Saturday, December 30, 2006

Happy End of the Year Madness

It's late autumn and I've been fascinated with trees lately. I don't know why but I've been doing red, actually brown, leaf bokeh along with photographing some acorns in the yard. Crazy, I know, but I just can't seem to get enough of the tree stuff as of late.

Yes, it's official. I've gone "nuts."

Until next time...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

It's Time


BrownLeafBokeh, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

It's the end of the year...almost time for me to start posting those top 10 lists that everybody loves to hate (or hates to love.) I got my first iPhoto Calendar in the mail today-it came out ok, not as nice as the books but still better than what I could do if given an infinite supply of duct tape, photo paper, and long since expired film. (Actually, I take that back-sometimes expired film turns funky colors.) Anyway, the calendar is here, it's not bad, I'm liking it, if, for nothing else, than the fact that I made it myself (well, me and a giant Mac computer, when it wasn't busy kicking my ass in chess.)

I got some Christmas cards in the mail today too. It's good to hear from everybody and, actually, see everybody-since everybody's been stuffing pictures into their cards this year. I feel so anti-photographer at Christmas, when all these point and shoot folks run rings around me-what with their Santa hats and all. I almost get sick of explaining, "no, you see, I'm not a *real* photographer...I'm more like an artist who uses a camera and..." Oh, who am I kidding? I've never found a Santa hat that looked good on me. And don't even get me started on that red nose of Rudolf's.

Picture this...time for me to go scarf down what's left of the egg nog.

Until next time...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Almost Christmas-Lookout for that Fruitcake


MadonnaOnTheZoomNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I hope that everybody has a safe and happy holiday, be it already happening in your part of the globe, or about to happen in a few hours.

I have the next few days off and will be posting on and off, not online as much as usual, but enjoying lots of food and trying to stay out of the rain. It was cold and rainy today at home-one of those days you want to just sleep all day, which is pretty much what I got to do. Sleep is so under-rated this season.

I did watch the Food Network quite a bit today. It was great. There was some show where this guy setup a fancy table in a crowded shopping mall, complete with big signs that said..."Free! Come and Get it!" only to advertise free fruit cake. Needless to say, he did not get many (if any) takers. He did get more than his share of folks lured by the "Free!" sign, walking up, and running away empty-handed though. Kind of funny that fruitcake has become such a horror that he couldn't even give it away, for free, in a crowded shopping mall but then again, what do you expect? This is fruitcake we're talking about, right?

Anyway, I hope you eat too much, sleep all you want, get plenty of presents, avoid the nasty, recycled fruitcakes, and maybe get to enjoy a visit with the kin. I'll probably start up the yearly "best of" stuff when I get back from doing the same.

Until next, is that a fruitcake....run!

PS My friend Mike, AKA "CraftyGuy" has called this image "Madonna of the Blessed Disco." I rather like that. Kind of fits her, don't you think? There was an article in the paper today about the good folks at 37th Street and there, um, "taste" in Christmas decor. Holy Mackerel, anyone?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Storm Clouds-Weather in the Sky


CloudForm9786, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This is what storm clouds, on an otherwise sunny day look like. This was taken just before a wild storm blew my way. You can kind of see a hint of darkness in these clouds, if you look for it, and look past that clear blue sky in the center.

Sometimes, we have to look for the hint of storm to find it, other times, well, it just rains on our heads.

Until next time...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Person of the Year


AutumnsPaintBrush, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Time Magazine has recently named me person of the year. Yes, it's true, little old me has made it to the top of the heap. *Waves at crowd* What does this mean, what does this all mean, you ask? How could it be?

Well, for starters, I'd like to thank the academy and, um, God, Buddha, and a few other deities (just to cover all the bases in case, you know, the Scientologists were right and we are all headed to the afterlife in a giant spaceship.) My parents, who have always been there for me, as well as, um, the good folks at Canon and Apple computers, because, well, a girl has to have some toys, right? And then there's TiVo. How could I forget to thank my blessed and divine TiVo unit-the one which has brought me countless hours of, ahem, "fine" entertainment. (Yeah, that's what I'd call it.) And, um, Nicolas Cage just for being, well, you know, for being himself (perpetually "boopable" in re-runs and matinee showings around the TiVo universe.) And, of course, Chase, my darling Chase. Stop eating the couch, dear. Where would I be without the love and devotion from my fabulous-I mean it, stop eating the couch-beloved pet cockapoo, Chase. (One more bite out of that couch and it's no kibble for you, you little mutt you!)

(orchestra music starts playing)

And then there's the good folks at Adobe who bring us a Photoshop and Creative Suite applications that never crash. And how could I forget...They're telling me to wrap up....

(orchestra music grows louder)

How could I forget all the fabulous photo clubs I've joined, participated in, and gotten kicked out of over the years. Yes, a special thanks to the good folks at Texas Fine Art Photo Group, TPS, Doc Photo, and Shutterbugs. Thank you very much for this esteemed award...

Look on the bright side. I had to beat out the likes of Osama Bin Laden, and some dictator from North Korea (Kim-Jong-you-make-me-il) to claw my way to the top spot.

Until next "person of the year-yeah right" award...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Chase Chews a Stick


PaintedChaseChewsAStick, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Chase chews a stick. Chase runs through the yard. Chase tries to eat Austin's ears. Chase does everything but sit still. Chase will not sit still.

This was supposed to be a portrait of Chase with his new haircut. I was going to show you how it's great that now we can see his eyes. I was going to show him looking all smart, short, and sassy. But, no. Chase will not sit still.

He's the cutest dog in the world, too bad I can't get a picture of him.

Until next time...

Monday, December 18, 2006

KaBoom!


Draidel ExplosionNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This is the "giant exploding yard draidel that looks like a fiberoptic pom pom or maybe something from outer space" yard ornament from 37th Street I have been telling you about all week. Aren't you glad you finally got to see it? This was taken on the zoom, directly under the yard draidel, behind the square snowman and sort of to the right of the hanging decorated tin cans that were painted to look like fish. Hey, it's 37th Street. What do you want? Ain't no simple wreaths in this 'hood.

In other news, laptop has yet to arrive. It's shipped and it's in transit, actually it's in Austin and should come home sometime today. I can hardly wait.

They unveiled the "Extreme Makeover Home Edition" that was filmed in Austin this weekend, actually, yesterday at 1. It's a beautiful house. Stone with lots of space, very attractive looking. If I have time over the next few days (weeks?) I'll go take some photos of it. I thought about going yesterday but then decided against it, since it was full of Home Makeover people, including a large crowd that had gathered out front for days. I didn't want to get in the middle of that mess. Once it settles down, I'll go take some pictures of the "aftermath."

Didn't one of the Star Trek captains like Earl Grey tea? You can keep the exploding draidel, I want some Earl Grey right about now.

Until next exploding teacup...

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Giant Draidel In the Tree

This is the giant draidel in the tree from 37th Street. I'm happy because, this year anyway, I was able to make it look like it was exploding (this in another shot.)

In most important news, I have ordered a laptop. I broke down and got myself a Macbook Pro. It's going to be a 15 inch model, with a dual core pentium, a gig of memory (on one DIMM) and a rather small-ish hard drive, which I can replace later, should I become an addict and start using it instead of my desktop.

Ok, so now I'm portable. You aren't expecting me to get up and dance or anything now, were you?

Until next time...

Ambushed


BarbiePlaysWithAliens, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

"...and then Barbie was taken away by little green men..."

Ken's looking horribly green today, isn't he?

Until next time...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What to Get


Santas Stove, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

What to get for the person who has everything? Ah, I know! "You sunk my battleship!"

