Friday, March 30, 2007

On Putting Things Together


Spring Bud No 2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

First came photography. We all know what that is, we can all spell that. We had these cool darkrooms and they let us play in sinks. Life was good. They invented computers. Life got better. They digitized film. Life changed. We started using Photoshop. We started using Photoshop for different reasons. Life got interesting.

HDR came along. HDR is short for High dynamic range. In the days of old, if a photographer were to take a picture looking out a window, let's say, the window might appear too bright while the inside of the room too dark. This is because, while our eyes can adjust to the different levels of light, our cameras and film could not. With Photoshop, by using a technique blending multiple exposures into one HDR image, we could pull out the detail from the light/dark image. We could effectively blend several exposures of one image into one HDR image that would show us, for example, the light from outside of the room at the same time as the inside of the room, properly exposed. Most HDR techniques employ some kind of bracketing and blending, just like the days of old, in a way, where we would expose and develop the film but maybe dodge and burn the resulting print, to keep the window from blasting out but pull out detail in the room. Only HDR gave us very much detail and it was easy to do on our computers. We could stretch those shadows and highlights to places they've never been before.

The pros of HDR are that it's good for things like church interiors (think stained glass) and it really gives depth and detail to clouds. The "cons" of HDR are that the resulting image can often suffer from too much detail. I have a friend who says, "they make my teeth hurt." That's true. They can look over-sharpened and gimmicky. They sometimes look "other worldly" like something from a storybook. Many people find them too fake, not believable, too harsh to even look at. But, the detail is there.

Then, there was a band of photographers who decided that they liked HDR, for all it's detail, but they didn't like HDR for the "teeth hurting" aspect of it. They tried to use the same techniques employed by the HDR folks, only instead of making HDR images, or images with high dynamic range, they decided that they would use HDR techniques to render something that was more in line with what the photographer actually saw. TTHDR or true tone high dynamic range was born.

The pros of TTHDR are that it can pull out detail in an image and that it helps the photographer render something close to what he or she saw. The cons of TTHDR are that sometimes the resulting images lack a bit of "magic." They don't have the same detail as HDR. They don't produce the same clouds. They can look, well, sort of ordinary. No more storybook images. No more "magic" but, well, at least you've evened out the shadows and highlights. (No more blasted out stained glass windows, right?)

Back in the days of old, there was a photographer named Freeman Patterson. He was a very good photographer. He had a friend named Michael Orton. Michael Orton got the idea (maybe from Freeman Patterson himself?) to create "slide sandwiches." The technique involved taking two slides, one slightly overexposed and in focus, and the other much more overexposed and very out-of-focus and "sandwich" them together-putting them in the same slide mount, effectively making one slide from two. This become known as the Orton technique. I actually tried this back in the day-it involved using a slide mount "breaking" machine that would pull the slide out of the mount and allow you to sandwich the slide in a new glass mount. It was a pain to do because of all the work but the resulting images were cool.

Fast forward to modern times and we now celebrate something called the "Orton" technique, which is a digital way of "sandwiching" slides. Basically, you take one image, make it into two, throw one out-of-focus, adjust the exposures on both, and blend them back together, making a digital "sandwich." It's hard to describe than to actually try on your computer. This "digital Orton" technique (or just "Orton") became popular. It was easy to do and the resulting images had a bit of "magic" and softness to them.

The pros of Orton are that it can make everything look soft and dreamy. Because of the out-of-focus "halo" surrounding the objects in the image, it produces a nice dreamy effect. The cons are that it can really hike the contrast in the resulting image. Your whites can blast while your shadows block up very quickly, thanks to Mr. Orton and his band of sandwiches.

So now we have an Orton image with too much contrast, blocked up shadows, and blasted out whites. How do we fix that? Well, we want more definition and contrast so, digitally, we turn to....you guessed it. HDR and TTHDR. Now we're seeing TTHDR+Orton images as well as HDR+Orton images pop up on the web.

