Saturday, April 30, 2011

Photo Class: Slow

The challenge this time was to take a picture using a slow shutter speed, as in whole seconds long, not fractions of a second.

After procrastinating for a few days, I found that the only room in the house without a window is ... well, there isn't one. So I cloistered myself in a closet with a funky fibre-optic light and took this.
5 seconds, f/8, ISO/800
Kinda cool, eh? I'm not sure what the lateral striations are about. They aren't movement. I think they're the reflection of light tips on the fibres beside them. Does that make sense?

'Nuf with the fun. It's time to do my taxes. Oh, yippee.

Hyperbole: You're Doing it Wrong

Today's rant is brought to you by the expression, "I couldn't care less." I am ranting about it because I COULD care less, which is to say, I do care. Now, when it comes to hockey? I couldn't care less.

Did you see what I did there? I used both expressions correctly.


I couldn't care less: means that you, as a matter of fact, don't care, and it would be impossible for you to care any less than you already do because your "give-a-bleep" meter has bottomed out. Many people feel this way about royal weddings.

I could care less: means that, come to think of it, you do in fact care, at least a little.

Would it help if I drew a picture? Okay then.
The Care-o-Meter
Hope that helps. At least now I won't be the only one cringing when people say, "I could care less" when they clearly mean they couldn't.

By the by, I started searching the because it seems preposterous that he has NOT commented on this misuse of hyperbole, but couldn't find anything there. Still, it was a fun rabbit hole to go down.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Photo Class: In Which We Are Stricken by the Plague and by the Blustery Day

Despite being bedridden for most of the day with the BUBONIC PLAGUE, I managed to drag my sorry arse to take some pictures from Brian's bedroom window.

Seriously, I am dying here. It's either the plague or it could be lung cancer that has metastasized to my brain. I really can't be sure. But I'm shivering (which is not at all like me), and I get dizzy every time I sniff or roll my eyes. I roll my eyes with surprising frequency. All I know is that my family is NOT taking it seriously enough. And by that I mean that they have not yet called an ambulance or brought me hot drinks in bed or ordered flowers.

But, as I said, I did drag my sorry self to a window and took some pictures of something moving fast, which was not hard to do, given that we were experiencing a Very Blustery Day, of veritable Winnie the Pooh proportions. It looked like this.

My picture is neither as pretty nor as dramatic, but it is patriotic.
Our neighbour across the street.

Our backyard neighbour,
the one whose fence we shredded.
(They are good people
whom we should never have crossed.).

Because you've been so kind and attentive, I shall share some humour with you.
Gopher: If I was you, I'd think about skedaddlin' out of here.
Winnie the Pooh: Why?
Gopher: 'Cause it's "Winds-day."
On that note, I shall leave you, to retire to my bed.

Being Regular is Good for Heart Health

Or so it would seem. I saw this ad on Facebook today.
The first thing that popped into my mind, naturally, was "Why has Facebook stopped showing me male underwear models who are looking for 'mature women who know how to please a man'?"

I guess I'm just moving on from MILK (that's Mother I'd Like to Know) to Metamucil and Geritol. (Did you even know that they still make Geritol? They do!)

ANYWAY. Where was I? Damn Ritalin wears off too early in the evening.

Oh. Yes. Poop and Cholesterol.

I clicked the link because I was fascinated with the idea that Metamucil could treat high cholesterol because, as far as I knew, Metamucil is used to treat constipation or diarrhea and IBS. It is soluble fibre - it dissolves in water - and unlike insoluble fibre like bran or fruit skins, is gentle on your intestines. Insoluble fibre can certainly stimulate a ... erm ... movement, but it is harsh. If you have gut trouble, it can be kind of like eating sharp straw.

(I know a thing or two about this. In fact, the IBS Diet as described at Help for IBS made a huge difference in my life. They recommend acacia powder, which is another soluble fibre. 'Nuff said. If you have similar troubles, do check it out.)

