Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Traffic


UnderTheOverPassNo3, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Get out of my way, you stoopid pickup truck...Can't you see I'm trying to get home?

This is my entry for this month's photography challenge from the Venice School of Photography: traffic.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I've entered something close to this before but, can I help it if I'm addicted to shooting while driving?

To scare you even more, today I did a lensbaby while driving. 60 per. Down the highway. Figure it out. A human being has two hands. It takes one hand to squeeze the lensbaby, one to click the shutter, and that leaves, um...ok, you do the math.

I've got pickup trucks to run over, I'm busy. And, like, stuck in Texas traffic.

Until next...beep...beep...

Carol's Done a Bad Bad Thing


ShortysInElgin, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok. Maybe more than one.

On the way to work the other day, I finally heard The Arctic Monkeys sing. 101X, a local radio station in Austin, was playing one of their songs and I got to listen. It was odd really, almost like some proper British variant of gangsta rap or something. Can't say that I like it, can't say that I hate it but, I'm glad I finally got to hear it because, well, now I can say I've finally heard an "arctic monkey" sing. (Gosh, I feel so spanked now.)

And, speaking of things bad, spanking, and the like, last weekend I went out of town, off to Brenham, Texas, the place where wholesome, fresh, innocent, "vanilla" (and, um, as I've come to find out lots of "other flavors" too) Blue Bell ice cream hails. I got to photograph a tattoo parlor (it was closed) there. I *so* want to go back and get inked (but I won't) or, at least, take some snaps of some biker chick getting yet another "Sam's Girl" emblazoned on her...well, you know.

I also "broke and trespassed" into an abandoned building and did a series of ghostly portraits as part of my quest to take a self-portrait (which you can read more about later on.) The building had this rotting wooden floor in parts, that we were afraid would just give in, and really was spooky looking. I was afraid I was going to fall through the floor, but I didn't (only the good die young or, um, fall into Hell by means of rotting wooden floors, as the case may be.)

I guess I really wasn't that "spank worthy" but, "spank worthy" or not, I then traveled to the Antique Rose Emporium where I pissed off some mighty big, bad bad, bumble bees (Duck! Run!) The light was blasted, so we headed back towards Austin, but not first without stopping at Shorty's in Elgin.

For those who don't know, Shorty (owner and sole proprietor of Shorty's-in case you couldn't figure it out) has the distinction of being the single most cantankerous person I've ever encountered while photographing (and that's pretty dubious, really, since somebody once tried to shoot me. With a gun. A loaded .45. Hard to trump that, really, but, over the years, Shorty's somehow managed.) Shorty once got so mad at me-mad because he didn't want me taking pictures of his, ahem, "fine" establishment (located in the middle of the worst neighborhood of Elgin,) mad because he didn't want any photographers anywhere near the place-that, while my photography group was taking pictures of his brick wall (this would be the brick wall *outside* of his bar and grill, mind you. Actually, outside and down a back stinky alley) that he tried to throw large pots of boiling water at us.

Shorty would run out of the place, screaming and throwing without so much as a "what are you doing?" I once was so afraid of Shorty, that I was just afraid of Elgin. I was afraid of shooting the wall, afraid of Shorty, afraid of pots of water, afraid of getting caught, and just generally afraid, so I started avoiding Elgin.

Shorty be damned, this time around, KathyV and I hit Shorty's at "perfect" light (15 minutes before sunset) and stopped on our way back to Austin to take some pictures.

Maybe it's "photographic forbidden fruit" but, there's something about that wall, knowing I can't shoot it, knowing the owner doesn't want me to shoot it, knowing that it's "off limits" as it were, that attracted me to it. I short Shorty's, with KathyV, at perfect light, and really enjoyed it. There we were, out in the middle of the big, bad, 'hood in Elgin, with Shorty nowhere in sight and perfect light on that wall. I just had to shoot it, didn't I? Could I really let that opportunity pass me by? Maybe I really enjoyed that "outlaw" feeling I got from breaking Shorty's rules, or maybe the wall really is that cool, who knows? (Well, you can judge for yourself, this is a picture of Shorty's blessed wall.)

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, "I was so much better then, I'm badder than that now."

Until next bad, bad thing...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Fu Man Chew


AsianManNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

If you read this website regularly, you probably know that I often (well, ok, sometimes. Well, ok, as often as I can) eat at Kim Phung's. Kim Phung is on the way home for me, just past Lakeline Mall. Kim Phung has spicy black bean tofu that cures my allergies. I love Kim Phung really, I do. I could marry Kim Phung except that I don't really think he's an actual person (He's just a restaurant probably, right? And, well, some kickass spicy black bean tofu. You do remember tofu, right? Fresh tofu? Just like Mom used to make?)

