Thursday, March 28, 2013

Achoo, Baby

Achoo, baby, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
Today's upload and post: I'm sneezing, wheezing, and doing all kinds of coughing. Yes, it's true, Carol has come down with a bad cold. Oh the humanity!

In other news, if I can keep from sneezing on my camera long enough, this weekend promises to be great weather for shooting some wildflowers. In Austin, we're expecting cloudy skies all weekend long, it's a wonderful gray down out there, with enough clouds to provide cover, little wind, and just enough sun peeking through to give us some good light. Let's hope it lasts, right? (Oh, and here's hoping too I can keep from sneezing long enough to get in a bluebonnet shoot or two.)

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

A Spa Day for My Eyes

Fine art view of a tree branch at the Hill Country Water Gardens, Cedar Park, Texas
SoftThorns_1981, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
So, I've been quite stressed lately, with preparations for my trip and trying to get my home in order. Part of the getting the home in order business is going to enable me to setup a proper home studio, complete with lights and a backdrop and everything else that comes along with this. Sounds ambitious, I know, but that's the current plan.

Some days lately, it seems like things hardly get done. I have a hard time getting anything at all done, and I just feel so bad about it all. Then, other days? Bam! It's like I'm superwoman, leaping over massive "To Do:" lists in a single bound. Sounds crazy, but that's the current state of things.

That and, well, I really need a new watch.

So, in light of all that's going on, all that I'm off doing, all that's coming around, going around, and the like, I thought it best if I take some time out of today and post a sort of "spa day for my eyes."

I love these sorts of images, really I do. So soft and serene. Makes me feel like I'm eating the visual equivalent of comfort food. With the allergies bothering me today a bit too, I could really use some comfort food and this kind of spa day for the eyes.

So, there you have it. Nothing revolutionary, just a bit of a spa day. I hope you enjoy it too.

Until next time...

PS I just thought of what I was supposed to post today...something about the current banking crisis and the status of contemporary art. Perhaps this is best left for tomorrow or some other day, as I am now enjoying my bit of spa day for the eyes. Next time though, I promise.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Up, Up and Away

Up band in action, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
One of the big questions I have about my new Up band is if I will choose to wear it when I travel. I've gotten used to it a bit and it kind of feels comfortable on, but I'm not one hundred percent certain I want to wear it as I go through the airport. I'm thinking, for now anyway, I might opt to stash it in my carry-on, so that I can get through security with a minimal of questions, and then opt to put it back on as soon as I get into the terminal areas. Of course, this makes it yet another electronic device over which they will grill, I mean, "question" me as a try to gracefully master airport security (wish me luck on that one!)

Originally, I was going to leave the device home completely, but some have suggested it might be a great idea to wear it when I go on my photo walks. That way, I can actually see how much I'm walking and feel less guilty about eating more and different foods while I'm away. Sounds like a plan to me, so I'll probably opt for that solution. Besides, I do not feel it looks that "bad" it just sort of looks like a rubberized bracelet (of sorts.)

In other, trip preparation news, I did a bit of clearing out this weekend. While I did not get nearly enough done, I do feel I started to make a dent in things. Finally, right? Oh, it has been so long in coming and the next week or two are going to be busy, busy, busy as I try to get my home in order and finish off the last of the few details before my trip. For example, I have to get my 10 images ready for my workshop (select them, print them, and the like) I have to get a jump drive, I have to get a new watch (mine died! Oh, my trusty Timex is no longer!) and I have to get a couple of things at the stores. I need to go to the bank and get a few last-minute things before I head out. In positive news, this weekend I did manage to get a new pair of athletic shoes, so that's one less item to worry about. I am breaking them in this week, in the hopes that they will be in good shape for my trip to Vegas, which promises to hold a lot of walking and probably some good food too. (It's always nice to balance the walking with the sitting and eating parts too.)