This is from 37th Street in Austin. Where else would they take an old stove, put a mermaid in the oven, put a pirate ship on top, and then decorate it with bright white lights, passing it off as holiday decor? And you thought I was a bit nuts? Ha!

I love these people. They make me look so....normal, I think.

(Don't they?)

Until next time...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Department of Bureaucracy Please Move Right On Through


Ladder to the Lights, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

(or how the federal government is confusing me by doing something nice.)

My passport expired. So, I decided (finally!) it would be time to get a new one.

Now, I know what you, my loyal readers, are thinking. (No, not *that.* Geesh.) "Oh this is going to be good. That ranting, raving lunatic of a flake has to deal with waiting in line, government bureaucracy, red tape, and like, probably some really old, slow moving clerks..." And, knowing what I know of the government, I'd say that I'd have to agree with you. I was expecting a hard time, a multi-hour wait, a "take a number/now serving" tangle of misery that only our bungled US government could offer up on a not-so-silver-yet-still-somehow-overtaxed platter. So, you can imagine my surprise when it was nothing like that?

I went to USPS.gov (I still think the US Government should get even with all these cheesy porno sites by registering "odd" domains, you know, stuff like "HotKentuckySchoolGirls.com" and then put up really boring government propaganda, you know, stuff like "Case Study and History of the Bow Weevil in the 21st Century" but that's really a blog for another day. Revenge can still be had, though, for $9.99 a domain name. And, while it might qualify as a waste of our hard-earned tax dollars, it sure as hell would be funny.) They had a form listing the places (physical places) where you can renew your passport. I printed the form, with a map, to the nearest Post Office that offered up "Passport Hours." Passports, it would appear, are only made in the middle of the day, during certain hours. Ok, no big deal, I can read and follow directions. I go to the Post Office at lunchtime, right before Christmas, and there's about 200 people waiting to ship packages. I take my number, expecting a super-long wait, the likes of which, well, let's just say I was fully expecting to grow old today, and I sit down between two towers of boxes, waiting to be shipped to Indiana, supported only by SUV-driving soccer moms.

As I'm waiting, I stop staring off into space (actually daydreaming) long enough to spot passport applications hanging on the wall. There are 2: a purple and an orange one. Great. Now I'm thinking, "this is like the matrix with the pills in pretty colors, except that people might have actually made it out of the matrix. There's no hope for me..." But the forms were easy enough (I needed "purple" for renew.) The wait was shortened because I didn't have to get stuck behind all the "package people" (they have a special line for the likes of me. Ok, well, maybe not but...) I was in and out in about the time it took for them to develop my picture.

Wow. What can I say? Probably nothing, since now I don't have a legitimate gripe to blog, right? Passports are issued by the Department of State, at the Post Office, and cleared with Homeland Security. That's 3 (count 'em! 3) federal government agencies I had to deal with today. And they all just worked together. Like sorcery without the wand, I still can't figure out how they pulled this one off. Must be something in the egg nog.

('Course I still don't have the passport...yet...but they did say 4-6 weeks...so here's hoping.)

Until next giant ball of red tape that's surprisingly agile...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Holy Mackerel It's A Christmas Fish

Title pretty much says it all for this one. This is what happens when you mix 37th Street Austin with, well, anything else in the universe really. (Did you ever play "Go Fish!" as a kid? No? Well, you should now...it's never too late to enjoy a mis-spent youth.)

Speaking of mean, I caught the latest episode of my favorite cantankerous medical mystery show last night. House MD managed to claw past Law and Order re-runs and the odd, lone Nicolas Cage movie to make it to the top of the TiVo heap. Thank God, he's that mean, otherwise, I'd have to watch another NY crime drama.

What's all this about Wilson being a rat? I mean, don't the good folks at Fox know that you're not supposed to make "the cute one" turn out to be the bad guy? It's not supposed to be the one with the puppy dog eyes, it's supposed to be either the lead female (oh, you know, rhymes with "witch") the big, black guy or, better yet, the mean evil cop that everybody hates already anyway. Leave poor Wilson out of it, will ya? That helpless sap needs to go back to banging his patients and, like, spreading "holiday cheer" by reminding them all they have cancer.

Well, on the bright side maybe Robert Sean Leonard, when he's not busy giving us his intimate portrayal of the finkerly Wilson, will get to go fishing this holiday season. I'm sure he'll get more than his fair share of cheese balls for Christmas, what with all the rat-ing going down on the show now. Munch on that all you House fans-he asked for a sweater and ended up wagging a long, skinny tail while nibbling that cheddar.

Until next time...

PS I thought the "good" doctor offed the rat with the cane last season? Damn, I have to get out more...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Nope, No Mystery Here


BarbiePlaysWithAliens, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

"...Move along...nothing to see here...just keep walking..."

I'm happy to report that the "Keep Austin Weird"-ness, typically on parade on 37th and a half Street is, well, almost in full swing.

We went yesterday. The lights weren't as "fantastic" as they have been in years past. Still, even "pretty crappy" for 37th and a half Street yields some interesting results, such as my flaxen haired friend and her little green buddy. The standards on 37th and a half Street, you see, are quite high. (One year, they had Martha Stewart on the front lawn in Christmas lights and prison garb doing arts and crafts projects, at their own little lit up "Christmas camp cupcake.")

37th Street in Austin is quite a site, even on a "down" year. The folks were nice, the weather warm, and the prison garb, happily, was kept to a minimum. What more could you want from a holiday light display? (Hint: Look for a giant spinning screaming neon dreidel in posts to come.)

Have yourself a merry little something-or-other.

Until next time...

Friday, December 08, 2006

That's Not Write but It's Ok


ShawledWomanInBlueDances, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I thought that, since I yapped about it so much, I should give you a wrap up of my experience with NaNoWriMo.

I ended up the month with a little over 10,000 words. Not my best effort by far, but not a horrible showing either. I did not get to enter my final word count because the site was very busy towards the end of the month and I had little time to "upload" my files for statistical purposes. I did not get a laptop, but I will. I have decided that I really need one, for portability and to be able to backup my writing and pictures. Eh, so be it.

The fun stuff? Well, I got to create a few interesting characters in my story about HoBo's. My idea for the novella was to write a series of short stories, all centered around a train, or train culture (HoBos, travelers, subway commuters, etc.) I think it never really "clicked" because the stories were so disjoint and I never did come up with a central "plot." Some of the stories would make for great short stories in eZines, because I do think they came out pretty decently, or could be decent with some major "clean up" (but they are interesting enough to stand alone.) On the whole, Vagabond Times was a fun adventure, and I might finish it off some day, depending on my ability to solidify a plot.

Writing a novel or novella is harder than it seems, especially for a blogger like me (I've since started calling my fellow bloggers the "yap and snap" club, since, well, that's what we do, right?) A lot of people, especially those who are not writers think that, well, they think you are either a writer or you're not. If you're a writer, that sort of implies that you can work with words-you're a verbivore!-you can put words down on paper, convey thoughts, transfer emotions, and, well, just generally spill your guts using a pen and paper. Being a novice "writer" I can tell you that this is not exactly true. There's all sorts of writing. Some of it easy, some more difficult, some easy for some people, etc. Just because I can blog, does not a writer make me. Sure, I can write an office memo, and I like to joke about having a "bullshit generator" that can make stuff up on the fly but writing a serious piece of fiction, like a novella, well, it takes a different beast. It takes the ability to organize, to develop, to form, to flow. None of that happens in a blog (well, except for maybe "the great TiVo incident" but, like, we won't go there, ok?) So, yeah, I'm a writer, I do an OK job with the blog but, novelist? Far from it. I'm still going to get that laptop though.