A few weeks ago, they opened a new Chinese restaurant, around the corner (but right on Highway 183) from Kim Phung's. It's called Mama Fu's. At first, I didn't think anything of this "Mama Fu's" place because, well, it was just interference really. Just a blip of annoying traffic and yellow market umbrellas around the corner from Kim Phung's.

But then, the other day, I had to go to the same shopping center for something late at night. I forgot what it was really but I had to get it, so I stopped off by Target, right near this new Asian turf war. That's when I noticed it. Mama Fu's was packed. It wasn't just packed, it was overflowing with cars and people and hordes of those little take out boxes (you know the ones-the ones with little metal handles on them and the tops that pop open four ways.) And it was like 11 o'clock at night. What were all these people doing getting sesame chicken at midnight? Were they all taking orders from General Tsao or something?

Foot soldiers in General Tsao's army be damned, I was determined to get to the bottom of this. So, I drove around and noticed an ice cream parlor in the same shopping center. Ah Ha! I thought. That's it. They're all getting ice cream sundays to wash down their Kim Phung's. But, upon closer inspection, I found that they weren't. The ice cream parlor next door to Mama Fu's was empty. It was Mama Fu's that was packed.

An empty ice cream parlor? What the heck is going on here? Could Chinese food be so attractive as to make you forgo ice cream? Is MSG really that addictive? Were they putting some kind of opium in the beef and broccoli? What's going on here? Now I'm really determined-I must get to the bottom of this mystery. I may just have to break down and go eat at this Mama Fu's, just to see what all the fuss is about.

So, now I really want to go try the Fu, but I'm still addicted to the Phung. I feel sort of guilty not eating at the Phung but I so want to, at least, try the Fu. I mean, a million ice cream sunday giver-uppers at midnight can't be all that wrong, right?

Fu. Phung. Phung. Fu. I feel like I'm trapped in a bad David Letterman joke (Oprah...Uma) or something.

It's like murder on the taste bud express around here. And, now I'm just so afraid to even like ask for one of those little cups of tea or something.

Help!

Until next buffet...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Handy Dandy


OneHandB&W, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

"My hands are small, I know, but they're not yours they are my own" -Jewel
Hands that work. Hands that play. Hands that pray. Tiny hands from babies, filled with potential, looking at the world for the first time, squinting, barely able to see past their teeny fingers. Large, comforting, smothering hands from grown men-men who've forged steel buildings, worked jackhammers, and built ships. Hands that scare us-Freddy Krueger hands-that come after us, time and again, in the horror movies of our lives. Hands that wave, like the white-gloved queen out for a Sunday parade. Clenched fists. Hands that end open arms.

People often ask me to look at their pictures. Sometimes, they take pictures of other people, and they show them to me, asking me to evaluate-tell them if their pictures are "good enough." This is something photographers just do, time and again.

But, I almost always end up telling them the same thing, "I don't specialize in portraits but I can give you my advice..." And, my advice is almost always the same.

When I look at a portrait, I look at the expression on one's face. This tells me what look the subject is trying to convey. This tells me how the subject wants to look at the world, and how he or she wants the world to see them in return. But, that's the look he or she wants you to see. To see how we really feel-look at posture, look at hands.

That look you see on our faces, in pictures, that's the "oh, you're taking my picture-I'd better smile" look we stick on our faces, mere seconds before that shutter clicks. It's there-it's always there-yes, but, that's how we want to look, that's not how we really look. That's not who we are or what we do, that's who we want ourselves to be. To really get "down to business" with a portrait, and see ourselves as the people we really are, look at our hands.

These are the hands that lift boxes at factories, that steer scooters in the park, that rock our infants to sleep in our arms, that cook our meals. These are the hands that type our memos, that write our books, that play our pianos, that dig our ditches, and nurse our sick back to health.

And, yes, my friends, these are the hands that take our pictures too.

What have your hands done today?

Until next time...

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Knock Knock


BalconyAtNight, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This is what opportunity sounds like...when it comes knocking at your door...

The Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, CO has an upcoming international juried show. The calls for entries reads as follows:

On the Edge

Edgy, Mixed Media, Bizarre, Experimental

Images that don't really fit the usual categories

Online submissions due May 29, 2006

Prizes for Best of Show $500 US Dollars
Director's Selection

All exhibited work is also featured in the Center's online gallery. Selected work included in Traveling Exhibition to Denver's International Airport's galleries. Award winners and other selected works will be published in the Center's eight-page Artists ShowCase (TM) in CameraArts magazine.

Prospectus and details at www.c4fap.org

Good luck!

Until next knock at the door...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

A Blues Standard


TwoMasksinProfile, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Clifford Antone, owner and proprietor of the famous blues club Antone's died yesterday. He was 56.

Many people will remember Clifford as being the man who brought blues music to Austin (he did.) Many people will remember the scandals that rocked the club (they did) or the fact that Clifford "discovered" Stevie Ray Vaughan (he did.) The thing I remember about Clifford? Well, there are a few.

