Magical Disappearing Self

I sort of dropped off the planet for the past week or so, despite my best intentions to continue to post images and writing. However, since Monday, I’ve been getting up at 5:30am and heading to work, and spending the day in a computer lab, and then not getting home until 6 or 6:30 (sometimes later… it all depends on traffic). At the end of it, I make some food, maybe watch a movie, and head to bed… my brain has simply not been in a state where I’ve felt like writing during the periods of time where I’m actually able to write something.

Regarding work: this is the same testing gig I had back in 2004. I emailed them earlier, and basically re-upped with them, so I can have at least some income while I look for more steady work. As soon as the paperwork was filled out, I got a weeklong shift doing Xbox 360 testing (and more than that, I can’t say, because they treat their NDAs very seriously). I’ve been looking forward to Friday for most of the week (which is normal, I imagine), so I could catch up on the things I’ve been neglecting while my sleep schedule radically adjusts. Of course, today (Friday), we got offered overtime for the weekend, and I honestly can’t turn down 16 hours of time and a half, so I’ll be working tomorrow and Sunday as well. Monday I know I have off, because I’m taking a course instead — one of the nice “bennies” they offer to make up for the low pay and sporadic hours is that they offer a number of courses and classes throughout the year for very very little money — like, $10. So, Monday and Wednesday this week, I have sessions on project management that I’m kind of looking forward to. Given that the direction I’d like to go within a game career is game production and writing, having project management training or experience is a really great addition to my resume.

I also want to give a shout out and congrats to my friend Tegan, who I finally managed to catch up with after several days of phone tag, who informed me of her recent engagement! May you find a lifetime of happiness.

The Sun Sets

Needle and Post

Back at Zoka, and just spent the past hour or so sifting through pictures and prepping them for upload. They’re up now (11 new images, out of 123 taken… the skyline shots do vary more than the thumbs suggest — the curse of automated thumbnailing). I took the evening yesterday and got some Thai food from Tup Tim Thai on Mercer, and kept an eye on the sunlight… as it started getting a yellow-orange saturation, I paid and headed up the hill to Kinnear Park on Olympic (Uri knows exactly where I’m talking about), took a few shots, then walked up the hill to one of the streets above (for those not familiar: Queen Anne Hill is one of the taller hills in Seattle proper, and is a honeycomb of streets winding around it). From there, I had a perfect vantage for catching the skyline and the Space Needle. Very happy with the location, and may go back at some point for future (later in the evening) shots.

Today, I dealt with orientation for my game testing position with VMC (it’s been long enough that I was off the books, so all new paperwork and NDAs and such — wheee), and got signed up for a full week of testing next week (starting Monday). I’m really not looking forward to the morning commute, fighting Microsoft traffic across the lake, but otherwise I’m pretty happy to be back working there. We’ll see if I feel the same way after getting up at 6am to be at work by 7:30 for the next week (I’m not a morning person… I know I can do it, and I will, but the first few days of adjusting are going to be a pain, especially since my current sleep pattern has been keeping me awake til 3:30 or 4 even when I try going to bed at midnight or 1).

It looks like I’m going to actually make my photographic goal this month in terms of pictures taken (fill a dvd a month with photography), but I’ve been sort of slacking on the writing… I’ve been blogging, yes, and keeping up with my “waiting for food” journals when I go out, but in terms of creative/productive writing, I haven’t done as much as I’d like. I’ve been getting a lot of brainstorms for ideas to pitch as books to publishers, but I don’t really have the credentials to pull it off (this doesn’t mean I shouldn’t still write up a pitch and sample chapter and start submitting it, but it does sort of lower its priority in how I spend my time). I need to get into a better habit of writing them down and organizing them, so I don’t forget the good ones (and later separate the ones I thought were good but actually suck, and vice versa, after the initial “cool” has worn off). Haven’t decided whether it’d be easiest to carry an “ideas” book with me, integrate it into my normal journal, or what. Need to think about it. I’ll probably just integrate it… I’d like to finish up this vertical-flip Moleskine anyway (already have a normal book-style replacement waiting, just can’t justify swapping over when it’s still a perfectly good notebook, just not my binding preference).

