People love to say Dooda

Flickr Faves Seven

Some more of the beautiful and cool and funny images I've found during my Flickr travels. Clicking on the image above will take you to a page with links to the full-sized version of each of the thumbnails in the mosaic above. And pay particular attention to the third photo in the fifth row, please. Dooda is a wonderful photographer. Well, for an ape, anyway.

You could also just go directly to my Flickr favorites to see a sampling of what I've been looking at lately. There are some real goodies in there. By the way, you can make your own mosaic with your own or others' photos using Flagrant Disregard's handly little mosaic tool. More fun stuff, such as programs that allow you to put captions on your photos, here.

Do I look like a self-obsessed twit in this?

Do you ever wonder if random people from your past ever think of you? I don't mean people you loved or who loved you, or people you grew up with and knew for a very long time, or relatives you've lost touch with, or people you married in what turned out to be the biggest mistake of your life. I mean people who were on the periphery of your life ... maybe you were friends of a friend of theirs 15 years ago and you went on an awkward weekend ski trip together, or they met you for the first time at a New Year's Eve party and insisted that you feel their new boobs to see just how real they seem, or maybe you worked together for a couple of years when you were very young before both of you moved on to bigger and better things.

I always assumed the answer was no. Seriously! I mean, think about the sheer number of people with whom you have this kind of non-relationship and think about how slim the chances are that they remember you -- let alone actually think of you. Can you remember the names of half of the people you worked with at your first job out of college? I can't.

Well it turns out that somebody from my past -- someone I worked with at my first job out of college in fact -- has been thinking of me. And it also turns out that this person hasn't been thinking very nice things about me.

About a year ago I wrote an entry about being a newbie reporter and my editor at that time, who was the best writing teacher I ever had and who had such an impact on me that I still hear his booming voice in my head sometimes. Sometime last night someone left a nasty anonymous comment on that entry claiming they knew me then and that I was an obnoxious, self-obsessed twit ... and adding that it looked like I hadn't changed very much in the last 10 (OK, 13) years. They said some other crap, too, but that was the sentence that felt most like a punch in the stomach.

Meanwhile, what they said is partly true. Of course I was an obnoxious twit -- I was twenty-something years old, for Christ's sake. I think the more remarkable thing would be to find a recent college grad of that age who isn't one. As for being self-obsessed back then, I'm not sure where that comes from. What I remember of that time is feeling woefully inadequate and unprepared and completely incompetent. I recall feeling like an outsider there, as well -- someone who didn't fit in with my more experienced and seemingly more confident co-workers.

Maybe I was a better actor than I thought.

As for today? Of course it's just a joke to read one entry in someone's friggin' blog and pronounce them self-obsessed. Uh, hello? I write a blog that's mostly about me and my life ... How am I supposed to do that without coming off as self-obsessed? If you don't like it -- and this is just a suggestion, here -- maybe you shouldn't read it.

Of course now I'm thinking of all of the people I worked with back then, trying to remember all of their names, and hoping that the anonymous chicken who wrote that comment is the mean stuck-up girl I never liked anyway, and not the cute guy I had a wicked secret crush on ...

Is it just me or does $50 seem like a lot to spend on something that is going to be dead on the side of the road in a month?

The price of Christmas trees is spiraling out of control, people. I can remember spending $30 on a tree about 10 years ago and thinking that was outrageous. This year I went to the place right down the street from where I work and their tabletop trees were $30. Their Charlie Brown trees were $36 and up; their sort of normal trees started around $50. I ended up getting a $55 tree this year, but because I dragged my feet and waited 'till yesterday to buy it, I got it for $30. It's a kind of average, cuteness-wise, not very tall, nice and full with no huge bare spots, and all the needles didn't fall off when I brought it into the house. So that's good. But no way it's worth more than 30 bucks.

It's enough to drive a person -- even a person who swore she would never in her life buy a fake tree -- to break down and buy a fake tree.

These are a few of my favorite things

Flickr faves 5

Here's another batch of my Flickr favorites for your enjoyment. Clicking on the image above will take you to a page with links to see each tile in the mosaic at full size. There are some real beauties in there -- totally worth an hour or so of your time -- including a particularly impressive view of downtown Boston on a foggy day and the one that is my current desktop picture on my work computer.

