Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An Apple a Day


TwoYellowApplesCrisp, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

You know what they say about an apple a day, right?

Well, you might ask, what's the second one for? Easy, that one keeps the dentist away. Man, I really *hate* the dentist. And, trust me, you don't want to see what I use to scare away the eye doctor. (I'll never tell.)

Until next medical professional on the run...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Three Legged Beast


ThreePearsNo4, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

There's an interesting relationship between a photographer and his tripod. On the one hand, we recognize the fact that tripods make us take better pictures, on the other, they are big heavy monsters that break our backs and eat up what's left of our beer money.

The other day, I was thinking that I really want one of these, but I really can't justify getting a new tripod. It would be just spending money to replace something I already have. Sure, my tripod is perfectly good, it works, it's fairly compact but, there always seems to be something about a new one-they're smaller, lighter, cooler, whatever (they have better little hooks to open them. That always gets me. Damn those hooks.)

It's a little known fact that the word tripod comes from the Latin words: tri and pod. Tri meaning "heavy" and pod meaning "beast." Actually, I think that the term "tripod" itself was derived from the days of the dinosaur and that there was, in fact, a dinosaur named tripodosaurus rex. He was really really big and heavy, didn't have wings, so he could fly like all the other dinos, and was clunky on the dance floor. My best guess is that this is what led to his ultimate demise-he was stuck in the tar pits bellowing alongside the likes of the woolly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger. He didn't get out much but, when he did, he helped all the other dinos become totally photogenic.

Totally photogenic, that is, until they all became extinct.

Until next beast...

Monday, June 26, 2006

High Definition Rubbish on Parade


ThreePearsNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

A select online "gallery" that's just starting up and looking for artists invited me to join their ranks a few weeks ago. I jumped at the invitation, simply because I thought it a good idea to be in the company of like minded artists and the work looked pretty decent, that is, mostly better than mine. (To paraphrase Groucho, "I don't really want to join any gallery that would have me as a member.")

An interesting thing about this group, they've banned all HDR images from the start and were very insistent that, since I was one of those wild "photographer" types, I agree to refrain from submitting any HDR work for their consideration.

Ok, so, you already know how I feel about EXIF data. It's time for me to talk about HDR. Now, you're probably thinking, if you had to guess, me being the "anti-technical" photographer that I am (I'm technical enough that I can't really call myself "non technical," I mean, I do have an advanced degree in this crap, but my images are not "works of technology" by any stretch so, I guess, that makes me "anti-technical") that I too would absolutely *hate* the notion of HDR. But, I'm here to tell you, you'd be wrong.

HDR is a tool, like any other tool. Don't blame the hammer, hate the carpenter. Tools are only as good (or bad) as the artists (or technicians) who use them. The problem with HDR-the real problem-the reason why most people don't like HDR images is because HDR is a new technology and, right now anyway, only the geeks are using it. Everybody knows, or they should, that great geeks don't take great pictures, great visual artists do. Now, some geeks are great visual artists too, but, like they probably can't dance because, well, nobody can do everything. But the problem with most geeks (well, ok, a lot of geeks) is that they *think* they can do everything. So they think they can take great pictures, when they can't. And, logically following on this invalid chain of thought, they think they can improve upon their "great" pictures by using great technology so, naturally, HDR, in their fully capable hands, in a miracle. (*Sigh* Mother Theresa was a miracle. If you can't recognize one, maybe, just maybe, you really need one.)

My prediction? As soon as the artists start using HDR (and they will) you'll start to see some HDR images that you like. Until then, well, sorry but you're going to be stuck with an endless stream of "geeks on parade" which, my snowflakes, is as ugly as it sounds.

All the gadget heads will latch onto HDR, since it's the "latest" thing and they'll twiddle and tweak and spend hours making mediocre art (because, well, you and I know, they're really mediocre artists-at best) Instead of getting creative or really improving by working at their photography-studying things like composition, scale, perspective, and the like, they'll jump on the HDR bandwagon because, as we know, geeks are like that. It's all about the bandwagon to them.

So, we'll see this never ending stream, a parade really, of crappy sunset photos and off perspective shots, crappy snapshots of people's cats and dogs, and flower pictures not close enough or poorly composed-all done up in HDR for our collective "viewing pleasure."

Do I think HDR is bad? Pure evil? No. I just think it's in the wrong hands, that's all. The techno geeks are using it to give us high definition rubbish and that will stop once the artists start using it and the geeks latch onto whatever the next "big" thing is (or maybe they go off and invent some badass software which would really be a miracle.)

And me? Will I use HDR? I'm just waiting for that parade to march down somebody else's street.

Until next time...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Aspects of Alice


KidPullingDogInCart, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

There's just something about Alice that fascinates me. Did you know Alice as a brunette? Everybody always pictures her as a blonde but she's not. It's true, her hair's actually dark.

