Friday, January 30, 2009

Mommy needs training, too

My stomach is in knots. I'm anxious and nervous and I feel like I could toss my cookies any second now. Blech.

I just dropped off Zozer at school, along with her new training pants. Her teachers seem to think that while she's ready to go on the potty (she knows when she has to go, and can hold it until she "hides" - apparently she's big on privacy) there's just no impetus to actually go on the potty since her diapers and pull-ups wick the moisture away so well. She sits on the potty at school by herself. She sits on the potty at home with some "help" from Mommy. She's pretty much there; we just need a tipping point. This is where the training pants come in. General consensus is that if she's uncomfortable enough, the potty will start to look like a pretty good alternative.


So, it's a big, giant day for Zozer, and I'm forced to sit here at work and think about her and worry about her and wonder about her.

I mean, I know rationally, in my heart of hearts, that she's going to be fine and we're all going to come out on the other side the better for it, especially M, who won't have to grumble about dropping loads of money on diapers anymore. I realize that I don't know a single person over the age of preschooler who still wears pull-ups. (Well, unless you count a few old people, but you know what I mean.)

But dammit, she's my little girl, and she'll always be my baby, and I don't like it when she's having a tough time with something. Breaks my heart into a million frillion gajillion little pieces.

Everyone cross your fingers today (and through the weekend). Let's hope this is The Day Zoe Learns to Love the Potty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Zoe's First Photos

Over the weekend, Zoe figured out that the little pink camera Santa brought is hers, and that she can take pictures of whatever she wants, whenever she wants.

She ran in and said, "Mommy, I love taking pictures!" Yessssssss! Me, too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Birthday Message

Happy birthday, sweet Mocholate. I love you!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm in class with Einstein

Another brilliant insight from a moron in my marketing class, also on the marketing strategy of eBay:

Whatever a seller chooses to sell, can be sold.

Wow. I'm blown away by this staggeringly new observation and all I can say is, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I likes to learn real smart stuff

Before I began my graduate studies, I thought that having an undergrad degree was proof enough that one was ready to tackle higher education.

I was wrong.

Turns out that schools should adminster a basic "stupid test," or maybe just a basic literacy test, for people before they start grad school. So they don't waste the time of people like us on discussion boards, when part of our grade centers around responding to these idiots with well-thought-out, reasoned and logical posts.

Hell, half the time I can't even understand what they're trying to say, much less respond to them. For instance, here's a gem just posted on our marketing boards this evening:

EBay researches customers needs and wants and designing a product that satisfies them using their Voice of the customer programs brings in a dozen buyers and sellers every month to question about how they work and what else eBay could do to improve it.

Okay, really?

And in the same post, this piece of intellect:

They established trust with customers by Establishing the Trust & Safety Department to look for suspicious activities.

I'm pretty sure that was written by the Redundancy Department of Redundancy, perhaps even by the Redundant Director of Redundancy herself.

And I won't even get into how many people read the case study in the book that references Meg Whitman being the CEO and wrote that eBay's continued success is due in no small measure to Whitman remaining a strong leader at the company. This factoid obviously dates the book since Whitman resigned in March 2008. And do you know how I know she resigned last year? Because she was a freakin' national co-chair for John McCain's campaign and was all over the freakin' news. Before that she was Mitt Romney's finance chair (and, you got it, was all over the freakin' news). It was pretty easy to see who she was, too, since every time she was interviewed her title was printed right there on the screen, "Meg Whitman, former eBay CEO."

Anyway, our grade for this portion requires us to post, and to respond to at least 3 other posts each week. It's fun to dump a ton of energy and thought into my own post, only to have four morons log in moments later and write, "Good post!" "Great job!" "Interesting stuff!" Pretty sure that's not the point of the on-line discussion board, and not what the instructor meant by "create an on-line discussion around the week's subject matter." "Great job!" does not a discussion make.

I have to go back now, and try to find a couple posts to which I can respond. "Good post!" is looking better and better.

Ed. note: Not all the students in our class are this bad. I'm just picking on the one or two that really make me shake my head over and over. By and large there are pretty good people on the boards...they're just not as much fun to write about.

Day of Change

Whether or not you voted for him, you must admit that much of the nation's (nay, the world's) hopes and dreams rest on his shoulders.

Godspeed, Barack Obama. And God bless the United States of America.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

In flight

Okay, maybe I lied. Maybe I did get a decent image of an eagle in flight. From browsing my initial thumbnails, I thought, "Well, shit, those are just too damn far away." Then, just for the hell of it, after I posted I pulled one up and zoomed in. Then I zoomed some more. And some more. And then I fell in love with the 12 MP camera all over again. It's not the best image in the world, but I'm amazed at how much it stays together even with an obscene amount of cropping.