More crazy dreams

Last night I dreamed that I was getting married. Before the ceremony took place, a group of women told me they had to weigh me. In my dream, it didn't seem like I was overweight, but they had to use a livestock scale to weigh me. After the ceremony, no one would talk to me or look at me, and I couldn't find the bathroom.

I was wearing a really pretty dress, though.

Depends on what you call a call

My Comcast digital phone service has been out off and on for about a month now. By "off and on" I mean that it's usually out of service when I need to use it, but works fine on the days when I could call from work to complain about it.

Friday night: no dial tone. Monday morning: dial tone.

This morning, however, there was no dial tone, so I called Comcast when I got into work.

And got the customer service rep from hell.

First off, he kept repeating everything I said, but in an accusatory/hostile tone.

For example, I said I'd been having problems with my phone since the beginning of November, and then he said that his records show there was a service ticket opened on November 5th. But he didn't say it like: "Oh, I see, you are right." He said it like: "What the hell are you talking about, the beginning of November? My records show it was November fifth, you moron.

And then I told him that I tried unplugging my phones and plugging them in again but that it hadn't worked. And he said, "Well, you should try unplugging your phones and plugging them back in again." And I said, "I just said that I did that." And he said, "Well you can't just unplug them and plug them back in again, you know?"

And it went on and on like that, only with lots more annoying details. At one point I asked to speak to a supervisor and he told me "no."

Then, because I was so pissed off, I decide to switch my phone service back to Verizon. I went online to check the rates and the packages and the calling areas and then I called them.

And got the customer service rep from hell's bitchy mother-in-law.

This one argued with everything I said. She actually argued with me about the meaning of the word "call."

Do you think I'm kidding?

First I told her that I want the Verizon Local Package with the 5 cent regional and long-distance package. And she tells me that the regional calling plan won't allow me to make calls outside of the town I live in and a handful of ones nearby. And I say I'm sorry but I have no idea what you are talking about.

So she quotes a fee structure of one cent to connect and one-and-a-half cents a minute. I've been online, so I know that she's describing the flat rate plan and I say no, I don't want the flat rate plan, I want the Verizon Local Package calling plan. And then she says that, no, I wanted the flat rate plan. And I say that no, I want the next one up, the Verizon Local Package calling plan. And do you know what she says? SHE TELLS ME THAT THE TWO PLANS ARE THE SAME.

So, I ask, why is the Verizon Local Package more expensive than the flat rate plan? And she says that's because it comes with extra features. There was more, but to be honest I'm getting annoyed again, so I'm going to skip ahead to the part where she tells me that with the flat rate plan (which, by the way, we have already established that I DO NOT WANT) I cannot call certain areas. And I say, "Surely you don't mean I *can't* call them? But that there would be an extra charge to call them? Because it would be a regional toll call?"

And, get this, she tells me I am wrong.

And I say, "So, what are you saying? That if I have Verizon phone service there are areas that I won't be able to call? That the call physically won't go through?"

This is where she tells me it depends on what my definition of "call" is.

"Oh," she says, "I just meant you wouldn't be able to call them if you don't have Verizon as your regional phone service carrier."

"HUH?" I say. I'm calling to sign up for Verizon phone service. Why are you telling me that I won't be able to make phone calls if I don't have a service carrier?"

And she says: "Well, you know, some people choose not to have a service carrier at all. But they can't make calls outside of their calling area. At least not for free."

Seriously, people, do you have any IDEA what she's talking about at this point?

So I say, "Listen. The plan I want is called the Verizon Local Package. It costs $26.95 a month. On the web site, it says it allows me to call towns in my local calling area for no additional charge. It says that those towns include xxx, xxx, xxx, xxx, and xxx. I know this because I went online and entered my phone number and this is the information that came up on the web site. Please sign me up for that service."

"Well," she says. "The information on the Internet is wrong."

Yes. Of COURSE it is. How stupid of me.

, , .

On my not-to-do list

I was making a list this morning of things to do. I started to write "camera shopping," but since I am so completely broke I had to write "camera looking," instead.

That's right, I have "camera looking" on my weekend to-do-list.


The camera is dead. Long live the camera!

On Thanksgiving morning I was kneeling in the freshly-fallen snow, taking a photograph of a half-frozen, leaf-filled puddle, when I heard a soft fluttering sound and a little plunk. I looked down to see the bits and pieces of my two-year-old digital camera that had fallen into the slush at the edge of the puddle.

