Sorting it out

January 22, 2014

The glory of digital photography is that you can take 30 shots to get the one you want, without having to worry about the cost of film or processing. The flip side is that you end up taking 30 shots to get the one you want, dumping ALL of them off onto your hard drive, and keeping them forever, just in case you might need them, as opposed to looking at prints and scanning only the keepers.

This is fine until you end up with so much crap on your hard drive that you realize it would take a full day to back it all up, so you just live dangerously until the inevitable happens and your hard drive goes bad, at which point you start using language that would make Samuel L. Jackson blush as you contemplate dropping the damn thing off the Bill Emerson Bridge on your way to pick up film and a new typewriter ribbon — except you can’t, because you pretty much have to order typewriter ribbons online. Kind of like how you have to download a slide rule app for your iPhone, because video killed the radio star. Or something. You kids get off my lawn.

Anyway, while I was rummaging through a flash drive last night in search of the one folder of images I was sure I’d backed up and absolutely could not stand the thought of losing, I ran across a keeper I’d scanned a little over 10 years ago, when I was still using 35mm:

vega

 

Ron shot this during the weekend in 2003 when we repainted the sign at the now-shuttered Vega Motel on Route 66 in the Texas Panhandle. Last time I was through there, a little over a year ago, the sign still looked pretty good. It’s probably in better shape than some of the buildings at this point.

Emily

 


PSA: Tracks have rules.

December 10, 2013

As we approach the new year, with its time-honored tradition of buying gym memberships and abandoning them three weeks later, I’d like to address a point of etiquette too many people ignore:

Track lane usage.

If you join a gym with an indoor track, please take a minute to find out the rules for using that track — and then follow them.

Most gyms ask track users to run clockwise one day and counter-clockwise the next. To avoid head-on collisions, find out the day’s direction before you step onto the track.

Blind curves are an unfortunate reality of most indoor tracks. The shorter the track, the more blind curves per mile — so for safety reasons, gyms with multilane tracks usually designate separate lanes for runners and walkers.

When you run in the walking lane, you risk crashing into an unseen walker as you round a curve. This risk is particularly high at the hospital-owned gym I use, where many walkers are rehabbing from injuries and have limited mobility. They can’t get out of the way if a wrong-lane runner suddenly comes barreling around a curve.

You also risk confusing walkers, who may end up in the running lane in an effort to stay out of your way. This endangers both the walker and any runners who might be cruising along in the correct lane, unaware that a slow-moving obstacle is just around the curve. There is a big difference between a 10:00 mile (my top sustainable speed) and a 20:00 mile, and if I come around the corner at 6 mph to find someone dawdling along at half that speed, I have little time to react.

This is annoying at best — I’ve just been forced to alter my pace for no good reason — and dangerous at worst, as it forces me to risk injury by stopping on a dime or changing directions abruptly to avoid a painful collision.

This scenario is even more dangerous on outdoor trails shared by cyclists and pedestrians, as the speeds are faster, and bikes tend to be harder and have more pointy edges than people. Trust me: You don’t want to be involved in the aftermath of running in the bike lane, or vice versa.

For safety’s sake, stay in your lane.

Please pass this information along to anyone who might be thinking of joining a gym after the holidays. A little forethought can prevent a lot of pain.

Emily


Squatters’ rights don’t apply here.

September 11, 2013

<rant>

About four or five years ago, I started seeing teenage girls change their marital status to “married” on their Facebook profiles. I rolled my eyes. Married. Right. Whatever, kid. You’re 15. Here’s a cardboard box; go cut some windows in it and pretend it’s the tract house that you share somewhere that’s green.

Shortly after that, some of my then-students started posting status updates: “Who wants to get Facebook married? LMS.” It became something of a game, with kids coming up with various criteria or creating contests to be “Facebook married” for a day.

Ridiculous, but kids do all sorts of ridiculous things. Again, I say: whatever.

Unfortunately, being “Facebook married” has led to an insufferable little trend in which women in their late teens or early 20s (frequently drama queens who are incapable of maintaining a relationship for more than an hour and a half) refer to their boyfriend du jour as their “husband” and then deliver (often obscenity-laced) tirades expressing moral outrage if other young women try to break up their Facebook marriages by flirting with their Facebook husbands.

I’m all for daydreaming, and if you want to play house, it’s no skin off my arse, but understand: This practice of referring to your boyfriend as “my hubby” has precisely the same legal standing and commands approximately the same level of respect as my rat terrier demarcating his personal territory by urinating on objects he encounters. Feel free to do it if it makes you happy, but please don’t expect anybody to take you seriously or treat you like a grownup when you’re just peeing on fire hydrants and yipping at people in a futile effort to make them respect your authoritah.

</rant>

Emily


On misogyny

February 27, 2013

I participated in a Facebook conversation today about Hillary Clinton and the possibility that she might run for president in 2016.

