Restarting things can be so invigorating, much like a walk on the Oregon coast in November (or, you know, a swim). As I restart so many things, I am reminded why they petered out or stopped suddenly the first time through.
I discovered a new tool for bulk-deleting tweets from one's twitter account. This was necessary not because I wanted to erase my digital past, but because a glitch in the matrix had caused some egregious over-tweeting. I had several automated postings set up, my favorite of which was the NASA image of the day. I may resume posting that one again, but manually this time. Auto-posts also included a Wikipedia picture of the day, the day's weather forecast, a word of the day, and one or two other things.
The problem began when the Wikipedia picture of the day began posting the same picture over and over again. Most days it would post 15 times. One day it posted 43 times. Another: 78. Twitter suspended my account (as it should). Though it took a bit of finagling to get it back, the process was surprisingly straightforward, and I'm glad Twitter believed my story of an auto-post gone wrong and that I promised never to do it again.
Stepping back from the inundations of rapid information overload (even when you only see each tweet a single time) is refreshing and necessary. This series of photographs comes from a lovely few days on the beach surrounded by friends. This same group of people embarked on this retreat after just having spent almost a week together in the mountains. It clearly wasn't enough.
Sometimes, you just need to get away, twice in a row.
It's raining today. Fall is coming. Dead leaves... crows... Halloween! This year's theme in the
every-party-must-have-a-theme household is "Which Witch, Wizard or Warlock are you?"
Mostly, I'm excited about not being uncomfortably hot. I had long sleeves on for half of yesterday. It was wonderful. Though it's raining today, I went for a walk, and I'm still in shorts and a t-shirt, with all the windows and doors open in hopes that it cools off a bit (I recognize that my temperature comfort zone is abnormal).
This afternoon, I'm repairing my waterproof shoes for the fall. Repairing how, you ask? Well, it's a secret for now, but if it works, rest assured I'll be posting the snot out of the possibly snot-like substance I'm using. I have high hopes for this stuff. It looks amazing.
Some friends have recently been looking at my art, deciding which ones they would someday like to have on their walls. One friend's list included several photographs that were taken while she was standing next to me, but she hadn't realized it.
Another pair of friends chose several that, though they look very different, they were all taken on the same day at the same spot (as long as the "spot" can have about a 300 foot radius). Their choices: Decade's Dawn, Somber Waves of Green, and Still Light.
Their list reminded me of this little gem, also taken from that same spot on that same day:
Click the picture above for a free download of my paint chip effect template and instructions.
Dear London 2012 Olympics,
Let's talk about your logo. In the bidding process for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, Kino Design created a lovely image of a ribbon of the Olympic colors weaving through "London 2012" in the shape of your iconic River Thames. It was simple and eye-catching. It clearly stated the city and the year. It had an Olympic feel. It reflected a unique aspect of the host city. It was everything an Olympic logo should be. Your logo for the actual Games, by Wolff Olins, not so much.
I understand that your goal was to reach young people. You probably should have asked some young people (or, you know, people) what they thought of the design. Young people aren't just bright colors and hard-to-read, though it may seem like that sometimes. Young people appreciate good design as much as the next person. Maybe more so. Ugly does not equal young. The BBC ran a poll in which more than 80% of those surveyed awarded the design the lowest possible rating. Maybe that should have been a hint.
There are many directions you could have taken with this logo business.
Early in the modern Olympic era, the logos were similar, and though they started out fairly plain, they soon transformed into more poster-like advertisements for the Games. Although not all of them succeed on all counts, most of them are simple, eye-catching, have an Olympic feel, and reflect the host city.
Posters eventually gave way to more logo-like representations of a particular Olympic Games, but for many years, each Games had both a logo and a poster (or several). Often, the posters and logos complemented each other, like your own 1948 Games.
Early logos were official-looking affairs, all monotone and seal-like. This is certainly the type of thing to be avoided if you're looking to appeal to a younger crowd, and yet the Olympic Games represent more than 100 years of international competition in the modern era. There's nothing wrong with honoring a little bit of history (like you did so well in your opening ceremony).
Another option would have been to make it painfully obvious that you're the host country. Make the Union Jack the focal point, so nobody can forget the London 2012 happened in the UK. This was the strategy taken by both Los Angeles Games, and two of the three games held in Japan.