And, the best part of NaNoWriMo? I came up with a great idea...for another book. (A "real" one with a plot and everything.)

Until next November...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Great 37th Street Mystery


BusStoponDumaine, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

(or what even Google doesn't know)

In Austin, Texas, every year since 1980, the folks around 37th Street (actually 37th and a half Street, don't get confused. We wouldn't want you to have to get out and walk that last half block) have put up Christmas decorations. Not just any Christmas decorations, mind you, they go overboard with stockings, Santa garb, screaming neon streamers, and lights galore. Overboard, in this particular case, is even an understatement, as it's been speculated that you could see these holiday lights from the space shuttle. The folks on 37th and a half Street in Austin, you see, are world famous for putting up this kind of decor. Loud, wild, obnoxious, unforgettable Christmas decor, is how I would describe it really (although words don't actually do it any kind of justice.)

So, it should be no surprise that I plan on going to 37th and a half Street again this year, to photograph the Christmas decor. I do it every year, actually, it's something I kind of enjoy, even if I never really get great photos of the now famous, annual 37th and a half Street spectacle. Some years it's hot outside, some years, it's cold, some year's the lights are better than other's, some years, well, let's just say there was the odd "incident" involving an old TV that had been gutted and turned into a screaming neon, glowing, overy lit up fishtank that had little to do with yuletide, Santa, or anything even closely resembling a reindeer. Still, that doesn't stop the good folks on 37th and a half Street from putting up their own litlte "unique" blend of 37th and a half Street Christmas lights. It's why we love them, it's why we notice them, it's what they're there for (well, ok, maybe not but, like, you get the idea.)

But, this year something odd is going on. A few weeks ago, the newspaper ran an article about how the fate of the now annual 37th and a half Street Christmas light display was, in fact, in question. Maybe they aren't doing it this year, the paper speculated. For whatever reason, the good folks at the paper put it into our collective heads that, for one reason or another, the folks on 37th and a half Street were going to celebrate the holiday season this year in the dark.

Since it's close to the time that the lights would normally be going on, I thought it would be a good idea to google to check and see if the lights were even going on at all. So, I googled, I wiki-ed, I even flickr-ed and what did I come up with? You guessed it: nothing. That's right, I got nothing. Nothing, I tell you. No "insider" information, no details, no "scoup" on the status of the lights. Nothing.

So now, what I want to know is, what I really, really want to know, is how does an entire city block, in Austin Texas, the heart of a technology center in the United States, hide so well a bunch of Christmas lights-lights that we can even spot from space!-from the web crawlers, spiders, auto "bots," and other odd "technological bits" on the internet?

Damn, what's their secret?

Until next hidden in plain sight Santa hat and light bulb...

Monday, December 04, 2006

Spacy Macy's-Where Are You Now?


LampAndChurchInTheMist, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Sometime last year, they changed all the Foley's stores in Austin over to Macy's. Normally, this would not be a big deal, since the stores are owned by the same company and all, but, for me anyway, it's a bit weird.

You see, when I first moved here, I looked around and noticed that the only store we didn't have (that I liked to shop in) was Macy's. No big deal, they would announce in the paper that a Macy's was coming soon, or that they were planning a new mall across town that would have a Macy's in it. Ok, so I figured, it would be a year or two tops before Austin got a Macy's. I would just wait it out and be happy when it finally arrived.

Then, something weird happened. Macy's never opened. They just never opened. There was always some strange reason, like the buyer backed out or the mall changed locations, or, well, something. Malls came and went and still, no Macy's.

Then they announced the "great Foley's conversion" and I thought, "Ok, sure, now we'll get a Macy's. We'll have to get a Macy's. They have no choice. They're making all the Foley's in town turn into Macy's" And, well, we got a Macy's.

Yesterday, I went to our Macy's. I bought a few things but I didn't feel any better about it. As we were leaving, I overheard somebody, probably another fellow New York "transplant," say, "that's the smallest Macy's I've even been in."

It's true. Our Macy's in tiny. And hardly worth a visit, if you ask me. I would not have gone if I knew how small it was.

So, where does that leave us? Now that we have a Macy's-ette (or maybe you prefer the Mexican "Macy's-ito" instead?) and we still don't really have an honest-to-God Macy's. No Macy's-o-rama-no MACY'S, no "extra grande," no giant one that you can shop in all night-one that has hordes of clothing thrown about the place, with loud music in the Junior's department and an entire floor devoted to pots and pans and kitchen-y stuff. You know, no "real" Macy's to speak of, just this pathetic excuse of a one, where does that leave us?

I mean, I'm sure they won't open a "real" one now, since they've got the petite version taking up all this real estate, right? And, I still kind of want to go to one now.

I guess it's like that old saying, "be careful what you wish for..."

Until next time...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Top 10 Best Cities for Photographing Architecture in the US


PalaceDetail, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Here is my list of the top 10 best cities for photographing architecture in the United States. Note that, this does not include Mexico or Canada (sorry, but those are for another list.)

Here's my list:

10. Los Angeles, CA-for Frank Lloyd Wright's Ennis Brown House, Chinatown, and nearby mid-century modern architecture. All that plus cool palm trees, and you get to see if you hands are bigger or smaller than a celebrity's by stuffing them into handprints pressed in the cement sidewalks. For all this and more, the City of Angles clocks in at number 10.

9. Memphis, TN-for antebellum architecture of the south. Not to mention arguably the world's most famous house: "Graceland." You can quote Paul Simon and sing, "I'm going to Graceland..." on your way to my #9 selection, Memphis.

8. St. Augustine, FL-for Spanish colonial architecture. Ponce de Leon once thought there was a fountain of youth in this coastal town. Good luck trying to find it but I'm sure you'll have lot of surprises exploring my #8 pick, Saint Augustine.

7. Charleston, SC-for colonial plantations. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride through a small southern town that survived wars, plagues, and modern day "Dixie-crats." For its historic downtown, plantations, and famous gardens, Charleston ranks #7 on my list.

6. Savannah, GA-for its Victorian homes, mansions and southern style. Savannah is a gem of Georgia that's worth a peek and so it earns a #6 ranking on my list.

5. San Francisco, CA-Victorian style townhomes mix with the modern Golden Gate bridge. The City by the Bay has some of the most wonderful light of any city on the list, not to mention a photographer-friendly atmosphere. Tour the 'Haight district, catch the sea lions beaching by the pier, or peek at the old cannery while you're visiting my #5 city.

4. New Orleans and the plantation country of LA-for the Creole cottage, shotgun shacks, double gallery homes, the French Quarter, and the grand plantations of the south. New Orleans is a city like no other. Old or young, rich or poor, the architecture of the great Crescent City is only overshadowed by it's fabulous jazz music and fantastic cajun food. Stroll down Bourbon Street and listen to some hot jazz while enjoying my #4 city.

3. Miami, FL-for art deco architecture and Spanish style homes. Where else can you find entire blocks of pastel colored art deco buildings but in Miami's South Beach? Couple this with incredible golden light and a year-round mild climate and you have an architectural photographer's paradise. Miami's color, style, and flair check in at #3 on my list.

2. New York, NY-Everything from the Brooklyn bridge to the brownstones, to the towering skyscrapers, including the gargoyles that alone could fill up a textbook, NYC is packed with architectural wonders. (Well, ok, maybe it's just packed.) No list would be complete without the "Big Apple." For it's mix of styles, architecture, art, culture, and world domination, my hometown of NYC ranks a cool #2 on my list.