Some people loved the idea. Some hated it.

Some of Clinton’s detractors voiced legitimate concerns; a few offered bizarre conspiracy theories; and a couple revealed themselves to be practitioners of a particularly noxious species of misogyny that seems to be all the rage in some circles.

Criticizing Clinton’s performance in Benghazi or her voting record on the Iraq War is legitimate. Criticizing her for her husband’s behavior is questionable but possibly legitimate, depending on the behavior under discussion. (“I didn’t like the administration’s position on X or Y and am afraid she would bring that back” is legitimate; “She couldn’t control her husband” is sexist nonsense.)

Criticizing Clinton because you consider her physically unattractive is — pardon my blunt language — inexcusable, misogynistic bullshit. We are not talking about whether she is qualified to be a Hooters waitress. We are talking about whether she is qualified to be the leader of the free world.

When you take cheap shots at a powerful, accomplished woman based on your opinion of her appearance, what you are really saying is that you are an immature, small-minded buffoon who views all women as sex objects, and if you do not regard a woman as a potential sex partner, she has no value to you — regardless of her talent, intelligence, education, experience or professional skills.

That doesn’t tell me anything about Clinton, but it tells me everything I could ever need or want to know about you.

Emily


How to reduce your stress levels

January 26, 2013

The other day, I found myself entangled in yet another Facebook conversation with a low-information voter who gets all his ideas from talk radio and direct-mail propaganda and thinks that changing the subject is a valid debate strategy.

You know the type: He starts a debate over something like whether ordinary civilians should have military-style assault rifles with high-capacity clips, and as soon as you start asking questions he can’t answer, he starts citing statistics about handgun bans. Nobody was talking about banning handguns, but he thinks he’s the second coming of Stephen Douglas because he’s managed to prove a point, and never mind that the point has absolutely nothing to do with the subject actually being debated.

Talking to one of these people is like trying to have an intelligent conversation with the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It gets tiresome after a while, and if you unfriend him, you only reinforce his bad behavior by making him think he scared you away with his Mad Debate Skillz.™ (“Come back here, you pansy! I’ll bite your legs off!”)

I solved the problem by announcing that from here on in, every time I saw a conservative blathering about guns, gays, abortion, President Obama, or Hillary Clinton on Facebook, I was going to donate a dollar to Hillary’s presidential campaign. (If she doesn’t run, the money goes to the Democrat of my choosing.)

My Facebook acquaintances now have three options:

1. Shut up.
2. Help pour money into the enemy’s war chest.
3. Unfriend me.

I don’t particularly care which option they choose. If they choose 1 or 3, I don’t have to listen to them. If they choose 2 … well, after watching her destroy a mansplainer the other day, I’m willing to make some sacrifices for mah-girl. I put two bucks in her jar this afternoon, and I’ve never been happier to see obnoxious political spam crawling across my feed.

Emily


What did you just call me?

November 12, 2012

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
– Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I’m not sure why, but at some point in the last 10 years or so, Madison Avenue apparently handed down a decree that all marketing directed toward women should henceforth include the word diva.

Sporting-goods stores pitch athletic bras with “diva night” specials. Main Street programs host “diva” shopping events. Hardware stores sell “diva”-themed tools with pastel handles. Minor-league ballclubs offer “diva” packages involving pink T-shirts and pregame wine-tasting events. Christian bookstores sell “diva” Bible covers. (I swear I am not making this up.) And premenopausal female environmentalists are encouraged to swap their biodegradable organic cotton tampons for reusable “Diva Cups.”

To see all that, you’d never guess that “diva” is a derogatory term.

Originally, the word diva — Italian for “goddess” — simply referred to an exceptionally talented female opera singer. Over time, the term picked up a negative connotation, as divas developed a (probably undeserved) reputation for being unreasonably demanding and difficult to please.

While “diva” can still refer to an unusually gifted performer, it has crept into everyday usage as a pejorative term for women who are talented but so spoiled, rude and unpleasant that they are generally considered more trouble than they are worth. This fact ought to make the term “diva” absolutely verboten in marketing circles — but for some reason, it hasn’t.

Try this: Look back at that list of items above, insert the phrase “high-maintenance bitch” everywhere you see the word “diva,” and tell me how likely you would be to purchase a product with such a name.

Unless I have just blown you off the stage with a two-and-a-half-octave cadenza, I’m going to assume that when you say “diva,” you are saying that I am a pain in the arse, not complimenting my awesome coloratura.

If you’re going to call me a difficult bitch, why would I want to do business with you? Why would I want a derogatory, arguably misogynistic term emblazoned across my chest or printed on my purse, screwdriver, or Bible cover? What do I gain by reinforcing a stereotype that says female prodigies are more trouble than they’re worth?

Enough.

