Friday, June 29, 2007

Just not my kind of party, I guess

The St. Louis Magazine A-List party last night was...shall we say...different. Great music, great food, interesting people (I saw a mohawk! It's been years since I've seen a mohawk!). It's not something I'd want to go to on a regular basis, but once a year is probably fine.

However, as Aunt Peg put it, it was like 13 people planned the party and none of them talked to each other. It didn't get off to a good start with the valet parking jerks. There was absolutely no directional signage...just blockaded roads that forced you to drive around and around, trying to figure out how to get near the valet guys. I got there at 7:28; party to start at 7:30. The valets were barking at drivers to keep going, because, "we're not starting until 7:30." Um, yeah, if the party is supposed to start at 7:30, you better have your ass parkin' cars for at least 15 minutes before then. There were about 7 guys standing there, just standing, waving cars past. I was about five back, and there were twenty or thirty behind me. The other cars went. I pulled up, rolled down the window, glared, and yelled, "Hey, are you guys parking for this party?" The head jerk rolled his eyes and tersely instructed one of his guys, "Just park her. We'll just start." Uh huh. At this point my dashboard clock said 7:29, and it's spot on. Seriously. It's killing you to take cars one minute early? Don't want tips, do ya?

I got out and wandered up a block, where I saw some people milling around a very small tent. Again, no directional signage or instructions. It was the only tent in sight, and it was starting to rain. Oh, hell no. They promised big tents. The small tent turned out to be where you checked in and received your plastic wristband that I suppose proved you paid and were allowed to eat and drink. The woman who fastened mine used the second hole on the band, which meant that if I dropped my hand to my side, the wristband promptly fell off. Great. My wrists are very tiny (unlike the rest of me, go figure), but this was ridiculous. I finally went back and got a different one, rather than lose the first one and risk not being adequately fed and watered.

There was a bar about three feet away from the wristband tent, but you weren't allowed to step right over. Nope. You had to walk about 75 feet the other direction, circling around to pass over the "red carpet" and stand, in the rain, to get your picture taken. Right. Because that's what women dressed up for the evening want to do, stand outside in the rain in a line to get your picture taken, looking like a drowned rat by the time you finally get up there.

After we got through all that, we found the tiny little alley that led back to the tented area behind the building. Cool. We can do this. The giant tent looked pretty neat because it was made of clear plastic. So you could see the rain coming down and such, and you still felt outside, but you didn't get wet. At first. Later you realized that plastic tent + rain - air circulation = sauna. Holy crap. I felt like I was in an Easy-Bake Oven with about 400 of my new closest friends. Later we found a weensy elevator (occupancy: 4) that led to an upstairs bar with a balcony (very, very hip and cool) that was considerably cooler temperature-wise but just as crowded.

Throughout all this the music was pumping. It was great music, but it was so loud that party goers were forced to scream small chit chat at each other because conversation of any depth was impossible. That combined with no nametags (what is with nametags these days?!) meant networking was damn near impossible.

And to top it all off: no wine. Huh? Plenty o' Bud Select and various malt liquor drinks, along with their signature drink (a geisha something or other that was just green tea and vodka), but no wine. This, of course, meant that the party was instantly a failure in the mind of Aunt Peg.

All in all, it was interesting, but was also a good lesson in how not to throw a party. I was glad to be home at the end of the evening, even though my hearing still wasn't back to normal until this morning.

M is back from Kansas City, which is good because I was getting tired of having to say, "He's out of town" every time Zozo looked around and asked, "Dada?" Which was often. Dada is very popular at our house.

Tonight is a quiet evening at home, just our little family. I love those kinds of nights. It's rainy and icky outside, and we're just going to hang out, eat some dinner, and play.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Google this

Ahhh, it's a hot and muggy day...perfect for a street party, don't you think?

Along with several of my colleagues, I'll be attending the St. Louis Magazine A-List party this evening. Our spa was named Best Spa (ahem, thankyouverymuch, ahem), and there's a small party of us going to celebrate.

We've been assured that there are large tents to keep us dry, due the pending thundershowers.

Should be a fun event, though, and isn't always fun to attend something where your work is honored? Why yes, yes it is.

And more good news: M got to eat at Mongolian Barbecue in KC last night. While this doesn't exactly seem earth-shattering, it has major ramifications on our upcoming trip to Ann Arbor. To see Stef (there, are you happy now? STEF? You got your name on the friggin' blog!). You see, the first time we visited, Stef (there it is again!) took us to Mongolian Barbecue. M thought he died and went to heaven, promptly naming it The Meat Place and talking about it at least bi-weekly since then. He typically salivates at the same time. Needless to say, when we booked our tickets for our Ann Arbor trip, he insisted that we, once again, visit The Meat Place. Sigh. All the fantastic places to eat there, and we have to return to The Meat Place.

As you can tell, The Meat Place does not rank as high on my list of fine dining establishments as it does on his, but he's so gosh-darned passionate about his Meat Place that who am I to rain on his parade? I resigned myself to eating at The Meat Place again.

He called last night, though, happy as a clam, stating with full satisfaction, "Yep. There's a Meat Place here, right across from my hotel. I ate there tonight, so we don't have to go when we're in Ann Arbor. Call Stef!"