Although it seems easiest to accomplish this with a Winter Games, you could have gone with a motif that represents the season, or a particular sport. Snowflakes, like Sapporo above, seem to be a popular choice. Lillehammer used a representation of the aurora, and though St. Mortiz was a Winter Games, the sunshine seems to work.
A sport, a torch, or simply an abstraction (of strength, grace, movement, power, or an element of the host city). Simple and eye-catching. Easy to read. Olympic spirit. Reflection of the host city. More than one of the above are required for a good Olympic logo.
But I see what you were trying to do. You wanted the text itself to be the design. Well-designed text can make for an elegant, stunning, simple, powerful logo. But it's not easy to do.
And yet, with over a century of examples, ranging from excellent to mediocre, you came up with this monstrosity. It hurts my eyes. Animated footage of it triggered seizures in viewers with photosensitive epilepsy. How many people approved the design before it became official?
It's not pleasing to look at. From a distance, it doesn't look like anything at all.
Now, London, I understand that it was a design firm and not you responsible for this particular design, but it's possible to make your design firm start over. It's even possible to fire your design firm and hire another one. Like maybe the one that did your candidate city logo. That one was nice.
I realize it's too late now, so just know that you've won the gold—for worst Olympic logo ever.
The following is a rerun of a blog post I wrote during the 2006 Olympics in Torino.
:060216: My captors want me to choose a favorite event. I can't do it. I love them all. It doesn't matter which event is happening, I love to watch. I can say that some of my least favorite are the team sports. I think this is because of the elimination process. If the two best teams in the world are matched against each other early on, one team gets the chance to try for gold, and the other can't get any medal at all. It just doesn’t seem fair.
At the start of each event, I always find myself rooting for the US. Every two years, for two weeks, I am very patriotic. I enjoy the victories of athletes from my country. I've never met these people, I've never participated in their sport of choice, but their victories are my victories. There is something inspiring about belonging to something that is the best in the world. It feels good to root for the best in the world.
So, although I like to root for Americans, I don't really like to root for Americans who are not the best in the world. I much prefer to root for the best in the world. Doesn't matter what country they come from, if they are medal-bound, I'll whisper my go-go-gos for them, too. I can appreciate the beauty of a sport well done, even if I know nothing about the sport. Yes, I'll readily admit that I am a fair-weather fan.
I'm also a sucker for a good underdog story. A shoddy upbringing, a terrible injury, multiple past Olympic dreams dashed, even a bad pre-competition practice will get me rooting. Speaking of bad pre-competition practices, I am of course rooting for the American, Lindsay Kildow who totally bit it on the downhill during practice, enough to land her in the hospital overnight with deep muscle bruises, and she's skiing now despite the pain. I'm also rooting for the French skier, Carole Montillet-Carles who crashed on the same run, sustaining rib, back and facial injuries. Her face is so bruised and swollen she can barely fit into her helmet.
The element of danger in so many events grips me with fascination. The athletes travel at such incredible speeds in unforgiving environments. You don't realize just how fast they are going until they fall, and you see how high they bounce. How did they get to the level where they can handle those extremes? Then it dawns on me that they start out small. Very small. They have worked for years and years to get to where they are. I not only cannot fathom working so hard on something to get so good at it, I also cannot fathom spending so much of my life focused on a single pursuit. One sport. One single idea. Every moment of your free time since you were very small.
It is because of this that I wonder what goes on in the minds of medalists on the podium. Some grin stupidly, and can't really believe that they are there. Some weep with the release that comes from years of pressure coming to fruition. Probably none of them are thinking yet, "Ok, what now?" Now that they have done what they set out to do, what they have spent every moment of their free time doing for as long as they can remember, what do they do now? These athletes are not very old. The youngest of them will set their sights four years into the future and prepare for the next Olympic games, or other competitions. Some will become commentators for their particular sport. I guess the rest will get a job.
All in all, I am a fan of sport, of friendly competition, of the top dog and the underdog, of the fastest race and of the fairest race, of the home team, of the falls that are agonizing out of pain or out of broken dreams, of giving it your all, even when you know with absolute certainty that you will not win the medal. And yes, I’m absolutely and unashamedly a fan of the "Life Takes Visa" commercials.
Early Monday morning, two strong earthquakes awakened the Bay Area. At 5:33 am, a magnitude 3.5 quake, followed immediately by a magnitude 4.0 quake shook approximately 5.5 miles below the surface in El Cerrito, CA. Another mild aftershock was felt a half hour later.
