Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.

If you know me personally, you now that I hate the overuse and abuse of quotes on social media, most of the time credited to a celebrity that never said anything evenly remotely like it.   So, to spite myself, I searched for a random quote I thought fitting of the upcoming calendar event, and found one by Rainer Maria Rilke.

2015 begins in less than 12 hours, and overall, 2014 was good, and much better than 2013,  a year wrought with personal tragedy.  It's almost shameful that an entire 12 month period can be deemed positive or negative based on so few events.  2014 was a year of first world problems, and those are things I can live with just fine.

With the New Year comes social media being filled with empty resolutions that will be forgotten within 10 days.  Most of these are superficial, copied and pasted over and over again on social media like a lame political meme.  It, at times, is laughable, that most have no intent on improving themselves, but just feel obligated to shout it out to all who will listen.

Don't just pick a couple of the generic resolutions that everybody else uses.  Take on a challenge, do something different.  Try to paint a picture, write a story, or learn to play an instrument.  Don't just say you will do it, go out and do it, and who cares if you consider the first attempt to be shitty, at least you tried.  And you may discover a new passion, something you never even considered you would enjoy.  And fuck anybody who says you can't or shouldn't do it.

As for me, I have no idea what I'm going to do, and I think I'll just try and figure it out along the way.  Maybe I'll sign up and run a 5k.  Maybe I'll have shitty time, but who cares because I'll have accomplished something, and then next time I'll try to improve on it.

I'm ready for 2015, and hope that in 12 months, I'll be writing about all the things I did, improved upon, etc.

[caption id="attachment_763" align="alignleft" width="600"]Credit - Bill Watterson Credit - Bill Watterson[/caption]

Monday, December 22, 2014

It's Crimmus Time, Stop Being A Dick!

Don't Be A Dick   - Wil Wheaton

It's that time of year when people get their panties in a wad over the imaginary War On Christmas.  I'm pretty sure I'd cause permanent damage if I rolled my eyes back any harder due to the fact that so many get upset over being given a Happy Holidays over a greating that specifically references the event you celebrate.  It takes a special kind of dumbass to go into child like fits over the fact that "you didn't tell me happy my thing".

I've been pretty open about the fact that I'm not religious, and see it as a Hallmark holiday (And don't fool yourself into believing that businesses don't think that way either, they will play either side as long as they make money).  I admit, I'm kind of a Grinch.  The reasons for that really have nothing to do with decorations, lights, presents, or music, it has to do with PEOPLE.

The time of year that everyone preaches is when you should be good to each other, show kindness, etc.  You know, all the things you probably should do year round rather than need to be told to do once the calendar hits December.  Instead, people are angry, rude and greedy.  I don't think this is any more evident than Black Friday, where people will kick, punch, and trample to get some cheap junk 24 hours after celebrating a holiday designed to show thanks for what you have.

And no, I'm not being preachy.  I fully admit I'm an asshole.  Hell, I've embraced it.  I use it as a tool when some unruley shopper feels the need to try and shove me over to get to whatever piece of merchandise will determine if their kids will love or hate them on the 25th.  Or when someone is being rude to that retail employee because the store sold out of whatever item, or insulting the waiter/waitress because the place you want to eat at is packed due to hungry holiday shoppers.  I'm sure a few people that do this to people who work in those industries think they are empowering themselves, but really, you are just being a self rightious, snotty dick who deserves to have their cheeseburger teabagged).

It's not just my generation and younger that are the only ones guilty of this, so don't think for a moment you can hold onto some bullshit false pride at how those born in your era are better than those younger.  Because you're not.  Doesn't matter what when you were born, you can still be viewed as a major dick.  At the end of the day, you get out what you put in, and if you put out the vibe that you are a miserable prick, you will end up treated as such.

So, no matter what you celebrate, I hope you have a really wonderful holiday season, and if you celebrate nothing, at least have a decent December.

Monday, October 6, 2014

I Am A Stubborn Music Fan

"Just because something is popular, doesn't mean it is good."

I admit to being very stubborn and opinionated.  This is extremely apparent when it comes to music, almost to the point of being confrontational.  It really is an immature mentality to have considering that no two people should have the exact same tastes in music, and should go no further than a casual disagreement.  Of course, I do get a little incensed at anyone who will try to claim a band like Nickelback has any merit, or that the shitty Shinedown cover of Simple Man is superior to the original masterpiece penned by Ronnie Van Zant of Lynyrd Skynyrd.  I'm sorry, but Shinedown took a very well written, simple song and made it sound like whiny, emo shit.

See what I mean?

I am passionate about music, though I am not a creator, just a consumer.  From the time I turned 16 to around the age of 28, I probably purchased close to 500 albums in both CD and cassette formats.  The last CD I remember purchasing was a copy of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Couldn't Stand the Weather in 2009 to replace a missing album for my collection.  This collection includes something from almost every genre imaginable.  I even still have a Sony 300 disc changer sitting in my home office (back in my day kids, a 300 disc changer was the only way to really "shuffle" a music collection).  Hell, the dual cassette deck that was part of that shelf system is packed in the same box.

