Mike and Erica and Chris and anyone else from my Cornell days who might still be hanging around town. And I will get to see Cornell and the town and as much of the surrounding area as I can on a weekend trip. Wheeeee!
[Taken 24.1.05 | The full moon through tree branches | Centerville, OH]
I have been taking a lot of inspiration lately from the guys at Orbit1 and No Traces who do some REALLY nice stuff with long exposures and night photography. Last night was beautiful... a full moon and some thin and wispy clouds blowing across the sky. After belly dance class I stopped at home long enough to grab my camera and associated equipment, and headed out to a small park a couple of blocks away.
I think I got some good shots out of last night's photo session, and this one is my favorite out of the lot. I especially like the way that the clouds are moving accross the sky and the glimpses of the stars. It is burned out a little bit right over the full moon, but that was difficult to avoid. Most of the shots I ended up being a little bit burned out around the moon. The little bit of orange light at the bottom right edge is the glow from an orange sodium-vapor light near where I parked my car. I decided not to crop it out because I thought it added a touch of interest to the composition.
[Taken 2.1.05 | Spiral Leaves | San Diego, CA]
And another from the "neat stuff I saw in San Diego" series. I swear that I will post some new stuff soon.
I had my second belly dance class tonight, in which I learned that I need to practice a LOT more. It is too easy to slip out of the proper stance when I am not thinking about it. I need to get to the point where I can stay in the stance without thinking about it... because if I still need to concentrate on stance when we move out of the really really basic stuff and on to more complex stuff, then I am going to be in big trouble.
John is out of town this week... he is spending some time at a couple of shops in Kentucky whipping them into shape. He will get home Thursday night, just in time for us to say "hi" to each oth
[Taken 3.1.05 | Dramatic Sky | San Diego, CA]
The sky over San Diego, in between one rainstorm and the next.
Not much to say about this weekend. I pretty much holed up in the apartment and read most of it. John and I went out to dinner on Friday - to a really nice Italian place in the Oregon District. Saturday evening we drank martinis and watched the classic movie The Thin Man. I think that I need to rent and watch more of the Thin Man movie series... And tonight we went sledding for a little while. Not an overly dynamic of exciting weekend, but a nice weekend.
[Taken 2.1.05 | Elephant! | San Diego Zoo, CA]
I like elephants. Except when they are being used to symbolize the Republican party. Really... this is an insult to the elephant!
Today, Bush is being crowned... excuse me... "inaugurated" for his second term in office as president of the United States . I am not very happy about this, "un-patriotic liberal" that I am, and I am even less happy about the song-and-light-show, inauguration extravaganza hoopla that Bush is throwing. I knew why I was unhappy, but I was having trouble trying to articulate to my satisfaction exactly why this was so. Yesterday, I found an editorial in the New York Times that does an excellent job of explaining, concisely and matter-of-factly, why so many Americans are so displeased with the inauguration plans.... and which I have taken the great liberty of excerpting below.
(Yes, I read the NY Times. Online. Daily. I suppose that this makes me a tool of the liberal media.)
While I agree with the first lady's assertion that "there's a symbolic aspect of the inauguration that ... you never want to - for any reason - cancel it," I think that she and the president are missing the real point.
It's not the inauguration that people are shaking their heads at. It's the fact that while this administration asks so much of our citizens, it is unwilling or unable to demonstrate any moral leadership during this time of war and natural disasters.
How refreshing it would be to see a scaled-back inauguration, with a significant portion of the money raised for the celebrations going to charities that desperately need additional funds. Such an action would, at the least, indicate that the president and his friends were aware that we are living in difficult times.
We, the people, are being asked to be patriotic, support our troops and increase our charitable contributions, while our leaders are being asked ... to party. That's the issue.
I wish I could articulate my dissatisfaction and unease as well as the writers of the NY Times. But then, if I could, I would be a writer and not a visually-oriented computer geek.
And don't even get me started on Bush's plans for overhauling Social Security. The scare tactics that Bush is using to try and promote this agenda aside, I don't know (and I don't have the economic or financial background to fairly evaluate the situation) if Social Security is "broken" or not. (Though the Three Blind Mice could tell that Medicaid IS in severe crisis, not that you hear Bush worrying about that.) But I do know that even if it is in dire need of "fixing" that G. Dubya Bush is the last person on earth that I would trust with the job. He would probably do about as good a job "fixing" Social Security as he did "fixing" Iraq.
