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Moved Again February 28, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Creativity, Personal.
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Well I am testing out doing this on iWeb check out the site I put together yesterday. If it looks ok to everybody then I’m probably going to set up shop over there.

To iWeb Or Not To iWeb February 24, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Computers, Creativity, Personal.
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Yes, I’m doing it again. I am contemplating moving Braver Newer World yet again. My new camera has got me taking another look at using iWeb to make pages on .Mac. Last night I started playing around with using my own pictures to enhance one of the iWeb templates. I was pretty happy with the results. The pages look clean and uncluttered but most importantly they look like mine. I flipped my way through next blog on WordPress last night. It is somewhat disconcerting how so many blogs that have such a wide range of topics and content all look alike. I like this template but you know so do an awful lot of other people. Sure iWeb has a very limited number of template’s but it is easy to fill all of the spaces with unique content.

The drawback will be losing the random drop in’s. It seems that Apple is committed to a very invitation only website. No random “next blog” kinda discoveries. Being that my invitation only audience would be limited to my mother, my ex-wife and my friend John, I’m risking writing only for them, which, no offense guys I really don’t want to.

But there are ways of getting my url out there even with Apple working against me. I think the trade off is worth it. iWeb is a program that doesn’t require a lot (read almost none) of technical knowledge to produce pages that look exactly like I want them to and to change them on the fly.

This transition may take a little while though. Once again I’m going to want to copy over all of the work I’ve done this year. That all has to be done in order as the blogging function of iWeb doesn’t allow you to insert entries out of order. Thus I have to do all of my back dated posts in order. This will allow me to add some pictures and maybe some other content to brighten things up a bit. Stay tuned. I will however continue to post here until my iWeb/.mac site is completely up to date.

That Promotion Worked February 23, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Computers, Music.
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Last night around nine-thirty I found myself, like many many others, downloading some music off of iTunes. This is something I rarely do and it all had to do with that counter to one billion downloads. Apple was giving away a new iMac, ten 60GB iPods and a $10,000 iTunes gift card. I couldn’t resist. When the counter froze at a billion I was in the process of downloading “The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions” by Seu Jorge. I just love all that Bowie music sung in Portuguese. It even made my morning playlist.

Every morning I get up to write in my journal, read what horrors humanity has inflicted on each other since I went to bed and if I’m feeling it and have the time posting here. I have a playlist just for these times and it’s all whole albums. The kick off is the same album I’ve been using when I wake up for years: “Victorialand” by the Cocteau Twins, then “Astral Weeks” by Van Morrison, “In the Wee Small Hours” by Sinatra, Belle & Sebastian’s “Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant” and now the Seu Jorge. That brings the time up over three hours so I may need to cut an album. I’m just not sure which one. I think I’m just going to switch the order around. iTunes says I’ve listened to “Lazy Calm” 60 times since I got this computer just last month. Seu is going to the top of the list.

More New Pictures February 23, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Creativity, Personal, Photography.
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There may be a rash of these while I play with my new camera. Here are some shots I took last night in Union Square. It was fun. Night photography is a real challenge. But I feel less self-conscious holding a camera in the dark. I’m going to want to invest in a tripod I think if I’m going to keep that up. I could see myself going around the city at night with my tripod and camera taking lots of night pictures. One thing I’m going to have to learn to do is figure out which version I like the best. As usual I need to be a better editor. Each shot should be unique I know. I always have trouble making up my mind.

My Flickr is Updated February 21, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Creativity, Personal, Photography.
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Well I upgraded my Flickr account and began uploading the pictures I took this weekend. 58 in all. Some came out better than others. I was playing around with the camera settings. It’s nice that all of the settings are stored with the pictures. You can even look it up on Flickr. I also played around with iPhoto. Some shots I made into black and white others I played with the color settings. They are not great but they are defiantly a start. I learned a great deal in just a couple of days and I’m actually pretty happy with some of the results. My two favorites are the ones I called “Looking up Market Street” and “Checking the Routes“.

I do need to keep a notebook with me though. If I am going to be taking pictures of buildings I need to get the addresses right. I’m not sure on a couple of buildings and that’s actually a little embarrassing since some of them are important San Francisco buildings. I’m going to enjoy walking around the City with a little more purpose.

And I’m going to be better about taking pictures of City events. So far this year I’ve missed the Pillow Fight on Valentine’s Day, the Chinese New Year’s Parade, the kick off to the Tour of America and that Rally that I tried to take pictures of but they all came out terrible. I will make a real effort to chronicle the City. I’m afraid that may be all you get on my Flickr but you will get more of it.

Stealing Souls February 21, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Creativity, Personal, Photography.
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So I bought a new camera on Sunday. It’s a Kodak, a Z7590. I went down to CompUsa to look for a power supply for the PC I’m going to sell (if I ever get off my ass about it). This is the second time the power supply wont turn on after moving the computer so I figured I’d better change it out before selling it. Since CompUsa was about double the price of NewEgg I decided to skip that purchase. I had been thinking about a new camera ever since I took my old one out to a protest rally on Union Square and didn’t get a single usable image. Too dark, not enough settings to compensate.

