June 27, 2009

Scheduling Mishaps

As I sit here on my couch with eyes dilated, injection sites in my arms, a band aid square on my back and a temporary filling in my tooth, I've realized something: I really should have spaced out my doctor's appointments.

It started a month ago when I realized I was overdue for my yearly medical check up. I also realized I never made that dermatology appointment I meant to years ago. On top of that, I had been wondering for a while if I could blame allergies for the general congestion I'd been feeling for the past few months. So decided to take yesterday off work and scheduled those two appointments - one in the morning, one in the afternoon.

I already had scheduled my appointment for my tooth filling and last week I ran out of contacts, so on top of everything, I now had to go to the eye doctor. The soonest appointment they could give me was this afternoon. I didn't actually plan on all of these visits falling within the same 36 hour period, but due to my doctor's availability, that's exactly what happened.

I hadn't thought much of the timing. In fact I was kind of comforted by the fact that I could just get all this over with. It wasn't until I was sitting in the dentist chair this morning that I started to regret my scheduling.

About a half hour into my 8 a.m. dentist appointment all was not well. After four numbing shots to my gums and several attempts at drilling my tooth, my dentist and I gave up. My tooth had formed a little sink hole and the nerve that was exposed would not get numb. It was painful, very painful. A pain that I certainly wasn't prepared to deal with on an empty stomach so early on a morning. The fact that I opted to visit with out of town friends the previous night until 1:30 a.m. probably didn't help either.

I'm heading back in a few weeks to get a permanent filling put in. I hope the tooth takes to the numbing medication because I'd really hate a repeat of this morning's visit. Even if it does go terribly, I can at least take solace that it will be the only doctor's visit I will have that day.

I will say after having gone through all these appointments, I did learn a lot about myself. For instance:
- My general practitioner was right. The mole on my back was suspicious. Suspicious enough that my dermatologist hacked it off on the spot. I'll find out in a week if it's cancerous, even though neither of my doctors suspect it is.
- I may have gotten a mole removed from my back, but I was informed by my eye doctor that I have a mole on my left eye, under my eye lid. Did you know people can have eye moles, because I certainly did not. It felt very yin and yang. Lose a mole on my back Friday, gain one on my eye Saturday.
- My vision has not changed. Whoopie! That's a first in years. Usually it gets slightly worse with every visit. It's still crap, but at least it's not crappier.
- I totally had more than pre-cavities. Once my dentist got in and started drilling, one of my teeth practically caved in. She described it as a small crack turning into a sink hole. And then she showed me a picture of the crater in my tooth. Let's just say I'm surprised I didn't have an echo every time I talked. That's what she's working on when I go back.
- I am not allergic to anything. I let the allergist prick my arms up and down with needles and nothing, no reaction to any of them. All I could think as I sat there, my unresponsive arms making a mockery of me is "Huh. I didn't know I was a hypochondriac."
- I am very healthy person, and I really should stop torturing myself with all this preventative modern medicine.

June 25, 2009

Gone Too Soon

When I heard Ed McMahon passed away yesterday, I had a really morbid thought: I wonder who the other two will be. I am a firm believer that these things happen in threes.

So when Farah Fawcett passed away this morning, I wasn't too surprised. However, the news of Michael Jackson passing away this afternoon was a bit shocking. Really, Jacko's gone? I really thought he'd live forever, somehow adding years to his life with each successive plastic surgery.

By the time I got home from work, his death was all over the news. It was all anyone could talk about. NBC was apparently prepared for Jackson's passing. The network is currently running a two hour Dateline special on both Jackson's and Fawcett's respective lives and deaths.

It did bring me great joy to see that MTV had altered their usual line up of baseless, reality, shitastic programming to pay tribute to one of the people that made that network. MTV currently may have a program line up without any actual music, but it had the good sense to realize that Jackson's life was far more entertaining than the latest installment of the "Real World" franchise.

As a child of the 80s, I remember trying to moonwalk. I never could. One of the best records in my parents collection was the Thriller album. I still remember how when the cover opened, it revealed a tiger sitting at Jackson's feet. To a seven-year-old that solidified Jackson's bad assery in my mind. Obviously in recent years, Jackson's fame has revolved more around his personal antics than his musical contributions. He seemed so pained and so removed from the real world. While I know the world will mourn his loss, a part of me can't help but feel happy that he doesn't have to deal with the world any more.

