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Weekend Updates 2009-08-31

I took Thursday and Friday of last week off and created for myself a four day weekend. That was fun. I got some organizing projects done around the house, and played around a bit with a photography project. The end result of the photography project wasn’t great – but I know what I need to do to fix it, so I just need to reshoot, and I had a lot of fun playing with it, so I’m happy about what I learned.

The household organizing – I’m pretty happy about that too. It was mainly little stuff, but stuff that makes a difference. We had seven or eight redundant flower vases that we purged, keeping our favorites. I rearranged appliances in the kitchen, and threw out some liquor that has been hanging around my kitchen since I was a renter and not a home owner – one bottle that I know a friend brought to a party I threw in February of 1999. (Yikes!) Not big drinkers we. You can look into the site – if you are looking for quality and affordable appliances repair services.

I bought some better storage containers for winter apparel and cleaned out the dining room closet so we can get at our winter stuff more easily. The cats are now fascinated by the free space in the closet. They keep wandering in there to see I’m not sure what. Maybe they’re just astonished that we have a space in the house that’s actually organized. I know I am.

I also wrangled Drusilla and Huckleberry to the vet on separate days for long overdue checkups and shots. Everyone is apparently healthy, if a bit grumpy about the wrangling process.

For a friend’s birthday, we went to see Julie & Julia, which I loved. Don’t go to that movie hungry – you’ll be ravenous when you leave the theater. And possibly a bit in love with Julia Child, or at least Meryl Streep. I particularly enjoyed the segments about blogger Julie Powell, the parts of the movie that were critically panned by apparently everyone. But then, I’ve been blogging since the 90s, so I thought her story was hilarious, where others thought she was self-involved.

The eye candy of mid-century modern furniture in both Julia and Julie’s abodes is worth going, and I’m strongly considering wearing my strand of faux pearls from now on. At least I’ll know by people’s reactions who actually still reads my blog.

Continue ReadingWeekend Updates 2009-08-31

Blue Meanies

I’ve been in quite a blue funk lately. A large chunk of that is due to hitting 41, which seems to have affected me more than 40 did by a large margin. The “thinking about mortality” issues that advance with each turn of the year tend to thrust themselves into my conscious mind with alarming regularity. It does not help at all that I’ve had friends die in recent years, and parents of friends are having serious health issues. It occurs to me that this is one of the purposes of babies – watching them grow and discover the world and all the promise of youth is definitely a positive distraction from looking in the other direction.

The other source of the blues is work-related, which is mainly why I haven’t written much about the blue meanies going on in my life right now. I’ve had a long-standing policy of not blogging about work, in order to avoid creating problems with my source of income. I’m somewhat violating that here, but I think it’s fair to say that my morale about our product development is quite low, and that has affected practically everything else in my life; my weekends are filled with pouring over problems and frustrations, and I find it hard to let go and just enjoy the times when I’m not at work.

Photography and knitting have been lifesavers recently — normally I’d take out my frustrations on some fun online project, but web design is the last thing I want to think about when I leave work these days, so other creative outlets have filled in the gaps. I love photography and have learned a lot; I think I’m a bit suspended figuring out where I want to go with it next. I’ll land in the right spot on that soon.

Knitting. Knitting is awesome. I’ve found I’m quite good at what I’ve learned so far, and as a zen “take your mind off things” activity, it’s stellar. Have I even mentioned it here? Holy moley, I haven’t have I? Other than a photo I put up back in May, I haven’t.

Stephanie has been a crocheter for 17 years or so, and has made afghans, scarves, blankets, etc. for people in that time. She’s been wanting to learn to knit, but my mom hasn’t had a chance to teach her because she’s been so busy. One of Stephanie’s skating friends taught her some really simple knitting on a trip to a competition, but she needed more info, so we went to Mass Avenue Knit Shop to find out about classes. I was charmed by the atmosphere of the shop and the wild varieties of yarns they had available, and asked if she minded if I took the class too. So we signed up together. The class teaches how to create a beginner sweater, which covers pretty much everything you need to learn to knit well.

On the side, I’m working on two other winter scarves – one of alternating red and yellow stripes that will look somewhat like this:

Gryffindor Scarf
Gryffindor Scarf

Evoking a bit of that Gryffindor magic, doncha know.

The other scarf is my own variation of a Dr. Who Scarf, which is far enough different in concept to be actually not a Dr. Who Scarf at all, except that it will be super-long and striped. I find I have to disclaimer that because Dr. Who Scarf fans (they are legion) are very religious about their patterns and making their scarves match the props used in different seasons of the show exactly. I find that the preciseness of people who fit into the cross-section of Dr. Who fans with knitting fans to be charming, if not a bit on the unnerving side.

Part of my motivation for this scarf is that it will replace one that I lost – I had a great multi-color striped scarf from the Gap that disappeared from work last winter, and I haven’t been able to find a winter scarf that I liked as well as that one. So I’m making my own!

