Destructive Ignorance

We are days away from the election and I must say I am buzzing with anticipation. I think I’m going to follow in tangobaby’s lead and vote early. Hopefully without all the delays and judges and petitions and things.

I am not writing to tell you about my desire to vote early, however, I am writing to express my complete disgust with many people’s lack of desire to critically analyze the presidential candidates. I am not here promote one candidate or another, but to urge you to find out the facts about the matters that concern you most and please don’t base your decisions on the results you got by adding letters to the names of candidates.

“I can not vote for the Obama Biden team because it’s like voting for Osama Binladen. See if you change the B with an S in Obama, it becomes oSama and then insert the insert NLA after the”i” in Biden and it becomes biNLAden for OSAMA BINLADEN”

That is part of an actual email chain that I managed to get onto. It is disturbing to me that this person is less than the usual seven degrees of separation from me.

Please don’t let yourself be caught up in non-sense because it is very likely distracting you from the things that should actually be upsetting you. Imagine if you will, what we might be missing while we are caught up in conversations about anagrams and lipstick.

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Lens Decisions… Epic Fail

We made our way to Seattle for the weekend to help celebrate a new marriage. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to take some tips from a recent shutter sisters post on photographing friend’s weddings, but not being your friend’s wedding photographer. I excitedly rented the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR telephoto lens to help me catch moments without being in the faces of the subjects. It was an amazingly powerful lens but absolutely the worst choice for my needs. I was too close to the bride and groom and the other guests to make use of it!

I’m a lemons to lemonade type of girl though, so I turned my “capture-that-magic-wedding-moment” lens into a “pretend-I’m-a-cop-doing-surveillance-on-The-Wire” lens which was loads of fun even though it may not have produced the most captivating images. Especially since we were staying in a very quiet area of town. So I ended up with a lot of men-at work photos like these:

Things on the water photos like this:

And pictures of people and animals that were unaware they were being photographed:

I’m looking forward to meeting this lens again, just under more appropriate circumstances :)

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do it yourself

Last weekend we attended the ultimate do-it-yourself extravaganza – Maker Faire. I was fortunate to have connected up with an awesome group of folks from Homey Grown. They needed a photographer to document their participation in the Swap-O-Rama-Rama events and fashion show (and you know I’m always looking for any excuse to haul my camera around!).

There were endless amounts of things to see and do from crafty stuff, to robot wars, to bonsai gardening, to the human mouse trap to catching things on fire to art cars… and that is just the beginning. There are loads more pictures up at flickr if you feel like living vicariously through them or reliving your own experiences at the event :)

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Daylab

I was perusing* glancing through craigslist recently and came across a listing for a Polaroid transfer workshop. I’ve always had a little soft spot for Polaroids so I thought I should sign up for it. I see people using Photoshop to recreate the looks of these, but I am very happy I now know where that comes from and how to do it. The sad truth is that eventually (in the very near future) Polaroid film is simply not going to be available so this really will turn into a lost art form. That feels a little bit sad.

I had to get some of my digital images turned into slides for this project and wow was I impressed. I got a few of my own images done as well as a couple from our wedding. I forget how wonderful the color is on slides – it was a real treat. Maybe I’ll find myself an old slide projector so I have more use for these slides (as well as have an excuse to get more slides).

Anyway, Anna Fizyta taught the workshop. She has a lot of great examples of her various Polaroid manipulation projects on her website, you should check them out. All this Polaroid talk also reminded me of this great artist I met at the Utah Arts Festival named Joachim Knill. He built his own huge Polaroid camera and creates some really great images. He has done some off-the-wall scenes with food – three of which hang in my kitchen (bananas, tomato crossing and pear hikers).

*I’ve always used this word wrong and apparently so do many others. I have always used it to mean casually glancing through something, but in reality it means to read or review something with great detail…

**If you are ever tempted to buy those little two-minute in a box dishes from Trader Joe’s (Pad Thai, Kung Pao and Peanut Sauce), spare yourself. They sound like a good idea, but taste pretty awful.

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Chicago

I just returned from a great trip to Chicago where I got to help celebrate an up and coming bundle of joy, a new marriage and of course, old friendships. This trip was extremely rewarding and relaxing for me. I had a chance to do some fun portraits. I discovered that I definitely need more practice and I need some different lighting options.


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Kittens to the rescue

Occasionally when browsing photos on Flickr I will click on a thumbnail and get a message that says “This photo falls outside your current SafeSearch filter. You can click through to see it if you want.” And you have the option to click through or to return home. (For the record, the images that have given me this message have never been remotely unsafe [however I've stumbled on a number of photos that probably SHOULD have given me that message that didn't *shivers*])

Anyway, today I clicked through so I could see this (very safe) image and noticed this banner at the top

Ha! I love it. The chosen escape route is to the kitten pictures (which admittedly I’ve spent many hours looking at).

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The day to day

There are so may things about life right now that are tiresome and even more things that are wonderful. I think I’ll ramble on about the wonderful for a bit.