Keeping with the ending theme of yesterday's post, name your favorite Michael Jackson (or Jackson Five) song. For me, it's hard to pick one aside from the obvious choices of Thriller or Billie Jean, but I will say I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Man In The Mirror.

June 23, 2009

On Knowing What I Don't Know

If there's one thing I have learned about Photoshop it's that I don't even know all there is to know. If I'm just correcting photos I've taken randomly of weekend activities or the cats, I use Picasa. It's good enough but also basic enough that it takes me no time at all to edit, and I still get decent results. But for more important photos, like the two shoots I've done recently, I exclusively use Photoshop.

Having in my teenage years worked in an old school photo lab, I became pretty picky about the contrast and coloring of my images. It's been a delight to see that I can be as picky as I want in Photoshop. If a magenta speck in the upper left hand corner of a photo bothers me I can tweak it without altering the rest of the photo. It's a picky photographer's dream come true, but that dream comes with a price. I am just now finishing editing the set of photos I took on Father's Day - three days ago. With Picasa I would have been done an hour after the shoot, but I also wouldn't have loved any of the photos I took as much as I do now.

I mostly use the color correcting and cropping functions in Photoshop. I know if I wanted I could twist images, make them into puzzles and turn all the colors neon. I don't really have use for all that. Today though as I reached the last three photos of my shoot, I knew they could be more dynamic so I tried something new.

Here are the originals. (Hunter was doing a little crazy dance for me)

I didn't want to discard them, but they also were not the best solo shots I got of Hunter. So this was my solution.

So much cuter! And it's a better representation of his little dance. Thank you Google and all your wisdom because I couldn't have combined these three photos otherwise.

My Photoshop tastes are constantly changing right now. In each of the three nights I've edited this collection of photos I tweaked their color, shading and contrasting differently. I've had to go back and change some of the photos I've already edited because I've liked what I've done on subsequent nights better. It's OK though. I guess it's all part of the learning process, which is definitely where I am. But it's good to know that there are certainly enough functions in Photoshop to keep me constantly learning and perfecting my editing skills.

And just because he's such a doll and I really did love this shoot, I will leave you with another of my favorite images from my Father's Day photos.

And now for a complete change of subject... Does anybody have a suggestions for a song I can play during the candle lighting portion of a wedding ceremony - preferably something good for a solo violin? I need another song for my September wedding, and I don't know what I want to play. Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, Ave Maria, Canon in D and Ode to Joy have already been taken. Or alternately, if you don't know a good song, just for laughs, please suggest the worst possible song I could play at that moment. Immediately I am thinking Toxic by Britney Spears or Superfreak.

June 21, 2009

Food, Drink and Shots

So the weekend's over. I really am not ready for it to be over, but it is. My schedule has been packed for the past 36 hours, so I feel like I'm just now sitting down. This isn't a complaint. My packed schedule included a house warming/birthday party last night (with lots of food and drink), a brunch this morning (with more food and drink) and, this afternoon, my first paying photo gig! I'm still so stoked about that.

A good friend of mine surprised her husband with a photo shoot on Father's Day. She and her family walked into the park, and her husband had no clue I was waiting there. He and his son wandered around the harbor park, played on the swings and stared at the boats. I documented, paparazzi style (only much less obnoxious), this father and son's hour spent playing in the park.

This was my first time photographing a young kid, and man oh man do they move fast. I learned from this photo shoot that from here on out kids need to be shot with a higher shutter speed than I used. Even with my slightly too low shutter speed, I did manage to get some pretty good shots. I'm not done editing them yet but here are a few of my favorites so far.

I'll probably post some more as I edit them, but that's all I have for now.

I hope you (yes, you) had a wonderful weekend.

June 15, 2009

You Get What You Pay For

A few months ago I went on a virtual shopping spree. I spent a chunk of change buying summer clothes on some of my favorite discount shopping Web sites. I would come home and for a few days there, big boxes would be sitting in our foyer with my name on them. It was exciting until I would take these things out, try them on and realize they did not fit. Then I'd spend the following weekend hitting up the UPS store to send most of my purchases back.

