November 29, 2012

Word Up, My Naga!

Stupid server maintenance. In WoW, I just died a spectacular death and I have no idea how I managed it. Needless to say, it involved a crapload of Naga for a quest I probably shouldn’t be trying to solo as a squishy priest. I know you all care terribly, but I’m finally in Zangarmarsh, which is definitely my favourite zone out of all the ones I’ve seen so far (I have Cata and Pandaria but aside from creating a panda monk, I’ve seen nothing past level 70).

I remember when we first started playing WoW in like, 2005, saying to Blake how cool it would be when the kids were old enough to play too. Well now that they are, it IS fun! I don’t play with Wes because he plays on my account and I know he just started a new toon on Blake’s account but I don’t know what it is. I think he’s a shaman. I may roll a mage to play with him, but I haven’t decided yet. Especially because I know nothing about mages and have never even really played with one. It’s only fair though, that if I rolled a toon to play with Madison (a druid to play with her warlock) and one to play with Blake (we’re both monks), that I make one to play with Wes. I still have my 62 priest, which is what I was playing this morning until they had to restart the servers for whatever reason, but no one’s high enough level to play with her so she’s who I play when no one else is around.

You all care, I know. That said, if anyone has any advice on how to play a mage, I’m totally green and listening.

Yesterday some of my Xmas presents got here and since I don’t like Xmas and I don’t wait for Xmas to open things unless they’re already wrapped and I don’t know what they are, I opened the box and inside was a book of Diane Arbus’ photographs, which I haven’t looked at yet and Sally Mann’s Immediate Family, which I did look at. I’d added both of these books to my wishlist after reading about them on Wikipedia and I was especially interested in Sally Mann’s book because supposedly it was controversial with some people saying it was child pornography. After looking at it, I can’t believe it was controversial at all. Nudity does not equal sexuality does not equal pornography, especially when you’re talking about what are essentially nicely printed family photos. The only difference between Sally Mann’s photos in this book and family snapshots is her process. The content is easily the same as anything you’ll find in family photo albums all over the world. One of the last pictures in the book is titled “The Last Time Emmett Posed Nude”, which says to me that the kids were not coerced into taking the pictures and when they asked not to be photographed that way, their mother respected their wishes.

I’m just in absolute disbelief that anyone would mistake these beautiful photos for child pornography. I’ve seen child pornography on 4chan, sadly, and it’s obvious to me that the people saying this about these photos have never seen the real deal because there is a huge difference. Pornography – of any kind – is meant to entice sexual arousal. Sally Mann’s photos are photos of her children, often naked, in their natural habitat being well, natural. I just don’t get it because the difference is so glaringly obvious to me.

Two other photographers were brought to my attention this weekend: Jock Sturges and David Hamilton. They were brought up to me in the context of them being controversial, like Sally Mann, because of their models. Both of them preferred to photograph nude adolescents, usually female.

So I google image searched both photographers after reading about them on Wikipedia and I can see how David Hamilton would be controversial – his photographs, to me, are erotic, especially when you consider that he also created erotic films starring young women – but Jock Sturges photographed nude teens at naturalist camps! One in California and one in France and he photographed the same girl, Misty Dawn, from the time she was a child until she was in her 20s. To me, Jock Sturges was truly trying to capture the transformation of a child to a woman, like the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly, and there’s nothing erotic about his pictures in the slightest.

David Hamilton on the other hand, I’m pretty sure, is just a dirty old man. Google image search both photographers and lemme know what you think.

The conversation I was having with my friend about these photographers over the weekend was pretty interesting, and I argued that Sally Mann couldn’t get away with her Immediate Family series in the digital world we live in today. Can you imagine if a blogger took similar pictures of their children at similar ages and posted them in their blog or in an online gallery like most photographers do today? They’d be crucified!

Recently a blogger posted a photo of her baby boy’s first bath and didn’t put a black bar over his penis and the internet had a shit fit. The controversy seemed to be twofold: 1. That pedophiles would have a heyday with that picture and 2. That the mother had no respect for her child’s privacy. That in 15 years her son may not appreciate the fact that a would-be girlfriend could google his name and find a picture of his penis. Or his classmates could use the picture to tease him.

I think that if a parent who would post a picture like that is doing their job, they would raise a kid who wouldn’t care about that because it’s just a baby picture, but then again, I’ve been posting (clothed) pictures of my kids on the internet since they were born. On the other hand, my kids have known about my site since they were old enough to comprehend what it was about and I don’t follow any blogs so I have no idea if other parents raise their kids the same way. I think Dooce’s older girl knows about her blog and I’m pretty sure The Bloggess’ daughter knows about her blog too, although those two are different in that Dooce posts pics of her kids all the time (as does her soon to be ex husband on his blog) and Jenny, The Bloggess, never does. There are a lot of new mothers in the blogosphere right now and I guess they’ll all just handle it however they handle it.

