Superbowl Stupidblogging

3 February, 2008

6:30 Stupid truck ads. Centrifuges have to be balanced or they will not spin.

6:34 Stupid me. I put too much sour cream in Liz’s Evil Dip.

6:38 Rescinded! Checked the recipe, and that was the right amount of sour cream I put in. …wait, I’m still stupid for making it at all. My arteries clog whenever I look in its direction.

6:40 Stupid East Coast. As a Midwesterner, I hate it when sports playoffs come down to New York vs Boston. Give me a goddamn break. Red Giants vs. the New Yankees BLAH BLAH BLAH. There are OTHER RIVALRIES OUT THERE, yo. cubfan63 is rooting for “a tie with lots of injuries.” Me, I am rooting for the Giants, because I like the song they ran out on the field to better than I like the Patriots’ song. (Kanye West’s “Stronger” vs. some Black Sabbath or whatever.)

7:03 Stupid Derek Jeter.

7:24 Why are there always so many job site ads during Superbowls?

7:30 Racial stereotypes much, Bud Light?!

7:30:20 (I must remember that I am not the target demo for Anheuser-Busch.)

7:41 Justin Timberlake rocks.

8:04 OK, people were bitching about Prince’s guitar being too phallic??!

8:06 Srsly, though. It’s a FLYING PENIS. That pierced a pink heart.

8:32 The head-shrinker commercial made me laugh so hard I cried. Reaganite thinks I’m insane.

8:39 Maria Shriver endorsed Obama three days after Arnold endorsed McCain? (DC football.)

9:13 Ha! The Frist-Carville ad rocks. Those Segway tours are awesome.

9:39 One reason I seldom watch football is that it makes me feel 10 IQ points stupider.

9:44 Still laughing at the “tiny head” line from the cars.com ad.

10:10 Now, THAT is why I watch playoff games even when I don’t care!

10:16 Of course, the shout-outs to the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium do irritate.

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grab bag

6 June, 2006

DC LIFE I don't know what I did to deserve this amazing, fabulous, lovely perfect weather which would be nice even for a temperate city much less a Southern one. The summer misery is my only real problem with living in DC. (Well, that and disenfranchisement.) Even when it was hot last week I was not too upset, figuring I had had my lovely perfect spring and it was OK for summer to start now. So getting ANOTHER nice week….hell, I was CHILLY when I got home tonight. Chilly! In June in DC! Hallelujah!

BASEBALL I've been neglecting one of my obsessions. Why? Because the Cubs had an incredible May…an incredibly BAD May. Their worst May ever and close to their worst month ever…they went 7 and 22, and they pretty much deserved it, too. It was painful even from here. Add that to the fact that I was out of town a lot in May and so couldn't get to any Nats games until Memorial Day — and that their month wasn't so hot either — and baseball's been on the back burner. I expect to be going more now that I'm in town for a few solid weeks. I have not even scored a game all year. I kinda miss it, I'm done with taking bad ballpark shots from my seats.

I do have a sorta-baseball story though, from my friend's wedding in MN. One night at a bar I found myself being wingmanned while a groomsman put the moves on a bridesmaid. Now, the wingmen were married, but had not told us this yet, instead preferring to go to their buddy's wedding alone and ringless and flirt with cute girls. When we found out, we were tres amused and almost started a side bet on how long they could go without mentioning their wives.

Anyway, the bar: I was bored but baseball was on the TV, which made up for it. Wingman and I watched the day's late games finish, and then the recap of the MLB day, all the while talking that nice relaxing baseball chatter. After a bit I found myself double-teamed (heh) as the baseball talk had lured Other Wingman away from his bridesmaid to join our convo. Blah blah, Dusty, Nomar, Barry Bonds (they were from LA)…after about 3 innings of this, the lured one exclaimed, "I don't get it! How is it that a cute baseball fan like you isn't married??"

I should have pointed out how a wife who talked baseball all the time might not be the boon he imagined, but I was laughing too hard. If I had a nickel for every married guy who's swooned over me cause of baseball….well that's about how cheap talk is, cause I'd still be single!  Sheesh.  I do not have this availability problem with fans of other sports. Maybe I just don't know other sports as well? (A few hours later, the wives got a shout-out, but the kids remained unmentioned.)

PHOTOGRAPHY I would love to show you pictures of me at the high-class function I was getting ready for last Saturday when I posted. I took pictures of myself right before leaving with my SLR, and brought my p&s camera to the event itself. But the card from the small camera is showing up blank and the card from the big camera is flaking out because I was playing with shooting in RAW again for a few days, which for some reason is causing all kinds of odd behavior I've never before seen. I'll try photorescue tomorrow, but grr. Grr!!

