wasteful

23 April, 2007

From artist Chris Jordan, an art project about waste in America. Look at them all. (I had to shrink them to fit in the blog, so they are even more impressive than this…)

(zoom)

(more zoom)

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gun control and suicide

18 April, 2007

Recent gun-related events virtually ensure an encore of one of America’s traditional performance art pieces in response to tragedy: Guns Don’t Kill People, Teenagers Kill People (introducing…the 2008 Presidential candidates!). Well, at least it will be marginally more informed than will the next potential performance, Video Games Made Him Do It. (And let’s hope we can avoid Who Let Them In Here, Anyway? especially since Geraldo and Bill O’Reilly knocked that one out of the park so recently.)

Well, I got no particular knowledge about all those phases, but I do have a gun control-related angle.

US residents of all ages and both sexes are more likely to die from suicide when they live in areas where more households contain firearms. A positive and significant association exists between levels of household firearm ownership and rates of firearm and overall suicide; rates of nonfirearm suicide were not associated with levels of household firearm ownership…the availability of lethal means increases the rate of completed suicide.

The finding got a big yawn around my lab, but then maybe the common wisdom about suicide isn’t as well known in the blogosphere as it is here in a lab full of psychiatric researchers. Commence lecture!

  1. Suicide kills over 30,000 Americans a year. (More statistics can be found here.)
  2. You may wonder why I use the passive voice up there, don’t people do the killing? Yeah: depressed people. You can’t talk about suicide without reference to depression/mental illness, and the decisions people make when depressed are (duh) not necessarily the ones they’d make when healthy.
  3. To commit suicide is usually an impulsive decision. As a result it’s a common cause of death in young males.
  4. The idea to attempt suicide is more viral than you’d think: it spreads like a meme. When a suicide is reported, there are often local methodological copycats (educating police forces and newspaper editors NOT to publicize details can cut down on this substantially). A particularly awful example of how fucked up this can get is the story of Golden Gate Bridge suicides, which I can’t even reread, it’s so depressingly infuriating.
  5. Choice of method is opportunistic. (See above article.)
  6. People’s estimates about a method’s lethality are not accurate. This has a lot of implications, among them the fact that women are more likely to attempt, but men are more likely to succeed. In large part this is because women use less lethal methods (pills) than men do (guns).*

The author of the study puts it simply: “In a nation where more than half of all suicides are gun suicides and where more than one in three homes have firearms, one cannot talk about suicide without talking about guns.”

Now, it’d be a helluva public health measure to void a constitutional amendment just to prevent suicide. I’m not advocating this as why you should support gun control, I’m not completely on any particular side of the issue. Just keep in mind, when the NRA types get rabid about their purported “rights,” that lots of these people have depressed kids at home who know where the ammo is. What are the 2nd amendment absolutists doing to prevent having to pry their own guns from their child’s cold, dead hands?

_______________________________________

*Because pills are such an ineffective way to commit suicide, there is a sexist misperception out there that women (who tend to use pills) intend suicide less seriously, and are just doing so as a “cry for help” or to get attention. But there is no correlation between lethality and seriousness: since suicides are so often impulsive and opportunistic, seriousness is hard to judge from the outside, easy to lie about from the inside, and impossible to determine for the successful. Nonlethal attempts are judged as less serious than lethal suicides because all lethal suicides appear seriously meant, whether they were or not.

Jackie Robinson Day

15 April, 2007

So today Major League Baseball celebrates the 60th anniversary of its integration. If you don’t know the story, yet would like to call yourself an American, go read about it ASAP.

At the 50-year mark, MLB retired the number 42 for all teams, but apparently Ken Griffey Jr. had the idea for players to honor Robinson today by wearing 42. The idea has spread around the league and morphed into either “one dude on your team wears the number,” “a few dudes on your team wear the number,” or everyone on your team wears the number.” Personally, I prefer the last of these options, and think the position stated by the Twins’ Torii Hunter in the article — that it somehow dilutes the tribute to have too many people wear the number — is ridiculous. If only one or a few players get to wear #42, it’s then about those players — but it should be about Robinson himself. Here’s a shout-out to the teams that are all wearing #42 today:

Astros: All players
Brewers: All players
Cardinals: All players
Dodgers: All players
Phillies: All players
Pirates: All players

(Ahem. All National league, thankyouverymuch.)

