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Trivial Pursuits

Well, trivia about one of my many pursuits, anyway.

It’s been another one of those weeks, so I’m throwing something together at the last minute.  But, at least this is a fun one.  It was recycled recently on Facebook, but the original post is from last year about this time.
I love trivia almost as much as I love photography, so trivia about photography is definitely a little extra special for me.  So, how would you like to be able to surprise people with the origin of the name “Kodak”?  It’s not what you think!  Or how math determines some of the markings on your DSLR?  How about why somebody named “Kelvin” is responsible for how your camera and photography editing programs describe white balance?  All those questions and more, well, one more, are answered by Light Stalking in their article Interesting Photography Trivia to Casually Drop into a Conversation.

Okay, not my absolute best effort, but still fun.
And, the next couple of weeks will be crazy at work, so don’t expect much better for a month or so!

 

How One Photographer Got Rich

His best investment was his studio.

No, seriously, Jay Maisel bought a 6-storey, 35,000-square-foot, 72-room building at 190 Bowery in Manhattan for $102,000 in 1966 and it was the best investment he could have made. Why? Because he sold it late last year for $55 million. Not a bad profit.
Personally, I think his setup is every photographer’s dream come true.  I mean, who wouldn’t want a large, multi-storey, live-in photography studio, complete with enough room to showcase your work?
According to the article at PetaPixel, the one big drawback is that the building apparently didn’t have heat.  That would be a problem.  But, I think that’s one that could be corrected.  Of course, for $55 million, he can buy another building somewhere with lower property taxes and have heat and central air!

Anyway, I thought this was super cool and thought I’d share.
Check out the photos and the, unfortunately, laughable video.  The photos of the interior are pretty spectacular.

 

Last Chance For Love

Or, a reasonable facsimile thereof.

No, seriously, Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, in case you’d forgotten, but you still have time to do something romantic for your special someone. Of course, there’s always the last minute flowers. (My personal preference on flowers has been Rose Gallery Florist for more than 15 years.)  Or dinner.  Dinner is always a good choice.  Or, you could do something else more fun, like one of the suggestions from Esquire’s 15 Fun Last Minute Date Ideas.
In the end, I don’t think it matters, as long as you spend time and attention on the one you love.
Besides, if you really love someone, do you really need to wait for this one particular day to show it?  Wouldn’t it be better to let them know more regularly?

Personally, I’ve had my flower order in with plenty of time to spare.  And, all things being equal, I’ll take my blushing bride out to lunch, not dinner.  Then we’ll stay home for a romantic session of catching up on our DVR queue.
I love being married.  Seriously!

 

Endurance

I was talking with my wife the other day about blogging.

I’ve been blogging since at least May of 2000.  That means I’ve been blogging almost fifteen years at one of my several blogs; Diary of a Network Geek, The Fantasist’s Scroll, or this site.
I guess that’s kind of impressive.  At least, she seemed kind of impressed.
Granted, I haven’t been blogging here quite as regularly as I used to, but I have maintained that once-per-week schedule when many people I know who used to blog have given it up.  And, of course, I also have a host of other sites like HavePalmWillTravel, from the days when I was a minor-league road-warrior and used my Palm IIIc more than I did my laptop.  Or, my latest venture, FindMyPhotographer, which is still in progress and not quite read for “prime time” yet.

In that time, I’ve gone from hand-coding the individual HTML pages to using MoveableType and subsequently seen WordPress take dominance from them as the premier blogging/content management tool.
Things sure have changed in those almost fifteen years, but one constant has been my strange urge to share thoughts with the world at large.  Honestly, since I think of myself as a pretty private person, I can’t really explain it.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting that she thought my persistence was a strength, not a sign of lunacy.
It’s one of the things I love about her.

Free Kierkegaard

No, this isn’t a plea for a political prisoner.

Rather, I’m offering a free book, which you can download from a link at the end of this post, by Søren Kierkegaard, considered by many to be one of the earliest existential writers. He was also a Christian, and a radical Christian thinker, at that.
I don’t normally talk about my religious beliefs, because I’m not out to convince anyone of anything.  I’m not one of those people who are into prosthelytizing.  Sales of any kind really isn’t my favorite thing.  But, Kierkegaard has been on my mind this week.  Why?  Well, mostly because of his radical ideas.  I don’t think of myself as much of a philosopher, but I suspect a lot of my friends would disagree.  But, when I was introduced to Kierkegaard a few years back, I was hooked.  Unlike a lot of contemporary Christians, he insisted that a true belief in Christian ideals required us to be radically different from our peers.  That the ideas espoused by Jesus were, by their nature, radical and, if we truly embraced them, should change our lives.  Think about that for a minute.  If we truly believe in something, but we don’t act any different, do we really hold that belief?

