Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Being Zoe'd

M and I, quite frequently, find things in places they ought not be, or find that we're missing items altogether. We've discovered that we live with a little sprite who moves things around according to her whim, and therefore we've named those occurrances as "being Zoe'd."

M has been double-Zoe'd in the last two days.

Yesterday, as he was leaving for work, he tried to hunt down his Chapstick. He searched the house for over 10 minutes before I heard him conceding defeat and unwrapping a new tube in the hall bath. "Oh well," we say, "It'll turn up sometime." Sometime for the Chapstick was this morning, when I found it stashed in a laundry basket of pajamas in Zoe's room. It was, of course, under the top pair of jammies that was no longer folded, which was how I knew it had indeed been Zoe'd.

So that was the first incident.

M flew out this morning for a brief trip to Florida (he returns late tomorrow night). As the plane was landing he went to stow his laptop, which involved seeing the underside of the computer as he slid it in his bag. There it was, the second time he'd been Zoe'd in two days.

Somehow one of her little owl stickers found its way to the bottom of M's laptop.

One of the best things about being a parent is finding small reminders of a little person you love more than anything else in the whole world. All I have to do is put my hand in my jacket pocket and find a pigtail holder or a hair barrette and it makes me smile. Since most of my coat and jacket pockets now have these things stored in the pockets, it's a regular occurrance.

Credit must be given to the photographer of the above image, as he went out of his way to ask me what I thought of his framing. Beautiful, M, just gorgeous. Keep working with that Blackberry camera and you'll make it to a gallery show in no time.

I heart econ

A revelation this morning. I love economics. I realize this makes me sound like a big, giant uber-nerd, but I don't care. It's fascinating and I love it.

Last night we completed our weekly econ homework and it went fine. We're studying monetary policy and what the Fed does and why.

I didn't realize that I get it, that I really do understand the big picture now, until this morning. A colleague and I were discussing our bosses' (yes, two of them) penchants for blaming everything wrong with business on the government. My colleague said, "Government has nothing to do with business."

"Oh, yes, my friend. It does." We got into a discussion about it and the fact that I could explain to her the three levers the Fed can use to alter the money supply impressed even me. It all comes down to lending, and the ability of private banks to do so. The Fed can, by changing the required reserves, changing the discount rate, or selling bonds, adjust the flow of money in our economy.

Now that I get it, it's so, so simple.

I know those of you who already get it are laughing at me, but I don't care. And those of you who don't get it are saying, "Okaaaaaay." I don't care about that, either. I'm just so damn excited that I get it, and that it makes perfect sense to me, and that I can follow the pundits now screaming about what Bernanke should or shouldn't do.

This here is Ben Bernanke, and the power he has...hoooooo! Way cool. So, incredibly, geekily, way cool. So you go ahead, Ben, and adjust this and tweak that. Now that I actually understand your job (and the headaches that must go along with it), I'm looking forward to watching. By the way, my company could really use a small business loan right now, so if you could loosen up the required reserve rate, or lower the discount rate, or buy back some government bonds, that would be great.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Out of the mouth of Zoe

This morning, upon learning that her afternoon snack today is trail mix and milk, she looked at me very seriously with a furrowed brow. "Mommy, my trail mix at school has two different kinds of smarshsmallows." She held up her thumb, "Big ones," and then stuck out her index finger, "and little ones."

She's participating in the Hop-a-Thon at school this week (raising money for MDA! E-mail or call me if you'd like to sponsor the little can do a flat donation or a per-hop pledge. I recommend the flat donation, as the little stinker hopped 96 times yesterday) and so her answer to "What was your favorite part of school today?" was "I liked the hopping."

When asked why she's just misbehaved, her current answer is, "Because I like misbehaving."

Standing next to Aunt KK next to the children's fishing lake this weekend and looking at a turtle sunning itself on a log, she announced to Aunt KK, "That turtle is ridiculous."

