Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

My Life, In a Nutshell, Part 2

Seriously, it's either my life that is cursed/ruled by murphy's law, (or some other law) or the Alameda Naval Base that is cursed for me.

I *just*, exactly two weeks ago, had a quite serious camera incident at the naval base. Basically, I coveted a camera, went to the base, and ended up with the new camera. Maybe the problem was coveting, a major sin, says AJ Jacobs, but I think it's just how my life goes.

I've posted before that I'm WAY behind on my New Yorker reading. I always feel like I'm catching up, but time keeps passing as I keep plugging away. Today I read this article from September 8th's New Yorker. It's one of those humor pieces that are hit-and-miss funny. I found this one quite funny- it's a take off of a spam email that I could totally have written- "Help, I lost my iphone, please send me all your relevant details, because I don't know who you are anymore, or who I am anymore, because I'm lost without my phone." Totally something that would happen to me. (Well, minus the part at the end begging for social security numbers and Swiss bank accounts, except I can see myself doing that as a joke. You can probably see me doing that too, since you know my sense of humor is kind of lame.)

Anyway, I read that today, maybe, 1100 hours. Then, at approximately 1730 hours (we don't want any time confusion, here) I went to the Naval Base to walk Mac and take pictures. And I got back to my car and I did not have my phone. I always have my phone. I have a very serious system, because I always lose things. Phone: front right pocket of jeans. Keys: attached to front right little tabby thing on jeans. Wallet: back right pocket of jeans. Easy to check for all items. (Spectacles, Testicles, Wallet and Watch (Name that movie!)) Yeah, 2 out of 3 is not a good score in this game. No phone. A nice man called my phone 7 times. No noise. Not in the car, not in the camera bag, not in the area outside my car, not in any of the "wrong" pockets. I'm thinking to myself- how will I draft that email when I get home? How will I find all the people I don't have the emails for? I'm thinking: this is so typical! I'm thinking #^*!#%$$&$^)*($@&#$(&^&*#!%^ The nice man left, as it was pretty much hopeless. I put Mac back in the car. I retrace my steps. I find my phone.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Lose Sleep at Night or I Sleep Well at Night

Deep Thoughts in the title and the post.

For some reason I was driving (insights occur while driving a lot, according to the New Yorker) and thinking about social security numbers. I couldn't figure out how there were enough numbers for everyone. I'm not smart enough/math savvy enough to figure out if there are exactly 999-99-999 numbers, or more, (i.e. 99 million, 9 hundred 99 thousand,9 hundred 99,) or if it's some kind of factorial,or if there are zeroes involved so there are more, or what. And who picks what social security number you have? I did a large and scientific study of three friends. Two grew up near me- one had a social that started with the same number, even though she was born 10 years earlier, and one grew up near me and had a different first number, though she was born about 10 miles away. The third was born on the East Coast, one year later, and her number starts with a 0. One question answered- but a whole realm of math questions opened up....

Here are many of the answers, in an exceedingly boring (and short) video that won't let me embed. You have to see it to believe it.

The other answers are that the first three numbers are based on where you apply for your social security number, and the lowest numbers are of course in the North East. Hence Tausha's zero and my 5(?). Maybe California is lower than Montana? I don't know. I don't care that much. The middle numbers break the first numbers into smaller areas and the last 3 just run in order, I guess from when you apply. And yes, we will run out. In about 75 more years, according to that video.

One problem solved, another opened. Thanks to KALX, I am left wondering what we mean when we refer to "midnight" or "12am." When someone says "The show is at midnight on Thursday," or "I'll see you at 12am" on Thursday," do they mean the 12 o'clock between Thursday and Friday or the 12 o'clock between Wednesday and Thursday (technically 12am Thursday?). Further, is there such thing as 2400 hours or 0000 hours? or is it really 1159hours and 59seconds and then 0000 hours? or is it 2400 hours and then 0000 hours and 1 second?

I am relieved that this is not a "dumb" question, after all. I mean, it sounds like one. Like one yours truly would ask since I think too much. Way too much. But it's not. Even Dr Math (who I didn't know existed) thinks it's a good question. I feel so validated. (And so dorky). Dr Math also gives the answer, although it's too confusing, I don't feel any better. He links to the National Institute of Science and Technology, who says:

When a specific date is important, and when we can use a 24-hour clock, we prefer to designate that moment not as 1200 midnight, but rather as 0000 if we are referring to the beginning of a given day (or date), or 2400 if we are designating the end of a given day (or date).

So maybe both 2400 hours and 0000 hours exist. At the same time? I'm confused. Or maybe you just pick one? Ugh. This problem is only semi-solved.

Bottom line, occasionally I lose sleep about this type of thing. Normally, I worry about it, then forget about it, for days on end. But, as Jen pointed out last night, most of the time I sleep very very well, because my brain is in overdrive all day thinking this kind of crazy shit. I'm a famously excellent sleeper. I've never realized this before, which in itself is the third deep thought of the post, and a paradox for someone else to ponder.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A.J. Jacobs: The Year of Living Biblically

This book came highly recommended by Running With Dogs. We like a lot of the same stuff, and sometimes we're confused for the same person, so I figured it was worth a shot. Plus, I'm generally kind of a nerd about religious things, and this book is about just what it says: living the way the bible says for one year. I liked the book, but I didn't like the protagonist, aka the author, AJ Jacobs. His last book was about reading the encyclopedia. It was called "The Know-It-All," and I think that pretty much sums it up. He's just kind of annoying and egotistical.