And the world breathes a collective sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Zozo has a new word. Well, it's actually more like a first word, if you don't count Dada and Mama, which I don't, because those are like givens and she's been saying those (and no others) for quite some time. She used to say moo, but that's sort of slipped off, and she used to be pretty good about dight (which is her word for light) but that's kinda gone, too, so we're really back at square one. This kid, I tell ya. She's on her very own schedule and will not be rushed, thank you.

So, here is her new (first?) word, which I can't believe: Google.

Yes, that's right. Our child's first real word is Google. Well, at least it's an official word, as I believe it was entered into Webster's dictionary last year or the year before on account of it's being so ubiquitous. It's a transitive verb, if you must know.

She thinks it's really funny, too, cracking up every time she says it and every time she hears it. It started about a week ago when I was holding her and talking to someone (I don't remember who). I said, "Oh, well I'll just Google it." Hilarity ensued. Not certain that was it, I tested it a few more times. "Google? Google? Google!" Giggles every time. A few days later, here she is, saying "Google!" herself and falling over with laughter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's raining, it's pouring...

Management meeting today, which can get quite contentious.

After two years of these, I suppose I'm hardened to them, and what happens in them.

Today, though, we had a newbie, someone who was recently promoted onto our management team. Poor soul.

We stopped the meeting several times to check on her, make sure she was understanding the flood of information, and make sure she wasn't drowning in the cross-talk. We also had to explain to her that it's not an official management meeting unless people yell, at least four times, "Let me finish!"

It was kinda fun to see someone else get that deer in the headlights look, and remember back when I used to feel that way. I'm a hardened marketing director now, though, and can walk out of the meeting without feeling like I've just been beaten to a pulp. Ahhhh, feels good!

All hell's breaking loose with a storm right now. Love storms. Except when we lose power, which is not fun. We could use the rain, too.

Just found out that while we were in the management meeting, someone drove into the shoe store across the street. Which is strange in and of itself, but even more so given that in just the last couple of years someone drove into the shoe repair store not a mile up the road. And this while it was clear and sunny outside. I suppose it's raining in the shoestore now, which is sad, because a shoe is a terrible thing to waste.

M is in KC tonight, returning late tomorrow night. I will miss him, but I will also take this opportunity to sleep in the exact middle of our king-size bed and eat crap for dinner (shhh, don't tell him that last one. I plan to tell him I had a sensible dinner of chicken and vegetables).

That's about it from here. Wish I had more, or at least something more interesting, but it's just been one of those days.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

And you are...?

I've discovered a minor annoyance recently that, in the grand scheme of things, is so relatively low on the list of things to be pissy about that I question whether I should even address it here.

And yet, I will.

Probably becuase I have nothing better to write about. Which is sad, and perhaps worthy of a blog post of its own some day.

So here's the issue. I'm of the old school of the belief in having proper nametags. I firmly believe that a key component of having a successful event is having great nametags. They should be designed so that they coordinate with the other event collaterals. They should have your first name big and bold, so people don't strain to see it, but also include your last name (smaller and below), and your company name if it's a networking event. Which, let's face it, almost all events are these days.

As a side, and just because I learned this a few years ago and still think it's interesting, nametag etiquette says you're to wear your nametag on your right side, so when you're shaking hands with someone they naturally look right up your arm to your nametag and it isn't so obvious that they've forgotten your name (or vice versa). That's my little tip of the day to you.

Anyway, back in my grunt days at The Not-For-Profit, one of my most dreaded tasks was creating nametags for muckety mucks to attend our events (and hopefully donate tons of money because they are so suitably impressed with their awesome nametags). I can't tell you how many nights I was there late, typing in names and printing sheets of tags, then stuffing them into their plastic sleeves and filing them in alpha order so as to make event set-up easier. And there was one board member who absolutely refused to RSVP for events, but had a complete shitfit if she arrived and there wasn't a nametag waiting for her (which meant, more often than not, I made a nametag for her "just in case," and she didn't show up).

So I've done my time with the nametags. They looked so great that I still have all mine as keepsakes from all those events, clipped to a lanyard and in one of my keepsake storage bins downstairs.

But the last two events I've gone to, where I've taken the time to RSVP, I've been handed a sticker and a Sharpie. What? I have to write my own nametag? And, of course, it's at a crowded table with 40 other people all trying to write theirs. Which means you end up at a table with Beth and Laura and Mitzy and you don't have a clue as to where they work and therefore if they're worth talking to. Which sounds bad, but really, at networking events you have a limited amount of time to meet people and it should be set up so that time is maximized. This is how you avoid getting caught in a conversation with someone who has worked for Dial Soap for 20 years and doesn't know the difference between bar soap and a facial cleanser that minimizes Rosacea. Which is exactly what happened to me recently. Damn nametags!

The most recent event involved a charity, the Circle of Women lunch that benefits victims/survivors of Sexual Abuse. This was an invitation-only event that required a donation, which I was happy to give. I'm hoping to become involved in this organization and have expressed interest to that end. Upon check-in, I walked up to the table to find my nametag only to discover that only the board members and table captains had pre-printed nametags. Once again, a sticker and a Magic Marker was shoved at me, "Here." &*(%$

Now, the lack of proper nametags will not prevent me from volunteering for this cause, but dang it, it'd be nice to not be "Hello, my name is..." for a change.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Hi, by nabe is A-b.