She's a very mysterious woman too. You never hear about her. Everybody thinks of her as a young, silly, little girl who played in the garden as a child. It's hard to think of her as a woman, a woman who gave birth, educated herself, raised a family, and all that. She did so much more than just model, actually, although we tend to remember her as this demure little waif from a far away land who just fell into it one day.

There are pictures of her all over the internet (thanks to his early fascination with all things film-related) yet will still don't really know how she looks. We know so much about her-we've grown used to seeing the world from her eyes, but it's all vicarious really. It's like second hand news or like "reading" a newspaper over somebody's left shoulder on a plane. Nobody really has the whole story. The visions are there but we can't really see the whole picture.

Everybody knows all about Alice yet, on some level, there are pieces of her kept private. She's like an iceberg-the more you learn about her, the more, you come to realize, has been kept hidden over the years. Then you start to wonder if she even exists at all. She's a hallucination that's oh so real. She's like the girl next door, only you know all about her wild streak. She's demure, intriguing, and a little bit crazy all rolled into one. She's Alice afterall, what do you expect?

I wish I could meet Alice. To talk to her, to find out what it was like in her time, in her place, in her space. But, alas, as we all know, that can never be.

It's peculiar that she was a real person, that she even exists, but yet, she's there. As you turn, page by page, she comes to life, the "real" Alice emerges-the one we all know, the one the movies are made of, the Alice of our dreams, the one who lives on forever in the words of that book. She lives on forever in our imagination.

Goodnight, Ms. Liddell, sleep well, my child.

Until next time...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Solstice


EdgeReflection, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Today is the summer solstice. The longest day of the year.

I sat down tonight to write (actually type, I tend to write longhand. In a notebook. A really really fat notebook stuffed with lots of scraps of paper and filled with endless musings from my inner mind. It's even scarier than the blog, trust me) when the lightbulb at my desk blew out.

What luck I have, eh? My lightbulb burns out on the longest day of the year. Ha! Like I'm going to worry about that now. I have until freaking 9:30 or something until it gets dark in here...well, too dark to see anyway. And then? Well, I can just type by the glow of the computer monitor.

Me get a new lightbulb? Never happen, not tonight. Happy solstice to you all and to all a good summer. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to play solitaire for like three hours or something before the sun goes down.

Until next illumination...

PS Did you know that, if you type in "lightbulb" into google's spell checker thing it asks you, "did you mean lustfully." Really. Now you know.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Immortal


GhostOfMeNo4, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

What do Lisa Kudrow, a dumpster, a giant blue care bear, Ben Stiller's wife, and my car all have in common?

Picture this. I'm late for work. Have you ever been late for work? Ever have one of those days when you know you're going to be late, you just can't help but be tardy, you're just running late, and everything you do takes longer than expected? You get stuck in more traffic than usual, maybe you go to tie you shoe and your shoelace breaks, possibly your breakfast toast burns beyond recognition, and, all the while, you're thinking to yourself, "great. I really need this. It's not bad enough that I'm already late..."

The other day, I was late. I was hoping I could just "sneak" into work, sort of slip in, without anybody noticing, just sort of "slide" into my desk, maybe slip over to the coffee pot and act like I've been there for hours. I was hoping, preying actually, that nobody would notice and that I could just sort of glide into position, look around, and be like, "nope. Not me. Not late here. This is how I look when I'm not late..."

There was a lot of traffic on 183 (isn't there always more traffic when you're late? Is there like a law or something? Woops. Carol's late. Speed limit has been reduced to 23 on all major arteries. Everybody must get in front of her....she's *late*) I finally pull into the parking lot, but notice this weird camper looking vehicle parked in the lot and it looks like the parking garage is closed off with some sort of plastic, but they still left an opening in this weird Saran wrap of a garage door, so I zipped in and grabbed a spot.

It's really quiet in the office, so I start reading email. I got one email that says, "there's a film crew shooting our dumpsters. Anyone throw away something valuable?" Quickly followed by another, "they're filming a movie in the parking lot. It's Lisa Kudrow's movie titled 'Kabluee' also starring Christine Taylor (Ben Stiller's wife.) The main character is the big blue stuffed bear next to the dumpster...literally." That's when I notice that everybody in the office is hold up, next to the window overlooking the parking garage, watching Lisa Kudrow pull a giant blue stuffed care bear out of our dumpster.

Now, you know, you just know, my car is going to be in this movie. They filmed the scene, you see, just as I was zipping by on the way to work. Just as I was speeding into the garage, late for work, my entire company is lined up by the window, watching Lisa Kudrow pull a giant blue care bear out of the dumpster and, naturally, watching my white car zip into the parking garage, past the Saran wrap and behind the guys holding all those fluffy microphones and such.

If I had been on time that day? Ha! You bet they would not have filmed the movie then. Nope, no movie for my wheels (not to mention my sorry, late, ass.) But, late? You know, you just know, this is going to be immortalized on film, preserved for generations, broadcast in 40 foot tall HDTV on giant movie screens across the globe. The movie's probably going to be a hit too. I'm certain of it because I was late. Just because I was late, they'll be people lined up to see Lisa Kudrow, the giant blue stuffed bear, the dumpsters, Ben Stiller's wife, Christine Taylor, and my late ass sitting in a car, zooming past, in the background, almost running over some guy with a fluffy microphone, all because I was late.