I got the last B&H order before leaving as well. They will be closed this week for Passover so no more Compact Flash orders coming at the last minute. I will have to go with my local crack dealer, I mean, um, "supplier," er actually "merchant" (yeah, that's the word I was looking for!) to get any additional compact flash. Believe it it not, I believe that, for this trip anyway, since it's shorter and promises to be more night photography, I'm going to just go with what I have. I did order an extra hard drive, to take with my laptop, for backup purposes while I'm away, so it's not all bad. Besides, I can probably purchase some flash memory there in an emergency. OK, so I'm not going to take 200 gigs of Compact Flash this trip. Somebody, please, shoot me. (It's only about 100 or so. I think. Maybe even less.)

In other news, tonight will probably be the last grocery run before I leave. Let's hope I can finish the milk before I have to come back and re-live that experience. Trust me on this one, dead milk is not a very fun thing to find waiting upon your return home. "Hi Chase! Oh how I've missed you. Oh my gosh, what is that smell?!?" Not a good conversation to have, OK?

Plans, plans, and more plans. Here's hoping I can get everything done and I don't have to stay up 'round the clock to do it all!

Until next time...

PS Somebody, please remind me I have to call and confirm my hotel reservations about one week from today. I need to call them 24 hours before arrival so that I can make sure I have a hotel waiting for me at the other end.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Acts of...What?!? I'm Gone

DancingGrass_3793, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
In case you have not heard the news, I recently purchased a spiffy new white lens. There will now be a brief moment of silence for my wallet. Often, we can purchase separate insurance policies for our camera gear and my spiffy new white lens would be no exception. When I ordered the lens from my trusted mail order outfitter, I also ordered up some spiffy new insurance to cover the lens.

An interesting thing about insurance like this is that it sometimes covers certain types of loss or damage but not others. Dropping the lens, for example, may (or may not) be covered along with spilling fluids on it, losing it, getting stuck in customs with it, etc. It's an interesting read, sometime if you are bored, that insurance policy is (trust me on this one: that was a joke!)

So, I checked my insurance policy, before purchase, to see what kind of coverage exactly I was getting. An interesting thing about this too, as you could guess, the more expensive the policy, the more detailed the coverage (and, naturally, the more types of loss would be covered.) My insurance policy covers a lot of stuff actually. Almost everything, from dropping, theft, spilling beverages, heck, I was even starting to think that, should I happen to take my new lens to Bali, and should I happen to"entangled" with one of those monkeys that likes to grab stuff and run away with it, my spiffy new lens would probably be covered. Yes, it's true. I read the fine print. Almost everything is covered. I say "almost" because there is one significant thing that is *not* covered and, from what I can gather, is not covered on almost any type of commercial photography insurance you can purchase.

Acts of War.

Seriously. Acts of war. Now, I know this is not really funny but, seeing as I'm about to pack up and head out to Las Vegas, I just got this weird thought in my mind. And, I'm sharing it now with you (because, you know, that's what I do really.)


Should I happen to be in any kind of casino, should I happen to be at any tourist attraction, should I happen to be at any of the many fine dining establishments there in Vegas, heck, should I happen to be at any cheap four dollar buffet line at the same time the rebel forces should happen to rise up, you have my word that I am going to flee. Flee Las Vegas as quickly as possible, maybe even without stopping long enough to grab a dinner roll from the likes of the cheap four dollar buffet line. Seriously. I'm going to grab my camera bag and high tail it out of there as fast as is humanly possible. Mark my works. The first sign of any rebel uprising, the first sign of troops gathering at the City limits, the first hint of any kind of military coup...any flak jackets spotted at all, heck even anything more serious looking that a few randomly scattered military style helmets and I am so *outta there.*

Now, I know what you're thinking. War photography is really cool and it's not that expensive of a lens and all but...nope! Not this time. I'm here, on record to state it...the first sign of any kind of rebel uprising and I'm outta town. Vamos. Gone. History. See ya, I'm outta there!

Acts of War. Seriously. Not for me, not for my lens, not on my life. File this one under the, "I'm sorry, but I'd much rather be hiding under my bed or smuggling Doritos to some long forgotten remote Mexican village than dealing with that kind of crap, just to take a picture and all." Yipes!

