Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making a Federal Case Out of It


FloatingOrchidwSpotsNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

For those unfamiliar with the penal code in most of the United States, crimes are usually committed on a state and local level. The expression "don't make a federal case out of it" comes from one of our founding fathers, James Madison who once wrote (in The Federalist) that federal crimes should be reserved for things like, "external objects such as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce." In more modern times, criminals have been known to cross state lines while being chased in "hot pursuit," simply because, well, the food is said to be better in the national pokey. (Hey, I never said that all criminal minds were the sharpest knives in the drawer, ok?) Certain crimal activity, such as kidnapping, bank robbery, as well as any local crime that involves crossing a state line can be legally tried in the federal court systems. (Now you know.)

What does all of this have to do with anything?

A few "crossing state lines" and federal cases have come up recently that are of direct interest to, well, me (and this blog is still all about me, right? I mean, this is still my little world, last time I checked, right?)

For starters, CraftyGuy got the camera yesterday. Yes, you read it right, the great "contraband swap" (without, well, any actual "contraband") has actually been committed. My soon to be infrared camera was delivered to lifepixel, CraftyGuy has his camera, and life goes on. Several state lines crossed in the process but, hey, the feds are none the wiser.

And, while we're on the subject of "wiser feds" a certain "un-boopable" actor, yes, you read that right, none other than Nicolas Cage himself is having tax woes. It seems the good Mr. Cage ran into some problems trying to declare certain items that were not, in fact, tax deductable. And how did I hear of this, mind you? The other day, while driving in my car, I had the radio on (same as always) and my local station brought me one of those "Hollywood minutes" that, well, let's just say, seems to last way longer than a minute. It started out with "noted Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage has gone all Wesley Snipes on us and forgotten to pay his taxes." The radio went on to say that he tried to deduct all sorts of things like limo rides, fancy dinners, and the like, which weren't actually allowed and he's now facing a pile of fines for trying to slight the tax man. (And, well, I don't know who, exactly, Wesley Snipes is but, by now, I know better than to ask.)

Does this mean the feds will finally pull the boop out of the Tivo and I'll finally get to watch something other than fifty nine re-runs of "Racing with the Moon." Does this mean that Mr. Cage will go all "Paris Hilton" on us and have to spend some time in the "big house?"

Nope. Never happen-not in this lifetime. You know how I know? In his line of work, bribes to the TiVo service are, in fact, tax deductable. Just think of all the witnesses he could pull on that one-all the crying children, sad grandmothers, disgruntled men, he could parade on the witness stand. "My two year old was trying to watch Romper Room," the young mother wiped a tear from her eye as she testified, "and the next thing I knew, there were hookers in Las Vegas and your defendant was drunk parading across my TV set." Sob. He'll never do any hard time for that and, let's face it, we all know he'll end up fingering the Tivo in the end anyway. (Here's hoping Law and Order re-runs will one day come back from the TiVo abyss.)

Until next time...

PS Oh, and, in case you're wondering about the flower, it's from the botanical garden in Kona. A place that's pretty much impossible to get to without crossing state lines-unless, of course, you are really that good of a swimmer.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Happy Friday


RadioNo1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

It's Friday! Yes! Another end to another week. I hope you have great plans for the weekend. I'm going to (finally) try and get my house together. It's in bad shape and I need to fix it up before I go to Santa Fe.

Speaking of Santa Fe, we've started what I like to dub, "the great camera swap of 2008." The way it works is: I got a new camera. I sent my old camera to be converted to infrared, so that I can (finally!) shoot digital infrared. I sent my other old camera to CraftyGuy so he has a DSLR to use for shooting. Now I've got a new camera (same make/model as the previous, only now it comes in black) and I will soon have a DSLR that's been converted to shoot infrared. (Once the good folks at Lifepixel are done doing their thing, that is.)

Now I just need CF. And, um, a clean house. Maybe not in that order (actually, maybe exactly in that order.) You get the idea. Must clean house, clear compact flash, get a hair cut and do ten million other things before my trip.

This is an (almost sharp) image from my new camera. It's an old antique radio that I've had for a long time, left to me by my Grandmother. It actually still works, though you can hardly tell. The fancy grates on the bottom are actually speakers and one of the top "drawers" opens to reveal not only the dials for the radio, but also a pull-out turntable (a "real" turntable, not one of those newfangled USB things-this one actually goes to 78!)

Lucky me. It's all that, and it's Friday on top of it!

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A New Kind of Softness


SoftCurtain-1, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

From one kind of softness to another, this is one of the first shots off of my new camera.