The face plate of the zoom lens completely fell off, as did the black plate underneath that, along with the little shutter thingies that close over the lens when the camera is off. The zoom lens wouldn't retract and the camera shut down -- possibly for the last time ever.

I am bereft. Devestated. Seriously bummed. And, naturally, the rest of the weekend was a non-stop parade of one breathtakingly beautiful scene after another.

I bought my Pentax Optio 450 just about two years ago. I took almost 6,500 photographs with it. And, while it was a pretty expensive camera when I bought it, an equivalent camera today would cost about one-third of what I paid for it then. But I sure as hell expected it to last more than 2 years!

I will send it to Pentax to get a repair estimate, but from what I've heard about digital camera repairs, it will probably be cheaper to buy a new one. Of course part of me very much wants that to be true because I would *love* a new camera.

So far the Nikon Coolpix 8400 is at the top of my short list. It's got a lovely wide angle lens that is the equivalent of a 24-85 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. It has 8 megapixels, which is probably way more than I need, and a 3.5x zoom, which is probably not quite enough. But the fact is this is way more camera than the Pentax for less money than I paid for the Pentax two years ago: it has a high-quality Nikon lens; a flippy view-finder thingy that allows you to see what you're shooting from any angle; a fill flash (one thing I really missed on the Pentax); the ability to take accessories such as filters and converter lenses; the ability to work with RAW data; more white balance modes; a wider ISO range (50-400); more long exposure options ... And I could go on (and on, and on).

It's not practical.

But, then again, neither am I.


Things I love at the MFA

It's the little things I love
Detail of a Fernando Botero sculpture on display at the MFA. It's part of the "Things I Love: The Many Collections of William I. Koch" exhibit. (Click the picture for the larger image and some funny comments on Flickr.)

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I went to the museum on Friday with my mum as part of my birthday weekend extravaganza (if you count going out to eat, going to the museum, several photo field trips, and a really nice long nap an "extravaganza").

We were technically there to see the Ansel Adams exhibit (more on that later) but we also popped in on the Koch exhibit. It's an interesting and diverse collection of objects, some of which really made me question Koch's taste, others of which were interesting mostly because it was the kind of thing you wouldn't normally get to see in person. Some examples, though I won't say which falls into what category: Robert Indiana’s famous "Love" sculpture (you know, the one from the stamp); two of Koch's yachts, one of which won the America's Cup; Dali’s Rhinocerontic Gooseflesh (1956); some Native American art and artifacts; the guns and such used to kill the Native Americans; and lots of nudes with the predominant focus on the female boob.

There's an interesting take on the exhibit and whether or not all of the things Koch loves deserve to be featured on the MFA grounds and exhibit halls, in the online art mag Big, Red, and Shiny. The author wonders: If she ever becomes famous, will her fuzzy blue baby blanket be immortalized, too? Read this article in the same publication to get an overview of the collection and the criticisms against it, as well as for an example of the best use of subheads *ever*.

Here's the Boston Globe's take on it.

There's also a great article in the Barnstable Patriot about Koch's embarrassment of riches: "Egocentric excess has never been better lit or displayed, and you have only until November 13 to go and gawk." (The exhibit has actually been extended through November 27.) The article also notes that "Koch is an honorary trustee, Great Benefactor, has a gallery named after him and ... we are reminded several times, gave 'generous support for this exhibition' and the hardcover $50 accompanying catalogue..."

Well, duh.

OK, so Koch gets to park his yachts on the front lawn of the MFA and satiate his ego, right? But, in exchange, I get to take pictures of a Botero penis.

It all comes out in the wash, you know?


Portrait-taking at the MFA

Saturday was my birthday and I spent the weekend taking lots and lots of photographs. Went to the MFA with mum on Friday (the company I work for gives you a day off for your birthday -- isn't that nice?). We saw the Ansel Adams exhibit and the "Things I Love" William Koch collection. More on that later.

One of my current photographic goals is to learn to take better portraits. It is progressing very slowly.

I took a bunch of portraits of my mum sitting by the window in the African Art room and while it looked like they came out in the preview pane of my camera, in fact they were almost all way too dark. I was able to salvage exactly one of them. It's this one:

At the museum

Naturally, it's the one with the person in the background, though to be honest I don't really mind that he's there. At least he's wearing black, so he kind of blends into the scene. The light box atop her head and the pin on the neck of the sweater are the bigger problems, I think.