I’m glad I don’t have tickets to any such games, because seeing 18 or 22 guys (if the coaches wear it too) all wearing #42 would make me ridiculously choked up. Things DO change here. Just ask Don Imus. Call me an idealist and/or a moderate, but it’s nice to pause every now and then from the struggle and take a measure of how far we HAVE come. Yeah, I know the changes are incremental (“with all deliberate speed”), often oddly motivated (women and the Civil Rights Act of 1964), and often have harmful unintended consequences (affirmative action and black students’ self-confidence). But as a member of a group that benefitted from the last century’s civil rights advances, it’s my opinion that one should take what one can get and turn it to one’s advantage, even if the motives of the givers are suspect. Half a loaf, and all that.

One suggestion I heard last season sometime about what to do with #42 is to begin a Jackie Robinson award for…I dunno how to phrase it, some sort of public antidiscrimination service/work undertaken by a baseball player or coach. It needn’t be awarded every year, just when the league/voters felt someone deserved it. Said person would get the honor of wearing 42 for the year. As nice as a day of remembrance like today is, that seems a deeper one: a daily reminder of the debt we owe to those who came before. Of course I’m also the person who thinks the DC baseball team should have been named after a Negro League team. But I guess more influential folks feel that systematic racism wasn’t SOOOOO bad of a sin that we need to be reminded of it every freaking DAY.

(OTOH, perhaps such measures would fade into the background. Hmm.)

Here’s an even more community-minded idea for honoring Robinson, from Forbes magazine. Maybe the league could honor the player who gave the most money to this fund with the right to wear #42. Even more interestingly, they could honor the player who gives the highest percentage of his salary, which would give a better chance for a younger player still under salary caps to give back and get recognition.

I’m putting finishing touches on my paper this weekend, but I had to share this website with you. [1] The general idea:

Whether it’s 39% or 50% of Americans, it’s still an awful lot of people. I started wondering just who they were, what they looked like, and how they lived. Such was the genesis of Armed America: Portraits of American Gun Owners in Their Homes. The idea was to photograph a hundred gun owners, in their homes, and do a gallery show…. [2]

but it turned into a book. The website has a few you can browse, with quotes from people about why they own guns.

I’m struck by two things in these images. One, they are made with a wide lens, 25-30mmish. I base this on my experiences with the widest lens I have which is 28mm (on my crop sensor) [3]. As I’ve discussed before, I believe that shooting portraits wide is always a choice with artistic/philosophical implications in itself, apart from the typical ones common to making any image or portrait. If one wishes to shoot a Pretty McCuterson image, for a headshot say, one shoots with a long lens [3]. On faces, this has an effect that is often referred to as “flattening the features.” (I don’t really like this phrase, but I can’t think of one that describes the effect any better, so.) OTOH, with a wide lens headshot, the features are anything but flat.

Figure 1. Artist Penny Broadhurst. Photos by flickr user Danny North, all rights reserved [4]. On the left, focal length 16mm. On the right, 300mm.

Wide lenses expose people, in one of two ways. They can either fill the frame with the person, warts and all, which is what my last post on the subject was about. The intent can be to distort the subject, or (as was actually the case with the Leibovitz images, which were made the winter of 2001/2002) they can aim to expose the true person. As those shots prove, the context external to the image greatly determines the interpretation of the image when a wide portrait fills the frame. In 2006, never having liked the subjects personally, I read those portraits as sinisterizing, but when made, and when originally read by the culture in Vanity Fair that winter, they were meant to lionize, to represent resolve and strength and bravery. (If they can stand up to Leibovitz’s piercing gaze, why, they can stand up to TERROR!!1!one!!1!).

Another aspect: when looking at a person, we look at their eyes first, and our eyes spend most of their time there as they hop around taking in the rest of the face. In a portrait such as the leftward one, when we take in a face in the normal way, we do the same thing, but when a face comes to us as distorted as on the right, this is disrupted. In this way we see that traditional, “long” portraits allow subjects to exert some control over how they are seen through use of their gaze. Meet the camera’s eye? Look away? All the same choices that we make every day in meeting people’s gazes (imagine the artist coyly looking down or angling her head while looking at the camera–she doesn’t, and we learn about her because of it). But in the portrait on the left, the photographer has interrupted this process and forced us to see the face his way, that is, only able to look at the eyes (which he’s obscured) after taking in the nose and teeth, and hence sending us a message about the subject’s eccentricity.