[Taken 2.3.05 | Coronado Beach | San Diego, CA]
Most of yesterday is better left unmentioned. Suffice to say that I spent much of the day feeling like I had vaseline smeared on my corneas everything seemed distant and fuzzy and it was very difficult to focus. Maybe I need to get my eyes checked again? I know that I have bad vision, but I had hoped that my eye surgeries would "last" longer.
The only really notable event was that I had my "first" belly dance lesson last night. I say "first" with the ironic quotes because I actually took quite a lot of belly dance lessons at one point, but that was long, long ago and far, far away in a land known as "college". And since it has been such a long time, I figured that it would be best to start at the beginning. This turned out to be a good idea, as it seems that most, if not all, of my belly dance muscles have atrophied through years of non-use.
After getting home from belly dance, I put on my flannel pajamas and napped on the couch while "watching" (again with the ironic use of quotation marks) the Food Network until it was late enough to justify going to bed. It was just that kind of day.
And now for the college hot tub anecdotes that were mentioned the other day
Risley Hall (Risley Residential College for the Creative and Performing Arts) where I lived for three of my four undergraduate years at Cornell, was fondly known as "the freak dorm". This was probably due to the very high number of art, theater, and architecture majors who lived there along with most of the rest of the "eccentric" and "non-mainstream" crowd. I am talking goths, pagans, vegans, vegetarians, eco-freaks, and run of the mill artsy people. Anyway. Lots of odd and creative people lived there. The back courtyard of Risley was pretty private three sides were the U-shaped walls of the dorm, and the fourth side was bordered by Fall Creek gorge. This is where we, the residents of Risley Hall, conducted our nocturnal, clothing optional, hot tubbing activities. We called this "doing pool". The "pool" in question was actually a plastic kiddie wading pool that we would drag out into the courtyard and fill with hot water by running a hose from the utility sink tap in the dorm laundry room out the window and to the pool. Then we would lounge around in the pool drinks in hand, towels and snacks close by on purloined folding chairs. (We did pool year round, in all weather except for pouring rain. For some reason this scenario never appealed to anyone.) Pool in winter was especially popular, as I suppose it seemed extra decadent to be sitting in steaming water in the midst of a gentle (or not so gentle, this was in upstate NY after all) snowfall.
There was also this terribly masochistic thing that we would do during winter pools, which was egging each other on/daring each other to do a "snow roll". This is exactly what it sounds like you would get out of pool and run around the courtyard and roll around in the snow for as long as you could stand it before getting back into the pool. We would also have snowball fights. You really haven't seen wacky until you have seen naked people having a midnight snowball fight.
And before you start asking questions about campus security and public indecency, as long as the happy wet naked Risley hot tubbers stayed in the Risley back courtyard, campus security pretty much left them (us) alone. It was only when people did stuff like, say, streak the all-girls dorm across the street that campus security felt the need to get involved.
[Taken 2.1.05 | Fat, happy, exotic duck | San Diego Zoo, CA]
There were a lot of exotic duck breeds in the various aviaries at the San Diego Zoo. I thought that this little guy was pretty cute. I admit to having a bit of a soft spot for ducks, since when I was a kid in Cleveland I had a small pen of pet ducks (Mallards and a couple of Peking Whites) in the backyard. At one point, I really wanted a dog - what kid doesn't? - so I made little collars and leashes out of fabric and yarn and walked the ducks up and down the sidewalks in my neighborhood. We must have made quite an interesting sight....
I spent most of this weekend alternating between lounging on the couch with my booty from the Centerville Library, and exchanging manual labor for pizza and beer. Sarah and Mike took possession of their new house this weekend, and, in the time-honored tradition of friends of new homeowners everywhere, I have been helping them paint. The expectation is, of course, that one day, when I am a new homeowner, they will help ME paint. They have a really nice house... hardwood floors, fireplace, great kitchen, and a hot tub on the back deck. They are planning on having quite the housewarming bash when they are all moved in and unpacked, and I am looking forward to it... and to trying out that hot tub! Mmmm... sitting outside, in hot water, the snow falling gently around, and with a cold drink in hand. It will be just like being an undergraduate and living in Risley Hall again. (Long story there... I will write it out here one of these days...)
