Thursday, October 15, 2009

Sunlight to Clear the Mind

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The fog we have had the last couple of days has been the perfect complement to our struggle with taxes. After days of staring at numbers, the fog outside was not nearly as thick as the one in my head.

After breakfast, I stepped outside to take a breath of the clean air and enjoy the light just breaking through the mist. One deep breath and I was scurrying for the camera. The light shining on the little stand of trees at the edge of our place was just the promise of hope that I needed to power me through these last few hours of suffering. By the time I processed the image, some of the cobwebs had cleared and my heart was considerably lighter.

After the package goes in the post office early this afternoon, there will be little time to enjoy the relief. All too soon we will have to begin preparing for April 15, 2010. In the meantime, however, I will have an opportunity to make lots of pictures and breathe lots of fresh air. Even the IRS can’t spoil those finer things in life.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Storm Warning

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The big storm that was coming our way never made it. By the time it encountered all the mountains around us, it had fizzled. Rain to the south and west; storms to the north; here, an early morning sprinkle and gray skies. I can’t say that I am horribly disappointed to have missed out on what the weather forecasters were predicting, indeed what hit some coastal communities. Still, it would have been nice to have gotten some rain. We need it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Blogging for Dummies

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Not only am I not a geek, I am virtually paralyzed by the thought of most software. For example, I have almost none of the bells and whistles on my blog that Blogger offers and I am not even considering ever switching to Wordpress. Now, take this for what it is worth, since I have already admitted that I don’t know what I am talking about; but, my ill-informed impression is that Wordpress is well suited for folks who are adept with software while Blogger is designed not only for those clever enough to maximize it’s capabilities, but for dummies as well. Furthermore, the only version of Blogger is free and that suits my budget perfectly. Is there any wonder, why I went with the latter?

Being a non-geek, shows up front. My blog is in need of updating, but every time I get into the dashboard, I spend far too much time bumbling about and get frustrated that it takes so much time to complete what I know should be a simple task.

In the last few days, I screwed “my courage to the sticking place” and switched from the old "post editor" to the newer "updated editor". By the time I experimented for a couple of days, I was more than a little ticked-off and convinced that I had wasted my time and driven my blood pressure up by at least ten points. It appears that I traded spell-check and new problems for a couple of conveniences that I had been living without up to this point.  Yes, I got a typeface I prefer, namely Helvetica. Still. Worth all the hair pulling? Let’s put it this way, I switched back to the old, unimproved editor after one post—for health reasons. Life is short.

On a slightly saner (at least calmer) note, I have been curious about statistics for my site for at least six months. I know I have a very light traffic, but it would be nice to see the growth. I do think that I have more readers now than I did a year ago, but I have never had the gumption to install any sort of counter. I don’t spend much time thinking about it. Although curiosity is a powerful motivator, I wouldn’t be doing anything different with my posts after reading the statistics. I suppose, then, that it doesn’t matter except that it irritates me to be handcuffed by my lack of education—which is compounded by wimpiness. It's pathetic, isn't it, if you can't easily master Blogger? Hopleless, I would venture to say.

By the way, I have finally returned to fight another day with new "updated editor" and we are getting along better now. And, you can stop laughing at me now, thank you. Sigh. I think I will concentrate on taking more photos and enjoying the digital darkroom. It's wise to acknowledge our limitations and stay in the kiddie sandbox if we truly belong there.

P.S. If you are wondering whether the photo connects with the text, think about it. Bird. Brain. Riiiiiight.
P.P.S. I don't stay in this sort of mood long. There is no payoff. But, sheesh, every so often I just need a good rant. I already feel better.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Allergens 1, Anita 0

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Not long ago, I mentioned that I have virtually no sense of smell and that it gets me in trouble. Unfortunately, I also have nasty allergies. I have also admitted that our social life is pathetically dull. Well, we received an invitation last week and it worked out for our schedule. Since I had been mostly cooped up with bookkeeping programs and taxes, I was eagerly looking forward to an evening out. The best part is that the company was delightful and I had a great time. I passed over a slight alarm that went off in my head and hoped it was imagination. After all, while it was obvious that the home was going through major renovation, that didn’t mean any of the paint was fresh enough to cause me problems and I was having a great time gettting to know people. Besides, I always have hopes (maybe it’s blind stupidity) that I will be able to practice mind over matter and survive if the allergens aren’t strong enough to bring me to my knees immediately.