That is what someone challenged me with this past weekend.
I won’t go into the details about precisely what belief it was, though, it had to do with the two greatest commandments that Christ gave us; And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
And that conversation, and challenge, reminded me of my old friend Kierkegaard.  So, I thought I’d share him with you readers.  If I haven’t frightened you off, that is.

And, don’t be worried if he seems too hard to read.  As the preface of the the book I’m offering up here says, “Søren Kierkegaard has been accused of being one of the most frustrating authors to read. He has also been praised as one of the most rewarding.”
So, if you feel like a challenge, download the book and read it.

Provocations

Out Of Ideas

I’m completely out of fucking ideas this week.

Good thing I found this post on Lifehacker from 2012 that will tell me what the fuck to do!
Of course, since they’re a big, mainstream site, they shy away from the cursing, but I figure the keywords won’t hurt my site’s rankings, so I’m just going for it.  Their article was titled Seven Helpful Sites That Tell You What The F**K To Do.
They’ve got everything from The Fucking Weather to What The Fuck Should I Make For Dinner?  And, make sure to read the comments, because someone in there has some Good Fucking Design Advice.

Seriously, I know this post is a little bluer than my regular fare, but I’ve been sick all week and I seriously am out of ideas for posts this week.  These links combined the right attitude and solution for all my problems this week, so, here they are.
Hopefully, I’ll have something better for you next week.
No promises, though.

Keeping It Clean

Of course, I’m talking about your reputation on-line.

Look, I’m a little pressed for time this week, so I’m going to get right down to it.  On-line, where no one knows all that much about you, really, reputation is everything.  Two weeks ago, I had a link for you with information about beating a polygraph, in case you got caught doing things that embarrassed you.  This week, I’ve got a link to an article by Jack Wallen at TechRepublic with reviews of Five Tools to help you Manage and Monitor your On-Line Reputation.
Four of the five are free, and one is a service with a 30-day free trial, but the free ones are the only ones that interest me.  Of course, I’ve used Google to set up searches on my name and websites and my “personal brands”, because, you know, who hasn’t, right?  But, their “Me on the Web” tool is a little more personal and focused, and Jack has a good review of it.  The other one that interests me, but that I honestly haven’t had time to look into too deeply is Reputation.com.  You’ve got to setup a free account, but the service seems to cover most of your social media and search-results oriented reputation monitoring and management.
The other two free ones are more about monitoring what’s being said about you on the web.

Anyway, I’m swamped at my day-job this week, so I have to dash, but, the services at that review ought to keep you all busy and out of trouble while you pretend to work today.  And, next week, I’ll try and have something better for you all.
Or, maybe I’ll just stop the regular weekly links of fluff like this.  I guess we’ll just see how the week goes.

Stay True to You

Don’t listen to the media.

Seriously, they don’t have your best interests at heart.  They want to sell advertising, not good news.  And, they sure don’t want you to like yourself or feel comfortable with the world around you.  Because, after all, if you feel safe and happy, they don’t know how to sell you things.  Do you think I’m lying?  Then let me give you an example: health and fitness magazines.
I’ve known for years that my favorite health and fitness magazine, Men’s Health, has recycled headlines.  (Gawker confirms this for me, by the way, so it’s not just my imagination!)  And, I’ve noticed that they recycle those same headlines for Women’s Health, too, as confirmed by this comment left on that Gawker story:

“My boyfriend subscribes to Men’s Health; I have a subscription to Women’s Health. One month, I discovered that they had used the same exercise tips for both magazines (something regarding BEST ABS EVER!), but the men performed the exercises with weights, and the women didn’t.

I figured they always recycled stories and tips, but this is insane.”

The problem with that is that they’re all headlines meant to make you feel bad about how you look, eat, shop, or your sexual prowess.  The sad thing is, the information in the magazines, at least Men’s Health, is often quite good and actually may not even have much to do with the recycled headlines that are used to sell the magazine!  Of course, I tend not to follow the latest fad when it comes to health and exercise, and I certainly don’t follow 99% of their suggestions about dating and sex.  I always figured if I ended  up looking like the male models on the covers and in the stories, I’d be involved with crazy, high-strung models and actresses and then I’d follow their advice.  Thankfully, that never happened and I married a sweet, down-to-earth woman.

But, I encourage you to ignore all the loony fad diets whether they’re the paleo-fantasy diet or some other extreme shift in how you eat, because, when you get past the hyped headlines, the real choice is to just eat more sensibly.  My rule of thumb is to just eat twice as much plant-based food as animal-based food and to try and eat the least processed thing.  Of course, I fail at that regularly, but I get a little better every day.
Also, check out the, oddly somewhat controversial, new suggestions from the government about health and eating at ChooseMyPlate.  Brought to you by the same people who brought us the food pyramid, this is the new, better, way to eat healthier.  It’s simple and sensible and not a bad way to go.

And, no matter what you do, do it because you want to be healthier, not because you want to fit some artificial and impossible standard of “fitness” or “beauty” that even the stars who are used to sell it can’t achieve without Photoshop.
Make this year the year you stay true to who you are and just be healthier!

