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Archive for June, 2010

This post is a shout out to Matt P.  He thinks my Excel goal tracking is as crazy as I do.  But I think he also kinda wishes he had thought of it.  Just kidding, Matt.

Ok, so to recap from my similar post at the end of March, each year I create a list of big goals for the year.  Some of the goals are pretty specific (i.e. get new carpet), and others require a lot more daily effort and tracking (drink at most one alcoholic drink per day on average…or 30 for June).  In 2010, I added several goals that require daily tracking, including the drinking thing, the hours of TV watched per day, and the time I go to bed.  I’m trying to watch less TV and go to bed later.  About mid-May, I got so burnt out thinking about those things daily that I basically stopped tracking them.  So, for the past month or so, I have no idea how much I’ve had to drink, or how many days I’ve stayed up past 10pm (my goal), etc.  And, you know?  I’m okay with that.  I realize that despite my itchy desire (and yes, it’s kind of an itchy feeling) to be crazy and track things like that, who really cares?  Other than me.  And, I guess I just don’t care enough to keep track right now.  I blame it on the nice weather and the fact that I’ve been out of school for a couple months.  During the school year, when I have tons to keep track of, I find being organized and on track a lot easier!

This quarter I did a few things on my big list of goals.  I visited Acadia National Park, completed Alice’s graduation gift, and finished all the planned upgrades to the house.  I also started the photography class that I wanted to take. 

Some items I’ve made great progress on.  I am trying to read 52 books this year, and so far, I’ve read 38, so I’m on track.  I also am trying to read 5 books that are on the TIME Top 100 list or are past Pulitzer Prize winners and I’ve read three.  I also want to watch 20 classic films (from TIME’s Top 100) and have seen 8 so far. 

There are several travel items that I haven’t done yet this year (including a visit to Ithaca and Allegheny College) but I have them penciled in the calendar.  My biggie for the year is to complete my MBA which should be done in December. 

Keeping in mind that I haven’t been paying attention to my drinking, sleeping and TV goals lately, I think I’ve still done okay for the quarter.  I think it’s also good to relax and not sweat the small stuff, and keeping track of how much TV I watch is pretty crazy…right?  Right.

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Photo Class

On Saturday morning I found myself in my first photo class and I am already so glad I decided take it!  I had been struggling about if I should take the class for a couple months because my other summer class for my MBA starts in a week decreasing my free time by a ton, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my Saturday mornings in yet another class.  In the end, I realized that it really does mean a lot to me to be a good photographer and that goal takes a lot of effort and practice.

Back to class.  Bottom line, I’ve learned so much already.  I am a researcher by nature, so I’ve done my basic research about how cameras work, but I really have no idea what I’m talking about other than I know some of the words you’re supposed to use.  We spent some time in class learning about aperture and shutter speed and ISO, and then we all drove over to a local park and took photos.  I practiced using the aperture priority setting and the shutter priority settings which was fun.  And yes, I realize that that previous sentence makes me sound like a complete nerd.  Here are some photos showing the difference between high and low apertures.

Low aperture - not much in focus

High aperture - lots in focus

I leave in a couple days on vacation and I will be surrounded by crazy nature beauty for a week.  I will be taking oodles of pictures so stay tuned.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorites from the morning.  (I really like how just the flower is in focus, and offset.)

awwwww, pretty!

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Stupid Email

Picture courtesy of Emilie Ogez on flickr

I have been a long time user of Yahoo email.  I got my account long before Gmail appeared, and it has, overall, served me well.  Until last month.  On a day when I was lounging around my parents house, on a well deserved vacation, some yahoo (sic) sent a spam email from my account.  It went to everyone in my address book.  I wouldn’t have even known about this if it wasn’t for a few concerned citizens emailing me to let me know what they had received.  I quickly sent an email to everyone in my address book apologizing and asking them not to open the link (who actually opens junk email links anyway?!?!?).

On Saturday, it happened again.  This time I sent a mass email very quickly, but I don’t think the original spam went to as many people.  I’ve since changed passwords, rid my address book of infrequently contacted folks, and have taken the first steps to opening a Gmail account.  I guess that platform has fewer problems with spam, but honestly switching an account I’ve had for about 10 years is a total and complete hassle.  Actually, technology is advanced enough that Gmail can automatically import everything I have in my Yahoo folders directly which saves me a lot of time and effort.