Though the quakes served as a rude awakening and were felt as far away as Santa Cruz, they were relatively minor. Police dispatchers in the surrounding cities received no reports of injuries or major damage. Nearby transit systems and bridges were inspected and given the all-clear.
My friend, Mac (below) was less than 2.5 miles from the epicenter that morning, and his important job of keeping my mother's feet warm while she sleeps was interrupted by the jolt.
Earthquakes are a constant threat in the vicinity of the seismically active San Andreas Fault, but individual minor quakes are only as significant as something like a nearby tornado: sure you pay attention to it, but if it doesn't destroy your house or community, you can forget about it pretty quickly. Here it is just a few days later and I bet most people have forgotten it already.
Every once in a while, though, an earthquake is a big deal. Longtime residents of the Bay Area will certainly remember the Loma Prieta earthquake (a.k.a. the Quake of '89 or the World Series Earthquake) as vividly as others remember 9/11 or the assassination of JFK.
The Loma Prieta Quake measured 6.9 on the Richter Magnitude Scale. The Richter Scale is logarithmic in nature, so each whole number is 10 times as powerful as the preceding number. That makes the '89 quake roughly 1000 times as powerful as Monday's quake.
Because of the timing of the event, the earthquake happened during the warm-up of a World Series game, making it the first major quake to have live, national coverage on television. It was also the event that triggered more long-distance phone calls than any other date in history up to that point. Everyone wanted to know if their Bay Area loved ones were OK.
As, of course, did I. My mother (the one whose feet are warmed by Mac) was unable to cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge because of the collapsed section, and took a circuitous route around the bay on public transportation to get home from work that night, along with everyone else in the same boat. A commute that normally took about an hour on the bus ended up taking her closer to seven hours.
Before cell phones, there was really no way for me to know if she was going to be able to come home at all that night. As a ten-year-old who had just experienced a major earthquake, it was pretty scary. I stayed at a friend's house that night, as did my brother. We didn't leave a note for Mom, mostly because we didn't want to remain in the high-rise apartment building longer than necessary, but she knew exactly where to find us anyway. She called our respective friends' houses around midnight when she finally got home.
Twenty-two years later, I can still remember exactly what I was eating just a moment before the shaking started. I can remember the underside of the heavy wooden table under which we took cover. I can remember exactly what the shaking felt like. I can remember the color of my friend's socks as we ran down eleven flights of stairs without stopping to put on our shoes. I can remember debating whether to continue walking to my friend's (one story) house in just our socks, or to risk going back inside for shoes (ultimately, we decided to go back inside for shoes and to rescue the cat). I can remember the exact clothing items I had to borrow from my friend to wear to school the next morning. I can remember looking around at the empty desks of my classmates the next day, and hoping that nothing terrible had happened to them.
And I can remember swapping where-where-you-when? stories for years afterward.
...twice as big as it needs to be.
I spent a bit of time this week sitting in on a few middle school classes with which I soon will be working. As I listened to them discuss complex topics of monumental importance, impressed all the while by their eloquence and compassion, I was reminded of a moment in that very classroom two years ago that blew me away (names have been changed).
Each morning that year, the students spent a period of time writing. Students took turns bringing in a topic or a bit of inspiration (frequently a song or poem that they found particularly meaningful), and the class would set to work writing silently in the mood-lit classroom. After a time (there was no signal, just a feeling that enough time had lapsed), the student who had brought the inspiration for the day would begin reading their piece of writing aloud.
Others subsequently took turns, in no particular order and without raising their hands or waiting to be recognized in any way, reading their piece of writing whenever they were ready. Not every student shared their writing every day. Some wrote a lot, some very little, some only shared a sentence or two of their larger whole. Some students, too shy to share their piece, would pass their notebook to a neighbor to read aloud in their stead. Frequently, students were moved to tears by their own writing, or by listening to the words of their classmates.
On one particular day the inspiration piece included a reference to a glass half-full, or half-empty, I can't remember which. Many of the students' compositions followed that theme of optimism versus pessimism. One particular student, Carissa, began to share her piece.
Carissa was confident in her writing, and unafraid to share. Her thoughts were organized well enough for a twelve-year-old, but right in the middle of her soliloquy came this:
"The glass is not half-empty or half-full;
it is exactly enough water for one life,
and I'm going to drink it slowly."