She and M had this conversation at bedtime the other night:
Z: Why is it still light at bedtime?
M: Because the summer solstice is approaching.
Z: Oh. Okay. Good night!

Because she's already familiar with such things as the summer solstice. Be it known that, should Mommy provide an answer like that, we would then have about 500 follow-up questions. Daddy's word, though, is gold, and accepted without pause.

She's been going to town with her camera, assuming what I guess is her photographer's stance. This is generally with feet planted wide in a sorta semi-crouch. Then, no matter her subject (animal, vegetable, mineral), she instructs it to "Smile!" And she's already got chimping down, which is when a digital photographer gets the shot, pulls the image up on the LCD, oohs and aahs (which is where the word "chimping" comes from, because you sound like an ape), and shows everyone around. She does this with every shot. "Look, Mommy!"

At school, she has gotten married to Ethan (Or Efan, as she pronounces it), but Jed is her boyfriend. Not to worry, Caitlyn is her girlfriend. Getting married, according to the children in the Elephant Room, involves hugging and then dancing. Maybe that's why divorce is so rampant. It's too damn easy to get married!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I'm small format and I like it

A local photographer gave a presentation at a gallery this evening. I've followed his work for quite some time, and received an e-mail invitation to the event. I wanted to go for a few reasons, including seeing his work again and meeting the photographer himself. Mostly, though, his invitation to "look at the ground glass of my large format camera and see what it's like" was the kicker.

His camera is similar to the types of cameras used by Ansel Adams and Edward Weston. My experience is all 35mm and DSLR (and not even full-frame sensor at that). I've never been able to look at the ground glass on a large format camera, but I've wondered what it's like. I knew the image is backwards and inverted, because a large format camera doesn't use a pentaprism full of mirrors like an SLR. Beyond that, I had no clue.

We made tonight a Date Night, eating an early dinner out and then heading to the gallery. The work was beautiful, the presentation abyssmal (he's a phenomenal photographer and, as M says, he should stick to that). I felt bad for him; I think he was really nervous. After he was done he invited us to try the camera.

I put the loupe around my neck and ducked under the focusing cloth. I moved the loupe around on the ground glass and messed with the focus knobs. I heard M say to the photographer, "The longer she's under there, the more worried I get."

No need for worry. Whatever magic I thought I might feel going under the cloth wasn't there. I mean, it was very much a real treat for me to try it, but it confirmed what I already suspected: I am not, nor will I ever be, a large format shooter.

I discovered that I'm perfectly happy losing myself one-eyed in the bright viewfinder of my D300, and that as soon as I put my eye up to it, the world around me vanishes and all I'm conscious of is the image before me. I don't need a focusing cloth or a giant piece of ground glass to feel the magic of photography.

The photographer walked us through his creative process. There were some similarities, but far more differences. He scopes out locations. So do I. He likes to crop after the image is made. So do I. That's pretty much it.

He lugs his camera out to his chosen location (including the 40 lb tripod) and it takes him about an hour to set up, meter the light and shoot his first Polaroid. He only shoots at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. because that's when the light is best for his type of photography. The Polaroid allows him to check exposure. He then uses a little cardboard contraption called The Cropper to play around on the Polaroid and figure out where, exactly, he's going to crop. He'll shoot much larger than that and then crop later in the darkroom, but he likes to know his crop before he makes the image to ensure he's got exposure exactly the way he wants it.* Finally, he inserts negative film into the back and makes his actual shot.

As many of you know, I am not a patient person. At all. This would not be a good work style for me. I need to shoot and move on. I've been this way from the beginning. I admit to making more images now that I've gone digital simply because it doesn't cost any more to trip the shutter. I'll work a subject more now, finding different angles and moving inches just to vary the composition. I'll even go back at different times to catch different light or try to get some interesting clouds in the sky.

But to make only one image in an hour to an hour and a half? Not my bag, baby.

So, tonight was thoroughly enjoyable and knowledgable, and an utter confirmation that I am destined to remain a small format shooter. Not a bad way to spend an evening.