There are advantages of online shopping, such as no lines, no commuting and no sifting through endless racks of discount T-shirts. But there is the obvious disadvantage of not being able to try on anything. I don't know about you all, but I'm never the same size twice. This makes online shopping a guessing game. Shopping for electronics is a bit easier. I got my replacement iPod on eBay (for a third of what I bought it for) and a new watch. I also got my additional camera lens online. It was an Amazon purchase.

Last week I was determined to get another camera lens. I was planning a shoot with a few friends down by the lake, and I really wanted a new lens for this shoot. In reading some photo blogs, I was determined that my next lens should be a good portrait lens with a wide aperture. I found just the lens I wanted and could have easily ordered it online. However, its reviews said the auto focus wasn't compatible with my particular camera. Not wanting to plop down a bunch of money on something I wasn't sure I'd be able to use, I opted for an in store purchase.

I took my lunch hour last Thursday and visited a local camera store - Helix. They have an amazing selection. Within minutes of my walking into the store, one of the staff was pulling the lens for me to try on my camera. And as soon as I mentioned I had the Nikon D60, he did something surprising. He proceeded to talk me out of buying something I was pretty set to purchase. I'd even budgeted for it.

He reasoning was sound, and I couldn't argue with someone who has superior knowledge of photography. I honestly was surprised that in this economic climate an employee would talk a customer out of a purchase. And then it hit me. There is something else that I've missed in all my online purchases. I have missed the benefit of talking to someone who is knowledgeable about the product they sell. Someone who has knowledge that could actually assist me in my purchase. It's a sad fact that most people in retail these days don't get much respect or pay. However, there are people who work in businesses that are absolutely passionate about the things they sell. The downside to this passion though is this guy has now convinced me I need the $400 version of this lens - a considerable amount more than the one I was planning to purchase.

A few months ago I was reading a post by a blogger I follow. She was discussing her dilemma regarding purchasing her wedding dress. She found a dress she loved at a local dress shop and then proceeded to find the exact same dress online for $200 cheaper. The question then became did she buy the dress online and save the money or did she talk to the store owner and see if she could lower the price. The comments were interesting and displayed a variety of opinions. One commenter in particular, I remember, said she's often frustrated by the number of people who come into her parents' business to try things out and then will leave to purchase these same items online for cheaper. In other words, her parents do the work and someone else makes the sale.

It's something I've been giving a lot of thought to lately. It's the reason why even though I have a Border rewards card, lately I've shopped at a local independent bookstore. And it's also why when I do decide to purchase another lens, I will go back to Helix and gladly spend my money.

June 10, 2009

I Wish I Knew Why

I told myself when I came home tonight I was going to work out. Instead after having stuffed my face with food and rested for a bit, I find myself sitting on the couch watching Wipeout. Really, I was going to work out and then somehow I found this show and haven't managed to do anything except watch Wipeout.

I ask you this, why is it so funny to see other people injure themselves?

This show's basic premise is to get the maximum number of people to smack into slippery, rotating foam objects. They've mastered it because just about everyone face plants at minimum three times a minute. I remember watching America's Funniest Home Videos when I was young. This was the original with Bob Saget (before he developed his severe potty mouth), and I simply couldn't get enough of it. I would laugh and laugh and laugh at dad's getting hit in the nuts with bats, at grandpas falling off their chairs and at people playing mean pranks on one another in the shower. My grandma used to watch my sister and me watching this show, and her comment was always the same. "Why is it so funny watching other people get hurt?" I never did know the answer. As I watch Wipeout tonight, I learned I still don't know why it is so funny, but darn it, it still is.

June 9, 2009

If Only I'd Had My Superpower

If given the choice of a superpower, I've always said my superpower would be the ability to find anything. Think about it. Can't find your keys? Never again. Where are those darn sunglasses you just had in your hands? You'd know! Mom loses the diamond on her in wedding ring? You've got it covered. And in my line of work, one that involves a lot of needle-in-the-haystack-searching, I'd be a valuable commodity. This morning, when Mike and I couldn't find our cat, Leroy, it would have been especially handy.