The Lion King rocked...even though I managed to create one helluva head cold during the first act.

Spent the rest of the weekend in bed. Or on the couch. Which means I have nothing of any consequence to report here. After Friday night, I didn't leave my house at all until this morning, on the advice of my boss that "you better come in." Still not sure exactly why, but here I sit, patiently awaiting the big reason why I came in and wondering when my head will so fill with snot that my nose will explode off the front of my face.

It's also fun to have my coworkers make fun of the fact that I now talk funny. I can't even say my own name. It comes out "A-b." And when I realized that, I whined, "I can't even say my own name!" only it came out, "I can't even say by own nabe!" I should just stop talking, I think.

I don't know that I've ever been this stuffed up, because currently I can't hear out of my left ear and that's never happened before. In between talking funny, I get to say, "Huh?" "What?" and "Excuse me?" with regularity.

At what point do I yell "uncle" and call the doctor? I hate calling the doctor for a head cold. It's a freakin' cold, for Pete's sake, and there's nothing that can be done for it except waiting it out. I know this. I'm a firm believer in not throwing antibiotics at every little sniffle, because if you do that then when you really need 'em to work, you've built up a tolerance to them and they don't work, and then where are you?

But at the same time, I'm getting pretty sick of breathing through my mouth. M said this morning, "You snored last night." I replied, "I don't doubt it. Listen to me!" He said, "Yeah, I didn't think it was possible for someone sleeping on her side with her head buried in the pillow to still snore, but you did." "Point taken."

The best thing about the entire weekend was listening to M care for Zozo over the baby monitor. I fell in love with him all over again when I heard him sing The Lotion Song to her after her bath. The Lotion Song was written, produced (but not yet recorded), and typically sung by Mommy. It goes a little something like this:

Weeee...puuuuut...theeeee...lotion on the baby
lotion on the baby
to keep her, keep her soft and smoo-ooooooth

The lyrics are a little tricky, I admit, but once you sing them a few times you get the hang of it. You repeat the refrain for as long as necessary to, well, to put the lotion on the baby.

I have to hand it to M. He pulled an American Idol on me and changed it just a bit to make it his own. When I sing it, I pronounce baby "bay-bay." He chose to go with the more traditional pronounciation of "bay-be."

I lay there in bed, breathing through my mouth and wondering if we could hook the central vac up to my nose or if I could borrow Zozo's bulb sucker thingy, and generally wishing I would just pass out from the nasal pressure, when I heard him start singing.

It was the sweetest sound in the world.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Lion Queen Roars

Going to see The Lion King tonight, after dinner at Boogaloo in Maplewood. I've never eaten at Boogaloo or seen The Lion King, so it's an evening of firsts.

I'm looking forward to this because recently I've been involved in a not-so-great repeated mess.

I do not like it when the same crappy thing keeps happening over and over again. And I do not like it when I go right ahead and get involved all over again. It's sheer stupidity on my part, and I say, I'm not gonna do it any more.

Well, I'll try at least.

There is a person I work with who pushes my buttons like mad. And the stupid thing is, I keep letting her. Why do I do this? She pushes, and I get hacked and push back, and get all worked up in the process.

And the bottom line is that I am the only person who can control my feelings. No matter what this woman does to me, ultimately I must take responsibility for my actions and reactions. I know this, and have known this, although it doesn't prevent me from being an idiot and repeatedly engaging with her.

"Walk away!" screams my reason. "Run!" And yet somehow, for unknown motives, my emotion says, "Hell no! I'm gonna stand here and FIGHT! And get really pissed off in the process!" Really, I think my reason should just kick my emotion's ass and get it over with.

So, starting today, I'm going to work extra hard to remind myself that I'm doing the very best I can, and that if it doesn't please some people, then so be it. It's their problem, not mine.

Boogaloo, The Lion King, and a guilt-free life. Sounds pretty damn good to me.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Even when I win, I lose

M and I played Scrabble last night, for the first time in ages. Last time we played, about six or seven years ago, he kicked my butt. I got stomped. I will admit that my journalistic pride was wounded, and my vocabularic ego was knocked down a notch.

I mean, really. He's an engineer after all. Not that he's not brilliant, he is, it's just that his idea of fine literature is "I Am Spock" by Leonard Nimoy. He's the type of guy who would try to make the word tricorder on the board.

And he kicked my ass. This wasn't a could go either way depending on the tiles we have left at the end sort of thing. Nope. It was a full-on trouncing. He won, hands down. To put it in sports perspective, it was the Scrabble equivalent of when the Cardinals played the Red Sox in the World Series a few years ago. It was disgraceful, and I hung my head in shame.

I also put the Scrabble box away and didn't even look at it again until last night.

Feeling quite cocky (for whatever reason, who knows), I brought it upstairs after spotting it on a laundry run. "Hey...wanna play?"

I was in the mood for takin' down his cute little engineer butt and proving my worth as a self-respecting grammar queen.

We played, and I won, which was good, and I felt great, until I read the directions on the inside of the box lid that said, "A good player will score 300-400 points during a 2-player game." I had 255. Ego slashed, once again.

