This Old Dog

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This has been one hell of a week, I mean, just top to bottom really something else.

I have had good days, and bad days (…but when the day is through, I’ll always get lucky with you…this song goes out to The Good Man on an overcast and rainy day in the Bay – thus ends my Merle Haggard rendezvous) but overall I can actually say I learned some things this week.

Yes, that’s right, this old dog has seriously learned some new stuff over the past several days and I want to share it with you.

Maybe I should start by sharing something I learned just right now: the distance between typing “share” and typing “shart” is only two keys away on the old keyboard. Dangerous.

Now seriously, let’s get to the learnin’

1) It turns out that the song Let It Be, made famous by the Beatles and written by Paul McCartney, was actually originally intended for Aretha Franklin to record. And record it she did.

Unfortunately, some fiddle-faddle with her label prevented the song from being released, so the Beatles went ahead and recorded it and released it first.

Give the Aretha version a listen and tell me if you don’t get chills, because I started crying when I heard it, it’s so beautiful and so different from the Beatles version.

I know that song became a bellwether for the Beatles, marking when the group first broke apart, but damn I wish the Aretha version was first to the scene.

It’s stunning.

Link: http://youtu.be/w09Jcjj_QOI



(If for some reason the video doesn’t play or the link to the YouTube above doesn’t work, please just Google “Let It Be Aretha” and you’ll find it.)


2) Then there was a space item of edumacation I discovered. Here it is: If there was air in space, the sun, our own little fireball, would make sounds like ringing of cathedral bells at a volume just above that of a train whistle.

If space were replaced with air and we could hear the Sun, it would be incredibly noisy – the output of the Sun is equivalent to 10 million keys, or notes, of a piano. In fact you would struggle to hear little else! Throwing out an energy of 383 yottawatts per second, we get a translation of 290 decibels which makes for a very, very loud Sun indeed.

And it would go on ALL THE TIME.

It seems like that would be cool at first and then it would be like “rip my ears off my head, I’m done now.”

But profoundly cool to learn.

Reference: How Loud Would Stars Be If Space Was Full of Air.


3) I even managed to learn something about my Fair New Mexico this week. On Facebook I noticed a graphic with all of the applicable New Mexico State symbols, most of which I knew quite well.

One I did not. Let me drop my new knowledge on you.

New Mexico has a state slogan and that slogan is:

Everybody is somebody in New Mexico

Is that because no one is anyone everywhere else? I mean, huh?

It’s certainly a noble thought but of course brings out my inner comedian. I’ll spare you.

By the by, there is also a State Motto (that I already knew) which is:

Crescit eundo (loosely translated to mean “it goes as it grows”)

And what about the state nickname “Land of Enchantment”?

Since I am a good soulless corporate drone, I think we should create efficiencies!

New Mexico: Somebody grows in enchantment

Let’s call that good, huh?



And there you have it. Is your mind blown? Mine is.

Actually there is no more space left in my brain. Better start drinking so I can clear out some brain cells for next week.









Image from the Visit New Mexico Facebook page.




Hey, Not Too Bad!

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Yesterday, as I blathered on and wrote a blog post and then decided I wanted to nab a selfie that

1) didn’t make me look like an old hag

and

2) showed off a rare day when my hair was rockin’ (sadly, it was a one day only event) I found myself contorting, head tilting, and generally being weird.

And that was before I had the camera turned upon myself.

At the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with the selfie that I captured yesterday. Respectable enough. It took a lot of work to get that one decent photo, however.

In snapping my own self, I remembered a tutorial I put together a few years back. I still use all of these tips and tricks. Even when The Good Man grumbles at me while self photographing. (he’s not a fan of the selfie)

So hey, I figured I would share again. Here it is, for your fabulous selfie-know-how edumacation.

Enjoy.

______________________________

Your Mobile Phone Camera And You
Originally posted December 21, 2011

Ok, look. Facebook finally got me. Like a hungry, persistent mountain lion, it pounced on me, grabbed me by the throat and took me down.

Anyhow.

As I’ve been spending more time in the cavernous Facebook labyrinth, and seeing a lot of pages and a lot of faces, I’m starting to notice a trend.

Remember the infamous MySpace pose? That’s the self-photo taken with the camera above you, eyes looking up but chin down. Sometimes called the Princess Diana pose. Yeah, I think we’ve all seen plenty of that pose.

But that’s so over now.