1. Santa Fe, New Mexico-for adobe and pueblo architecture. Historically significant, photographically important, culturally diverse, and backed by a robin's egg blue sky, thanks to it's ultra-high altitude, Santa Fe and surrounding areas pull in the top spot of my list of cities for photographing architecture in the United States.

Have a favorite city that's not on the list? Leave a comment or email me and I might just add it to my next one.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Blunt Force Trauma


BuckingHorseNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

No, this isn't about TiVo (although it could be, what with all the murder going on in my home these days.) Have you heard that new singer James Blunt? He sings a song that starts out, "you're beautiful...." (OK, so, I know that really doesn't narrow it down much but...) and he has an unusually high, squeaky voice. Ear shattering high is how I would describe it actually. (Take two pointed sticks. Place one in each ear. Stab profusely. Now you get the idea. What's that you say, you're deaf? Poked your ears out with sharp sticks? Well, you'll thank me when you come to realize that you can now no longer listen to James Blunt.)

Now, I'm usually one of those "live and let live" kind of consumers. If I happen upon, say, a book I hate, a movie I dislike, or a song I just can't stand, I don't usually rant about it. (As you probably know, I've got plenty stockpiled up in the "rant about me" department-all raising an ugly hand and dancing around like a kid in the back row of a fourth grade class who has to skip to the bathroom and needs a hall pass.) No, I like to think that, being an artist myself, I judge fellow creative types by their best work. And, if I should happen upon something that's, well, let's just say, "less than Rembrandt-like," I just sort of let it pass. Let it go. Drop it. There's no point in stewing over mediocre artwork, the world's too small a place for that and somebody, somewhere else will appreciate it.

But, not James Blunt. James Blunt, you see, is following me.

At first, I kept hearing his song on the radio. OK, no biggie. Change the channel-it's easy enough to do. Push button "2" in the car or turn the fat knob on my radio dial to the left a bit. Piece of cake.

But then, he started cropping up in odd places. He was in the supermarket, playing over the PA system. I heard him at the bank. That annoying "you're beautiful" high pitched warble, there it was, as I was waiting in line at the Post Office. I heard the muzak version of the song in the elevator. Ugh. I had enough. I felt like I was being attacked by James Blunt. It was like some kind of Japanese water torture involving an uber-annoying male falsetto voice embodied by a super skinny British "neo-emo" singer-songwriter.

Finally, and I do mean *finally* he shut up. The "You're Beautiful..." song went away. For a few days, there was peace and quiet in the kingdom and all was right in the world (well, OK, there was the "pesky" Iraq thing going on, but, well, you get the idea.)

Then, something happened. Just when I thought it was safe to go to the bank, the Post Office, ride the elevator again, what happens? He releases another song. Yes, it's true, there' a new James Blunt song out and, well, hate to say it but, it's as bad as the first one. I think I'd rather be kicked in the head by a horse than have to listen to that song again. And you know, you just know, it's going to be all over the place in a few weeks.

What's next, James Blunt does Christmas carols? Oh, Santa, save me!

Until next poke in the ear with a stick...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ah to be Young Again


SpongeBobOnCanal, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Isn't it just a little bit immature to be wandering around the canals of Venice with a Sponge Bob Square Pants balloon? Don't you think that Bob the Builder would have been a much better choice?

Ok, so maybe her taste in balloons is questionable. She's still a fashionista in the making. Just look at those fab red pants, that dark coat and that perky backpack.

Until next time...

PS Just how do you say "Sponge Bob" in Italian?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Charge!


ChaseChasing, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Sometime last week (in the middle of November I think) they opened up a new Ikea store in Austin. It's a giant blue and yellow building that sits on the corner of the intersection of FM1431 and interstate 35. It's actually not in Austin proper but rather located in Round Rock, Texas. It's situated about eight miles from my house and, if you had to clock it, is probably under a ten minute drive, even with the lights.

It's been so crowded that most sane (or relatively sane) folks have avoided it completely. It's was so packed on opening day, a day that featured people lining up at midnight to get into a store that opened at nine a.m., that the good folks at Texas DOT (that's "department of transportation" for those of y'all who don't speak proper "Texan") had to redirect traffic from the interstate.

Today, we braved the crowds and took a peek inside.

It wasn't that crowded, actually, and they had parking attendants in the lot to help folks find a parking spot. We didn't have to walk far from our parking spot to the large brightly lit entrance. It's a big store and it was still somewhat crowded although, for the most part, you could walk around and peek at things. I ended up purchasing a few things but plan to go back to get some shelving and possibly a chest or some storage items.

The staff was exceptionally helpful and friendly. I was surprised by this since shopping in discount stores in Texas has lead me to believe that all discount store personnel were rude at worst or non-existent at best. Not so at Ikea. Even with the crowds, they seemed friendly and welcoming.

On the whole, I'd have to say I'd go back again, but will probably wait until mid-January when it will be crowded but not crazy and the holiday rush isn't in full swing. I didn't get to check out the doggie bowls or bedding while I was there, although I'm sure that they have them, as I've spotted them in the catalog.

Speaking of dogs, Chase is up to about 18 pounds now. He's growing up so nicely, in fact, he's almost the same size as Austin, although it's hard to really tell, since he's so curly and Austin's so sleek. Even so, Chase is almost up to my knees now. Quite a change from the eight and a half pound "baby" that he was when I first got him.

This is what he looks like running through the yard at full speed. Just like the checkout lines at Ikea, it's full Charge! ahead.

Catch him if you can.

Until next time...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Evil


VoodooCrossesAndSkullP, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Crosses like this are used by Voodoo masters to ward off evil spirits.

What I want to know is, what do you use to ward off the scary looking crosses?

Until next time...

Giving Thanks and Eating Too Much


PluotsNo4-1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the US, today is the day we give thanks by sharing food with our family, sitting down at home, eating a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, resting, and relaxing. Today is Thanksgiving.

I got up early, walked the dog, and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I also ate way too much at my parent's house before coming back home to rest. There's no work today or tomorrow so horray for a four day weekend.

I was quite surprised to find out how commercial the Thanksgiving Day Parade has become. Sure, it was always sponsored by Macy's, and nobody really minded the Macy's logos flying around (they go to great cost and lengths to bring us the parade each year) but, this year anyway, I got really sick and tired of seeing all the celebrities there. Why do we need to see some chick from ER pimping and whoring her show? She has nothing to do with Thanksgiving, she can't really "perform" being a TV star and all and why was she even there to begin with? Seems like NBC had to have the cast of every recent show there plugging away at the home-based captive audience, who just wanted to see floats, eat a bird, and enjoy a day off for a change.

Julie Andrews rocked even if she has a hard time singing because of problems she's had with her voice-we all still enjoyed her semi-classical "hip hop" singing. It's fab and so is she. Sarah McLaughlin was incredible too, I could listen to her sing all day. Some of the marching bands were great. NY was wet and cool but not horribly cold. The Rockettes rocked the house and had the cutest costumes I've ever seen them in. They looked like peppermint candy and kicked with precision that continues to amaze me. Every leg comes up at exactly the same instant, making me wonder how exactly they do that. This year, they even had to dance in a puddle, but, luckily, nobody fell or lost a step. All in all, not a bad day.

Unless, of course, you happen to be a turkey. Gobble gobble.

Until the leftovers begin...

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Gothic Revival


TrentReznorsHouse2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

As if their "wrap me in a serape and call me Maria while posing me next to giant white crosses on a hilltop as mission bells toll" video were not enough, my favorite of "murdering" bands as of late, The Killers, have a new video out. This time around, they go Gothic on us-the video was directed by the Goth-master himself, Tim Burton and features an array of dancing bones the likes of which the sleepy Mexican village of Oaxaca has not seen since, well, since that Dia de los Muertos heyday back in the 70's.