Tom Baker Doctor Who Scarf
Tom Baker Doctor Who Scarf
Doctor Who Scarf
Doctor Who Scarf

Mine will be alternating stripes of color with black. I’ve restarted it several times; I started with it being too wide and with lots of dropped stitches and holes, so I’ve taken it out and started over repeatedly. I finally have it going the way I want, but I imagine it’s going to take a while to do, because I’m knitting in the round to create a tube so that the “finished” or knit side is the only one that shows (that’s another variation of mine from Canon; real Dr. Who Scarves are garter stitch, not stockinette.) The yarn I’m using is all the left-over bits of stuff that Stephanie used on various crochet projects over the years, so I have the bonus of using up lots of scraps and having a really varied color combination.

Photos of both of my scarves in progress will be coming forthwith. Eventually. Really Soon.

2022-03-12-Update: I made exact replicas of the Doctor Who Scarf and of the Gryffindor Scarf. It took a long time, but it was great. I’m really good at this knitting thing now, former me. Here are the photos, as long ago promised.

My Doctor Who Scarf
My Doctor Who Scarf

Gryffindor Scarf
Gryffindor Scarf
Continue ReadingBlue Meanies

Roswell R2K Road Trip Prep

Today is my last Friday of work before vacation – 2 weeks of it! We’re going to go to the official Last Roswell R2K New Beetle event – this is the annual New Beetle car show that Stephanie attends in Roswell, New Mexico. It’s the 10th Anniversary of the Volkswagen New Beetle, and Stephanie’s car Phoebe turned 10 this year. It’s also the last event of it’s kind, for the most part. It’s becoming harder for people to attend due to the economy and to the age of many of the cars, and putting on a car show is a big process to organize, and the folks who’ve made it such a fun event in the past are worn out.

Phoebe's New Plate

I went with Stephanie on a very long version of this cross-country trek in 2007, and took in all of Route 66 along the way, traveling all the way to California over 17 days.

Slideshow of Route 66 Trip Photos

This year, we take off Tuesday morning, June 23rd, and meet the rest of the Eastern caravan around Memphis, Tennessee, then proceed on to Roswell over the rest of the week, arriving at the car show on the weekend.

Google Map of the Caravan Route

Since we’ve done this before, we have a pretty good sense of what we need, so we haven’t killed ourselves packing yet. We’ll do a lot of that over the weekend. I’ll post some photos here to my blog and make updates, but I don’t plan to upload all my photos of the trip like I did before. It took a long time and I did very little photo editing on that round, and this time I want to post fewer, but better photos. I’m really looking forward to the time off and spending time with Stephanie, and I’m salivating at the chance to take photos all day long, too.
We’ll also keep in touch via Facebook, and Stephanie will be on Twitter, and I’m setting my blog posts to update Twitter as well.

And as always, you can follow along on the whole trip via the All Pods Go to Roswell webcams, running continuously through the trip by our friend Lisa.

Continue ReadingRoswell R2K Road Trip Prep

My Lenses – Let me show you them!

I’ve been knee-deep in photography-related activities lately but have barely written about them here, other than posting a few pictures. Let me fill you in on how things have been going.

Looks like I wrote about my camera back in July after I got it, outlining how I made the decision to go with my model. I’ve made some additional equipment purchases since then.

The Olympus e-420 is a great camera for me. It’s small, light and I take it everywhere with me. It came with a 25mm f/2.8 pancake lens. This lens is a fixed focal length lens that’s very tiny. It’s a great lens; super useful.

Olympus Zuiko 25mm f/2.8 Pancake lens

After taking lots of photos with that lens, I felt I needed a zoom lens to capture more far away stuff, so I bought a 40-150mm f/4-5.6 lens. It’s a fairly cheap lens; it’s clearly lots of plastic, rather small in size and I have to use some sort of stabilizer (like a tripod, monopod or home-made monopod) because it’s very susceptible to camera shake. But it does take photos of gargoyles on the top of 20 story buildings and such, and I’m glad I have it. I got some good shots at the track with it. (I have to say with a great deal of thanks to my friend Rachel, who is very familiar with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and had a handle on where all to go to get good photos. She was a great location scout.)

Olympus Zuiko 40-150mm f/4-5.6 Lens

My next lens purchase was a 12-60mm f/2.8 lens that I got just before Christmas. This is the workhorse that stays on my camera a lot of the time, because it captures wide angle shots really well at the 12mm focal length but also gives me plenty of range without having to switch lenses. The downside is that it’s rather large and heavy, and people tend to react to the size of it negatively. They think it’s a paparazzi spy lens and that I’m invading their privacy (never), or they think I’m a professional photographer and ask me to take their photos for money (no, please. the pressure!). The large size has nothing to do with focal length of the camera – it’s about the lens quality. It’s a really heavy, sturdy piece of glass that I like a lot.