*It just hit me how funny this paragraph would read if you substituted "crap" and all its iterations for "crop."

P.S. I put the link for The Cropper in there so you non-photographer readers would know I'm not making this up. There is actually a product called The Cropper. Blew my mind. All these years I've just been using a couple pieces of mat board scrap.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


See what I did there? Just made up a new word. Repurpleated. The definition of this word is: having your stylist dump more purple in your hair because it faded out to a chalky, funky lilac that was absolutely hideous.

I reckon this will last a coupletwothree weeks and then I'll just go dark all over until it grows out. I like the purple and all, but the upkeep is turning out to be atrocious. Plus, I'm getting over the purple. Been there, done that.

It's been a trip, though. The kids at Zozer's school are unanimous fans. Every black girl I've met loves it. Found lots of fans on Facebook. Having purple hair has definitely been fun, and I'm glad I did it. Most of the time I forget I have it, and then someone will say something. Or I'll notice that, in the course of a conversation, the person with whom I'm speaking isn't looking me in the eyes, but rather, is looking at the top of my head. I've even had a few people grab my head and bend it down to get a better look. I don't mind. I'm all about sharing the purple.

One of my favorite conversations went like this:
"Giiiiiirl! I like that purple hair!"
"Thanks! I like it, too."
"Your work let you come in like that?"
"I work in a spa with a salon, so not only is it allowed, it's actually encouraged!"
"Girl, that's nice."

The best is hearing other mothers stammer and stutter when, after passing me with their children, the child says, "Mommy? That lady had purple hair! Why did she have purple hair?!"


Monday, April 20, 2009

M = Mid-term Master

Just heard from M. His raw score was 90.5, and his curved grade is 100%.


He's gonna dance again. I'm sure of it.

Here's part of our instant message dialogue this morning:

a: 100 on the mid-term, eh?
m: yeppers
a: well, that's it then. you set the curve.
a: are you doing your "i set the curve" dance?
m: kicken ass and take'in names
a: yes, if you could actually spell "kickin' ass and takin' names."
m: whatever
m: when a guy gets a 100
m: he can spell however the hell he wants
a: nice

Our cumulative grades in the class are now 99.5% and 100%. I think we're doing okay.

Mid-term madness

Last week was mid-terms, more commonly known as, "You thought your life was full before?" Our econ prof, bless his little heart, did not give us an exam. Ops, on the other hand...

We had 8 hours to complete the exam, once we clicked, "Start Assessment." But the good prof predicted it wouldn't take more than 3. With that in mind, we set to studying for the exam late last week. One night we spend 4 hours just reviewing for that test. The other nights we split, reviewing for the test and finishing up homework for both classes (it's a cruel, cruel twist to have reading/homework/discussion board posts all due the same week as a major exam). This exam is particularly important, because in Ops we don't turn in homework. We're expected to do our weekly posts on the discussion board, and then we have the mid-term, the final, and a paper due at the end. Sounds great in practice, but on paper it sucks because that means those items are each worth a tremendous amount. You can't boof one part and be okay. The mid-term is 20% of the grade, after all.

So, after all the studying and debate on when to launch the exam, we finally settled on Friday night. We figured that way it'd be done before the weekend really started, and if we were up late (if! ha!) we could sleep in. Zozer was installed at grandma and grandpa's after dinner and we got ourselves set. Book? Check. Potty run? Check. Study materials? Check. At approximately 8 p.m. we clicked, "Begin Assessment."

4 hours, 43 minutes and 53 seconds later, we clicked, "Submit." A 5-hour mid-term? WTF?

We laughed (not really), we cried (okay, me), we threw things (okay, M), but we made it through. And then I tried to sleep but couldn't because I was so damn jittery. We made the mistake of comparing our answers after submitting, and I was convinced that I'd bombed the test. I'd be lucky to pull in an 85. I prayed for a curve.