I will never post a nude picture of my kids online though, no matter how artistic I may find it. I just wouldn’t want to deal with the backlash that would inevitably come with it. If my kids were younger, like the ages of Sally Mann’s kids when she created Immediate Family, I would probably take nude photos of them, I just wouldn’t put them online. Then again, I never did take naked pictures of my kids when they were that age, so I guess I wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t and don’t have a problem with it, is what I’m saying.

I remember my 10th or 11th birthday, someone got me a pink camera that took 110 film and that year I had a sleepover with 2 friends and we took nude pictures of each other. My mom took the film in to get printed and I guess she had some explaining to do. I never saw the pictures and didn’t understand why taking the pictures was wrong but I was told, in no uncertain terms, that what we did was not acceptable.

Anyway, that’s my story for the day. I think the WoW servers are probably back up now so I think I’m going to go start that mage…

November 27, 2012

My Manta Ray Is Alright

It snowed more yesterday and now we have at least a foot of the stuff and it’s packing snow so it’s all stuck to the trees and I really wanted to take pictures of them yesterday but time just didn’t allow. Now I’m kicking myself for that decision because the snow’s going to have melted by Sunday when I can take pictures (in Midland, where there are actual “woods”) and our assignment for photography class is “scenes and/of architecture”.

Yesterday I had an appointment with Rick in Midland at the new mental health centre and it went okay but he’s back to staring at me and that’s really awkward. I didn’t drive there because the roads were bad. I honestly have no idea what Rick’s job is or what I’m supposed to be getting out of these sessions. The stuff under his name in his e-mails say “Brief Intervention Counselor” and that he’s an RN but I don’t really know what that means. I go there and tell him what I’ve been doing since the last time I saw him and he says “keep up the good work” and then I go home.

He said that I have a hard time giving myself credit, which Blake agreed with. I just don’t think I should get credit for doing the things other people do every single day, usually because for them, not doing it isn’t optional. But for me, for a long time, it has all been optional and that’s what has put me where I am today. But if I was like “I need Combos” and Blake was like “fuck you, go do it yourself”, there would be a definite problem. At this point anyway.

I don’t see Rick again until Xmas Eve so there is lots of driving and stuff to do in the meantime, I guess. He didn’t really give me any direction.

After Rick’s we went to Dino’s so I could get pasta salad for dinner and Blake ordered it but I paid. I’m getting more comfortable with paying but I still have a pretty hard time ordering at most places, even when I know what I want. I remember being maybe 8 or 9 years old and being with my step-dad and brother (I don’t think my mom was there) in the food court of a mall and my step-dad gave me money and told me to go get the fries and gravy that I wanted for dinner from the NY Fries that was literally right in front of our table, maybe 10 feet away. But I couldn’t do it. I was too shy to order it myself because that would mean talking to a strange grown up. And he made fun of me for it and got mad at me and said I couldn’t have dinner then and took his money back. He told me to watch my brother, who would have been 2 or 3, and he got pizza for the two of them but nothing for me and I just didn’t have dinner that night. This fear of ordering food has pretty much been a lifelong thing, exacerbated by the memory of that experience.

Obviously I need to get over it and I’m working on it, but it’s going to take some time and I’m going to feel really stupid in the process because I’m an adult and this shouldn’t be an issue. I should have more self-esteem than this. I should know, and believe, that I’m equal to everyone else in this world.

So I’m working on it. I’ve kinda backed off the last couple of weeks, especially with all the construction around our house, but I really need to get back on the horse, so to speak.

After getting pasta salad, we came home and I ate while we watched an old episode of Saturday Night Live with Madison because we have Netflix now and Madison wanted to watch one of the ones with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Also noteworthy is that all of Angel is on Netflix, which I never watched, so I think we’re going to start tackling that soon. Right now we’re watching The X-Files with Madison, who is loving it, but we’re only on season 2 so far. Hopefully Angel will still be available after we finish that.

Ronny is sick right now so we picked Alex up for class and class was pretty uneventful, really. Our assignment is “scenes and/or architecture”, the latter of which I have little to no interest in whatsoever. “Scenes” is to be interpreted as something that gives a sense of place, time, weather, habitat and/or light and the only idea I had was to take pictures of the snow-covered trees in the woods of Midland but I just looked outside and already the snow has mostly fallen off the trees here so it probably doesn’t look as cool up there today as it did yesterday. Other than that, I have no ideas…however…

On Friday I guess it was (?), I spent the entire day reading about famous photographers on Wikipedia and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I posted a status update on Facebook asking if anyone knew of any quasi-famous photographers who only shot digital and who made their living selling prints and doing art shows so I could look them up. I only got 3 answers (Annie Leibovitz Andreas Gursky and Melissa Maples, the latter two I still have to look up).