I didn't really get a "new" camera, I just got another one like the one I had. You see, I waited for the good folks at Canon to come out with a newer version of the Rebel and, when they did, I noticed that it was expensive, it used SD memory (not CF) and it didn't really have any of the features that I wanted. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the prices on the older Rebels started dropping-dropping to clear away room for the newer models. So, I snagged me an "older" newer camera. Yes, you read that right. I actually purchased the same camera I had been using for less money than I originally paid. Go figure.

But, it appears to work. (The blurry, soft stuff is from me, the camera actually works just ducky, in case you were wondering.) I ran around and did some test shots this morning, interiors mostly, just to check it out.

If only I could get a "new old" kind of imagination. Now *that* would be a major purchase.

Until next time...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Nothing to see here...Just Keep Walking


WorldFamousLoveActs, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This one a "leftover" from New Orleans. How could you not love Bourbon Street at night?

Speaking of love, but, ok, not exactly in that sense, they opened a new Thundercloud Subs right near my house. When I say right near, I mean, actually, within walking distance. For those of you not from Austin, Thundercloud is, well, it's a sub place, but it's so much more. It's a place where you can go to get a cheap sandwhich, pay $5 for lunch and get change, plop down all day and read a book. It's very Austin in every sense of the word and now, they've got one right by my door. I'm so excited. I feel so "downtown" now (even though, as you know, I actually live in downtown Cedar Park.) I'll have to, at some point, go over and take a picture of it, just so you can see what it looks like. But, for now, there are visions of fresh Thunderclouds dancing in my head, as I actually ate there yesterday. I had a fresh hummus sandwhich, with black olives, sprouts, and lots of veggies on a wonderful "puffy" roll. Oh the heaven of it all.

In other more, ahem, "boring but still useful to know" news, I got another 4G of CF this weekend. I feel so relieved I have more CF, I was really almost completly out again. Now, I can shoot up the world. Or, at least, the sex clubs that don't want to be photographed.

Until next time...

Friday, February 15, 2008

More R-I-P Polaroid


GlassMojoHandP, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

As it turns out, I was quite on topic yesterday, talking about the death of the Polaroid. There was a large article on the homepage of cnn.com and also on the BBC website talking about the very same topic. American Idol also had their "top 24" episode where they have Polaroids of each of the contestants, spread out on a big table, used to help decide who advances and who stays out of the competition.

As the CNN article pointed out, Polaroids are used somewhat extensively in medical imaging. Not just the "snappy snap" type of Polaroids we like to use either, in case you didn't know, Polaroid used to make larger "sheet film" that was like 8x10 in size. A lot of medical applications used Polaroids for grid patterns, sheet film to help aid with reference locations for X-Rays, and a host of other imaging. Sadness over the death of the 'roid extends way beyond fields in the art world and stretches to anthropology, medicine, and law. We're all going to miss you, little "snappy snap" buddy. Oh how we hate to see you go. All we can do now is hope that Fuji steps up to the plate.

And, speaking of "stepping up" or actually more like "stepping out" tonight is my gallery opening over at Tiru. Barring some heavy rainfall, I'm going to head over there after work to check out the show, which promises to be, well, pink, pink, pink (It's called "Pink Amore" and it's a benefit show.)

Somebody should have a benefit for Polaroid. We call could really use one right about now.

Until next time...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

RIP Polaroid


EyeHandCoordination, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

This week, Polaroid announced that they are shutting down a film-making plant in the northeast. Over the past year or so, slowly and quietly, Polaroid has stopped making instant film cameras. Without any film and without any cameras, the Polaroid that we all once knew and loved is no more. (For the curious, they are now making large screen TV's.)

When I was a child, before I really got "into" photography, Polaroids were sort of considered to be almost "toy" cameras. Since they were instant, you didn't need a darkroom, heck you didn't even really need a lab, they were the sort of things teenagers would play with. They were fun and cute but they weren't taken very seriously, at least not to the masses. (Or so it seemed.)

Behind the scenes though, some very high-end professionals were using Polaroids. Even though it might have been considered "uncool" or "common," there were some powerful high-end photographers using that instant film. Some of our favorite photographers today used Polaroids back in the day-so much so that it became sort of commonplace to see medium format cameras with Polaroid backs. The way it worked was the photographer would shoot the Polaroid, everybody would look at it, agree upon it, like it, and then they would switch and put "real" film into the camera. Secretly, we all loved the Polaroids, sometimes more than the resulting prints.

There's just something about Polaroids. In technical terms, I can say that their gamut is off, their focus a bit soft, they aren't quite "right" in so many ways but, the reality is (or was) that these very qualities are what made the Polaroids sort of magical. They were instant, they were fun, they were cute, they looked differrent. In a rectangular 35mm world, many of them were, literally, square, but they didn't care.They made square happy.

