The Big DumpTruck

Throwing Little Thought Pebbles at Your Windshield Since 1996

Camera [Not] Shopping

I shot with Canon cameras for years, and have owned at least four of their dSLRs until I finally sold some bodies and bought a big girl camera, the 60D.
Then, through magic and wizardry that I can barely understand, I got the opportunity to own a Sony A77 mirrorless (so not really a dSLR) for basically free. It moved me up to the next level camera (comparable to a Canon 7D). It was different. The digital viewfinder still startles me. The controls weren’t the same as my trusty 60D.

Change is hard. It took me almost a whole day to fall in love with this camera and the AMAZING photos it takes. The Canon is my backup now, but I never touch it.
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Photographers will understand this love when I say I was willing to walk away from thousands of dollars worth of Canon lenses (including L-glass and my first “white” zoom lens, just like the big boys at Sports illustrated) to shoot exclusively with my A77.

The most starting thing? The video it shoots is CRAZY good. The Canon can’t refocus when recording video. The Sony was flawless (although it doesn’t handle extreme low light as well as a dedicated video camera, but that could be my inexperience using it to shoot video.)

Why all the yammering? Sony announced an upgraded version. I wonder how much $$ is in the change jar…

Thing is, my A77 is so good that I won’t even feel bad about not being able to afford/justify getting the new one. That’s saying something.

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Breaking Down a Recipe

I was reading a humorous article about Barbie dolls (as one does) and linked to the author’s website. She provided some favorite recipes, which seems normal enough, until I started reading one. I hope she never ever writes a cook book.

My favorite parts:
– The small bowl of butter (I wanted to use my biggest bowl. Darn.) and the bowl of cheese. Cheese (from the bowl?) is mention in two different steps. What kind of cheese? She’s not saying. Figure it out yourself, like she did!
– An oven is listed as an ingredient. If you don’t have one, back away from the website.
– This recipe only calls for 2 green beans. Filling.
– Frying carrots in a “vessel”. Seems like a pan would be a good choice for frying, but she doesn’t want to be dictatorial. Pick a vessel, any vessel.
– Melting the [bowl of] cheese on the fried veggies should cause a nice solid mess. Good luck pouring it into the baking dish of undetermined size in a later step.
– The whole mess gets cooked in an oven “over medium flame.” I am calling her bluff. She doesn’t even own an oven.

Here’s a screen print of the full recipe. Do let me know how it turns out. I’d rather gnaw on dog treats.

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Sunday Plans

I think I shall go shoe shopping today. I love overwhelming futility of looking for attractive shoes in my size, and the crushing insecurity you get from clerks escorting you from the aisles of shoes intended for contortionists/teenagers.

“Another one wandered off from the ‘sensible’ aisle, Tyffany.”

Taking Root

The heart knows what it wants
but has no control
and for every day
the knock it desires does not arrive
you fight the urge to pound your fist
on an empty chair;
pointless frustration

There is no bouquet of happiness
or framed photos of perfection
that can capture events
you conjure in your mind.
The dream of what could be
is colored chalk in the rain
Thundering reality rumbles
warning to not stray beyond the shelter
of the known.

Not unloveable
just unloved
each morning begins
with dim light and dim hope
slowly budding
until you forget the promises you made to yourself
to face reality
head-on, strong.
You forget and allow yourself to think that
Maybe this will be the day
it turns around
and you will find the flowers
you gave up for dead
have taken root
in the smallest patch of hope
in the world

The Lure of Money

We got my dog about 9 years ago. He is a wonderful dog, and the whole experience of getting him was excellent. I found a breeder of mixed breed dogs, because I have allergies and couldn’t risk getting a shelter pup of questionable lineage. Her dogs were actually cross-breeds, so both parents were purebred. I spoke several times on the phone with the breeder about our needs, the kind of dog that would fit in best with my family. She had several litters of mixed breed pups brewing, and most types were only available 2 or 3 times a year at most. It was a small, family-run breeding business and the puppies spent a lot of time with her family, making them well-socialized.