My two obsessions right now are the kitchen and the camera. My husband recently commented on the fact that the tripod has become a permanent fixture of the kitchen. I spend what free time I have cooking and baking and then taking pictures of my creations. I am getting a little bit better about posting things to Flickr so you should visit there sometimes.

Thursday is our second date with Mariquita Farm and her wonderful Mystery Box. I love the Mystery Box for two reasons. The first is that it leads us to an increase in our vegetable consumption, which is always a good thing (not to mention these are locally grown and organic!). The second and perhaps most exciting reason is the challenge to use up all this produce.This is not an easy challenge since there is A LOT of produce in this package (well considering there are only two of us) and some of this stuff I have never even heard of, let alone met in person.

Some of the highlights: an all vegetable Shepherd’s Pie (filled with chard, turnips, carrots, shallots, rapini, leeks, fennel, spring garlic and topped with sweet potatoes) and Meyer Lemon Crème Fraîche Pasta with Rapini. I still have a couple of turnips and a bunch of parsley left over that I need to work with and there was one vegetable that was entirely too bitter for me to use, but ultimately it was a success and I’m going to do it again. The challenge this go-round is that my partner in crime will be traveling a lot which means there will only be me to feed. I guess that means I’ll have to figure out some good recipes for freezing.

On a slightly unrelated note, my dear friend wrote an amazing post about her 5th graders perspective on politics. I think this might be the best article I’ve read on politics this election season.

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Whoa-oh-oh

Could it truly be that 30 has fallen upon me? Just like that! I have no real strong feelings on the matter, but am excited about what might become of me over the next decade. My parents are coming out to help celebrate. This is exciting because my parents are awesome and also because we really enjoy having visitors. It is an ideal time for us to do some exploring of our city that we are less likely to do when left to our own devices. I am especially excited to have a place of our own in which to host them.

So far, the festivities include a trip to Nola’s (I know, we just went there but I liked it so much I want to go back!), and tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon preceded by brunch at Mama’s. Should be a great weekend.

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The death of a Chicago icon (alternatively titled: farewell Pigeon Man)

I just read a very sad story that the Pigeon Man I used to always see perched on a fire hydrant covered in pigeons when I drove past Lincoln Square was hit and killed yesterday. Goodbye Joseph Zeman, your presence will be missed by many.
(photo credit: aestheticheart)

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Kids just (really don’t) love Santa

I came across a gallery dedicated to pictures of kids with Santa who would rather be anywhere but near this weird hairy dude. This gallery catalogs many generations of red faced screaming children atop the laps of jolly old St. Nicks. I am still laughing.

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Semi-pointless rant

I like coffee. I like espresso. I like it alone. I like it accompanied by the many forms of milk that exist. I don’t care for sweeteners.

I do not, however, like that many coffee houses of today make me order a flat (or no-foam) latte in order to get a true latte. Many people find themselves confused at the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, I am however not one of those people. I have decided to go ahead and give a brief explanation of the minor, but very important, differences between them.

The shortest version is that a latte should be 1/3 espresso and 2/3 steamed milk. A cappuccino should be 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and 1/3 foam.

I realize that foam just happens when you steam milk and there will likely be a light foamy cover on any drink that requires steamed milk. It is however not acceptable to have a measurable amount of the stuff. You just simply hold the foam back when you pour the milk and voila! you have a latte. Not to mention you also have extra foam for the customer who in fact wants a cappuccino.

In life there are small victories and there are small annoyances, both of which can have a large impact on one’s day.

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The gift of giving

The older I get, the less I find I need (or want) when it comes time for Christmas and birthday wish lists. This year I guided my office to stop the exchange of gifts and instead adopt a family that does not have the means to make their holiday wishes come true. We had a very successful fund raiser and now have a nice pot of cash to help this family put gifts under the tree and a hearty meal on the table. This feels so much better than having to drag home some new nick knack that will simply get thrown into our already overstuffed closets. I was so inspired by this that I suggested to my husband that we do the same thing. We’ve found that many of our own friends and family find themselves in the same situation in that they already have most of their needs met (and then some), so instead of exchanging gifts with them, we have adopted a family of our own. I would urge you all to look for programs like this in your area and participate in them.

Another project of mine was to help fund educational needs through proposals posted on DonorChoose.org. I’ve submitted a substantial funding request to my company’s foundation and hope that it will get selected so that some of the kids in the Bay Area may get some exciting new learning experiences thanks to my efforts. I highly recommend checking out DonorsChoose and see if any of the proposals catch your eye. The nice thing is that you do not have to completely fund any given proposal, you can simply donate the amount you see fit.

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Political Vigilantism

Apparently someone was repeatedly stealing campaign signs from a SLC resident’s front yard. The resident got so frustrated that he strung bells to the sign and slept in his living room, fully clothed, so he could catch the culprit. His strategy worked and he nabbed himself a 52-year-old Heintz who said that he had “been involved in a ‘strange incident’ and didn’t know why he did it.”