There are so many great photographers who have done great things with the cute little instant picture-spitting cameras over the years that it seems very sad to close the book on Polaroid. For all of their "toy" qualities, there were some seriuos optics under some of those hoods (if you want to see some high-end specs, checkout sometime the specs for the early Land cameras. They were serious cameras, hidden under an "instant" disguise.)

Not to mention, there were some fantastic Polaroid transfers, maniupulated Polaroids, emulsion lifts, and a host more. Entire artists have built careers around the "little instant camera that could" and for all of these reasons and more, I'm sorry they are gone.

RIP litle buddy, you've taken a lot of great "snaps" in your day.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Suburban Hell-It's Just Rubbish


DilloInTheSky, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ah, how I love living in suburbia. Let me count the ways.

In the "yuppie wanna-be" subdivision where I live, every Wednesday is a day the locals like to call "garbage day." What's garbage day, you might ask? Actually, you probably won't, since it's pretty self-explanatory but, just in case, it's the day we wake up at the crack of dawn, drag our properly labeled, properly sized, "don't forget to put the handle facing the sidewalk" garbage bins, along with our properly sorted, correctly colored recycling buckets out to the curb. (No glass, only plastic, cardboard must be folded. Thanks for playing, here's your consolation prize.)

In the days of old, garbage day used to be pretty easy, and it's supposed to be easy still. It's supposed to work like this: You just drag whatever you got that you want to throw away out to the curb, and the big truck will come and take it away. Not anymore. The "policially correct police" have taken over "garbage day" and now it's an exercise in frustration. You need a PhD to clear out your rubbish now.

For starters, you have to have the correct bin. In my town, at the start of the year, we got a new waste disposal contract, so this meant that everybody had to switch from green bins to black bins. Should be easy enough, except that, well they forgot to tell some folks about the switch, nobody was sure of the date, they forgot to hand out some of the black bins before the cutoff date, and so on. It got so confusing that, as I drive through town, I still see an odd green bin overstuffed with trash and, I'm assuming, somewhere inside that house is a poor lost forgotten soul who didn't read the memo and is now stuck with post holiday trash that won't go away, can't come back, and is now just stuck in a sort of "rubbish pergatory" I don't even want to think about. The recycling is even worse-I won't bore you with the details but, suffice it to say, if you or anyone you love dearly desires a big, ugly green recycling bin (now out-of-fashion since "black is the new green") contact me offline and I'm sure I can make your dreams come true.

This morning though, was perhaps the ultimate in the suburban nightmare of "garbage day." This morning, for some reason, my gargabe truck rumbled through the 'hood sometime around 7:04, a far cry from the usual 9:45. As you can imagine, some of the folks who don't get up that early didn't quite make their "properly labeled, properly sized, oh-so-fashionable black bins" out to the curb by that time. So, what did the waste management agency do about this? Leave us notes.

Yes, you read that right. We each got a little "you were denied service this morning because:" along with a bulleted list of items (including "your handle was pointing the wrong way" not to be confused with "your bucket was overflowing" mind you.) There, checked off on our collective little "you were naughty-no garbage pick-up for you!" notes was "can not placed at the curb by 7 am."

Ah, suburbia. What can I say? Now my neighborhood is going to be littlered with millions of these little check box forms, the garbage is still going to be at the curb for another week, and pity the poor fool who tries to go on vacation or otherwise doesn't want to put garbage out at the curb. Imagine coming home from Europe after a month's vacation, knowing you've stopped the mail, the papers, and basically taken care of the house, only to find six weeks with of "check box" forms stuck to your front door, proudly informing you that, while you were pissing away your time off in the south of France, your garbage wasn't put out at the curb by 7 am. Ah, the joys of suburban living. How I love it here. Let me count the ways.

Come to think of it, I'm sure they have a "contractually approved" little checkbox form for that too.

Until next "garbage day" that drove me mad....

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pardon me, is that Super? Or just Fat?


CowboyAndBuds, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Ok, ok, so it was "super fat Tuesday" this week and I totally missed the boat. Tuesday was FAT TUESDAY and did I remember? Nope. The day New Orleans bursts into Mardi Gras, the day Venice bursts into Carnivale, the day Rio...well, Rio does something, doesn't it? (Rio-ovians, as I like to call them, are always up to something, and that something ususally involves a big party, some costumes, and lots of drink.) Did I remember any of that? Nope.