OMG this camera so. totally. rocks.


Took The Bug up to Chain of Rocks Bridge this morning for Eagle Days. We met an 11-year-old bald eagle name McGuire, saw two young eagles in flight, walked the bridge, and Zozer got to stand in an actual eagle's nest, but the highlight of her entire day was getting to ride the yellow school bus that shuttled us from the Missouri Visitor's Center to the bridge and back.

While the D300 performed capably with locking in focus on flying eagles, I wasn't too pleased with my final results (too far away), and was happier with two images created looking down from the bridge. Two water intake structures located south of the span are intriguing to me because of their architecture. I want to go out there and stand on them and look around the inside. Since that will probably never happen, I'm content to shoot them from the bridge.

These images are available thanks in no small part to the new 30-200 VR lens Santa brought. VR stands for vibration reduction, which means it's easier to shoot hand-held at longer focal lengths (i.e. zoomed out). This was especially handy today as I was buffeted by high winds while trying to frame the image. M and Zozer had camped out in a tent erected by the Trailnet and Confluence staff on the bridge, along with about 50 other poor souls trying to warm up as idiot spouses with lots of camera gear roamed back and forth across the bridge.

I have images of Zozer in the eagle's nest, but I felt like working on these two tonight. Scratch that...this morning. I figure if I can't sleep, I might as well play around in the darkroom.

I was going to post the second water intake structure, but after studying it with a critical eye again before uploading, I decided I've been too heavy-handed with dodging. A little is good, a lot is ridiculous. It looks like it's got a halo 'round it. The structure is pretty cool, but holy it ain't. Although, come to think of it, since it does take in water, it must be holey.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Takes all kinds, I s'pose

I don't get it.

So there's this rich guy who mucks up his whole life and then bails out of his airplane (leaving it to fall who knows where on innocent people...jackass) and essentially tries to run away. That's not the part I don't understand. I get that it's easier to run away from your problems than to face them. (I'm not saying it's right...just that it's easier short-term.) (Or, in his case, very short-term.) (Because he's stupid.)
There's a photo of said rich (stupid) guy and his wife on the home page of msnbc. They're one of those young attractive couples who seem to have the world by the tail. She's wearing a lovely little black cocktail dress and has blonde hair that probably costs more to maintain annually than one of my MBA courses. He's wearing a sharp suit. I get that, too. People like to look nice in their photographs.

What I don't get is their choice of background. They're posing in front of a Lexus and an airplane. A very shiny, rich-looking airplane.

I can honestly admit I've never said, "Hey, let's get all dolled up and pose with the Honda!" Granted, it's a Honda and not a Lexus, but still. Actually, technically they're both Hondas and he was an idiot to pay a helluva lot more for his than I did for mine, but I digress.

This photograph shrieks to me, "We're young and rich and beautiful and look at all our fancy toys!" Which doesn't really say much about the subjects except that they're possibly the most shallow, materialistic people on the planet.

I guess I could see if they were in front of just the car, which says, "I like to drive and appreciate fine automobiles." Or just the airplane. "I love to fly and hope that I never have to bail out and leave my airplane to crash on innocent people." But both? And dressed like that? It's a staged production, and it looks like it, and it screams of excess.

The article mentions police searching their 10,000 square foot home for evidence. Apparently the wife told the searchers that she recently filed for divorce because she caught the husband cheating on her. Huh. Guess the Lexus and the plane (wonder if it's the one in pieces in a swamp now) aren't so impressive anymore, are they? Gimme a solid marriage, a beater car and a busted house over what they have (had) any day.

I just can't figure out the purpose of that photograph, and it's bothering me. Most images (excluding fine art photographs) are made to document something or someone. Timmy's birthday party or the Smith family vacation to the Grand Canyon. This appears to document possessions and a lifestyle of excess, which seems to me pretty shallow.

Or sad, depending on how you look at it.

I'm not saying it's wrong to own such possessions. God knows we all have our own passions...people prolly think I'm insane for what I'm willing to shell out on photography gear. I just think it's wrong - or tragic, really - to let your possessions define you. It's not like I'm lining up a photographer to make an image of me dressed to the nines holding my D300.

'Course, that would be pretty cool.

(Kidding. Totally kidding.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"And what does your beater need today?"