Damn you, Milton Bradley.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

My chaos is different from their chaos

Things have been so chaotic lately that, for the first time in my professional life, I've found myself out from behind the computer more often than not. Normally I'm pretty chained to my desk. Not that I'm not usually busy...I's just been an entirely different kind of busy. Not necessarily a better busy than usual, or a worse busy, just a different busy. And, I would like to clear up, that when I use the word "chaotic" to describe my life, it in no way is even remotely tied to the whole Britney and K-Fed Chaotic mess of a show. Those two have forever ruined the wonderful word that was chaotic. In my mind, anyway.

Have you ever typed a word over and over again to the point where it starts to look really weird and not at all like the correct spelling? I've just hit that with chaotic. Especially the capitalized version in reference to the disaster created by the morons listed above.

Can you tell I'm stalling for lack of anything specific to write?

Lots of changes here at work, of which I'm unable to divulge due to confidentiality reasons. That and that fact that you don't know the peeps here and therefore would be bored out of your gourd by the stories. I'm pretty sure M is ready to rip his ears off if I start up again about it tonight.

Went to the ballgame with M last night and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening, and continued my streak of seeing nothing but winners since the dud of the season home opener.

Tonight is a lovely, quiet evening at home, to be filled with playing with Zozo and then, after she goes to bed, probably poring over my new images and continuing to kick my own butt about them. Which sounds just fine to me. I'm ready for some downtime with my little family.

My goal: to not fill M's entire evening with my ramblings about what's going on at the spa, about which he couldn't care less but has been quite attentive in listening. It's about run it's course for the time being, I think, so he should get a reprieve. Thanks, SweetPea, for listening! You're the best!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Son of a ^%$#@

I've hit that stage where I'm really digging into the images I've just created...and...I hate every last one of them.

I hate the blown highlights in this one, and lack of definition in that one. I hate the composition of this other one, and that other one, well, what the hell was I thinking? I've wasted time and energy, and bothered someone else, and for what? A hard drive full of crappy images. "Hang it up now, A," my screen taunts, "for a Weston you'll never be."

I go through this with myself. It's my standard routine. It typically takes me a few weeks to start thinking that my work just might not suck big time. Maybe it only sucks small time. Maybe, just maybe, it might not suck at all and might be something someone else would enjoy looking at. When I get there, I'll show it to a friendly audience such as M, who has to say, "It's nice," because he loves me and he wants to sleep in his own bed each night. That boosts the ego just enough to show it to some other folks, maybe like Stef (who is brutally honest) or Amy (who is a professional designer for Pete's sake) or any of you via the blog.

But right now, tonight, having spent hours at the computer poring over the images, I'm at that phase of thinking, "How much would a used Nikon D100 bring?"

Busy as a bee

So much is going on that I not only have no time to post, when I do get a few minutes, there is too much to write.

Work is very busy and exciting these days, as things that I've been working on for awhile are finally coming to fruition. That's always a good feeling.

Outside of work, Zozo's new teeth and my new photography project occupy my time and energy. Zozo hasn't been herself for a couple days now, and we're sure it's due to discomfort from her incoming teeth. The bottom right one (her fourth in the front on the bottom) just popped through the surface today, but I think she's also got some molars making their entrance. She's constantly got her fingers in her mouth and will start crying for no reason whatsoever, which is not at all like her.

She ran a low-grade fever for much of the weekend, which we treated with children's Tylenol and Motrin, of course. That finally broke today, thankfully. I hate seeing her not feeling well, and she tries so hard to be happy and cheerful that my heart just breaks when I see tears forming in her big, blue eyes.

The photography project is wonderful, if for no other reason than it just makes me feel good. This is occuring on multiple levels: I'm proud that I stepped outside my comfort zone and forced myself to try something new, I'm happy that I have new experiences to add to my "cool things I've done" list, I'm thrilled to be learning new things and actively working to become a better photographer. As my old boss used to say, I'm "on the path." Being on the path, I think, is just as good as finally getting to your destination. There is much to do on the path, and many great experiences, and there's that feeling that you're active and not a giant immobile slug.

My friend Jeanne lent me her CD of Andrea Bocelli singing Verdi, which I'm listening to right now. It's quite good, even if I can't understand a damn thing he's singing. She's supposed to lend me La Traviata as well, but she hasn't found it yet. I'm really looking forward to that, because I'll at least have some idea of what they're saying, having now actually seen the opera. My other friend Chris saw The Mikado last weekend and said it's good. Wouldn't mind seeing that, but we're going to The Lion King this Friday and so I probably won't be able to convince M to see another opera or musical any time soon.

That's all I have for tonight. Sorry there's nothing of real interest here. I hope to post images from The New Project sometime soon. We'll see!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Wait for it...

No post yesterday, as it was one of those days where you're going so fast that you miss breakfast without realizing it, and stop to snarf down your lunch at 2 p.m. because that's the only time you can squeeze it in (and you figure you better eat something, seeing as how you missed breakfast and all), and when you finally sit down and relax sometime after 7 you realize, "Damn, I am tired." It was a really great day, though, so the hustle was well worth it.

