Thursday, September 28, 2006

A Seldom-Seen Meme

Click the Robin for more info!
Click here for Round Robin info!

I don't mean to say by my subject line that the following meme is rare, or the concept terribly original.  It's just an acknowledgment that recently I personally have been avoiding most memes other than the Round Robin Photo Challenges. Most of the time I'm not even reading other people's meme entries, especially the ones that all lists of questions and suchlike.

But I'll do this one that Paul did, partly because I like it, and partly to do the beta journals thing for Editor Jeff and the gang.

Go to your 6th journal entry:  Googling for Dollars (sort of)

Write down the 6th sentence:  The reporter evidently had Google in front of her also, but couldn't make sense of what she saw.

Now, give 6 links which have something to do with this journal entry and/or sentence:

Pik-Nik Electrik on Ile Ste. Helene « An Idealist’s Downward

falling down is also a gift

Ninja Tune North America Newsletter - August - News - Properly

Making Light: "I also feared she would judge my life and find it

Michelle Malkin: LOST AND FOUND?

 I have to say that I'm finding it annoying that I have to do extensive editing in HTML to make Musings entries do what I want them to do.  I basically never want a <P> and a bunch of extra font tags.  I want to define the font once, without a lot of clutter; and <br> break tags give a lot more control and cleaner coding than the paragraphs. Ah, well.

Also, when I tried to link the name Paul to his meme entry, AOL replaced his name with the raw URL.  It didn't do that with the other links, though, so perhaps I accidentally hit "paste" somehow.  Phooey.

Speaking of the Round Robin Photo Challenges, the next one, "ABCs of Autumn," has a posting date of Wednesday, October 4th. The idea, courtesy of TJ, is to post Autumn-related pictures based on your first and last initials. For example, this is a Kinetic Bird (KB), a hummingbird that is still in Tucson in September. Click here for info on that particular challenge, and to RSVP if you'd like to participate.  Everyone is welcome!


Horsie in the Sky

Sooner or later, pretty much everything technological lets you down, particularly anything to do with computers. Both AOL and Blogger have been buggy this week. Blogger doesn't want to save entries, AOL Journals for a while refused to recognize a journal's author and show the buttons for adding and editing entries, and now AOL won't show pictures I uploaded to Blogger on Monday night. Sigh. So I just uploaded all of those, plus the pictures for tonight, to I used to do that all the time, because I don't much like the AOL photo uploading options, and I've had intermittent trouble uploading photos to Blogger in the past. Since switching to Firefox, I hadn't been having that problem, but now that Blogger's being unreliable again, uploading to seems like the sensible way to go.

End of rant.

So anyway, here are some pictures and explanations.

1. Horsie in the Sky (with Glasses)

On Monday night, I wrote about my disastrous attempt to check whether the animal hospital on 22nd St was the building with a life-sized horse on the second floor. As you may recall, I got stuck in road construction, and no, it wasn't the right building anyway. The one I was thinking of is a tack shop on Speedway near Swan. Here it is. Can you see the horse?

Tonight, shortly after sunset, I drove over to Speedway and Swan. I ended up driving around in circles for a bit, trying to find a back way on streets that don't actually go through to Speedway. Oh, well. When I got there, the store was closed and the upper room wasn't lit. All things considered, it's remarkable I managed to get these two photos to clean up even this well.

2. Natural, Saturated, Autocorrected Surrealism

With my usual obsession for playing around with sunset photos, I've come up with three versions of the exact same picture, taken tonight through the second floor window of Unnamed Largish Company. Let's compare:

The only thing I did to this one was stretch the corner a little to "straighten" the vertical bar, and crop a bit. The color and brightness values are exactly as the camera "saw" them.

Version two. I lightened the shadows a bit, and the midtones a bit less, and boosted the saturation a moderate amount. Does it look better, more natural, or more interesting, or none of the above? I can't decide.

Version Three is just Version Two with an Autocorrect applied in Microsoft Office Photo Manager. It produced colors seldom found in nature, at least in the sky. But isn't it pretty? I like those purple clouds.

Same sunset, about seven minutes later. No, wait.  This was tonight.  The other was last night. All I did to this shot was crop and resize.

3. Blame it on the Meat

There were a couple of minor but bizarre mishaps today that had nothing to do with technology.

First off, John has a cold - or something. He seldom takes time off when he's sick, but he did it today. Poor Johnny!

Second, Tuffy came to me this morning with one of her rear legs in the air. I knew she must really be uncomfortable, because she refused to eat a dog biscuit. I was on my way out the door to work, so I asked John to check her over. There was an ant between her toes! Poor Tuffy! She was limping even after John removed the ant, so we think the ant must have bit her. She's fine tonight, though.