Over the next month or so, I’ll begin sending emails from my new account.  Phase out.  Phase in.  Happy Monday to me.

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I’m not quite sure that you can ‘become’ a great photographer, but I’m going to go with it.  Malcolm Gladwell has a theory that you can become an expert at anything with only 10,000 hours of practice – or about 3 hours per day for the next 10 years.  No biggie.  Sounds like a plan.

In order to further my quest, I have enrolled in a class this summer at our local art school titled “How to take good pictures with your DSLR.”  My first class is today.  I’m not including any pictures in this post because I might be forced to unlearn everything I know so far and I don’t want to look back on this post with disgust at my naivete 10,000 hours from now.

Just kidding about that.  Truth is, uploading pictures takes a free minue I don’t have.  Adios.

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I’ve been in a word funk.  I don’t have anything to say.  My camera has been sitting lonely in the closet.  I’ve been around, working, hanging out, you know…the normal things you do.  But the week is creeping by.  I’m distracting myself by getting super excited for a couple upcoming events:

1. My vacation next week out West with my mom and sister Lisa.  We are going to four states I’ve never visisted and taking a full fledged road trip (two more items on my Life List).

2. I’m starting a fun photography class on Saturday.  One step closer to being the amazing photographer I want to be.

In the meantime, I saw a link today to this gal who so kindly put a bunch of her photos on flickr for folks like me to download and use.  Yay!  So, the following photos of my favorite summer things are all courtesy of D. Sharon Pruitt. 

Arguably, my most favorite summer thing of all...

Followed closely by fun cocktails with bubbles and fruit

I love grass, I hate mowing it...mixed bag.

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I’m not going to try and be nice.  The Sound and the Fury is widely regarded as one of the best American novels ever written.  Random House calls this novel Faulkner’s first true work of genius.  Even Oprah agrees.  Needless to say, I thought I would be pleasantly surprised by this book but I admit, with several exaggerated eye rolls, that I was very underwhelmed. 

Why do people love this book?  Seriously.  I am not an idiot. I understand somewhat complex plot lines. I can generally follow along.  But I was completely and utterly lost during the first two sections (that’s half of the entire thing!) of this novel.  Completely and utterly.  Here are two examples of specific issues I have with this book. 

Example Number One: During the first section (told from the perspective of a special needs sibling who is non-verbal), Benjy jumps around in time with his narrative.  I spent the first 100 pages convinced that the secret drama being described was that there was a transgendered sibling named Quentin (because they keep referring to her as Miss Quentin but then alternatively calling Q a ‘him’, okay?  Also, I was born in the 1980s so this kind of plot is entirely possible!).  In the second section, as Q is attending Harvard (back when it was all male), I felt I was DEFINITELY on track with my idea and additionally thought that maybe the family had to hide Q’s identity as a female in order for her to attend college.  Wrong and wrong.  Turns out…there are TWO Quentins.  One dead older brother and one younger niece.  And the two Quentins are the same age in this section as it bounces around in time. Jeez, Julie!  Didn’t that critical plot point seem obvious scattered among the run-on sentences with limited punctuation and near constant time travel? 

Example Number Two: Each section has a different narrator.  Benjy is the first narrator, followed by older brother Quentin, and brother Jason (also a dad named Jason).  Strangely, though, in the fourth and final section…no narrator!  Plain old ‘normal’ book for the last 50 pages.  I followed everything that happened in THAT section thankyouverymuch!

Faulkner's 'genius'

Reading various reviews and commentaries online, I discovered that when Faulkner wrote The Sound and the Fury, he had pretty much given up on trying to please the public, publishers and reviewers.  He saw himself as a failed poet, and wrote nearly only for himself.  Maybe he should have kept it to himself.  That’s all I’m saying.

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Final Acadia Pictures

I’ve written a lot about Acadia this week, but didn’t get a chance to post these great pictures.  My final images of the weekend.  Move on, Julie, move on.

Thunder Hole - Acadia National Park

Jordan Pond - Acadia National Park

Well Marked and Beautiful Trails

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