Worked on The Project again this morning. I am totally digging this. Today I took the tripod so I could stop down the aperture (f22, baby!) and go for great depth of field. Stopping way down means you gotta do something else to ensure you let enough light in, the something else being really loooong shutter speeds. I have trouble getting sharpness shooting handheld at 1/30 of a second, preferring to stay in the 1/6o or faster range. When you're stopped down to f22, though, you need not fractions of need whole seconds. No way can you not move for that amount of time.

Enter: tripod. I happen to have a kick-ass tripod I got used from Schiller's. It's one that I never could have shelled out money for new, just for the sheer guilt of spending that much on a a tripod. But used...yay! I'm a big fan of used gear, as long as you get it from a good dealer like Schiller's. And you gotta keep checking, because when it's a great deal, it doesn't stick around long. I happened to be looking for a tripod when this one came in to Schiller's. I took it as a sign from God that I was meant to have it, and bought it immediately. I love it. Love it. But I digress.

So I shot today with the tripod, for about an hour and a half. The best thing about using a tripod, other than that whole no-blurriness thing, is that it slows me way down. I mean, way down. To a crawl. Which is a good thing. Photography is better when your shots are carefully thought out and composed. Don't get me wrong, I can get crop-happy in Photoshop with the best of 'em, but with a tripod, I'm forced to slow down and more carefully compose at time of exposure. Which is really how one should do it.

I spent maybe an hour and a half, or a bit longer, working, and came home with 20 images. In RAW format. I haven't shot in RAW for awhile, which is another thing that slows one down. RAW format is the giant, mega file that captures the most detail possible. Normally, for shots around the house and at parties and such, I shoot in FINE, which is a hi-res jpg. Pretty good can get a decent 8x10 out of a FINE file. RAW you can get much bigger. The drawback to RAW is that the files are so huge that I can only fit 25 on one of my cards. (To put it in perspective, I can get 75 FINE images on one card). It also takes the D100 probably 30 to 45 seconds to write one RAW file to the card, and the buffer can hold only 3-4 shots at a time. If you fire off a bunch of shots (bam bam bam!), then you're left lollygagging around waiting for the camera to catch up.

As you know, I'm not one who is big on patience. Between the RAW files and the tripod, I am learning.

And I think my shots will be better for it.

(P.S. The title of this post, while fitting for my musings about moving slowly with my camera this morning, is also a little nod towards Beano, who is just as funny drunk as she is sober, as we discovered last night.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Wake up and smell the coffee

I am disappointed today, disappointed in myself.

Because I am too naive.

I continue to expect people to act as they ought. I expect people to show common courtesy, and to treat others as they would like to be treated. I expect people to not gossip and to always strive to do what's best (and not just what's best for themselves alone). I expect people to give others the benefit of the doubt, and to not cast judgement so easily when they themselves are so flawed in their own ways.

In this, I am supremely stupid, because I continue to expect this, and continue to be surprised when it doesn't happen.

And it will never happen, because people are human, and will continue to fail and continue to fall short and continue to disappoint. Hell, I disappoint myself when I succumb to these baser instincts. But I, at least, strive on a daily basis to overcome my downfalls. I see some people who not only don't work to better themselves, but don't even recognize that there is room for improvement to begin with.

Bah. Just having a rough day. And no, this isn't aimed at any one person in particular, so those of you out there who internalize every damn thing I write, it ain't about you. It's about me.

This morning, I'm listening to Ronald Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate from June 12, 1987. "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall." Powerful stuff.

I'm all about founding fathers and presidents these days. We just received our copies of the Declaration of Independence and The United States Constitution. I'm going out of order and reading the Constitution first. Good stuff, Maynard.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Just do it

I decided that waiting until Saturday morning to start my new project was just silly. Why put off what I can start now? I've been putting it off for years, and if I wait until Saturday I'll just chicken out again and create some excuse to put it off some more.

It's like when the pool feels a little's best to just jump in altogether rather than inching in starting with your big toe. Or pulling off a band-aid. Just do it and get it over with. I'm a huge proponent of that.

So that's what I did. Last night I made images of the new project from afar, and this morning I busted my butt to get away from the house a little early so I could go back and actually dive right in.

And it was fantastic.

I'm so excited now that I can hardly keep from squirming in my seat.

I'm not ready yet to disclose it, but I will say that I think it will be even better than I had imagined. Don't you just love it when that happens?

I feel like, finally, I'm growing again in my photography. I like my old work, don't get me wrong, but I don't feel like I have a cohesive body of work. They are grab shots, and while they are lovely, they aren't exactly consistent. I love consistency, so it's always bothered me. I mean, yeah, you could take a set of images and call them "Montreal," simply because they were all made in Montreal, but some are flowers and some are architecture and some are abstract. Yes, they're all mine, but you can't hang them as a body of work, stand back and say, "You really captured it." I don't think so, anyway.

This has bothered me for quite some time. The feeling that I don't have a portfolio, so to speak. I can't say, "Here, this body of work is me." I've had what I would call mini-projects, such as making images of Grandma's house and Grandpa's boat, but I haven't had something I could lose myself in for an extended period of time, where I could go to different places and find new subject material.

I guess I could pull all my fire hydrant pictures and call them a portfolio, but I'm pretty sure fire hydrants, while fun and quirky to me, aren't what I'd like my work to be known for. "Damn, she sure shoots a good hydrant." Not so much.

