geekdom : Oh Fair New Mexico

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by Karen Fayeth

What? No. Thinking Businessey Things.

My employer is weird. This is known. And one of the weird things they like is to have portraits done of all of us minions every couple years.

The employer has a professional, award-winning photographer on staff and in addition to his amazing photos of amazing science, the poor guy also has to sit in a conference room while a parade of geeks, nerds, scientists, engineers, and dorks like me clomp through.

Last time I had a work photo taken, it was two years ago. It was a humid day. I had to walk up a steep hill to get to the place where the photos were being done. I was running late because I couldn’t find a parking spot.

I’d sweated my makeup off and my hair frizzed to cotton candy status. Then I sat down and had my photo taken. It’s awful. And it’s published on my department’s website for all to see.

We’re encouraged to use that photo as our email avatar. Nope.

Today is the day when new company photos are being taken. Argh. I have been, to put it mildly, obsessed about this. I want my new professional work photo to be something I am willing to look at.

Yesterday I carefully examined all of the photos of my coworkers in the photo archive to assess what works and what doesn’t. This morning I curled my hair. I put on makeup. I fussed.

At about twenty minutes before my appointment time, I sat at my desk fretting. I decided to open Photobooth on my Mac to get a real look at how things were working and what needed fixing.

I gazed into my laptop camera and took a couple shots. I evaluated the smile, the hair, the lipstick then I went back in to try again.

I was staring the camera dead on, trying to smize when in my peripheral vision I see one of the auditors come walking down the aisle. The very serious big 4 outside auditors here doing serious stuff like auditing financials. And here I am, a manager, supposed professional, at my desk selfie’ing.

So I tried to play it off real quick. I looked away and was acting all like “no, no selfies here.” And “Yeah it’s cool, ain’t no thing.”

And then the Photobooth “flash” popped (it flashes a blank white screen). Busted.

Yeah. Um.

Anyhow, I took that photo of my shame, cropped it, sent it through an Instagram filter and now it’s arty. Thoughtful. Meditative.

Nah, it’s just me trying to look cool and failing miserably. Welcome to Dorkville, population me.

I sure hope my professional photo turns out a lot better.




Thinking so hard right now.







Photo Copyright ©2015 Karen Fayeth and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. Please don’t use this photo elsewere. I’m asking nice. Photo made with Photobooth, Instagram and my special brand of genetic dorkiness.




A Shiny New Toy

My fascination with bridges is pretty well documented. I have a mini project going on in my creative background to photograph bridges (and rivers, boy do I love rivers!).

This weekend I had a nice opportunity to photograph a brand spanking new bridge.

For years, ok pretty much since I moved to the Bay Area, I have railed about the eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The western span is a beautiful, elegant suspension bridge while the eastern span is a bunch of clunky tinker toys, better known as a cantilever bridge.

Here’s a photo I took from the upper deck of the tinker toy:



Image Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth

This part of the bridge is very functional but not very aesthetically pleasing. At least in my personal opinion (others disagree).

You’ll recall that in 1989, this was also the section of the Bay Bridge that collapsed during the Loma Prieta earthquake.



Image from Wikipedia and used under a Creative Commons license.


If that photo don’t make your heiney pucker, than you have a set of brass nerves that I just don’t have.

In the wake of the 1989 earthquake, planning and work began to replace this span of the Bay Bridge with something more seismically stable. This project was not cheap and it was not simple, but by gum, now some 24 years later the brand spanking new eastern span of the Bay Bridge opened up to the public last night.

Traffic reports this morning were pretty bleak as plenty of people crammed onto the new span for their first ride.

Yesterday The Good Man and I sought to escape the breeze-less heat at our happy home and drove out to the marina near Emeryville, which offers unobstructed views of the City, the bridges and downtown Oakland. I took my camera along as I am part of a photography club and this month’s theme is landscapes.

Here is my semi-artistic view of the new eastern span (to the far left in the photo) and how it blends is perfectly with the existing buildings and landscape of the San Francisco city line (that’s the top of the iconic Transamerica building just to the right of the new bridge).

At first I was no fan of the white paint on the new span, but now I’ve come to love it. This new suspension bridge really stands out against the backdrop and claims its own place in Bay Area history.



Image Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth


Hard to tell from this photo, but there are no cars on the deck of the bridge. Who knows how many years will pass before we see that again!

And while I’m excited to the point of hyperactivity about this gorgeous new suspension bridge and looking forward to seeing it every day as I drive to work, I find something curious is happening.

The news reports say that the moment the new bridge is up and running, the old eastern span will be dismantled. The pieces will come out in the reverse order they went in and much of the metal will be sold for scrap. This makes me a bit sad. It seems that ugly ol’ bridge found a way into my heart. Those 1934 era tinker toys now mean something to me, and I’m more than sad to see them go.

