Drying Out

It seems petulant to complain about the weather here in the Pacific Northwest when other places are having far worse weather, but we’ve already set a record for the largest amount of rain ever in the month of November, so when the sun broke through today you better believe I was outside taking pictures.

I wasn’t the only one taking advantage of the sun. All the cormorants I saw, with the exception of one drying his wings were facing directly into the bright sunlight.

Killdeer were out walking along the lake shore,

and the local Belted Kingfisher was feisty as usual

It was a beautiful four hours. I’m ready to face the next five days of predicted rain.

As Clear as Mud

Man Piaba

Sure didn’t know it then, shouldn’t admit it now,
but I probably learned everything I know about love
way back in 4th grade when I fell in love with the most
beautiful girl in the whole wide world, or so she seemed.

Being boys who’d just read Tom and Huck’s adventures,
we used to pester the girls something awful on their way
to school, just knowing they loved all that attention,
though most the time they seemed to pay us no mind.

But Judy won my heart the day she hit my left thumb
square on with her Roy Rogers—Dale Evans lunchbox
so hard I still felt my heart pulsing three three days later,
and the whole summer every time I caught a fastball.

Seemed a sure sign she loved me, though she never said so.
Shoot, everyone knows if you love somebody enough
they have to love you back. Otherwise a guy’d be
near outta his mind to ever go falling in love with one.

Guess I didn’t learn better ‘til our class took up folk dancing
and the day our teacher decreed Lady’s Choice.
We stood cross the room, hugging the wall as best we could
feelin’ near naked and the girls smiling at us not so sweetly.

As I stood there, worrying my sweaty palms
might reveal my true feelings, Judy walked right
past my thump, thumping heart and looked
straight into the eyes of my best friend John.

Maybe I should’ve taken some small consolation
when it turned out little Sarah had a crush on me,
me being the teacher’s pet and all just ‘cuz I could read a little
and her having written a fairy tale for some children’s magazine,
but it really didn’t help none then, and it still don’t.

Not the Greatest

Van Morrison is my favorite rock singer. At least three of his songs are in my ten all-time favorites . I own a considerable number of his albums, including nine LP’s that needed to be converted to CD’s or iTunes so I could listen to them.

When I bought my Ion iTTUSB turntable, plugged it into my computer, and started converting LP’s, I began with the Van Morrison albums, starting with Astral Weeks.

Getting them into iTunes while maintaining the best possible sound ended up being a bit more complicated than I originally thought as I first recorded them in Sound Studio, cleaned them up in SoundSoap 2, and, then, sent them back through Sound Studio, which means I listened to each album three or more times.

Let’s just say that by the time I’d finally finished recording the ninth album I no longer wanted to play any of the songs for a while. That feeling was never stronger than when I recorded a long-forgottten album entitled A Sense of Wonder recorded in 1984, which might also explain why I quit buying Van’s albums for several years.

I should have known not to buy it merely by glancing at the back of the album:

which included a little “fable” about “Boffyflow and Spike,” which seemed to me so badly written that I would have flunked any 9th grader who dared to turn it in.

The only song that even seems bearable is “Ancient of Days,” though an internet search for the album revealed that some of Van’s avid followers thought the album contained some of his greatest music. Hopefully they’ve since recovered from whatever ailment destroyed their taste buds.

It’s easy to forget that even great artists can produce flops. This album ought to serve as inspiration for every artist who’s ever produced a work of art he hates. With a new perspective, the next work might turn out to be a masterpiece.

Printing Pictures

Much of what I’ve been dealing with lately in my life simply isn’t bloggable because it‘s too boring. Still, a glimpse of a small part of it might explain my relative lack of postings here.

After three years of living in our new home I finally unpacked my expensive Epson 2000P, deciding it was criminal to spend $1000 for a printer and not use it, especially when others are nagging you about what I waste that is. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the ink nozzles weren’t clogged after three years and that I could get it to print after merely running the Epson Printer Utility a couple of times. Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing that did go well.

About the time I finally got things sorted out, I ran out of ink and discovered that I couldn’t buy it locally. I had to either order it from Amazon or Epson. I decided that Amazon would be quicker and cheaper since I’d already paid for shipping for the year. What I didn’t realize that Amazon didn’t have both cartridges in stock and that they ended up coming from two different companies nearly a week apart.

Right now I find myself in the confusing world of color printing which began with the discovery that Photoshop CS2 offers a large number of choices when it comes to printing pictures, each of which can dramatically alter the final print. Luckily, or perhaps not so luckily, I did manage to produce several prints that looked better than anything I’ve ever gotten back from a photo processor, and I’ve generally chosen only quality processors. Unfortunately, I could seldom get the same quality the next time I printed, probably because I didn’t make the same choices each time.

As long-time readers have certainly surmised I can become obsessive when trying to accomplish something, particularly when it comes to photography. I would like to believe that this is the result of being a yearbook advisor for years and struggling with various printers to produce good-looking yearbooks. Realistically, I have to admit to being a perfectionist, an obsessive perfectionist at that.

To make a long story a little shorter, I had to discover how to make the appropriate choices in Photoshop, which led to me re-reading several chapters in my Photoshop book, and, finally, to this web page, which seemed to offer the clearest steps to making sure that what you saw on the screen was almost what you ended up with in your photograph.

The advice offered there, in turn, led to me buy a Spyder2Pro to calibrate my monitor. I quickly discovered that my favored screen settings for browsing the web were rather different from the settings needed to produce accurate prints. Furthermore, I discovered that the LCD monitor I’d chosen at Fry’s because of it’s bright, lively screen display was less than ideal for accurate prints.

I found it nearly impossible to balance the Red-Green-Blue channels the way the Spyder2Pro wanted me to. I finally had to accept the monitor’s default settings and try to compensate for those through the software. Despite that, I’ll have to admit that I was able to produce prints that were much closer to what I saw on the screen.

Still, my inability to balance the monitor as accurately as I wanted to led me to start looking at monitors again, and almost inevitably back to Apple’s monitors, which I’ve long admired but been unwilling to pay for. I finally decided to compromise by foregoing the 30” Cinema Display I’ve longed for and buy Apple’s 23” Cinema Display and use my old display as an extended desktop when needed.

Of course, it would be much cheaper just to send all my prints out to a custom print lab as suggested in this article. but doing that just wouldn’t fulfill the INTP in me, now would it? Still, when asked for advice, that’s what I told my step daughter she should do since she’s not retired and has a real life.