So, I've jumped now, and am thrilled with doing it (finally). What's out there that you'd love to do but have either been too scared or just haven't gotten around to? I can now say from experience that you should just do it, because the feeling, once you finally do start, is really great.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

So proud I could burst

I'm fairly certain Einstein's mother had a photograph of her child like this.

And no, this is most definitely not the new project.


I'm stuck in one of those, "You know, I really should..." moments. Where there's something I've been wanting to do for a long time, but just haven't gotten around to it, and now it's nagging me. Calling me. Filling my brain and not trickling out like it usually does.

Which means that I will actually have to do it in order for it to go.

It's not a bad thing, by any means. It's a new photography project I've been ruminating on for several years now. I'm not going to tell you what it is, because who knows, I may never move on it, and then wouldn't that be embarrassing.

"Hey, did you ever shoot ____?"
"Um, no, I never did get around to doing that."
"Oh, that's a shame. I bet it would have been good."
-Uncomfortable silence.-

So I need to move on it, and plan to this weekend. Saturday morning, to be exact. There. Now I've gone and posted it, and so it's in writing, that I will start my project Saturday morning. It could turn out to be nothing, but I don't think so. I think it will be good. Great even, maybe.

This is my first real photographic project that will take more than a couple hours to shoot. It will take days, maybe even years. Don't worry, I'll let you in as soon as I get my butt in gear. Once I get past that first initial step, if it goes okay, I'll tell you about it. It's that whole stepping outside my comfort zone thing. Once that first step has been taken, though, I'll be good.

I'm very excited about it, along with being nervous, because it's the whole project thing. Not just grab shots here and there. I've been reading "On Being a Photographer" by David Hurn and Bill Jay (two photographic icons), and the first time I read it, a couple years ago, I wasn't there yet. I wasn't ready to choose my project. This time, though, it's there. Clear as day. And everything I read in that book about selecting a photographic project applies to this. I read it and find myself nodding. "Yes, yes, yes! It will work!"

I just have to actually start it.

Monday, June 11, 2007

$2K worth of art

I have nothing of any importance to post this morning.

We moved a bunch of mulch this weekend and the yard looks good.

The sprinkler system has been repaired, so yours truly doesn't have to go out every morning with her watering can.

Went to the Cards game yesterday and brought home a winner (yes, I do personally take full credit for it).

Oh! I did go see the exhibit by Jennifer Silverberg Friday right after work. It's fantastic. It includes a six foot by four foot black and white mariachi guy, if that tells you anything. She mentioned that she really hopes it sells, since she has no place to hang him in her small apartment. I made the mistake of asking how much he is. $2000. A huge part of that is production cost, so it's not out of line, but still. You find somewhere to print a six foot by four foot black and white in good quality and see how much it costs! So, no, I didn't buy the mariachi guy, but I did promise to check with my friends and see if anyone was interested. Really, he's quite cool. If I had a spare two grand sitting around, he'd be hangin' in the library.

Don't you hate it when someone you work with is a real snot. Kinda puts a damper on the whole work day. Grrrrr.

Friday, June 08, 2007

New Exhibit

Heading out this afternoon to the opening reception of a new exhibit at the Sheldon Art Galleries by Jennifer Silverberg.

Jennifer was my instructor for two photography classes and is the staff photographer at The Riverfront Times. And she kicks major photographic ass. Plus, she's a very cool person, which is a double whammy in my book.

I'm very excited to see her, and her images, even though I'll have to run out quickly as we're having dinner with Beano, Shawn, Tiff and Doug at Dewey's (you are so jealous...Dewey's rocks) at 6 p.m. Nothing like booking yourself into oblivion on a Friday afternoon!

So, all in all, it's a great day because I get to see great images and old friends, and what could be better than that?

Here's the skinny on the exhibit. I'm going to recommend you go, even though I haven't seen it myself yet, because I have that much faith in Jennifer and her art:

Jennifer Silverberg: Selected Images
The Sheldon Art Galleries - Gallery of Photography
3648 Washington Boulevard
St. Louis, MO 63108
June 9 - September 8, 2007

Gallery Hours:
Tuesdays and Thursdays, Noon to 8 p.m.
Wednesdays and Fridays, Noon to 5 p.m.
Saturdays, 10 - 2 and one hour before Sheldon concerts and during intermissions
Admission free

Thursday, June 07, 2007

With justice for some

Two evenings ago, M and I ordered The Declaration and Independence and The Constitution of the United States of America from Amazon. They are lovely hard-bound editions, and I can't wait to get them and read them. It's probably something I should have done long ago, but better late than never. Shouldn't we all be familiar with the documents used to found our great country? Isn't it imperative that we, as Americans, know why our country was founded, on on what grounds? Shouldn't we understand what rights and conditions are our just due?

I especially can't wait to read the part of The Constitution that talks about how our laws aren't applicable to you if you're a spoiled privileged little snot who was raised with a silver spoon.

I think I almost blew the windshield out of the car this morning on the way into work when I heard that Paris Hilton (ptooey! I spit on her name!) was released (!!!) from jail and given home confinement. My scream of "You have got to be kidding me!" should have done it, but thankfully the Zoemobile held together.

Home confinement is a joke in and of itself; it should be called "manse confinement." We would all be so lucky to get her version of "home confinement" for our everyday lives.