There were some moments of glory, like his description of Amish children playing baseball:

The kids are good, but something is off about the game. I realize after a few minutes what it is: This is the quietest baseball game I've ever seen.. No trash talk. No cheering from the parents in the stands. Near silence, except for the occasional crack of the bat. It is eerie and peaceful and beautiful (p35).

I've always felt baseball is a kind of ballet, and Jacobs describes Amish ballet baseball beautifully. And he's honest about his sort of self-obsession.

And I must, absolutely must, stop self-GOogling. It's a horrible habit that I still haven't kicked in my biblical year. I found one blogger in Singapore who got my book for a birthday present, though he seemed more excited about another present, a T-shirt that read, "I'm looking for Treasure. Can I See Your CHest?" I've done image searches on myself, and found an outtake from an appearance on C-Span's Book TV... (p 151).

All of this is interesting, but doesn't make me like Jacobs anymore. (Sorry, dude, if you're reading this. The parts that do make me like him are where he discusses wanting to find humane and ethical ways for raising his young son. The parts where he knows he can figure out how to be a better person, but doesn't want to be a better person just to be a better person, but because he actually *is* a better person. The book is good, if a bit too long, and a bit too self-indulgent. Stop trying, AJ, you're almost there!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Life, In a Nutshell

I love my camera. I have a simple, unpossessing Canon Rebel XT. I don't even have the XTi, because reviews said that the XTi wasn't as good as it's predecessor, the XT. I got the camera probably 4 years ago, and have put a lot of use into it, but it never failed me- trusty ole thing. A few of my friends have the XT and they use it proudly, and it doesn't fail them, either.

Last week I went shooting with Tausha, who recently upgraded to the 50D and though I hadn't really had camera-lust before, one look at that live-view and I was smitten. I could SEE the bokeh before I took the picture! Here I was, the girl who always recommended spending money on the fancy lenses, not the fancy camera until you had really learned what you were doing, lusting after a fancy camera. The girl that said "I don't deserve a fancy camera," wanting a fancy camera. I told myself I didn't want one. And then I found myself looking online at fancy camera reviews. I knew I needed a crop sensor camera, and the 50D was basically it. And basically really expensive. And I kept hearing Karen's voice in my head (she works at Looking Glass so she should know) that it's not JUST megapixels (something I don't really care about,) but a new sensor that makes the difference.

So yesterday, I went into Looking Glass, just as a test. A little research, I told myself. I didn't bring Mac, like I usually do, and everyone was disappointed. I told myself (and them) that I was just researching, and touched a few cameras. I told myself (and them) that the 50D was too big. It was. The newer version of my camera, the XSi was the same size, and half the price, but not much of an upgrade. I left still wanting the 50D. I text messaged Tausha and said "man I want that camera." She wrote back something to the effect of "but yours isn't broken!" and I, foolishly, typically, wrote back, "Maybe I'll drop it!" and she, wisely, as usually said "don't do that!"

So on I went with my day. I went walking dogs at Alameda Naval Base with my trusty camera slung over my shoulder and stuck around to take some long exposures, something I'm working on. I found a spot I wanted to shoot and climbed up onto the top of my car. Weird, I know, but I like weird spots instead of the tripod, which I struggle with. I took one or two shots. And on the third shot, something happened. My camera wouldn't work. It just wouldn't shoot. I turned it off. I turned it on. The battery signal came on, but with a full battery picture. I tried to review my pictures, but I couldn't. I took the battery out and put it back in. Nothing changed. I tried everything I could think of. I got back in the car. I took a deep breath. I thought back to what I had done. I had NOT dropped my camera. I had only joked about it.

Long story short- my camera is dead. I brought Mac back to the camera store this time. That's what they wished for all along. The kind folks at Looking Glass got it to work long enough to read "Error 99." This error basically equals Dead Camera. It costs approximately $250 to send it in for repair, minimum. We're talking a camera whose net value is sentimental. I bit the bullet. I have a new camera. A very expensive new camera.

Batteries are charging now. Do other people's lives look like this??!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's Our Favorite Store...

(thank you, raquel!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I Dare You Not To Tear Up

Another shout out to Elizabeth at purified thinking water. I didn't think I would cry. I did. It didn't help that I love this song. Regina Spektor kicks ass. This video kicks ass. Just watch it.

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I Hate My Diopter

(or, why I haven't posted any pictures to flikr in way too long).

Because they're all blurry, that's why. Three weeks of awesome locations that I scouted out. Three weeks of pictures that look really awesome till you actually look at them and then realize they're blurry. Three weeks of thinking "I have forgotten how to take pictures. I don't know how to focus. I thought I knew how to set this thing. I suck."

Yeah, no, I suck the same amount I always sucked at photography, but mostly, I just suck at tools. I can injure myself at the supermarket (yesterday) and I can poke friendly coworkers during Chinese New Years, causing them to bleed (bad luck for 10 years) and apparently, I can turn knobs on cameras that I didn't know existed, and now, when prompted to find them again, to demonstrate, can't locate.

Well, the frigging diopter does something like this and adjusts cameras for people who wear glasses but don't want to wear them while they're shooting. Why would they want to do this? I can't see without my glasses! How on earth could I see without my glasses and then adjust some dial I can't even find without my glasses well enough to take pictures of things in focus? Yeah, I can't do that, but apparently some people can so the fine folks at Canon (and presumably other camera companies) put these tricky little knobs on cameras to help us sight-impaired out. And screw up our pictures for three weeks.