No bones about it, seems like lately anyway everything Gothic is new again. Even The Killers, warring "It" band of late, My Chemical Romance, have gone Gothic in what I would have to call a freshly spawned wave of neo-Goth, the likes of which, I haven't seen since, well, since that incident with Grandmother and the pitchfork. Yes, it appears to be true, everything Gothic is new again.

The Killers, really pulled it over on the My Chemical Romance, folks, if you ask me though, as Tim Burton, quite the master of the genre, came up with a Gothic playground scene in the video. Dead kids, bones, mermaids in the afterlife, what looks like a psychotic drive-in theater, it's all there, man. Wow. I'm impressed. To quote the great philosopher Keanu Reeves, "Woah, dude."

Speaking of Gothic, I got an email the other day telling me that this Gothic-style house, once belonging to Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame, was in fact sold to John Goodman, an actor whose work I was completely unfamiliar with until I received yet another email explaining that John Goodman is, in fact, the lollygagging fisherman/judge from Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This would be the same judge who was attempting to convict a fake Jesus of having some dope in his jacket (Call me crazy but "...He doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he [smokes] like a gentleman..." somehow doesn't have quite the same ring to it.)

Ah Ha! Now we're getting somewhere. You, my snowflakes, are finally starting to comprehend how dense I really am in terms of current "hip" events and happenings and have resorted to hurling pop culture references that even somebody as out of it as me can comprehend. Way to go, snowflakes. I'd thank you from the bottom of my little, cold, black, neo-Goth heart, if I could find it.

And, since we're on the subject of all things Gothic, I should tell you that this is a dead Polaroid. I did it last year, fully intended to blog it at some point, and then never did. But, it's Gothic, it's in style yet again, and it's as close to Tim Burton as I can probably get, although I do now wish I could do something dark and edgy with a swing set.

That's killer, man.

Until next Gothic Revival...

Friday, November 17, 2006

We're Off to a Boopingly Good Start


TheScreamNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

So, I get my new TiVo, and I plug in it and I start watching TV. I "boop" up Law and Order, I "boop" up a couple of other shows that I routinely watch. I'm thinking, "ok, this is not so bad. It works well enough. So far, no wild Nicolas Cage obsessions, bad soaps, or like Pauley Shore re-runs..."

And then, it hits me. The first show it recommends from it's grand list of suggestions: The Dead Zone.

Yipes!

Until next time...

Here are some updated stats:
# of words: 1636 (I was pretty close when I said "about 1500" wasn't I?)
# of late night half-hearted attempts at actually turning on the PC to write something: 0
# of coffee drinks: 2 (but they were almost normal, so I'm seriously thinking about re-setting this counter)
# of Christmas muzzies: about 7
# of times I've written Nicolas Cage into my novella: 0 (but, if I run out of time...Hey, you never know. A pesky Mechapixel contest contending annoyingly boopable actor could come in handy.)
# of penguins: stands at 2, although they freeze to death in transport. (They can actually freeze to death. I googled. And wiki-ed. And, like, somehow, just knew.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Be Strong Little Buddy


TwoWarriorsDance, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Last night, I hooked up the new TiVo in the bedroom. Chase was afraid of the "booping" noise. At first I thought, what a crazy little dog, he's afraid of a TiVo "boop."

Then, I thought about it and realized how smart he really is.

Until next time...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Get the Picture?

You might be wondering, right about now, "but...where's the picture? I want to see today's picture." And you'd be right. There is no picture today. Well, there's no picture from me, but there's a picture.

You see, my snowflakes, I've always made it a policy to post to this website only images taken by me. Love them or hate them, they are, uniquely "mine." They are part of what makes up Carol's Little World. They all come from the hand of Carol. And, I enjoy that. I love giving you my view of the world, actually a view of my world, day after day. It's a fun hobby. I think you enjoy it too. You get to catapult yourself, out of your cubicle, or maybe away from your desk at home, off to someplace like New Orleans, Texas, Venice, or, who knows where? And you've grown used to checking in, checking back to this site, day after day to see which exotic local or interesting viewpoint today brings.

But, every now and again, I happen across a picture that I didn't take, but I wish I had taken. A picture so beautiful, so moving, so incredible, so inspiring, that I stop in my tracks and I think, "damn! Why didn't I take that?" Maybe it has the colors just right, better than the most perfect sunset you've ever seen (even in "real life.") Maybe it has a composition that's so striking it left me in awe. Maybe I was moved to tears by the beauty it possesses. Maybe, somehow, in some magical little way, the pixels aligned in such a way as to make it the most striking, most beautiful, most moving, most evocative image I've ever seen-in my entire life.

Those of you who know me know that I sometimes like to spend time "goofing off" on flickr. It's fun and I probably do it more than I should. Maybe, what you don't know about flickr, is that it allows photographers to pick out "favorite" images, or images from the photo streams of others that they prefer, like, or enjoy for one reason or another. We single these images out as "favorites" and they reserve a special place in our flickr hearts (at least until we "un-click" that little "fav this" button anyway.)

What you might not know about me is that I'm a bit of a fussy photographer. I don't have many favorites. Possibly 20 or so images on flickr have moved me enough to make me push that little "favorite this" button, and many of those, if I had to look at them again, well, truthfully, I'd ignore upon second glance. I've been a photographer for a long time and it takes a lot to impress me with a camera. It doesn't take much to make me look at an image and decide it doesn't warrant my attention.

But not today's image. Today's image is special. It's magical. It's what happens when magic lights hits divine subject, mixes with creative composition, and blends together to bring that special smile to my face. Yes, my snowflakes, today's image brings a smile to my face instantly. It's my favorite of favorited images. It's one I come back to time and time again. It's beautiful, magical, timeless, elegant, and has that rare "special" quality that gives it that extra "Wow!" factor.

What's that? You want to see it? Ok, click here if you must.

(Ahem. This might be a good time to remind you that I do, indeed, have a sense of humor. In case you, like, forgot or something.)

Until next time...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

The Cooke, a Murderer, His Plea, and Two Moore's


FeatheredPaintBrushNo7, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Rachel Cooke left her home on FM 3405 in Georgetown, Texas (about 5 miles from where I live) on the morning of Thursday, January 10, 2002 to run her usual 3 or 4 mile morning jog. Sometime, near the end of her cross-country run, possibly within 200 yards of her home, she disappeared. She has not been seen since. A petite, young, then 19 year old blonde college student, her story has been featured on Unsolved Mysteries, John Walsh's TV program, a multitude of flyers and posters in and around Georgetown, and on several other news shows. Her parents have even appeared with the President at the White House in support of missing and exploited children.

On September 23, 2003 Christina Moore, a resident of the nearby Avery Ranch sub-division in Round Rock, Texas, was murdered in her home as her then 15 month old daughter rested in a crib in the next room. Christina's throat was cut. She was 14 weeks pregnant. Due to the nature of the crime and her status as a visibly expecting mother, the State of Texas decided to bring her murderer to trial on charges of capital murder, which carries with it a death sentence upon conviction.

What do these two cases have in common? Apart from each happening within a 5 mile radius of my home, the alleged killer of both woman is one Michael Keith Moore (no relation to Christina.)