It was one thing when she was off doing her "celebrity" thing. I didn't quite understand what, exactly, made her a celebrity to begin with, given that she seems quite free of any talent and can't seem to treat others with basic human respect. Okay, whatever. She was out there, doin' her thing, and that was fine by me because I was busy doin' my thing and never the twain shall meet (thankfully).

But now. Now I have lost any shred of respect I had for the American justice system. And that pisses me off. I'm a patriot to the nth degree. I love my country, and think it's the greatest place in the world to live. The national anthem brings me to tears (hell, the Chevy commercial with Mellencamp's "This is Our Country" brings me to tears), and you bet your ass I stand, remove my cap and place my hand over my heart every time I hear it. The anthem, that is, not Mellencamp's song.

I'm a firm believer in respecting tradition and The Office of President of the United States, even if you don't care for the man (or maybe woman, some day) currently in that office. I think George Washington and Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson and the rest of 'em were kick-ass founding fathers, incredibly smart guys with uncanny vision, even if they did have their own peculiarities and quirks including duelling over implied insults of honor.

Today, though, I'm embarrassed. Ms. Hilton has single-handedly made a mockery of our justice and law enforcement system. Wait, I take that back. She's done what she's always done. I can't fault her for this. I lay my blame squarely on the imbeciles who decided to let her out of the pokey having served, what, three whole days?

Medical condition my ass. If the so-called medical condition was that she refused to eat prison fare then I'm even more disappointed with the decision. People starve around the world every day, and as far as I'm concerned it wouldn't be a bad thing if she discovered what hunger feels like. If the medical condition was that they did indeed learn that Ms. Hilton really has the brain power of a field mouse, then okay, that's quite a breakthrough but still no reason to release her.

What does it say when it becomes glaringly obvious that one can circumvent the laws of this country simply if one has enough money to do so? I'm curious how many people have been confined for breaking the same laws as Ms. Hilton, and weren't released even with viable medical conditions.

I'll still read my copy of the Constitution when it comes, but I don't think it'll have the weight it used to carry, at least in my own mind.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Strength Training

Was reading a back issue of Lenswork last night and this morning and found an article entitled, "The Nature of the Problem" by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Smart dudes.

Here is a very brief excerpt, which has me really thinking today:

"Making art is difficult."

Well, duh. Yeah. But they went on to write more.

" rests fundamentally upon talent, and that talent is a gift randomly built into some people and not into others. In common parlance, either you have it or you don't - great art is a product of genius, good art a product of near-genius (which Nabokov likened to Near-Beer), and so on down the line to pulp romances and paint-by-the-numbers. This view is inherently fatalistic - even if it's true, it's fatalistic - and offers no useful encouragement to those who would make art. Personally, we'll side with Conrad's view of fatalism: namely, that it is a species of fear - the fear that fate is in your own hands, but that your hands are weak."

Now that's some powerful stuff. Are our hands weak? Are some hands stronger than others (when it comes to fate, anyway)? There's much more to the article, of course, but I had just finished downing my Quaker Oat Squares and had to leave for work, so that's where I'm left dangling. Thought maybe ya'all would like to dangle with me for awhile.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Washer is working well again, now that its had its stomach pumped.

Total amount retrieved from washer in order to fix:

19 Zozo socks
2 A Peds
1 Zozo washcloth
1 M Chapstick

I swear I heard the washer "urp" when we took all this out.

M = Maytag Man

Which, of course, makes me Maytag Woman. Well, not really. We have Kenmores down there, but Kenmore Man just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Following the carefully-worded directions I found on about other Kenmore HE4t owners, we dove into our beloved washing machine. It was quite easy, actually. Almost too easy, which makes me suspicious.

The first thing we learned is that we had to go in the front. This was a huge relief as we expected to have to pull the thing out, away from the wall. This, as you might expect, would not be fun, as the washer is pretty much wedged into a perfect washer-space between the dryer and the wall. Shelves would have had to been emptied, the dryer pulled out, etc.

So, in we went. Found the drain filter where we discovered more socks. You remember we found some between the gasket and the drum? Yeah, we found six more of the suckers that had made their way all the way down the drain tube to the filter, right next to the pump. Little bastards. Those were even more icky than the ones behind the gasket.

Pulled 'em out (ewww) and threw them away (they were beyond hope, as you might expect) and reassembled everything. The load has been replaced and is percolating as I type. We head downstairs in 43 minutes to see if it worked.

According to the folks on epinions, their culprits were typically baby socks, too. They ought to warn you about this stuff when they sell you washers. Or babies.

Other people found money (quarters and such, not paper money), toys, and someone found a bullet (!). I'm surprised we didn't find a dozen Chapsticks, as M loses those all the time.

Stay tuned. (I'm sure you all are on the edge of your seat, just waiting to hear about my washer.)

Spin cycle

O Appliance Gods, smile upon us this evening as we begin our treacherous voyage into the damp domain of a Kenmore HE4T.

Yes, that's right. Clearing ancient socks from the gasket did not fix the washer. It only appeared to fix the washer for several loads, enough, in fact, to finish that weekend's loads and give us false peace of mind that all was fixed. This past Sunday, though, the dreaded F-02 reared it's ugly head. Again. We've been gimping it along, but since the load that we started Sunday night is still in there (it's really clean now), we've decided that it's time to go in.