The pose I’m seeing a lot of these days is the in-the-car self-photo.

Yup. Hold the phone way out to one side and snap a shot of yourself in the driver’s seat.

Post it.

Magic.

Look, I fully understand the need to look good in our Facebook profile. An old boyfriend or girlfriend from college might show up or something. None of us wants to look all haggity.

Believe me, I get it.

So what’s with the in-the-car profile photo and how can we make it better?

I will now dig into my deep and (not so) closely held secrets of the art of photography and perform a public service.

Ya wanna know why you like that photo of yourself in the car?

Two words: Natural light.

We ALL look better in natural light. When you are in your car, good ol’ fashioned sun comes pouring in through all the windows. Real sunlight makes you look hot.

I’m not kidding.

So assuming you want to have a nice photo of yourself on your Facebook page without your steering wheel in the background, and assuming you are all alone or too shy to ask for help, and assuming you want or need some advice on self portraiture…..


Here’s Karen Fayeth’s tips for a smoking hot profile self-photo:


Either get outside or if you have a nice sunny spot in your house filled with natural light, go there.

Next, what would be a nice background? How about a wall with a fun pattern or a wood fence with character? Sit down and lean back against it. Sit up straight! No slouchy here because we’ll all see it.

Make sure the sun isn’t shining directly in your face. That will make you squinty. Then make sure the sun isn’t directly behind you. That will make you halo-y and a dark shadow. It works best if it’s a sunny day but you are in shadow, or the sun isn’t directly on you. An overcast day is even better. That diffused light is majorly hot.

Hold your phone camera out at about eye level and a little off center. If you hold it above your eyes, you’ll get that eyes-up MySpace look. If you hold it below, now you are looking down and no one likes a double chin in their photo.

Seriously, no one.

Keep your chin up but not too high. Keep it at normal level as if you are looking straight forward.

Keep your elbow slightly bent. Don’t straight arm it or you will see your arm in the photo. Here’s an example.

Relax your face. Don’t force the smile. Try thinking about something that makes you laugh or smile naturally. Think about that time your buddy slipped and cartwheeled on the ice. Or think about how much your love your kid/spouse/dog/whatever. Something that tickles your funnybone and makes your eyes twinkle.

Look into the lens. Don’t look at the screen. Don’t look off to the side. Don’t look up. Don’t look down. Locate the actual camera lens on your phone and then look that lens square in its little lens eye and snap the shot.

And then another. And another and another and another and another.

Don’t be shy about taking A LOT of photos. You are looking for one good one among the many that make you go “uh, no”. It’s every photographer’s little secret. Take lots of shots.

Wait! Don’t just upload that one photo you like right from your mobile phone to your Facebook page!!!

Pause.

Look at it on a bigger screen. Download it or email it to yourself and look on a regular monitor.

Check out the photo and crop it down if you want. Look in the background ALL AROUND you in the photo to be sure there isn’t something weird going on back there. (be especially alert for dogs pooping, kids barfing, etc. Check out This is Photobomb for a sense of what I’m putting down here. That site is totally not safe for work.)

Then, if you are happy with the photo, go ahead and make it your profile photo.

And wait for the compliments to roll in.

Oh, and one last piece of advise: Fer chrissakes, no duckface!

No photos in the mirror either.



Sooo many things wrong with this technique. Good light though!




Image found all over the web. If it’s yours I’ll gladly take it down or give credit, at your request. Thanks! I found it here.




Is That What I Think It Is?

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A few weeks ago I was walking out to my car after another real long day at work, when I smelled something a little sweet, a little nice, and a little out of place for a corporate parking lot.

My head whipped around and I saw a rather large burly man sitting on a parking berm next to his motorcycle and he was smoking.

Yes, I live in the Bay Area, but no, you cheeky monkeys, it wasn’t skunk weed that I was smelling…

The man was smoking a clove cigarette.

My first thought was “What, is he in High School?” and my second thought was “What, is he a girl?” and then the smell of sweet clove smoke wafted over me and I was shoved into the Wayback Machine and transported back in time.

So there I am, a sophomore at Del Norte High School and it’s after a football game and my friends and I have found our way to the McDonald’s at the corner of Academy and San Mateo in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

That McDonald’s belonged to our high school. Every high school had their “home” McDonald’s and going to the other school’s home territory, especially on a Friday night, was a whole scary and political thing.

