Friday, February 20, 2009

SoFoBoMo is in the Air

(Click on the thumbnail to view the bigger, better version)

Even before Paul Butzi posted the official website for SoFoBoMo and revealed the specifics about this year’s event, I had been thinking about the hurdles that SoFoBoMo brings up for me. Now, more and more bloggers are talking about the project and a couple of days ago, Gordon McGregor posed an intriguing question about some people’s resistance. Gordon asked, “What’s going on here?” As one of the people who agonizes over this challenge, I feel qualified to ramble on in response to Gordon’s query.

All right, how can this prospect of producing 35 pictures in 30 days and laying them out in PDF form be so challenging? There is no justification for claiming that producing the requisite 35 photos is an overwhelming task—especially in the digital age. I have single days during which I take hundreds of photos. What could possibly be so daunting about coming up with 35 photos in 30 days? Although, producing a decent-looking PDF could pose—did for me—a few roadblocks, anyone who has access to the web can find pages of information that will unravel the basic mysteries of the PDF. Producing the text to go along with the photos certainly cannot be the major barrier. Anyone who is blogging must have overcome most of their fear of putting their thoughts into words that they are willing to publish.

No, the rules and requirements are definitely not the problem. As challenges go, this one is not exactly earthshaking. Then, why in heck does this year’s project create the same anxiety in me that I experienced in 2008? After all, I got through it last year and lived to tell the tale. The requirements for this year are no more stringent than last year’s. There is no doubt that in 30 days I can take 35 photos, write a few words (keep in mind that there is no rule stipulating a minimum number of words in the accompanying text), and that I can produce some kind of PDF. Furthermore, no prizes are awarded and there is no official rating system that could possibly embarrass or disappoint me.

Well, that means that the fear has nothing to do with doubts about whether or not I can meet the requirements of the project and there is no fear of coming in last in some sort of race. The fear is in making choices and facing the completion. The scary part is taking responsibility for what to photograph and editing out the weakest shots. Perhaps even more intimidating is looking at the completed PDF and having to claim it as mine. Looking at the finished work and seeing reflected in it all the technical knowledge that I have not yet assimilated, facing how little I saw, how limited my vision is—that’s the tough stuff.

I’m not exploring my anxieties because I hope the examination will make the fears disappear, but because I hope that facing these issues will help me get through it. Regardless of what I uncover here, I will be probing these questions and agonizing over all this for the next few months. I’m not proud of that—just honest enough to admit that it’s my nature and I am not apt to have a miraculous personality-healing in the first half of 2009.

The truth is simple. If I were to avoid endeavors like this one, I could live comfortably in “some day”. I could rely on “if I had the time” or “I could do that if I really wanted to badly enough”. Everything worth doing incurs risk. The risk in SoFoBoMo is a lot like standing in bright, harsh light and looking square in the mirror. The risk is in completing the project and saying, “This is what I am capable of at this time. This is what I chose to represent my view of my world. I had a month to produce this, and here is what I was able to do. This is what I have to say.” Furthermore, the stakes are higher this year. What did I learn during SoFoBoMo 2008? What have I learned since last year? Have I grown in the past twelve months? There are no outside judges measuring and comparing in this case. The tough judge is that person I see in the mirror.

Okay, I’m scaring myself. I had better go grab my camera and head out for some therapy. After all, I have already signed up to participate in 2009. I’m in again. Angst, or no.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Day the Lights Went Out in Bear Valley Springs

I had not planned a post on this topic for today, but yesterday afternoon some priorities took a profound shift. At three o’clock yesterday afternoon, we experienced yet another power failure and were without power until midnight. This time the failure came with the sun out, no wind (that, in itself, was a bit of a marvel), and no precipitation or lightning—just a lovely day full of promise. Then click, the power was gone. Since it had been 17 degrees yesterday morning and our furnace depends on electricity, it wasn't a welcome adventure.

This one made a believer out of me. Last night was not a night for a deep and peaceful sleep. When I turned on my computer this morning, I held my breath until it booted, then I checked for files, first, on the hard drive, and then the three external drives that I call into use throughout each day. As soon I verified that everything was intact, I took a deep breath and resolved that, along with all the catch up that needed to be addressed today, I would prepare to purchase a UPS. I know that there are no guarantees in life; still, I would like to know that the next time the power goes off (I don’t think that’s pessimistic—just being a realist, I’m afraid) I will have a few minutes during which I can safely shut down my system.

By the time I had read a few entries during my on-line research, I realized that I was accumulating more questions than answers. It's clear that I will need some help. Since I make no bones about my lack of technical expertise in multiple areas, I will readily admit that I have not previously had a UPS and would appreciate any tips that any of my readers would care to pass on. Anyone got any tips? Devices to avoid? Specifications to consider? Relative ease of setup and implementation? (Please remember who you are dealing with here. Not only is budget a concern, we need to think UPS for dummies.)