For starters, he paid musicians. I know that doesn't really make a lot of sense, and it doesn't seem like something you would remember somebody by, but it's true. He paid the music makers in this town what he thought they were worth. Not what he wanted to pay them, not nothing, not whatever the "going rate" or "union scale" was at the time (he could have done any of these, trust me) but what he thought they were worth. Even if the bar tab was "off," even if the club had an "bad" night, he paid the music makers first, and he paid them well.

Clifford was born on October 27th. I remember his birthday every year-it's also mine. Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, Scott Weiland (from Stone Temple Pilots and later Velvet Revolver,) Clifford Antone, and I all share the same birthday.

What else do we have in common? We all love music, all have played the guitar for money, and are all left-handed. Really. The lot of us.

I know it's silly to remember something like this about somebody who recently died but, when I hear the obituaries from all the famous folks, and I see the surviving blues luminaries inevitably line up to pay tribute to a great man gone too soon, I'll think of these little things. I'll think about the first time I went to Antone's, the music, the feeling in that club, the guitars, the blues, and the heavyset little left-handed man, born on the 27th of October (just like me!) who sat in the corner and enjoyed it all. (You can say many things about Clifford Antone but, let it not be said that he wasn't passionate about blues music. )

I once tried to write a blues song (it's true.) I came out with something that sounded, well, sort of "blues-y" (to my ears anyway.) I played it one time for a legitimate blues musician and he said to me, "this song has too many words in it. You went to college. Go play yourself some jazz music." Clifford Antone recently started teaching blues music-in college. He had such a passion for the blues, he felt the need to spread it to young music makers as best he could. And he had a deep routed understanding of what made blues music special-the passion, the emotion, the struggle behind it all. Sadly, blues music is being relegated to college campuses and stashed in the back of the record shops, along with the other "golden oldies." Clifford did more than his part to make sure it didn't die off completely.

Clifford, you will be missed.

Until next blue note...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Adaptation to Rocks


White Flower Small Group, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Monday night there was another "grand boop up" at the TiVo factory. Maybe the President gave a talk or there was some kind of breaking news that I missed. I know this because TiVo somehow got itself into a state of being off (Ha! That's a laugh.) It was running behind by about 20 minutes. Rather than watch half a program or half a crafting show (now, that would really suck) I decided to "unboop" a movie. So, Monday night, I watched Adaptation.

It wasn't a bad movie, except that it was playing on one of those women's channels. You can say what you want about Spike TV, the men's channel, the man show, and all that but, somehow, I can handle the "juggies" bouncing on trampolines a lot easier than I can some of those women's channels. There's only so many vitamin supplement and tampon commercials a girl can take. (Do you think I get enough calcium? Nevermind.) And, what's with all the funky names for tampons? They have all these silly names-names like "pearl" and "silk." All for a wad of cotton that you're going to stick into your...so getting back to the movie, I actually really liked it. The extremely "unboopable" Mr. Cage plays a screenwriter (and his annoyingly chipper "brother") while chasing the author of a book on orchids through Florida swampland. (I hate chipper people, all chipper people. Really I do. I'd say I want to "strangulate" chipper people except that's not really a word.)

The movie was kind of hard to watch in places because they cut it for TV, so they cut out all those nice words "brought to you by the letter F" and, I'm sure, a love scene or four hundred. It always makes me laugh when I hear people say things like, "you son of a..." or I hear the "you" without the corresponding "phuck" and there's a odd pause of some kind. Still, I have to admit, the tampon salesman Cage played a convincing writer, there were no visible toilet scenes, and the bitch slapping was kept to a minimum. There were a few, ahem, "fantasy" scenes that were edited for TV as well. (I almost feel sorry for Mr. Cage, I mean, I don't know which is worse, jerking off for money while cameras are rolling or being labeled a "tampon salesman" by your, ahem, "adoring" fans. Ah, but, on the bright side, maybe he'll think of blogs like this the next time somebody accuses him of not "suffering" enough for his art.)

The movie was predictable in spots (I so saw that crocodile coming a mile away) but still entertaining.

In the "ok, so I've seen a few movies but I am still so out of it and yes, as a matter of fact, I *do* live under a rock" department, I was talking with Terry about the movie and I said, "the orchid lady in it looked kind of familiar."

He responded, "You idiot. That's Meryl Streep."

Ok, so now that I've pissed off half of Hollywood (and ignored the rest,) I can proclaim "my work here is done" and go back to taking pictures.

Speaking of pictures, taking them, and the like, I'll be away for a few days, and don't know if I'll be able to blog or not so, please enjoy these flowers for a spell and I'll try to return from the wilds with some new material.

What? Were you expecting me to stay under my rock forever?

Until next time...

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Duck And Wing It


Bridge360InFog, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so I'm guessing that, even with the mindless propagation of blogs out in the grand "blog-o-sphere" and all, few if any weblog entries start out with the words, "I was out walking today when I was almost hit by a helicopter."

