Pushing My Limits

I used to consider myself technologically-adept; more and more I consider myself technologically-challenged. Not only was I challenged to update my WordPress theme, but I’m having trouble adapting to the latest editor in the most recent update.

I’m used to formatting my entries in BBEdit including all the HTML, pasting them into the editor, and adding images at the end. As far as I can tell, that method is no longer going to work.

Supposedly the new editor will be easier for those new to WordPress, but that certainly hasn’t proven true for me so far. I’ve read that learning a second language is good for the brain; hopefully trying to keep up with technological innovation will have the same advantage because it seems like a foreign language to me.

Later today I’m going to attempt to replace the hard drive in my Mac Pro. The physical replacement looks remarkably easy but making sure that I can install a new operating system looks a little more challenging. If I disappear from the network for an extended period of time it’s either because I’m having my computer repaired or I’m waiting to be able to afford a new iMac.

It’s a Start, At Least

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been publishing lately. That’s mostly due to the uncooperative weather we’ve had until the last few days, but, unfortunately, I’ve also resisted for other, more technical reasons.

Somewhere around Thanksgiving a received a notice from Google that my site no longer met their standards for viewing on iPads and phones and that I would have to upgrade it to ensure that I was listed where I normally was in their search engine. There’s not much reason writing an entry if no one is going to read it, but I was less worried by how many readers I might get than I was enjoying the Holidays.

I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to picking a new theme and adjusting the CSS to make sure that previous entries looked the same way they originally did. To ensure that new entries would like old entries and that old entries would look like I had originally intended them to look I would have to write a “child” theme, something I managed to do years ago but had also managed to forget since I did it years ago.

Today I was reminded why I had passively resisted so long. I spent a whole Saturday redesigning my site and I’m still not done with it. I spent hours trying to see how different themes looked and how much I could customize them only to find that some of them distorted the photos when the width of the page was adjusted.

For now, at least, what you see is what you get until I can find a CSS book and readjust the text settings.

A Morning at Fort Flagler

Chances to get outside have been few and far lately. With clearing forecast, Leslie and I set out for Ft. Flagler and Port Townsend on a recent Sunday. As it turned out we saw very little (like none) sunshine and were greeted by the highest tide I’ve ever seen there.

We couldn’t figure out what all the birds were on the lawn across from the campground. It turned out to be shorebirds, like this Black-Bellied Plover in winter plumage

and Sanderlings in Winter plumage.

I’ve seen both at Flagler many times, but never foraging on the lawn. It wasn’t until we reached the end of the spit, more than a half hour later that we realized that there really wasn’t any “shore” to forage.

One of the few good things about that was that this is probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to the Brant geese.

Although we didn’t see as many Harlequin Ducks as we usually do, I did see a couple and with a little Lightroom enhancing, the male’s plumage is almost recognizable.

Selected Haiku: Masaoka Shiki

I’ve long been an admirer of good Haiku, as opposed to much of what passes for Haiku. So, it was a no-brainer for me to order the recently published A House By Itself: Selected Haiku: Masaoka Shikafter reading that Shiki’s ideas have dominated modern haiku since his death. My experience with Haiku has generally been limited to the Classical masters, so I was eager to see how modern Haiku differs from classical haiku.

The opening essay, which takes up nearly a third of the book, certainly gave me a better understanding of Haiku than I’ve had in the past. I was surprised to read that Shiki’s “great contribution to haiku was sharei, or ‘sketching from life,” this in contradistinction to the prevalent subjective, imaginative, even fanciful approach to composition.” This came as a bit of shock to me as I’ll have to admit that I always assumed this was true of Classical haiku. I always thought that a particular scene directly inspired the haiku. For Shiki, “Most important was fidelity of the poet to Nature, i.e., reality. To be shunned was empty imagination divorced from observable reality.”

Later Masaoka introduced the concept of “selective realism” where the poet’s individual taste/creativity determines what part of the scene is described. He continued to refine his concept with the introduction of “makoto, or ‘poetic truthfulness.’” “The poet is to experience his inner life as simply and sincerely as he is to observe nature…” Finally, I find his attempt to fuse poetry and painting particularly appealing.

I only wish more of his haiku had been included in the collection. There’s only about a hundred of them included in the collection, but since I liked so many of them I’m assuming that the translators, John Brandi and Noriko Kawasaki Martines, picked what they considered the best poems for this selection.

It seems remarkable that I can so clearly relate to an author who wrote nearly a hundred and fifty years ago. I can easily imagine that he was hiking Sunrise on Mt. Rainier when he wrote:

After the fog clears
mountains
ten steps away

This haiku summarizes my frustration trying to capture the ocean in a photograph.

Oceans and mountains
way beyond
seventeen syllables.

These leaves
how they hold on
to the passing autumn.

Could easily have been written in my backyard where these maple leaves are still hanging on.