The pros of these "blends" or "mash-ups" are that HDR or TTHDR can really pull up the dynamic range, giving us detail and even tonality. The Orton can give us that "soft, dreamy, other worldly" quality we like but eliminate the "teeth hurting" that comes from just the straight HDR technique. It's like the magic's back only better than before. It's believable. It's all "pretty" and "soft" without looking "fake" or "overly sharp." We've got just the right amount of detail, an even tonal range, and magic around the edges.

The cons are that it's hard to understand all of these letters and it can take a while to first HDR or TTHDR and then Orton an image. Not to mention what would the neighbor's think, right?

Oh, and I still kinda miss the sink.

Until next time...

(This is an Orton image of a flower macro shot. Not my usual, I know but still an interesting change for the spring, don't you think?)

Monday, March 26, 2007

After the Flood When the Colors Come Out


CloudForms9892-3, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

You may have noticed that I haven't blogged in a few days. It's not that I don't have a lot to talk about.

Last night was the House marathon on the USA network. This coming Friday the 13th, the same cable channel is offering up a three day Nicolas Cage-fest, showing one of his more recent movies, National Treasure, for thee nights in a row. Aloha, I've booked a trip to Hawaii. American Idol is in full swing, and Steve got a new TiVo. That's a lot to yap about.

On Friday morning, about 5 am, I awoke to a strange "swooshing" sound, something like the noise rain makes, only different. I squinted, rolled out of bed, and found my house was flooded. I was able to shut the water off but not before it did extensive damage. Most of my digital darkroom is sunk, as was my camera gear. This will be the last photo I'll post in a while, until I get things sorted out.

I wish I could tell you that it's all just a matter of insurance claims, new carpeting, new curtains, and the like. It's not. It's more than that. I'm seriously thinking about folding it in, packing what's left of my camera bag up, and resting for a while. I've enjoyed writing this website, I've enjoyed photography in general but I've grown tired. The landscape of popular photographers is cluttered and I just don't feel as if I have something all that pressing to say anymore.

I may very well use this as an opportunity to take a break. Take some time off, relax, renew, re-do my house, and think about what I really want to do (if anything!) with all of this. Insurance claim or not, I may not buy another camera. It's become too much of a burden on me to own one. Truth be told, I don't think my recent work is all that strong and I think a big part of that is because I've grown a bit bored and can't really loose myself in a hot new project. A bit of the passion, I'm sorry to say, has gone and now I have no incentive to even try to keep the magic (if you could call it that) alive.

I'll still try to keep in touch. I'll still wish Steve well with his new TiVo (watch National Treasure for me, will ya, Steve? But don't tell me how it ends, ok?) American Idol still needs to drop a few kids (but keep some of the great ones!) and House, well, he's still a grump. Nothing but a big, mean, ole' king of grumps in the land of happy sick people.

Did you ever hear that expression "God willing and the creek don't rise?" Yeah, well, it rose.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Upsets Over Easy


TopOfTowerNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.
Last night's American Idol was supposed to be a big upset but dialidol had predicted Stephanie was at the bottom for a couple of weeks now. Still, hurts my ears to think that the silly kid (Sanjaya) is making it while another, good singer, gets cut. Ah, maybe all that much easier for her to now go start a recording career. Stephanie, dear, we love you now go make records, sells lots of them, and retire quick before that scretching cat of an idol-mate finds his lost way into a recording studio.

In other "klatch of crazy people distracted by Oooooh, blurry!" news, I have yet to try out my new 3G and time is running out. I want to start using it before Hawaii. Hey, at least I ordered more compact flash, which should be on it's way.

It's raining today in River City. It's raining, dark, and damp and I get this email from Hawaii telling me that there's a new school opening up out there, in the town of Volcano, that's going to have some high powered photogs jaunt along for a spell. Yes, you read that right. The town of Volcano.

Interesting thing about my trips, everytime I go someplace, almost anyplace really, I get the most oddball directions. In Venice, it was "take a left at the third Gothic cathedral. You want the third, not the second, not the one with fewer angels on it..." Sure, that makes sense.

Latest directions: "Drive through the town of Captain Cook." So now I know, in Kona, there's a town named Captain Cook and a town named Volcano.