So I’d already supped on French fries (all that I could afford) and was standing out in the parking lot doing what sixteen year olds do: I was slouching and skulking and just being a lump of teenager.

I was kibitzing with my friend Stacy who was sort of a wild girl. She didn’t start out that way, but she turned that way pretty quick. She was small, dark haired, pretty and did this squinty eyed thing when she laughed which was terribly endearing.

Later, when we both tried out for the high school drill team and she made it and I did not (we had practiced together) and some distance came to our friendship. That and her affinity for drinking a lot of Everclear. I just couldn’t go there.

But on this night we were friends and hanging out and she pulled a cigarette from her purse and lit it up. It smelled funny.

She explained to me that it was a clove cigarette. This particular item was very, very illicit because clove smokes were (and are) illegal in the State of New Mexico. She explained this was due to the fact that clove cigarettes will make your lungs bleed.

She told me this tidbit in that urban legend sort of way that made me wonder if what she said was really true, all the while I believing it 100%. I was (and still am) fairly gullible if told a good story.

So Stacy encouraged me to take a drag. I hesitated, thoughts of bleeding lungs in my head and firmly believing that the second something illegal touched my lips my parents would immediately show up and all hell would break loose.

After waffling, in a rare bit of rebellion I went for it (yes, taking a drag from a cigarette was, at the time, MAJOR rebellion) and she told me to lick my lips after, tasting how sweet it was. And it was.

I’d been so naughty! So *bad*! It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once!

Fast forward just over a decade later and I found myself living in California and oh my! Clove cigarettes are perfectly legal here! So I did some cool slouch thing into the corner store and bought a pack and felt very sophisticated and rebellious and adult and on-my-own and Mary Tyler Moore hat in the air “you’re gonna make it after all!”

That pack lasted me several months until they dried out, and then I bought another just because I could. Every now and again on a lonely evening I’d pour an amber liquid over ice and sit on my front porch and smoke a clove and think about things.

Then, of course, a few years later my dad died from pulmonary fibrosis and smoking something that might make my lungs bleed seemed like a really bad idea.

Ok, meandering along the Wayback trail and getting to that train of thought quickly brought me right back to the here and now.

I sort of smiled at the big dude smoking a clove and inhaled deeply. It smelled so nice.

Such an unexpected scent to end my day.








With all thanks to a Random Word Generator for giving me a wayback prompt, in the form of the word clove, on this sunny Monday.


Image by Kriss Szkurlatowski and used royalty free from stock.xchng.




It’s Just One Of Those Things

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Being a grownup is weird. Sure, in some ways it has its advantages, cookies for dinner, disposable income, no term papers. But mostly I find it’s weird. In theory I’ve been an adult for a really long time, but I don’t seem to be getting any better at it. And it doesn’t seem to be getting any less uncomfortable.

Take for example, having a job. Every day I come to an office building full of fabric-covered six foot high partial walls. I’m actually lucky to have the six foot high walls. New companies are doing away with walls all together in favor of a collaborative environment. But here are these gray fabric walls and I sit at a pressboard desk and I do tasks that matter very much inside these fabric walls but to the rest of the world are mostly meaningless.

For example, on the very top of my to do list today is the urgent need to call a counterpart at another company and ask her how they structured a contract. Do you care if I make that call or not? Will it impact your life in any way?

Nope. Yet it’s of the utmost and highest importance for me to accomplish today.

That seems so odd.

I sit in my little cubicle farm moo’ing alongside people who are, for the most part, strangers. Oh sure, I have great relationships with my coworkers, we all get along really well, but do I really call them my friends? Not really. I care about their well-being (sort of) for about eight to ten (or twelve) hours a day and then I go home and give them nary a thought.

We eat alongside each other, use the facilities alongside each other, spend a third or more of our days together but these people don’t really factor into my life.

Today I’m in kind of a weird place. The person (I’m intentionally leaving this vague) who occupied the barn stall directly across from me was politely asked to leave the company early this morning. They were not on my team and I didn’t have to be the one to have “the conversation.”

I’m just a by stander.

I didn’t know the person all that well, personally I mean, but we got along great. They got my sense of humor and they always kept a drawer full of snacks and when I started on my first day, they helped me get up and running.

I liked the person in that “hey you are my office pal” kind of way.

Despite knowing that there was trouble brewing, I’m still sort of boggled by the empty desk that now is across the aisle. When I stand up and leave my cube, I look right into that cube and where once there was life and a laugh and some awesome cookies, there is an empty chair.