I mean, couldn't they film in the freaking *front* of the building? You know, that place where sorry assed late zipping cars avoid? No, they had to film in the back, by the dumpster, conveniently located next to the parking garage. The very same dumpster that holds my day old empty Lean Cuisine boxes, my dirty paper towels, and our empty pretzel bags, that dumpster. And, that, of course, would be the very same dumpster I zip past when I'm late, in my soon to be immortalized on film, dirty white car.

Damn. If I had known a film crew was coming I might have washed it.

Until next time...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Epsom Salts for the Brain


HeadNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I love movies really, I do. You'd never know it from the frequency at which I get to watch them but, I really do like to sit down, on my nice comfortable couch, put my feet up, enjoy a cool beverage, and a great film.

This weekend, I tried to watch a movie. I sat down with a cool drink, put my feet up, grabbed the remote, and tried, honestly tried, to watch a movie.

I somehow missed the beginning of the movie. I don't know how, maybe it was another one of those grand "boop ups" in TiVo land but, somehow, I missed the first part. Ok, no biggie, I can catch up. So, I start watching (from the middle) this rather strange movie set in a proper British manor home. I notice it has a lot of stars in it too, like Christopher Reeve, when he could walk, and Hugh Grant, when he was younger and wore his hair slicked back. It was about these servants in this manor home and I swear the butler guy was somebody famous too. One of my friends, who stopped over to watch part of the movie, told me his name but I forgot.

It was some strange movie set in an English manor, at the turn of the war, starring Hugh Grant, when he was younger and slicked back his hair, Christopher Reeve, when he could walk, and some famous dude who was a butler (in the movie, not in real life. I don't know any famous butlers in real life) and there I was, sitting, on my comfortable couch, with my feet up, icy cold beverage in hand, trying to watch it.

There was a lady at one point in the movie. She kept talking about how they had this Chinaman but it was the wrong color. It was supposed to be green but it was red instead (or something like that.) I was interrupted so many times watching this movie, and I didn't really see it from the beginning, but I'm smart enough to know that she probably wasn't really talking about the Chinaman but I couldn't really follow what she was talking about (I couldn't quite figure it out.) They did have some red and green Chinoiserie statues in this proper British manor home so, maybe, just maybe, she really was talking about the Chinaman. (Who knows?)

The butler dude had a father who died in the movie and everybody kept walking through "secret" doors in this manor home (you have to wonder, really, can they still be called "secret" if everybody and their brother keeps walking through them. And I do mean everybody. Like, that famous butler dude who had a father who died, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant, and the lady who kept bitching about the wrongly colored Chinamen.)

In the movie, they had some big statesman's dinner, where they invited dignitaries from around the world to this manor home. So, as the movie progressed, all these people started showing up at the manor home. Christopher Reeve was an angry American who showed up a day early, and there was some French dude who had aching feet from wearing his shoes too tight (and spending too much time walking around the Tower of London, which, I know firsthand, can really hurt one's feet.) They kept dipping his feet in buckets of warm water and Epsom salts and I was interrupted so many times I never could tell where they got all these buckets of water from, let alone the Epsom salts. (I thought those old British manor homes were so old they seldom had running water, let alone wild free roaming basins of warm water and Epsom salts, but I could be wrong.)

Since this movie came from my TiVo and didn't appear to have a murder in it (well, except for some references to the war) I assumed it had Nicolas Cage in it but I could be wrong about that too. Then again, maybe he was the guy handing out all the Epsom salts (Damn, I wish somebody at my house could hand out basins of warm water and Epsom salts when my feet hurt.)

So, the phone rang, the dog had to go out, the dog had to come in again, the neighbor's dog barked, the neighbor stopped by, the neighbor left again, famous butlers I didn't recognize kept walking past wrongly colored Chinaman while Christopher Reeve not only walked but gave all these little mini speeches about Americans and Germans, the war, the British, and Frenchman, who seemed to have a neverending supply of Epsom salts and basins of warm water, yet still suffered from endlessly aching feet. I never did actually see Nicolas Cage, the beginning, or the end of the movie for that matter.

So, like now what's a girl supposed to do?

It's not like I can walk into Blockbuster and say,

"Excuse me. I'm looking to rent a movie. A movie starring Hugh Grant, when he was young, and slicked his hair back, and Christopher Reeve, when he could walk, and some famous butler dude who's name escapes me, and maybe like Nicolas Cage but only if he secretly hands out free roaming basins of warm water and Epsom salts while walking past some lady bitching about wrongly colored Chinamen, all the while everybody's traipsing through secret passageways that, well, aren't so secret.

You have that one, right? Have you got that one? I really want to rent *that* one."
Now you know why I *hate* movies and where, just where, oh where, would my sorry ass be without IMDB?