Please don't tell me to take a right at Shipwreck, I don't think I can deal with it right now.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Binge Photography or How This is NOT Art


GalleryShow, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The latest rage on Flickr appears to be taking pictures inside of galleries that are showing your work and then uploading these shots into your Flickr stream, to show all your friends you latest show. It's not a bad idea actually, it lets you show off your work but it seems a bit odd to me. Almost like "binge drinking" without the drinking, if we keep taking shots of shots and putting them in galleries, where will it all end? I mean, if I take a shot of my gallery show, upload it to Flickr, and it starts getting hits, is that really art? Or is it something else? Wouldn't it be kind of like super post-modern "meta" art of some kind, you know, that sort of "art about art," not really art for art's sake? All sits kind of weird with me, even though I sometimes cave and do it.

Another "weird-ism" but in a good way happened this week. Seems a favorite photographer of mine, Ken Rosenthal, has been getting quite a lot of write ups on Flickr as well. He's noted for doing quite abstract work, really blurry out-of-focus, direct to memory kind of stuff.

For those of you who don't know, there's a psychological aspect to doing abstract art. Abstraction, you see, (in any kind of art form, not just photography) is sort of like a direct input into the subconscious part of the brain. A person listening to a skat singer, for example, might not be able to make out specific words (like say "cat" if the songs were about "cats") but might actually, because of the way the brain works, be able to come up with a word that rhymes with "cat," like, say "bat." Pretty freaky, eh? It has to do with the way our brains "work," the hemispheres, memory (both short-term and long-term) and all that but, basically, the gist of it is that, by "listening" to a skat singer, it's possible for you to impart meaning (and memory) from what he (or she) is saying without actually making out the words. It's like a short-cut direct into our long term memory banks, avoiding that pesky short-term "multi-tiered" setup, for good or bad. Words, figures, forms, and shapes, all come from one part of our brains, while memories come from another, hence the tomfoolery behind the abstraction.

So, when you start getting into abstract art, be it singing, photography, painting, or the like, it's said that people can be divided into four groups:

  • those who get it and like it (whoa! Dude. That's cool!)
  • those who get it and don't like it (quit messing with my head!)
  • those who don't get it and like it (I don't know what it is, but it looks cool!) and
  • those who don't get it and don't like it (I'd rather see a flower. At least, I would know what I was looking at.)

Goes back to that old saying about "can't please everybody all of the time," I guess. Still, Ken's stuff is really neat and worth a second (third, fourth, maybe first all over again, etc.) look.

Until next time...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Heat


Santas Stove, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

If you can't stand the heat...get the pirate ship out of the kitchen. Or, um, maybe get the kitchen into the yard?

Yeah, yeah, I know, makes no sense to me either. Still, it's kinda cool. I mean, not many people have a dayglow, lit up stove on their lawn with a pirate ship on top of it.

Argh!

Until next stove...

Happy Sunday


SpatterBerries, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I had one of those weekends-a nice quiet weekend where I got to spend most of it at home, resting. Didn't do much, didn't even get out jogging but, then again, sometimes we need that, right? This week will be busy enough.

I uploaded more from the trip to the Wildflower Center, including an actual gallery shot of the show. Interesting thing about these, it appears to be all the rage now on Flickr-to have shots taken insides one's gallery shows. Always seemed a bit odd to me. I mean, aren't we supposed to take pictures so that we get into galleries and not actually take pictures of the galleries themselves? When will it end? Do I now try to get my shot of my gallery show into another gallery so I can take a picture of it?

I feel like I'm trapped in an infinite loop. And every push of the button burns more compact flash.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

How Bizarre-Where's My Spleen Again?