Back to the poop-cholesterol equation. According to the Metamucil website, "Certain kinds of fiber [i.e., soluble] lower cholesterol by absorbing it in the digestive tract and preventing it from entering the bloodstream." It's that simple.

I'm sure there are also health benefits to underwear models in search of mature women. Or, at least, looking at pictures of underwear models who claim to be in search of mature women, but who really want Barbie dolls when it comes right down to it. (I am sometimes a big fan of false advertising.) But since Facebook is no longer offering them up, I may just have to settle for soluble fibre. Yippee.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Photo Class: Fast Reshoot Required

Oh, my. This latest class "Fast" challenged us to catch motion in action, crisply and cleanly with a super-fast shutter speed.

So at lunch today, I popped outside for some fresh air and to catch a few pictures of vehicles in motion - something we see a lot of downtown. I thought it would be easy. Hah!

Here's pretty much the best picture I got. I really like the old-fashioned trolley and the neo-gothic Parliament buildings in the background.
f/4.5, 1/800, ISO/80
Is that a bad photo or what?
  • Underexposed? Check (and, believe it or not, it was high noon on a relatively sunny day!)
  • Wrong colour balance? Check
  • Not straight? Check
  • Ugly CBC satellite dish included? Check
On the bright side (pardon the pun), it had lots of pixels to work with, so I was able to do some fixing. Some serious fixing.
  • Exposure corrected? Check. Possibly overcorrected
  • Light colour corrected? Check
  • Ugly CBC satellite dish and pole removed? Check
Just for fun, here's a side-by-side before and after collage. Pretty dramatic.

Still not what I'd call a great photo, and I don't like how much work I did to it, so I will try to do a retake tomorrow, if this cold hasn't totally slain me. Maybe I'll let our indoor cat outdoors and see what happens?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Married to the Military

I cannot imagine my life
without this man.
Several months after Steve and I married, my sister-in-law asked me, "So how does it feel being married to the military?"

I don't recall exactly what I replied, but it was something along the lines of, "I didn't marry the military; I married your brother."

As a military kid herself, she knew better. The military has been the landscape of our marriage, of our family. It has shaped many of our choices, it has shaped my career. It has affected our children's education, friendships and mental health.

Indeed, what hasn't it touched?

Some of the aspects of being a military spouse are common to families who do not have a military member:
  • Moving from one location to another, including to another country. (My brother and his family have lived in as many (or more) houses, including a home in Singapore.)
  • Living apart for periods of time - and not because you're having marital difficulties.
  • One spouse giving up or modifying career options for the sake of the other.
  • Getting caught up in the social expectations to conform: to marry, to be heterosexual, to put work before family. 
The one big difference is that corporate execs or bureaucrats don't generally put their lives on the line when they go to work. But police officers, first responders, firefighters, and some defense contractors do that. As spouses, we share the worry that our best friend might never come home.

Brian, 2002
When Steve returned home after his six-month deployment to Sarajevo, our five-year-old greeted him excitedly with the words,

"Daddy! I thought you were dead!"

My heart broke that he had been worried about that for the whole time his dad was gone.
So, yes, being a military wife has certainly had an impact on our life.
I'm thinking about all this today for two reasons: (1) this Thursday will be our 27th wedding anniversary (yes, I was a teenaged bride, why do you ask?), and (2) a friend shared a heart-wrenching blog about a military spouse who was on the brink of suicide and is now in residential care, in part because of the effect military life had on her husband, her marriage and her own mental health.

In the first case, the years have flown by, and we will celebrate them.

In the second case, I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the lack of support from the military for this woman was tragic. Thank God she survived.

But I have a few thoughts on the matter. (I'm an opinionated gal. I have thoughts on EVERYTHING.) For one thing, I think we underestimate how emotionally difficult it is to live with someone who is depressed. "I felt very helpless" she writes of coping with her husband's depression and heavy drinking. "I knew my husband needed some sort of counseling, but I also knew it wasn’t something you could force someone into. I started to feel very overwhelmed."