However, my friend Ditsy said “Have you looked into HDR yet? I could see you creating with that!” AND THAT’S WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

“HDR” stands for “high dynamic range” and it’s a post-process that…well, look at it yourself. This guy, Trey Ratcliff, has the #1 travel blog on the internet and pretty much does HRD exclusively. Look at his archive. He even has a tutorial on how to do it! I’m obsessed.

When I brought up HDR to Andre last night only one other person in the class, an older lady named Pat, knew what it was and both of them kinda poo pooed it, which I thought was sort of funny. Andre knows how to remove zits in Photoshop but I think that’s pretty much the extent of his skills. He’s even admitted to not doing very much post-processing. You have to remember, he’s been shooting for 40 years and he said he doesn’t print his own work (and gave the impression that he never has) so post-processing – either oldschool or newschool – is probably not his forte and HDR is almost entirely post-processing. Pat said that she didn’t like HDR pictures because they look too fake, like not reality, and I can get where she’s coming from but honestly, they both sounded like old fogies being so anti-post-process mostly because they didn’t know how to do it. (Which is rich, coming from me, who only a few months ago thought Photoshop was “cheating”…)

Look at Trey’s gallery and let me know what you think. I think they’re absolutely gorgeous. Almost all his shots are landscapes or architecture and he travels all around the world but I think his pics of people done in HDR still look pretty nice or at least more interesting (to me) than non-HDR images. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what would make a good HDR photo, but it’s something I definitely want to play around with.

Also yesterday I got a call from an electronics company that sells on Amazon that the flash Charlie bought me for Xmas is out of stock, but that they were going to upgrade me to the next highest model absolutely free of charge. Charlie fwded me the e-mail that it was sent out today and I’m very excited to receive it! Score!

Something Andre taught us about flashes is that they’re designed to be like daylight so if you use them in a room full of incandescent lights, your picture isn’t going to have even light. Your flash light is going to show up as in the blue range and your tungsten light is going to be yellow/orange. How he counteracts this is to use a brown piece of clear plastic over his flash, which mimics tungsten light and that’ll ensure you have even lighting. Apparently you can get filters for your flash that do the same thing, so I’m going to try and find something like that for my flash eventually. We use compact florescents in our house and I’m not sure what you do with those. I’ll have to ask him.

I’m so overwhelmed by life right now. Photography is a big subject and there’s so much to learn and so much equipment I still need. The stuff Andre’s amassed in his 40 years of shooting is amazing. He is very much a technical guy, which I think I’ve said before. He used to do a lot of commercial work and he said that say someone wanted a picture of their office, he and his team would take out all of the office’s florescent lights and replace them with tungsten or whatever would make the shot better. I am not a patient person, that kind of fussing to set up a shot would probably drive me pretty crazy.

I don’t know what kind of photographer I am or what kind I want to be yet and I suppose I don’t really have to decide at this very moment, but I feel like I should be focusing on one specific thing, I just don’t know what that thing is yet. I have one really really good idea for a series that I want to do eventually, that I plan on applying for a grant to do (so I can hire an assistant, my idea involves asking women to do something in public that’s pretty intimate and I just do not have the cajones to do it myself; even if I had years of immersion and cognitive behavioural therapy)  and I’m scared because that’s my only idea. What if I only HAVE one! What if I’m just not creative enough to do anything with all this training? Is this one idea worth all the bullshit hoops I’m jumping through to get there? I don’t know yet. I think so though?

And by “bullshit hoops”, I mean learning as much as I can about photography, even the stuff that’s completely irrelevant to my idea, so I can execute it the best way possible. And learning as much as I can about photography means going to school and going to school means re-learning how to drive, lots of immersion and cognitive behavioural therapy and being constantly tired for like, 2 & a half years.

Blake and Rick tell me that I need to focus on the smaller tasks that lead up to all of that but I can’t stop looking the bigger picture right in the face. Like, there needs to be an end to the means or it’s not going to happen. I have to be doing all of this for a reason. My one idea is the reason. I can’t see beyond that. I don’t know what to do with the photos after I take them. I can envision myself driving again, all by myself. Barely, but I can. (Although the idea of driving alone at night really really scares the shit out of me.) I can picture myself in a classroom again. Honestly, a classroom setting doesn’t scare me all that much because I’ve always excelled there so I’m more confident. I’m good at learning. I have a terrible memory though, so keeping meticulous notes is key for me. I worry about getting home at 10pm twice a week and being tired for work the next day, but I’ve been doing okay with that schedule with Andre’s class, I just have to sleep after my shift is over to compensate.