Took the ZoeMobile in this morning for an oil change and other sundry maintenance work, and the service writer said, "Oh, you're overdue for your 120,000 mile service." I know this, since the little "maintenance required" light lit up at 120,000 and has burned brightly ever since. Because my dad is a mechanic (and because my car is a Honda and will run virtually forever), I know that I can, for the most part, skip these required maintenance reminders. The biggies, yeah, I gotta do. I think I did one at around 75,000. Maybe it was 100,000. I change the oil regularly and don't do jackrabbit starts (unless M drives the car - grrrr) and the car is good and reliable and all that. So when the service writer started his usual spiel about the service I should get done, I sorta tuned him out and made a mental note to manually reset the light on my own. I know how to do that, having done it multiple times instead of shelling out hundreds of dollars for unnecessary maintenance work.

Then he said something that made me pay attention.

"Our maintenance reminder system doesn't go past 120,000 miles, so it'll roll over and you'll show up in the system with 'fresh' mileage. Like from zero. It just starts over."

So, what, now I'm experiencing age discrimination on my car? It's a freakin' Honda, for Pete's sake. Those service reminders ought to go up to like 350,000, at least. WTF? I'm proud of my mileage and think my car (or at least its record at the dealer) should wear it like a badge. "I got 126k on this hoss! Wahoo!"

I like my little car. No, scratch that. I love my little car. It's not goin' anywhere any time soon. I just don't like it when I get continual reminders that it's old. I don't consider it old. It's not like it looks like a beater or anything. Okay, so the Accord emblem on the trunk is having an adhesive failure issue and is now cocked at about a 15 degree angle. And there are too many door dings to count. And the front grill is slightly messed up from who know's what I hit (or, rather, what hit me - yes, let's go with that version). And there's prehistoric tar that will never, ever come off the door panels. And there's a tiny little puncture wound in the glove box leather from a cat carrier that rocked forward during a sudden stop on the way to the vet (no pets were harmed in the writing of this blog). But that's all just minor stuff. Right?


Monday, January 12, 2009

In training

We made a very important purchase this weekend: training pants. For Zoe. (duh.)

We've only gotten as far as looking at the picture on the box of a little girl sitting gleefully on her potty, with her pull-ups down around her ankles.

"Mommy, why is she raising her hands?" "Because she's so excited to be using the potty!"

So Zoe and the new training pants went off to school this morning. Her teachers have gotten her to at least sit on the potty, which is more than her parents have done. She now, apparently, removes her pants and diaper and sits on the potty, all by herself (i.e. no hand holding required, which is how they started). She has yet to actually go on the potty, but we're (I should say "they're") getting there.

M and I spent much of the weekend running errands, playing with Zozer and studying. Couple of, ahem, discussions arose over the course of working on our weekly assignments, mainly stemming from the fact that these two classes, unlike our previous classes, are entirely subjective. There is simply no way an engineer and a marketer are going to come to the same conclusions about either organizational behavior or marketing. M likes to call our disagreements "discussions." Ever a fan of pithiness, I prefer the fewer-syllabled (and, in my opinion, more appropriate) "fight." Regardless, we always come out on the other side stronger for having gone through it together, which is what it's all about, eh?

One of our profs this term sent us an e-mail over the weekend, gently reminding us about honesty and integrity and all that stuff, basically saying that even though we're married and live together and study together, we shouldn't cheat. Uh, yeah. Lady, if you could see us arguing over the definition of "marketing issue" which settles into a mutually-agreed silent treatment while we both pound away on our keyboards, you'd know we're so not cheating. M laughed, "Wait til she reads our first case studies...with our different writing styles and our totally different ways of approaching things, she'll know we're not cheating!"

I wanted to respond to her, "If I'm shelling out two grand for each class, you bet your ass I'm going to get as much as I can out of it. I'm not in this to just put some letters behind my name...I actually want to learn new things and improve myself. B****." Okay, so maybe I wouldn't put that last word in there. But still. I'm a little (okay, a lot) insulted that she even felt the need to write anything. I didn't respond at all. Which is probably best.

All in all, good weekend. Homework done and turned in for both classes. Candyland played 20 times. Much of the readings done for this week. Errands run, groceries bought. Bills paid. The house didn't get cleaned and the laundry didn't get done, but there are only so many hours in the day. We did take off a couple hours (from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.) Saturday night to watch National Treasure 2. Mindless brain candy. Good stuff.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Voting for corruption

I read this morning that the Illinois House of Representatives voted to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich, for reasons that you're all aware of if you haven't lived under a rock for the past couple months. Really, the guy should have been impeached a long time ago just for his hair, but that's a whole other blog post.

Anyway, 60 votes were required for the impeachment. The final result was 114 to 1.

My question is, what on earth was the one person who voted against impeachment thinking? Now, I'm not one for always going with the crowd and following the lemmings off the cliff. I firmly believe in charting your own course, taking the road less traveled, all that. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who can't think for themselves.