So we'll pull it out from the wall and see what we can see. It's gonna go one of two ways: it'll be a simple fix and all will be good, or we'll back the screws out, pop the cover off and go, "Oh, no freakin' way are we digging into this. Let's call someone."

I'm hoping for the former, but am ready for the latter.

This will not be, in any way, a pleasant task. I suspect there will be lots of cursing and some tossing of tools. Maybe some gnashing of teeth.

There are several forms of hell for my husband: Christmas lights that don't come on when they ought, fluids from any part of our daughter's head and body, plumbing projects, botched electrical work, and what we are facing tonight: plumbing and electronics. Goody.

My future is not bright, people.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Midnight Carnival

I found a new photographer through Lenswork whose work I really like, and I'm trying desperately to find a link I can post here so I can share him with everyone. I'm firmly against "borrowing" other peoples' work, even if it's in the name of promoting that person to the world. I try to think of it like this, "would I like it if I was out cruising around the Web and some random person had placed my images on his/her site, even if they were credited to me?" Nope. I wouldn't. I'd think it was rather creepy as a matter of fact.

A few months ago, I received a call from a woman who wanted information on using our spa's conference room for a self-help seminar. She was calling on behalf of a life coach who wanted to reach a new audience. Namely, our clients. She was rather odd on the phone, not really giving much information and being sort of shady about the whole deal. A few of us tried talking to her, and none of us couldn't get anywhere. Finally, my colleague googled the life coach's name and discovered that he's got some pretty hefty referrals on his site. In other words, he's no slouch. She e-mailed him, stating what our experience had been, and requested working directly with him instead of the woman, if he were indeed interested.

We received an immediate response: the woman had attended a seminar of his, but in no other way was she affiliated with him or his business. She had taken it upon herself to "share" him with the world and had determined what she thought was the best way to do that, and started making phone calls.

Folks like that, kindhearted though they may be, give me the willies.

I don't want to give anyone the willies, or the heebie jeebies, or whatever you call it.

Ahhh, finally found the link.

FYI, my favorite is the one in the upper left corner.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Why you should always carry a camera

As we were getting out of the car at Target this evening, I saw another vehicle pull in that made me just start cracking up laughing. I couldn't even get, "M, look! Zozo, look!" out because I was laughing so hard.

What did I see? The Hershey's Kissmobile.

I didn't even know such a thing existed before today. Makes perfect sense, though, if you think about it. I mean, this country accepts, nay, celebrates, a giant hot dog on wheels, so why shouldn't we revere chocolate in a similar transportary way?

There were two lovely young ladies driving it, and I was reminded again about my lifelong ambition to drive the Wienermobile around the country. I can't remember if it's college students or recent college grads who try out for the coveted position of Wienermobile Driver, but The World's Finest School of Journalism always manages to contribute at least one per season (if memory serves me correctly). I, alas, did not know this during my stint at The World's Finest School of Journalism or I'd have applied (which means, unfortunately, that The Worlds' Finest School of Journalism should work on its communication skills. Ironic, no?).

I mean, yeah, you're essentially in for one long road-trip in a funky ass car, but wouldn't that be cool? But don't forget, you're "on" the entire time. The two Kissmobile ladies were stopping at Target this evening to pick up some personal items (it was 6:30 on a Sunday night, for Pete's sake. You know they were off duty by this point), and they attracted gobs of attention. Cars were driving by and people were shooting cell phone cameras like mad.

It's America. Folks flock to oddities. Like giant foil-wrapped chocolate drops with a six-cylinder fuel-injected engine.

God, I love this country.

"It's a bird! It's a plane! It's two tons of chocolate on a chassis!"
"Mom's going to need one giant glass of milk."

This image is entirely unrelated to the Kissmobile storyline, but it was taken this evening on the way to Target and it just made me laugh. I don't know if it's the sunglasses sliding down or the wisps of hair blowing up on either side of her head or the somber expression...or maybe the combination of it all, but it made me (and M) laugh.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A shitty day. Literally.

The beauty of having a laptop computer is that one can sit on the floor outside the bathroom and blog while watching one's husband and father replace the wax ring on one's potty.

I was called in to do some of the heavy cleaning, and from my nap, no less. But that's all done now, and they're getting ready to put the potty back over its disturbingly disgusting hole.

I was completely mortified until Dad explained that everyone's potty looks as gross as ours, you know, once you pull it out and expose everything. Ewwww.

My solution, of course, was far simpler. Just knock the damn house down and start over.

Alas, that is not a fiscally responsible thing to do, so we all donned disposable gloves today and fixed it ourselves.

The sheer excitement of our daily lives just about does me in.

"Everything okay down there, Mike?"

(I can't take credit for the quote. Dad saw the picture and suggested it.)
(Also, be it known to the world that M will kick my ass as soon as he sees these pix posted here.) (Hee hee.)

Friday, June 01, 2007

The next Ansel Adams?

M had an appointment today at 12:45 with his ticker doc. It's now 1:36 and I just received this message and photograph, sent from his cell phone:

I call it..."Shoe of One Pissed Off Patient"

I am still in the waiting room.


What can I say? The boy makes me laugh. And, obviously, he's one helluva photographer.