Most of you already know that I really like watching people… it’s one of the reasons I hang out at coffee shops, to watch the interactions, to be at least peripherally involved in the social dialogue. I find that “distanced immersion” helps me focus on writing and productive endeavors. I’m bringing this up because there is a couple at the table across from me… an attractive blonde student with an accent I haven’t quite placed — initially though a light Irish, but upon further listening, I’m thinking Austrian (how could I mistake the two? *shrug*), and a guy, who gives off a general geek-frat vibe for lack of a better way to describe him. The flirting is hilarious. They banter a little bit, they physically bat at each other, let themselves get maybe 6 inches apart from each other, where it’s so obvious he’s aiming to move in for a kiss — and then she shuts him down, every single time. Maybe they’re dating and she’s just messing with him (well, regardless of the level of relationship, she’s messing with him), maybe they’re friends with some sexual tension (whether bi-directional or not), or something similar. Beats the hell out of me, but it is definitely amusing to watch.

The Days Go By

The past few days, I’ve been stressing about cash, since at this point, even if I start work tomorrow, my first paycheck won’t be here in time for rent. I mentioned a bit of that sort of financial mess last time, not worth continuing to expand upon it. In the meantime (to give myself a bit more float again), I’ve sold my stereo, still trying to sell the Vaio, and I finally got a call back from Volt about resuming my “on call” testing gig. The pay has gone down while I was gone, and I’ve been gone long enough that I have to go through orientation and paperwork again, but that’s happening tomorrow. I wouldn’t say I’m gainfully employed, but cash is cash, and it’ll help slow down the hemorrhaging while I continue to look for something concrete that can consistently pay my bills.

While they haven’t listed as hiring, I’m going to try and drop off a resume with Fantagraphics soon (need to get some actually printed). I really enjoy their work, and I think it would be great to work for such a respected graphic novel publisher. What exactly I’d be doing, I have no idea — they haven’t actually listed any positions, but I’m applying anyway. I’m also going to apply for the recently posted Community Manager position listed at Areae, but that’s something of a long shot (not because I couldn’t do it, but because they’re looking for a senior manager, with more experience and credentials… also, it would mean moving to San Diego). If you don’t try, you definitely won’t get it, but if you try, at least there’s a chance, right?

The same could be said for running for president as an independent, I suppose.

In other news, it’s lovely out, and supposed to finally start getting warmer — while it’s been fairly warm already, it sort of reached a plateau of an average of 55 and then stopped getting warmer… time for it to start incrementng upwards again, methinks! I’ve been trying to think about what things I’d like to do that doesn’t involve a lot of cash, to make use of the wonderful weather. Wandering around taking pictures is certainly an option (just had a random run-in with other camera people at the coffee shop right after writing this, actually… one running the XTI, and the other just picking up a D200), but the photos I’ve been feeling antsy to take are a distance away (I want to head into the mountains, capture spring and early summer in the Cascades and the Olympics). The other photos I’ve been wanting to work on and take are candids and portraiture. Which involves more humanistic interaction than I really have going right now… OR, putting ads on Craigslist and taking what I can get. (There is an element of “just go out and take the damn pictures,” but I’m not there quite yet.)

From parking to the door, there was a delightful aroma of cut grass and lilacs in the air, pungent and alive. From my bedroom window, the sun transforms the green leaves into golden fire, aglow with light. Blue skies patterned with white towering clouds, a textured horizon arousing intimacy of space.

Free Cone Day

Flowering Tree

Yes, that’s right, today is the Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day — best wishes to those who work there for making it through the day. For the rest of us: Wheee, free ice cream! I opted for “Coffee Coffee, Buzz Buzz Buzz” for my cone. Quite tasty, and it’s do damn pleasant out (about 60 and sunny) that ice cream totally seemed like the order of the day. Ice cream out of the way, I headed over to Zoka to drink some chai and wait for a few calls — I decided to sell my stereo and my PC, and (unlike when I posted the PC on craigslist in Vermont) I received responses very quickly. Looks like I’ll probaby be selling the PC for less than I hoped, but it’ll be done and gone and the money will still be a welcome influx. The stereo I have two and a half interested parties, so to some extent it’ll depend on who gets ahold of me with details first (that would be the phone calls). That will be a MORE than welcome cash influx, since I’m fast approaching the bottom of the barrel, and want to make sure I have enough for rent and bills for May, since first paychecks often take extra time to arrive. (I should be able to squeak by with what I have, but squeaking by is decidedly not a good spot to be.) And besides, I don’t really have room to set them up in my apartment anyway. (To clarify, I’m selling the stereo components: the stereo with integrated amp, cd player, and interconnects, NOT the speakers and speaker cables. Those I figure I’ll be able to make use of at a later date, and in the meantime can live in a closet.)