But really? How can there be one person in Illinois politics who thinks that keeping this tool in office is the right decision? Where has that person been the past few months? I think that representative should also be impeached, on the grounds of sheer stupidity.

Not that I get worked up about politics or anything.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Smartly balanced

"Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are."
-Julius Charles Hare and Augustus William Hare, Guesses at Truth (1827)

Okay, so that's pretty cool.

I think one of the hardest things in the world to do is look at yourself honestly and say, "This is who I am. This is me." And then the second hardest thing is to say, "And I'm okay with that."

Well, for most women probably the hardest thing to do would be to stand stark naked in front of a mirror and really look, but for today I'm ignoring the physical body (as I am often wont to do) and focusing on the internal stuff.

I have license to do this because I'm taking Organizational Behavior, which is concentrating right now on individual behavior. Kinda gotta know how people tick before you can put all the people puzzle pieces together to figure out how the organization ticks.

We're doing all these little self-analyses quizzes and stuff, which is actually very timely because at work we're trying to hire two members of our management team and we're assessing the efficacy of our hiring tests. You can drive yourself crazy trying to analyze everything. It could mean this...or it could mean that... At a certain point you have to just ignore the tests and go with gut.

Although my testing shows that I'm a balanced person (whatever that means) with decent intelligence. Okay. I can go with that.

I mean, I'd rather be balanced with super crazy high levels of intelligence, but one can't have everything.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Back to the grind

We've now returned to what has become the normal routine for us. Sleep, eat, work, play with Zozer and study. As we were starting classes this term, I thought that it's much like taking a deep breath before going under water for an extended period of time. When we're in class, everything else sort of fuzzes out to a murky haze that's just out of reach. No time for anything but the bare, basic necessities to get through life.

Which is not an optimal way to live, but, at this point, it's simply what is required.

We're toying with the idea of doubling up more terms and trying to graduate this year. Which sounds like sheer insanity at this point, but, then again, so does another year and a half of this sort of lifestyle.

The silver lining this term is that, at least from what I can see now, there is no math whatsoever involved. You have no idea how much this pleases me.

I realize that math is quite necessary in the world. I get that. I just don't like to, you know, actually do it. I like to think I'm smart enough to know it's not my strong suit, and that I can always hire (or marry) someone to do it for me. Pretty much the most math I want to do in my life is balance the checkbook. I'm good with that. To the penny every month as a matter of fact. Then I don't need to do it again for another month. I like the fact that my calculator just has basic calculating functions (+_*/). Don't need anything more than that. M's calculator looks like you could design the next space station on it, plus it'll whip up a smoothie while it's calculating.

Come to think of it, I like me a nice smoothie.

Friday, January 02, 2009


New art in Zoe's cubby this morning when I dropped her off at school. Made peeling her off me while she yelled, "No!" with tears rolling down her cheeks a little easier. Okay, not really.

I'm excited that the holiday season is over, just to get us all back on schedule. It's been really hard on Zozer, with having huge (for a 3-year-old especially) breaks between school days.

Today feels like a Monday, what with having yesterday off. Everyone in my office said the same thing, so we're all pretty messed up. M is still off and is busy taking the display down for the year. It's the earliest it's ever come down, but there's rain in the forecast for this weekend and we start our 2-class term Monday, so it was today or sometime in May. Sad that the lights are coming down already, but looking forward to getting everything back to normal. Well, as normal as normal can be in our house. Which isn't very normal. But fun, nonetheless.

"Daddy, come dance with me."

Zoe asked Daddy to dance to Little Drummer Boy with her. Of course, he obliged. I shot this in the darkroom using only natural light from the window. Because there was no strong light source, I cranked my ISO up to 1600 and was able to shoot hand-held. The high ISO gives a soft, grainy quality to the image, which I think works well both because of her expression and the general mood (after this dance she took her afternoon nap, which means she was seriously winding down).

Thursday, January 01, 2009

View from the darkroom

Shot this out the window of the darkroom tonight. Thought it was ironic that the view from the darkroom was so full of beautiful light. Maybe it's an omen for a photographic 2009. That's how I'm gonna read it, anyway.

Speaking of which, I spent the first day of '09 doing all sorts of things photographic. Cleaned/organized/re-arranged the darkroom. Finished watching the PBS American Photography DVD. Finished reading one of my two Annie Leibovitz books. Made some images. Played with some images in Photoshop.

And, of course, danced with my daughter in the darkroom. Can't even tell you how much I love doing that. We're expanding our genres, too, as today we added some fast dancing to the slow. "Mommy, I call this The Jumping Dance." "Zoe, I call that training for the mosh pit."

All in all, a grand start to the new year.