_Her teacher and I exchanged glances across the room. He mouthed "Oh my god!" We both knew immediately that such a powerful statement—such a powerful idea—was one not easily understood by very many adults, let alone humans as young as Carissa.
Her teacher informed me later that part of Carissa's academic history included an IEP, or "Individualized Education Program," specifically for writing. Such programs are tailored to meet the academic needs of a student who struggles in a particular area for a variety of reasons.
It's hard to say when Carissa went from struggling with writing to eloquently expressing such powerful ideas, but a safe, respectful environment in which to share her writing aloud was probably a large part of it. If you ask Carissa, she'd say she wants to be a writer when she grows up.
Never underestimate the capacity of a child to think and express in profound ways. Never underestimate the power of a respectful and encouraging community to let individuals shine.
...makes me want to sit down with a nice cool glass of water. Or maybe half a glass...
Go back up your data.
So there I was, sitting at my computer, minding my own business (as usual). Suddenly, a warning box popped up on the screen. Apparently, I had removed a device without ejecting it properly.
All of them were either unsuccessful, or they would let me see my data, but only save it if I was willing to fork over $100 - $200. If I had lost everything, $100 would totally be worth it, but I only wanted 20 days worth of data. Can I get that for $5? Each of these attempts took several hours, as I waited for each program to find what it could find from my faulty external drive. I did nothing else yesterday.
I finally concluded that I probably could have spent all day taking some new pictures instead. I wiped the drive, and started over. Now it works just fine. It has been reloaded with its 0-2011 data once again. And I backed it up today, just for good measure.
Pictures I took in 2012, like this chair with the pumpkins, that I wasn't quite satisfied with and wish I could keep editing, are now stuck in this permanent state. I wish I could get that original back and edit it differently. Oh well.
Have you backed up your data today?
Go do it.
There was a moment, this fall, when the figurative planets aligned. The end of October was going to bring with it the much anticipated Halloween celebration. Halloween always means much planning, preparation, and time. Time is something we have precious little of.
The biggest time sucker is, of course, the Haunted House. In order to make it deliciously creepy, we needed English Ivy and dried leaves aplenty. But fall happens very quickly. By fall, I mean the actual "fall"—that day, once a year, when all the leaves decide to relinquish their grasp on the trees. It seems as though one day there are only one or two leaves on the ground, and the next day there are only one or two leaves on the trees.
So, in this planet-aligning fall leaf timing scenario, here's what happened: I realized, all of a sudden, that today was Fall; all the leaves had hit the ground. They were also, miraculously, still dry. If you are familiar with the Pacific Northwest in fall (spring, summer, winter), you know that a dry day when you need a dry day is far from a guarantee (outdoor weddings with umbrellas can be charming). In fact, on this particular fall day, it was sunny. So there were all the leaves, just sitting there, still dry and crunchy and crinkly, and perfect for the haunted house still 3 weeks away.
__Ordinarily, this would cause me to pause just long enough to think to myself, "we should really collect some of those leaves while they're still dry," before rushing off to my next task. But on this particular sunny-dry-fall day, I had an entire half hour free. This is unheard-of. Free time is not a thing that happens.
_Put all this together: Dry Fall Leaves. Sunny Day. Half Hour Free. Several Enthusiastic Helpers.
In 20 minutes, we had 10 huge garbage bags full of leaves for haunted house ambiance, stored under a building until they would be needed in three weeks.
I tried editing this photograph, because it has such interesting colors, but I wasn't able to do anything to it that I liked better than the original, straight out of the camera. Love that Acer.
I had a plan.
I was going to photograph all eleven of Portland's bridges in a single morning. I planned out my route, bridge to bridge. This took some finagling, since I wanted to stop where I could take a photograph without crossing the bridge. I got up well before sunrise, and my plan seemed to be going off without a hitch. I started at the Sellwood bridge, and got a few pre-sunrise shots I thought were pretty good, at least from what I could see on my tiny camera screen.
Then my plan derailed. There was construction around the Ross Island bridge, so I couldn't make it to my designated picture taking spot. Then the fog rolled in. I made it as far as the Hawthorne bridge (above) before the fog was too thick to see any bridges at all. I continued driving from bridge to bridge in hopes of a clear patch, but I since I couldn't seen any of the bridges through the fog, I had no idea if my directions to near-the-bridge-without-crossing-the-bridge were even accurate.
Someday I'll complete my quest, but I'll have to wait for the perfect fog-less construction-less day.