I sent photos of Phantom to her and a few became part of the website. I would peek back on periodically, and a few years ago noticed she had a LOT more puppies available, in a LOT of new mixes. Like, a LOT. This bothered me, as I knew when we got my dog the litters were housed in an area attached to her home where she also did grooming. I should have given it more thought than I did, but I didn’t.

Yesterday I tried to pull up the site to look for a photo of a specific mix, and the site was unavailable. This morning I did some digging. There were complaints that she was running a puppy mill, dating back to 2011 or so. The large numbers of available puppies apparently were a concern. There wasn’t any record of an “aha!” Investigation into her business, it appears people where making claims and asking her to provide photos of the building where the puppies were housed, and a claim that the family no longer lived on the property.

There were no new mentions of her, the website, her business or anthing after 2012. It appears she sold the whole thing to someone who went out of business last year. It probably didn’t help that even if the new owner was on the up and up, the old domain was listed on the web as a puppy mill.

I feel things went off the rails when they started to make money, and just kept adding more and more dogs, built a separate building for them, etc. I’m not convinced they run it like one of those horrid mills with wire cages, etc., (because nothing I’ve read says that was the case) but the only photos I ever saw were the old days. When the dogs were happy and playing with the family. I hope.

Preventable Loss

Yesterday, the world lost an amazing person. My ex-colleague, Kip Martin, died of complications from liver disease.

Kip may have been the funniest person I’ve ever met. Well, funny because he had the same sense of humor as me, which is priceless in a friend. We shared a love of old tv sitcoms; his favorites were the world of Paul Henning’s design, especially Green Acres. We were the only two people on the planet who saw the brilliance of Tom Arnold’s Jackie Thomas Show. He understood the perfection of the book of Leonard Nemoy love poems that became shared property of the group of tech writers to which we belonged. Some of his legacy lives on at this website. We had a conversation about That Girl, and how it would suck to be “Mr. Marie.” That started a list of other people with first names for last names. The paper hung outside my cubicle and we all contributed. The List of Famous People With a First Name for a Last Name has been on this site for 18 years now. Two other lists, Famous Bobs (anyone named Robert was included, see “Bob Louis Stevenson”) and Famous Dicks were also created.

Kip and I lost touch but reconnected via Facebook a few years ago, where I learned of his liver problems, and how it kept him from working, which kept him from being able to afford health insurance. If he could get the liver covered, given it was a pre-existing condition. He needed a transplant, and couldn’t afford to get one. I screen captured part of a post of his from 2011, which I’ve included below.

I want you to read what he wrote closely. This man knew that to survive he needed a transplant, and he needed insurance that covered pre-existing conditions to get it. He was waiting for ACA to be available – he assumed in 2013. By the time the political bullshit got worked out and Universal Healthcare FINALLY kicked in on Jan 1, 2014, his liver (and now his kidneys) were failing. He was hospitalized but it was really too late to do anything. He died less than a month after the thing he hoped would keep him alive was finally available.

The only death panels in this story are the politicians would fought to keep the people who need it most from getting insurance necessary to stay alive. As far as I’m concerned, politics killed my friend. Do not DARE try to tell me how bad the ACA is, when a lack of it hastened this man’s death. Just do not.

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My Kid Razzle Dazzles ‘Em

My son starred as Billy Flynn in Chicago over the weekend. I took video of his three big numbers.

(Quality: taken with my iPhone from the back half of the theater, surprisingly not horrible, but not flawless.)

We Both Reached For The Gun (live, this number brought the house down)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykkipCi-47E

Razzle Dazzle (This one is stuck in my head) http://youtu.be/J3heVAVjyuo

All I Care About Is Love
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1ROEuy2WHU

Existential Sweater Crisis

Yesterday the people in my work group were invited to participate in an ugly Christmas sweater contest with a group sitting in our section of the building. Normally we have very little to do with these people, which is what happens in company with 40,000 employees. But clearly we have been identified as movers and shakers and people who enjoy embarrassing ourselves, so they reached out.

