Missed Opportunities

Bethune Beach

I joined a group of friends last night to go photograph the last night launch of the space shuttle.  NASA being NASA, the launch got canceled due to changing weather.  We were left standing there on a freezing beach at 4:30 AM.  Some folks did some light painting.  I just turned the camera in the opposite direction and left the shutter open for five minutes.  Other people went home with no pictures at all.

Sometimes, what you get is what you make of it.

The Switch to WordPress

After months (or was it years) of bitching about Movable Type, I've finally switched to WordPress.  I really wanted Movable Type to step up with the same ease of configuration as WordPress.  Themes & plugins just work.  You can code if you want, but you don't have to do it.

Both platforms have a thriving community of users, but the WordPress community seems to work the way I want to work.  I think it's a much more artistic community, given the plethora of themes I've reviewed.  I settled on a theme called ArtSee from Elegant Themes.  $20 for a year and access to all the themes on the site.  Changing or customizing a theme is as simple changing configurations on a panel; turning options on or off.  Doing the same on Movable Type would require changes in HTML & CSS.  Oh, sure, they tried to make a Style Library.  Take a look.  Ugly colors, but the same theme.  It's pathetic.

Importing the old posts was fairly easy, but there are new features available with the theme I'm using.  I may go back and make some modifications to use those features, or maybe I'll just move forward from this point.  It's something for me to ponder.  I'm happy with my new toy.  Now it's time to see what else I can make it do.

Hello, world.

A Slight Diversion and a New Blog

I recently created another blog specific to my interest in Photography. While I haven't exactly been burning up the Internet with posts on this one, I think I'm about to make some changes. Part of the reason I've not written here quite so often is my frustration with Movable Type – just signing in pisses me off.
The new blog is under Word Press and I'm thinking it's time to change everything to that platform. While MT is fine for corporate accounts & Britney Spears, who can hire developers to tinker around with it, it's just a giant pain in the ass for a guy like me who only wants a decent configuration tool so he can get to the business of writing. MT's online configuration tool is laughable.
Until I can make some changes here, please feel free to join me at http://williambeem.com if you have an interest in photography.

Dumb Dogs

I'm not sure which of my three dogs is the dumbest. Today it's the little one, Max. A few months ago he seemed to be at death's door and could barely move. The vet wanted to operate on him, but his blood test revealed a liver problem. We figured he'd be dead in a month. I started giving him some wet food as a treat in the morning, and he recovered. It's not like he was starving, he always ate his food the same as the other two dogs. It's just that this food seems to excite him. What dog doesn't like wet food over dry? Keep in mind this dog is about 17 years old, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he were ready to pass away. He's old, can't see for cataracts, has cysts all around his body, and generally doesn't have much of anything to do; except eat that wet food every morning. Now it's something he demands. I get home from the gym about 9:00 am and let all the dogs inside. He immediately starts running into me, stepping on me, and doing everything he can to get his daily wet food treat. I can't give it to him in front of the bigger dogs, since they'd just nudge him away and eat it. I have to get them back outside and then Max starts prancing. You'd almost think he was a 2 year-old dog again. He literally stands up on his hind legs, paddles his front paws, and then BOUNCES his way into the kitchen to eat. That's what he was doing this morning, bouncing along and looking over his shoulder, when he bounced his furry ass into the water bowl for the big dogs. It's almost big enough for him to sleep in it, but he doesn't because, you know, it's full of water.

Anyway, he hops full body into the bowl, jumps out, and splashes water all over my kitchen floor. It doesn't matter to him, since he still wants that wet food, but you know he's not going to clean up the mess he made. Max earns the award for Dumbest Dog of the Day.

Obligatory New Year Post

I'm going through my Google Reader, checking out my subscribed blogs, and it's no surprise that most of them are wishing their readers to have a happy new year. It's more than a wish, it's almost a command. “Happy New Year” just shouts out at you, doesn't it? People said the same thing a year ago, and look how that turned out.

I could join and wish you a happy new year, but I wonder if that carries any legal obligation. Suppose you don't have a happy new year at all. Can you sue me? Have I become responsible for your happiness during the year? As much as I may want you all to have a happy new year, I'm afraid I don't have enough power to ensure that it actually happens. It's one of those things where you need to take responsibility for your own actions and hope that's sufficient.

Let's face it, the new year is really a contrived celebration. Many years ago, some old men decided to start counting the days until the Earth made enough revolutions around the Sun to get back to the same place. These old men didn't even know the Earth was moving around the Sun at the time, but all the pieces fit and they could count so many days until we got back where we started. Oh, it took a while before they had the calendar figured out completely. Someone had to add the leap year. Let's not forget that a lot of birthdays at the end of February got screwed when Roman Emperors decided to steal some days to make months named after them a day longer. People are always picking on February, so I presume that's why we put the extra day in the Leap Year there.

So even though it was arbitrarily considered the start of a New Year, January 1st has some real psychological impact on people. For instance, it's when they start their Resolutions for the new year. That means parking at my gym is going to be rough for the next month. Fortunately, most of those people burn out and leave by February. I don't really think it's the new year that inspires some attention to physical fitness, at least not by itself. Rather, it's probably due to all the food & drink consumed from Thanksgiving through New Year's Eve, and maybe also during football games and parades on New Year's Day. Once they get past that point, it seems like a good time to start working off that holiday fat. You can call it a resolution if you want, but I call it a lot of people who are too cheap or broke to buy new pants. Either that, or their vanity won't allow them to admit they went up a size or more.

When you sit and think about it, there's really nothing that's changed as a result of the new year. The holiday season would be over even if we started the new year in March. People would feel just as much need to drop a few pounds or at least stop living to such excess. The New Year is a contrived holiday. What are we really celebrating, after all?

Maybe that's why the climax of the celebration is really so short. I once spent New Year's Eve in Times Square with some friends. Basically, that entails going down there 12 hours before midnight so the cops can put you in a pen without food, water, shelter, or any toilet facilities. You can get out if you want, but then you can't get back in your same pen. You have to go further back down the street to get in another pen if you still want to celebrate. Of course, that means you're separated from your friends if they don't all go pee with you.
The street party is for the cheap folks, though. The real party happens in the Marriott Marquis on Times Square, but it's not cheap at all. People spend BIG bucks for a room with a view, and then more money for the party happening inside the hotel. I suppose it's worth it, though. For a fee, you don't freeze to death, you get food, drink, and access to bathrooms without losing your place.

All of this is just a prelude to the big moment, though. You know, where a big ball of flashing lights gradually lowers itself down a poll. Really, I'm not kidding. That's it. A million people gather to watch that damn ball lower itself, a bunch of confetti shoots all over the crowd and THEN…nothing happens. It's the new year. Whatever was happening before is still happening, except mail delivery stops and banks close for a day.

So it's 2009. I don't want to be a social outcast for not going along with the party spirit. Therefore, I wish you a Happy New Year*.

[* – This statement is in no way a binding agreement or guarantee that you will actually have a happy new year.]