Until next time...

PS And it goes without saying really but, while in Vegas, DON'T DRONE ME, BRO!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Luck from 10,000 Feet Away

Lucky, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
In case you haven't heard the news, we have a new Pope. In case you haven't heard the photographic news, the new Pope has already been shot! (Ahem, by photographers, that is.) Yes, it's true. I was reading yesterday on the Internet about one photographer, in particular who was using a 1700-1900 mm lens to zoom in on the new Pope. (For those of you non-photographers out there, we typically use zoom in the range of 70-200 mm so this is actually a really, really BIG zoom lens. To shoot the Pope. With a camera, I mean.) The article talked about the specs for the really, really big "Pope shooting" lens, which I kind of found impressive, although, frankly, I just couldn't see why he couldn't move a little closer to the Pope, rather than bringing out the big gun and all. I mean, do you have to shoot the new Pope from like 5 miles away? Really?

In other, more personal news, yesterday I purchased a "big gun" of my own. Yes, snowflakes, it's true. In new gear news, I finally broke down at got myself a Canon L series white lens. It will be my first white lens so I'm a bit excited about that. I got myself a 70-200 mm white lens to be used in travels and such.

For those of you who know my earlier work (way back from the days of slides and C-prints) I used to always (well, almost always) use a longer lens. I was a 180 kind of a gal. For some strange reason, I got shorter and shorter over time. Like, seriously, even going down to fish eye range. But, nope, not anymore! It's back up the food chain for me, as I'm going long and strong, with a new long L-series white lens.

I figured I might be able to use it in Vegas and probably will be able to use it over the course of my travels this year so, why not get it now, right? Only trouble is that, after doing some of the math, I figured out this morning that the new lens is actually more expensive than my trip! Who knew it costs only about $100 to fly to Vegas. (It goes without saying really but, a white lens costs a *bit* more than that. In case you were, you know, curious and all.) So, yeah, there's white lens, new camera bag, going long and strong once again. Eh, we'll see how this works (or even, heck, how long it might last.)

Just in case, as a sort of "backup" plan, I also got a new lens cap for the nifty fifty. The old one didn't survive the trip to the beach. There was this one freak wave, you see, and...ah, well, that's a story for another time. Just do please know this, the 50 is coming along too, new lens cap and all. And, yes, I have even resolved (hopefully!) my camera timer issue with a new timer too. Phew! I feel so lucky. Now all I gotta do is pack.

Until next time...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What Makes a Good Art Group?

RedWalkers_5442, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The question arose recently about "What makes an art group good?" I started to give this some thought and came up with a few (potential) possibilities.

For starters, I would say a good group is one with similar interests. I've been the lone photographer in a group of sculptors and it's no fun, believe me. Yes, we can sometimes still get along but really, at the end of the day, their concerns are not my concerns (not to mention we have entirely different uses for chicken wire and, really, how many different uses for chicken wire can there actually be, right?) So, similar interests...check.

Next up, it would probably be a group of people who suffer from what I like to call "equal seriousness." By that, I mean, folks who are either all serious, showing work, doing lots of stuff or, conversely, folks who are not serious at all. Maybe just dabblers or hobbyists. There's no harm in being on either end of that spectrum, no, but it makes it hard if you are in a group and you're trying to do shows, get your work out there, do lots of work, etc. while somebody else is just dabbling (likewise, if you are a dabbler, you probably don't want to be bothered with show mess, presentation, and the like.) So, equal "seriousness" is a good thing to have too.

Also, I'd have to say some talent. By that, I mean, maybe some folks who have some technique down and some they would like to share, or just enough technique to go around. No sense in forming a group, really, if you have nothing to offer, likewise, nothing to share.