There was a great deal of getting to know one another and we got a tour of the home, now part way through through its impressive transformation. The view from the living area is splendid and I filed away the road to their house as one to explore, camera in hand. Determined to at least avoid stomach problems, I was careful to consume nothing but water. I didn't want anything to spoil the lovely evening. After about two hours, I could no longer ignore the warning signs and, fortunately for me, the party was breaking up anyway. It turns out we weren’t the only ones who normally turn in early.

Before we had completed the five minute drive home, I knew that my Superwoman cape had once again failed me. I could feel the asthma coming on and the headache building. Whatever the trigger, my throat was tightening, and I knew I was going kick to myself the next day for being stubborn. Who knows whether it was lingering paint fumes, too-new-for-me carpets, some adhesive used? Whatever the culprit was, The Husband didn’t detect any odors that would have alarmed him so it wasn't just my nose that failed.

An antihistamine probably blunted the effects considerably; but I slept badly, got little rest, and woke up feeling as though I had been rolled over by a bulldozer on a personal mission. My only comfort Saturday was the Dodgers completing a sweep of the Cardinals and heading for the NLCS. We take our pleasures where we can find them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Loving the Dodgers and Higher ISO

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A few weeks ago, Paul Lester posted about higher ISO’s and his remarks started me thinking again about my most recent gear purchase. When I bought my Canon 50D, I knew full well that I wasn’t buying the camera that offered the best high ISO performance on today’s market. However, it ended up being the camera that best suited all my needs—cost and fps also ranked high on my must-have list. Because I still try to avoid going over ISO 640 to minimize processing chores, I have yet to fully explore all the possibilities of higher IS0’s with my newest camera. But, I am growing more confident that there are occasions when it’s high ISO to the rescue.

I didn’t gain the new confidence because I buckled down to some serious testing, but, as usual for me, stumbled into the information. A few days ago, The Husband took a break for a ride and left me toiling over the steaming heap of numbers we had been wading through for tax preparation. When I was completely burned out (it didn’t take long, since I had been at it off and on through the day), I decided I also needed a break. A little time watching one of our recorded episodes of NCIS was just what I needed. I escaped to the living room, turned on the TV, hit DVR, found an episode, but then realized I wanted a glass of water. My detour to the kitchen, put me within range of the radio I had left on in there the last time I snuck in a few minutes to catch up with the baseball game. Uh, oh. Ninth inning, Dodgers down 2 to 1, two outs. Rats. Maybe worth a minute for the nail to be put in the coffin. What? Holladay missed the ball, the Dodgers are alive?! Well, NCIS can wait. This was a playoff game, after all. As I listened to Vinnie call the play-by-play, I looked out toward the back pasture and noticed that The Husband had removed Lancer’s fly mask and the gelding was exerting a little energy fretting over being left alone.

Now there were three distractions calling. The Dodgers in distress, a distracting 40 minutes or so of TV drama, a relaxing photo shoot of Lancer (because after all I have hardly any pictures of the chestnut.) ;) The Dodgers won. I mean they won my attention and they won the game, a wonderfully exciting nail-biter. It was playoffs for NLCS over NCIS all the way.

The minute the winning run crossed the plate I grabbed the 50D and headed out toward the pasture to try my luck. By then, it was getting late and to get decent shutter speed and good exposure in the few remaining moments of light, I opted for ISO 2000. The files required a little extra time for noise reduction and I could probably do a better job with a noise reducing plug-in; but, so far, I get along with Photoshop CS3. While it’s true that I wouldn’t put these photos up against those shot under better circumstances; once again, I felt good about my choice to buy the camera. Without that higher ISO I would not have gotten the photos I hoped for. Of course, I would have gotten something different and the result might have been terrific, but I could always experiment in that direction. Having choices is nice.