In the age of digital content, a lot of people view compact discs and cassette tapes as just taking up physical space.  Of course, I've been asked as to why I keep it.  By the way, notice how since it is popular, nobody asks that of vinyl?  I wish I had a good answer, to be honest.  But really, there is no longer that cool feeling of digging through someone's physical collection of albums and discovering something new and different, or that you have some similar tastes.  You simply do not get that feeling scrolling through mp3's.  I kind of view it the same as looking at a printed list of album names.  You get the same information, and quicker, but physically looking at it was simply magical.

I miss album art that wasn't just a placeholder for iTunes.  I long for the anticipation of a Tuesday, when new releases were made available to the public, and in some cases, being friends with a store owner and buying that album on Sunday (I'm looking at you, Garage, Inc.).  Now, even when I do step into a music store, the joy of spending time flipping through the inventory is gone.  It almost feels like there is nothing left to discover.  That is kind of shitty considering how much great music is being written, recorded, and released all the time.

And for the record, I am not rejecting technology (hell, I've made a career out of it).  I love the fact that at any given time, I can reach in my pocket, and pull out a device that gives me access to millions of songs that I can listen to on demand.  I low cost subscription service allows me to randomly listen to something that in the past I would never have purchased.  And it has done amazing things for the independent artist who would have not ever received that opportunity from a record label.

In the end, it's just not the same.   And that is the official thought that makes me feel old.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

I took a photo of non famous people that ended up on Television

My wife has started watching Heroes of Cosplay.  I enjoy it, mainly because these people do make some pretty badass costumes.  Most of the people staring on the show do this on a near professional level (some probably are professionals).  Of course, that's not to say the amateurs in attendance did a lame job.  The opposite is true.  The costumes are awesome.

The season finale was a two part episode filmed at Wizard World New Orleans earlier this year.  I was there for day 2, but did not attend the contests.   We mostly walked the floor, checked out the booths, and I took a few photographs of people in costume.  The people in costume tend to be some of the coolest you will meet.  I have never once had someone refuse to pose for a photo (I've been questioned who I was taking photos for, mainly because I use a prosumer grade DSLR.  It's all a hobby, not a professional), some have even gathered others to make it an even better photo.  This is common for any event I've gone to where people are in costume.  I don't know if they are dicks in real life, but they get into costume and they are cool as hell.

Anyway, watching the show last night, one of the random groups in the costume contest were a pair of girls dressed up as Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.  I recognized them pretty quick because they were one of the willing pairs who stopped and posed for a photo.   I have no idea who they are, but they were cool to me to let me get the photo, and they ended up being shown on the same channel that brought us Sharktopus.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Magic of Instant Feel Good in the Self Help Section

At least once a week, I find myself walking the isles of the local Barnes & Noble.  Yes, I still browse through sections of book stores and thumb through collections of words printed on a product that forced the unwilling sacrifice of a tree.   There are some books I prefer to have a physical copy of  (I have nearly everything written by William Gibson sitting on my book shelf).  Don't get me wrong, I still also have a growing collection of e-books that I read across devices ranging from a third generation kindle to my Google Nexus 7.  E-books tend to be competitively priced and convenient to download.  I can grab my tablet and with a few clicks and a quick charge to my credit card, I instantly have a copy of whatever literature I have the urge to read.

Instant gratification has gone from a marvel of modern technologies to a demand of the American public.  Don't have the time to cook, McDonalds can have a cheese burger and fries in your hand in just a few minutes.  No need to hit up the local Blockbuster in hopes that the copy of whatever movie you want to watch is in stock when any number of services and devices allow you to rent a video from the comfort of your recliner.  Sometimes, instant gratification is a nice thing to have, but at what point does that expectation end up being misguided and even inappropriate?

After I had looked through several art and photography books, I came across the "Self Help" section.  I imagine some of these books may have useful advice for certain individuals, and I really have no problem with that.  For some, a few of these publications may provide assistance, incite, and advice on how to solve issues and move forward with whatever they are dealing with.  The thing I found disturbing was the large number of books that promoted "instant happiness".

I've had my own personal low points and bouts with depression.  I was never to the point to cause myself self harm or felt suicidal.  For an extended period, I never took the time to properly deal with those feelings, and over time they built up and became overwhelming.  I was fortunate that I was able to work through it both on my own and with the help of a couple of friends who were good enough to listen and not be judgmental.  Having someone who can listen and have something constructive to say is extremely important, and offered advice that was not "cheer up", "get over it", or whatever clueless shit that some dispense at the drop of a hat.  If it were that simple for someone to just "cheer up", don't you think they would have already?

There is no magic answer.  Some people can deal with it own their own, and others may have to seek out professional help.  I'm willing to bet that a true professional will never tell you that they will make you all better instantly.  To think that a book can give you the secret to get over being sad immediately pretty much indicates that it was written by a quack, someone like Dr. Phil (a loudmouthed quack who is very good at self marketing) or some dipshit who uses their writing talents to score a quick payday.  A parasite of the self help publishing world.  They dispense generic advice on how to feel good about yourself probably falls in the same category as someone telling you to just "be happy".  I simply do not think you can change your entire state of emotional being using a method that obviously can fall into the same category as instantly downloading a book to a portable piece of technology.

I just think it's a little pompous to sell a product marketed "to people who just need to cheer up" and not treat it the same as any other medical condition.  I know I don't have the key to instantly turning how you feel around, it just takes time and sometimes, it takes help.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Second Time Lapse Experiment

Finally made a followup attempt at time lapse. This time I set it to manual with Aperture prioritized. Images were captured every other second, over the course of about 20 minutes.