Then there are other things I would look at too. Some questions here, really, more than answers. For example, I would ask myself questions like, does this group do a lot of group shows? If yes, is that something I want to participate in? Some groups have one or two people who are always off doing one and two person shows. That's great but, as a new member, it really wouldn't help me all that much. If I were looking to join a group to participate in their shows, I would want to know how open the shows are to the work of new members. Likewise, what is the participation rate for their group shows? I've been in groups where the group show really was a "Rebecca" show. Sure, everybody had a piece or two, but "Rebecca" had her own wall, press clippings, and the like. This would not help me out much as an artist new to the group.

Does this group support one another? That is, when I go to a show from one of the members, do a see a bunch of the other members there too, hanging out for support?

Do the members support each other online? That is, are their websites linked? Do they help share an online presence? Maybe have a Facebook page? Do all members get to contribute, or is it only a select few?

There are a few other questions I would ask too, such as, is the work divided up evenly? With some groups, it seems like the work always falls upon one or two people, and that the same people wind up with the "same" type of jobs (Debby always gets the show venues, Matt always does the Facebook postings, etc.) If there are only a few "Debby's" and "Matt's" but lots of group members just dumping their work and running off, maybe this isn't quite the best group to be joining. Besides, what happens once Debby and Matt run off to success? Who is going to back fill the work they have been doing? It's better to share in the responsibility and round robin some of the details, while still keeping in mind the strengths of each of the group members. Yes, I know this is difficult, but it really is possible with a bit of thought.

I guess I would have to say that, to me, a good art group would have some of the following:
* Members all contribute or have opportunity to contribute.
* Equal "professionalism." Sure some members might be more beginners but a good group would be one where the focus and end game is shared.
* Work divided up with all members contributing (at least something) to the group as a whole.
* Events well-attended with people going to support each other at shows, online, etc.
* Websites, Facebook, Blogs, social media linked and presenting a "unified" front. This does not mean each member has to use a template but, when you have a show announcement, for example, watch for all of the members posting it to Facebook, blogs, twitter, etc. in some format.
* Minimize the "dump and run" factor. By that, I mean, not so many people who want to just drop their work off and have little (or nothing!) else to do with the group. A high degree of interactivity and sharing going on, even with responsibilities.

I think this is just a start, I'm sure there are more and it's certainly something to think about before you maybe run off and join that artist group that's been calling your name.

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome to South by Southwest, Now Go On Home, Y'all

TheSpew, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
The newspaper ran an interesting article this weekend, talking about all of the folks in town for the latest edition of the South by Southwest music festival. The article was actually entitled "10 Things You Never Want to Hear a Visitor Say" (or some such thing.) Basically, it was things we local Austinites don't want to hear out-of-towners say while visiting.

This got me to thinking. What are some of things I never want to hear other artists or photographers say? Curious question isn't it? I suppose I have a few answers too.

To the out-of-town person, Austin looks like cheap real estate. One of the newspaper's "top 10" was something along the lines of "Why is real estate so cheap here?" along with "Austin is nice. I think I'll move here with my 62 relatives." Oye! Just what we need, more people moving from places like New York and California. (Ahem, not to be confrontational, but, the next time you hear some New Yorker or somebody from Cali start to put down Texans for being "rednecks," "unwashed masses," or the like, do please remind them that most of the folks that live in Texas now have moved here recently from either of those two places. Oh, and it goes without saying really, but, they moved to get *away* from the likes of the person putting down Texas.)

The artist equivalent of this would be, "Oh! I've just purchased a new studio! It's 2900 square feet, complete with a warehouse and a trolly for moving and storing my artwork. I hope to recoup the costs in a few months." Likewise, "I'm going to move to Austin, because there are so many artists there. They must all be making a living, so I'm going to quit my 'day job' and move to Austin, where it's cheap, and just make money working as an artist." Ahem. Good luck with that. (For those of you not in the know, there's a reason we have a bunch of unemployed artist types here in Austin-it's kind of cheap living here and so the City attracts them. Not to mention, it's not as cheap as it sounds and it's really hard to break into a market with *so many* already good, established artists. Really. It is.)