The cats are all over me every morning from the moment I wake up. They love their wet food, and they love to let me know how much they love their cat food. All three follow me meowing incessantly until I pop open a can and let them wolf it down. This morning, Leroy was suspiciously absent from the food parade. I walked around the house shaking a can of treats and nothing. No sign of Leroy. I told Mike I couldn't find Leroy, and we spent the next hour looking under things, behind things, in things, around things, above things...and then we looked in all those places again.

Leroy is a hard cat to miss. He's loud. Real loud. As a friend of mine who recently came to stay with us said, Leroy always gets the last word. And he does. Unfortunately his words all sound as if they're coming from an 88-year-old emphysema patient. He doesn't exactly have a sweet little voice. He also loves attention. My nickname for Leroy is ODB - or old dirty bastard. He's a lover and an even bigger lover of boobs. I cannot count the number of times Leroy has sauntered up to me on the couch and head butted my boob - repeatedly. His place in our home is well established, and I cannot imagine our home without a Leroy.

Mike and I absolutely couldn't miss the next train downtown, so we left home not knowing where the third member of our cat tribe could be. We looked up and down the alley as we walked to the train, but still no Leroy. We figured he must be in a super sweet hiding spot. No amount of our looking would help. We reasoned that by the time we came home he'd be out and about and all would be well.

Our walk home from the train tonight was a long one. Neither Mike or I said anything. We scanned the alley hoping for any sign of our cat. We ascended our back stairs, and Mike then put his key in the door. I crossed my fingers hoping that would make Leroy magically appear on the other side of our door. It didn't work. No Leroy.

We took to the streets, searching the areas immediately around our condo building. We called his name as we looked under cars and in gang and alleyways. Not a single sign. We returned home again, and I couldn't believe there still was no Leroy. I wanted nothing more than to find him, mainly because when I lost Oscar just mere months after getting him, Mike was the one who helped me find my cat. (Funny note - Mike is the "friend" in that post, but if you read between the lines "friend" meant secret boyfriend.)

Mike got on the phone with some local animal shelters. A few minutes later, he came back into the kitchen, with flashlight in hand, and decided to head out for a third time. I used my nervous energy to whip up dinner. As I marinated some chicken I began mentally designing Leroy's "Lost Cat" poster.

He was in our home the previous night. When I went to bed he was there. When I woke up, he wasn't. It was as if he disappeared into thin air. Leroy is an older cat, about 14 years young to be exact. I would understand if we came home or woke up to find he had passed away. But to just have him disappear felt wrong. There was no closure. There wasn't a good bye. He didn't get to nuzzle my boob one last time. If he didn't turn up, I knew I'd spend the next year continually looking for him out of the corner of my eye.

I heard Mike's footsteps up our back stairs, and I prepared to be heartbroken all over again. When Mike opened the back door, Leroy was clinging to his chest - just as he did the day Leroy first came home with Mike. Leroy was back. Our little family was complete. The loud, needy, crazy, unpredictable cat of the bunch was home. I grabbed Leroy from Mike and he clung to me, rubbing his head under my chin and holding on with all his might. He was definitely hungry and a little dirty, but I was just so happy to have him back.

Mike found Leroy one building over, hiding at the bottom of a stairwell. Just as Mike had told me when I lost Oscar, cats don't go far, and thankfully Leroy didn't. When piecing together the puzzle of Leroy's departure, Mike now thinks Leroy must have snuck past him the previous night when he went out for a smoke. Leroy scurried down the stairs and more than 18 hours later, Mike found him a building over.

Leroy was definitely happy to be home. He smelled his water. He used the litter box. When I placed some wet food on the floor, he wolfed it down as I'm sure he would have earlier that morning. And as his thanks to us, moments later he puked on our rug. Things indeed are definitely back to normal.

June 7, 2009


It's been a while since I wrote. But sadly that's about the only observation I can think to share. Nothing terribly interesting has happened to me as of late (not even during my day flight home to Michigan last weekend) and my creativity seems to be in a deep slumber at the moment. So until I actually do something worth writing about or my creativity decides to wake up, I'm afraid this is all I have.

I at least wanted to let you, my dear readers, know I am still alive lest you think my last post was some terrible foreshadowing. Rest assured I have not plummeted to my death in an elevator shaft.