I received a package today that I wasn’t expecting, from my dear friend Elizabeth. She sent me a card and a book (notably a cookbook gained from her days working as an intern at W.W. Norton) for my birthday. I can’t even begin to describe how much this means to me. I don’t really receive gifts very often (even for birthdays), and so to get this out of the blue… yeah. It means a lot. Elizabeth, you’re an absolute sweetheart — thank you.

The trees are full of young emerald leaves, and are beginning to look lush and full, which is a delight. There are a few towering trees that I THINK are poplars (weeping simons is my guess, since I haven’t stopped to check them out up close to actually identify the tree… going by pictures off google) on my way from my apartment down to Zoka, that are really just looking gorgeous illuminated by the afternoon sun, set against a rich blue sky. But really, in general it’s just lovely. (I’m not trying to rub in that the weather is great in Seattle right now while the east coast suffers, but it would seem a shame to not appreciate it while it’s here. When it’s great in Seattle, it’s really great.)

Why Am I Still Up?

Blue Sun

I don’t really have an answer, to be honest. I started mucking around with Photoshop, not doing anything particularly special. It’s pretty simple, but I still think it’s pretty. I’ve spent the entire day in the house, working on getting a few things lined up and organized. So, no coffee, no tea, no chai, no caffeine at all that I can think of… and still I’m up ’til 3:30 (and frankly I’m still not all that tired, though I know I should sleep). While I wouldn’t exactly call it conclusive, I would say that it strongly suggests that my sleep patterns are messed up for some reason other than ingesting several cups of caffeinated beverage in the evening.

I don’t really have much else to say, but I did feel like posting my little goofy star thing. If you want real art, or real photography, there are hundreds and even thousands of sites to point out, but if you feel like looking at little random translucent objects, I’ve got you covered (as do, again, hundreds of other sites).

I’ll probably post something a bit more substantial (whether that includes an image or not is still subject to debate) later in the day. I sort of have a personal goal for myself to post more times this month than any prior month. Since the month is only a little past half over, I don’t think it’s that unreasonable a goal.

More to Ponder

I just wrote and posted my first essay on Critical Games in months. I wouldn’t say it’s my most scholarly work, but I think I make a few good points and anecdotal observations. (It regards Avatar and MUDs in general within the dicussion of virtual worlds and virtual communities.) It did feel good to get something up there, though. It also reminds me that not every post on there has to be Shakespeare or Hemingway. If I get my point across, then I reckon I’m communicating adequately enough, and shouldn’t sweat it so much.

So, I’ve been doing a fair bit more photography of late (and would like to escalate that even further), and have been thinking pretty heavily about investing in some software to help that process. I’m currently using Photoshop CS2, but it’s not native, and so can be a bit of a pain to use in a number of circumstances (largely relating to all the peripheral foo that accompanies the app… plugins, the updater app, camera raw, Adobe Bridge, etc), and still doesn’t solve a core issue of media management. Some of this would be solved by upgrading to CS3, but realistically, 95%+ of what I do with Photoshop is photographs, so it’s worth my time to at least consider a more targeted solution, since they now exist: Apple Aperture, and Adobe Lightroom. They’re fairly direct competitors, with a remarkably similar feature set, and likely either would work satisfactorily for me. Lightroom has tighter Photoshop integration, Aperture has tighter OS integration (both appealing). They cost the same (or will after April 30th, and I’m not sure if the money I’d be using to buy it will be in by then).

I think I may need to sit down and try out each of them (thankfully they both offer free trials), and decide that way, because ultimately reviews and screenshots don’t cut it — experiencing the workflow and deciding what works best for you is what’s necessary. (The point may be moot if a job doesn’t show up soon, but I am remaining optimistic that this will be the case.)

Friday the 13th, 2007

While considered bad luck by many, I’ve not really found Friday the 13th to be particularly different from any other given Friday… arguably, I’ve had better luck on them than worse (which I suppose goes with my general experience with “luck”… find a 4 leaf clover, fall and skin your knee… walk under a ladder, find a quarter on the sidewalk. Don’t even get me started on my jade pendant). I slept in today, though not as late as some of the past few days, and overall I’m feeling alright.