Another art-ism would be just the simple, "I'm quitting my day job!" While I usually agree with this one (and, frankly, wish I could too!) it's not usually a good idea. It's hard to make money as an artist and even harder to eek out a living without the stability of a day job. To put it another way, I've been doing this for 20 years and still have a day job. I know many people (in Austin, yes, but also outside of Austin) who have MFA's and work at McDonald's (or the like) waiting for their "big break." If you think that somebody with 20 or more years of experience and a "day job" cannot make it, but you, magically will, best of luck to you. Ahem, once "reality" hits, do please join us in line down at the local art center. Austin, while not the easiest of towns to "make it big" and certainly not the land of "just go on and quit your day job. Come on down, y'all!" does have more than it's share of friendly, willing to share, working artists. And that is worth something, even if it means you haven't quite won the "artist lottery" just yet (can flip off the boss man and run out of the building kind of a thing.)

Another on my list of "oh no, you didn't!?" saying is along the lines of the following. "I love art so much. And, I'm so into it that I decided to break out my credit cards, run out and buy XXX dollars worth of art supplies." You know this one. It could be paint, a new easel, and 10,000 blank canvases or it could be 15G's worth of camera equipment. Newsflash: it's not usually a good idea to run up credit card debt to finance a career in the arts, know the arts, don't you? Those are the starving people...the people who never get paid? Right. Those arts. Better to take things slowly, my frugal friends. Buy a basic camera, learn how to work it, take your time, take what the camera gives you, sell a few prints, and then, once you make a few bucks on the side, put that towards a new camera, new lens whatever. Same if you are a painter. Buy a simple drawing set, a simple paint kit. Some basic colors. Learn how to make green. Make your own shade of green. Get a few shows, start to like your work, feel comfortable with it. Then it's time to decide to upgrade your easel or get new canvas or invest in the Old Holland deluxe painting kit (you know the one-with every color they've ever made and a price to give you a nosebleed or, in the very least, a small stroke of sorts.) Yeah, it's kind of like exercise. You want to stretch first. Work your way up to doing Russian gymnastics from the high beam, not just run into the gym all headstrong and take a flipping, flying leap.

I could go on but, hey, these are things you *don't* want to hear me say, right?

And, it goes without saying really. Welcome to South by Southwest. While you are visiting, please do recall that we have scorpions here. And Rattlesnakes. And rattlesnakes that EAT scorpions. And giant flying roaches that come down from the trees. But, it's ok. These things only come out when it's *not* like tornado season, mmmm'k?

Yeah, welcome to Texas, y'all! Now please, each and every one of you, GO THE HELL HOME AGAIN!

Until next time...

Friday, March 08, 2013

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Living with Up

Something good, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
OK, so you'll have to forgive my usual bantering on about art and photography. That's right, Snowflakes, today Queen Flake interrupts this blog posting with news of a more mundane kind.

Lately, anyway, it seems like I've gotten a bit lazy. I haven't been walking enough. I've been eating too much. Sitting too much. Not moving enough and just, well, feeling "yuckie" (to use a technical term on you there.) With travel plans fast approaching, I thought it might be a good idea to try and fix this. Now, never being big on the "let's go to the gym" bandwagon, I opted instead to throw technology at the problem.

I've recently purchased a device called a Jawbone Up!

What this device does, is it, well, it's complicated, but it's something you wear on your wrist (looks like a bracelet in fact) and it tracks how much you move (how many steps you take each day) along with how well you sleep. You can also tell it how much (and when) you eat and it, in turn, tells you how far along on your goals you are and how well you are doing.

Now, I know it doesn't sound like much, and I'm not really doing a very good job of describing said "Up!" device but, I have to say, at this point in time, gosh, I really love this thing. It just sort on so many levels for me. I am old enough to realize that not everything will work for everybody. Some people (and you know who you are!) actually prefer going to the dark, dreary gym and working out while strapped to some machine. (More power to them.) Others, why they like going for an afternoon jog or a walk in the park (if I must confess, I'm much more of a "walk in the park" kind of girl.) For me, anyway, the Up! device is just, well, it just seems to be working.