Believe it or not (you should believe it because, like, by now you know me, and you know that I can't make up stuff this good) my little snowflakes, "queen flake" herself was out walking in the woods, (Yes! I walk too!) when I happened upon a clearing (Oh, now there's trouble. If you ever "happen upon a clearing," run. Run like Hell. Run like Hell and don't look back. Nothing good ever came out of a clearing. Trust me, I know.) I veered towards the boat docks (because, well, that's what I do. Does it really surprise you that I'm "veer-ent?") when I heard the strange churning of the propellers and saw it land, about 100 feet or so away from me.

It was one of those little ones too. It had two men in it-two heavyset men. And, no doors. Man, I really *hate* helicopters without doors. That's just *wrong* and it scares me on so many levels. I was shaking in my boots, just looking at these two fat men trying to fly a really small helicopter without any doors that had just almost crash landed on my head.

We stayed long enough to see it take off again and fly to the Heavens (Up! Up, up, and Away! Up, up, and away in a Honda with wings!) It really was smaller than my hatchback (at least the little cabin where they sit was.) Honest. Did you know Honda makes lawnmowers? I did (HA!)

Jokes on us-those Honda lawnmowers probably have more horsepower than my car. And the helicopter I saw today. Combined. It takes a lot of horsepower to cut grass and drag around that big bag with clippings and all. Really, it does. This would explain why we don't have too many "clearings" now, wouldn't it? (Well, that combined with the fact that they're virtual portals into Hell.)

I'm still here, the helicopter's presumably flying about and, yes, I'm still afraid of the clearing so, overall, not too much has changed. Although, now maybe somebody can get a laugh out of a great Sikorsky flying machine (well, somebody besides Sikorsky, that is.)

And, while I'm on the subject of the clearing, the bridge, the gap, greatness, and all, this is a great time to tell you an interesting thing about the place where I work. It's situated in the heart of Austin, right at the foot of the famous 360 bridge. Right near the boat dock, and the "clearing," which is where I go out walking on most days, after lunch.

I have to keep telling people that, "I'm at the bridge," and they keep asking, "you mean, over by..." while naming random, odd locations. I keep having to say, "No, really, right *at* the bridge. Like I can see it from my window." They don't get it.

So, in an attempt at clearing up the confusion, this is the view from our office window (provided no low flying helicopters block it.)

Until next...Incommmiiiiinnnggggg!...

When I Paint My Masterpiece


MonaLisaNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This was taken across the street from the Palace Theater, on the square, in Georgetown, Texas.

She's got dramatic lights and a reflection of an art decco theater in her sights. She's wonderful, don't you think?

Ah, to be like her. Sitting, waiting, watching the crowds go by, all the time looking most fashionable. That dress, that hair, those eyes, that smile, what wonders we can do with mere paint and a brush these days.

Until next Brilliant Brush Stroke...

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Blog Against Cancer


JellyFishNo6, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The sun rises, leaves blow in the breeze, cars zip down your local highway. It's just another day. We drive to work, go to school, maybe see the sun set over our collective horizons as we head back home into evening.

Our bodies have parts. We have arms, legs, eyes, ears, and brains. Our parts have parts. At the lowest level, we are all made up of cells. Cells that move around our body, in streams of blood, our life force. Cells that send electrical impulses from our brain, cells that carry water, and do a host of other things. Cells divide. They grow inside of us, nourished by our food, our water, our blood. They multiply. At the heart of it, when you get down to the basics, every living human being is a great big bag of cells-a portable mobile housing unit for molecular activities.

Sometimes, for whatever reason, cells divide too fast. We end up with too many cells in one place. This is called a tumor. This is called cancer. It sounds very easy, very cut and dry, actually, to put it this way. Flour, water, eggs, bread...rock, paper, scissors.

You sit in a doctor's office and prey and hope and dream and curse. Your thoughts race. What if it's me? What if it's malignant? What if it spreads? Will I die? Where will I go? What am I doing here? Why me? Even if you're otherwise healthy, you wonder, will he find something? Maybe that was more than the flu I had last month?

Doctors give it fancy names, names like carcinoma and neoplasia but, at the heart of it, at it's very core, nobody knows why those cells divide the way they do. Nobody knows what causes it and nobody easily accepts the fact that it's there.

Nobody wants cancer. You don't see people begging for it in the streets or walking into a shopping mall the day after Christmas saying, "my uncle got me this sweater but I really wanted some cancer instead. May I exchange it, please?" No, cancer ranks right up there, on the human toxic and nuisance scale, alongside the likes of flood, famine, pestilence, and starvation, with the things we dread. The things we fear. The stuff born of nightmares really.