SCIENCE Remember my stressful presentation, which had to happen even though I was underprepared, and for which many bigwigs including my boss' boss (BB) showed up? Today was odd, because I got to see my PI go through the EXACT SAME THING.

PI has a massive presentation to give in two weeks. In 20 minutes he has to justify his last 5 years of funding and make a case for his next 5 years of funding. Today was the only day one colleague could attend a run-through, so he presented an early draft, and I think it's when he referred to its roughness that I started to see the similarities, because I had said almost the exact same thing. He availed himself far better than I did of course (he had all weekend to prep!) but still, it was disorienting to see him stand in the same spot I had stood in and have the same experience I had had — even in front of the same people. Yes, BB was there, as was Hilarious Iconoclastic Brit, Deceptively Quiet Guy, and a few other less colorful people.

It got even weirder when I realized that the process he was about to go through was JUST like a thesis defense. "Stand up in front of a critical panel of people senior to you, present the story of the last 5 years of your work in support of the document you submitted to them a bit ago, and defend your own value as a researcher; if we like what we hear and how you respond to our grilling, we will give you a cookie." He's an MD, the closest he's been to a defense was probably mine, a year ago, when he sat on my committee.

And I am right in the middle of this, my friends. Oh yes. We fellows will also appear before the board, to speak to his mentoring abilities. More directly though, we've been analyzing some data that just came in, along with some data which has been sitting around for a while, and damned if they don't point in the same direction. This is, er, not the norm for the field. So a lot of this very recent stuff is going in the presentation.

This has been a good science week, because I've finally figured out how to use the specialized, legacy, poorly documented and quirky software programs we use for analysis. Oh, and? The direction it's all pointing in? I called it months ago. "There is a smoking gun!" I said. "It's right there!" I said, pointing. "I'd bet the farm it's the XYZ gene!" I said, "although I am glad I don't have a farm to actually bet!" So the TOLD YA SO! song is going on in my head a lot lately. (Not that anyone argued with me, but they were scientifically, that is to say appropriately, skeptical.)

6 things

20 April, 2006

I am going to attempt to do this quickly and not write a book for each one. Hey, why are you laughing?

Props to B. and L. for their help!

1) One summer, age 12 or so, I watched the Empire Strikes Back every day.

2) I knit. I made an iPod cozy before it was cool. It was too big though.

3) In HS I was a key starter for a varsity sport. We won State my senior year and got to 17th in Nationals, just missing the Sweet 16 on a technicality (and those games were televised, garr!). Which sport? Scholastic Bowl. Yes, to compete in Sectionals we needed medical exams to prove that we were healthy enough to press those little buttons.

4) An online dating site once asked me what my "most unusual or impressive skill" was. It was too gross to list there, but not here! (THATS YOUR WARNING, MOVE ON TO 5 IF EASILY SQUICKED.)

WARNING, GROSS: Animal Research, August 2000, Northwestern University

I can get an immobilizing hold on a rat, kill it with a guillotine before its stress response kicks in, collect 3/4 of its blood volume, remove and freeze its brain in one piece without nicking it or anything, remove and separate out the two lobes of its pituitary gland and freeze them, and clean everything up for the next rat — in 5 minutes. I can do this for hours.

Give me another 5 minutes and I can, instead of freezing the brain, dissect out and separately freeze the olfactory bulb, frontal cortex, hippocampi, amygdalae, hypothalamus, and cerebellum (and others, if needed.) And sterilize the equipment and clean everything up for the next rat.

5) As a frosh, on a dare of sorts one night at dinner, I gave a safer-sex demonstration to a good half of my college's students. Leaving no sexuality behind, I used both a banana and an orange.

6) I can't ride a bike or swim. OK, that's exaggerating a little. If I had to bike or swim for my life, I would live, but it wouldn't be smooth, and sadly I tend to get more tension than joy out of both things. See, when y'all were getting bikes as kids, I got…a scooter. So I learned balance, but not really how to kick off and get started and manage the pedals easily and so on. (I also broke a front tooth in half in a fall, although that's probably not the scooter's fault, qua scooter.) As for the swimming, were I swimming away from a threat I'd be able to keep my eye on it the whole time…since I'd be doing the backstroke.

Your turn! (Adding links tomorrow, too tired and pissed at wordpress right now cause it totally ate the first version of this post. Any ideas for helping it play nice with Firefox?)

al3x

birdcage

eric bourland

future therapist

I-495 blues (c'mon, you're halfway there and that's without the obvious one)

wired dude

the squeeze is on

8 April, 2006

The squeeze is on 
The squeeze play, when a runner breaks for home with the pitch and a batter must successfully execute a surprise bunt or the runner will easily make an out, is often called the most exciting play in baseball.  I would not argue with that, although to be fair, nothing really hinged on this one, which came in the fourth with the Cubs already well in the lead; when people call it that, they're thinking of late-inning game-determining situations when a high-risk play can really pay off.  Honestly, this time, it looked like Dusty called for it just because he could, and thought it'd be fun.  And there is a history of LaRussa liking this play, and also of course a rivalry between our two clubs, so….