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Watch out two-wheeled world

I’ve had a strong desire to own and ride a scooter since I got my drivers license. I wanted to have a Volkswagen Thing and a Vespa, they were my dream automobiles. My first car was a VW Beetle and that helped curb my desire for an old VW, but I have yet to quench the Vespa thirst.

A couple of interrelated goals on my list are to own a scooter (I’m currently torn between the Buddy Italia and the Vespa GTV) and to complete a motorcycle training course to get my motorcycle license. The latter of these two is officially complete! Last Wednesday I attended the classroom portion of the motorcycle training and then bright and early Saturday and Sunday I hit the range for 10 hours worth of drive time and on-the-bike instruction. After being on a motorcycle for two days, I started wondering if perhaps I would rather have a bike instead of a scooter. Only time will tell which two-wheeled machine will make its way into my heart.

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We can work it out

I recently came across a great project that I think everyone should try (at least in some form) 101 Goals in 1001 Days.

I am still in the brainstorming stage trying to iron out all of my goals. At this point I’ve only come up with 40 and it has been really tough to dig up more without them feeling like fluff. Even though I haven’t officially started on the action plans, I have certainly started taking action on some things on my list and that in itself feels pretty great.

Today I came across a great article at Zen Habits that lists advice to help with one of my most important goals, to maintain a healthy and happy marriage. Since it is brand new, I want to be sure we start off strong and that it stays that way.

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Ride Well

One of my few gripes with San Francisco is the poor public transportation etiquette I’ve experienced, especially during rush hours. The most heinous of these offenses is when people stand in front of the doors of the train while they are waiting to board and once the doors open, they immediately begin cramming in instead of standing aside so that people can exit first. I do not recall having this problem in any other city.

Some other barley less offensive behaviors include:
* Standing in the entryway of the train instead of moving to the middle (surely this is due to the first offense listed, people are understandably worried they won’t be able to get off the train)
* People who don’t take empty seats and instead help make the already crowded aisles even more crowded
* People not giving up seats when elderly, handicapped, pregnant, etc. people board
* Lastly, people that listen to music (generally really crappy copies of said music on really crappy mp3 cell phones) without headphones

Apparently I’m not the only one who feels this way as a guide to riding BART and MUNI has been compiled, with a very comprehensive list of tips (and pictures!). Everyone that rides public trans in any city should read through this and keep all these tidbits in mind to make everyone’s riding experience a little better.

As you might have guessed, step 4 is definitely my favorite.

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Spare some change?

Radiohead has managed to sneak in an album release on October 10th. It has been some 4 years since their last release with former record label EMI. What makes this release special is that they are offering the album as a digital download and they are letting their fans decide how much they want to pay for it. That’s right, you feel like paying a buck? You get the album. You feel like paying twenty bucks? You get the album.

Way to rage against the corporate record label machine!

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Home is where?

After a slow start and some no-show moving buddies we managed to move into our new place on Sunday. Many thanks to those of you that did show up to help, it means so much to us. We did not get much unpacked, but got the bed setup so we had a place to sleep. Now begins the painful process of finding homes for all the stuff in the boxes stacked precariously in the spare bedroom.

The cats were pretty wigged out with all the packing and moving going on around them. We brought them up to the new place after all the moving was complete. June was hesitant for about 3 seconds and then began running around, checking out every nook and cranny and seemed very pleased with the place. Henry did not fare as well. He wouldn’t even come out of the cat carrier that we had to force him into 30 minutes earlier. When we did get him out, he crouched low to the ground and wandered around suspiciously until he found a closet corner to hide in. He wanted nothing to do with the place. He wouldn’t even eat, he just hid under the bed. By last night he would follow us into the living areas, still paranoid, but he’s getting more comfortable by the hour.

These next few weeks will be long as we head into the wedding… between unpacking and pulling together the last minute wedding details, I also have to deal with school – argh! Not to mention my fiancé will be out of town starting Friday and we will not see each other until we arrive in SLC for the wedding.

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I felt that pain

Well I guess I wasn’t the only person who suffered from Wells Fargo’s outages yesterday. I had gone in to get the certified check needed to complete our real estate transaction and they could not verify the funds in our account and in turn could not “certify” a check. After many hours, the system was still not up and the bank VP had to approve they cut a check even though they couldn’t verify the funds. Too bad I didn’t know about this ahead of time to somehow exploit it. :)

My other thought on real estate – at least we got a loan. Sounds like had we waited a few days, we would have joined the club of other qualified buyers unable to get funding.

Now we begin the tasks of packing up all of our stuff (blech) and painting (weee!). Hopefully we’ll have that all done this weekend and then labor day weekend, we can move! We’ve managed to recruit a few generous friends to help us with the moving process, which is so awesome. Fortunately we don’t have much stuff to begin with so the move should go super fast with the extra hands.

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Cities made of Jello

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