Saturday, July 12, 2008

How Patrick Eats Bread

The Rest of the Pictures

Go here to see the whole gallery from yesterday, which includes the pictures below.

A good rule of thumb is that if the file name is prefaced with IMG, it's from the point and shoot and therefore taken by Patrick (except the pictures of...well...Patrick).  If it's prefaced with CRW, it's one that I took.

Incidentally, one nice side effect of having to be in full manual mode to shoot in bulb mode is that, while waiting for the fire works, I finally figured out at a gut level the interaction between exposure length and ISO speed.  (I haven't quite managed to work the aperture part of the equation in, because I couldn't find an easy way to adjust that and experiment too, but, hey, it's progress.)

It's funny -- I always say that I learned to use a computer by playing and experimenting...I should have remembered that about the camera.  I just had to get in and mess around with stuff.

I had read all about photography, but that doesn't compare to real life experience -- it doesn't make you get that the whole goal is to have the ISO low enough to have no noise while also (if you're hand-holding your camera) keeping the exposure time low enough that you won't see evidence of camera shake.


M Day

That is, Mark VII Monorail Day.

A full four years after Monorail Orange was removed from the resort in order to reverse engineer it (which has never made sense to me; Disney Imagineering -- notably, with the still-living and therefore still-consultable Bob Gurr -- designed the things to begin with), seven months after Monorail Red arrived at Disneyland, and five months later than expected, Patrick got to ride Monorail Red (which is still in soft opening status).

Unfortunately, the camera wasn't ready when he turned around and blew a kiss to it as it entered Tomorrowland over Submarine Lagoon.

The rest of the night was taken up with keeping Patrick hydrated and sugared (something is still wacky with his electrolytes, which his doctor doesn't believe, but that's a post for another day) and taking pictures with my remote shutter release.  It is nifty, but I have already decided that I need to dig out one of my dad's tripods next time -- a fanny pack on a camera case on a trash can does not a tripod make.

Link to the gallery coming soon.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Repeat Rant, but I Can't Help Myself

(Pardon the CAPSLOCK OF RAGE.)









*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

*relieved sigh*

Holy Block of Text, Batman!


I'll try to fix it later.  One attempt to do so already didn't work.

C'mon, blogger....

Bulldozer Hannah

It is a cliche in Stargate SG-1 fanfiction (or, at least, I assume that it must be, given that the twenty or so stories I've read over the last ten years all seem to include it) for Sam to, at some point, exclaim, "Holy Hannah!"
Whether that ever happened in the show, or it's one of those things that started in fandom and became "fanon" (fan-invented canon...I know, I know) or whether I just missed the origin of it, I don't know.
Well, today warranted a Holy Hannah, but not the way you're thinking.
Bulldozer was...think Energizer Bunny on fast forward today.  He literally could not sit still -- this wasn't a willful I-don't-want-to-do-it thing, it was a literally, genuinely, I just can't do it kind of thing.
Unfortunately, hyper mornings like that often become...difficult...afternoons, and today was no exception -- but that comes later.
Anyway, Bulldozer often comes to school his backpack.  For the last two days, it has been a pair of headphones.
Today, as Bulldozer was prancing, hopping, skipping, jumping, and in all other ways whirring through the classroom at the speed of helicopter wings, he stopped and grabbed his headphones and planted them on his head.
He started singing.  He pointed to a pair of 3-D glasses he had also brought (very useful for the kid with one eye, she says sarcastically) from the Hannah Montana movie.
(Translated:  "Hey!  Look!  I'm Hannah Montana!")
And then, he proceeded to dance about the room, singing, playing air guitar, and -- at random intervals -- deeply bowing.It was...cute and funny and reminds me all over again of why I adore Bulldozer (95% of the time).
But the kicker came about an hour later.
Bulldozer has finally settled down enough to finish his morning journal (with frequent popping up and down to get things that OH MY GOD I MUST HAVE RIGHT THIS INSTANT, LIKE FIVE PENCILS AND A PEN AND MY PENCIL CASE AND ANOTHER CHAIR AND JUST THAT ONE TISSUE).
Halfway between the desk where he was working (also a sign of impending doom -- when he starts wanting to be all by himself) with Aide Mrs. B (with Sleeping Beauty in Hawaii and Superhero at home, it was one adult per kid today...that'll never happen again), he froze.
His hand went dramatically to his head. Picture this but with more of a "d'oh!" expression:
"Uh oh!" he said.
When he's in that giddy mood, just about anything can happen.  "What?" I said.
He held out the cord for the headphones and pointed to the tip that would normally be inserted into a CD or mp3 player.  
"Uh oh!" he said again, and shook his head, then signed "Home, broken."
(Translated:  "Whoops!  My headphones aren't plugged into anything because my CD player is at home and broken.")
I opened my mouth to commiserate, when Bulldozer stuck the headphone cord into his pocket, touched his ears with a grin, and started singing again.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Why People Have SLRs

(Both pictures have been cropped to eliminate reflections from the surface they were sitting on, and have had some minor exposure/contrast corrections done in Aperture.)