What's even more shocking about this case, what takes it from "ordinary" crime and murder (if such a thing can exist) to unusual gruesome cruelty, is the fact that Michael Keith Moore, while being faced with a conviction in the murder of Christina Moore, first freely confessed to the murder of Rachel Cooke. He confessed, citing details only a killer, or someone in close personal contact with Rachel, would know. He admitted that he killed Rachel by means of a blow to the back of the head with a hammer, he admitted that he raped her, and he admitted to prosecutors that he wrapped her body in a tarp and dropped her remains into the Gulf of Mexico. But then, when it came time to enter a plea for Cooke's murder, when it came time for him to stand up in court and confess, in front of a packed courtroom, Moore backed out of the deal. He plead, "Not Guilty," stunning even his own legal team and throwing the court proceedings for both trials into turmoil.

But this is not about Michael Keith Moore. This is not about his terrible crimes, his fate, his justice, or his cruelty. He is a murderer. We know that now, and he is not going to change anytime soon.

This is about strength, about hope, about light. This is about Robert Cooke, Rachel's father.

The textbook definition of the word "strength" includes the ideal, "the power to resist or endure." For almost five years now, Robert Cooke and Rachel's family have endured the media spotlight, the massive searches, the highs and lows, the promise of maybe finding her, the agony of having another body turn up that isn't Rachel but is some other father's daughter, waiting for a proper burial. A missing tennis shoe, an injured search and rescue worker, police dogs and district attorneys. 48 Hours, local news crews, and police tape. A wedding, a birthday, and a handful of Christmas holidays. A trial with the promise of a plea, a polite, quietly whispered "not guilty" entered into the record books. And so, the Cooke case goes on.

During this time, during this trial, before, during, and after this plea, Robert Cooke has gone to court. He's thanked the Sheriff's Deputies, fed the search and rescue workers, politely granted interviews to the 48 Hours investigators and the reporters from the Austin newspapers alike. He's kept an on-line diary, where he poured out his thoughts for the world to see. He's held firm in the belief that, one day, he will find out what happened to Rachel. He continues the search for Rachel and for answers to her disappearance. And he continues to help other families search for their missing loved ones.

On Thursday, November 9, 2006, Robert Cooke announced his families full support for the District Attorney and Sheriff's Offices, along with the new family motto: "We're not done yet!"

Until next time...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

These Boots Were Made For Walking


MocassinWalk, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

"...And that's just what they'll do...."

It's been a little crazy lately and I'm feeling a bit "under" it all. My 'fridge broke and I need to call the repair guy who wants some information so he can buy a part (or something) I haven't been writing damn near enough to finish off my nanowrimo novella yet, and I've started looking at, actually drooling over, laptops.

What's really happened to me is that, I have some great ideas for the novella. So great, that I want to type non-stop. I want to turn myself into a lean, mean, verbiage machine. But, I don't have anything to type into. And this is frustrating me. I want to type, I sit there thinking about typing, I dream about typing, my fingers flying over ghost keyboards floating out into space, but, alas, no keys, man, no keys.

My computer lives at home, you see. And I travel about in my day (and night) so I seldom sit down at it. I go to work, I go out, I go here, I go there. All the while, secretly wishing I had a place to type. Some quite time to jot down my ideas and bring my characters to life. And they are great characters, believe me. You would not believe the wild sordid lot I'm writing about this time. But, no, I have nothing because my fingers sit and wiggle at pure emptiness. So, day after day, night after night, I stop and think, "I got nothing." Not because I can't write, not because I can't put pencil to paper, or make up some crazy ass story about some guy who got a flat tire and now finds himself in the wilds of Mexico sipping cactus juice, looking at the stars and night, and whistling Dixie, no, I can't write simply because I can't start writing. I can't get my groove going. My fingers don't want to move but my mind's working overtime. And it's frustrating.

I started looking at laptops and one of the women I work with came by and laughed at me. She said hers cost $2500 and I was like, "Um, I want to spend about $600." She said, "you start looking at the cheap one and think, yeah, that'll do. But then you look and you see that, 'oh, this will cost only $100 more' and, before you know it, the price is up there." She's right. I started low, the price started creeping up, and now I will probably end up not getting one at all. But I have to drool, right? And throwing technology at my "finger's block" is sure to solve it, right?

This is a new one on me. Instead of writing, I sit her drooling over the "pencil" I wish I had.

Until next time...

Stats:
# of words: single digits (well, ok, the 1500 still stands, I guess)
# of penguins: down to 2 (4 was way too high. No self-absorbed fetish neo-goth rock star would ever keep 4 penguins in his basement. What was I thinking?)
# of coffee drinks: 2
# of Christmas Muzzies: up to about 5 (and every day brings more.)
# of times I've written myself into my novella: 0 (well, there's still that. Hope springs eternal! Bah, even I have standards.)
# of times I've spec'd out a laptop and not actually bought one, because I looked at the price and went, "Ugh!": 3

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Tribal Knowledge


FeatheredHeadDressNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

From yesterday's pow-wow, I'm uploading this so that I can test to see if my newly sized (larger) images break my blogger or not. (My guess is that they do but there's only one real way to find out, and, um, you're looking at it.)

Of course, I'll probably have to delete this if it really doesn't work so then you wouldn't even really be reading this, so then it doesn't make that much sense that I'm still typing now, does it?

Crazy, crazy me.

Until next time...

PS The pow-wow was fun. I got a couple of ok shots and enjoyed it. I'm still nowhere near where I need to be on the novella and Chase is still growing like a weed. Nothing much new this Sunday, that's for sure.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Are We Afraid Yet?


Two Hanging Heads, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Do you believe in ghosts? How about wind chimes? (That's what this is actually. In case you could not tell from the picture. And, no, they don't gently blow in the breeze.)

Here's an updated status:
# of words written: More than 4 pages.
# of caffeinated beverages: 1 (I'm a writer now!)
# of penguins: 4
# of penguins slated to be frozen to death by being locked in a freezer sitting in a boxcar on a moving train: 2
# of plots: -8 (we're sinking!)
# of subplots: too many to count

Not having to watch Nicolas Cage re-runs on a psychotic TiVo: priceless

Until next time...

It's Pumpkin Man


ItsPumpkinMan, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Oh the joys of leftover candy. Boo!

I got invited to attend the Pow Wow this year and, this year, I'm going with a press pass. So, maybe, just maybe, if I'm lucky, I won't have so many shots with railings and weird lights in them. Not to mention really small native Americans dancing around in wild costumes. We'll see.

For the writing challenge, I'm supposed to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. Phew. That's a lot. I probably won't make it but it will be fun to try. The Austin group has a separate challenge in that we're supposed to somehow work a penguin into our novellas. A penguin. Hmmm. (The good news is that this gets me down to 49,999, the bad news is, "a penguin. Hmmm.")

Here are my (updated) statistics:

# of words written: About 1500. (Can't count yet, need to type first.)
# of main characters killed off: 0
# of caffeinated beverages: 0 (well, only like 1 but it was normal)
# of wealthy oddball Hobos who live with penguins in their homes characterized: 1
# of penguins appearing in actual text: 0
# of plots: 0
# of subplots: 49 and a half

Ah, writing. Sometimes I think it would be easier to poke myself in the eye with that pencil.

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Who Are You?


ComeToMyWindowOfHorror, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

It dawned on me yesterday that I've been talking about "Halloween" here for a while and that, while many of my US-based snowflakes know what this means, some of you snowflakes living in uber-cool locales that are not contained within one of the "lower 50" may not know exactly what that is. Don't worry, my "foreign" (well, foreign to me, right?) snowflakes, this is something I can easily fix. Wonder no more, for I am here to muddle and confuse (or maybe not.)