For starters, you're looking at what I ate for lunch yesterday. Yesterday, you see, I was invited to go out to a lunchtime event and I thought, while the menu was filled with lots of poor choices, I opted for a pasta and chicken lunch, in a lighter sauce. And, to make matters worse (or better!) I actually left some food on my plate (large portions be damned! I'm downsizing!) Yes, it's true, I'm already eating healthier (and I have the photos to prove it!) In other, related developments, I've stopped drinking sugary sodas and have, instead, opted to get up, talk a bit of a walk, and go and get myself some water when thirsty. This is a big development for me, as I've always been a soda-a-day kind of gal (yes, I will admit it. I usually only have one per day but, what can I say? I love my Coke!) Even yesterday, when driving over to the lunch place, I was offered to be dropped off at the door. "No thanks!" I said, "I need the walk! In fact, please park as far away from the door as you possibly can." Such a change, let me tell you, what a change for me. My Up! device also tells me I've been sleeping better and that I'm gradually (by about 450-500 steps a day) increasing the activity level in my life. Yes, it's true, I'm actually getting up and walking more (OK, so maybe only a little bit but, hey, it's a start, right?)

Now, I'm not much of a dieter, and I promise to not bore you with the details of my Up! device (really, I won't) but I thought I should mention this here, as all of this does have an impact upon my photography. You see, I've been so out of shape and so just, well, out of it lately, that I haven't wanted to walk around and take pictures anymore. And that? That's what's got to really change because, you see, I don't give a flip about what jean size I wear (no, I really don't) but, not being able or "feeling up to" walking around with camera? Why, that's killing me! I can't go on like this, really I can't. I have to go out for some photo walks and soon (or else!)

So, here we have it. Up! It is. And I hope you won't be too bored with it. I promise to try to keep my Up! related post count a bit low. Maybe to just check in from time-to-time with a few key highlights (should there be any!) And, it goes without saying really, but now you know what I've been....Up! to (oh, so sorry about that one. Bad joke alert!)

Should you happen to be interested in joining me on this Up! related journey, you too can purchase said UP! device at your local BestBuy store or it's available online at the Jawbone website. I have mine in a mint green color but they come in colors and sizes to fit every need. There's an app you can download to your iPhone and you plug in your Up! armband into your headphone jack of your iPhone. It really could not be easier (and, in my case anyway, it seems to be working. Let's hope I can stay on it!)

So, there you have it. What I've been Up! to recently. (Jawbone, anyone?)

Until next time...

Monday, March 04, 2013

It's the End of the World and I am to be Killed

SkyBird, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
This Saturday, I had opportunity to go downtown, to drop off my pieces for the upcoming 5x7 show at ArtHouse. Now, the ArtHouse is right downtown, located at 7th and Congress and the annual 5x7 show is one of their big fundraisers, with sometime like 900 artists participating. It's kind of a big deal, although it works the same every year-you do your work on a 5x7 art board (provided) and drop it off with the ArtHouse folks. Then, at the time of the show, the boards are placed out on display anonymously and all are for sale for a set price, with the funds going to provide additional revenue for ArtHouse events, shows, and classes. It's all for a good cause, and I like helping out, so I try to do it every year, this year being no exception. The work was due on Sunday so I decided that I would finish up my work on Saturday afternoon and then try to run down there, to ArtHouse, to drop it off, so that they would have it and I would be all ready for the show.

For those of you who don't know Austin very well, 7th and Congress is located at the very heart of the City. It's right downtown. When I say "downtown" I mean like in the heart, smack dab in the middle of the City. So, Saturday afternoon, I packed up my (completed) art boards and headed down to the heart of River City, in an attempt at dropping off my work for this upcoming show.

As you can probably imagine, parking is a bit of a problem right downtown. It's always hard to find a spot, there are strange meters there (parking only from 4-6 but not after 5) and there is generally a lot of chaos. Congress Avenue has no turn lanes and it's always hard to just take a left without totally pissing off the guy behind you, not to mention there's just like no parking anywhere to be found down in that neck of the woods. Still though, I braved the downtown scene, and managed to find a spot right across Congress Avenue from the ArtHouse, right on Congress just north of 7th Street. OK, so I was off to a good start, or so I though. All I had to do was cross Congress, dump off my boards, and I would be so *done* with this show.