Sure, we do what we can, as hapless humans, to stop it. But, at it's very core, all we really have is hope. Hope that the sun will come up tomorrow, hope that the leaves will still blow in the breeze, hope that our cars will start and be one of those zipping down that merry freeway of life. Hope that our doctors won't tell us we have some "carcinoma" and this, in turn, means we have months, not years or decades to live. Part of being human is accepting the fact that we sit and hope that our cells won't start dividing for whatever reason cells choose to do that.

Cancer is about cells, yes, but humans with cancer are all about hope. Who are we really to take that away?

Until next time...

PS This post was written so I could take part in the Livestrong Blog Against Cancer. If you want to participate, please check out their link.

Odd Quips and Quotes


SoftCranesNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so I can't really help it if my ass is smarter than the rest of me.

The other day, this lady asked me, "Do you ship?"

I *almost* responded, "not very well...you see I have this tendency to pop all the bubbles in the bubble wrap and I'm usually very tired and grumpy after such a long flight, being cooped up in that bumpy cargo hold and all..."

But, instead, I just smiled and told her, "Yes...yes, my artwork ships very well indeed."

Then, I was talking to somebody else about making Polaroids, and I said, "be careful-watch out for that white toxic re-agent that forms when you do them."

He said, "Why? What happens?"

I replied, "Well, you get itchy."

"Is that all?" he asks.

"Well, what were you expecting," I nudge him, "Oh wait. I forgot to tell you that your head will spin right around on your neck, like an owl and pea soup will fly right out of your mouth-even if you didn't swallow any recently. It'll be like some kind of demented pea soup incident only not with any actual soup. And, then you'll start to grow all those extra heads-turning into some kind of mutant hydra-like creature of the night. In fact, I've got an entire dresser drawer full of extra heads at home in my bedroom. You see, I'm saving them for the inevitable time I lose my original mind-perhaps I can then use one of those radioactive by-product ones as a spare. Don't you think that's a grand scheme if you've ever heard one? I mean, stockpiling spare brains in my bedroom and all?"

"Um...I'll watch that re-agent."

"Yeah," I said, "you do that."

Until next time...

Sunday, May 14, 2006

It's Howdy Foodie Time


CookiesNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

(Or, Gourmet Cooking for the Lame and Culinary Impaired)

Did you know they have a name for all those folks who regularly tune in to watch celebrities like Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay (what's with names that rhyme?) on the cooking channel? They're called "foodies."

Now, I'm not the greatest of chefs but I can whip up a few dishes that are passable and I've never really had a penchant for eating out much so, as you might guess, I'll never become the consummate "foodie" but I have seen an occasional half hour show on the food network and I sometimes do watch HGTV long enough to be "up" on the latest in Yankee Apple Peeling Gizmos. Still, this food thing had me wondering. How long has it been since I've blogged about anything food related? (Sorry, Doritos don't really count.)

Ok, so, here's a few quick hits in the food department, brought to you from the self-proclaimed "queen of mac and cheese" (Remember, our motto here at Carol's Little World is, "if it's from a box, it can't be that bad.")

Since most of us skip breakfast, let's start with lunch. My lunch is almost always frozen in a box for me, since I don't have time to cook (and, well, now you know how I feel about boxes.)

Stouffer's makes wonderful Lean Cuisine frozen foods, which I usually eat for lunch. Try their eggrolls and chicken potstickers, they're great and almost taste "restaurant worthy." Amy's bowls are fantastic but pricey, so look for coupons and stock up when you can. Amy's frozen pizzas are the best, bar none (makes sense, they come in a bigger box.)

I love anything with pesto in it, so much so that, if Nicolas Cage were to sneak up behind me and shout "Pesto!" I might actually refrain from screaming at him, "Rat Bastard! Where are my Law and Order re-runs?!?" just long enough to ask, "Pesto? Where?"

And, speaking of gourmet thespians, pesto, and the like, Paul Newman, the actor turned salsa peddler makes a mean pesto sauce but I make a meaner one. When I don't have time, which is almost always, I "cheat" by starting with Knorr's Creamy Pesto sauce mix packets. Not too much $$$ for some kickass pesto and, best of all, you don't have to suffer through looking at stupid Paul's face every time you open the 'fridge. (Thank God Nicolas Cage doesn't make salsa or the TiVo would have to raid the 'fridge and then Time Warner really wouldn't know what to unplug the next time my cable goes out.)

Speaking of salsa, current favorite salsa is On the Border's medium (the mild is too mild and the hot is just not "tweaked" right) but don't get their chips (we're talking grease city here. Think more grease than John Travolta's hair gel. Ick.) Go with Tostitos Round Gold (trust me, you won't be sorry) or get those "hint of lime" ones for a twist (Think Pulp Fiction here folks.)

Wolfgang Puck's soups are to die for as it white asparagus, which is in season now (Think of a can as a round metal box, if it helps.) It's also almost time for peaches so get ready for some cobbler.

In the "I never met a carb I didn't like" category, current favorite breakfast bars are Special K Strawberry and I really like that new Ronzoni half-wheat pasta (it's better than Barilla's and, trust me, I'd never thought I'd say that in mixed company.)