In the wake of this shiny new toy, that unseismically sound bridge now seems awfully lovely. In the many months I commuted to the east bay across the Bay Bridge (before I made the big move), I learned to love the forgotten little sister to the Golden Gate bridge.

Sure am going to miss one half of my old chum, even as I welcome this safer new span.

I’m glad the Bay Bridge is having a much deserved moment in the sun.





Image of the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2010, Karen Fayeth. Image of new eastern span of the Bay Bridge, Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth. Both images subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Old span taken with an iPhone and the Camera+ app, new span taken with a Canon Rebel and fixed up a bit in Photoshop.




I’m So Arty. And Maybe A Little Farty.

It’s been two months now at the new gig and I’m really getting into it. The job, the management and the culture are all really in my wheelhouse. Even though I’m crazy busy and working hard, I really do like the job.

So I guess at sixty days into this gig I am making plans to hang around a while. When I went through new hire orientation, they talked up their employee activities program and mentioned that there are a lot of strong clubs here at the company. It seems most employees participate in at least one club. It’s not required, people just want to be involved.

Cool!

I took a look at the list of clubs and the one that jumped out at me was the photography group. Rock on! I haven’t been shooting much lately and I certainly need a kick in the butt. I belong to a photographer’s salon group where once a month we meet and critique images, but I felt like this new group would really expand my horizons.

I dropped an email to the co-presidents of the group, two female coworkers, who were listed on the webpage and told them I’d like to be part of the group. They answered pretty quickly and said they were actually the last year’s co-presidents (the webpage is out of date) and handed me off to the new leadership. In closing, one of the women said, “I’m so glad another woman is joining the group. It’s mostly men right now. They are all nice but it’s all men!”

Oh. Well ok! My photography teacher and mentor has spoken about this. She has been a professional photographer for a long time and has dealt with the male dominated world of photography for years. I’m unsure why it’s still so heavily male dominated, but fair enough. I know my work can stack up.

I got an invite to the online user group and to the meeting coming up next week. I also got access to the club’s site where members upload their photos. Each month there is a theme and a contest to pick a winner.

Whooo doggies, the photos on that page are really good but they are all very technical. I don’t feel a lot of emotion in the photos. Then I recalled that I work with mostly engineers and scientists. Yeah. These are the kind of folks who will sniffily say they only shoot in manual and can calculate the exposure triangle in their heads.

I have taken other photography courses, including a class from a well-known and well-respected landscape photographer. That guy wasn’t too uptight about the stuff, but several of the men in the class were. One guy challenged me on the spot to calculate the exposure triangle for a particular photo and I said, “Nope. I don’t need to. I shoot in Aperture mode and am happy there.” He looked like he had bad gas and walked away from me.

Look, I know *how* to calculate the exposure triangle. I just choose not to.

So we’ll see how this group thang goes. I decided I should put together a quick portfolio of photos to show the rest of the group what I’m about.

What do you think?





“Knob” — I feel this piece speaks to the inaccessibility of the world and the challenges of just getting past closed doors. Should you walk away or bang on the door demanding to be heard? That is for you to decide.





“Elusive” — This is a study in hiding behind false coverings, like the fur that covers a Cranky Feline. And the need to hide behind artificiality and illusion. The grain reminds us of the blurry nature that life presents and the need to have better lighting.





“Have A Seat” — The black and white really captures the moodiness that comes with the decision of whether or not to have a seat. The push-pull of subverting yourself to the will of powers greater than you or maybe standing up to fight instead. This thought provoking piece required meticulous set up and lighting.



I think I am a shoo-in for high praises and honor from this new club. I can hardly wait to reel in all my accolades!





All photos Copyright 2013, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons in the right column of this page. (why would you steal these masterpieces anyway?). All three taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.




And Then It Got Surreal

Yesterday I found myself sitting in the very posh office of the Chief Executive Offer (CIO) of this here organization that employs me. Our CIO is absolutely brilliant, well recognized in the IT field and is one hell of a business woman. She’s also a rather serious sort, which is fine. All business.

Somehow I’ve managed to be a good enough little employee and shown enough of my own savvy that she has been willing to invite me to some pretty high level meetings. Yesterday was one such meeting and I was damn lucky to be invited.

In the office were five of us minions from various ends of the business along with the Lady With a C Title.

The IT organization is building a very big and very key component of the business systems here at the ol’ place of employ, so we were on the phone with a third party having a fairly intense negotiation.

The building where the CIO sits is very, very old and a brand new happy IT building is being constructed as we speak. It’s going up right in front of the existing building and will be a little jewel of efficiency and network capacity. Good stuff!

