Day 3 – 100 day photography challenge

On day 3 I was able to spend a good amount of the morning wandering around Palm Springs just playing with my camera. I got one image I really, really love, and a few others that I rather like. Because this is my blog and I can do what I want to, prepare to be subjected to my favorite 10 (in no particular order – except the best for last!)

IMG_6743I really wanted to capture the shadows of brown on the mountains juxtaposed agains the green and brown of the palm trees. I wasn’t certain the best way to do this, so I just shot a bunch. This is the one that turned out the best. I hate all the smog that mucks up the colors that I know are so vibrant, but I’m not ready to try my hand at photoshop to attempt to correct that.



IMG_6750Next is perhaps the best sign I saw on my trip. I like this photo because I just think it’s absurd that there’s a law against this behavior and because I just like the light reflecting off metal that both draws me into the text and pushes me away from it as well.


Then there was a series of pictures I took using my macro lens. The first set is a bush of pink and orange flowers I wish I could identify. This one has a certain understated glow about it. Even though the colors are muted, they are still vibrant. Plus being able to see the veining on the petals and leaves is always fun for me.


IMG_6779This one has the opposite feeling. Everything is bright and cheery (slightly blurry) and it looks equally surreal. Both are backlit, I guess, but it’s the shading for both that gives them their mood.





The next two I like to look at against one another because they are from the same angle but the focal point is different.  I also had to crop them differently to remove some of the background distraction, so they aren’t a very good “pair.”
IMG_6786 IMG_6788

IMG_6797Finally there are three where I was trying to capture the interesting contrast of shade and intense light against a pot of succulents. The first of the three does that, sort of, but I think the framing to make either the succulents or the shadow on the pot interesting doesn’t work as well as it could.


IMG_6799The other two are again the result of me framing the picture just slightly differently with drastically different results. One is balanced so the extremely light is directly in the center of the image and only that petal is in clear focus. I really like the composition, but compared to the next one it just isn’t as strong.




This one is my favorite. So much so that I am planning to print it out to add to my wall as I decorate my new apartment. I like the tight framing of the succulent that is contrasted by the light and color in the background. The colors, and the red/green/yellow palette I find pleasing.Day 3 - Best



Day 2 – 100 day challenge

I’ve been traveling the past few days in California. The first stop in my journey was Palm Springs and then on to LA. This provided me an opportunity to use my camera on sights and scenes I’d never seen before but also a challenge because I was busy with travel and work.

Although I took this image on Day 2, let’s just forget all about it. I was attempting to capture the sunrise in my murky “I’m just awake and won’t have time to do this later” mind.

Day 2

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Day 1: 100 days of phtography

I’m learning a new skill: photography. As an art form, photography is one of the few that I appreciate. In my life I’ve managed to capture a few good images and one or two great ones. They’ve all largely been the product of luck rather than technique. I plan to change that!

Over the next 100 days I will be posting (at least) one photo taken during that day that I feel is my favorite or my best from the day. Along with the image I’ll also add some commentary on what happened, what I was trying to capture, whether it worked,  and what I might try next time. I have two for today.

The first is an image of  Mystic River, near my house. I really like playing with reflections, and this turned out rather well. Unfortunately I forgot to set the white balance before taking most of the shots today so I had to do some editing in photoshop to adjust the colors and such. One day I’ll remember to do that first instead of trying to fix it later.

Mystic river

The second I like because of the whimsy of this teacup in someone’s garden. Although I like the full-size version, I think that cropping it to focus on the cup in the greenery made it a stronger image.

Cup in grassCup in grass cropped closer


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Gradschool’s hidden purpose

I now stand, although perhaps lean is a better adjective, at the end of my fifth week of classes. The maniacal frontal assault on my work and schedule no long overwhelmes me to the same degree. Instead, I feel as though I’ve tamed the endless onslaught of readings, writings, work and internships into a highly controlled outline of lists, checklists, and thoughtful planning. It is the ultimate crash-course in time management and directed reading. I can no longer read every piece of material that passes by with the depth I want to give it. Instead, I have to force myself to skim headlines in GoogleReader and pass over names and dates if they aren’t critical to the argument. The biggest change in my study behavior has been the diabolical need to abstract each article I read because I simply cannot hold it all in my memory at once. There is too much information coming too fast with too many applications to trust that when crunch time comes I will remember where I read what.

