flwyd: (cthulhufruit citrus cephalopod)
Cthulhufruit makes a tasty fruit insaladty.
I'm not sure if this is appeeling or appalling.
A great old one a day keeps the doctor away.
Sweet? Sour? I'm the fruit with demonic power.
Eat a balanced diet with five to seven earthlings.
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
I didn't get a shot of the big plume of red and gray smoke from the Flagstaff fire this afternoon, but I got some epic photos of the smoky sunset tonight.

The fire started from a lightning strike in really dry Colorado vegetation. It'd be nice if thunderstorms would do more of the stormy part and less of the thunder part. I'm safe, but folks a mile or two away are on pre-evacuation notice.

June's usually the wet month. July and August may suck even worse…
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
I've posted my good photos from this summer to Picasa (or Google+ if you prefer that interface). Based on a conversation on a Google+ post a few weeks ago, I've adopted the following face-tagging policy:
Feel free to tag yourself in my photos. Please don't tag other people unless you know they're okay with it. If you see someone you recognize in a photo and don't know if they've seen it, send them a link.

2011 Winter and Spring
2011 Beltania
2011 Apogaea - Illuminate
2011 Dragonfest
2011 Burning Man
2011 Summer Misc
flwyd: (currency symbols)
I'm in New York for work this week, so I walked down to Zuccotti park last night to check out the general assembly for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some thoughts and pictures are on my Google+ stream. Since it's a public post, you shouldn't need a Google+ account to view that though. If that's not the case, please let me know.
flwyd: (requiem for a dream eye)
I've posted the best of my photographs from this autumn. The bulk of them are from a week I spent in Manhattan (New York, not Kansas).

In addition to productive meetings with other Google Docs folks, I spent a lot of time wandering around. It's a very walkable city (I never even took a cab) with some pretty cool things to see. Before coming, I had a cinematic picture of New York in the '70s and '80s, so I had strategies on how to avoid getting pick-pocketed or mugged. But a couple decades of Republican mayors and rising rents have locked up or priced out most of the blue-collar criminals in Manhattan. The white-collar criminals do their business downtown during the day, so it's dead at night. Maybe all the nocturnals also got priced out of the City That Never Sleeps. Also, aside from my hotel, the place wasn't as expensive as I was led to believe, though my preference for street food over fine dining might have influenced that. Speaking of street food, I think I found the only taco truck in Manhattan.

In non-big apple adventures, you may notice that many of the photos feature a female face you haven't seen before. That's Kelly. We've been dating for a few months. We started hanging out at Dragonfest this year and seem remarkably compatible. We'll be ringing in the new year at Valley View. The forecast low is ten below on New Year's Eve, so it'll be really hard to get out of the pool. I hope you all have a fantastic new year. See you in eleven!
flwyd: (pensive goat)
Spinning LightsI've been rather busy this year, so I haven't devoted much time to maintaining my digital life. (Ironically, I've been working all year on a tool to help people manage their data in the cloud.) But since most folks spend the week around Thanksgiving looking after their offline affairs, I've had plenty of low-distraction time to upload photos. I also discovered a bunch of files sitting around on my hard drive which I didn't need, so I've got more space to fit more photos :-)

Bliss Dance at Burning ManSummer 2010 featuring, among others,
I gave Burning Man 2010 its own album.

Metaphoto with glass sphereI've taken a lot fewer photos this year than in years past. Maybe I've spent more time fully engaged in activity rather than trying to capture it. But a significant reason is that my SLR is pretty bulky to carry around all the time, especially now that a bicycle is my main mode of transport. So I bought a compact camera (a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 if you're curious) yesterday. The proximate motivation was wanting to take some pictures in New York City next week without carrying a camera bag everywhere I go. But the ultimate motivation is to have a camera on me at all times so I can restore my "Hey, this is a great sunset" tendencies.
flwyd: (asia face of the earth relief)
From the Jeff on the BRC_GPS Yahoo group:
Hi Everyone,

I have arranged with GeoEye for a satellite image acquisition on Sept 2 at *precisely* 11:41 am. That is NOT!!! playa time ... as in, not at 12:00, not 12:15, not "oh shit where is my watch"... at *precisely* at 11:41am. So if you want to send out a notice to any artists who want to do a project that is captured from *space* (as in not from the airplanes) they need to do it at *precisely* that time. I will get the imagery roughly 24 hours later and it will be posted soon thereafter.