In my daily spate of rss feeds and blogs, the inestimable Warren Ellis pointed out a fantastic post on M John Harrison’s blog, that’s worth quoting:

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.

I’m not sure that I entirely agree: while worldbuilding should be by no means the primary function of the story, taking the time to hammer out a core basis for the setting of your story I think can be really rewarding. I must admit that I’m a bit biased in this, in that I like thinking about the esoteric and random elements surrounding a story — how a given civilization functions, the history and struggle that caused that particular world to be formed. It’s easy to become myopic when doing this, absolutely, to start thinking about how a particular tribe in Uganda handles the dry season when your story has nothing to do with that and that knowledge will never even be mentioned. But if you are mindful of this, mindful of the lure of avoiding the story by fleshing out the world (yet another form of procrastination, seductive in its psuedo-productivity), then that elaboration can help tighten and expand your story.

That’s my opinion anyway, and I don’t exactly have any award winning publications to back it up. Unlike M John Harrison.

I kind of agree with him in some ways, though. As soon as the worldbuilding becomes even translucent (let alone opaque), you’ve bored most readers… worldbuilding should be for your own edification and cohesion as the writer. Its role in the story itself should be transparent. (I believe it was Silverberg, and I’m paraphrasing, who commented that Heinlein was one of the few others who managed to ladel on pages of exposition without boring the reader.) I do definitely agree with Mr. Harrison’s thoughts about writing, which he expounds upon here:

The notebook stage is the last time anything of mine sees paper until publication. I like to do lots of operations. Fountain pens and refurbished 1930 Underwood portables don’t cut it; digital management is the appropriate choice. Have you ever noticed how every male novelist you meet at a literary festival wears a linen jacket and is called Tim ? Tim prefers an antique Watermans, maybe his dad owned it. It keeps him pure and returns him to the sinewy prose of the giants who came before us all.

I don’t have any writing pattern. I hate being professional. I don’t write according to a schedule or an output plan; I don’t begin at the beginning and write to the end. Or rather: if I do any of those things I usually have to bin the results. Writing should be fun–absorbing, transporting, intense, whatever. It should ambush you. It should be up there with sex, drugs and irresponsible driving. It shouldn’t have anything to do with research or require a degree in finding out about lipstick colours in 1943. I can’t do it if I’m bored or depressed or feeling unconfident. Once it’s working, I can write anywhere–I’ve done stuff while hanging off an abseil rope on a sea cliff or a highrise building–but not under any conditions. If I’m sitting at my desk I hate to be cold, I hate anyone’s noise except my own. But I like working on a train.

Sounds about right to me. When I’m on a roll, it doesn’t really matter where I am, and if I’m feeling depressed, it’s like pulling teeth to get anything that isn’t simply mopey or angst-ridden out onto the screen or page. I’ve found it easy to get into that rut, and try to be mindful of it, and not letting it overwhelm other things I wish to talk about (if you’ve noticed that my posts sometimes seem varied and veer through topics with remarkable speed, now there’s perhaps a hint as to why… that, or I have the attention span of a goldfish. Maybe a bit of both). With depression, it’s remarkably easy to get stuck on depression and its related trappings, despite the fact that the answer to combatting it is do and be productive and talk about other things.

So, R Stevens linked to SBaGen via Twitter, and I decided to at least find out what the heck he was talking about. Turns out SBaGen is an open source binaural beats generator. If you’re not familiar with the concept, a quick explanation (there are whole books about this, so I definitely recommend looking into it on your own if you’re curious): binaural beats is a method to synchronize and alter your brainwave patterns, ie putting yourself into an alpha or theta (among others) state, for the purposes of meditation, focus, more restful sleep, lucid dreaming, and even (supposedly) out of body experiences. It’s kind of new age-y, but since it’s a free generator, who really cares, it cost you nothing to try it out, and if you decide it’s not worth it, you can delete it easily.

I tried out the Demo, which starts at a 200Hz cycle and slides down to 5Hz over the course of 30 minutes. It’s supposed to theoretically leave you feeling light and energized. I do feel more alert after trying it, though I would like to comment on a few things that happened with it (while I won’t necessarily be posting it on here, I do plan on keeping a journal of my observations as I experiment with this). Notably, a few minutes in, my left thumb abruptly started to feel extremely hot, and my right thumb started to feel cold. Neither was touching anything, and after another few minutes, it largely subsided (which would make sense since different wavelengths are meant to affect you differently, and that frequency changed over that period). Dunno what it all means, but it does leave me curious to find out.