And because her husband's mental health was not treated comprehensively, but was simply medicated, his behaviour had an increasingly negative impact on her and eventually the marriage broke down. In fact, if you tot up all the stressors in her life, you get a picture of someone who is at serious risk for stress-related illness. 

So, being a military spouse certainly didn't help her, but the same thing could happen to anyone who finds herself (or himself) without support, especially from her or his partner. As this compassionate website puts it, suicidal thinking "happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain."

My point - and I do have one - is that we shouldn't assume that being a military family is worse or better than any other lifestyle, but that we should all be aware of people who are at risk of being overwhelmed and do what we can to help anyone cope with the pain of excessive stress and depression.

Shame on the military network for letting her - and her husband - down.

Shame on us if we don't reach out to those around us who need someone to help shoulder their pain.

Now go give someone a hug or say a prayer or light a candle or send someone a note to let them know you're thinking about them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Photography: Brian's Diorama

Brian has been working on military models (from aircraft to ships, to tanks and more) for about two years now. The following pictures are from one particular diorama he made - complete with a textured snowy landscape. To read more about the story depicted, visit Brian's blog. He has his own pictures there, but I decided to do a little photographic exercise of my own.

Pictures like these were almost impossible for me to take using the fully automatic mode on my camera. In fact, I think I have a couple:

P.S. I've created a separate page for my photography hobby. I won't be posting links on Facebook to each photography post, but you can check them out any time by going to that page or subscribing to my blog. (Or click the "Photography - My Latest Passion" link at the top of the main page.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo Class: Far

Since our previous assignment for our online photography class was "Near," we knew that this one would be "Far." For this assignment, I decided to photograph the tablescape for our Easter dinner. That alone would be challenge enough (for me), but it was particularly challenging because of the lighting:

Half sun; half shade.
f/2.8, 1/300, ISO/80
Almost every picture I took was half in shade, half in strong sunlight.

The theme for our dinner came from the china dishes I inherited from my Aunt Betty who passed away in August 2009. (Goodness. It doesn't seem that long ago ...) These were Limoges porcelain, from my father's side of the family, and they are so lovely. I couldn't wait to use them for our spring get-together!

But, of course, I had to photograph them as well! Here is one "Near" shot, showing the detail of the plates.

Aren't these plates just sweet?
f/2.8, 1/50, ISO/80
(As a side note, now that I've learned how to adjust the
light colour balance, the yellow tones in our
dining room walls is showing up better.)
And here is a collage of near/far with one of the serving dishes and the small floral centrepiece. [Why are all of the floral arrangements at Michael's designed so that you would need to have the neck of a giraffe in order to see your dining companions across the table?]

Click photo to enlarge.
NEAR photo: f/2.8, 1/500, ISO/80
FAR photo: f/2.8, 1/80, ISO/80
That sweet little handle is the top of one of the serving dishes. Notice how, in the first picture, the flowers in the background are in shade and out of focus?  For the "Far" photo, I changed the light metering and the focus; I probably could've notched the exposure up a bit for the flowers, but I didn't want to completely blanch out the serving dish, so it's a compromise.

In anticipation of today's assignment, I also took a Near/Far set yesterday.
You'll probably also have to click and enlarge these pictures to see the difference in focus. Or maybe it's just my old, old eyes.

I am thoroughly enjoying learning these new skills with my camera. Who knew it could do so much? I've had it for so long and have really done so little with it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo Class: Near

Have I mentioned how much I love cleaning-lady day? Well, I do. It is probably the biggest perq* of being gainfully employed. [Not just drudgingly employed as a homemaker.] As a matter of fact, the only downside is that our cleaning lady can only fit us in on weekend mornings, so we have to drag our sorry arses out of our beds. (Poor cleaning lady never gets a sleep-in!)

On the bright side, we've come to enjoy our weekend brunches. Some days we descend on McDonald's (where they now serve BLT sandwiches which are quite tasty) or Tim Hortons, but other days we go a little more luxurious. This morning, we went to Cora's, a delightful chain of restaurants in Canada that only serve breakfast and lunch, and they do it well.