I dunno man. It feels like my world is cracking open and I’m scared of, and excited for, what’s going to come out. It’s really difficult to articulate.

November 24, 2012

Hello From The Great White North!

I think one of the most exciting things in the world is first snow. I don’t know why. I mean, by the time February rolls around, we hate snow with a burning, fiery passion, but first snow is awesome and exciting and I know I’m not alone in my thinking because I woke up to several of my Facebook friends exclaiming “first snow in beautiful (wherever they live)!”

So of course I have pictures…

Yeah, it’s only about 6-8 cm, but still! First snow!

This would be a better picture if I didn’t live in a construction zone.
Note the bulldozer tracks.

What you can’t see in the above picture is the fact that they’ve installed sidewalks across the street and a construction guy came to our house yesterday to tell us that they were going to be putting in sidewalks on our side of the street soon and that Blake would have to park at the park down the street and walk home. That’s really going to suck if he has to bring home groceries.

Yesterday I read on Wikipedia all about “snapshot aesthetic” and the photographers who were famous for the “technique”, like Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin and Garry Winogrand. I did the most reading about the latter. This interview with him is one of the most tedious things I’ve ever tried to read. It was like pulling teeth for the guy to answer anything with an actual answer. Most of the time he was like “no, that’s not the case” but he wouldn’t expand upon it. I did like this quote by him though: “I don’t have anything to say in any picture. My only interest in photography is to see what something looks like as a photograph. I have no preconceptions.” He was an interesting guy with some interesting ideas but if you google image search his work, it’s not really all that impressive to me. And he left behind when he died, something like 300,000 unedited images and that’s not counting the 3,000-5,000 undeveloped rolls of film he also left behind. Crazy.

Now I’m reading about Sally Mann because this “snapshot aesthetic” thing is just too blah for me and totally not my thing.

Anyway, yay snow! I am officially declaring it winter, even though it’s technically still a month away.

Posted at 10:39 am in: Art , artists , Canada , Creativity , Photography , winter
November 23, 2012


Yesterday after school the kids and I took advantage of what was left of the light (it gets so damn dark so damn fast now, I hate it) for my “informal portraits” assignment and this is what we got. To get these pics, since we can’t get across the road to the field, we hopped our back fence, crossed over a long board that the neighbour kid put across the creek and I trudged through a muddy field in sandals.

Honestly, I’m not really happy with any of these and if I have the chance, I’m going to do another series, maybe on Sunday if it’s not snowing like it’s supposed to.

I actually cooled this one and the next one down in Lightroom in the versions I’m going to use for class but I’d already uploaded the whole set for my site so these ones are “as is” with only cropping and lightning in some cases.

These ones bug the shit out of me.
Andre told us that we could do two things for a shot like this and I did one thing, but it didn’t work and I forgot about the other until I woke up at 4am with it in my head and feeling stupid for not having done it because he just fucking told us.

In front of us was a big, white natural gas tank, like the size of a house (we live down the street from a truck refueling station) and my intent was to bounce the sunlight off of it so it would hit Wes’ face. But it didn’t work maybe because it was too far away or maybe because it wasn’t flat.

The thing I forgot was my flash.
Even with my shitty front-facing pop up flash, in theory it would have erased those harsh shadows and the natural light would have dispersed its harshness. Blake says it wouldn’t have worked but I feel like an idiot for not even trying it, which is another reason I don’t want to use these pictures for class.

I think this one’s okay.

She was looking directly into the sunset just to prove she could.
I don’t like this one.

I think this one’s okay too, but I still should have tried it with the flash.

The final version of this one is cooled down a bit.


 The kids did great, I just took a bunch of crappy shots. Thank god I’m shooting digital and can just delete them and start over! Learning photography pre-digital must have been very expensive and hard. I dunno how Blake did it.

Speaking of Blake, he showed me this cool thing this morning on my camera that we didn’t know about before. There’s a button on the front of the camera that if you press it and hold it down, while also lightly holding down the shutter button, it’ll show you your depth of field. I *finally* figure out the depth of field for this lens the hard way and then we find out about this button. For fuck’s sake.

Anyway, that was my yesterday. Now I’m going to make myself walk at least 1km on the dreadmill and then it’s my Sims Bunker for the rest of the day.

Posted at 12:29 pm in: Art , Blake , Fall , Kids , Lightroom , Madison , Photography , Sims 3 , Sunnyland , Technology , Wes

Lake Pepto Bismol, Australia

Someone just posted this on Facebook, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and it’s totally real.
It’s actually called Lake Hillier and no one knows for sure why it’s pink.