Of Many Things

Let’s just get it out there: Kurt Vonnegut died. Chances are pretty good you already knew that, given that it’s been all over the news and blogs and everywhere else. Still, putting it out there in case you hadn’t (also, because the article at the NY Times is pretty well written and worth the read).

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Tuesday — the day itself was pretty “meh,” a genuine non-day that I spent alone, but that in and of itself is an improvement from a lot of my recent past birthdays. So — thanks, it meant a lot to get the well wishes. I did pick up some shoes (my Keens are completely shredded, hardly a good impression during job interviews), so I swung by Wooly Mammoth in the University district and picked up some Clarks on sale. They’re pretty snazzy, though I must admit after spending the past month in sandals, it does feel weird to be back in a closed shoe. Still the toe room is good, they’re light, good insoles… they just feel light on the feet.

I’ve been sleeping in a lot lately, which isn’t really a good thing, but hardly unexpected. The anti-depressant medication helps me through the day, but the process of waking up is still a pain (even if I take the meds before bed). I don’t think I mentioned that I’m back on meds for it before, but yeah, since November or so. I was having a pretty bad depressive relapse due to fallout from my breakup and stress from finances and lack of work and just in general trying to figure out what I was doing with myself. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m “better,” but the meds do help me get a grip on things. Except the sleep part. Worry about money and work is mounting, and so my “defense” mechanism of sleeping too much is rearing its head. (It’s not that uncommon, the rationalization is that if you sleep through it, it’ll go away. That the world doesn’t really work like that is irrelevant.) I suspect some low grade dehydration might also have something to do with it (it’s never good when you can actually recollect all the liquid you’ve ingested in a day, and that most of it is caffeinated — and not even much of that).

Not trying to get mopey or anything, just sometimes you have a down day.

The most recent issue of LensWork (an excellent photographic magazine if you haven’t already checked it out) discussed a new podcast they’ve launched, that offers “commentary” rather than “critique” for a particular image from one of their current issues. The article that expanded on this topic went on to explain that whether you like or don’t like an image is relatively useless to anyone but yourself, and similarly, while exploring the technical merit of a print has value, describing how you would change it is also irrelevant — you are viewing the finished product, so unless you are planning to do a variant of the image, it doesn’t really matter what you would change. So they’ve opted to instead call their work a commentary on the image, similar to the work a docent might do in a gallery or museum.

While I applaud the decision to explore the content and context of an image rather than simply review it, personally I would have preferred that they had opted to make an effort to re-take the value and intent of “critique”. Literary or Art Criticism functions exactly as they are describing, and as I’ve mentioned before, what they are describing is the core function of critique. Just because in the photographic community the term has been co-opted for what largely amounts to a technical (or even subjective!) review doesn’t mean that the term is a lost cause. Don’t get me wrong, a technical review absolutely has merit, especially within the professional community for the purposes of furthering one’s craft, but it is only one element of a wider form of criticism that is largely being ignored — ignored to the point that a national magazine like LensWork felt it necessary to divorce themselves of the term!

That said, I still really enjoy the magazine. The photography in it is exquisite, and reading over the biographies of a number of the artists is really encouraging — many start out with “I went and did something else for 20 years, and only got back into photography quite recently,” which is encouraging in that it suggests that 1) technical excellence can be gained or regained quickly, and 2) that you don’t necessarily have to work at your craft for 50 years just be start to be recognized.

It’s kind of strange, in that I feel that I still have so much to learn in terms of craft in so many fields that I wish to pursue, but at the same time feel like it’s time in my life to start leaving a mark, to create and do. It’s a weird dichotomy, the urge to create and but the need to further craft in order to do so. I don’t think I’m really properly explaining it, but this will have to do for now.