This morning, I brought my camera so I could do the photo assignment for "Near." The objective was to take a picture controlling the focus so that the near subject is in focus, while the distance is not. (I'm still struggling with the settings for "manual focus points" - my camera's instruction manual is confusing. But I think the pictures turned out well anyway.)

f/4, 1/160, ISO/100
(And, yes, the coffee did slop into the saucer.
I'm just graceful like that. It comes with the name.)
Is there anything better than a deep bowl of café au lait for breakfast on a slow Saturday-ish morning? And that's the morning paper in the background with news that the Conservatives seem to be headed for a majority government! Seriously!

After brunch, we headed to the beach, for our first family visit of the season. (Steve has already gone jogging on the beach. Brrr.) Most of those pictures are landscape shots, so they don't fit the class assignment, but I did snap this one of the beautiful moss on the south side of one of the trees.

f/4, 1/800, ISO/80
I also loved this picture of the lifeguard stand, so I'm going to make you look at it, even though it doesn't meet the requirements for the class assignment.

f/5, 1/250, ISO/100
There were quite a few people at the beach - not surprisingly, since this is the first pleasant day in weeks.

When we returned home, I snapped one more shot - of the Easter wreath on our front door.
f/2.8, 1/400, ISO/100 
On that note, I will wish you all a blessed Easter/Pesach/spring.

*perq is short for perquisite, (good explanation found here) and I snootily prefer to spell it thus, rather than perk, which is what coffee does.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Photo Class: Shed a Little Light on the Subject

A picture from last summer, showing Elly in backlight.
It was taken with automatic everything
and her face is quite underexposed.
Well, maybe not ON the subject, but behind it. The assignment for today's online photo class was "Backlight," and the challenge was to take a photo where the strongest light is behind the subject.

It is tough to do without the subject being underexposed or washed out by the light. Yeeks. And I took a whole stack of pictures before I finished reading the instructions and corrected my light metering to "spot" metering.

But the biggest challenge may have been the utter lack of sunlight recently. So, I had to make do with artificial light.

Another challenge: unwilling subjects.

I think we can all agree that this man is
testifying under duress.
[Ve haff vayssss of makink you talk.]
f/3.5, 1/20, ISO/1600, metering mode/pattern
This was taken before I did a more attentive read of the instructions.
Well, he was "willing." In the same way that I am "willing" to get up before 09:00 on the weekend.

So I settled for still life. And I re-read the instructions. Second batch was much better. This one is SOOC (Straight Out of the Camera). [Not sure why they drop the T. Poor thing probably feels rather rejected.]

f/3.2, 1/25, ISO/800, metering mode/spot
Doesn't the little bird look like she's going to peck those pearls?
And I like this crop of it.

On a side note, since I knew that the lesson after "Shadow" was likely to be something about light, I took some pictures while I was on a whirlwind trip to Toronto earlier this week.
f/2.8, 2s, ISO/100
Can you tell which setting I forgot to change from my earlier shooting in the afternoon? Yup. ISO. D'oh! But that's not bad for a two-second exposure. I used a balcony railing to keep the camera as steady as I could.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo Class: Shadowland

Today's assignment for the online photography class I'm taking is "Shadows," so k.d. lang's Shadowland ran through my head all weekend, her plaintive, pure voice lamenting,
I'm a shadow since you've gone

Just a shadow in the dawn
Frustratingly for this assignment, Ottawa was NOT shadowland this weekend. Or maybe it was ALL shadowland and NO shadows! The sun taunted and teased, but slipped away faster than I could grab my camera. The sky was mostly a uniform grey, turning everything monochrome and sad.

Nevertheless, as Brian and I went out to the Museum of Science and Technology on Sunday afternoon, I grabbed my camera.

Like most modern museums, the lighting in the museum is very moody. There is minimal ambient light, but lots of focal lighting. In a sense, the space is flooded with shadows. I did manage a few interesting shots.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of "noise" in all of these pictures because the lighting was so low.