KoreanPearOnHarlequin, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The funniest new items this week are...(in no particular order)

In the "that would explain a lot of Austin drivers" department, yesterday CNN reported that certain popular sleep aids (including, my personal favorite, Lunesta, for which I am the poster child, despite never having taken any) actually induce a condition called (I swear I'm not making this up) "sleep driving." Yes, you read that right (or, um, you did if you aren't taking any Lunesta.) CNN found that certain sleep aids cause people to, much like "sleep walking," rise out of bed, grab their keys, and take the minivan for a spin while actually deep in REM state (and I don't mean listening to "losing my religion" though the title does appear to fit in this case.) Hello? WAKE UP! Now I know why there are so many drivers at 3 am who aren't actually talking on their cell phones. (It would appear the "sleep drivers" are actually smart enough to hang up and drive, unlike their awake counterparts.)

In other, ahem, more "pressing" news, I also read an article from Entertainment Weekly about my least favorite, sometimes hot ironed hairdo-ed, American Idol contestant, Sanjaya Malakar. The article stated, and I quote, "Hearing Sanjaya week after week makes me want to open my window and shout 'Who are you and why are you voting for Sanjaya?'"

I couldn't have said it any better myself.

Until next, um, yeah, they call it news but it's oh so much more than that...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

That Train Don't Come 'Round Here No More


TrainCarsMeetTextured, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, so this is my first post from the new Yahoo! account. I guess I *do* Yahoo! (and, to think, even in mixed company. Oh my!) No more Flickr for me, I'm a Yahoo! girl now, all the way. And, yeah, I'm "new" blogger now too so, I guess, nothing blew up during the "great transformation of early 2007 or Yahoo! and Google's failed attempts at taking over the world, part I: the broken beta years."

In other, "well, gosh, let's get this working" news, I went down to the Apple store and lunch to drop off my laptop. I need it to be working and it was locking up in a bad way, but I've been putting off fixing it because I was afraid they would say, "in just 42 weeks, we'll return it to you. Repaired and minus all of your important data, of course."

They have their concierge service, where you sign onto their website to tell them you are coming. Then, you go to this "Genius Bar" inside the Apple store to drop it off. They were quite nice, actually, even though I don't feel capable of pulling up to anything resembling a bar for geniuses. (How do you spell geniuses? Nevermind...if you have to ask and all.)

So, I start filling out the paperwork, and I casually ask, "how long will it be?" When the guy says, "oh about 5 to 7, I can't imagine it taking much longer than that."

I was like, "oh, 5 to 7 weeks then?" and he was like, "no, um, 5 to 7 DAYS." Hmmm. We'll see if they can pull that rabbit outta that hat now, won't we?

Then again, I *do* remember what I said about a particular ipod reaching me, from China, in 48 hours or less. Not that I actually mind eating my words in this case, because, well, in that case, even the damned FedEx dude was cute.

Shoe leather, anyone?

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Great Big Giant....Approaching...Mango


MyPawsAreFree, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

And everyday the font grows larger. Today, there's even some yellow. Highlighting the fact that I haven't YAHOO'D yet. Yeah, yeah, I know. I'll get on it. At some point, I'm going to have to switch over. It's really just a matter of when. (Still a Yahoo'd Flickr just seems so wrong to me.)

The cooking channel was on today and I checked out a few minutes of a few different shows. Some lady was making this chocolate spice mousse. Oh God, did it look good. Fluffy chocolate with homemade whipped cream and a tint of cayenne pepper. Yes, I said cayenne pepper. If you don't believe me, try mixing chocolate with a bit of hot spices sometime and see how great it tastes. (It's a choco-gasm, believe me.)

As I was engrossed in this virtual calorie-fest, one of my friends came along and started talking about Hawaii. "You're going to love it there," she said, "the food. The drinks. They have these passion fruit drinks-almost like punch. And seafood covered in mango sauce." All this and I just started jogging.

Well, on the bright side, I just had a glass of water and three jelly beans. Not much calories in that now, is there? And, as far as I know, the calories from the TV cannot (yet) jump onto my hips, right? (Please say, "yes.")

Until next mango flavored jelly belly...

Monday, March 12, 2007

Odds and Ends


SpottedGhost, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I finished putting together my PC this weekend. Got a new monitor, got Adobe Photoshop Elements, and got a small printer/copier/scanner all-in-one device. I got most of it setup too, except that, just as I was about to hookup the printer, a violent storm blew through.