Until next time...

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day


TwoYellowApplesCrisp, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Chris Rock once said that, as a Dad, your main job is to keep your daughters "off the pole" (referring to a stripper pole, in case you could not figure that one out.) I have to admit, I've been many things, wore some nasty clothing (bell bottoms anyone?) and the lot. Now, I can't say for certain, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess here, I've never looked "fresh off the pole" as it were. So, Dad, you done good.

Happy Day to you!

Until next time...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Automotive


TBirdHeadlights, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Beep Beep. Get out of my way. I'm driving. This is my entry for "Automotive" or this week's Photo Friday competition related to cars.

This is a classic '55 (or so) T-bird, which I happened upon one Sunday, just sitting there, parked, waiting for me to photograph it. Ok, maybe it wasn't waiting for me to photograph it, maybe it was just sitting there, waiting to go from 0 to 60 in some respectable amount of time, but I snagged its picture anyway.

Who am I to argue with The Beach Boys? I had to have some fun, fun, fun, until somebody drove my T-bird away, right?

Until next buggy...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Got the Whole World by it's Cup


CafeNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

In case you didn't know, the world cup is happening now. As you could probably guess, I'm not a huge sports fan but, this year anyway, I'm about as in to the world cup as I could be in to any sport at all. It's crazy. Everybody's watching it.

Flickr has turned into World Cup Photo Alley, with new World Cup groups sprouting up all over the place. It's all over ESPN. Everybody's watching it at work. We're addicts. It's like a soccer-ly crack pipe that the entire universe is smoking.

Now, I know that most folks in the US don't follow soccer but, this year anyway, there's something about the cup. Something about us making it to the cup, and something about the cup games themselves that's got everybody, and I mean, even the US non-soccer watchers here, hooked. It's riveting. Maybe it hit us at just the right time. There's no big, hot news stories going on and it seems like it's just a summertime lull-that brief heat infested gap between the American Idol finale and the time we start thinking about the new fall TV season but, somehow, we're hooked.

Somebody at work was saying that an entire village in Brazil has taken to church to pray for their team (It goes without saying really, but, I hope they lookout for the Trail of the Dead, while they are in there and all.) Like God has nothing better to do with His time then make sure a certain team wins the world cup.

But, what if, maybe, just maybe, the cup is some kind of global "vacation?" Maybe it's that point in the space time continuum where we all take a collective breather? Maybe God wants us to kick back, relax, pop the top off a cold one and watch some kickin' soccer. It beats the heck out of economic summits, WTO meetings, the war in Iraq, the volcano in the Pacific and such. (All that can happen *next* Thursday. Really. It has my permission.) For now, well, we've collectively got a soccer cup to watch.

And, I can't help but wonder...maybe there is something to that church thing. I mean, we all know Brazil is going to take it anyway, right? How do we know it's not on account of some little village, hold up in their church? Who are we to judge? Isn't that left to the men in the *yellow* shirts?

Yeah, yeah, I know....gooooooaaaaaaaalllllllllllll!

Until next little checkered ball flying about...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Brimstone and Hell Fire in the Hole


Giggle, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I was flipping channels on my TV late the other night, as I always seem to do when I can't sleep (which is, well, lately anyway, just plain "always") when I happened upon a video by Austin's own Trail of the Dead.

Now, as you probably know, or could have guessed without my help, the Trail of the Dead make videos (they are a rock band and all.) What you might not know, what you might not expect about this particular video, was that it was set (filmed almost entirely) in a church.

Trail of the Dead
in a church? You know, you just know, this is going to be good. I mean, this is the band that gave us flying beer banners, shards of low orbiting guitar parts, and a multitude of trashed hotel rooms in their wake. Putting them inside a church? It's a stroke of genius really. (The only way this could possibly get any better would be if Rob Zombie directed the video. Or, maybe, Alice Cooper. A really really mad Alice Cooper, wearing extra mascara. And, he'd have to make a cameo.)

Imagine being there, being one of the helpless unsuspecting church parishioners, when this lot came along? One minute, you're quietly preying in your pew, the next your screaming, "Good Lord, save me now! I mean, right now!" as band instruments hurl, folding chairs fly past crucifixes, and groupies flee the scene. (Ah, to be a mouse in that church on that day.)

An interesting thing about this video-actually, the single most interesting thing about this video, apart from the fact that it exists and was filmed in a church-is the ending. The guy from the Trail of the Dead stood up, calmly walked towards a door, and just walked out of the church.

Now, I know that doesn't sound very blog worthy at first read, but think about it. This is probably the first time we've seen him leave anywhere without a police escort. I mean, we've grown accustomed to seeing him hurl shards of broken guitars and little bitty amp remnants at angry mobs. We've seen him crowd surf with half a sponsor's banner stuck to his foot like some giant toilet paper streamer from Hell. We've seen his collection of TV's floating in the pool at hotels across Austin everywhere (and Lord only knows what he's done with those room service trays. Really. I mean, do you even want to guess where they've been?)