I will notify the artists who have already asked.


It'll be 1 meter resolution (think zoomed in Google Maps), so individual people won't be visible. But if several hundred people painted themselves purple and laid down in a ☮, it might look pretty sweet.

What meets Where

Sunday, January 31st, 2010 11:31 am
flwyd: (1895 USA map)
I've added the Google Maps Module, so now you can view my photo gallery geographically. You can use the map to find clusters of photos I've taken since I got my GPS device early last year, plus some album coordinates I set by hand. The "View Album on a Map" link is available even on albums without any geography information. My server is not very fast, so the user experience isn't as snappy as browsing my geotagged photos on Picasa, but I've got more pictures on my main gallery.

Photos and maps, two of my favorite things to stare at!

2009 Photographs

Thursday, January 28th, 2010 10:15 pm
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
Since I got a SLR camera a year and a half ago, I've taken a lot more pictures, many of them not particularly good. I (try to) care about the attention span of my digital followers, so I committed to selecting only a representative sample of interesting photos to post on the web. This year, I've tended to let a big pile of pictures accumulate before I devote the time to compose albums, leading to multi-month delays. But lo, I've examined, selected, and posted the remainder of 2009!

My photographic highlights of last year:
  • January started with a snowshoe trek and had a few more good shots, both frozen and thawed.
  • February had a few good pictures from city park walks, plus a bunch of pictures from the U.S. olympic curling trials.
  • March was mostly about finishing up at work, but I took a few nice fire spinning pictures and some shots around Confluence park before the show began.
  • April through June were dominated by a trip to Guanduras with [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz. I returned with nearly 3000 pictures, but pared it down to 475 I wanted to share with the world. Molly's selections (pre-camera death at Travesía) are on her Guanduras page.
  • I did take a few good pictures in April and June that I was in Colorado.
  • July featured trips to Dreamtime, Yellowstone and Glacier.
  • August has a few nice pictures of fire spinning and jumping before my tripod got knocked over, cracking the filter on my lens (fortunately it's a pretty cheap part with cheap repairs). I also took some nice pictures at the last Dragonfest held at Wellington Lake.
  • Burning Man wasn't a big picture-taking experience for me. I spent a lot of time at the temple and took a few nice pictures of art. I was pleased to see someone did a Playa-worthy to-scale solar system, though the un-Playa-worthy version Michelle, Zane, and I did was more educational.
  • In September I learned an important protip: If your camera's been sitting in the cold desert night air, don't dance right next to the giant hot fire: you might get condensation in your lens and be unable to take a crisp photo. I played around with the new involuntary soft focus effect and got some nice pictures of people and things.
  • October is a perfect time to have a soft focus lens, lots of light, and colorful trees, bushes, flowers, and street signs.
  • I spent much of November inside, but I took the occasional interesting picture on a few walks.
  • I started December at the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA. I visited [livejournal.com profile] mollybzz in Mendocino County and we wandered around her ancestral woodlands, chatting about life, gathering mushrooms, admiring trees, exploring a sinkhole, standing on the seashore, and dealing with unexpected interpersonal drama.

Happy Solstice

Monday, December 21st, 2009 11:07 pm
flwyd: (smoochie sunset)
May the return of the sun bring light into your life.
Solstice sunset over Boulder
The courthouse octopus
flwyd: (Trevor shadow self portrait)
Informally and legally, we tend to think photographs are more reliable than memories. There are good reasons for this, too; the human mind is really good at making up details with associated levels of certainty. A photograph, on the other hand, captures a scene as it was and leaves it unchanged.

But it's important to remember that the fact that an image came from a camera does not with certainty imply that it's a good representation of the authentic experience of the moment. For instance, I trotted all over Burning Man without realizing my camera's white balance was set to "tungsten" (artificial lighting) rather than "auto white balance" (which would infer I was outside). So many of my pictures look like they're from Picasso's blue period:
Read more... )

"It's photoshopped" usually means the image has been touched up so that it's further from the "truth." But when I photoshop my Burning Man photos (yay AutoLevels!), they look a lot more like the Playa:
Read more... )

But even when all the camera settings are as they should be, the photo can still lie. I took my first post-Burning Man pictures yesterday as the setting sun created some great lighting for the foliage in my yard. Much to my surprise, even though everything was in focus, they all came out with angelic auras:
I suspect some playa dust snuck in my lens )
Trust me, my yard doesn't look that awesome to the naked eye. I almost don't want to fix my camera, that's such a cool effect. (Edit: It turns out, this effect is due to condensation inside the lens caused by the quick temperature change when I danced around the Temple fire. After an autumn of cool soft focus photos, I took my lens to Mike's Camera and learned that fixing it would require a trip to the factory and at least $125, so I bought a new similar lens and kept the soft focus one for special occasions.)