I figure what the heck, I’m here, let’s check out the cameras in person. I hadn’t actually heard of this camera but was drawn to the $130 off sticker. With 6 megapixels common and 8 on their way I was hoping to get one of last year’s 5 megapixel camera’s cheep. At $230 this was way below what I was thinking about paying. I went upstairs to the Mac’s they keep connected to the internet. I checked out the camera. It is feature rich. It has a multitude of manual and automatic settings. The only thing I wanted that it didn’t have was image stabilization. Still with so many manual controls I figured I could compensate. The 10x optical zoom did it for me. I went back downstairs and parted with a little bit of my tax refund.

I’ve always liked the idea of taking pictures. I’ve tried and had very limited success. Part of the problem is that I am most interested in taking pictures of people. This would not be a problem if I didn’t subscribe to primitive the notion that taking a picture of somebody steals a little bit of their soul. There is a scene in a movie from last year called “Heights” that illustrated this perfectly. The main character is a photographer in New York. One night she is lining up a shot of a woman holding a child. The woman turns to her and asks why she doesn’t have a life of her own that she has to steal theirs. This is exactly how I’ve felt about taking pictures. This has led me to taking many pictures of the tops of buildings, coastlines and for a short unhappy time birds. These are not things I have an eye for. I have an eye for faces. I’ve just felt so intrusive taking pictures of people I don’t know. Whenever I take pictures of people I know they are so self conscious that it doesn’t seem to count.

Well a commitment to try to stretch myself and a 10x zoom lens is going to change some of that. Here is a preview. There are more coming (including the tops of buildings). I just need to figure out how I want to upload these larger images than I’m used to (5 megapixels remember) to flicker. I will update my flicker account tonight when I get home from work. For now I will leave you with these two souls I stole while they were trying to make sense of a muni map where California ends at Market Street.

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Changes to the Weather February 15, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Creativity, Movies, Personal.
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Bay Area weather is shifting. This last week an a half of great weather we’ve been having is moving through. I got caught yesterday without a jacket or sweater. By the time I headed home at 6:30 it was cool and windy. Not that I’m complaining. Complaining about more than a week of highs in the 70’s while the east coast gets hit by a blizzard is bad karma. The weather has been fantastic for my sunglass concession. Last week was one of the three best since we opened in July.

The rough part about living alone is the holidays. I know that is stating the obvious but my apartment never seems smaller than on those days.

I skipped writing yesterday. I neither posted here nor did my daily journal pages. Even today I had a hell of a time getting through them. I actively looked for ways to avoid writing. It was so bad I found myself hitting Blogger’s “Next Blog” in the middle of sentences. My attention span is nothing lately. Both Monday and Tuesday I started movies and just quit them halfway through. They were not bad movies. Just strange and the combination of WTF factor and my own lack of focus just led to me stopping right in the middle. These are the times that are made for TV. I’m so glad I don’t have cable right now. I know I would channel surf for hours when I get like this if I had cable available to me.

See. I didn’t even mention the names of the movies I didn’t finish. Where is my focus? Monday’s movie was truly one of the strangest ones I’ve ever seen. “The Happiness of the Katakuris” is really weird. Click the link, read the description, shake your head in disbelief. It did make me laugh out loud though. Several times. I don’t remember doing that all that much watching movies last year. Well except for old movies. Last night’s movie was “Happy Endings” I should have taken some notes. That might have saved that one for me. In the popular indy genre of “everybody sleeps with everybody else and sets up elaborate¬† layers of lies” this one may be king. Maybe tonight I’ll start over with my notebook open and some flow chart tools available.

So the question of the day is why do I avoid the page if writing almost always makes me feel better? “Three a day keeps the shrink away,” has long been my motto for daily journal pages. I’m calmer, clearer and happier when I write. So why will I do almost anything to avoid doing it?

Church of Lee February 12, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in News and politics, Personal, Religion.
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My mother wrote me an email last night expressing a bit of spiritual hollowness. I dashed off a rather flip response, something to the tune of, “beats the hell out of me what it’s all about”. I don’t want to seem flip about this but religions seem to be headline grabbing lately, all of it based on fire, death and hatred from Tehran to Texas. I am expressly concerned with the Iranian prospects of nuclear war over a cartoon. Everybody is going to hell tortured in eternal flame forever except for us. The only difference I’ve been seeing lately is that the Christians seem to be content with smugly trying to outlaw the non-christians on their way to hell while the Muslims seem bent on hastening the day.

Ok, here is the deal. I’m a closet Christian. When I read a bible I skip to the text in red. But I firmly believe that politics and religion have no place being interlinked. How exactly does “Give to Ceaser what is Ceaser’s and to God what is God,” reconcile with the neo-con’s assertion that Jesus is in favor of lower taxes? I’m also in favor of lower taxes but I don’t think these two subjects belong in the discussion. I like discussing politics, I don’t mind discussing religion but I absolutely hate they way they have become linked. I would like to say that this kind of politicizing peaked last May when the Pastor of the East Waynesville Baptist Church resigned amid a storm of controversy after he told his congregation that if they had not voted for Bush they were no longer welcome in Church. I fear that we will see more and more of this as time goes on. I have no desire to be linked in any way with these people. Spirituality is best kept to oneself. This habit among religions and the religious to make a list of people they deny, behaviors that they abhor and then ask for help removing them from society is not not Christian, it is not loving, it is the politics of hate and destruction. I reject this. I would rather keep my thoughts and feelings to myself than to identify with these people even a little bit. Their hypocrisy is the real evil in the world today.