Calmly getting up and walking quietly out of a church? Dude, that's radical.

Hell (and Holiday Inn) hath no fury like the Trail of the Dead.

Until next flying folding chair and crucifix...

Monday, June 12, 2006

Socks: The Hole Truth

Did you ever get a hole in your sock? Ever have one of those holes that's *just* big enough for your big toe to *squeeze* into and then get stuck? Man, I hate that.

I have a hole in my sock and it hurts. It really hurts. It's one of those holes big enough to snag my big toe and now my toe's all stuck in there. My socks are strangling my left big toe, and it hurts to the point where I can't walk comfortably. Damn, at this point, I really hate socks with holes in them.

It's a good thing I'm not President today. Could you imagine that? My assistants come running into my office-the oval office-and say, "Ms. [you just know they'd call me Ms.] President, we have a hot lead on Al Qaeda in Iraq, the Dow is down considerably, and the new economic numbers indicate..."

"Don't bother me with details, you twits! Can't you see I've got a hole in my sock? I've got a hole in my sock, it hurts, and like, I can't walk straight..."

"Um. Well, actually, we can't see, Ms. President. You see, those shoes..."

"Oh damn. These shoes hurt too..." It would be the end of civilization and the free world as we know and like, all the while, my feet would hurt.

I wonder if historical leaders wore socks with holes in them. It might explain a lot of historical events, actually. I mean, maybe Adolph Hitler really liked Jews but hated sock makers, because they once sold him one with a hole in it. Maybe he became an evil dictator, and started killing people, one by one, thinking each the man who sold him the sock with the hole in it, all the while the entire "Jewish" thing was really just a front-a clever ploy to get the sock makers to turn themselves in to be executed.

Saddam Hussein could explain to that war tribunal, "I had a hole in my sock. I didn't mean to gas the Kurds. Really, I didn't." If the people on that tribunal wear socks like mine, they just might fall for it. Maybe Ben Franklin had a hole in his sock but tried to "walk it off" outside, in the rain, during a thunderstorm, with a key and a kite. I mean, couldn't you just see him hobbling about, favoring his right leg, all on account of that hole?

The worst part of the hole in my sock is not the fact that it's strangling my left big toe. It's not the fact that it's cut off all the circulation to that poor little extremity and I now have this horrific premonitions of getting gangrene from the strangulation or that the socks so tightly wound around my toe that I'm going to be forced to amputate or maybe my toe will just falling off into my sock, my horrible, horrible, hole-y sock. No, that's not the worst part of it-the worst part of this entire ordeal is that I have a busy day planned.

It's one of those 18 hour marathon days, where I go to work, update some web content, attend a meeting downtown, and do a bunch of other stuff. I've got this entire marathon day planned so I'll be out on the road, running around, the entire time, leaving absolutely no time to run (or um, hobble as the case may be) home to change socks.

So, gangrene and hobbling aside, I'm stuck in these horrible, horrible hole-y socks until tomorrow, but I'm forced to run around for 18 hours, do ten million things, all the while limping thanks to a stupid strangled left big toe.

Ah, yes, a strangled big toe, on a day like today, I need that like I need a hole in my head. (Um, maybe I shouldn't have said that.)

Until next oddity from the sock drawer...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Red Dress on the Other Side of the Tracks


RedDressForm, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I don't know if you can really make them out, or recognize them from this picture but, those railings to the front right are actually railroad tracks. This is a picture of a fancy red dress, in a store window, with the reflection of a small Texas railroad town in it's face. The house, the stoplight, and the trees are all, quite literally, on the "other side of the tracks" from the pretty red dress.

The dress itself is a ball gown-done up in sequins and velvet. The house was home to a large family-a very large family, with a scrawny barking dog. So now you know what it looks like on both sides of the tracks.

I don't know which side is "poverty" though. Really, I don't. I mean, on the one hand, the people go to work, school, play, and all that, all the time having a great view of some fancy ball gown. The dress gets to sit there, all done up, watching the train go by, waiting for some "fancy" family to come buy it and save it from this life.

Which sounds like "poverty" to you?

Until next time...

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Cat Named Boo


CatAndGazingBall, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Since poor Charlie has passed, recent attention has turned towards getting a pet. A few of my friends have suggested I get a cat. This is where the fun starts.

I sort of have this love/hate relationship with cats. I love them and they, it would appear, hate me. To paraphrase Shirley Maclaine, "They hate me. They really, really hate me."

Cats like to climb on my lap and stick their claws into my thighs (and, I'm here to tell you that, despite all the "extra padding," it hurts when they do that. But they seem to like inflicting pain, so they keep doing it.) They swat at my nose when I sleep and hiss at me when I try to pet them. They just can't stand me for whatever little "kitty" reason they might have.