So, I shut everything down and went in to watch some TV. I started to fall asleep when this sudden bolt of noise woke me up. Sounded like the neighbor's house got hit by lighting. It was following by a very quick clap of thunder, less than 1 second apart, so I can only guess the lightening was not far away. Yeow.

Back to sleep for me, until about 4 am, when the tornado started in. The wind was so loud I woke up, out of a sound sleep, and hugged my pillow. "I don't even have time to get into the closet," I thought to myself. Chase was pretty froke out about it, but doesn't appear to be too afraid of the stuff, so long as he's in the house. If he happens to be playing in the yard when the thunderbolts come down, well, that's another story. This one caught us both off guard-twice too. Really sounded like the "rumble, rumble" of an oncoming freight train and, they say, that's what the twisters sound like.

So, I'm happy I got my new computer hooked up, and looking forward to playing with it. I shot some pics at the wildflower center and want to try uploading them on the new computer.

An interesting thing about the Wildflower Center. I was horribly out of Compact Flash when I was there but it's absolutely one of my most favorite places in Austin to take pictures. So, I'm there with like 256M of CF (I could go through that sneezing. Really, I could. Ah-choo! There's another gig...)

Being low on compact flash had interesting results. I knew, going into it, that I had only something like 30 frames of "film" and this begs an interesting question. If you were down to 30 frames-your last 30 frames of film (or compact flash, if you insist on being modern) what would you shoot?

For me, it was a mixed bag, but it changed my entire frame of mind. I went back to the "old skool" days, like back when "film" was expensive, and spent a lot of time thinking about what I was doing. Taking time, slowing down, sometimes even stopping, and saying to myself, "no, I don't want that." Forced me to make choices and to think more, which, maybe isn't such a bad thing, right? (Remains to be seen, once the CF gets uploaded, which will happen, in turn, when the storms pass.)

And, finally, to round out my "odds and ends" post for the day, I've waited and still have not converted to the "new skool" Flickr login. Funny thing about that too, they have a reminder message on the splash screen which, we've noticed, gets an increase in font size, every day we get closer to the cutoff date. Almost makes me want to hold out and not switch, just to see how big the font will get by the end of the week.

Flashing, screaming neon, anyone?

Until next time...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Addiction

Ok, I admit it. I'm addicted to Haagen Dazs ice cream. My favorite flavors are Chocolate Mint, Dutch Chocolate Chip, and Bailey's but the Mayan Chocolate's really good too.

I scream, you scream....

Until next time...

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Apocolypse Now, Well, Maybe Sunday


BridalShopNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

No, relax, I'm not getting married. Though, I did, at one point, swear I would "should the world ever come to an end, Hell freeze over, and all that."

It's the end of the world! It's the end of the world! Aren't you glad now that you weren't one of those 300 million dollar winners in the lottery? What's that, you say? Didn't hear about the whole "end of the world" thing yet?

This weekend, is daylight savings time. Now, usually, I *love* daylight savings time-it affords me more time to take pictures in the evening and, well, I just hate mornings anyway, so they might as well be dark, right?

But, not this year. This year? Oh, this year, daylight savings time is going to be pure Hell. Microsoft, one of my, ahem, "favorite" companies, it seems, released a series of patches to, ahem, "fix" daylight savings time. Yeah right, that could work. (AND MONKEYS FLY OUTTA MY BUTT!) Every computer in the known universe is going to shut down at the strike of midnight, actually, 1 am (and again, as it were, on 2 am precisely 1 second later) That's right, my snowflakes. "Spring ahead/fall back" is going to...well....fall down.

So, what does all this mean to you?

Water. Buy lots and lots of bottled water. Duct tape, get money from the ATM, and like, sit in your living room with a helmet on, ok? Maybe even put plastic over the windows. Why? Because, well, Sunday's going to be the end of the world.