It appears that grad-school, particularly a master’s degree, is not only about stretching the mind and forcing it to think harder and more deeply. That is part of my life. Instead, this degree and especially this semester is a challenge in time and project management. I have to learn and practice juggling multiple tasks and thoughts all the time. My life is strangely disjointed between the type of work I do in my part-time office job, my part-time archivist internship, and my full-time student experience. Different parts of my brain function at different levels all the time. One of my classes requires thinking and writing with deep analysis, synthesis and conclusions. The other requires concise summaries of content alone without the near-instinctual need to find coherence or meaning in the readings. The third draws on my empathy as a person, and heightens my awareness in body language and speech patterns to find understanding in interpersonal relationships. The struggle doesn’t lie in my ability to do any of them individually, although all require more practice to make me feel competent. The most draining part of grad-school is in the switching from one mindset to the other, the constant focus of one over another while still drawing on the skills I’m practicing in each.

And I say all of this at 11:40pm, after two exceedingly long days, so please excuse some of the rambling. I may need to revisit my notes on how to write concisely.

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February 14th

Today is February 14, the day people either love or hate or try desperately to ignore. There is no happy medium in the game. My own feelings towards this holiday were long-held abhorrence, which devolved into feigned apathy, and which now stand somewhere between amusement and mild irritation at the commercialized version of love pushed towards a consumer. The card, chocolate and diamond industries claim the holiday is about loving one person in a romantic manner, leaving no option for the possibility of celebrating love of friends, yourself, and the world in general.

I fully admit that I have no personal experience when it comes to romance or sexual love, so no doubt my view is tempered by this fact. That does not leave me out in the cold this day or any other time of the year, because time and experience has allowed me to realize that there are so many different types of love, and that Valentine’s Day should be about the variety of ways we show affection, respect, and love to others – romantically bound or not.

Last year I celebrated my friends because they are worth loving. This year I intend to do the same.

Happy Valentines to each of you. Someone loves you because you are you, and you bring joy and brightness to their world. Love is complicated, and Valentine’s day can celebrate that complexity.

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A brief monthly summary

The past month has flown by. It started with a bang in DC with friends and 7 museums in 3 days. I’ve been to DC twice before, but this was the first time I had the wherewithal to wander the city and get to know her heart. After doing so, I can say that although I love the dedication to shaping America’s history and identity that happens within the city, I’m very glad I don’t live there. When it comes to getting a job after grad-school, I will likely let my colleagues apply for those amazing opportunities within DC. Unless of course someone offers me a job in the Library of Congress.

I didn’t take many pictures as I browsed the museums and partied with friends, but here are a few that I did collect. They are mostly of the  Capital building, because I find the structural presence and statement of the Mall and surrounding buildings a great narrative of America’s perspective of herself. Walking around the area, I can understand the academic arguments for how places can create certain identities – something I’m skeptical of in my readings because the omnipresence doesn’t translate well unless you have experience of the place.

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Yes, that was a coral reef, with hanging jelly fish, crocheted out of hundreds of colors and types of yarn from the Natural History Museum.

But now classes have started, in the typical whirl that always accompanies the first week. I’m overwhelmed and intrigued and excited and ready to dive back in. On the docket this semester: Intro to Archiving (complete with a fight for one of ~60 internships), Oral History (something I’m increasingly fascinated with as it draws together multiple strands of interests), and Topics in Modern European History (aka my history of porn class.)

I hope to be better blogging about the strands of thoughts I process this semester, but so far my track record for such public musings is less than stellar. But, on the docket for next time: memory, oral history, and the possibilities of technology.