There’s a dress code policy in the office and one of the rewards we are given as a motivator is the ability to wear jeans on certain days. (I’d like to point out that while we are allowed to wear jeans, at no point are we ever allowed to wear sneakers. Some of us have worked around that ruled by finding brands of sneakers that don’t look like sneakers. I have become a person who went from wearing sneakers to work every day to not even wearing sneakers on weekends. Maybe that’s a sign of maturity. Maybe it’s a sign of laziness, because most of my shoes don’t require me to tie them.)

So when I heard that anyone participating in the ugly sweater contest would be allowed to wear jeans, I immediately started looking online for ugly Christmas sweaters. With only two weeks until Christmas, most of the “good” styles are sold out, or have had prices jacked up. Unfortunately given the time of year and the desperation someone like me feels, anything still available is priced at $40 or higher. I just can’t spend $40 on an ugly Christmas sweater. The prize would have to be cash of that amount or higher. I don’t think there’s a prize at all, just questionable bragging rights. You can get the following for sixty five dollars.

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There are some fantastic ugly Christmas sweaters out there. There are also a lot of ugly Christmas sweaters that feature reindeer having sex. I didn’t know that this was a thing, but apparently it is. Three reindeer having sex, two reindeer having sex. I don’t know if any of the sweaters with a single reindeer having sex, I wasn’t looking that closely.


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I decided spending $40 on an ugly Christmas sweater just so I could wear jeans on Tuesday is probably not a good use of my hard-earned cash. Last night I was going through my closet I found a sweater that some might consider a little ugly. The design on the sweater is very busy, and looks something like black and white snowflakes. I realized with horror that I could wear this sweater for ugly sweater day, and most people would agree that it was ugly.

Thus my existential sweater crisis. If I wear the sweater for Ugly Sweater Day, I can no longer wear that sweater for Not Ugly Sweater Day. On the other hand, if it fits in so nicely for ugly sweater day, it’s probably an ugly sweater. If I wear it a month from now, will people think, “wow that’s an ugly sweater.” More importantly, have I doomed it by even considering it for Tuesday?

I think the answer is clear. I need to wire that puppy up with blinking lights and appliqué snowmen and OWN Ugly Sweater Day. I’m going to do it for the children.

Thanksgiving 2013

I have some things I’m thankful for this year. Some things I’m not, but now is not the time for that. Talk to me next week for complaints.

My son, for finally learning where everything goes when he empties the dishwasher, and for being the one person who consistently makes me belly laugh. That sarcasm 101 class at court jester school really paid off. You are top-shelf, kid, which is, by the way, where the wine glasses go.

My iPhone, which serves as my connection to the universe, my way to shop, my alarm clock, my kitchen timer, my camera, nightlight and radio. I don’t know what I’d do without an automated way to crush candy.
My parents, for everything they do for me, whether I ask them to or not. I know I’m blessed beyond belief to have you both. But I also promised to not get mushy.
My spare kid, and the girls who formed a fan club fighting to replace him, for making me feel loved and appreciated and all-powerful. I do love each of you special snowflakes. If you are reading this, you are my favorite.

Last but not least, I am thankful for second dates, and boys patient enough to wait for you to come out of your silly fog. I am thankful I came to my senses before he gave up on me. And he’s better than a plate full of turkey (but not better than stuffing because let’s not get crazy, okay?)

Best sentence of 2013

Went out to Rockport yesterday with my boyfriend to do some browsing, and to visit his brother who owns a gorgeous bed-and-breakfast out there. Little did I anticipate hearing the greatest sentence uttered in 2013 to date.

He was telling us a story about working at the Holiday Inn in Syracuse, basically doing anything that needed doing for tips. Apparently in Syracuse in the 70s, the Holiday Inn was THE place to stay, a hotbed of activity for major and minor celebrities. There weren’t really many other places to stay if you were in the area, visiting the university, or performing.

The stories were great (I’m a huge fan of any kind of celebrity story) but this sentence, actually uttered to Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, is better than anything I could’ve written.

“I know what it’s like to be famous; I’ve been mistaken for Mac Davis.”

You are welcome universe. Sharing this sentence is my Monday gift to you.