There was a blurb on ZDNet about this today. Here's a quote: "I was requested to call Microsoft support because of my particular problem," [Microsoft customer Paul] Marsh said. "I called Microsoft support. I was 117th in the queue and was informed the wait was 3 hours. I waited 4 hrs and 45 minutes but no one ever picked up. If I hear Microsoft hold music again I think I'll go mad. The bottom line is 'Hello Microsoft! There is a problem!' and we have something like 42 hours to figure this out."

I can already smell the Mac add about this one. Cut to Bill Gates/Steve Jobs clones on my TV set. Bill clone is frantic on the telephone, "I can't get through! i can't get through! I hate hold music..." Steve Jobs clone: "What's wrong PC?" Bill Gates clone: "It's Daylight Savings Tiiiiiimmmmmmmeeeeeee...." [Kills Self]

Oh the horror. Wedding cake, anyone?

Until next, um, yeah, we can only dream up more of that...

PS Excuse me, I'm busy running off to buy stock in companies that sell bottled water, duct tape, helmets, and Microsoft consulting services.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Greetings From...


MoroccanLanternNo2, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

I know it's been a while since I've been on a trip. You know the kind of trip I mean, not one of the little "photo excursions" I go on, to places like Burnet, Blanco, Bertram, or maybe Salado, if I tire of the letter "B." No, I mean, an actual honest-to-God trip-luggage, time zone changes, airport security (well, maybe I could do without airport security,) customs, and all. I'm talking a TRIP. Adios, au-ruvoir, fare-thee-well, I'mOuttaHere, fly me to the moon kind of a trip.

So, I started surfing the web, looking at brochures, digging through photography workshop offerings, asking people for advice, and trying to figure out if Tajikistan is really a place I want to visit (It's not. In fact, I don't even think I spelled it right.) I looked at workshops in Tuscany (almost booked one) I peeked at Morocco (camels and I probably don't deserve to mix...at least not quite yet.) I thought about Ireland, contemplated Turkey, and realized that Andalusia this time of year would be nice. I dug through brochure after brochure, browsed websites, hit the travel-related companies with queries they probably never imagined. I wanted to go to Greece for the salad (and olives. Man I dig the olives.) and seriously pictured myself stuck in a pink Tuscan villa with some fine Chianti in a glass by the pool.

After all of this, where, oh where did I decide to go?

Aloha. That's right. I'm going to Hawaii. I found a great woman's retreat offered by Kathleen Carr on the island of Kona. Kona, in Hawaiian translates to "land of great coffee." (Well, ok, maybe not, but it should, right?) So, this would be a good time to tell you that, "God willing and the waters don't rise," I'll be going to Kona in April.

I know it's a bit odd, even for me. I mean, with a figure like mine I really should think long and hard about taking up the fine sport of whale-watching but, almost-plus-sized bikini be damned, I'm taking my overweight butt to the land of Kilauea. I'll wear a cover-up. I'll put on sun screen. I'll take pictures of primordial ferns erupting out of volcanoes that, well, maybe aren't as dormant as I'd like. I'll worship at the temple of the Gods and watch as the fire comes from the mountain. I'll try not to tip the catamaran. Luau anyone?

Now the big questions remain. How many gigs of compact flash will be eaten up by sunset photos? How many whales will I spot and will they not eat me out of professional courtesy? How is a "random lava pit" different from a "stray volcano" and, exactly how do I avoid falling into either one of these? Do flip flops come in colors to match my pale knobby knees?

Look on the bright side, I might bring back some pictures. At least, that's the plan.

Until next time...

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Journal of...Ick, I Touched It


CupAndPapers, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Lately, it seems like I've been getting all the wrong mail. The mail in my mailbox is not for me and, conversely, my mail sometimes goes to the neighbor. This isn't usually a problem, we just swap over yard work, evening walks, or the like, but, every now and again, it makes life really interesting.

One of my neighbors is a biologist. She works for the folks who make Tylenol on some kind of water filtration and she does, I'm guessing, other "biological things" for her job. She runs tests, she works centrifuges, and the like. Sort of like CSI without the crime. You get the picture.