Face in the 'fridge be damned, I miss Paul Newman's Lemon Aided Iced Tea so much so that I started making my own. I buy one jug of Simply Lemonade, Tetley decaf large round tea bags, (Tetley's better than Lipton for iced tea, trust me) and let my Mr. Coffee Iced Tea Pot (that name's just wrong but the pot's all right) do the rest. I mix them about half and half to make some refreshing lemony iced tea.

Flame grilled Boca veggie burgers are my current favorite, served on a wheat bun with lots of pickles (I'm a pickle-holic. Really I am. Got dill?) Those Boca people also make great fake sausages, which are best spicy and served with peppers, peppers, and more peppers.

Favorite coffee drinks are General Foods International Cappuccino Coolers, mixed with skim milk and a big stir. I have yet to try that new Coke beverage Blak. If you have strong feelings about it either way please drop me a note or comment (Do it or you'll risk hearing me bitch about how you never leave any comments when I want you to. Well, it's true. You don't.)

What? Were you expecting filet mignon?

Until next meal...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What's in a Screen Name? Not THAT I Hope


CraneAbstractNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Being such a hopeless flickr addict does have it's comical side. Since, I'm apparently not the only one addicted to flickr (it's now like the third most popular website or something) and since people have been signing up at a pace so fast, it's, ahem, "flickering," new registrants have been forced (or maybe they just were that creative in the first place) to use some pretty funny screen names. Knee-slapping, spleen grabbingly funny, is how I would describe some of them, actually.

Let's see. There bunchofpants who's photography is quite good (although not only on the subject of "pants,") Triskaidekagrammatron which is a made up 21 letter word for a 13 letter word, SarahSmile, presumably after the old favorite song. ANamelessYeast, CorporalTunnel,BeyonceKnowlesItAll, and TheArtistFormerlyKnownAsPrints also check in from time to time. And, saving the best for last, my personal favorite as of late, WavingMyPenisAtTraffic.

I don't know why (well, ok, yes, I *do* know why) that name makes me giggle every time I see it and, lately anyway, I've been seeing it a lot.

Imagine an instant message session with this person:

WavingMyPenisAtTraffic: Hello? Anybody Home?
wlmaven: Hi! Mr. Happy! How's traffic today? How's it jammin'?

Somehow, I suspect, when you pick a screen name, you look for something that's not already taken, sure, but maybe you look for something unique, something different, something that's, well, you.

My screen name is actually quite boring (yeah, yeah, I know.) I never knew that flickr would become so popular. I first started using flickr to put photos for my blog on the web, and nothing more, so I joined with the ever so humble CarolWorldLeader. Named after the website (blog actually) it's a name most people don't use. Everybody either calls me "carol" or the more elegant (and modest) photosbycarol which is my flickr URL.

Sometimes I wonder about the people I know through my website, sites like flickr and the like. Will I ever meet them? Would I talk to them if I happened across them at the supermarket? Or car repair shop? There are so many people on flickr and on the web now and there's a story behind every one of them.

It's a good thing we don't use our screen names in everyday life. Could you imagine hanging out at the mechanic's and hearing, "WavingYourPenisAtTraffic? Your car is ready..." or being at the dentist and hearing, "ANamelessYeast? The Doctor will see you now..."

Imagine Carmen Electra's screen name. It's probably something like "ImHot" and everybody reads it and thinks, "yeah right." Pamela Anderson on ebay? IHaveBigBluStars (I so could see that.) And, if I ever happened across anybody named IHavTiVo, I'd never suspect Nicolas Cage hiding among the flicker-ati, would you?

WavingMyPenisAtTraffic? He's probably some guy named Bill who wears glasses, drives a Toyota Camry, and only gets to upload pictures of his son on flickr once a week because his wife thinks he spends way too much time on the computer.

Well, I'm here to tell you, with a screen name like that, he does.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Doh, Now That Was a Great Incident


MiniMeNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Near the town where I used to live in New Hampshire, there's a town called Plaistow. Plaistow, New Hampshire, it would appear, is right in the middle of a great Pillsbury Doughboy Incident, the likes of which we haven't seen since, well, really since those lawn gnomes started free roaming, making cameo appearances in movies like The Full Monty and Amelie, and raking in mega-millions as the exclusive spokes, um, "persons" for Travelocity.

It seem the local Market Basket market in Plaistow is closing it's doors after 20 years of being in business. That's 20 years of selling milk and butter and eggs and 20 years of having a giant plastic Pillsbury Doughboy stacked above the dairy case.

It would appear that somebody's rather upset about the market closing, so much so that he (or she!) had taken the dough dude and claimed to be holding it ransom.