Ok, I admit it. I'm kind of afraid of cats. They have fangs, big claws, they hiss and spit and lunge at things. They're fast and they stalk their prey. I don't like any animal that stalks it's prey. Can't I have a vegetarian pet please? Like, something that eats twigs, nuts, and the like and maybe arm wrestles me for the tallest blade of grass in the lawn? (Yeah, yeah, I know, bears eat honey and we're all still afraid of them and Charlie once caught a blue jay in his mouth but I wasn't afraid of him. So much for that theory.)

Truth be told, I don't really like cats and I don't want to keep one as a pet. I never want anything in my home that's smarter than I am. Yes, it's true, I'm an intellectual snob in the pet department and I really don't even want to consider anything that's capable of outsmarting me (dogs are great for this. Despite the fact that I rival the intelligence of a door knob before I've had any coffee in the morning, I could still out wit a doggie. Let's see you try that with a cat.)

Besides this, I've always thought of cats to be a bit, well, boring. They just sort of sit there, don't let you pet them, hiss and swat at random odd things, and annoy the local dog population who, as we all know, are the *real* pets in the neighborhood. (I always thought it a bit cruel when a cat "shows off" and out smarts a dog, I mean, what's he got to prove? Everybody knows dogs are as dumb as bricks-that's why we love them, right?)

No, getting a cat would be just so *wrong* for me. Just think of what I'd have to suffer. The cat would scare me every time he jumped on my lap. I'd constantly be thinking he was about to claw me to death. He'd scare me when he swatted at my nose in the morning, to wake me up (I have a hard enough time sleeping as it is.) He'd scare away the neighborhood dogs. He'd hiss at me every time I walked past him. Heck, it'd be a house full of shivers really. (That and my kitchen counters would no longer be safe.) I'd be so afraid, I'd have to name the poor cat "Boo!" Boo! Because I would be afraid of him. Boo! Just like a spook. Boo! Just like Boo Radley. Man, I'm scared just thinking about a cat.

The other day, on flickr, several people uploaded, within minutes of each other, images of Cheshire cats, photoshopped, of course, for our, ahem, viewing pleasure. This really scared the bejesus out of me, as you can probably imagine. If I don't like "normal" cats, just think how I feel about the Cheshire variety (Oh, that evil grin!)

So, it's late at night, and I'm hanging my clothing on the line, after doing laundry, and my mind starts racing, the way it always seems to do.

"What if a Cheshire cat crawled up and over that fence? What would I do? What if it crawled over and tried to eat me-me and my freshly laundered socks?"

"You fool," (I tend to talk to and answer myself when my mind races. Ask my other half why, and maybe, just maybe, it will tell you.) "Cheshire cats don't really exist."

"Coyotes. We have coyotes. Really, really big coyotes."

It's true. We do. In Texas, where I live, there's coyotes. Wild ones, with big teeth, and fangs, and claws and they come into my yard. They've been there before, really they have. Their large and vicious enough to climb fences, get into yards, and like howl at the moon and do all sorts of "coyote" things that we don't know about. But, I'm not afraid of *them.* Know why?

Yup, it's true. Coyotes eat cats.

Until next scary scary pussy...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Pugilist at 39


GhostOfMeNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I keep hearing Tom Russell's new song, "The Pugilist at 59" on the radio. As I heard it again today, driving down loop 360 towards Austin, I realized that I didn't care for it that much the first time I heard it but, lately anyway, it's been kind of growing on me. ("I put the coffee on, but the pot ain't clean...All you little devils of alcohol and caffeine...")

At work this morning, I realized that Adobe and Microsoft have joined forces in a combined attempt at making my life a living Hell. They release Windows updates. They release Acrobat updates. They release updates for software I don't use, but they insist that I install them anyway (Do you use the Kanji version of Adobe Photoshop Album? Konichiwa! I sure don't. And, like, bless you, I think you just sneezed.)

I use like 29 computers at work and had three pages of updates on each one. Don't these people realize I've got better things to do with my time then install 49 software patches for 32 programs I don't use, 27 of which are written in Japanese, a language I don't speak?

Now, I'm normally a mild-mannered, quiet, mousey kind of a gal. I keep to myself. I rewind video tapes before I return them. I stay on the right when I drive. I seldom pay more than 50 cents in overdue library fines. But, there's just something about software updates, Microsoft, and Bill Gates that makes me want to just *snap* I swear. It brings out my pugilistic tendencies, if you know what I mean.

I want to fly, run, crap, crawl if I have to, up to Seattle, to choke the living daylights out of Bill Gates. Really, I do. I fantasize about crawling into his room at night, while he's sleeping, securing my hands tightly around his skinny, little pencil neck, and throttling him awake, all the time screaming in his ears, "I've got your @#$%-ing Windows updates right here, Billy Boy! Would you like another #$% $%^& virus, you #@#$-er? Too bad you didn't make a #$% @#$% @#$%-ing service pack that can fix this you #$%^-ing dork-meister..." (Snap, I tell you. One of these days I'm going to just snap. And, Steve will be there shaking his head saying, "All this time, I thought her TiVo was going to drive her over the edge. Who knew it would come to this?")