I also tried some "environmental" portraits, but they didn't come out, either. I edited the shit out of this one:


And I just noticed there is something funky going on in the dark areas of this photo. I think my monitor at home is much darker than the one at work.

Things look better in the dark

Slow Night

I haven't posted a lot lately, been in more in a photo-y mood than a write-y mood, I guess. (I didn't do NaNoWriMo this year after all.) I have been experimenting with long exposures and other kinds of night or low-light photography. Most of these have been pretty unsuccessful, but I feel like I'm learning and getting a little better at it. I'm pleased with how the one above came out. But this one, below, came out a little dark (ha, ha):

Mistakes were made

Some other more and less pathetic attempts, taken over the past couple of years since I first got my digital camera:

Christie's Neon on Neon Red February Sky Night lights America is NOT too dark (but it is feeling a little blue)
Fisherman's View Lobster traps power of three Yellow skies Yellow skies again Night Sky with Boats 2
signs2 signs 400 family Untitled Bread at Sunset Sailor's Delight 3

Also, my friend kimberkit edited one of my earlier night shots for me. I like her version, on the right, much better than my original, on the left.

Tree at Night Tree at Night (edited)

I would love to get Photoshop (although I'd certainly settle for the less expensive elements version in a heartbeat).

dog tricks

The dog just seems to keep getting smarter and smarter. Her latest trick: Eating the cat food without making any noise that would give her location and activity away.

Wasn't there a Steven King book about this?

So not only am I having computer problems, but now my home phone is out of service as well, and won't be fixed until Saturday morning. How am I supposed to communicate now? How am I supposed to screen my calls? Make excuses to get out of going to the gym with Katie?

And what are the bill collectors going to think?

Damn you to (computer) hell

My computer is dying.

This is the computer that, when I first bought it, had what seemed like an obscene amount of power and more memory than I could ever possibly use no matter how technology might evolve or advance. The one that would never become obsolete because it came with every bell and whistle ever known to man (aside from the CD burner because, seriously, the zip drive is the wave of the future and no one is *ever* going to need a CD burner).

This is the computer that was going to last me forever because I wasn't going to download anything that might infect it or otherwise fuck it up. The one that I protected with the *paid* versions of the top firewall, antivirus, and spyware programs. The one where I had cookies disabled and pop-up ads blocked ... at least until I got annoyed at how I kept having to enter my user name and password to get into my favorite sites.

Fat lot of good it did me.

Now my computer randomly fails to respond when I try to open various programs. It freaks out if I try to open more than one browser window or run two programs at once. I get the big blue screen of death every time I try to close out of a program.

The computer refuses to shut down or restart the proper way under any circumstances. Which is particularly annoying since I need to restart it at least 100 times a day.

In fact, it stalls and freezes so frequently that I don't even bother waiting to see if the system will stop being busy waiting for the close program dialog box to display. I control-alt-delete first, ask questions later. And if control-alt-delete doesn't work in a second or two, I just punch the reset button, hope I remembered to save whatever I was doing, and pray it's not the last time my computer comes back to life.

Stupid computer.

What really freaks me out is the fact that I've got almost all of my pictures stored on my hard drive. And, with no CD burner, I have no practical way to back them up or move them to a new system (amazing zip drive of the future notwithstanding).

I've got lots of writing on my hard drive, too, but word documents can always be e-mailed as an attachment to myself or transferred to floppy discs. That's assuming they're still making computers with floppy disc drives these days. Are they? No, don't tell me -- I don't want to know. Anyway, much of the writing on my computer is crap that can be safely deleted or printed out and filed away in a cardboard box in the back of a closet.

Actually, come to think of it, my photos could probably use a good weeding out, too.

Anyway, I tried running a registry cleaner. Like I said, I've got a good spyware detector. If any techies out there have any other suggestions, I'm happy to hear them. Otherwise, it looks like I'm going to be shopping for a new one ... and yet another line of credit.



It snowed here yesterday -- and it stuck, too -- but this morning it was gone.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled fall weather.

Not good at math

My blog is worth $11,855.34.
How much is your blog worth?

I only have one question:

Where do I go to get the money?

Signs of aging ... or feeble-mindedness?

I only have time for a couple of quick observations today.

First, I have lived in New England pretty much all my life. I'm familiar with the concept of nasty weather. And yet today, despite the fact that we are having a nor'easter (the colloquial term for "big fucking storm") I went out of the house without wearing boots. What the hell?