Saturday was shot, as we both felt half brain-dead. Sunday was gloomy, as the rain clouds outside matched my mood. I knew that we wouldn't get our grades until everyone took the exam, and it didn't close until last night. I liken the pain of receiving a shitty grade to pulling off a band-aid. Just do it quick and get it over with.

Grades were posted this morning. My actual score wasn't too far off from my prediction, but it was curved up to a 97. A 97! That means that lots of people in our class got hosed way worse than me! I'm not one to relish the misfortunes of others, but in this case, hell yeah, I'm glad they tanked. Whew!

Unfortunately, for me anyway, having reviewed the graded exam I realize that M did far better than I, and not only did he probably set the curve (again), he probably received a score of like 108%. Sigh.

I just hope he doesn't dance around the dinner table tonight doing his "I set the curve!" dance. Once was enough on that.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gimme what?

On the way to work yesterday, while chatting with M via cell phone, I came up behind a big construction truck towing a little trailer with a compressor. My guess is the brand is supposed to be GrimmerSchmidt Compressors, but some enterprising person removed some letters and made it far more funny.

Please forgive the image quality. I was doing 60 shooting a dinky BlackBerry phone cam through the dirty windshield while steering. Good to know that I'm willing to risk my life to bring a little potty humor to the masses.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I used to like pink...

Got a call from Ms. Diane, the nurse at Zozer's school, right before lunch today. "Her bottom eye lids are red and the inside corners are oozing green stuff. We think it might be pink eye. We're going to monitor it, but we wanted to let you know because someone may have to come get her."

Shortly before 4, my cell rang again. As soon as I saw the number I started shutting down the laptop and throwing stuff in my bag. Called the ped while doing 80 to get her (of course I was at one of our other locations today, not the one right up the road from her school) and they called in a script for her. Highly contagious, can't go to school, yada yada yada.

When I got to the health office and saw our little girl, my heart shattered. I felt like crying...her eyes were all crusty and weepy and swollen. As soon as she saw me, though, she flashed her cute little Zozer smile. She was so excited to tell me all about her field trip to the Magic House this morning. The pink eye, while looking sad and disgusting, isn't affecting her personality at all, thankfully.

At dinner she looked at me and said, "Mommy, I can't see very well." Her eyes had filled up with gunk again. I cleaned her up while the fragments of my heart broke into even smaller pieces.

I really do believe that it's harder on the parent when a child is sick. I'd take her pink eyes with the green goop in a heartbeat if it spared her, that's for darn sure.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Official Easter Bunny Photo

Friday night, Zoe said she didn't want to visit the Easter Bunny. Saturday morning she said she didn't want to visit the Easter Bunny. Saturday afternoon she said she might like to go see the Easter Bunny, but she was not sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap. Once we got there and she was able to watch other children sitting on the Easter Bunny's lap, she said that she'd go ahead and sit on his lap, too. Then she asked, "Do you think he'll give me a candy cane like Santa did?"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter '09!

We think (scratch that...we know) she's a favorite of the Easter Bunny. She had a great day, although ours was off to a bit of a hectic start.

We had the eggs stuffed and ready for hiding, and we decided last night that M would hide them in the yard after church while I got Zozer changed and ready to go. The weather forecast looked nice, and Easter egg hunts are always way cooler outside.

That plan was waylaid this morning when, upon waking, Zoe looked at us with expectant eyes and queried, "Do you think the Easter Bunny hid eggs in my house? Do you think there are some in the hall? Let's go look!"


M and I glanced at each other, telegraphing parental panic with our eyes. Our unspoken conversation went something like this:

"Oh, ^%$&!"
"What do we do?"
"I don't know! What do you think?"
"Hide them now?"
"I guess so!"

He scrambled while I stalled. We make a good team when it comes to deceiving our 3-year-old, M and I do. I have to give the man props...he hid 31 plastic eggs around our house in about two minutes. All was well when Daddy arrived back in Zoe's room, just as we were finishing our business (which, this morning, included dumping out the container of piggy-tail holders and sorting them by color).