Of course, almost every digital photograph is full of lies. The JPEG format is cleverly designed to compress the data in a way that tricks the human eye into thinking bits are there that have been dropped.
flwyd: (xkcd don quixote)
I slogged through 2960 photos, mercilessly paring them down to 475 pictures of Guanduras suitable for public consumption.

I used Google's Picasa to post this set of pictures in large part because it has integrated mapping so you can navigate my geotagged photos geographically. Picasa has a lot fewer features than Gallery, though fewer features often means an easier user interface. The feature lack I noticed first was lack of sub-albums, so I can't have a Tikal album in a Guanduras parent album, nor can I have said albums oldest-first. (Since I only have Guanduras albums up at the moment, this is not a huge deal.)

I realized I haven't posted any of my day-to-day photos since January, so I hope to get those up soon too. Let me know if you like Picasa's format better than Gallery or Flickr.
flwyd: (xkcd don quixote)
While journaling last night, Molly noticed that the last time we got robbed was also the last Thursday of the month. I never could get the hang of Thursdays...
Fortunately, we'll be back in Boulder on the last Thursday of June. It's not that Boulder is crime-free, it's that theft is less of an affront. If I leave my backpack on a bus and someone takes my wallet out, I feel stupid. If someone steals my wallet while I'm getting off the bus, I feel violated. The first I would expect in Boulder, but not the second. I feel worse about this incident than the break-in; here they stole from a person, not from a place.

After we got off the bus yesterday, we took note of the nice images that didn't need to be photographed. Sitting in a panadería/internet café I remarked with a smile on the modern scene of a woman in traditional Maya garb hunting and pecking out an email on Yahoo. After she left, we found out she was an American, living at Atitlan for 25 years and doing social work. A gringa pretending to be Mayan hunting and pecking an email on Yahoo is also a nice image to remember.

Lying in bed last night, Molly ran through all the images on the stolen camera. She remembered exactly where she was standing, what she was smelling, what was around but not in the frame. She expressed special regret for a few photos: a fantastic family who run a new licuado shop in Copán Ruinas; a bunch of kids staring at the two white people visiting the campo, right before we were invited in for a beer, some tamales, and birthday cake for a four-year-old girl; Trevor in scuba gear jumping off a boat for the first time; a drip sand castle on the beach at night at Tela's beach; Mormon missionaries on Utila with the nameplate for Elder Beach clearly visible. We both had waking dreams of catching thieves on a bus, calling out as they snatch an object, twisting their arm and sitting on their back, demanding that no one leave the bus until the police come and arrest the thieves. A small number of Guatemalans are thieves, but a large number are complicit and silent when they see a white traveler taken advantage of.

I was wondering the other day why so many stereotypically libertarian folks stay in the U.S. and complain about all the government regulations when they could move to Central America. Cars don't have to pass emission tests; glass bottle recycling is enforced by a monetary incentive to the vendor; McDonalds has shotgun-wielding guards; you can sell food in the street without a license; people burn trash and excrement; goods are sold without price stickers, letting merchants charge more if they think someone's willing to pay more; building codes are lax if they exist at all; municipalities don't treat the water supply for you: if you want to drink, you have to buy bottled water; the number of passengers on a bus is not limited by the number of manufacturer-intended seats; drug use and drug organizations are quietly tolerated. Yet despite the claims of libertarian idealists, Central America is not as safe as the North.

Plenty of people have guns, but crime is still a problem. Thieves target foreigners and people who look like they have money. Most buildings in a city have bars on the windows. Crime in Antigua dropped significantly when tourist police were deployed. Conflicts are still handled by assassinations. A well-armed public is not as good of a crime deterrent as a vigilant police force with a good track record of apprehending criminals post factum.