The ramp going up towards the Crazy Kitchen.
Leading lines are powerful in this one.
[Haha! Just had a Star Wars moment: "The Force is powerful with this one."]
f/2.8, 1/15, ISO/1600
One of the final exhibits we saw had this little backlit scene of a woman entering a room.

f/2.8, 1/100, ISO/1600
It's an interesting tableau. I decided to make it a story-telling picture, with a sense of portent.
Are you scared?
Perhaps you should be.
The lock is useless.
What's in the hand she's holding behind her?
I don't know which picture I like better. Do you have a favourite?

Oh Ye of Little Faith!

I've mentioned before (long, long time ago now) that I'm not a big church-goer, but that my faith in God is nevertheless very important to me. In that same post I mentioned that I believe in the power of prayer and qualified it by saying that I don't mean that God always answers in the way we want him to.

But what happens when our prayers are answered as we hope? My friend Joe posted a link to a news article about a church that got what it prayed for (the rather spectacular demise of the beer joint nearby), then denied its prayer had any effect.

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork. At the hearing he commented, “I don't know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that does not.”
I've seen it happen before: heartfelt prayer is sent up; an immediate, compassionate answer is received; those who joined in the prayer pooh-pooh that the two are connected.

Man. If I were God, I'd be flipping the bird.

Let me share three personal stories with you. These are not parables or miracles, and I am not stretching the truth.

Bringing the Dead to Life

Mere days after I returned from my summer mission trip, I went to a Christian camp for a long weekend. Truth be told, I was hoping to rekindle a romance with an ex-boyfriend. It didn't work, though he was very friendly and talked about the girl he'd met who eventually became his wife. I made a few new friends, however. Somehow I had never made arrangements to get home and my parents had gone on their own summer vacation to northern Ontario. One of my new friends offered to drive two hours out of his way to get me home.

When departure time came, however, his little beater of a car would not start. Not a click, not a whine. Nada. Finally (isn't it always a last resort?), I suggested we pray. We stepped away from the lifted hood, joined hands in faith, and prayed.

The car started on the first crank.

My new friend confided that he was somewhat ashamed that he hadn't thought to pray sooner.

Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!

I was at a women's Bible study in Alabama and we were waiting for our leader to arrive. She was walking from a fair distance away, and it was night time. The later she became, the more we worried. Our host's husband went out driving to look for her. Again, I suggested we pray.

We bowed our heads and I briefly and plainly spoke our concerns and asked God not just to find her, but to find her soon.

About 30 seconds after we said amen, she walked through the door.

I said, "Who says God doesn't answer prayers?"

"Well, but she was already on her way here by the time we prayed," someone pointed out.

The Lost Sheep, Part II

Late one afternoon, I realized that Peter, then 14 years old, was nowhere to be found. He'd gone missing before (usually getting on the wrong bus or deciding to make his own way home without letting us know), but this time was different. He was depressed and had left a note saying that felt he wasn't wanted and was going to go where someone did love him. And that he felt life might not be worth living.

I printed out recent pictures of him with our phone number and drove around the neighbourhood asking if anyone had seen him. I explained that he had Asperger Syndrome. No one had seen him.

I returned home and called the police. They asked if he was capable of feeding and dressing himself. Yes, of course! Well then, they would not follow up. I mentioned his note - that he might be suicidal. That got a reaction.

I gathered Emily and Brian into my arms and asked them to pray with me as I cried sloppy, snotty tears. Again, I stressed to God the urgency of our plea: "Please, Lord, bring him home NOW!"

Seconds later - truly no more than 15 seconds - Peter stepped jauntily through the door, happy to be home, completely oblivious to our despair. I held him and told him that he was loved, that it would break my heart to lose him, that I would cry forever.

The doorbell rang. I opened the door to the man who had found him and who simply wanted to be sure that Peter was safe and that someone was home with him. He told how he'd found Peter on the highway heading north, toward Canada, and how he refused to believe Peter's lies.