Posted at 11:40 am in: Environment , Misc.
November 22, 2012

Sugar Come By, Get Me High

Crazy news of the day: There’s this island that shows up on Google maps and other maps, referred to as “Sandy Island” somewhere near Australia but apparently it doesn’t even exist! Or maybe that’s just what the Dharma Initiative wants us to believe.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American comrades! I am thankful for each and every one of you and I hope you’re all having a fantastic meal with the people you love! I’m filling in for one of my American coworkers tonight so she can have dinner with her family because I’m the only non-American on our team and therefore could. Which is cool, I’ve been banking overtime so I can take next Saturday (the 1st) off to go see Mother Mother at the Kool Haus in Toronto without taking a pay cut or having to make up hours so yay Thanksgiving!

Right now I’m transferring 77GB from my 114GB external hard drive to my sexy new 3TB external hard drive which is awesome, but it’s taking fooooorever. I do now have more bytes than I know what to do with! Although I did fill up my laptop’s HD and two 114GB HDs pretty fast from shooting RAW all the time so I guess we’ll see how long this lasts…

Something I also got for Xmas – because we never actually open present ON Xmas, it seems – is a pink iPod Touch with my name engraved on the back and it’s kind of awesome too because now I have a way to talk to Madison while she’s at school because she can use the school’s wifi and I can use our wifi and we can message back & forth that way. Very handy. Wes got one too, a blue one with his geocaching name on the back, and we set up wifi on it too because we also got him a blue Furby (which he doesn’t know about) and you can control the Furby with the iPod through the wifi (or Bluetooth, I’m not sure which, honestly).

I can’t say what we’ve gotten Madison for Xmas so far because she reads my site. But what I got her is pretty cool. What I got Blake is pretty cool too but he reads this too so I can’t say. You’ll just have to take my word for it.

What I can say about Madison’s Xmas presents this year because she already knows about it is that I finally gave in and we’re letting her bleach her hair and dye it turquoise. She’s also getting what she calls an “emo haircut” (?) to go with it. We bought Splat brand bleach and dye because that’s what our drugstore had and I was actually shocked to see it there because I’ve never seen it in Canada before. I knew about it though, because my friend Halcyon is on the box of the pink dye. So she’s excited about that. We’re going to do it on the last week of Xmas holidays so it’s fresh for when she goes back to school. She’s pretty stoked about it and keeps asking to look at the dye, which we keep saying no to because she has to open SOMETHING on Xmas, even if she knows what it is. We’re not sure what else to get her. She’s not really giving us any ideas. She dresses up a lot at school so when we were at the mall yesterday I thought maybe a gift certificate for Claire’s so she could buy accessories might be a good idea, but I don’t know and neither does she.

Yesterday Blake and I went to see Life of Pi and I thought it was pretty well done with only minor, irrelevant differences from the book. The 3D was annoying, but that’s probably just me because I think 3D is just annoying. There was only one part in the movie where it was a benefit and it actually made a lady in front of me scream, which I thought was pretty funny. Blake found the 3D rain obnoxious, but I thought it was cool. I dunno, I thought it was good, but obviously the book is better with more detail and stuff. I think I enjoyed the movie a lot less because it was so faithful to the book, I knew everything that was going to happen and there weren’t any surprises. Definitely worth seeing, in my opinion though.

Today’s been pretty uneventful so far. I worked this morning, slept and then I screwed around on the internet for a while. On my way to the bathroom, I noticed that all the animals were chilled in the living room in their own little zones, so I thought I’d work on my photography class assignment which is “informal portraits” and as per usual, the pets made terrible subjects because they’re not used to the camera. The cat is almost impossible to photograph because the camera scares her, I think. The dogs both get super self-conscious (do dogs GET self-conscious? hmmm), or at least they act like it, when you try to take pictures of them, as you’ll see in the following pictures.

Hoover’s better than Lucky. I think Hoover’s just more used to it.

See? Lucky always looks freaked out when you point the camera at him.
Then again, Lucky usually looks pretty freaked out. Dog’s got issues.

Pixel started off in Blake’s chair, but I messed up and had the shutter speed too slow so those pics turned out super blurry. Then she lost patience with me and walked away but I found her again in the kitchen, rubbing her cheek up against the shelves we have in there and I was lucky enough to get this shot. I had to lighten it quite a bit in Lightroom though because there was next to no light in the corner where we were.


I just liked this one because her whiskers looked cool.