2 year old 7 megapixel point and shoot, propped on a mailbox, 15 sec exposure using self-timer:

4 (?!?! holy cow -- it's been that long?!) year old 6 megapixel Digital Rebel, on a roll of packing tape on top of my car, 36 second exposure using my nifty new remote shutter release:

There's still some grain and color weirdness in this one, but not nearly as much as the point and shoot, and significantly less noise (I had to zoom in and use the loupe to see it on this one, as opposed to just use the loupe for the point and shoot).

Of course, now that I'm getting the hang of more of the manual features on my Rebel, I'm starting to feel like it's time to think about upgrading to the 40D, not that I have money for that at the moment (Sparky Junior, I'm looking at you).  The 5D hasn't been updated in forever, and the 1D is overkill for a hobbyist like me.

(Dang, though, this is an expensive hobby.)

Meanwhile, it's been quite the week.  I picked up a stomach bug on Monday, had to go to a meeting on our useless language arts program on Tuesday, wherein half my class fell 100% apart (turns out I gave the bug to Superhero, who was grumpy), and Bulldozer had the bug today.

But my funny story today.  The other week, I got my hug from Goodfella.  We have APE class with most of Teacher M's class, including Pudge.

The teacher is....

Yeah, anyway.

So every time we go to PE, Pudge finds Aide Mrs. B and latches himself to her (usually covering his ears in distress from the insane noise and activity level in there -- it's a sensory overload nightmare and I'd actually consider bowing out for the summer if Mr. Voice didn't receive the service).

Today, after banging sticks on the floor to the tune of "We Will Rock You," they got out yarn balls and had the kids (I kid you not) chuck 'em at each other.

Pudge was wandering, vocalizing a bit, and his teacher was following him.

Pudge wandered over to me, so I said, "Sit down, buddy," in my softest, most soothing voice.  He plopped down in front of me and leaned on my legs, and stayed there for ten minutes.

(Until they got out the ginormous beach ball and let the kids hit that at each other.  Yeah.)

In related news, if you ever want to see a textbook example of "overstimulated" and "sensory overload," come visit M after APE.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Now THAT Is How You Do It

I came home today from an aborted attempt at a final blood test from Bulldozer biting me in February (someone counted wrong and should have had me come in August), 
and find the usual random selections in my TiVo's suggestions folder.

Most often, those suggestions are cooking shows (because I have a season pass for Good Eats) and history channel specials (because I watch those all the time).

Today, one of them was an episode of Molto Mario, a show where Mario Batali is alone in a kitchen cooking for three guests.

Imagine my surprise when one of his guests turns out to be a woman with Down syndrome.  (Based on a couple of close-ups, I'd guess she was in her thirties.)

Now, that's cool enough.

It gets better.

Mario fields questions from his guests as he talks about what he was doing.  The woman with Down syndrome asked three questions (I honestly couldn't tell if they were scripted or not, but my guess, based on Mario's reaction to her second one -- see below -- was that they were not).

And Mario handled them beautifully.

The woman (if they said her name, I didn't catch it) spoke slowly and laboriously, but he didn't rush her or put words into her mouth.  He waited until she finished her first question (she asked how he got flavor into vinegar, which I think was asking why he put olive oil and vinegar in a pan together to cook) and then answered it cheerfully.

Without talking down to her.

He took her question as seriously as he would take a question from anybody else, and explained that the heat would cook the two together into a syrup that would taste very good.

She asked a second question when he started cooking a pasta, and got the same careful attention.  She asked, loosely quoted, "Pasta - you're supposed to cook pasta al dente always, right?"

He paused for a second -- I think trying to come up with something to say other than "yes" -- and then cheerfully went into an explanation of how exactly to determine how long to cook a pasta to cook it al dente (follow the instructions on the bag, but subtract 30 seconds from the lowest number (so if it says 8-9 minutes, cook it 7.5) because whatever sauce you add will cook it more).

Finally, at the end, she asked why he put extra olive oil on something that had finished cooking, and he explained, unhesitatingly, that it would the heat would make it taste "exceptional."

Kudos, Mario.

I'll always be a Good Eats girl 'cause of the science, but that was just awesome.  Kudos, kudos, kudos.  His interaction with her should be used as a training video for "how to interact respectfully with adults with cognitive disabilities."

Oh Dear


I went back and fixed a typo in the previous post, and when it updated, it turned into the massive block of text of doom.

It's much too late now, but I'll try to fix it and make it readable tomorrow.