Maybe I'll be a tad more subtle and like string Mr. Gates up by his balls using a chain of interconnected paper clips. (You do remember the paper clip, don't you? God, don't get me started on the paper clip. Anything but the paper clip, really.)

This pugilist really doesn't want to "Install Updates Now!" but she *so* wants to reboot.

Until next little blue globe in the corner...

News Flash


MensHealth, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

From the "this just in" department, it appears that they are building a bank on the previously empty lot next to the new Mama Fu's restaurant.

A bank? That freaking new Chinese restaurant is making so much freaking money that they need to put up a freaking bank next door-it's very own branch office-so they don't have too far to drive with the money they squeeze out of the local Kung Pao addicts. Damn! I'm in the wrong business, I tell you.

Maybe I should try to muscle in on some of this action? Hmmm. I *could* offer my services to help launder all the money, obviously made from putting too much freaking opium in the beef and broccoli. Sure, you laugh but, it's beats any of those get rich quick schemes Ted's been coming up with lately.

A bank. Geesh. What's next? Are we going to find out that the new bank slogan is "'Mama Fu's Mutual Trust' where all your ATM fees are belong to us."

Until next Calorie Packing/Rich Mama...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Freshly Squeezed Photography


TwoYellowApplesSoftNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Or, why I love my lensbaby, reason #438

It's hard to put a focal length on a lensbaby. About the best I can tell you is "medium blur" or, if you really want me to be precise about it, "medium squeeze" (since that's what we do when we use one.) Really, a focal length doesn't do it justice. It's got that whole tilt shift variable focus thing going on that just blows the whole EXIF debate out of the water. Best guess is, even if you were to find my tripod holes (I wish you luck with that one-I don't even remember where most of them are anymore) even if you were to take the same camera, same lensbaby, same light (impossible tasks all, really, scientifically, if you think about it) you still could not get just the exact squeeze down to copy my work. You might get really, really close but...

All these folks on this great EXIF quest need to realize that each moment in the time space continuum is, in fact, unique. This point in time, that place, the position of the sun, the heat, the humidity and temperature, all scientific elements that contribute to making a unique entry in the continuum also contribute to making our images unique. You can try, and try as you may, but you'll never be in the "here and now" again. Sure, you might find yourself in the "there and later" or quite possibly in the "here and later" (should you succeed in finding those tripod holes) but the "here and now?" Sorry, it's come and gone.

Good photographers pay attention to the weather. They know the temperature, the humidity, tide waters, position of the sun, time of the moon rise, and all that. Great photographers, I think, take it on instinctively. They walk around and just feel, in their blood, what they want to shoot. Then they just go after it, making the most of their surroundings in the process.

The best images represent a concept realized. The photographer had a vision and used his hands and camera "foo" to bring that vision to life-to share it with the world-to put it "out there" for all to see. But, the camera "foo" is only part of the equation. One important piece of that photographic puzzle if you will-the vision-is just as important. And, unfortunately, for all you EXIF hunters, that's the piece you won't find on your tripod hole maps.

A few people have written to me and suggested that the EXIF data is really used by beginners, to help them out, so they have a "launching pad" of sorts. That's all well and good but, I'm here to tell you the bad news that comes along with that. At some point in your development, you are going to have to make your own tripod holes. You are going to have to take your own shots, make your own way, celebrate your own moments. It's what makes us unique that brings out the great artists in us all and, frankly, you won't find "unique" on that tripod hole map now, will you?

So, yeah, go ahead. Find my tripod holes. Try to copy my "squeeze." Peek at my EXIF data. But, do it and then realize you have your own concept to conquer. Learn how to properly expose an image, record apertures, calculate hyperfocal focusing distances and shutter speeds down to the thousandth of a second. And then, if you want to get really good, forget all that crap and go out to take good pictures. Good photographers take good pictures. There's no big secret to that, and, sorry to say, there's nothing to calculate really. If you have to think about it, well, you're trying too hard.

I'd much rather be creative and copied than caught up in the chase to fill out my book of cliched shots and stranded in the land of other photographer's tripod holes.

Wouldn't you?

Until next JPEG...

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Iron Photographer


ShoeBlueCafeNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Do you ever watch any of those cooking channels on TV? Ever hear of a program called the "Iron Chef?" The premise of the show is that they give a mystery bag of ingredients to a bunch of different chefs, merely to see what each is capable of whipping up, and the fun begins when each chef opens up the bag and is delighted (or horrified) to find the ingredients a panel has selected for them.

Imagine if they had a photographic equivalent of this?

Iron Photographer is a competition (challenge really) where the panel gives the photographer a list of items and we get to go out shooting (well, we do that anyway. The idea is we have to shoot what's "in the bag" as it were.) The first grouping I was assigned...Location: outdoors, subjects: a shoe, a beverage, and something blue.

Ok, I cheated. I have blue shoes. And, a blue coffee mug. And, um, blue jeans, for that matter. Ok, so, shoot me, I have a lot of blue stuff. (But, as they say, "if the shoe fits...")