Off we went and lo! There were eggs in the hallway!

That Easter Bunny...he's a good rabbit.

Kudos to Hoot, too, for taking it like an owl and braving the rigors of Easter basket duty. Ever the faithful companion, he traveled the hunt resting comfortably in the bottom of the basket. Well, it was comfortable in between Zoe finding eggs and dropping them on him.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Across the street

Found this across the street from our tax lady's house when we went to sign our papers last week. Since I don't have time to go out on dedicated shoots right now, I try to carry the camera when we're running our errands. Sometimes it pays off. Most of the time it's just extra crap to lug around. The sometimes make the most times worthwhile.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Morning light, rock wall and flowers

For about a week now, I've been gawking at this rock wall every morning when I'm taking Zozer to school, and again every afternoon when I'm picking her up. I've studied it, looking for the best light. Definitely morning, as it faces east and is too shadowed in the afternoon. Finally, Wednesday morning, I remembered to take the camera with me. After Zoe was signed in at school and happily playing with her friend Carlita, I drove to a side street near the wall, parked, and walked back to make some images.

I didn't originally envision this in a square format, but after playing around with the image a bit I decided that this is really the only way it works.

I went through a square-format phase awhile back, just trying out different ways to look at things. It was interesting, but it eventually wore off and I went back to my usual patternless random cropping as I saw fit. Kinda forgot about the rigidity (and, in a weird way, freedom) imposed by the square until this, when, playing around with the crop tool in Photoshop, it just fit. I like to be square sometimes.

Thursday, April 09, 2009


Moron #1 (there are two morons in our econ class this term...for this post, I shall be referring to the first one, Mr. No Punctuation and Overuser of Ellipses) posted this on our discussion boards this evening:

BINGO!!!!!!! one without the other just won't do......products we don't globally produce makes us dependent on other global markets.....although its not that we are completely dependent, but as I mentioned early on in my posts, global trade agreements can be very combinding between countries.........

Please, if anyone can decipher this, I'd really appreciate it.

Actually, no. Don't bother trying to decipher. I don't want to know what the idiot is trying to say after all.

Although I would like to know what the word "combinding" means.

Pretty sure this guy would do extremely well on Leno's Jaywalking segment.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

New 'Do's

Two of us got new hairdo's in the last week. And two of us were surprised by them.

Let's go in chronological order.

Last week, M decided that it was high time Max became less of a menace to the overall cleanliness of our house by losing some of his fur (and not through the natural means of shedding). I voted for taking him to a groomer, M voted for doing it himself.

M won. And on Saturday he tackled the job in the backyard. 2 sawhorses, 1 piece of plywood, a towel, a cat, some electric clippers, and M. What could go wrong?

I predicted calamity. Disaster. One or both of them ending up in an emergency room.

To my surprise, it all went well. Maybe it's because M has clippered his own hair for so many years, and all that experience makes him the perfect person to clipper a cat. Maybe it's because we borrowed my dad's really nice pet clippers that are designed to be pretty quiet so as not to spook the pet being clippered. Maybe it's because Max is, overall, a pretty laid-back cat. Or maybe it's because M had a death-grip around his neck for the entire process.

Probably all of the above.

Anyway, here's our very furry feline right before his hair appointment with Master Stylist M:

And here he is, near the end of his appointment, sans fur:

M, being the arteest that he is, left a little tuft of fur on the end of Max's tail. At first he claimed it was for artistic effect, but seeing as how he can't look at Max without cracking up I'm pretty sure it was for sheer comedic value.

Not to be outdone and hankering for a change of my own, I went ahead yesterday with something I have been considering for awhile and shocked the hell out of M when we both got home. Not that I ever run my hairstyle decisions past M before doing it, as he'd nix anything that doesn't involve waist-length rat's nest. I've surprised the boy too many times to count with different hairstyles over the years, but I do believe this one takes the cake.