So that’s my sermon for this Sunday. Knowing the way I evolve I will probably violate my own rule about keeping my spirituality to myself and keep writing on the subject in the future. Mine is a dynamic and evolving mind. Sometimes it is a struggle to remember that that is a good thing. Sometimes it is a struggle to embrace myself. But I keep pushing along.

The Rejuvenating Power of Sunday Breakfast February 12, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in News and politics, Personal.
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Breakfast out with coffee and The New Yorker can do wonders for breaking out of a rut. At least that’s how it feels right now. I’ve just returned from the restaurant that my apartment window looks out on. I’m feeling at ease for the first time in weeks. I just read Peter Hessler’s letter from China, “Hutong Karma, the many incarnations of a Beijing alleyway”. It is a nice account of living in a four hundred year old Beijing ally and the changes it has been through in the last thirty or so. Some seventy-five percent of the old city has been demolished for new development. The remaining neighborhoods are just now being “protected”. You can translate that into disneyfied. The architecture remains the same but the boutiques and cafe’s and trendy bars are coming in. I’m a sentimentalist and that makes me a little sad. Sentimentality has always taken a back seat to practically, as it rightly should, in this city of fifteen million.

My own city remains completely untouched by the ravages of practicality. Last night was the Chinese New Years Day parade. I did not go. I was close enough to hear the firecrackers from the parade start, and helicopters buzzed around the neighborhood all night. I had been turned off by the bickering of the pro-human rights/anti-Beijing lobby in the city, the intensely pro-Beijing Chinese Chamber of Commerce and of course the Falun Gong who were banned from the parade just like they were outlawed in China. Nasty stuff for an event that used to be my favorite in the city. I stayed home caught up with my blog and played World of Warcraft instead.

So what does breakfast have to do with China? Not much particularly. The point is that feeling like myself again. I’m writing about what is occupying my thoughts again. Today I’m not afraid of the blank page. Today the blank page is my friend again.

Near Misses and New Beginnings February 11, 2006

Posted by Lee A Haynes in Personal.
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It’s been a week since I last posted. I thought it was going to take a day or two to get my head screwed back on straight. “Great”, I thought, “I have Monday and Tuesday off”. “Perfect time to do some writing and get back into the flow.” That is not how it worked out. I had rather last minute issues staffing the store and ended up spending several not very happy hours there on both Monday and Tuesday. Not what I had in mind for my “get back on track weekend”

It has felt like the funk that would not die. Work has been busy with customers, drama and tasks. Until this morning I had not done my daily journal entry since Tuesday. That’s the longest time I’ve missed since September. It has been a week of jagged edges and near misses.

Leaving the store Tuesday morning after dealing with my employee issue I was hoping to get some breakfast and enjoy the warm weather that descended on the bay area all week. I walked out the door to see my bus on the corner. I made a move for it but it was already rolling. But lo, it had to stop right in front of me because of something on the wires or something. So I try to get the driver to open the doors for me. He shrugs his shoulders and gives me the “can’t open the doors where there is no stop look” I’m not wearing my bag and I’ve beaten Muni between stops. I take off down the street as fast as I can. All of a sudden he starts honking his horn. I’m thinking, “He couldn’t have had a change of heart. Muni removes them when they hand out the brown jackets.” Sure enough though he is still in the same spot and appears to be pointing at the door. So I run back thinking he’s just going to take off on me. Turns out that this was my guardian angel bus driver. He wasn’t pointing at the door at all. He was pointing at my wallet which hadn’t made it back into my pocket when I took off down Union Street. I picked it up and he opened the door for me.

The night before I was coming off of the Cable Car at Powell and Bush and was almost hit right away by some guy speeding past us on the right. Although I’m not sure how lucky that was as a near miss. It was a late model Benz and they guy was dressed well. An asshole yes but loaded. Could have been some profitable bruises in the there.

Thursday it was my apartment key going missing. I still had my key ring. I had my store keys, my apartment building key, my mailroom key, and my mailbox key but my apartment key was totally MIA. I had changed case keys on my ring at the store and I think that’s where I lost it. It was very disheartening to come home and be denied at the door. Larry the manager to the rescue. He got me in and locked the door behind me in the morning. Even made me a key and didn’t bill me for it. I didn’t have to sleep with him either. Although he did bring it up.

I have been sleeping and eating erratically. My apartment is still a mess. But tomorrow is another day and another day off too. Near misses and even some good stuff in there. I found the silver lining to losing money in the stock market when I did my taxes on Thursday. I’m getting money back. And I was afraid I was going to owe. I turned my World of Warcraft account back on and have been having a good time with it without it taking over my life. I guess I needed that eleven month break from it. And I’m meeting Lys for a drink tomorrow. Full moon tomorrow. Start of something good I think.

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