At first, the doughboy merely made an honest attempt at securing employment, in places like Dairy Queen (never mind the gender's all wrong, he did have the "dairy" part down pat) Wendy's (hot and beefy? Well, ok, not quite) and even the local fire station (hey, they sometimes use white fluffy foam to put out fires, right?) Then, apparently despondent over his lack of employment prospects, he turned to frequenting bars and strip clubs. He was photographed wearing a blue T-shirt sporting a few too many brew-skis at the local gin joint.

After some (I guess) much needed R + R at the lake, he regrouped and came back with a vengeance, hitting the town harder than a 2x4 upside the head. He was eventually spotted fishing at the local water works (who would have thought a monopoly card would have anything to do with the renegade runaway doughboy? Not me, that's for sure) where he was inevitably captured and returned to his rightful owners.

What I want to know is, how'd the dough "crooks" get the damned dough dude out of the store in the first place? I mean, didn't the cashiers pretend to notice a 4 foot tall white plastic beer bellied slob in a big hat climbing down from the ceiling and scurrying out the back door, presumably without first paying for all those muffins and cookies? (Heck, I know I would.)

Perhaps, instead of going out of business, the Market Basket should have instead invested in some security for the store first?

Of course, the newspapers in New Hampshire have been all over this story. They've interviewed the store owner, the Wendy's attendant who took doughboy's application for employment, the firemen, and the fellow at the water works.

It goes without saying, really, but, in case you were wondering, ahem (and, yes, you can quote me on this) "...the Pillsbury Doughboy could not be reached for comment."

Until next Evil Baked Good Run Amok...

The Ups And Downs of Web Traffic


PlaygroundRideNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

As many of you know, this site was recently featured in Catherine Jamieson's new book, Create Your Own Photo Blog. Nestled between the Mustard Gas Incident, the crazy/funky cool jewelry of Superhero Designs, and Emdot's "way cool" site, is none other than yours truly.

An interesting thing about predicting and even monitoring web traffic is that it's part psychological, part science, part luck, and part logic. Many (if not all) web sites these days can have easy to install web counters. The trouble with these counters is that, well, they leave it up to you, the site owner, to interpret the data they generate.

When I first got one of these, I used to check my traffic every day. Faithfully, I would put up some "content," then login to my server to check out how many hits my latest TiVo incident or car repair melee would generate.

At first, like many web programmers, I thought that, if I had lots of content, and it was good content, I must have a good site right? And that would generate a lot of hits, right? Well, you would think so but, I'm here to tell you, it doesn't always work that way. My most popular page to date has been my ipod engraving list and, frankly, there's no real explanation for that, is there?

Web traffic is cyclical and strange. It goes up on Friday afternoon because people don't work as hard on Friday's (for whatever reason) as the rest of the week. Saturday is the day folks have dance lessons, softball games, karate classes, and go visit Uncle James, so nobody surfs the web. Sunday night? Lots of web traffic but different. People go to "targeted" websites on Sundays. Sites like Amazon, JCPenny, and the like see their traffic spike then but nobody surfs to unknown destinations (this is very different from Friday afternoons, when people are "trapped" at work but get as far away from their desks as google will allow, googling themselves into points unknown at a record pace.)

Saturday night, especially late, is the time porno reigns supreme and nobody's in a hurry to go back to work Monday morning so there's a slight spike in web visitors then too.

Law offices surf Friday afternoons (the courts in many locales close then) and Wednesdays are usually slow for hospitals, so look for doctors and nurses to check in then.

If it should happen to ice up in Austin, my traffic spikes (people trapped at home, unable to get to work, make very attentive web surfers.) I have a mix of pointedly local and international traffic that I call inter-localized and so I expect certain holidays overseas to generate a change in traffic patterns to my site.

I've long since given up monitoring my site. It's kind of fun to get a surprise email from people I didn't know where reading. I actually prefer the surprise. A few months ago, I got a letter from an army officer, stationed in Qatar, originally from New Orleans, LA. He thanked me for putting up pictures of his hometown. He was homesick, thousands of miles away, missing home cooking and all. He surfed the web from a borrowed laptop, happened upon my website, and went through masses of pictures I had posted from New Orleans.

That kind of traffic is rewarding enough for me. I don't need a high "hit count" anymore now, do I?

Until next page view statistic...

Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Walk in the Woods


LeavesNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Thursday, at work, we had some equipment trouble, which meant that I was distracted from my usual grind, and found myself waiting on a fix for the problem. Most folks would take such an opportunity to surf the web, maybe catch up on email, or the like but I decided that, since there's only so much web surfing a reasonably sane mind like mine (!) can take, I decided to go outside and go for a walk.

An interesting thing about the place where I work is that we have trees. Not just trees, but an entire freaking forest, situated in our backyard.

I love this. It's one of the things I miss about the north-a shady tree infested forest. I love tall trees and winding, narrow, paths through dense woods. I love crooked paths, and rocks, and canopies of leaves. It's like being out in nature but only ten feet from my desk.