The bunt wasn't completely perfect–the play failed because the ball rolled foul (baseball novices, note that the pitcher is not going for the ball in the middle pic–he sees what it's about to do and is waiting to touch it until after it crosses the foul line).  But Pierre then hit a single which scored Cedeno anyway.  Oh, we like having Pierre on our side. I once saw him get two bases on the first three pitches of a game: when the Cubs hosted the Marlins on the Wednesday before my graduation last year, Pierre surprise bunted the first for a hit, and then promptly stole second. Cubs lost that one by, I think, two touchdowns.
…I had forgotten the setup, the Sun-Times sports page reminded me: Cedeno got a leadoff double his second at-bat (his first being an RBI triple thankyouverymuch), and after showing bunt, Maddux grounded out to the right side, which advanced Cedeno to third.  Re baseball narratives, there are stories even within that, about Cedeno and Maddux and the kinds of players they are…but this is enough baseball rhapsody for one post, no?

Cubs win

8 April, 2006

Damn, was it ever cold….but it was a very enjoyable game. Exciting, and watching the Cubs outclass the Cardinals is a rare treat that I hope we're in for more of this year. They really played well, and got a good share of lucky breaks. The wind blew in, which helped Maddux (who easily got the win), and it messed with their fielders but not ours. With Pierre batting (boy is it nice to have a leadoff guy, esp one who can bunt for hits) Dusty called for a suicide squeeze — against a LaRussa team, haha! It got away from everyone and eventually rolled foul, but Cedeno scored before it did, so while it didn't count, there is some satisfaction to be felt over the play. "Neener," I believe is the appropriate term. Thanks to wolfhead, the heir to my family's season tickets, for taking me today, and to his hilarious dad for not insisting on his paternal rights to opening day seats!

let the rivalry begin

Dusty and LaRussa shake hands during the Opening Day festivities.

Took a ton of pictures — had trouble getting in the groove at first, though. I've been anticipating shooting Wrigley for a long time, but also anticipating that when I'd actually get there I'd have trouble seeing shots because of all the baggage I was bringing. Lensbaby to the rescue (thanks dcjohn!). Using it did the trick of pushing me outside the familiar way of seeing things, and after that I had no trouble seeing cool stuff. I became crazy lens-changing girl, changing lenses all the time, trying to keep up with the ideas and the action. Good times. I missed keeping score, but only a little.

upper deck bunting, Opening Day 2006, Wrigley Field

I did run into trouble though: I'm an idjit who didn't bring her spare battery to the game. Luckily, I had learned some tricks on our NYC blizzard weekend for extending battery life in cold weather (thanks f1.4 and epmd!). Despite hitting low battery levels before the game even started, I managed to squeeze shots out of Rita until the ushers kicked us out afterwards. Wolfhead let me use his new Nikon and its spiff-o-matic 24-120 if I desired (thanks again!). (I got some awesome action shots with it that I'll be posting later.) Also, I get a second chance: I'm going to Sunday's game, which will be a 7pm start (thanks noptys!). Hooray for a possible golden hour–it was bright and cloudy today, meaning pure white near-blown-out skies alla time. Not pretty for the panoramas I've been planning.

Yay Chicago! I'm staying at the apt I used to live in. I've had stuffed pizza, oh god, was it ever divine, fresh spinach from Edwardo's. I've had Julius Meinl, I miss that place a lot…Tryst is nice and all, but Meinl is more "mine." Seen old friends, seeing more tomorrow, sister arrived a bit ago….

So things are going as I hoped they would on this trip to the Midwest. I have not yet seen the Cubs bullpen blow a lead, but there's two more games this weekend for that! Looking forward to Big Z's start tomorrow.

hey hey

6 April, 2006

holy mackerel

No doubt about it!

Techne's on her way!

Going to Chicago this weekend for Opening Day at Wrigley! Damn will it ever be cold….but I'm looking forward to the game anyway. I'll be staying at the apt I used to live in. I'm gonna have stuffed pizza. I'm gonna have Julius Meinl. I'm gonna see my oldest friends and even family. I'm gonna see the Cubs bullpen blow an impressive lead. Oh, I'm ready. The shuttle leaves in an hour. As you can see I'm using my last hour at work wisely.

(I just realized I forgot my scorebook. Not my camera though, not even my 256MB CF card that lives in my p&s….)

Life, on a dime

28 March, 2006

I had a fabulous weekend photography-wise. I'd have told you about it earlier, but today I had a really busy and stimulating day at work and I'm (the right kind of) exhausted.