Here’s one of my favorite wide portraits. The subjects fill the frame, but my aim was to capture the nature of childhood and of summer:

popsicles

Figure 2. July 2006, therefore, mine was red, as we ate through the holiday package. One thing I love about this picture is that D is, like J, “showing me his tongue” — but he doesn’t realize that a white one won’t make his tongue a fun color. He was to find out later, to his dismay, at which he burst into tears and accused me of stealing his popsicle. (Since MY tongue WAS a fun color, you see.) Hey, he was three.

These gun-owner pictures (go look now, if you haven’t, I’ll wait for you) expose a different way. It’s more like this other image of mine, which is the one that made me aware of the possibilities of wide portraits:

Darlenes Avenue Unisex Barber Shop

Figure 3. Darlenes Avenue Unisex Barber Shop. Made at Honfest, Baltimore, MD, June 2006.

Figs. 2 and 3 were taken with the same focal length, 28mm. While there’s outside context important to understanding this image (as there always is), you don’t need it like you do for the Vulcan portraits. A lot of the information about the girl is in the image itself.

Rephrase that; it’s not really info about her, but about what she represents. About HER would be: more detail in her face/her bigger in the frame, and an un-distracting background. You’d be able to look into her eyes, and it’d be more about her as a person, and the trophy (if there at all) would be an accessory secondary to her, like D’s popsicle or Broadhurst’s lipstick. Here, the Honette is secondary to the trophy, to her hair and her clothes and the whole Hon thing, and so this shot is about her as the incarnation of the event. The image, in the end, is not about the girl at all, but about Honfest, and children in adult costumes they don’t understand, and pride, and so on. (You get more about her from this image Dr. B made.)

Back to the gun owners. The images are taken at home–not on a range or outdoors, not USING their guns, but in the context of their lives. They’re about how their guns fit and their relationship with them. Some hold them as if to shoot, some to present it as an object. Some present them before them on a surface. Some show that they are unloaded [5]. Additional important context is added by the captions–indeed, without them the pictures have far less impact. It’s a fascinating project and I look forward to the book.

My other thought: ownership. If there are pets, they are pictured, and only young children are pictured, there’s no 12 year olds or anything like that. These are more fascinating the more you think about it. Children and pets…possessions of a sort, but also things we steward, as are guns. Guns aren’t necessarily disposable, note the guy with the bayonets on his wall–he’s a collector and like art his guns will survive him, he’s just holding on to them. OTOH, you can throw a gun in a river and the law won’t care; try that with your cat. There’s a continuum of possessions on display here, because defining people through their possessions was the explicit aim of the project.

First let’s do pets. The idea here is to describe American gun owners. Someone — the people? the photographer? While it’s clear he’s let the people pose themselves to a degree, this choice isn’t clear — has decided that pets are integral to these people’s identities, to their life in their homes. Pets are a few things in these images: one is property, but they are also signifiers of the subject’s compassion, statements that counteract the aggression of the weapons.

And pets — specific types of dogs, in this case — can also be a signifier of the subject’s commitment to personal defense, and its flipside/root, their feelings of vulnerability. This reminds me of one of the main points I got from Bowling for Columbine: that our gun culture’s “home protection” meme is driven by an Americanized fear of the Other that is fueled by our diversity, which we prize on the surface, but which runs counter to a lot of human instincts in the end. (Interestingly, the two representatives of the Other in this sample express defensive reasons for ownership that can be read as responding to their Other status. Young Black Man #1 holds a “semi”automatic [6] rifle and poses with his halfbreed pit bull, and simply says “I just think it’s a good thing to have.” He doesn’t say why. And #2 holds his .38 and wears a shirt that has the word “peace” written in 60sish letters in the shape of a gun. He says “I think everybody should have a gun. It levels the playing field.” Interesting choice of phrase in a race context, is it not?)

Kids are something else. All the children on display, alongside the pets and the guns and the furniture and the tattoos and so on, are young. More than one couple refers to their unborn children and the love they’ll instill in them for guns. Kids are signifiers of the owner’s commitment to safety, ways for them to distinguish themselves from criminals and the people who leave loaded guns under beds for toddlers to shoot each other with. However, once they become the right sort of age to actually be able to shoot a gun, they disappear from the images.

I don’t argue guns with people unless/until they’ve had the experience of shooting one [7]. Now, let me explain. I grew up as anti-gun, pro-“well-regulated militia”-half-of-the-Second-Amendment as the next liberal [8]. I had your typical vague understanding of guns and gun culture that most urbanite liberals grow up with. You know, constant gun violence and murders on the news throught childhood leading to the impression that guns=bad and scary , resultant faith in gun control good, Freudian snicker-y disdain for gun owners, aversion to the concept of hunting, anecdotes about accidental gun deaths and constitutional arguments in my debate repertoire on the topic….