[Taken 3.1.05 | The Coronado | San Diego, CA]
The day before John and I were due to return to Dayton from our fabulous winter time California vacation, it was finally nice enough (briefly) to go for a walk on the beach. I got to fulfill my desire to stand barefoot on a beach, in the surf from the Pacific Ocean, in January. However, I left my fleece on. Those winds from off the ocean are chilly! The Coronado is a long thin peninsula that extends into the San Diego Bay and is host to some marvelous beaches, a lot of (most likely) very very very expensive homes, and a naval base.
Friday! Oh yeah! Oooooo....FRIDAY!
I am not usually a very impulsive person, but in a burst of spontaneous impulsiveness this afternoon, I bought plane tickets to go to Ithaca, NY. I have several very lovely friends who live there who I have not seen in far too long. I have been talking vaguely for quite a while about how "I really ought to get up there to visit them sometime". And this afternoon, I decided that sometime was NOW. So I emailed the travel office at work and told them where I wanted to go and when I wanted to go, and they took care of everything. Because why go online and poke around sites like Expedia and Priceline when you have access to a travel agency who is more then happy to do all of that boring stuff for you?
Also, I finished some rather complex updates to a prototype I have been working on at work, AND I got in some significant editing to a UI spec. Go me.
I think that I deserve a martini.
[Taken 2.1.05 | A Galapagos Tortoise eats lunch | San Diego Zoo, CA]
Today was a day was a day.
I felt a lot like this tortoise... very ponderous and slow moving, looking mournfully out through the cage of the workweek toward the wild hedonism of the weekend.
[Taken 2.1.05 | Unidentified Flower | San Diego Zoo, CA]
The second in my series of pretty, yet unidentified, flowers seen at the San Diego Zoo.
I was still feeling a bit sickish last night, so I opted to stay home from fencing in favor of laying on the couch, drinking mint tea and watching shows on TLC about restoring classic hot rods. John went to fencing. John got to miss the excitement.
The aforementioned excitement included alarms and strobe lights and police and firemen in their fire trucks, with their own lights and sirens. There was also a thunderstorm with some pretty cool lightning, but that is tangential to the whole story. Ahem. I was lying on the couch when I heard this odd "bleeeeeeeh" sound. I got up to investigate, and when I couldn't figure out where it had come from or what it was, I returned to the couch. Which is about when the fire alarm stopped practicing and went off for real. I jumped up, threw open the balcony door, and started to flap a scarf at the smoke detector, while simultaneously trying to figure out what on earth could be on fire in the apartment and how on earth to make the noise go away. Eventually I figured out that my smoke detectors were not, in fact, the source of the noise and wandered out of my apartment (hands over ears), down the hall (noticing the flashing strobe lights from the hallway alarms), and down the stairs. A bunch of my apartment neighbors were already clustered around the front door. As soon as they saw me, they all started yelling "Call 911! Call 911!". What, do none of you people have phones? Or maybe I just looked really competent and responsible? Must have been the latter because I went back to my apartment to get my cell phone, and walked all the way out to the middle of the parking lot (In the rain! In my stocking feet!) so that the 911 operator and I could hear each other over the shrieking alarm. My neighbors were kind enough to hold the front door for me so that I didn't get locked out of the building. (In the rain! In my stocking feet!)
Eventually both the police and the men from the fire department showed up, and eventually the problem was found (there was a leak somewhere and water had dripped into the alarm control box and caused a short circuit) and the alarm was disconnected. One of the guys from the fire department explained that the individual smoke detectors in our apartments would still work, and what had been disconnected was the alarm/alert thingy (my term) that would automatically send an message to the fire station if it went off, and that if one of our smoke alarms went off, we would have to call 911 ourselves. Well buddy, your alarm/alert thingy must not have been doing its job too well, because I STILL had to call 911 to get anyone out here even after it had been going off for the better part of a half hour. So much for quick response
Excitement over, I lit three scented votive candles when I returned to my apartment. Because you know that I am all defiant of the fates like that. Yo.
Today was much calmer then last night, though the weather is disturbingly warm and damp. Does it really need to be 65 degrees in January? Yes, this is southern Ohio, but please it is not THAT far south.
[Taken 2.1.05 | Flower | San Diego Zoo, CA]
Since the weather here has been generally lousy and un-winter-like with lots of torrential rain and very little snow (other then the storm just before Christmas) here is a pretty flower to brighten things up. I actually have no idea what kind of flower it is, other then obviously a tropical one. I took this picture at the San Diego Zoo, where there are loads of pretty, tropical flowers and plants just sitting out all over the place.