Third, I was nearly to the bottom of the steps from the second floor of Unnamed Largish Company today, heading out to lunch and to make a car payment, when I fell from the penultimate step and landed flat on my face - well, on my knees and hands, really - on the floor at the bottom. Why? How? I have no idea. I didn't trip over anything, as far as I know; and my knees didn't give way, as far as I know. I'm a bit scraped and sore, but it's no big deal. Except... how the heck did I manage to fall down stairs I take every day? Poor Karen!

4. What Do You Mean, It's a Start?

I was pretty proud last night of all the work I did on the Wikipedia article about A Wind in the Door, until the head of WikiProject Novels‎ bummed me out. He went through all the L'Engle novel articles late last night, and labeled them as follows on their Talk pages:

Start This article has been rated as Start-Class on the quality scale.

Start Class? Even the one for A Wind in the Door, with all its analysis and seconary sources? I looked up what Start-Class actually means. The guideline reads as follows:

The article has a meaningful amount of good content, but it is still weak in many areas, and may lack a key element such as a standard infobox. Has at least one serious element of gathered materials, including any one of the following:
  • a particularly useful picture or graphic
  • multiple links that help explain or illustrate the topic
  • a subheading that fully treats an element of the topic
  • multiple subheadings that indicate material that could be added to complete the article

Useful to some, provides a moderate amount of information, but many readers will need to find additional sources of information. The article clearly needs to be expanded.

Substantial/major editing is needed, most material for a complete article needs to be added. This article still needs to be completed, so an article cleanup tag is inappropriate at this stage.

But...but...but...! It has a picture and an infobox, a link or two, and multiple subheadings! Way to be harsh! I thought about asking the guy why this article didn't rate at least the next step up, but it was already 2 AM by them, so I just went to bed.'s not fair!


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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why Are Both Blogs Being Mean to Me?

Okay, so I shouldn't do this from work, but I just wanted to paste in a P.S. to the previous entry.  But the Musings page insisted on calling me "Journals" instead of "Mavarin", no matter how or how many times I signed in as myself; and no editing buttons appeared.  I finally found a workaround on the People Connection Blogs page, but sheesh!  Doesn't AOL want me to resume posting here?

Here's what I wanted to paste in below, aside from fixing all my typos and so on. What can I say?  I was tired and didn't proofread properly.

Pasted text follows:


P.S. You would think that would be the end of the struggle, but the Blogger server that hosts the Outpost was having problems last night and this morning. When I hit the "Publish Post" button, I repeatedly got a white screen that nevertheless said "Done" at the bottom (as in, "Done loading the page"). No confirming email, no entry when I refreshed the blog. Arrow back: the entry was still in the Create Post window, anyway. What a relief! I did a Save as Draft in case that helped, and the page showed a draft of the entry and also the actual entry. But the entry still wasn't there.

Finally, at Carly's suggestion, I opened the edit window in a different browser, and posted from that. There was at least a minute of the looping notice that it was 0% published. Then, oh joy! 40%! Then 100%, and I heart the new email alert sound. Success! But this morning, Betty reported that the photos, which are hosted on that same Blogger server, weren't showing up on my crossposting to Musings from Mâvarin. Darn server! Try again, Betty! They should be showing up now.- KFB

Saving this entry finally gave my editing buttons!  Yay!  So I got to fix the entry at last. 


My Titanic Struggle to Post a Picture of a Horse

Yay!  I finally got my Edit buttons.  See above.

Cross-posted from Outpost Mâvarin:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Horses are nice. Show us a horse picture you've taken. It can be new, or one from your files. It just needs to have a horse in it.

That doesn't sound so hard, does it? After all, at some point in my life, I must have taken at least one picture of a horse. Or I could take a new one. After all, this is Tucson, part of the fabled Old West.

Well...yes. I've taken pictures of horses before. And yes, Tucson has its place in Western history.

But no, it wasn't easy to come up with a horse photo.

Attempt #1: Invisible Horses on Tanque Verde Road

I thought it would be nice to actually take a new photo of a horse. But where could I do that, on a Monday evening in the city of Tucson? Contrary to the history and image of the place, it's been a long time since horses on the street were a common sight around here.

But there's horse property on Tanque Verde Road, between the OK Corral Steakhouse and the Catalina Highway turnoff. So after work I turned right instead of left, and headed north and east. But it was sunset, and I guess the horses were in for the night. I didn't see a single one.

Attempt #2: Horses as Business Signs

I kind of had the idea that there might at least be a life sized statue of a horse on top of the OK Corral restaurant. I looked as I drove by, on my way back from looking for the real thing. Nope. There was a life-sized steer on the roof. No horse.

Well, then, what about Trail Dust Town? They have a Museum of the Horse Soldier, and lots of Western props and artifacts. But there was a car behind me as I pulled in, and the parking lot near the museum was full. I couldn't even get a good look at the graphic at the museum entrance, let alone take a picture. No horse statue outside, either. I drove around the complex, but although there were plenty of wagons, none of them had even fake horses to pull them. Drat! I went home.