Then I shot one. A bunch actually, across a range of calibers. Small handguns, big handguns, rifles and shotguns. (I was a good shot, too.) It didn’t change my personal attitudes much, I didn’t run out and buy any, but I learned something important, learned it viscerally when before I had only intellectually understood it: guns are FUN. They’re a thrill, when you make one go off, it’s like hitting the gas in a really fast car and going 0-60, all in that one instant. Any argument against guns that doesn’t understand that that’s what underlies a lot of people’s love for them — that you are asking people to give up not only their protection from their fears, but a large source of pleasure — falls flat to me now. And so, now my fear of guns is from knowledge, not ignorance, and I can see just how important a strong gun-safety culture is, and just how much of a lid it’s put on this incredible power that so many Americans have in cabinets in their homes.

Damnit, this post got WAY out of hand, and believe it or not I still have more ideas. After the paper’s in.

[1] E. Blair, personal communication.

[2] Armed America: Introduction

[3] As a point of reference to non-photographers, what this means is that there is more in the image than your eye would really comprehend if you were looking at the scene. The human eye “sees” about equivalent to a 50mm lens, which is often called “normal” for that and other reasons. And on the other side, “long” lenses — telephotos — see only a small piece of what the eye sees, which is why they are used in, say, sports photography, where one is far away from the action but wants non-diorama-sized images of it.

hot girl-on-lens action, RFK Stadiumupper deck
Supplemental Figure 1. Right, me shooting with a telephoto lens at a ballgame. The lens is a 200mm, IIRC, and I could not even capture the whole infield in the frame, I was so “close.” In contrast note the antlike nature of the ballplayers, left. That was with a 65mm focal length.

[4] This is fair use, right? I’m used to Creative Commons licenses on flickr images.

[5] To other urbanite liberals unfamiliar with gun culture: responsible gun owners of a certain type will, when showing you their guns, either unload them in front of you or show you that they are unloaded. It’s an etiquette thing. I learned this at a party at my ex’s boss’ house years ago, when we were ushered into his basement room chock-full of guns, and as he picked each one up he, with ritualized deliberation, showed us the empty barrel or clip before handing it to us.

[6] While fully automatic weapons (weapons which fire as long as the trigger is down) are almost impossible to legally obtain, many semi-automatic guns (which fire one or a few rounds per shot), such as this guy’s, are convertible to full after purchase.

[7] I also don’t argue animal rights, animal welfare, vegetarianism/veganism, or animal research with anyone who hasn’t read Animal Liberation or its equivalent. The argument devolves very quickly otherwise, whatever the conversant’s position, because it’s a rare person (like Peter Singer) who has thought through ALL the implications of the position, without personal investment in a particular outcome. I’m not an intellectual/experiential snob about much, but these are my exceptions.

The resemblance of this to how a pro-gun person might refuse to discuss guns without reference to the 2nd amendment is not lost on me.

[8] With one key experiental difference: I used to help my dad make bullets. He owned several guns and had a bullet press, and mostly what I remember is how fun it was to use, and how I was under very strict instructions to handle them as little as possible and wash my hands afterwards. I didn’t grow up in gun culture though, my parents divorced when I was 7 and my mom had basically sole custody.

Oh, I just remembered, once he put his hands over mine with an airgun and we shot bumblebees in the garden. OK, two key differences.

*jaw drop*

1 February, 2007

Seriously? You don’t read the blogs for one day, and you have to have the radio tell you that both Joe Biden AND George Bush called Barack Obama “articulate”?

(comment from tpmcafe’s post on it: well, it’s more than we can say for Bush. Snicker.)

Biden also called him “bright” and “clean” and “nice-looking” and I gotta tell you, I’m having a hard time figuring out which of those descriptors is the icing and which is the cake. This disturbs me. I’m Metaphor Girl, and I can’t even figure out what’s icing, what’s cake, and whether the cake is chocolate with vanilla icing, vanilla with chocolate icing, or marbled. Oh, if only I were more articulate. Help me Obama!

(If it’s a little early for you and you can’t quite figure out why this is offensive — after all, he IS articulate, he’s one of the best orators in politics today, right? — try and think of how often you hear white folk described as articulate. Among other things, it’s code today for “Doesn’t speak with a black accent.” The offensiveness of “bright,” “clean” and “nice-looking” are left as an exercise for the reader.)