Not knowing all of the circumstances I can’t say whether this was deserved or not, but knowing the manager and knowing that manager is rock solid, I have to believe it was for the right reasons.

These are weird days. The media might say that the recession is over but I don’t think it is. It’s a tenacious little beast. In the first ninety days of this year, five of my dear friends were laid off from their jobs. And all five are struggling to find new employment.

The person across the hall wasn’t laid off, but still I think about what they will be going through over the next weeks and months to land a new gig. It makes me a bit sad.

But honestly, can I dwell on it? Should I even dwell on it? The answer is no. I cannot get too bogged down in the whys and the hows and the what ifs. I can only sit in my barn stall and look at my screens and make damn sure I call that lady at that other company today because in about an hour someone is going to ask me what they said, and I should have an answer.

Because being a grown up is pretty weird that way.









Image from here.




Let’s Get Caught Up

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There I was complaining about Monday and suddenly it was Thursday. Where do the days go?

Oh, right, twelve hours engaged in job plus commute, eight hours sleeping, let’s see, that leaves exactly four hours for having a nosh and nuzzling my husband and using the ladies room. That is not much.

Excuses, excuses! Let’s get caught up!

Last week I told you about the new Photography Group that I had joined at work and my anxiety about it being a predominately male group (only three ladies) and men of science at that.

Well, I attended my first meeting yesterday. The cost of entrance was to upload two photos to our sharing site that are in line with the assigned theme. This month’s theme was depth of field/bokeh.

Fair enough, I had a couple photos I wasn’t ashamed to show.

Turns out it was a pretty nice group of guys. Yes, very scientific minded. Quite nerdy really, in that cool way that scientists who do major world bending research can be. Think the middle aged version of “Big Bang Theory.”

Let me just tell you this: Having an optical physicist evaluate your photo brings a whole new perspective to photography.

This guy showed off a little by asking what lens was used and what f/stop on one of the team’s photos, and then told us why the bokeh bubbles were shaped the way they were (if you look at bokeh photos you’ll see some are round, some are pentagons, some are hexagons, etc). It was actually fascinating, not that I could recite it again for you.

Something to do with the angle of the light and the shutter speed and the curvature of the glass on the lens along with focal point. He called the sides of the bokeh bubbles “blades”. Weird, yet cool.

Plus, his eye for the lighting and focus in the photos was like none I’ve ever seen.

All in all, it was a successful first meeting and we talked about the club’s upcoming photo show. I’m already trying to decide which photos I will add to the exhibit. Evidently they set it up near the cafeteria and as people walk by and see the photos, they are encouraged to vote for their favorite. Well ok!

In other news…

The meeting was held at the main site for our employer and I work at a remote location. I was able to secure the official department car to make the journey.

This ding-dang thing is a Ford Escape hybrid. My first issue was turning the thing on. I turned the key, it did nothing except blink a few lights at me. Now, in my beloved Jeep, if I turn the key and only get lights in return, it’s time to visit the mechanic. Not so with this thing. I kept cranking the key and it kept blinking at me.

Maybe it’s just me, but I like a nice solid rumble to my car’s ignition. Nice American metal that growls a little at start up and purrs at idle. Not the “oh yes thank you” silence of this thing! Bah!

The next problem is that the car was made for a Lilliputian, which I am most certainly not. I drove with my knees at my earlobes and when I whipped my head to the side to see if one lane over was clear, I bonked my head where the roof meets the window. I can’t even imagine the very tall Good Man trying to drive this thing.

The third problem is that my destination is at the top of a very steep hill. I usually drive my straight six Jeep up there, an engine made for towing and scaling hills. This little hybrid bucked and faltered and demurred the whole way up. I wanted to put one foot out the door to help push the thing up the hill. Lame!

But it got me there and since parking is quite limited at the main site, company cars get reserved spots. It was totally worth the trouble.

In other, other news…

After a long string of beautiful California days, it’s raining again. *sigh*

Though I’m not surprised. When I moved here a wise native gave me many rules of thumb for life in the Bay Area, one of which was, “It always rains for Easter.”

Indeed it does.

Well that’s where it’s at for this Holy Moly I can’t believe it’s Thursday.






Bokeh-riffic!




Photo by Abhishek Jacob and used under a Wikimedia Creative Commons license.