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A year’s end

It seems 2010, the first decade of the millennium, is coming to an end. It’s been a busy year for me. I quit a job, spent five months doing virtually nothing but reading and relaxing, moved, started grad school, got a new job, and am revving up for an even busier next year. It’s strange to imagine that this time last year I was finishing up grad school applications and in a serious fit of nerves about if I would get in to either of my schools (I managed both somehow) and if Archives was really going to be as cool as I imagined. I don’t have that worry anymore, even though I’ve not done the Archives portion of library school – that starts next semester. It’s comforting to know that even if I don’t like that, I DO love library science and would have no problem switching to the academic library tract. Now to start pinning down a research topic for my master’s history thesis since I won’t be doing anything classics- based. I’ve got one inkling of an idea, proposed by my history professor this past semester, but I need to do more research and explore more widely first.

I think that will be my direction of this upcoming year: exploring the world more widely. I’ve got a lot of things to go see and try and explore and none of it will happen if I stay focused on only one point. As such I’m looking to get one professor to work on a paper idea with me, and see if it’s worth developing into something presentable and publishable. I’ve joined the American Archivists Society in an effort to be part of a professional organization and learn some networking skills. And somewhere in there I want to get to know some of my very cool classmates better.

In that spirit, I am on my way to Washington D.C. to visit old friends, maybe make some new, and go exploring down there! I’ve been to D.C. twice, but both times were not great for seeing the historical/tourist sites. No doubt going over New Years is also not the best time for seeing the sites in a relatively quiet time, but I will make it work and hopefully have a few pictures to upload soon.

Here’s to an interesting 2011!

*This entry posted while on the bus to D.C. Hello living in the future!!

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Holiday Joy

For as much crap as I sometimes feel like I’m dealing with, I just have to step back, take a look around, and recognize again and again that I have amazing friends. I don’t say it very often, I’m not outspoken that way, but my friends are awesome and welcoming and accept me for all my quirks. I’ve done 10 big moves, and from all 10 I can say that I have met good people. It’s a slow process, it takes a number of months to let myself open up to them, but once I do, I know I’m a better person for having them in my life.

So, although I am not spending the holidays with my biological family, I will spend them with my collected family – my friends. If friends are a reflection of who you are, then I must be doing something right. Thanks all, and love you.

Happy Holidays


End of Semester #1

The end of the semester is here and mostly gone. I have one more paper to write, my history final, and then I am free to do as I please for the holiday break.

As I expected, it came far quicker than I wanted it to. However, I feel none of the stress or anxiety of not getting everything done that I associated with undergraduate finals time.  I’m not sure if it’s because of my stunning ability to stay on top of all my work this semester, or if the end of the semester was not very full. Either way, I appreciate the lack of stress.

One semester of Library School done, and I can say that this is what I want to do with my life. Despite some of my complaints on the lack of academic rigor, the topics and issues surrounding information access and general librarianship are right up my alley. I have not blogged about these issues as much as I intended to (something I hope to remedy), but in short I’m becoming more and more passionate about information and I can see a way to take my love of learning and knowledge and make turn it into a way to contribute to society beyond academic papers. Better yet are the vast number of individuals I’m meeting who have the same inclinations.

Library school, you came to me on the shores of Inishmor, and I’ve found a path worth traveling. Life is good.

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Thinking: once you start, there is no end

I have reached that point in the semester where my brain is filled with new concepts. My intense analytical readings have spilled over into my everyday life, and suddenly I am over-analyzing my own life in terms of these new ideas. A few examples that have crossed my mind in the last few days:

A desire to examine the historical evolution of using Hitler in for social comedy and protests. For example, the Hitler videos, re-closed-captioning ridiculous revelations onto a scene from Downfall, in conjunction with the protest signs equating individuals and policies they dislike to Hitler/Nazis, the internet meme of Reductio Ad Hitlerem, and the related Godwin’s Law.

Quilting which is historically a social activity, is now an individualistic experience. How did this happen, and why?

A friend who was trying to figure out a way not work all day decided to set his iPad on his desk and leave, knowing that his colleagues know he never goes far away from his iPad. My only response was “Clever. Using your consumerist identity to avoid capitalist production.”

All this education is contagious, a mental virus. It’s overwhelming as I start deconstructing various aspects of my life, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

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