I like how Obama’s response points out that it’s not even true (Biden actually said that Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”) Even if you leave off the legendary activist and orator we just had a national holiday for and only consider the field of past black presidential candidates, that’s fucking rude. Of all the things to be said about Moseley Braun, Chisholm, Jackson and Sharpton, “inarticulate”? You could probably find examples of them having the same backhanded compliment tossed at them when they were running.

I’m not up on my senatorial gossip. is Biden an alcoholic? Was he high? Can you really be that unconsciously racist in America today? (Y’know what…don’t answer that.) Bush, we can explain. He is after all famously INarticulate and can be expected to say dumbass things. Why, the dumbass things he’s already said in 2007 would be front-page news for another president, but at this point we know his verbal fuckups are just a sidenote to his general incompetence.

In a bit of meta-analysis….I heard the teaser about this at the top of the hour, but the radio turned off and I missed part of it. Oh no, I hope I didn’t miss hearing what was said, I thought as I turned it back on. The first thing I heard was Juan Williams’ voice. Ah good, thought I. I didn’t miss the story. I wonder how Williams feels about being the pundit who gets the call when something racist happens to Obama?

scandal

2 October, 2006

So on the one hand I am as much a scandal-fan as anyone else in this town. Pass the Cheez-Its and warm up the laptop, I’ll be a’reloading Drudge and TPM all night! But schadenfreude, like erections, has a way of fading when the fun-naughty becomes the actual-naughty. I felt ill reading those IMs, it really killed my good-times-scandal buzz. All weekend I’ve just wanted to yell “Hello! Did anyone ever apply the motherfucking golden rule? Did anyone ever think ‘Do I want this schmuck around my kids?’ Did anyone ever think even, merely, ‘you know, if this is true, it’s possible that this guy is a total child molester. Perhaps we should conduct our investigation in such a way as to figure that out, because if he is, maybe we have a much bigger problem here than it seems.'”

Prevaricators never seem to realize that information wants to be free. Said best by a commenter on Political Animal: “If they had simply reported him to the FBI and asked his resignation when this all came to light 11 months ago, the scandal wouldn’t have been much. Just another pathetic middle aged pedophile got caught. Hastert and the rest would look like pillars of the community.”   Too late now. What boggles me is this: it’s not like they thought middle-aged guys macking on teenage boys was okay or normal or to be approved of — they knew such behavior was inappropriate, at the very least.  Why didn’t they act like it? Is it really that easy for people steeped in political considerations to…simply…FORGET normal standards of behavior?

This from a Kos poster:

The decent conservatives will line up behind calls for immediate comprehensive investigations to be concluded before the midterms. They’ll demand them. The amoral right-wing sociopaths will stall and dismiss the accusations and evidence out of hand. They’ll wring their hands over the political fallout, make excuses for why investigations can’t happen until after Nov 7 (If ever), implicate the innocent and pardon the guilty, straight down a partisan line as distinct as a laser beam.

I think these two kinds of people are the same people — I hope so, anyway. Nobody starts out that amoral; even sociopaths take some work to create. What does it take for an issue to cut through the bullshit and just be clearly WRONG?

I’m alive

26 September, 2006

Or so they tell me. Many ideas for blog posts, many ideas for pictures, no time to post or make/process them because lab work is going so damn well. (Thanks in no small part to the blogosphere itself, about which more at a later date. Lemme just say, fear its power, people. For powerful it is.)

One idea I had for a post was based on my hearing the Clinton-Wallace interview on C-Span radio on Sunday. Only half-listening at first, I tuned in when I heard Clinton actually raising his voice. Radio was a good way to catch that interview: when he accused Chris of smirking, Chris AUDIBLY SMIRKED. I doubt the cameras covered that, and if they did one was probably too distracted by a frothing ex-President to appreciate the beauty. You can’t make this stuff up. The next day, I watched the interview without sound, which was a great complement to the listen. I began a body language transcript, because the whole story is there. Oh, for a feed of the wide-angle coverage camera of that interview. I don’t have time to finish, but it sure is fun. Here’s my start if anyone else wants to play with the idea:

CW: Upright posture: I am respectful. Antsy left hand, lean fwd and back only a little, start question.

WJC: Slightly closed, looking at hands — OK, he’s started. Big smile, teeth. Relaxed posture slightly slumped in chair: I am Elder Statesman and have earned the right to slump. He’s talking now: open up hands, jiggle leg without uncrossing, maintain slump.