Halloween, you see is a holiday of sorts in the US. It's not really a holiday in that we don't get a day off from work, buy it's a holiday in the sense that we decorate our yards and give out candy. The way it works is pretty simple. Folks get dressed up (it helps if you are below the age of 12, but it's not a necessity. Last year, while driving down Highway 183 on Halloween, I passed a woman wearing a tiara. So, it's safe to say you can contribute to the madness that is Highway 183, while being "properly" dressed for Halloween, just don't expect any candy for your troubles, ok?) Then, in the evening, in a fit of what we like to call "trick or treating" young children, dressed as witches, devils, sponge Bob's, Jimi Hendrixes, and the like, go door to door, ringing bells and shouting, "trick or treat!" After answering the door, and pretending to be surprised, we hand out candy. (The next day, the day you probably think of as "All Saint's Day?" That's just "belly-ache" day in the US.) It's a ritual that happens every year really and it's kind of fun because, well, some folks decorate the yard and we all get to each too much chocolate.

Things that are associated with Halloween are carved pumpkins, black cats, spiders, witches, goblins, ghouls, ghosts of any kind, skeletons, mummies, and the like. It's really my kind of fun. (Things that are not associated with Halloween include Christmas balls, 4th of July fireworks, and Alka Seltzer, although it probably should be.)

On the subject of "lost souls" the band The Who have a new CD coming out. You know what this really means, when you get down to the "down and dirty" of it all, don't you? Now they can greenlight another CSI show because, well, they have more theme music available for the series theme song. Anyone up for CSI Dallas, CSI DC, or maybe CSI Chicago?

No, actually, the "real" question that's still on the table is that, now that The Who have a new CD coming out, how many farewell tours do you think they will end up doing before they actually stop touring? (Hint: they are currently at 3 and counting, although that last one was a real doozie, it took out a bass player.)

Another big question I have is, since Pete Townsend was arrested in an internet porn scandal, but later claimed he was doing "research" for songwriting, how many of these songs are actually odes to child pornography? Now, that's a scary thought.

Even so, if there's like one song on the CD, he'll be able to gloat ("See, I told you I was doing 'research.' And, to think, all this time, you called me a pervert. Ha!")

Maybe, when The Who start touring again, they can bring along Nine Inch Nails and they can take up more mundane hobbies on the tour-you know, something less dramatic, like, say, collecting doorknobs. (Gasp!)

Oh, and I forgot to tell you. About that whole "Halloween" thing. Little kids, all dressed up, ringing stranger's doorbells? Makes the child pornography industry grin from ear to ear.

Oh the horrors of it all. ("Mamma's got a squeeze box Daddy doesn't sleep at night...")

Until next time....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Boo! It's almost Halloween


SideOfHouseNo3, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In the "now I have proof my neighbors are crazy" department, this was taken around the way from where I live. Yes, that's really the side of a house and, yes, that's really a gigantic spider crawling up onto it. If you look really carefully, you can see that there are lights up there too-this guy is illuminated at night. If I have the time, I may stop and take some snaps of him (or her!) after dark. (Actually, I love this yard. I think it's very creative how they've done their decor this year. I wish more folks would decorate like this.)

KathyV and I found the motherload of "Halloween decor" yesterday. We went to central Austin, stopped at La Dolce Vita, had some gelato, then cobbled our way around Hyde Park. We happened upon a house I had shot last year-it had extreme decor back then too-and started taking pictures. A neighbor came out and told us, "she's really outdone herself this year!" You can say that again. Look for more Halloween shots during the week, including an introduction to "Mr. Pumpkin Man!" that's sure to make you laugh (or, um, scream, as the case may be.)

I still have not setup the new TiVo, so I probably should be off doing that. I should let you know I've decided to try to update you with status and possible humor during NaNoWriMo, hopefully, it won't be too infrequent for your liking. I may even start another blog (oh, the horror!) just for the novella. We'll see if I have time. I do want to get rolling before I do anything and I am behind on posting to this site, so I may very well just type up some older posts-ones that have never made it out of the "graveyard" of my notebook yet. We'll see.

Well, happy Sunday morning to you. I hope you have enough candy for the kids because, well, time's running out on you.

Until next giant creepy crawler in the 'hood...

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Birthday to Me

Yesterday was my birthday. I'm now officially "older than dirt." Ah well, my youth was wasted, I'm now working on middle age.

The new TiVo also arrived yesterday. Wow, what a big box you have there, Mr. UPS-man. A big box full of something.

I had lunch with Steve yesterday. We tried to go to Manuel's and sit out on the patio but it was windy. The wind was at 20mph gusts. Good thing they don't have gondolas on Lake Travis. Golly. We joked about tortillas landing in our faces and the foutain was really spewing so we opted for the "warm" indoors (I still had to put my coat on in the middle of lunch, because I was freezing.)

Steve joked that, "you ordered your TiVo before you told me about it so that you could get it before me." He thinks it's some kind of a "big plot" I've cooked up. Actually, he *knows* it's some kind of a big plot I've cooked up. But really, it's no plot at all, just me wanting to give myself a birthday present.

Don't worry, Steve, it's a TiVo afterall. Come November I'll probabably be saying, "damn. It would have been less painful to give myself a .22 with shells."

Anybody got a spare TiVo manual hanging around? Maybe one actually printed in English and not this lovely Japanese variant?

(Ok, Steve, you can take the pin out of the TiVo voodoo doll now. You've had your fun for the day.)

Until next time...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Little Fits of Madness That Fill My Day


HotelBoatNo4, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Today I had my car serviced. It was due for one of those "whatever" thousand mile check-ups. An interesting thing about the new dealer (Acura) is that they include, as part of the service, a free car wash.

I've always been one to keep a dirty car. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that my car is covered in what I like to call "a protective layer of dirt." I never wash it. The world could end and I wouldn't care if I had a dirty car. I would just drive to Hell in a dirty, once white, car. Typically, it's so dirty I find people ask me what color it is. I love to inform them, "white. Well, sorta."

So, I take the car into the service shop and they wash it and they call me to tell me it's done. I catch a ride back to the shop, and the guy at the service desk tells me, "our car washing machine broke but, luckily, your car was the last one in before it did." I pay them and be done with it, because, well, car stuff is expensive but a necessary evil, but then, as I'm driving back, it hits me. My car was "the car," the one actually, that broke the car washing machine. It was so dirty, it actually broke the machine. Ha! How's that for a distinction?

So, now that you know I have the dirtiest car in the world (well, except maybe for one that plays porn on the back, on one of those little "pull down" DVD players they have now. I'm an expert on dirty cars and, I'd have to admit, that would be one *dirty* SUV. It would almost make my dusty white Honda look, well, clean. Sorta.) This is a good time to tell you that, in fact, (ahem, stand back, this is going to be good) I have ordered a new TiVo (don't say I didn't warn you.)

Yes, my snowflakes, I have ordered one of these. I can only begin to imagine what this puppy is going to record. (Horror of horrors, it's one of those TiVo's that can record two programs at once.) It's going to be like Mr. Toads Wild Ride in here only without the teacups. (Man, I so have to have a flying teacup. My life would be complete.)

Speaking of imagination, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and the like, it's only a few days now until NaNoWriMo. I've got my characters started. I'm thinking about a plot (finalizing it actually) and I'm working on a theme. My novella is going to be about the life of a HoBo. Did you know they once printed a Hobo newspaper? Back before HoBo's were called "homeless people" and got some street cred, they actually made a newspaper filled with HoBo news. It's true. They did. And, I'm going to write about it. Look for Vagabond Times to come your way sometime in December if I survive NaNoWriMo and, um, it actually gets written.