The current building sits on a hill and the windows from the CIO’s office offer a spectacular view of San Francisco and even the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance. When I do get to be in her office, I always sit near one of the large windows and spectate the view.

So there we are yesterday on the call with our CIO and the CIOs from four other large organizations speaking with a third party company about this huge joint effort. My C Level exec was taking the lead on the call and right from the start, things were getting tense.

As she was speaking, suddenly I hear the “bluuuuaaaaaart!” of an air horn. The kind of air horn that an obnoxious fan might bring to a football game. I’m the sort of gal who startles easily so the air horn lifted me a quarter inch off of my seat. As my head whipped around to look out the window to see what, exactly, the frap was going on, I noticed a large bundle of rebar go floating by.

Ah, I see. The construction.

Because I am mature and a professional, I immediately wanted to start giggling like crazy. It was so surreal. “Blah, blah, blah you are not understanding our strict budget requirements…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*… : bundle of rebar floats by: ”

So I looked at my shoes, I looked at my notebook, I looked anywhere but in anyone’s eye because I was about to laugh my fool head off.

Ahem. Then I regained my composure and my serious “umm hmm” look and got back in the game.

About ten minutes later, the CIO is drilling the third party rep, “That is NOT what I told you two weeks ago, you have NOT addressed the key component of this proposal…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar :”

Oh hell. I can’t keep it together. I bit the insides of my cheeks and stayed strong.

Then a scant five minutes later the third party rep, “…we can only provide this set of concessions because the way our company is positioned, the street won’t look favorably on…*bluuuuaaaaaart!*…: floating rebar : ”

I can only imagine what the guy on the phone was thinking. He had no perspective on what the air horn was about, he just kept hearing it over the line.

Which made me wonder if that wasn’t the greatest negotiation tool ever!

This third time I hazarded a look around the room and found that no one other than me seemed to be affected by the air horn blasts. They were all cool as a cucumber while I was using every tool in my arsenal to hold it together.

The fourth time was the deal breaker. It came at such an awkward moment in the conversation that all five of us minions broke down and started giggling like kindergartners. I looked around the room as we all laughed. All of us. Except the CIO.

Whoops. Ahem.

Thankfully the meeting soon wrapped up and as I took my leave, the CIO thanked me for attending and I managed to stay very serious and professional, but I chuckled all the way to the parking lot.

I may be a well-regarded professional, but that latent childhood hasn’t gone away yet. Nor do I expect it will anytime soon.

*bluuuuaaaaaart!*





Image from The Sportsman’s Guide.




The Right Answer and the Best Answer

Today was pretty much a banner day in my little life. Here I am in New York enjoying the city life, eating good food and loving every minute of it.

Today just took it up an extra notch.

What precipitated this trip to the big city, as described here, was the chance to see the Tony Award winning stage show “War Horse.”

After seeing this amazing show in San Francisco on its closing weekend, I suddenly knew I needed to see it again, and I wanted to see it in New York.

The Good Man and I had been batting around the idea of a trip to New York for a few years, but this idea of seeing War Horse on Broadway really put a charge into the idea.

And so today, all of those plans came together.

The show is staged at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre.

I had never been to Lincoln Center and in fact in my one visit to New York prior to this week, I hadn’t really spent much time above 50th and Broadway.

Lincoln Center really is an amazing place.

I have much more to say about the show and about this magical day, but I just wanted to stop a minute and share one of those slice of life moments. This is a very telling story, indeed.

You see, we arrived a bit early for our 2:00pm matinee, and so The Good Man and I decided to stroll around a bit so I could see the layout of the Lincoln Center.

It’s quite lovely.

And as I looked around, all amped up and excited to see the show and to be in New York and to be seeing all these things I’ve not seen before, my eyes fell upon this building:






Now when I saw this building, in all of my geekery and excitement and still-got-a-little-New-Mexico-hayseed-in-my-hair, I turned to The Good Man and I asked “Is that THE Julliard?”

Now, pause here.

True confessions: That’s a pretty dumb question. I’m not even sure why I asked it.

And yet….

My darling husband, a man of Brooklyn from his childhood and in many ways still a New Yorker probably should have turned to me and replied in deep New York accent (with much sarcasm), “No, it’s the other one,” and rolled his eyes.

But he did not.

My darling man replied, “Yes, honey. That is THE Julliard. Pretty cool, huh?”

Then I kind of laughed and shook my head and said “well, that was a silly question.” Then I thanked him, because the right answer was probably the sarcastic one, but he is used to my propensity to geek out, so he gave me the best answer instead.

And when he’s being that much of a Good Man, I just gotta let him know how much I appreciate it.

Then I told him I was going to blog about it.

Hi honey!





Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth. Taken with an iPhone5 and the Camera+ app.



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