The air and environment is less enjoyable. I hold my breath on the street as a bus drives by (thank goodness most cars on the street are manufactured according to California standards). I wince as I try to breathe between trash fires and jungle slash. I've had some sort of a cough, excess phlegm, or digestive problem for most of my visit. Bus riders throw bottles out the window and the sides of the streets are lined with trash.

People with lots of guns, drugs, and money and minimal government interference are not good neighbors. An expat living in Río Dulce told us that a drug gang had opened a new hospital in Morales (as a money laundering scheme, presumably). They told his gynecologist to come work for the hospital or they'd kill him, so he fled to Atitlan. ("He's visiting his gynecologist for thumb surgery? Huhuh.")

It's precisely government, with well designed laws and fair enforcement of strong regulation, that can help establish security, public health, and equal opportunity. It is, of course, not a task for government alone, nor is extreme regulation the answer. Security always involves tradeoffs, but when libertarians propose trading public health and security for theoretical liberty, it turns out that there are many things you still can't do... like breathe clearly. I believe in metaliberty, and I don't want to choose the idealist libertarian offering.

Fortunately, the people are interesting people, regardless of the social system or how public institutions behave. Yesterday we
played basketball with a babbling toddler,
relearned how to greet someone in Kaqchiquel ("Utsa watch," response: "Utsa madiosh"),
tried to estimate the number of actual gallons (three, at least) that would fit in the novelty hat inspired by a Mayan folk story,
paid Q40 ($5) for a hand-woven (two months work?) long belt (maybe a drum strap?) so the woman would stop embarasing herself by rapidly lowering the price ("It's worth 250, but I'll give it to you for 150" deteriorated into "90... 80... 70..."),
had nearly a dozen locals ask where we bought our pico de oro mangoes,
compared Molly's "I'm waiting for Trevor to finish something" macrame leg bracelet with the Mayan style,
teased a mobile vendor carrying a baby ("How much per pound?" "Only per unit? Do you have a special, two for one?" "It's hand-made, nine months work!"),
pronounced strange words and asked what language they were in while two women tried to explain that you can buy a bracelet with your first initial on it,
lectured a vendor on not having a gringo price which Molly noticed because he said "Uh" before quoting Q25,
winced at the gringo accent (yet full vocabulary) on cell phone calls,
called out the drinks on offer to pedestrians ("¡Arroz con leche y leche con arroz!" "¡Rosas con lechuga!"),
and invented meaningful symbols for tacks and string, stick figures, and mushrooms on kitschy handcrafts.
This is why I want to speak Spanish well: not just buying stuff in the market, but joking around with locals, even though only some of them realize it's funny. I also want to speak Spanish well enough to find out how people feel about international trade, local politics, environmental issues, and other deep thoughts. Unfortunately, I often find it challenging to start those conversations even in English.

Instead, I'm blogging therapeutically. Time to get to know the town and take some more pictures of the volcano-ringed lake.
flwyd: (Vigelandsparken circle man)
My pictures for December (sunsets and sunrises, mostly) and last week's hut trip are online. I even made a Google Earth version of the latter. (I could only get one picture to show on my Mac version of GE, but the same version on Vista showed everything. Let me know if you have trouble viewing pictures.)

The hut trip was awesome. It featured Stephen, Zane, Michelle, her parents, her brother, his girlfriend, their exchange student, and me. After three hours of New Years Eve sleep, I showed up at their house at 7 AM and we were at the Boreas Pass trailhead outside Breckenridge by 9:15. After helping some clueless hippies get their car out of a snow bank, we started up the trail, half on snowshoes and half on cross-country skis. As a former narrow gauge train route, the path was never extreme, though at 6.2 miles we were dragging by the time we got to the end (about 3 PM, as I recall, meaning we averaged about a mile an hour). The waist straps on my backpack aren't tight enough on me to bear any weight, so I complained about the weight on my shoulders a lot on the way up and stopped several times to lie in the snow without any weight on my back. I wasn't very hungry on the trail, so by the end, I was starting to resent the food in my backpack -- "why did I bring the whole tub of peanut butter instead of a sandwich or two?!?!" But when we got inside Section House atop Boreas Pass and dried out by the fire while the wind howled around, everyone's appetite returned and we wolfed down the peanut butter in between sore muscle rubs.