April the Ninth

Nabil 4/9/2007

I seem to be running in radio silence on weekends (generally speaking). I couldn’t tell you why that is, per se, but it does seem to be a trend. I decided this weekend to go back to being cleanshaven, and got a haircut today (picture is included to the right). Sometimes it’s nice to just have a change, and this is something I have control over. I’ve been fairly upbeat the past few weeks, which is good, but the general socialization has been wearing me down (I am still an introvert), and I finally just sort of crashed on Friday night, after drinking far too many chais (when I crash from caffeine, I get really depressed, which is why I usually limit my intake). I spent the weekend holed up at the apartment, only going out long enough to find a mailbox to mail out some bills, and I’m feeling much better for it.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and I’m trying to decide what I’m going to do with it. My birthdays generally speaking have been pretty lousy, often dealing with snow and rain, getting abandoned by friends, spending all of it driving and getting pulled over (though thankfully not ticketed) (and a week later having my marriage fall apart), and just in general being kind of lame and oft-forgotten. Considering how few people I know in this area, I’ll probably be spending it alone as well, so I’m trying to think of solo things to do on a likely rainy day to “celebrate”. Maybe spend the day at the movie theater, or something.

Chris gave me some good advice for my resume, so I’ll probaby be doing a minor revision of it to better highlight a few things (namely my work on the Applegeeks column… incidentally, my interview with Wil Shipley is now up). I sincerely hope that it all results in at least some interviews, if not full job offers (one step at a time, after all, though I can’t really afford to wait much longer). While I’m on the mercenary tack, I’ve been also working on updating and revising Be My Patron, though the updates aren’t up yet. I figure I have the time now, I may as well get that a bit more up and running, actually post some projects looking for patrons. It’s frankly been a placeholder for the past several months while I dealt with the moving and life — a good idea that stalled out.

Listening to the new Panda Bear cd again at the coffee shop, and it’s still good. I’m pulling different things out of it this time, however, and nearly mistook one of the songs for a song off Smile by Brian Wilson ne Beach Boys. (Not that it’s a bad thing… that is also a good album.) Life is cluttered with new music, nowadays, between Zoka and KEXP. So many new bands, like Under Byen, Peter Bjorn and John, Beirut, and a slew of others. Some I’ve been able to collect via free downloads (ala Bastard Fairies who put up their album for free, and the KEXP Song of the Day podcasts), but being the collector that I am, I’d really like to go pick up full albums, even if it’s via iTMS. It’s a good lesson in patience, and in learning to write down albums and band names, rather than simply hoping I remember later.

Unbelievably Nice

UW Library

It is currently 75 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Everything is greening up quickly and wonderfully, and it’s just spectacular. I am once again at Zoka, drinking an iced chai and getting my daily writing done. I also grabbed the pictures off my camera from last evening… I only took a few, but they’re kind of fun in an abstract sort of way. It’s warmer and clearer out tonight, so I’m actually planning to head back this evening with my tripod, and see what I can pull out. (I’m still pretty proud of myself for getting the shots that I did get as clear and steady as I did via handholding… it helps that I tossed on my 50mm f/1.4, which made for speeds that were as short as possible. (1/5 of a second at 11:30 at night? Not too shabby!) Using the tripod, I’m planning on doing some long duration shots instead. Hmm.

They’re playing the new Panda Bear album here at Zoka, and I’m definitely digging it. It’s a nice coincidence that the honorable Mr. Ellis was mentioning them not too long ago. Panda Bear, for those not in the loop, is one of the core members of Animal Collective, a fantastic band for those not familiar with them. This is one of his solo albums, and musically it’s got some Animal Collective flavoring, while remaining relatively unique, intermixing more ethereal, electronic influences into the work. Something to add to my rapidly increasing list of albums and artists I’d like to pick up.

Chatting with Dad earlier today, and going over some of the photos I uploaded yseterday evening, it seems one of my perennial problems is cropping up again: it’s pretty noticeable, in, say, this photo. Do you see it? Yeah, my horizon line isn’t level. For whatever reason, a lot of my shots have a 1-2 degree drop on the right side of the horizon. It looks level to me when I take the picture, and one theory I have is that since I tend to have my head cocked slightly to the left a lot of the time, my brain is compensating by adjusting what I see to be “level”. Dad thinks it may have something to do with my posture and grip on the camera. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was some combination of the two. Thinking about it, even shots I take on a tripod tend to have that drop, so the notion that it is movement from pressing the button down, or a cockeyed method of holding it I don’t think would fully explain it. It’s certainly not an insurmountable problem, even in post, but it is something I need to be more aware of happening.

So, a question for readers: do you like me adding thumbnails and pictures to my posts? Is it a worthwhile habit, or would you rather I just link to the gallery if I want to point out an image? I’ve been opting to use thumbnails mostly, out of deference for those on dialup, and will likely continue that trend, but I would like to know whether people like the break from my text-heavy posts.