This is also the first piece in a series of my self portrait (more to come on this later.) You see, these are, in fact, my feet. So, now you know what my feet look like. That is my coffee mug, and, um, for that matter, those are the bottom of my pant legs. If you insist, I will also certify that, yes, that really was my Sunday paper (Dilbert was freaking hysterical. Really. Too bad you missed it.)

While we're on the subject of shoes, this week I happened upon the "Yeowza!" of running shoes. The running shoes that make other running shoes look like "skippies." Ok, maybe just a little "tennis-y" or, perhaps, "walker-ly." Let's just say that, after seeing these, all other running shoes pale in comparison.

It seems that, if you have an ipod nano, you can now get running shoes that have a special sensor, embedded in them. There's actually a hole in the left shoe, channeled out so that you can "implant" a sensor for your ipod into it. This sensor allows you to track your progress and upload information to your ipod and computer when you dock it. It tracks information like distance traveled, speed, calories burnt, and performance on a "course" as compared to other "virtual" joggers.

I find this entire concept of the ipod and the interconnected track shoe to be fascinating really. In a sort of "'Get Smart,' let me talk to my left shoe and get back to you on that," sort of way. I mean, what a great idea-hook up your ipod to your shoes and rig yourself up with technology so that you can get the most out of your workout. Rig yourself up to be a lean, mean, electronic, jogging machine and then just run, baby, run.

It's so inspiring. What a fascinating idea. I may have to think about it again, next Sunday, when I put my feet up and read the funnies.

I wonder though, do you think those fancy newfangled running shoes come in blue?

Until next...um..."jog"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Self Possessed


DressFormNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Recently, I found out that I was named a "Photographic Ambassador" (volunteer) for the Center for Fine Art Photography in Ft. Collins, Colorado. I've volunteered to help spread the word about their upcoming juried shows and, in exchange, I get a nod on their website.

As part of the deal, they have asked me for a photograph. Not a picture that I took (that, my snowflakes, would be *easy*) no, they've actually asked for a picture of me. A portrait. A headshot. A mugshot. An image of yours truly.

Horror of horrors. Are they crazy? Are they trying to break their monitors or something? They must have a problem with mice, that's all I can say.

So, now, I'm in a tizzy. I lost some weight recently and I had been thinking it might be time to take another self-portrait but, like, I'm not very "pretty" and I'm still about 40 pounds overweight, I have six extra chins and all, so I'm not sure what to do. I am one of the 90% of the human adult population who just doesn't photograph very well.

I'm stressed. I don't want to do this but I sort of do. I'm torn. I've been thinking it wouldn't be *that* bad to show half my face behind some sexy camera equipment. I mean, everybody loves camera gear, right? You wouldn't really mind an eyeball or half a hairdo sticking out from behind some, right?

And, then there's the "blog factor" to consider. I've been doing this website for about four years now and I've left my image off of it, by design really. I haven't really considered putting it up, making it part of my profile and all, despite the fact that there's that little space for one, in the upper right hand side of my website.

Some of you know me. For you, there's really no need for me to put up a mug shot, right? Some of you have met me in passing, either at some event, at work, or some such thing. You can probably remember what I look like without much help from me, right? Since you know me one way or another, I don't really need to do a portrait for you now, do I?

But, then there are some regular readers out there who have no earthly clue as to what I look like. I don't want to spoil it for you, really I don't. I was trying to think back, to remember, if I've ever given you any verbal clues as to what I look like, and I really can't recall. I'm sure you have some idea of what I look like but I know I can't live up to the "fantasy" as it were. I don't want to ruin the mystery for you. I'm sure that you have some mental image-somehow you pieced together the various parts of me in an attempt at putting a face to a name-and I don't want to tread on that.

Karl Sagan did a thesis project on the subject of humans looking for faces in things they see-about how we tend to do things like look up into the clouds, or at the moon, and have a natural tendency to see faces looking back at us, even when they're not there.

Maybe we also look for something else. Maybe we see what we want to see when we don't see anything at all? Maybe, in your great quest for information, a quest which has led you (one way or another) to my website, your active mind and vivid imagination has mentally "filled in" what you think I look like, just to fill that void. And, who am I, really, to take that from you?

This is turning into my most challenging photographic assignment yet. I know I don't photograph very well to begin with, so I'm stressed. I know I can't live up to the imaginations of web surfers, but it might be nice to put up a portrait. But, the photographer in me knows that I can, on some level, take a picture of anything and make it look ok. It's light, angle, perspective, really more than the way you look, right?

Oh God! Shoot me now. Wait...that was a poor choice of words.

Until next...Crap! That looks like me...

If You Lived Here


GD-TrentReznorHori, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

You know that old saying...if you lived here, you'd be home by now?

This house is in the famous Garden District of New Orleans. It was once owned by Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails fame) and now, I believe, has been sold.

It's still home to somebody though.

Until next time...