UPDATE: Yahoo Health ran a story this morning, coincidentally, titled “I Tried 10 Diets in 50 Days“, that supports my thoughts on skipping the crash/fad diets and eating sensibly according to more standard guidelines endorsed by major health organizations and governments.

 

To Tell The Truth

So, we’re a week into the New Year.  Have you done anything you want to keep secret?

Hey, no judgement here!  Believe me, there are plenty of things that I would just as soon forget as ever talk about again!  Nothing, of course, illegal, or anything that would keep me from getting a security clearance, as far as I know, but things I’d rather not discuss in a public forum.  Thankfully, I’ve never had to apply for anything that required a test of my veracity at the governmental level, much less a polygraph test, but there’s always that possibility.  And, I have to admit, I do know a couple of guys who cheated on their wives so often that they now go through “voluntary” polygraph checks, just to set their wives minds at ease.
Here’s the thing, though; polygraphs, aka “lie detectors”, aren’t scientifically proven to work!  What’s more, there are plenty of people who will sell you a book or a course on how to beat the machine.

So far, this is perfectly legal, though that’s being tested in Oklahoma where anti-polygraph activist and former Oklahoma City Police officer Doug Williams is facing charges from a grand jury on “multiple counts of mail fraud and witness tampering, for allegedly showing people how to lie and hide crimes in order to get security-clearance-level jobs with the federal government”.  He claims that he’s just coaching honest people how not to be overly nervous and set off the polygraph and the polygraph interviewer’s warning triggers.  But, really, since there’s almost nothing truly scientific about the polygraph and the results of a polygraph test aren’t admissible in most courts, how can there by anything wrong with it?  Besides, the way to beat the polygraph is to stay relaxed no matter what question is asked and to build a rapport with the interviewer.  That’s pretty much it.

Oh, and, of course, there’s always the tried-and-true method of being a law-abiding citizen with nothing to hide.  Not having any secrets and living in a way that precludes the necessity of a polygraph test altogether is probably the best way to “beat” that test!

Hopefully, your new year has started off without any regrets or legal entanglements.
See you next week!

Hope for the New Year

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions any more.

In fact, I haven’t made them in quite a few years.  That’s not to say that I don’t make goals, but I don’t base them on the passing of the year.  Frankly, it’s a pretty arbitrary construct and I just don’t find it particularly useful.  But, looking back, 2014 was a pretty good year.  For instance, it was the year that I started meditating regularly and that has been a good thing.  I also changed jobs, which was also a good thing.  I have to admit that it has been more work, not less, but it’s been more rewarding and I’m generally happier.

And, that brings me to the hope I have to offer for the coming year.
To listen to the media, of all kinds, things are falling apart.  According to them, we’re all in immanent danger of being killed or attacked or dying horribly some way.  Politicians would have us believe that, if we don’t put them in office to protect us, someone will snatch away our liberty, rights or security, depending on who is campaigning.  In short, we are constantly being told that the End Times are Nigh.
As it turns out, we have been told that for literally hundreds of years and, so far, whatever has been decried as the end of culture and civilization as we know it, has never quite managed to ruin everything.  In fact, recent studies show that things are actually getting better in measurable ways.
According to statistics gathered by government agencies around the world, and presented in an easy-to-read format by Slate, global rates of homicide and assault are generally going down.  Yes, certain localized areas have higher levels of violence, but those are war zones, which have pretty much always existed, too.  In general, the rates of sexual assault of all kinds are decreasing, and have been since the 90’s.  And, for those of you who are politically minded, the global level of political democratization is going up, while the level of autocracy (i.e. dictators) has been going down fairly steadily.  While armed conflicts rose in the late 80’s and early 90’s, even organized violence in that manner is decreasing.  But, not only that, the number of deaths in those wars has steadily decreased, even during that brief peak in the 80’s and 90’s.  Mass killings, which are not part of interstate conflict, are down remarkably of the past 50-75 years.  And, in spite of our fear of terrorist attack, on an average year, more people in the United States are likely to die of a bee sting than of a terrorist attack.

Now, you may not agree with this view, and you may think I’m making it all up, but you can hit the link to the Slate article and see for yourself.  The statistics are there for anyone who cares to look.  Sure, there may be global climate change and financial difficulties, but there have always been problems like these in the world.  But, I find hope in the thought that, in general, we do actually seem to be living in a safer society than we used to.  My hope, you might even say, my belief, is that in that relatively greater peace and safety, we will be able to find solutions to the other problems.

So, this year, in 2015, if you must make a resolution, please, resolve this; resolve to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  Don’t believe the people who want to spread fear and distrust and misery.  Instead, believe that the world is getting better and find even more opportunities to add to that improvement.  This year, choose hope and love and peace over fear and hate and violence.
Have a good year, everyone!