Ah, unfortunately, not so fast! Things didn't go quite as planned. For starters, the building, the ArtHouse building, looked like it was under renovations. I walked up to the front door only to find it gated, after I had put a measly dime in the meter (allowing me a mere 15 minutes of parking, seeing as I was just across the street and all) I could not find the entryway or, it would appear, it was all boarded up. I thought maybe I had the wrong entrance so I walked around the building but no luck. Again, nothing. There were just no doors, at least none that I could find. So, back to the front for me. After doing circles around the block, I noticed a small-ish sign on the front door, next to the construction and gate zone, that said something like, "5x7 artists, please use side entrance and ring service bell for entry." Ah, right! OK! *Smacks head.* Here we go back around the building again. Lap number three! Once more with feeling and all. So, I go to the service entrance, ring the bell, and drop off my work with the nice lady there. I also managed to pickup some older work and chat with her a bit. All's well and good again in the kingdom except that, well, now it's time to repeat the trip in reverse, that is, to make my way back home to suburbia yet again. So, I say goodbye and head back out the service entrance, walking back towards my car.

I heard him before I spotted him, but there was some strange guy, you know the type (I swear, they must have these in every city) babbling on about "It's the end of the world!" and flailing his arms about in strange ways. I tried to avoid him but, honestly, we were on a collision course. I heard the "It's the end of the world!" nonsense growing louder until finally he confronted me. We nearly bumped into each other, right there on the corner of Congress and 7th Avenue.

"It's the end of the world," my very drunk or stoned friend declared while looking me straight in the eye, "It's the end of the world and you're going to die! I'm going to die! You're going to be killed. We're all going to die!" His arms were making wide circles in the sky and he was looping around, stopping only long enough to look me in the eye to tell me I was soon to be killed.

As I was discussing, um, "things" with my nice, new, ahem, "friend," I happened to notice the traffic light on Congress Avenue changing. It was going from walk to no-walk and, though I do speak Urban and thought it might be fun to play catch-up with my new found buddy, I opted instead to hustle and try to make the light because, after all, I really just had to cross Congress Avenue, to get to my waiting (parked) car (the one with 2 minutes left on the meter now!) to free myself from this urban dystopia otherwise known as a typical Saturday afternoon down on Congress Avenue.

That's when it happened. I started rushing, to make the light, when, out of nowhere (don't they always say that!) comes this kid on a skateboard. When I say, "comes" I mean actually "comes barreling down the street nearly killing me." When I say, "nearly killing me," I swear I mean, he almost took off my nose! He missed me by inches and, I swear, had he hit me it would have done some serious damage (he was going that fast.)

So, to recap, I was nearly killed by a passing skateboarder just seconds after some crazy doped up man told me I was to be killed because, as everybody knows, it's the end of the world. Oh joy! (Remind me again how much I love downtown Austin.) The morale of this story though, if it could possibly have one, is that, yes, Virginia, crazy people do exist in the world and, yes, though they are crazy, that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't sometimes also right too. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you and, yes, even crazy people get it right every once in a while. The universe, it would appear, sometimes likes to throw them a bone too (crazy or not.) Now, I'm perfectly willing to chalk this one up to: Carol 0, Crazy People 1 except that I know this means they are winning (in more ways than one!) Still, though, the skateboarder did almost take me out. Phew! That was a close one!

It goes without saying really but, should you be dropping off work at the 5x7 show, or should you even happen to be in a vicinity of 7th and Congress, do please be on the lookout for a wise (but rather stoned, otherwise out of it) man declaring you are to be killed. And, should I happen to get swallowed into a sinkhole, get killed by a surfer (on dry land) or get crushed under a giant grapefruit, why, I guess, now you know what *really* happened.

Until next time (I hope!)...