Further verifying my theory that food tastes better when cooked and/or eaten at high altitude, we had a very tasty chicken and noodle dinner followed by activities like Fluxx, folk songs, and reading the cabin's log book (the high schoolers typically spotted a ghost). The people who stayed there on New Years Eve left two bottles of champagne for us (not wanting to carry them down, presumably). Despite the term "hut trip," Section House is pretty nice for being on top of the continental divide on a pass named for the North Wind. It's got electricity (from solar panels, I think), plenty of dishes, and a gas stove as well as an old-fashioned wood-burning cooking stove (which we didn't use). Water is provided by melting snow on the wood stove which gets really hot. The out house is one of the best I've seen in the states, featuring windows looking out over South Park and glow-in-the-dark toilet seats. The pit isn't perfectly sealed, so a potty trip in a wind storm features a pleasant sprinkling of snow on your bum. I totally want a glow-in-the-dark bum-spritzing toilet!

After waking up from a not-completely-comfortable sleep, we had an oatmeal breakfast to which I added fresh pomegranate seeds (another item I was glad I brought but annoyed I had to carry). With lighter packs, more sleep, and gravity in our favor, snowshoeing (or, for some folks, just walking) down took only three hours, followed by a tasty lunch in Frisco. Since I do most of my mountain adventures in the summer, I hadn't realized how bad ski traffic can be: merging from three lanes to two for the Eisenhower tunnel took an hour. We spent almost as much time in the car on the way home as we did walking down the mountain, but Colorado voters keep rejecting I-70 construction initiatives. Maybe we can get some fiscal stimulus money to come up with a good mass-transit-to-the-mountains setup.
flwyd: (transparent ribbon for government accoun)
IMG_7846I got behind on Democratic National Convention blogging because I've been hanging out with friends instead of sitting in front of the computer. Wednesday and Thursday photos are up on Flickr. My DNC gallery has all 2000+ pictures I took this week.

The main left wing protest event on Wednesday was a concert at the Denver Coliseum with the Flobots, Jello Biafra, Rage Against the Machine, and others followed by an Iraq Veterans Against the War march to the convention site. I had birthday dinner plans with a friend for the evening (thus missing the long march) and the concert didn't sound like a good opportunity for photography, so I decided to wander around downtown and see what random folks were doing.

A lot of people were just sharing their own message with a hand made sign and no organization. I've photographed three different folks with Free Hugs signs this week (something I thought about doing, but decided my big camera might get in the way). There was a "Right Wing Deprogrammer" selling "dunce hats" to folks in line at the Convention Center. Also outside the Convention Center were some PETA folks in pig costumes, two Code Pink women with a banner giving out "Make Out Not War" and "I'm a Delgate for Peace" stickers, Falun Gong meditation and information distribution, two folks with anti-Abortion signs mostly being ignored, a bunch of people selling Obama T-shirts, buttons, and giant foam fingers, and about ten members of the PUMA PAC trying to get delegates to vote for Hillary Clinton. In front of a few nearby sky scrapers were folks holding labor dispute signs.

Along the mall I saw two separate guys with "We Demand Bigger Signs" signs, an old guy with a "Truly Reframe The Abortion Debate / Prevent Abortion, Don't Prohibit Abortion" sign, four guys in blue "Change" shirts playing music (they apparently know exactly one song and sang it all week), a handful of McCain supporters, a woman holding a "Ban Bird Porn" sign (apparently John McCain is an avian voyeur), and people in donkey and elephant fursuits on Segways advertising MSNBC's live broadcasts by Union Station. The same anal-sex-obsessed Christians with a megaphone were out again. This time, clowns were hanging out in front of them to keep things amusing. I tried out my new response line "Reduce abortions, encourage anal sex!" to some giggles. The mall also had the usual suspects including folks selling the homeless newspaper. I had good conversations with Pirate and Cheese. I should hang out with downtown regulars more often.

I finished the day downtown hanging out in the Food Not Bombs corner of Civic Center Park. (The majority of the park had been fenced off to set up for Taste of Colorado, much to the surprise of several activist groups.) I listened to a fantastic Mediterranean/Cumbia jam and tried hooping for peace, but my back was sore from walking all week. I then headed west and had great food and conversation in celebration of the birthday of a college friend. I'm sorry I missed the Iraq Veterans Against the War march, but I figured it would be well covered.
flwyd: (Trevor cartoon abi-station.com/illustmak)

I kept the piñata hat on all day, including shopping at Borders, Target, and the mall food court.
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