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The Sole Prop's Sister?


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January 21, 2010

They Do, They Do
Thursday. I mentioned, as I often mention, that I bought sake yesterday. Safeway has a pricing strategy: if you buy six of the small 150ml bottles you save some money. So I bought six bottles, being a good fellow who looks to save some money. I usually buy two, the limit I put on an evening with sake and, of course, I wondered how I'd handle the situation. I've been there before, many bottles on hand in an evening that's going quite well, will I drink more than two? Doodle-dee-do? And, of course, I drank four. No savings there. Still, an occasional evening when the gates are opened, the limits are no longer in force, four bottles, the equivalent of one bottle less than a 750ml bottle of wine, is not the end of the world. But we need to remember this, remember our rationalizations, remember what is true and what is not. In one's journal. Exposed to the world.

Breakfast! Back from breakfast and an hour and a quarter's reading of the papers, a light rain, the head clear, the attitude upbeat. For a rainy day, anyway. The apartment is warm, I'm warm, the various little projects I'm involved in making headway. This is good, is it not? That first paragraph, written last evening, well, a somewhat funky head when I awoke, but that evaporated once I'd gotten up, fed Ms. Emmy and shaved. I wouldn't do that every evening, it wouldn't work well in the scheme of things, but one night just to remember seems well worth it. And I still have two of those small bottles left. I wonder how long they'll last?

I first heard the story on NPR and then read a story in the Times about a study showing kids between the ages of eight and eighteen spend seven and a half hours a day on electronic media (texting, iPods, gaming, mobile phones and everything else that runs on batteries or plugs into a wall). This is up well over an hour determined by a similar study done five years ago, the extra hour and seventeen minutes added through multitasking (texting while simultaneously listening to your iPod, surfing the web and such). Basically they're online or in school or asleep. I was thinking of this story as I note how much time I spend online as a sixty-six year old. I'm retired, of course, don't attend school and have hours eight year olds don't, but still, do I spend seven and a half hours futzing with this stuff? I don't know, but I suspect I'm close.

Yes, I get out, I shoot pictures (with an electronic camera, does that count?), I meet friends (but much less often now that I no longer have an office to go to - unemployment people, I'm working on that - but I also keep this thing up and running and have a Facebook account. I don't text, don't spend any time on the phone (mobile or otherwise), have an iPod but never listen to it (as I don't much listen to music on my stereo, records, CD's or the radio). I'm pretty much plugged into NPR if I'm listening to a program at all with an occasional pop over to Air America for, um, frivolity and to hear what's his name refer to our ex-president as “the Bush crime family” after I've gone to bed, a cheap shot, but well worth the thrill. And that's about it. I'm not talking about gold stars and pats on the back here, it's just what life is anymore for eight to eighteen year olds and a guy sitting here at sixty-six. Ain't gonna change, I suspect.

Still, you seem to be thinking about it.

I occasionally wonder about life and how much of it is “reality” and how much of it is “fantasy”. You're in Haiti, there's an earthquake, the building falls on your head and kills you, that's reality. You sit here in Oakland, you watch all this on the news, you send some money to the relief effort, is that time you spend following along reality too? Does three hours online looking for this or that constitute reality? Does writing this qualify as part of the “real” world? My real world? You can't pay the rent, that's reality? You read about other people not being able to pay the rent, is that reality from your perspective? I think it is from their's. So I read these stories and studies with some interest. When I'm reading them is that part of my “real”world? Does reality only happen when you stub your toe? Pain? People bouncing off people?

This is what you do sitting in your apartment? “Reality?” Sounds unreal.

Nothing kinky about it, no great energy being expended, but you do wonder, given the way the world seems to be going. Twitter and such. Is “dreaming” a life the same thing as “living” a life? I suspect you might prefer “dreaming” if you're that guy in Haiti. Just thinking out loud. Pay no attention to me, dreaming here in Oakland.

Later. Rain, a drizzle, but consistent, no walks this afternoon. I guess I could set up a couple of lights in the living room and shoot some portraits, but maybe tomorrow if this continues. And it's supposed to continue.

I watched a half hour PhotoShop tutorial that was posted on Facebook earlier, swell things you can do in Camera RAW, the program that pops up when you open a digital RAW image before going into PhotoShop itself. I learned two things: there are many useful things you can do in Camera RAW, one; and two, I'm a complete idiot for having used PhotoShop this long without learning what can be done in just Camera RAW alone. I had some similar thoughts when I attended a seminar on Lightroom, another Adobe product. So I've spent the last couple of hours redoing two recent images, improving them to the point of embarrassment. Well, improving them. A thirty minute tutorial covers a lot of ground. If I'm smart I'll practice these techniques for at least another week, learn to use them without having to think. Some photographer. How long have I been using PhotoShop?

I don't think people care.

Oh, but they do, they do!

The photograph was taken at the top of an elevator in the Oakland Chinese Cultural Center with a Nikon D3S mounted with a 50mm f 1.4 Nikkor AF lens at f 5 at 1/800th second, ISO 200.