Yesterday morning we had lots of frost on the ground and all over the grass/weeds in the field across the road. It was also a sunny morning, so at 8am, the light was perfect, especially with all the frost. I begged Madison to let me take pictures of her but she was running late and couldn’t do it. Bummer. She said if there’s ever an opportunity like that again to just wake her up early. I love that she’s so willing to help me practice. :o)

We can finally GET across the road because the construction has moved up the street and they’ve put big cement cylinders in the ditch with the water pipes inside them and covered them with dirt, so I guess there’s not going to be a ditch across the road anymore. The side of the bridge they were working on is finished and is now 2 lanes, but it looks like they’re setting up to start working on the other side.

Yesterday was pretty laid back. In the morning I started working on my baby druid (WoW) and played her until I got sick of doing so and Blake woke up. Then he went and got us lunch and after lunch we shot the shit about his evening the night before (he went to see Trail of Dead with Ronny & Alex and got to meet Conrad) and then it was time for a meeting with Wes’ teacher about his report card.

Wes’ report card was actually really good, good enough to allow him to play video games after school, but his teacher was concerned that he doesn’t show initiative (which is weird because he does at home) and that he’s always so negative. This is a carry over from last year when he started telling us he was depressed and basically all 3 of us (us and his teacher) think that if he’s going to go into things with a negative attitude, of course he’s going to have a negative experience. So all 4 of us are going to work on improving his outlook on life by getting him to reframe things positively. It’s just so strange because up until last year, the kid was an unabashed optimist and we’re not sure what happened. The only thing Blake can figure is that he doesn’t have a best friend and maybe that’s bothering him, but he’s never said anything like that so we just don’t know. His attitude now is just negative when it comes to school. After he gets home from school, he tells me he had a bad day, lists all the bad things from his day, but then after he has his snack and watched half an hour of TV, he’s the positive kid we’ve always known. And on weekends, he’s positive too, so I dunno.

After the meeting with his teacher, I watched Blake play Guitarsmith for the first time, which was pretty entertaining and then we just shot the shit again until it was time to go to the movies. After the movies, we went to the mall (which wasn’t packed like I thought it would be, only being a month away from Xmas) and had teriyaki for dinner and then we came home, I watched a video on the war on drugs and consciousness (which is worth watching, I think) and then I went to bed.

And now I think I’m going to read and go on the treadmill for an hour. (Madison thinks I’m weird because I don’t wear socks or shoes on the treadmill.) I started Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie yesterday and I’m finding it really difficult. Then again, I’m only on page 12 so maybe if I get used to how he writes, it’ll get easier.

Peace oot!

November 20, 2012

I Try Never To Let This Be The Case

Posted at 1:00 pm in: Fall , Quotes
November 19, 2012

Bad Flash Photography & Touched By Fire

Today is Monday, which means I have photography class tonight. I also have some creative decisions to make, but I’ll get into that later.

So this week’s photography assignment was pretty simple and complicated at the same time. Take a picture without flash and then take a picture with flash. All I have to work with is the popup flash on my camera, which is pretty crappy I think, so my pics are pretty crappy this week. Also, I realized at 10:30 last night that I’d forgotten to do the assignment so I didn’t get all fancy with my lighting or anything. I just used the light from Madison’s bedside lamp and the flash. Here we go:

No flash. f/2.8, ISO 6400, 1/30 sec.
(I cleaned up the noise in Lightroom, but that’s the only editing I did.)

With flash. f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/4 sec.
This one was taken pretty close up, within maybe 3 feet or so?


Obviously with flash. f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/19 sec.

Flash, f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/24 sec.

Flash. f/2.8, ISO 200, 1/15 sec.

I think this last one is the best one and it was taken from about 6 feet away so the flash wasn’t so bright in her face.

So those are my horrible flash pictures because my flash is terrible and I didn’t have time to light her room properly. (Not that I could have lit that corner any better with what we have, honestly. I want a flash for Xmas and lighting for my birthday haha)

Honestly, I didn’t really get a lot of what he was talking about last week. He talked a lot about his crazy light setup, which none of us have, and showed us how to use an external flash, which only one person has, and it was kind of information overload so I’m not sure what we were supposed to take away from it. Except that I have no intentions of using my popup flash for anything, ever, until I have an external one that I can actually bounce off of things because these pictures are awful. I also didn’t know what ISO to put it at when using the flash or if the flash would compensate for what the ISO was set at. He never told us that or if he did, I missed it. He was playing with a light reader but I didn’t understand any of what he was saying because I don’t have a light reader and have never seen one and just…no idea what he was talking about. That class was just a total clusterfuck of information thrown at us.

I am curious to see what tonight’s class will be about and how well everyone else does.