I thanked him, but didn't get his name. (He was certainly our hero, but was he also an angel?) I didn't even offer him a cup of tea! I was just completely overwhelmed with joy that my son was back.

Now, I'm a pretty rational woman. I like scientific evidence as much as the next person. If someone wrote these into a script, I'd laugh. And I could write all the rational rebuttals myself (so I'll save you time):
  • The car was probably "flooded" and just needed time to rest.
  • The Bible-study leader was already "found" before you even started praying, the result of your host's husband's efforts.
  • Your son was already on your street before you prayed - a result of your driving around with all those flyers.
All that to say, "Prayer had nothing to do with it. It would have happened that way regardless."

I have three comments.

One: I believe that God does not operate in linear time the way we do. I suppose that falls under the "omnipresent" heading. Why, in heaven's name, could he not hear a prayer and retroactively set in motion the answer to that prayer?

Two: I can understand those comments coming from non-believers, but from Christians? Who profess to believe in prayer? Who were there when it happened? What does God have to do? Strike you with a lightning bolt (like a sleazy pub)?

Three: How do you know that it would have happened the same way even if I had not prayed? You have no more evidence for that position than I do for mine.

I've never considered myself a woman "of great faith," but maybe I've underestimated it.
Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1
By that definition, I have faith.
[Jesus]  replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.
Matthew 17:20
P.S. If anyone has suggestions on how to get teenagers to move as readily as those mountains, please let me know.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Girl on a Mission

I was once a teen missionary. When I was 17, my cousin Ruth and I went with Teen Missions International to France. Yes, indeedy, I was an evangelist in France.

My cousin Ruth (as a teen)
who, along with her husband,
is serving as Missionary-in-Residence
at LeTourneau University in Texas.
That stretches the truth a little. While we did do a very small amount of [awkward] evangelism, the main thrust of our work in the sleepy little town of Vaux-sur-Seine was to construct dormitories for a Bible seminary, the Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique, so that others could carry out the work of evangelism in France.

Before we got to France, however, we went to a rustic compound in the muggy and mucky Florida Everglades. Part of the Teen Missions International approach is to run all the missionaries through a pretty rigorous two-week "boot camp." We learned how to evangelize, how to build a square foundation, and why the missionary calling was so important.

I have some pretty vivid memories from those two exhausting weeks:
  • Washing my jeans by hand and waiting for them to hang-dry in the 90% humidity.
  • Standing with my back to Ruth while she used the latrine, to give her a modicum of privacy. The stalls had no doors, the toilets did not flush (I don't think) and all paper waste had to go into a garbage pail. The stench was hor-REN-dous and dysentery was rampant. (I do hope they have working plumbing now.)
  • Swimming in the opaque pond and wondering if we were really safe from alligators.
  • Running the obstacle course every day, as part of a team-building exercise.
  • Trying desperately to stay awake as I sat beside a missionary telling the story of her brother being killed by the natives he was witnessing to, and then she, herself, going back to the same tribe to translate the Bible for them.
  • Flirting with boys despite the "No 'Dear'-hunting" policy.
Here are a couple of pictures. I'm not actually in them, but these are pictures from the Teen Missions obstacle course.

The Slough of Despond
Yes, I fell in. Of course I did. Did you expect otherwise?

Jacob's Ladder
This was a lot of fun, like the climbing structures at Ontario Place.
It may sound quite horrific, but I loved it and was not homesick at all. It also gave me a lifelong appreciation for our civilized amenities: running water, electricity, and plumbing.

Eventually, we did make it to France, where our accommodations were quite spectacular. We entered a marble-floored foyer flanked by a broad, curving staircase. A grand piano graced the salon. We all marveled at the bidet. The grand house had lush green lawns rolling right down to the Seine River.
The Faculté Libre de Théologie Évangélique
Our lodgings, at top.

The dormitories we helped build at bottom.
The village of Vaux-sur-Seine was ancient, built on the side of hills, with narrow cobblestone streets. There was a lively open-air market each week.