CW: Serious and slightly regretful expression. Question.

CUT TO LISTENING WJC: Smiling, then hand to mouth, completely obscuring it. Smile wiped for look of concentration. Look neutral, neutral. Blink-as-nod, slight real nod, teeny movements.
CUT TO CW LOOKING UP: This question is my obligation as a newsman, I am also somebody and this is my space and I will ask it. Hands weighed down with this heavy question, which is necessitating strong gestures, aimed at the neutral space between him and WJC. Face even, even. Hands pass question over to Clinton. Rest.

WJC: Uncover mouth. Accept question with hand, begin massaging it, shaping it with hand. Smile is less genuine but politician-functional. Steel creeping in, emphatic expressions creeping in. Scold with head angle. Bring in other hand: form wall, and move it around for extra emphasis. Punctuate return of question by folding hands: Statesman has given you your answer. Return to jollity of before in anticipation of a change to the real interview topic, but allow some satisfaction with answer.

CW: Eye roll. Cover with regretfully dissenting blink using head to emphasize. Sigh, pull back, re-pick up question, both hands. Match Clinton’s animation level. Massage question, shape question, place it down with forward shrug of shoulders. [This guy is good! This was a helluvan ambush.]

WIDE SHOT: CW upright, leaning a bit forward from initial position. WJC in same position as the start, smiling and nodding to question part 2.

CW: Pick question back up. Put question RIGHT. Drag question LEFT. Toss.

WJC: Catch and move question left-right with hands and head for a bit. Insert comma with neck. Engage (You can hear him thinking “a’ight…I can play this one….bring it, Fox.”) . Move away from L-R axis and move forward towards CW. EMphasis. Get it? EMphasis. Scratch head….

Yeah. Sadly I never got around to the meat of it — the pointing, and the smirky, and so on — but you can watch it yourself and have a go if you like. (Note that the transcript of the words seems to be incomplete — that was not how the interview started.) It capped a great week for fans of good political rhetoric, with the Devil himself being invoked in attacks against George Bush AND Hillary Clinton. Is Lucifer the political version of Hitler in Godwin’s Law?

I join Billy boy in recommending Richard Clarke’s book. It can be very frustrating talking about 9/11 with people who haven’t read it and/or don’t know the info it contains (sure the info is public record and available in other places, but his account is as primary as it’s possible to get, and has held up over the years however self-centered you find his writing style to be). Those who have read it have a good understanding of the complexity of the Bin Laden issue pre-9/11, and also of just how the Bush Administration’s seething rabid hatred of Clinton contributed to 9/11 getting the chance to occur. This is where the people who haven’t read the book hear me accusing Bush of causing 9/11. Admittedly I fuel this by my rhetoric — as you can tell from the above, I likes me a fiery statement — usually phrasing it as “Had Gore been president, the 9/11 attack would have been thwarted.” That’s a logical leap from the direct evidence, but one I can justify (with science, even) and it’s NOT the same as saying “Had Gore been president, 9/11 would never have happened” — which is the statement they usually hear me saying no matter what words I use. It’s not unlike trying to discuss animal rights with a carnivore or scientific researcher who hasn’t read Peter Singer. Which is a whole other can of C. elegans that I will not be opening today. (The above is plenty, no?)

I also need to post about my birthday weekend, which was rule, and on something that happened on it that seems to be the “I can’t believe I’m 30 years old and I’ve never…” experience I had been wanting. It’s in regards to a particular pop album, several of the songs on which I knew well (as does everyone who grew up American) but which is actually a work of genius at a level I had not before appreciated. I wonder how obvious this has been to everyone else…maybe it will be fun for people to guess in comments? (I also relistened to an album I knew was a work of genius, ’cause everyone kept saying so before it even came out, but which I never really got — so you have two chances to be right!) It’s not every day you get to listen to music you know and hear it for the first time, and getting to do so was like a whole other gift. And twice! What fun! What a great way to spend a long drive back from a weekend away! R. had already given me the best present an urbanite photographer could ever want: a shiny new lens and a weekend in NYC for a subject. I’m so fucked for coming up with something good for HIS birthday. Thank goodness his isn’t a decimal or even quintile birthday…

Work is awesome, and postworthy, but the better it is the less time I have for good old LO. I’ve got one presentation down and two to go for the fall. So I’mma get back to it now, and see some of yas tonight at the meetup, and try not to let the pauses between posts get too long. I know you hate that, Mom.