Thursday night was Touched By Fire which, for those who don’t know, is an annual art show put on by the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario. 419 pieces were submitted for the show for consideration and only 96 were chosen. Apparently there were 620 people who came to the show, which is the 2nd biggest crowd the show has ever had (with the first being the time they had it at the Royal Ontario Museum – I didn’t get in that year because all I submitted was my happy fantasy glitter girls and this show wants paintings that reflect mental illness).

This was my piece this year, which I painted in 2009 and gave to my shrink as a gift who lent it back to me for the show:

“The Two Sunnies”, 2009

The show was very claustrophobic and I had a hard time being there. The whole way there I was like, “I really don’t want to do this” while chowing down clonazepam and honestly, if I hadn’t have invited Charlie to come with us and have dinner beforehand and everything, I probably wouldn’t have gone. (Dinner was awesome, btw. Garlic mashed potatoes and a weak, but good, strawberry margarita ftw!)

The main thing that was interesting about the show this year was that there seemed to have been more pieces by who I call “the usual suspects”. I mean, the show definitely has its people who are pretty much guaranteed to get in because they always do and a couple of them have even become volunteers for the show. At this point, I kinda think I’m one of those people but only if my work reflects mental illness.

I’ve been saying for months now that I’m not going to paint anymore and I’ve put away my paint and painting supplies in a bucket at the end of my desk. And I also said that this year’s Touched By Fire would be my last time doing the show for that reason. The show accepts photography but most of it, in my opinion, is pretty good, and mine is not, but I have no interest in creating photos or god, self portraits, that reflect my mental illness because like I’ve said a million times, I’m medicated and “better” now. I think for the most part my mental illness is under control. Or at least as “under control” as is possible with straight up medication. Now we’re trying to work on the things medication can’t help with.

The thing is though, that being creative is part of my mental health plan. I’ve been creative my whole life and it’s always been a way to cope with the unpredictability of my lying brain. Idle hands and all that. But right now photography fulfills that life requirement and since I feel like I’m done with painting (mostly because no one’s buying anything, even after greatly reducing my prices on every older piece in my Etsy shop and I need the money from those sales to make any more plus we’re really out of wall space in this house, but also because I’m just not inspired to paint right now), I decided that this year’s Touched By Fire was going to be my last.

So me and Blake and Charlie go to the show and Charlie bought a painting called “A Bad Case of Stripes” from a girl named Sarah Hopper who goes to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (there’s a sister Touched By Fire event in Chicago, I did a commission for the family behind it the first year I did Toronto’s Touched By Fire).  I liked a lot of the artwork this year, whereas I haven’t so much in other years. There was one artist, an abstract artist, named Whitney Taylor, whose work used metallic paints and foils and a thick, glossy glaze varnish of some sort, much like my own paintings. I loved them. And I’m not even a huge fan of abstract. They were super expensive (and rightly so!) so I couldn’t afford one, but they were my favourite out of the whole show. She (?) had several pieces in the show, taking up almost one entire wall and they were all big ones. And it was a prominent wall, too, I mean, she got massive exposure. I didn’t notice if she sold any of them.

My painting was in a busy part of the gallery and I didn’t wear my nametag or hover around my painting (except the one time Charlie made me) because I just don’t like the attention. In previous years there were wandering photographers stalking artists and I wanted no part in that. I didn’t see any of those this year, though many people were taking pictures of themselves with other people  just with their own point & shoots. I did my best to keep a low profile and no one recognized me from previous years.

My painting was not for sale this year because it was on loan from my shrink, whom I gave it to in 2009. This caused a bit of a ruckus, I found out on Saturday but I’ll get into that in a minute.

Apparently at the show, there were oysters that people were eating but I didn’t see any and wouldn’t have eaten one if I did. I only saw one tray of potato and cheese appetizers, which Blake had and said they were cold. Cold mashed potatoes. Ew. I had a $2 Diet Coke and while I didn’t have one of the $10 fire and ice martinis, I saw lots of people with them in their hands. Blake and Charlie didn’t drink anything. (Charlie had beer with dinner and Blake just didn’t feel like having a drink.) The proceeds of the entire event go to the Mood Disorders Association, although the artists keep 100% of their sales, with the exception of the following:

This year they had two Fire and Ice fundraising things.