Olympus Zuiko 12-60mm f/2.8-4 Lens

And my most recent acquisition is a 50mm macro lens. I’ve been having a LOT of fun with this, although I’m still getting used to it. Lots of my recent photos of miniature action figures have been taken with this lens.

Olympus Zuiko 50mm f/2 Macro Lens

I carry this and all my other crap around in a Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home camera bag. I picked that one out because it’s what my brother and one of my friends carry. It’s cool because it doesn’t really look at that much like a camera bag, or like a lunch cooler, which is what a lot of camera bags resemble. It’s a tight fit to get the camera and all four lenses in there along with other general purse-like items. At times I pick a lens to leave at home. But I have tried out the next size up (the Crumpler Six Million) and didn’t care for it; a bit too bulky and noticeable.

Crumpler 5 Million Dollar Home bag

I have a cheap Kodak Monopod and a couple of inexpensive tripods, too. I haven’t used them as much because I’ve been shooting mostly hand-held. This dandy little home-made device has really helped me out a few times, though:

DIY Tripod/camera stabilizer

The gear I have covers everything I want to do right now – mainly that’s becoming good at taking good photos for the time being. The class I took helped a great deal. It was just four weeks, once night a week – but it filled in the gaps in my knowledge of what my camera can do. I have a lot more practice that I need to do on the fundamentals before it will become second nature to me. I still have to think through getting the right exposure each time, and I need to be more bold about seeking out the shot I can see is there.

I also need to find my visual voice – what is it I’m trying to see and photograph and how do I take those photos to get the look I want. I have favorite photographers on flickr that I follow for inspiration. I think I have an idea of what I want to express visually. I’m just not sure how to achieve that on the technical side yet.

I think the most time-consuming and least favorite task is the photo editing. I don’t enjoy that as much and am perpetually behind on that task, so it’s days or weeks after an event before I finally get photos ready.

Continue ReadingMy Lenses – Let me show you them! using Flickr photos without copyright owners permission

On Monument Circle

One of my friends pointed out to me today that several of his and my photos that are posted on Flickr under an “All Rights Reserved” license are being pulled into the website – the “Official site of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.” You find some of them from this page – click on any of the icons that say “More Info > Photos” under each attraction. They are pulling in many photos taken by Flickr members from Indianapolis, and almost all of them are not licensed to be used this way.

Even if photos are published on Flickr, they are not licensed for other use without the permission of the photo taker unless that person has designated that they are under one of various Creative Commons Licenses. My photos are not, and should not be appearing on any site other than my own. Many other people’s photos are not licensed to be shared, either, and judging by the response I got from the ICVA, I suspect they didn’t get their permission to use them either.’s behavior is a copyright violation many times over.

When I discovered this, I immediately called the number at the bottom of the website (1-800-323-INDY) and left a message. Sadly, this is the only way to get contact of someone; there is no email or form to use.

I got a call back from a man named James Wallis (Wallace?) to whom I explained the problem. He was FILLED with explanations designed to convince me that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Among them:

  • Well, they’re on Flickr, so they’re in the public domain. (Norfolking Waypal. Not true. You have to follow Flickr’s licensing rules to use pictures.)
  • We’re linking to people’s accounts, so they get credit. (Lovely, but some people want more than credit for pictures they’ve taken. Some people want MONEY – hence the “All rights reserved” designation. If they wanted to share, they’d mark the photos with Creative Commons Licenses.)
  • We’re only showing a very small thumbnail. (Not true; they have a larger image that pops up if you click on a thumbnail image. Either way, use of the picture small or large without permission is wrong.)
  • We have lawyers that told us this is okay. (You have some bad lawyers, dude. I know better, and throwing this excuse out there hoping I don’t is not cool.)
  • We’ll take your pictures down right away. (Lovely – what about all the OTHER photos you’re using without permission?)
  • We’ve been doing this for a long time. No one has complained until now. (So, you’ve been robbing banks for a long time – doesn’t mean you get off when you get caught.)
  • Most people are quite happy when they see their pictures are featured on our site. (It’s sad that most people are sheep and don’t know their rights. I suspect many people would be happy to share their photos IF YOU ASK THEM FIRST. I might have. Maybe not – I have actually sold photos, so if they have some commercial value, I want money, even if it’s a small amount.)

I tried, throughout the conversation, to point out that if they had only acted in Good Faith – if they had sent a message to Flickr users asking for their photos, they might have gotten not just permission – but people willing to go out and take pictures of stuff they’ve seen specifically for the site. People are taking pictures of the city because we like this place. If you ask us for help promoting the city, many of us would be happy to help out.

Hell, if they’d contacted me, I’d have pointed out that I have WAY BETTER photos
than the ones they picked – I have an entire collection – A Sense of Place – of pictures documenting my love affair with the Circle City.

Just act in good faith – be considerate, and don’t lie and make excuses when people call you out on your behavior. It’s disturbing that someone promoting the city could produce that list of excuses. If you love the city, love it’s citizens, too, and act on their behalf.

Continue using Flickr photos without copyright owners permission