Tuesday was also "super Tuesday" (the day a lot of Americans get out and vote in primary elections for the next candidates.) Did I go out and vote? Nope. (My state's primaries aren't until later.) Did I blog about other people voting? Nope, missed that boat too. And, just to add a cherry to the top of my "missed boat" sunday, this Sunday was, in fact, the Super Bowl! Another boat, another miss. (Though, I will say, this year I did manage to stock up on potato chips before the big game, even though I didn't watch anything but the end of it.)

This week also marks the end of the American Idol "cattle call" auditions, which I'm actually happy to hear. Truth be told, I was sort of growing bored with it all this year. Here's hoping the "Hell week" is extra hot this year because, well, super fat fly Tuesday or not, I'm more inclined to watch "Top Gear" than I am American Idol (*yawn*) these days. (Speaking of all things 'Gear related, the American version of 'Gear is set to air on March 4th-coming soon to an NBC near you. Latest rumors are that "celebrity hosts in the running" for the top spot on American Top Gear are Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno, though there's no confirmation for any hosts just yet.)

With all of these super fly happenings, it seems like the cosmos is in overdrive and I'm just sort of stuck on the shoulder. Not much going on, just enjoying watching it all unfold. I am enjoying the uploads from Johnson City, though. Man, is that a great place to photograph. I love it there, and will have to get back there sometime. It's filled with so much potential, believe me. All that rust, all those signs, flying bicycles and gears stuck to everything. I'll have to get back there when there are fewer shadows and there's more green than just winter plants.

This is actually a bar named "Rusty's." I've heard so many jokes about bars but, even so, one has to wonder, when "a guy walks into a bar..." where would he walk around this place?

Well, no matter where he picked, I'd sure it would be super fly fat Tuesday once the punch line hit.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fried Green Signs


FriedGreenTomatoes, originally uploaded by carolWorldLeader.

Hard to believe, I know, but this is actually not my favorite sign from Johnson City, Texas. Nope, not even close. (Well, ok, maybe close as this is probably second, or "runner-up" if you will.) I'll post my favorite sign when a get a round to it which, as you can tell from this picture, is probably stuck on a wall in Johnson City (a "round tuit." Get it? Oh, ok, sorry, bad joke. I sent you a bad joke without a "bad joke alert," I should really face a Mexican firing squad for that, really, I should.)

Chase is at the groomer's today getting clipped. Finally. Boy, he was sure starting to stink and, cute as he is, he was massively furry. A dog of never ending fur, I tell you, he looked like a wild bear cub or something. Fluff ball no more-he's getting cut. And, let me tell you, he didn't want to go in. He backed right up and tried to "moonwalk" right out of that place. Poor Chase. I'm sure he'll be fine, though quite thin, once I get him back. (He has twiggy legs without all that fur to hide them.)

It's been warm in River City-yesterday was a balmy 82 and, though they say we are expecting showers and a bit of a cold front, the sun has started to come out already. Probably won't get below 60 today, even with the front. I just hope my sinuses hold out and don't get the better of me. (I get sick when the weather changes like this sometimes-literally "under the weather.")

Of course it's warm outside, I have finally purchased a warm winter coat. It's all good through, as I'm prepping for my trip to Santa Fe, where it most certainly will be cold-especially in the mornings and evenings, once the sun goes down. Got to love the desert climate-as soon as the sun disappears you freeze your buns off. Weather like Britney's mood swings-60 degree shifts, running hot to colod to hot, all in one day.

I actually got one of those "3-in-1" Columbia type jackets, with a warm fleece lining and a "weather proof" outer shell. I love those, since they are warm and light which is a powerful combination when you have to deal with ever changing climates and winter that's not really there but sneaks up on you none the less.

I've been hopelessly addicted to Top Gear so much so that I've been plotting about how I could get on the show. I really want to be a "star in a reasonably priced car" and sit there, next to Jeremy, giggling it up. If it weren't for the whole "star" thing, why, I'd be all over that. I just don't want to make myself famous. But, you know, I could always direct a film, write a book, or take up a hobby that would put me more in the "spotlight," get on the show, drive around like a fool, and be done with it.

Actually, it's one of the things I love about photographers. There aren't really many famous ones. Sure, there are some who make a lot of money, and there are some who, like the song, "everybody knows their name," but the whole "celebrity" thing sort of avoided the field of photography. This is, usually good by me, except for the whole "I want to be on Top Gear and drive around in a backwards Buick like an idiot" hankering which, I'm sure, will leave soon (the same way it came around: by surprise.)

Hey, it beats painting signs for a living. I mean, imagine the poor chap who has to "touch up a bit of the yellow" on this one. (Oh the humanity!) Giant step ladder, anyone?

Until next time...