Sometimes meetings are dull, sometimes interesting, generally informative, and occasionally a bit slaphappy. One of my meetings today degenerated at one point to an endless debate about whether or not the [product generated] title for some of the screens needed to be “guaranteed unique” to the database, especially since it was just going to be there for the sake of user clarity and not because there was any database-driven reason for it to be there. The debate ended with one exasperated librarian/technician saying to another, “Your first name is not guaranteed unique, but we still use it to identify you on a regular basis.” The point being that, geeze, not everything has to be 100% unique in order for the user to be able to identify it. We don't want to over-engineer this thing after all…
Under the weather is a pretty appropriate phrase considering the weather here lately, which has alternated between grim and overcast, and grim and pouring rain. (Get it? Rain? Under the weather? Ha ha!) All I have really felt like doing is curling up on the couch under the old comforter and reading. John is such an incredibly patient person.
[Taken 1.1.05 | The Midway | San Diego, CA]
The aircraft carrier Midway is permanently anchored in the San Diego bay as a sort of floating museum. I wasn't sure what I would think of it, since I was not sure (especially given my reaction to my first visit to the US Air Force Museum here in Dayton) that it was quite my cup of tea. But I enjoyed it. For one thing, The Midway was a lot smaller then the air force museum. It was a lot less crowded, and the displays were a lot more focused. (Rather then trying to squish the entire history of airplanes and aerial warfare into a couple of hangers, this was the history of a single aircraft carrier.) It was neat, especially since up until that day, I hadn't really ever given aircraft carriers any thought at all.
This shot was taken from one of the elevators (the huge ones that were used to shift around planes) up to the flight deck. You can see the bottom of the flight deck and off in the distance, two operational aircraft carriers. One of them, and I am not sure which, is the Regan. I am not sure what the name of the other is.
[Taken 30.12.04 | Spinning Teacups | Disneyland, Anaheim CA]
The first full day that John and I spent in San Diego was his Dad's birthday. And, as the birthday boy, he got to decide on the day's itinerary... which was to go to Disneyland. Prior to this, my only Disney theme park experience was Disney World and Epcott in Florida, and it had been more then a dozen years since I had been there. Disneyland was great. As much fun as I had at Disney World as a kid, I think I enjoyed the Disney experience even more as an adult. We went on all of the rides that I remembered from Disney World; Pirates of the Caribbean, the Spinning Teacups, the Jungle Cruise, the Haunted Mansion, Star Wars... some exceptions were Space Mountain (closed for maintenance), Big Thunder Mountain (lines were too long) and It's a Small World (way too irritating!).
I was surprised, though maybe I shouldn't have been, at the crowds. Some parts of the park, like New Orleans Square where we had lunch, were wall-to-wall people. Standing room only. I knew that Disneyland was a lot smaller then Disney World, so I should have expected the crowding, but still... wow.
I had fun with my camera. One of my goals was to try to capture the color and the excitement of the spinning teacups ride in Fantasyland. (Most of my Disneyland shots ended up being studies of the teacup ride... taken while we all stood in line.) I tried various combinations of shutter speed and aperture to try to capture the excitement of the riders, as well as keep some motion blurring. Sometime you like a little bit of blur for action shots, sometimes you really prefer stop-action. I think that this is one of the better pictures I took of the teacups.
When we got on the ride, John and I had fun trying to spin our teacup as fast as we could. I can remember from visiting Disney World with my family, my brothers and I all piling into a teacup and spinning it as hard and fast as we could... with the object of trying to make each other sick.
[Taken 30.12.04 | Disneyland is full | Disneyland, Anaheim CA]
We saw this sign on the way out of the park at the end of the day. Obviously, Disneyland is a popular winter break destination. I know that I enjoyed it.
No photo today. Sorry. John and I went to the library yesterday after work and as a consequence I spent the evening happily reading.
One of the things I got for Christmas is a neat calendar – “Wild Words from Wild Women” – which is a bunch of quotes on a variety of topics from various famous, infamous, and influential women. (I love day-to-day calendars. I freely admit to reading them all of the way through when I first open them.)
Anyway, here is the quote from January 1: “We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” – Ellen Goodman.
In this spirit, I would like to present something other then the usual “cracks to be patched”, self-improvement shopping list that gets abandoned before the end of February. My goal is to take some stuff I am doing already, and, as Emeril says, “kick it up a notch”.