Attempt #3: The Horsie in the Window

There are two buildings in town that remind me so strongly of each other that I don't always remember which one has a full-size statue of a horse in a lit second story window. That would be a neat trick, I think, and a neat picture - a horse on the second floor!

One of the buildings is a saddle supply shop, the other an animal hospital. Both have huge windows and lit rooms on the second floor. One is a couple of lights from my home, on 22nd St. near Swan. The other is farther north, at Speedway and Swan.

So when I went to get dinner for John and myself, I made a side trip to check whether the building on 22nd is the one with the horse. Bad mistake. The road was torn up at Craycroft, with a night construction crew working. One guy was in a hole up to his waist. The only lane open in either direction was the right turn lane. I was trapped for about twenty minutes, trying to drive a few blocks and then turn around. And - you guessed it - it's not the animal hospital on 22nd that has the horse in the window. It's the saddle supply on Speedway. And I'd already delayed dinner too much to go any further out of my way, just to take that picture.

Attempt #4: Rodeo Shots at the Bar

But when I got to Chuey's, which is half sports bar, half Baja-themed mesquite grill, I thought my luck had finally changed. Some of the tv sets happened to be airing a rodeo! So while I waited for the food, I positioned myself by a likely tv set and started taking pictures. But darn it, those cowboys are fast! This was the best horse picture I got out of about eight shots I took. Mostly, I kept ending up with blurry action shots of the cowboy roping a steer on foot.

Attempt #5: Horses by Breyer

I always knew I could resort to a shot like this if I had to. Here are a couple of old, plastic Breyer horses. The mare is the exact model and color of the Breyer horse I had as a kid. The foal turned up at a yard sale years ago, stained and with legs bent out of postition. It cleaned up fairly well, and although it's not perfect I like it. But Scalzi didn't say anything about pictures of toy horses.

Attempt #6: Horses on File

So I went through the photo files on my computer. I actually don't have a lot of horse pictures on it. Not at all.

How about an "Iron Horse"? This is one of several shots I have of the locomotive at Old Tucson.

This is another Old Tucson shot. The rear end of this horse as photographed is terribly lightstruck, and you can't see the head much at all.

Attempt #7: Painting the Pony

As an experiment, I used the cloning tool on my cheap software to recolor the shaggy horse. How do you think I did? I'm not too happy with it, myself.

Attempt #8: A Photo of a Photo

My scanner has apparently died since I unplugged it recently, so that John could clean it and use it (he did neither). When I click on the scanner icon, it crashes the software. So if I want to show you a physical picture taken 20 years ago, I have to find a way to photograph the photograph without the image getting too flashed out or skewed.

It took a while - three mini-photo sessions and about a dozen shots - but with the right arrangement, careful cropping and some photo editing, I finally came up with a picture that's not too, too terrible. I took this a few seconds before I got a much closer, better picture of the dog on the horse. I won second or third place once in a photography contest with that one, but I've used it in a Scalzi assignment at least once before. So we'll settle for the prequel.

And that will have to do. Good night!


P.S. You would think that would be the end of the struggle, but the Blogger server that hosts the Outpost was having problems last night and this morning. When I hit the "Publish Post" button, I repeatedly got a white screen that nevertheless said "Done" at the bottom (as in, "Done loading the page"). No confirming email, no entry when I refreshed the blog. Arrow back: the entry was still in the Create Post window, anyway. What a relief! I did a Save as Draft in case that helped, and the page showed a draft of the entry and also the actual entry. But the entry still wasn't there.

Finally, at Carly's suggestion, I opened the edit window in a different browser, and posted from that. There was at least a minute of the looping notice that it was 0% published. Then, oh joy! 40%! Then 100%, and I heart the new email alert sound. Success! But this morning, Betty reported that the photos, which are hosted on that same Blogger server, weren't showing up on my crossposting to Musings from Mâvarin. Darn server! Try again, Betty! They should be showing up now.- KFB

Wednesday night:  now the photos aren't showing up for me (except the Breyer one; go figure). AOL and Blogger (the latter is where the photos were uploaded) aren't talking to each other, seemingly.  So I just uploaded them to instead.  Here's hoping!

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Orange and Blue...and a Certain Pirate's Flag

Crossposted from Outpost Mâvarin:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Post a picture that focuses on the contrast between two opposing colors. What colors are opposites? Green and red are opposites, as are blue and yellow, and orange and purple. So a picture that has something purple in front of something orange would work, or a picture that features blue and yellow in alternating stripes. The subject of the pictures could be anything you like -- but there have to be opposing colors in there.

Seems to me that "opposite" colors should be complimentary - two colors that between them contain each of the three primary colors---red, yellow, and blue--exactly once. That means red and (yellow+blue=green), blue and (red+yellow=orange), and yellow and (red+blue=purple).