The first was, they wanted the artists to solicit donations for the MDAO and the artist who received the most donations would be invited to their black tie gala event in January and their artwork would be prominently displayed at the event and it would be on all of the promotional materials. They advertised this offer as being “big exposure” but I didn’t bite, despite the fact that I was pretty sure I could win that competition through my site, primarily because A) I wouldn’t want to be the featured artist at a black tie gala. I don’t think I’d be able to do that. People would want to talk to me about my work and stuff and while rich people with kids is kinda my audience, see B) I kinda don’t think it’s right to pay for exposure like that and that’s what this felt like. Normally *I* would get paid for having my artwork on their promotional materials, not the other way around. Yeah, I realize it’s charity but see C) The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario has never done anything for me or my mental health and until Touched By Fire THIS YEAR, I wasn’t even sure what they did. I’ve never been involved with them, but what I got out of this year’s show is that they do art therapy in Toronto for people with mood disorders and from looking at their website just TODAY, they have peer support groups across Ontario. I’ve never been involved with anything like that and probably wouldn’t be but I can see how that may help some people. It’s possible that next year I may do fundraising for them but I dunno if I’d want to “win” and honestly, I know that the only way I’d get people to donate to them in my name through my site is if I was actively trying to win the top prize.

Anyway, the second thing they asked us to do was to create 12 x 12 inch pieces with the theme “fire and ice” that they would sell for $150 a piece, splitting the profits with the artist and the rest would go to the MDAO. But they only gave us a week to do that and it takes me 2 weeks to make a painting. Nothing I’d already done could even remotely be considered “fire and ice” so I just didn’t submit anything to that. Maybe next year if they give us more time, I would do it.

So like I said a few paragraphs ago, my painting apparently “created a lot of buzz” according to the voicemail I got on Saturday from the MDAO’s executive director. I knew the MDAO had called on Friday but I figured it was just about coming to pick up artwork when we’d already taken mine home after the show or about fundraising, which they’d already called about before, so we just ignored it, especially since Blake wasn’t home and he’s the one who usually answers the phone if it’s not someone expressly for any of the rest of us. (He even picks up the phone for blatant telemarketing phone numbers…)

On Saturday Blake took Madison and her boyfriend to see Twilight and I had to call him to tell him to bring something home but when I went to do so, the dial tone was like, “boop boop boop boop”, which means there’s voicemail. So I listened to it and there was this executive director of the MDAO calling saying my painting had “created a lot of buzz” and that she wanted to talk to me.

The curiousity all weekend just about killed me because I couldn’t imagine what she would want to talk to me about. I knew it couldn’t be fundraising. I just didn’t know what it could be.

So this morning I took two Ativan and called her back. She said that there was two people at the show who really wanted my piece and who were dismayed to find that it wasn’t for sale and that there wasn’t anything else by me in the show that *was* for sale. One of them wanted to buy one for their daughter and one of them wanted to put a piece for their niece. One of them was the main sponsor of the show from Raymond James who, as it turns out, bought my piece from last year’s show too. The other guy, I’m not sure how he fits in, but it was someone within the sponsors or the organization because Ann Marie used his first name like it was someone she knew well. She asked if I did commissions and I said yes, even though traditionally I hate doing commissions, mostly thinking that with how bored I am with my girls right now, maybe some ideas from other people would interest me. Also a commission is a sold piece so that would be killing two birds with one stone as far as my reasons for not wanting to make any more paintings. I gave her the link to my Etsy shop and my e-mail address and said that I would welcome contact from anyone who was interested.

She also asked me how I liked this year’s show and I told her that my favourite part was the wall they used to showcase artwork made in the art therapy classes they offer. That wall was like, “the happy wall” whereas the rest of the show, with very few exceptions, was pretty dark and moody (which has always been my issue with it, they don’t want paintings from level, medicated artists whose mental illnesses are under control, but I didn’t tell her that part). She said that in the coming days, a survey was going to be coming to us via e-mail on ways to make the show better so I figure I’ll get into that aspect then.

This positive reinforcement has made me sort of rethink my painting strike and whether or not this really would be my last year doing Touched By Fire. All afternoon, since getting off the phone with her, little trickles of ideas have sort of been flowing through my brain so I guess we’ll see what happens.

Work meeting in 8 minutes. Better go get ready.

November 17, 2012

And thanked all the gods, there will be no more.

Posted at 1:06 pm in: Kids , Misc. , Quotes
November 15, 2012

So Much For That Idea

So I took my meds at 6pm and was drowsy by 7:30pm so I went to bed. And then I woke up at 12:45am, unable to fall back asleep. It’s now 2:24am, I think I’m up for the day and this day is going to be very very long.  :o/

For some reason, I can’t stop thinking about Cloud Atlas. Maybe it’s because I can’t decide what to read right now. (I’m debating between re-reading Life of Pi so it’s fresh in my mind when I see the movie or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Non-fiction really isn’t my thing, but The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks has been recommended to me by several people now and I have the book so I figure I might as well read it.)

So I’m going to talk about Cloud Atlas, both the book and the movie, and it’s going to be super spoilery, so I’ll put it under a cut…


Posted at 4:33 am in: Blake , Fall , Insomnia , Medication , Misc. , Movies , Work

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