The other day, I opened the mailbox, pulled out a big magazine, and realized it wasn't addressed to me, it was actually hers. No problem, I thought, I'll just drop it off first chance I get. I flipped it over to see what it was, and that's when I saw it. It was called "The Journal of Infectious Diseases."

Now, call me crazy but, if you were to get anything, anything at all, by mistake in the mail, wouldn't "The Journal of Infectious Diseases" be kind of near the top of the list of things you really didn't want? Even "notice of jury duty" or annoying "you may have already won" notifications might be more welcomed. I mean, maybe these journal-writing people actually have something? Can they spread it through the mail accidentally? Anthrax anyone? Can variants of the Herpes virus live for more than a few hours in a tight, dark mailbox? I'm scared. (I'm afraid, I'm very afraid.)

All that and now I have to go ring the bell next door. "Excuse me, but, I think this is yours...." How, exactly, do I do that without holding it by the edges while making strange faces at my neighbor? Maybe I need an aspirator, a gas mask, some big rubber gloves, and a long-handled clamp? (Not to mention her holly plant. I have to walk around her pointed holly plant that always pricks me in the knee. Man, that really hurts.)

Next time I sneeze, I'm going to look over my shoulder, at that magazine, and wonder.

Until next Ah-choo...

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Happy (Belated) Chinese New Year


PaperLantern, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Chinese New Year was last week and I didn't even stop to celebrate. Happy New Year! Happy Pigging Out! Here's a lantern for you!

They say that in China, around the time of the new year, people give envelopes of money to each other-it's custom. Then again, they also say that half the currency of China gets tied up in little red envelopes because, well, so many people celebrate the New Year that way. One things for sure, it's now the year of the pig, the envelopes have all been opened, the firecrackers shot off, and all the customs have been pushed aside. It's time to go back to our bars, our temples, our open air markets, and where ever else we might just find outselves going.

It's almost spring in River City. I can see the Red Bud trees starting to bloom and flowers are peeking out from all over the place.

Almost makes new years seem very, very last week.

Until next time...

Friday, March 02, 2007

It's all about the Food


SmallPuppyBigBowl, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Today, we had breakfast tacos. They were really, really good.

I'd say that the man who invented the breakfast taco should be anointed except that "Saint Potato Egg and Cheese" has kind of an odd ring to it, don't you think?

Still, those tacos were really good.

Until next taco...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Like Godzilla Only Without the Monster


StrangeDeerHead, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

The Killers have a new video out. Set in Tokyo with a cute, little green Poke-e-mon type of dude (*waves*) it's kind of interesting. It's got all the typical Killers form about it-the lead singer's wearing that wacky bolo style tie while waxing poetic about the stars in the sky looking extra rugged. It's even got one of those Tokyo-style hotels in it, you know the ones, where they "stack" people from floor to ceiling. Sleeping chambers, really, not an actual hotel "room" like one would expect. There's also a scene involving some roving bicycles and a rather odd scene involving the band dressed up like Geisha girls. Yeah, whatever. I'm sure I missed that reference entirely but the video's still pretty cool. Much better than the usual "fluff" you see on TV, plus the band sounds good.

An interesting thing about Tokyo, and Japan, in general, for that matter. You never hear me whining about not getting to go there. Sure, I'd love to go to Japan someday, Tokyo seems like a great city for photography but, I'm just not up for it quite yet. The entire continent of Asia, you see, is on my back burner. I just can't go there. It's too expensive, too far away, too different culturally, not to mention just harder for me to visit. So, yeah, I'd love to do Tokyo someday, and, someday, I probably will but, for now, I have to concentrate on Europe, the US and points a bit closer to home. And, I have to face it. I just don't get to travel as much as I would like.

My friend Mohinder says that I would love Bangkok. I'd never come home. The video has a Japanese man dressed up like Elvis, in a red jumpsuit, standing in the middle of the square. I'm sure I'd love to go see India and there are great photo trips to China, which would be amazing. The green Poke-e-mon dude brushes his teeth. China would be really, really cool. Couldn't you just see me on top of the Great Wall with a tripod and all?

Did I mention the Geisha? Mmm. Thought so.

Until next time...