The key to creating a list of New Year's Resolutions that will actually be kept is the keep it both reasonable and SHORT.
- Continue to work on my photography. (Like this will be a hard one.)
- There are a couple of photo clubs in the area that I have been eying, and I just need to take the plunge and actually go and check them out.
- Build a new computer to support photo editing (and maybe a good game or two). It has been a while since I last built myself a box, and I suspect that it will be much easier now then it was then – especially since last time round I had to futz with those pesky jumper settings on the motherboard….
- Improve my management of finances. Sure, I do a pretty good job right now, but I want to keep a closer eye on my budget in the coming year, especially my goal is to buy a house and become landed gentry.
- Also to this end, seriously pay down all of my outstanding debts, which basically amount to my car and my student loan payments.
- Improve my physical fitness. I go to the gym at my complex a couple of times a week now, but I could go more often.
- Learn how to bake good bread. I will have John help me with this one…
- Keep in touch with old friends. Thank god for email and IM.
- Install Moveable Type on this site. Ha ha haaa! You knew this one was coming, didn't you? John thinks that I need to set myself a deadline for this one, or it will never get done. Okay. Hmmm… How about this. My self-imposed deadline for installing Moveable Type on this site is February 14, 2005 . That way, if I make my goal, then I can celebrate by going out and eating chocolate. And, if I miss my goal… I can console myself by going out and eating chocolate.
2004 in review. Did anything interesting happen this year?
- I was offered a position with Elsevier, based at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton , OH .
- Sarah got married, and I was her maid of honor.
- I moved from Ann Arbor to Centerville , OH .
- I started to travel for my job. A lot. ( Boston , Pittsburgh , Chicago , Winston-Salem , San Francisco , San Diego , Edinburgh , London , Basel , Toronto …) I like traveling.
- John and I moved in together.
- I bought a Canon Digital Rebel (my Preciousss) and started to get more serious about photography.
- Two of my best friends in Ann Arbor had a baby.
- Sarah and her husband Mike bought a house (and want me to help decorate… it seems that they think I have a good sense of color and design or something).
- I met John's family in San Diego.
2004 was a good year.
[Taken 12.12.04 | Bill Yeck Park | Centerville, OH]
This is an older (sort of) picture and is one of the ones I took early in December when John and I went for a walk in one of the parks in Centerville. Tall weeds gone to seed in the very late fall/beginning of winter. Of course, this meadow is probably under water right now, what with the two feet of snow that have come and gone and the current constant downpours in this corner of the US.
It looks like unpacking and readjusting after vacation is going to take a couple of days. Plus I am pretty tired after work, and in not much of a mood to write a lot or do much in the way of photo editing. I don't even much feel like playing Diablo II and hacking apart zombies. Maybe I beat my computer and internet addiction when I went cold turkey in San Diego over the past week? Geeze, I hope not. But that doesn't change the fact that I would rather just lay on the couch and read right now.
[Taken 25.12.04 | Christmas morning sunrise| Cleveland, OH]
I took this picture at around 7:00am on Christmas morning at my parents' house. I shot it through the glass doors leading to the back deck, and managed to avoid (mostly) glare and reflections from the glass. I wasn't about to go outside for the sake of a "cleaner" shot since there was about 2.5 feet of snow on the deck (I was in pajamas) and it was -3 degrees.
John and I got back from San Diego this evening. We sort of unpacked, and he is already playing PC games and I have already downloaded all 267 pictures that I took while in CA. Also, there was a pizza delivered.
The short version of the trip: it rained a lot, but who cares since we had a ton of fun anyway? We went to Disneyland, toured the Midway (aircraft carrier), visited the San Diego Zoo, went to the Coronado where I stood barefoot in the Pacific (even though I refused to take off my fleece due to the stiff ocean breeze), and much more. It was nice to be able to hang out with Ted again, and John's family out in CA (Dad, Pam, and Lori) are all way cool. Most evenings John's Dad and I would load all of the pictures that had been taken onto his computer and have digital slideshows. The long version of the trip will have to wait for another day or two since I will need about that long to get used to real (non-vacation) life and edit pictures.
Now I need to go unpack more and get ready for work tomorrow. John has tomorrow off, and gets to prolong his vacation by one extra day. He also gets to go grocery shopping when he gets tired of his new computer games.