I wish I could bottle spring. This always happens — everything seems to turn at once, for the better, in a matter of weeks. It's why I scheduled my defense last year to hit around now (April 5: first anniversary of Dr. Techne! Or is it the first birthday of Dr. Techne?). It's fascinating enough to make one switch one's career focus to SAD.

My weekend officially started when I walked into Ben's Chili Bowl for some pre-nightlife grub. Like I was the cue, Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home To Me" started just a few seconds later. Very few things in music make me happier than Sam Cooke, especially as a sneak-attack, and very few places in DC make me happier than Ben's. OK, so that had nothing to do with photos. But it was a fortuitous kickoff and put a big grin on my face. Later that night I met one of the DCist editors, Martin, who recognized my flickr handle. (This comes up later.)

On Saturday I shot the kite festival, which brought back many a happy memory of the one I went to a year ago in Chicago right after handing in my dissertation. In fact, I bet I'll always love kite festivals from now on.

kite

On my way from kite fest to meeting some friends, I came across 6 kids out with a mentor, working off steam by jumping off a low wall in front of a Mall museum. Decided to go for the challenge of motion-blur in bright light…but the kids noticed me….well, long story short, I walked on 20 minutes later, contact info in hand, lens stopped aaaall the way down, with a CF card full of blurry, hip-hop-star-posed, or almost-teenager-so-too-cool-for-school kids. I'm really looking forward to going through those and getting back in touch. I love shooting kids and this was both the oldest group and the biggest group of kids I'd ever photographed.

Sunday, I decided to head down to the GMU-UConn game to shoot crizazy-dressed fans. However, I got a late start and got there just as the game was starting….which meant instead of incipient drunk college kids, there were only desperate scalpers around. Well. I didn't live near Wrigley Field since age 7 without learning this game. (Although I did not factor in the rudeness of underselling scalpers with a big ol' camera on my shoulder. One was angry enough to point that out, and the tipoff helped my next negotiation.) Called a friend I knew'd be in (he's Australian) and got us in for the second half. What a damn game. As a fan who knows chronic-loser-team pain, hopping the underdog's NCAA bandwagon at the Elite 8 level feels like cheating. Or possibly hard drugs. Instant dopamine/adrenaline, for free; no months of ups and downs required. No wonder people who don't care follow college ball. I may start…
I got my photog chance after the game, when Aussie pal and I wandered about and found ourselves outside the exit nearest the GMU cheering section. I wish I knew why that 30 minutes of shooting was as much fun as it was. Was it because I'd taken a side? I don't think so–I also shot some of the sad UConn band members leaving, which was every bit as satisfying, but not because it was schadenfreudariffic. It was the capturing of emotion that made it rewarding. I think I have the right emotional makeup to be a wedding photographer. (Just not the actual skills, I made a lot of, er, technically poor choices…)

Ego-massaging coda: Before working the scalpers I had been chatting with a Wash Times photo intern (got him a ticket too). Maybe that's what made me think about the market value of what I'd shot. I asked around my photography peeps that night and people had good suggestions for how to get them out there. Unfortunately I wasn't able to take them cause my workflow is so damned slow (I have to talk to Mac ppl and see if it's the app or my system–how's lightroom work for other mac users?). So I just flickr'd them and went to bed.

Woke up to some nice comments on them. Went to work. Read more comments. One guy who'd seen my question — not a photographer — had some weird and discouraging answers that kind of missed the point that all the photographers understood: me thinking about publishing these was me looking at my work in a new way. (As "work," for one thing.) Here's a bit of our discussion:

Him: I'm guessing the local papers had photogs on hand.

Me: you're missing the point. It's not that I thought nobody was going to be taking pictures and they needed my help. How do you think those photogs got their jobs?

Him: Didn't miss the point, I just can't think of any outlet that would pay for crowd pics, even if they are awesome…..I watch a lot of sports, and even for local fans, there isn't much demand for postgame fans shots.

Literally AS he was writing this, I received a solicitation on flickr:

NowPublic is a public news service that uses stories and footage from non news sources. It would be great if we could use your photos…

And an email from Martin telling me that this post was about to go up.

I had me a nice chuckle.

The weekend made me think about what's next. My intent with photography was never to make money or even achieve recognition beyond getting picked by DCist sometime. I just knew, vaguely, that this was an identity I'd be able to occupy. I thought it would just be about the idiosyncratic stuff I saw and wanted to show others; something to do for myself and maybe people close to me. But now, what I also like about photography is the chances it gives to interact with others. I didn't post about the movie I saw Saturday about war photographer Jim Nachtwey — way too much there — but it occurs to me that this part of my approach is not dissimilar to his.