Second, when I hear a rap song that samples a vintage tune, it's the old song that gets stuck in my head instead of the new one. How lame it that?

I really ought to be working right now, but ...

This is awesome:

LOS ANGELES ( -- Blog this: U.S. workers in 2005 will waste the equivalent of 551,000 years reading blogs.

About 35 million workers -- one in four people in the labor force -- visit blogs and on average spend 3.5 hours, or 9%, of the work week engaged with them, according to Advertising Age’s analysis. Time spent in the office on non-work blogs this year will take up the equivalent of 2.3 million jobs. Forget lunch breaks -- bloggers essentially take a daily 40-minute blog break.

Sorry, gotta run ... my blog break's almost over. Click here for the full article, though you may need to register to read it.

It's been a dark and stormy month

I don't really like to read other people's blog entries about why they haven't been posting lately, and I never thought I'd write one myself, but ...

The light has been terrible lately. Overcast, rainy, grey, flat, boring, icky. And so I haven't been much inspired to take a lot of photographs. Although I will say that some of the pictures from my recent mini-vacation in New Hampshire were taken in the rain and fog and they came out OK. These two, for example:

foggy dock space back to the foggy dock

But once I got home from my trip I got busy with work (actual work plus some office drama that I don't think I'll go into here) and busy with life and busy finishing up my mom's blog and I just didn't get around to posting much here. And the light really has sucked.

And why has the sucky light affected my posting here? Well, the connection is that when I'm not taking photographs I like to look at photographs. And so I've been looking at a lot of pictures on Flickr lately. And the other thing is that I tend to get obsessed with new things. And I really have become obsessed with Flickr.

I mean really obsessed.

Since I've the last time I posted to Gienna Writes, I've submitted a few pictures to the deleteme! group, and even got one picture voted into the group's safe. It's this one:

Three baskets

Of course, right around the time that my pic got posted to the Safe, everyone started complaining that the quality of the photos in the safe had really gone downhill.

The rest of the pics I submitted to the group for critique went down in flames, and deservedly so:

Orange Kiss I'm a little teapot Ice Machine, Wet Planking, Wires and Wood, Shapes, Shadow and Sky (and a little bit of puke)
at the beach tete a tete going nowhere
morning on the lake Bird Watching Green Bud

(click on any of the pics in this post for the larger version.)

So that was fun, but I also realized that I have a lot more to learn about photography and that I do want to try and improve. Hence, the looking at other people's photos thing. Because in my mind that's one of the best ways to learn.

And, holy crap, there are some really excellent photographs on Flickr. I made these mosaics from my "favorites"pages. I could stare at these things all day (and sometimes I do):

my faves 1

my faves 2

My favorites 4

(Clicking on any of these images will take you to a page with links for each beautiful photograph. Also, there is a row missing in the last image ... you can see the missing pics here. Also, for photos I've added since I made these tiles, click here. That'll keep you busy for an hour or three.)

So, that's what I've been doing online lately.

I've been keeping a journal for just about as long as I can remember. I have stacks and stacks of them in a drawer in my office. But my enthusiasm for journaling and the urge to write comes and goes. Sometimes I'm really motivated to write every little thing that happens. Sometimes I go for long stretches where I don't write anything at all. During the years that I was married, for example, I barely even filled a few pages of one notebook. (Being miserable tends to dampen the creative urge and the drive towards self-reflection.)

Since I've been keeping my journal online, I've been much more faithful about adding to it. I think that's because it's so accessible (so long as there's a computer around) and because I find typing easier and faster than writing longhand. There's something about the fact that other people can read it that adds an interesting element to the mix, too. I mostly write this for myself, but the fact that it is public adds a little drama, I guess. And I love drama.

Anyway, this is a really roundabout way of saying that while I've been obsessing about photography lately I've also been missing the writing and think I'm ready to get back to it again.

And, just in time, too, because November is coming and you know what that means, right? Yup, it's time for National Novel Writing Month (affectionately known as NaNoWriMo) again.

Now, I can tell you right now that with my new work schedule there is no way on god's green earth that I'll be able to write a 40,000-word novel in 30 days. But I was thinking that it would be a good time to get back into "Gienna Writes" and that I might try to do some short stories or crappy poems throughout the month of November.

So I've written it down, which is the first step to getting something done. The next step, I guess, is doing it.

I'll be back ... I'm just going to check in on my Flickr mail ...