Yup. Purple. Although in some lights it looks blue, in others pink, and sometimes you can't see it at all.

"Is it permanent?" asked he.
"Define 'permanent.'" replied I.

Sure, it'll fade, grow out and eventually get cut off. But for the most part, until then, it's purple.

M is less than thrilled, to put it mildly. But I? I. Love. It.

People I work with are shocked as hell, too. I've had this conversation about a million times since yesterday:
"I'd have never guessed you, of all people, would do something this radical with your hair." "Why?"
"Well, you're so conservative."
"Really? Because I'm not conservative in my thinking or my actions."
"That's true. But you look so conservative."
"Yeah, that's why I did it. I want to look how I feel."

Apparently, I feel purple.

Zozer thinks it's cool. This morning, in the car on the way to school, she was quiet for a while and then said, "Mommy?" "Yes, Zoe?" "I love your purple hair." "Me, too!"

When I was picking her up from school I had a brief conversation about it with one of her teachers and the mother of one of her classmates. As the two women walked away down the hall one of them said to the other wistfully, "I wish I had the guts to do that."

I'm glad I did. (Although, really, how much guts does it take? It's hair, for pete's sake. It'll grow out eventually.)

Saturday, April 04, 2009

New Zoe Art

Upon close inspection of this newest work, the viewer catches a glimpse into the artist's mind. One can perhaps see her straining at winter's tired, icy leash, eager to move past the dull, drab winterscapes and into the fresh, vibrant world of spring. Her choice of materials and colors are indicative of her urge to explore boundaries with time and space. She's obviously motivated and inspired by the young, colorful blooms that are just now reaching toward the azure skies of the northern hemisphere's journey into yet another season.
Or, you know, she uses whatever her teachers put on her easel.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

PhotoWalk I

Zozer and I got home today with some extra time and fine weather, so we decided to go for a walk. On our way out the door, she said, "I'm going to take my camera!" and grabbed it off the counter. "Uhhh, actually, that's a very good idea!" I retrieved my camera as well, and we set out.

I like her take from the day more than mine, except for the images I made of her making images. Some days you just don't hit all cylinders, or, as Stef likes to say, "I didn't bring my A game."

Not that every day has to produce stunning images, but, you know. I like to at least think that the effort is visible. Not so much today. At least not for me. Zozer is developing quite an eye, though.

So, here's our collective work. As you visit our cyber gallery from our very first PhotoWalk keep in mind that the good ones are hers, and the turds are mine.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

You, too, should buy U2

Even though it's April Fools Day, I've decided to not try to trick anyone this year since I scared the hell out of too many people last year. I'll just say, in my best Mr. T voice (which isn't very good, actually), "Happy Fools Day, Fool!" Where is Mr. T these days, anyway?

I would now like to take this opportunity to whole-heartedly endorse the new U2 album, "No Line on the Horizon," which totally rocks. I stumbled upon a copy at Sam's last weekend, snatched it up, and peppered M with pleas to get it.

M: We haven't even heard a single track off it yet.
A: Doesn't matter. It's U2. It's gonna be good.

He caved, which wasn't surprising since he's been a U2 fan longer than I have, and we popped it in the CD player on the way home. I was right. My boys from Dublin do not disappoint. Especially the title track. Dontcha just love bands like that? Where you can buy the new album totally confident that you will enjoy it? U2 has been around for a bazillion years and we both adore them, so it's not like we were taking a huge risk.

My current goal (since I don't have enough of those right now) is to figure out how to get the album loaded into iTunes on the Mac, since my CD drive has shot craps. This is imperative since we're going on vacation in less than 8 weeks (yay!) and will be taking the iPod for our train trip. Cannot leave the new music behind. Well, we could, but then M would be forced to listen to me singing to the music in my head, which wouldn't be good for his sanity since he's going to be stuck on a train with me for five days.

So that's my new music recommendation today. Buy U2's "No Line on the Horizon." It's fantastic, and that's no foolin'.