Ownership of a functional uterus does not make me a diva. It merely makes me female — and if you want my business, you’ll acknowledge that and stop treating me like a 5-year-old who hasn’t yet outgrown her “princess” phase.

Emily


More bee drama

August 29, 2012

Remember last summer, when we shucked out $800 and pretty much went through hell and back trying to move our hives all over the yard to get the city off our backs after some jerk called to gripe about our bees?

Remember when I said that I really hoped the guy behind me was responsible for the visit from the city inspector, because the changes we were required to make pretty much ensured that his backyard was going to look like O’Hare International Airport, what with all the hives now facing his property and the big ugly privacy fence guiding them over there?

The guy outed himself today by taping a little handwritten nastygram to my front door, telling me what a horrible neighbor I am because my honeybees are drinking all the nectar out of his hummingbird feeders and scaring his dog away from its water bowl.

I would like the record to show that the letter I am sending back to him does NOT say, “Baaaaaaahahahahahahaha!”

But really:

Baaaaaaahahahahahahaha!

Emily


The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Women

August 26, 2012

NOTE: This entry was inspired by my increasing frustration with the tendency of many young women to embrace and pander to the kinds of stereotypes that ensure they will never be taken as seriously, paid as much, or treated as well as their male colleagues. Many of my former students will be starting their careers in the next few years, and I don’t want to see them fail. This riff is for them. I hope they will find it useful.

The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Women

 

Habit 1: Baby-talking around men. I realize we can’t all sound like Lauren Bacall, but when you deliberately talk from your soft palate instead of your larynx, you are sending the message that you are small, immature, and vulnerable. This could attract a knight in shining armor, but it’s more likely to attract a predator looking for a weak-willed woman he can control easily. If a guy finds your fake baby voice sexy, RUN, because you do NOT want him living under your roof when the FBI raids his computer.

Habit 2: Playing stupid around men. Every time I need a man to take me seriously, I have to start by proving I am not the idiot you pretend to be. Stop it. Real men are not intimidated by bright women. Behaving like an intelligent, responsible adult will not keep you from finding Mr. Right — but it might keep you from wasting time on Mr. Condescending, Mr. Insecure, and Mr. Insufferable.

Habit 3: Inappropriate attire. I started to write a long riff about this, but the bottom line is: Quit dressing like a hooker, and quit doing stupid crap like wearing stiletto heels to the ballpark. It doesn’t make you look hot. It makes you look like Snooki.

Habit 4: Duck face. JUST STOP IT. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to know that you look like a conceited bimbo when you purse your lips and leer into the camera. Your future employer is going to Google you. Do you really want this to be the hiring manager’s first impression of you?

Habit 5: Passive-aggressive behavior. If you have a problem with somebody, confront that person directly. If the problem isn’t important enough to merit a confrontation, it isn’t important. Period. There is no situation in which passive-aggressive behavior is acceptable. It is always immature, self-serving, dishonest, and cowardly — which is precisely how you will be perceived if you do it. Don’t.

Habit 6: Gossip and backstabbing. Ownership of a uterus does not obligate you to make up crap about your enemies, complain about your colleagues, or revel in other people’s misfortunes behind their back. You can damage an enemy’s reputation with gossip — but in the process, you reveal something about yourself, and it’s probably not something you want people to know.

Habit 7: Whining. If you are being asked to do something immoral or illegal, report it. If you are being asked to do something unpleasant or inconvenient, either suck it up or look for a new job. Either way, don’t whine. Whining doesn’t help. It just irritates potential allies and makes you look unprofessional.

– Emily


Lacking evidence

January 9, 2012

Somehow I have absolutely no pictures of any of the things I wanted to report today.

There’s one teensy spring beauty blooming in the front yard. I took a picture, but the macro setting on my PowerShot didn’t want to cooperate, so I didn’t get anything usable.

One of the hyacinths is coming up in the front flowerbed. The PowerShot didn’t like it, either.

I dashed over to Brews and Bytes right before they closed to install the Roman shade I made for the bathroom. It looks good and works like it’s supposed to, which of course delights me to no end. I wanted to take a picture with my PowerShot, but I accidentally left it on the table at home. I got out my cell phone, but the battery was dead. I borrowed Mike’s iPhone and took pictures, but when he tried to text them to me, they vanished into cyberspace.

I had a good day, but I have absolutely no visual evidence to show for it.

Poop. :/

Emily


Folk Tuesday: Time to Get a Gun

June 6, 2011

I’m sure it’s purely coincidence that this song has been running through my head ever since I found a notice hanging on my front door, telling me I was being cited for “illegal beekeeping” because my back fence is too short and my beehives are too close to our property line.

Illegal beekeeping? Really? Colonies are disappearing all over the country, the survival of the human race more or less depends on the survival of our pollinators, and city governments are going to cite people for illegal beekeeping?

Get off my land.

Emily


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