For some reason, forests always stimulate my creativity. I could have the worst writer's block in the world, spend five minutes in a forest, and return with a novel in my head.

So, Thursday, rather than Google, CNN, and all that crap (which, it goes without saying really, will still be there tomorrow) I spent a quarter of a gig of compact flash in the wilds of the heart of Austin.

Until next leafy lumberyard in the making...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Adolescence


ShadowWalksByDoges, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I had a hard time finding something that fit the theme for this week's Photo Friday challenge: Adolescence.

Most of my images are either very, ahem, "adult" (and I mean that in the true sense of the word, not the porno version, thank you) or really quite child like. There's just no in between with me, since I'm a fully grown woman who just refuses to grow up (they'll be plenty of time to do that, I suppose, when I actually *do* grow up. Believe me, I'll let you know if or when that should ever occur but, like, don't hold your breath, ok?)

In the meantime, I selected this image since it is a teenager walking and it conveys that alone, isolated feeling so associated with adolescence.

The adult in me wishes I had time to walk around Venice brooding with my hood up on a dreary day. The kid in me thinks that hooded figures and fog are just plain "kewl dude."

Until next "tween"-ager...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Paper Fetish


FlowerCraneNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I'm addicted to paper. I buy paper, I save scraps of cool paper, I know where all the paper stores are in Austin, and, sometimes, I even make paper. I know all about sizing, slurring, and deckeling and all kinds of "technical" paper making terms.

It's pathetic really but, if they ever have an AA style meeting, where all sorts of pulp-a-holics show up and confess their sins, I'd have to be there, among the masses, alongside the book collectors and the label sniffers, sitting there in denial. "My name is Carol and I am addicted to paper..." I would say at each meet and greet even though the whole time I'd be telling myself, convincing myself really, that I could just quit any time I wanted (Ha! Yeah right.)

So, a few weeks ago, my friend Lois was telling me about how her granddaughter was addicted to origami (another member of my "elusive" AA club-to-be in the making?) and how she started to make thousands (!) of these little paper origami cranes.

Lois asked if I knew of anybody who would want some and I immediately thought, "Oh! Pick me! Pick me!" since I have such a paper fetish and all. She gave me a paper grocery bag (not plastic!) from Whole Foods (I love that place. They have a chocolate fountain, a big one, a derrick, really, and they give out paper sacs. Nirvana, don't you think?) filled with origami cranes, which I then put into the back of my car.

So, I've been driving around with origami (sounds like a name for a band, doesn't it?) for about a month now. With the cranes neatly tucked away in the hatchback (driving down Mopac, 360, and 183. Too bad I couldn't get frequent "flier" miles for these birdies) until this weekend, when I finally got off my duff and started taking pictures of the cranes (kind of like Dick Cheney only without any actual buckshot.)

Please take this as advanced warning. This isn't the last you'll see of those cranes. They've really just started flying around flickr, really they have.

You have been warned, as I am just starting to play.

Until next paper bird that doesn't really fly...

Monday, May 01, 2006

EEEK! I'm Not Dead But I'm Not Shopping Either


WhatACarWhatABurger, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

EEE-Extreme Earbud Entanglement

The state or condition of having ones ipod earbuds become so entangled as to induce hysteria (or, at least, to cause one to miss the first entire song on the shuffle playlist, should you happen to be one of those "I plug in after I push the middle button" types.)
Ok, that's it. I so need to go shopping. Mother's Day is next week, Mom wants all these little things, like a new slotted spoon and a colander that has actual working "feet," my ears hurt from the damned "default" podling earbuds, so I need like cool painless Nike ones or just *something* better, I need some foam core for a photography project I'm trying to work on, and I could really use some new shoes (well, ok, that's a stretch. Forget the shoes.)

I don't know why but, somehow, I've developed this extreme mall avoidance. I don't want to go anywhere near the place, despite the fact that I drive by it practically every day. It's like I need to shop, I want to shop, I know I *should* shop (well, except for the shoes) but I don't actually want to go there. I just can't bring myself to do it.

What's happening to me? I think I've developed some strange social disease, like mall-a-phobia or something.

Actually, maybe I've had it all along. On the whole, I'd rather be sitting on my back porch reading a book, engrossed in an engaging lookout for shooting stars, watching TREE gently blow in the breeze, or so. Even watching the grass grow taller, at this point in time, would be more interesting to me than the local mall. There's just something about that place that puts me out.

They say that W.C. Fields really hated Philadelphia, so much so that, when he died, he requested from his heirs that they inscribe on his tombstone the words, "On the Whole, I'd Rather be in Philadelphia."

If I should die anytime soon, well, my snowflakes, I trust you'll know just what to say (and, please, make sure they bury me alongside some badass souls, or, um, soles.)

"Here's Lies Carol. She finally has enough CompactFlash. Too bad she can't use it where she's going."

Until next tombstone...