Sorry 'bout that.  :-(

Sunday, July 06, 2008


So, I found the little CD folder I had used to take DVDs to Disney World last summer.

(Yeah, yeah.) 

Anyway, I had slipped in what I thought were season 3 DVDs of Lois and Clark; they were, in fact, season 4.  

Now, the first half of season 3 is my favorite run of episodes in the series, from the first episode ("Who's asking?  Clark...or Superman?") through the Christmas one.  Right after the Christmas one, the frog thing happened, and...yeah. But now I'm on kind of a Lois and Clark kick, which is a shame because the DVDs are very poorly labeled (hence me packing what I thought was season 3 and was, in fact, season 4). 

So, in order to distract myself, I went trolling through things that were hanging out on my TiVo waiting for my attention, and found one of my favorite early Stargate episodes ("The Fifth Race," where Jack absorbs knowledge of the Ancients and -- even better -- begins speaking randomly in Ancient.  At one point, he grumbles, "I've apparently lost the fallatus to speak properly!") along with a good Cam/Sam 'shippy one ("Line in the Sand") from later on. 

Then I notice that there's an X-Files on there that I haven't watched in a long time -- "Triangle," an episode that was set in the Bermuda Triangle on a ship in the 30s -- only to find that Sci-Fi had shifted its schedule ahead by five minutes, so the end was cut off.  Grr. 

(They do that a lot with late night Twilight Zone reruns too.) 

Sci-Fi has been promoting the heck out of Stargate: Atlantis's return next week, and...well, I don't much care.  I did like the episode "Trio" last year, wherein Sam, McKay, and the doctor were trapped in a big hole (I especially liked the doctor's casual reference to a bar game, and Sam and Rodney's blank "huh?" reaction), but that's about the only episode I've watched in full in years.

Meanwhile, adapting Greek myths for my kiddos this summer has been fascinating.  It turns out, for instance, that the Titans' parents were Mother Earth and Father Sky.  Not only that -- the Greeks had a flood myth, just like most other culture in the world.  In theirs, Zeus was so angry about Pandora opening the box, he sent a flood to destroy all of mankind, except for a couple of humans who floated around in a box. 

Ironically enough, a couple of weeks ago, I found a neat book on the bargain rack at Borders called Parallel Myths.  I have only skimmed some of it, but the gist of the book is to examine those exact similarities. It'll be interesting to see what the author says.  

I had a teacher in high school who led us in a discussion of Jung and the collective unconscious after reading Heart of Darkness (although it may have been The Metamorphosis -- but I don't think so...'cause that was the one she likened to the episode of TNG where they think they've left the holodeck but haven't).  

Anyway, she asked us to follow along the argument that all the similarities in all of these cultures come from humanity sharing some sort of unconscious bond, and we create these stories because we're all tapped into it. 

Funny...I only just now realized exactly how radical a thought that was for a teacher at a Catholic high school. Anyway, I find the subject fascinating on a variety of levels.  Are we all tapped into some shared memory, as Jung's theory would suggest?  Are we, as a historian on a special about Egypt once said, a species with amnesia?  Do we all have expulsion-from-paradise stories because, at some level, we remember becoming aware and, for lack of a better word, sentient, and leaving the carefree in-the-present world behind? 

Clearly something is going on, for cultures all around the world to have stories about fallen "angels" (for lack of a better word), stories about a great flood (perhaps remembering a period of high ocean levels, or a remembrance of a particularly terrible tsunami), but is it just expression of universal fears, or something more? 

Richard Matheson's What Dreams May Come posits that heaven is what you expect it to be -- that your own expectations and desires frame your existence.  So, if you expect heaven to be floating around in the clouds, that is what you'll experience.  If it's lounging around on an endless beach, that's what you'll experience. 

If that's true, you'll find me planted in a giant celestial library, watching playback of Earth's earliest history. I wanna know, one way or the other, about Atlantis.  I wanna know if it really was the Minoan civilization on Santorini, with outposts like Akrotiri that faded into obscurity, or if it really was an actual continent that sank. (Or, if -- again bringing up the idea of a species with amnesia -- if it's some much earlier memory of continental drift changing landscapes.) 

Speaking of Atlantis, however, one other fannish-type thing:  Cameron Mitchell is just too cool for words. 

Actually, two:  I saw posters for the X-Files movie today.  Despite my desperately trying not to have expectations of it going in -- one way or the other -- it's kinda neat to have that to look forward to. 

Okay, three:  the Star Wars special I watched yesterday was interesting but I think it didn't quite do Amidala or Leia justice.  I do agree with them that the movies are way more about Anakin's journey than the first...err...the 70s era trilogy would have had you believe.  Also, I like that they acknowledged Anakin as a tragic hero -- who caused his own doom (much like Oedipus) by trying to avoid his own doom.