Speaking of NaNoWriMo, this would probably be a good time to tell you that I'm tossing around some ideas for this blog come November. Since I'll be busy writing a novella, and since the purpose of a journal really is to keep up one's writing skills until a "real opportunity" comes along (like, say, the opportunity to write a novella) I may end up putting some of the NaNoWriMo output on this site for the curious. Then again, giving you excerpts of something unfinished and sort of a "work in progress" might be quite jarring and going stagnant for a month doesn't appeal to me either so I'm tossing around a few ideas. I'm possibly going to switch to a photo-only format and include excerpts or I might even update this site with status and humor. We'll see. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please email me and I'll consider them.

Speaking of humor, did you hear the one about the grocery store clerk in Boston?

This guy shops in a local grocery store in Boston. He's in a hurry and doesn't have much time, so he gathers his items and makes a dash for the express checkout. Trouble is, he's got more than the "10 items or fewer" the sign indicates. He gets to the front of the line and apologies to the clerk saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize and I have more than 10 items."

The clerk responds, "Buddy, this is Boston. Are you from Harvard and cannot read or MIT and cannot add?"

Yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck. I'd better enjoy it now. I'm sure I won't be laughing once that TiVo arrives and starts recording, well, who knows what..

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sneaky Sneaky Somethings


DesertedIsland, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

My Muzzy count has been increased quite a bit lately. I think it's all the way up to three or four now. Something else I've noticed is that retailers are going for more of a "soft sell" this year. Maybe it's just not close enough to the actual holiday season yet, but, lately anyway, I've noticed a lot of "Fall Savings" type of catalogs coming my way. Ah, yes, the "Autumn Sale." Sneaky, sneaky, Muzzy. Don't think for one minute that I'm not watching you. It's like Santa in disguise, but I'm still not buying (although it has piled up quite nicely on the table yet again.)

NaNoWriMo is going to start in 8 days. Leaves me with just a little bit of time to try to polish off my plot and finish my character sketches. Oh, who am I kidding? You know I'll never make this. Even so, a girl can dream, right? Ah yes, writing. It's a hobby. Some people like fly fishing, some people knit, I like to spew. I snark things together just for you (well, ok, maybe not. Ah, sneaky, sneaky snark.)

I'm *this* close to pulling the trigger on another TiVo. I don't know why, but I just can't seem to do it. Well, ok, I'm fibbing, I *do* know why. Perhaps, just maybe, it has something to do with American Idol, Lassie Come Home, and a host of other bad reasons, missed re-runs, and movies I'd never want to watch. Harrumph. I wish I could "Add to Cart" a TiVo that actually worked. To Hell with all the whiz bang features, I want one that listens to me and actually records what I tell it to record. Is that too much to ask?

Ok, ok, you've had your fun, now, please, stop laughing already.

Until next time...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Learning New Brushstrokes


CloudForm9938, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This weekend was the Texas Photographic Society's annual workshop roundup and auction. While I did not attend the auction (maybe next year) I did attend two all-day workshops this year. The first one was Scott Martin's master printing class and the second, today's selection, was an image transfer hands-on workshop.

All I can say, at this point, is, "wow." These were two of the most incredible workshops I've been able to attend. Scott's, while focused on printing, was packed with tips and tricks. Lots of good information from an expert in the field, so much so, my head felt like it was going to explode after a full day of "information overload." We covered just about every aspect of how to put a piezo drop on a piece of paper that you could possibly imagine and now I have this strange urge to do a cynotype using a Burkholder negative. (Look for more on this later.)

Today's workshop was a hands-on lab about transferring ink off of paper. Time to reverse everything and get that ink out of there. The instructor showed us lots of techniques and, just from today's workshop, I was able to make an image on metal, paper, and canvas. I also made a few other keepers and learned a few techniques for transferring images. It was "play in the sink Sunday" for me today and I left with loads of ideas about how to transfer stuff off of paper and onto other things.

All this ink moving around the universe made me want to post today's image. It's more of a minimalistic image from my cloud series. Not much ink required to print this thing but, at least now anyway, if there were, you know I'd be all over it, coming and going.

Until next time...

Friday, October 20, 2006

My Lab is Better than Your Lab


ViewOfBridgeAtNite, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Well, I had the review last night. It went well, actually.

The best part about it, for me, wasn't that some of the reviewers said nice things about my work (people like to say nice things) or even that some folks gave me areas to focus on and improve (that was much appreciated) no, for me, actually, the "highlight" was the fact that I'm very happy with the way my prints came out.

For a long time, in Austin, the labs were horrible. So horrible, in fact, they "inspired me" to stop taking pictures. I hated them. You really could not get a decent print and they were ruthless to deal with for such a long time. Last night, after the review, during the "social" period, I was talking with somebody and I said, "I could not have shown this body of work if I had to rely upon an Austin lab." And, I wasn't kidding. No lab in Austin could have done prints better than what I presented last night.

This makes me happy because, now I can say I've come full circle as a digital photographer. I can make things in my own house, in my own digital lab, that surpass anything a "real" or "professional" lab can give me. I do it better, cheaper, faster, maybe a little less grumpier (juries still out on that) and, believe me, that's like a reward in itself. It's these kind of small victories that really inspire me.

On the subject of inspiration, I can hardly tell you more about my review, since I am about to embark upon a weeekend of workshops. I'm home today but will be attending an all day workshop tomorrow on master printing and one on Sunday on photo transfers. These are both, excuse the pun, right "up my alley" so I'm really looking forward to a weekend of hard work but learning and fun too.

I will leave you with one final quote. One of my reviewers said, about this photo, "I like what you're doing here with these tall buildings and narrow alleys...it's like a canyon of light."

Very poetic, don't you think? (Where, oh where was he when I was writing my artist's statement?)

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hot Fuss: It'll Kill Ya


GuitarAngleNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Well, wrap me in a serape and call me Maria. It looks like my favorite of favorite bands, The Killers, shot their new video down in Mexico. A cross on a hilltop, an old roadside graveyard, mission bell backdrops, it's all there. "...And he doesn't look a thing like Jesus, but he talks like a gentleman..." It's all there, baby, it's all there. Still, they have a long way to go to top my favorite of favorite killer quotes, "Save some face, you know you've only got one." But, hey, referencing Jesus in a time of fanaticism and religious fury is a good start, right?

And, speaking of the famed Vegas exports (the only good thing to come from Vegas since, well, ok, let's just call them a bright spot on an otherwise overly lit but yet somehow still dim horizon. Ok, maybe, just maybe, we'll give you CSI re-runs but that hardly makes up for your fake Eiffel Tower, scrawny Statue of Liberty, and don't even get me started on your "piece de resistance," your fake Venice, ok?) rumor has it that The Killers have just come off a major "settling into" Jimmy Kimmel's show. For an unprecedented 3 night stay, they performed songs off the new CD, which dropped last week. Wow. That's a lot of after dark, late night hours if you know what I mean.

It's not too hard to see what all the hot fuss is about when it comes to The Killers. I mean, despite the fact that the lead singer wears a mustachio fluffy enough to scare a mouse, they are just the cutest things to happen along since, well, since puppy dogs started making the splash page of Flickr.

I can hardly wait to hear the new CD, especially since I'm still not really recovered from the last one. They were such a breath of fresh air on an otherwise dull musical horizon when they happened along, and they've grown into a solid band. All that and I still hum "Mr. Brightside" when I'm stuck with a fat man in an elevator.

So, why haven't I gotten the new CD yet? Yeah, yeah, I know, three words: lazy, lazy, lazy.

Until next "Killer" CD...