Here are a few memories from my time in France:
  • I learned how pitiful my high-school French was. But I was the most fluent member of our team, so acted as translator during our one or two evangelism forays. I also learned that, in France, "salle de bain" is not synonymous with the lavatory.
  • I bought a rum ball at the market, not realizing that it had real rum in it. It was confiscated as contraband, which was fine with me because it tasted yucky.
  • I bought a pastry at a pâtisserie -- a tartelette filled with rose-coloured mousse. Expecting something sweet and fruity, I was shocked to taste salmon! But was too embarrassed to say anything.
  • There was a tunnel from the kitchen to a small bunker-like apartment where our team leaders lived. I always wondered if it might have been used in the French Resistance.
  • We went into Paris for Bastille Day and experienced crowds like I had never seen. I was caught in a crush at the barricades and could not stop to help up an older woman who had been knocked down. It was very frightening and has left me with a distaste for large crowds.
  • While walking back to our bus from the light show, our human chain broke. A man handed me what I thought was a sparkler and, just as the girl whose hand I had dropped turned to shout, "No!" the firecracker exploded in my hands. The man roared with laughter. As my fingers tingled, I was devastated that someone could find such pleasure in doing something so hurtful.
Oh, goodness. Each memory triggers another. So I will leave you with a final picture of a memorable summer from my youth.
That is Ruth with her head in the cement mixer
and me standing beside her.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Intentional Stupidity and Dyslexia (Sort Of)

I usually assume stupidity is accidental. Or maybe it's asininity that I'm thinking of.


I was browsing the local Kijiji and Craigslist listings for DSLR cameras this afternoon and came across this little gem:

First: why would you want two 70 mm lenses? Am I missing something?
Then I thought, that must be one incredible camera to be worth more than $12 million! I assumed it was a typo and that the seller would appreciate being alerted to the error, so I used the Kijiji messager to let him know. He replied:

Well, how about that? He did it on purpose. Because everyone knows that you get more nibbles if you radically inflate your price and give totally vague descriptions of your product!


Moving on ...

While I'm on the subject of cameras, I will confess that I have historically (and hysterically) confused two words: PENTAX and TAMPAX.

These two have nothing to do with each other.
 You can see how that happens, right? And how awkward it is to ask a professional photographer what he thinks of Tampax cameras, right?

I'll stick with Canon and Nikon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Photo Class: Loud

Today's lesson was on adjusting the white balance in your photos, and the theme was "Loud." On a whim, I decided to bring my camera to work with me today, because, who knows? I might have come across someone in a loud Hawaiian shirt.

Didn't happen. But as I was waiting for the elevator, I heard a very loud drilling sound coming from the foyer where two workers were doing something with the marble tiles that line the ceiling joists. I quickly checked my settings, then took one snap and started to play with the settings a little more. Just as I was about to take some more pix, a security guard came up to me and informed me that I was not allowed to take pictures inside the building.

So this was the only picture I got. The "leading lines" aren't really working in my favour and I've got the subject matter boringly centred, but the picture doesn't totally suck.
f/3.5, 1/30, ISO/800,
light balance set to "sunlight"
I had actually discovered the white-balance setting on my camera by accident the other day. The same day I accidentally set it to format all my pictures as CR2 images - a special Canon format; I couldn't even preview them! I'll have to dig out the software that came with the camera.

As a reward for slogging through that explanation, here is a quick snap of me in the famous CASUAL ELEGANT ATTIRE. The event was at the Science & Technology Museum, and I had a chance to play with the Vandegraff generator. Isn't that what everyone does when they go to a soirée?

Taken with my BlackBerry
It's probably not the glam shot you were expecting, but you get the idea. As it happened, most people were dressed comparably, though I did see some questionable outfits, including leggings worn as pants with a cropped crocheted sweater. Only Barbie could get away with that, and this woman was no Barbie.

I must say, that was one of the most fun evening events I've ever attended. It combined geeky fun with excellent food and an open bar. What's not to love?

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