Then there are the RGB (red/green/blue) and CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color systems, but those confuse me, no matter how many times John explains them. So we'll stick with what I learned in school at age 8 or so.

The color combination I chose is blue and orange. Actually, I mostly ended up with turquoise and orange, because we have a lot of turquoise colored items around here. It's a midcentury modern kind of color. Close enough, right?

You probably can't tell, but the orange plastic tumbler here is a tiki cup. I got it for John at K-Mart a year or two ago. The Diet Orange Crush is something I drink a lot of in the evenings, especially in summer.

Here are the tiki tumblers in their native habitat, behind the Fiestaware butter dish in the sideboard.

This is a slightly bluer blue, and an oranger orange. Being an organic Valencia, though, this orange is less orange than many oranges.

And let's finish off with a different color combination: red and green. Aye, I be hoisting the colors of bonny Black Rose Katie Specks, in case the wench turns up for Talk Like a Pirate Day! Mind ye, I've no guarantee she'll sail into landlocked Tucson any time soon. Still, an ye have a question for her, and mayhap I see her, 'tis certain I'll be passing it on!


Black Rose Katie Specks
An 18th Century pirate looks at the modern world.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Fake Sunsets, and Words on Hold

Crossposted from Outpost Mâvarin:

Is this the single dullest sunset photo you've ever seen? It's certainly the dullest one I've posted. This was sunset in Tucson tonight. Granted, sunset was almost over by this point: I came outside too late to catch much color digitally. The main cause, though is the fact that the monsoon is apparently over. See? No clouds. There haven't been any clouds in a few days now. There probably won't be any significant clouds again until January. Without clouds, sunsets in my neighborhood are sure to be dull, dull dull. The only to make Tucson sunsets interesting this time of year is to be somewhere at sunset that offers an interesting horizon, such as mountains, or saguaros, or the airplane graveyard.


I can show you a leftover image from a past sunset. Such as this one. I think this particular shot is pretty much as photographed, except for an autocorrect, which changed it very little.

Or this one. I did boost the saturation on this one, trying to recreate what my eyes saw. If I didn't tell you this, would the photo be a "lie"?


What if I stuck with tonight's photos, and played with those?

This one issimply an autocorrect. It didn't give us any color but blue, though.

But how about this one? I cropped it, boosted the heck out of the saturation, and changed the hue.

Too much? Then how about this one?

Ooh.  Ahh.  Same shot, not cropped, autocorrected, saturated, contrast up, hue changed but not much.

If I didn't tell you all that, would you believe that's what I saw in the Tucson sky tonight? It wasn't. Reality was blue, with just a hint of color down at the bottom of the sky. Dull, dull, dull.

So, is it wrong to take a colorless sky and make it pretty? Is it wrong to take a pretty sky and make it spectacular? Beats me.


What the heck have I done all day? It's over now, and I keep trying to account for all the hours. This morning's church ran into the afternoon, so that's part of it. The Mass itself wasn't much longer, but our church administrator, Alicia, retired, and coffee hour was her party. My friends Kevin and Mary and I stayed until the very very end, as Father Smith was locking up. Then Kevin and I chatted with Mary in the church and in the parking lot, and after that Kevin and I went to Barnes & Noble. Dang! I meant to do something special for him to commemorate his turning 40, but I forgot. I'll have to make it up to him.

Anyway, Alicia was given flowers, and I photographed her and her replacement, and some prayer shawls that were blessed during church, and lots of other stuff. Most of those shots are to be posted on the St. Michael's blog this week, but maybe I'll show you one or two of them another time.

So that took me up to 2 PM. I came home from B&N with a L'Engle paperback of A Wind in the Door so I don't mess up my hardback any further, rereading it. I'm almost halfway through the book now. Other than that, I watched some tv, and went shopping with John, and read a few blogs but not many.

The other thing I did, though, was finish editing Chapter Five and start on Chapter Six of Mages of Mâvarin. Tonight I posed a question to Sara (not Sarah, although I'd like her opinion, too) about whether a scene between Rutana and Talber is essential to the story. It's such a long book that maybe I shouldn't keep this character piece, even though it sets up several things for later. Then shortly after that bit, there's a "stub" of a scene on page 174 that's two paragraphs long, followed by a note in red ink. It reads, in part:

[Darsuma experiments with magic to try to find out what’s wrong. .... Need some big impressive spell, and eventual destruction of the necklace.]

So now I either have to cut the scene or write it. There may be some sitting in restaurants in my future, trying to get that done.

I opened up the fiction blog tonight to write the next entry of The Jace Letters, but I'm just not up to it tonight. I haven't slept well this weekend, and I'm not quite over this cold yet. It's just going to have to wait for Monday night.


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