The best laid plans...

No comments:
In recent years I’ve been taking my photography a little more seriously than I have in the past.  Not “I’m making a living from this” seriously, but I’ve begun to care a lot more about the images I’m creating.  I’ve narrowed my focus and I have a basic post workflow that I run most pics though; I’ve always disliked post so in the past I’d simply go with an image as captured.


My focus is primarily around landscape photography with a special interest in night time cityscapes, star trails and a bit of time-lapse as well.  One thing I’ve never had an interest in is photographing people.  While I find some of the portrait/wedding/event photos I come across to be gorgeous and impressive, I’d sooner poke my own eyes out than try my hand at it.

Recently I was on vacation in Cuba and had brought a metric shit-ton of gear with me because the general lack of light pollution means the opportunities for the types of pics I like to take are exponentially greater than what I’d normally see at home.  I had a plan and a list of shots I was determined to capture over the seven days we were there.  Of course, it was a total shit-show from the beginning.  About 100 shots in, the new batteries in my intervalometer died and the *new* spare batteries I brought were also toast (normally I’d get well over 10,000 shots on fresh batteries).  I also discovered, on day one, that my camera’s sensor was inexplicably covered in dust and I had no way to clean it (it has a built-in cleaning mechanism but this problem was well beyond what that was capable of dealing with).  So, 12 hours into my vacation and my plans for the next 6 days are shot to hell.  In an attempt to salvage things, I made what little adjustments I could and worked around some of the issues, hoping against hope that I could fix the rest in post.

Back home I’m two days into working on the images and it’s pretty clear that I’ve got about 30Gig worth of trash.

At this point I decide to focus on some of the snapshots I took of DrJ and our surroundings – I mean, is it really a vacation if you don’t post pics of it on FB?  One of the pics I kept coming back to was this one.  I took this xmess morning while I was sitting on our front deck watching people and cars go by. There’s a LOT wrong with that image if I evaluate it as I would normally deconstruct my work but I don’t see any of that as I’m sorting through the shots.  In fact I still haven’t “fixed” those things (it would take 10 mins in post) and yet this is now one of my favourite images.  An unscripted, unplanned, lucky shot that I snapped while I was otherwise busy feeling sorry for myself and my unrealized shot list.

I’m still not sure what it is about that image that pulls me in, but I now realize that I need to find a way to get more of ~it~ into my landscapes if I’m ever going to find any satisfaction with my photography.  I don’t know if this image is the beginning or the end but it feels important (hence the overly dramatic self-importance of this whole thing).  And that, ultimately, I think is my challenge – if I look back at some of the other images I’m proud to have produced, I don’t feel anything.  I take no pride in this image – it was a lucky snapshot – but, and please excuse this, it does give me all the feels…

Reverb14

2 comments:
(The original post that used to be here has been moved over HERE)

Ah yes, 'tis that time of year again!

At least for this year I'm out of the prompt publishing business but my friend, writer and all round awesome human being Kat McNally is once again publishing prompts!  All the details can be found HERE and the list of prompts is HERE.



I'm not even remotely in the right headspace to be writing but I wanted to find some way to participate.  So, I've decided to try responding to as many prompts as I can (my goal is is half of them) with just one single image.  No explanation. No narrative. Just one image.  The kicker is that the image has to be one that I personally took.  If you're intersted in taking a look at my responses, I've created a separate space for them over at Photos.GeekinHard.com.

Depression lies

1 comment:

I didn’t want to kill myself, but I desperately hoped each night that I wouldn’t have to wake up to face yet another day.  I didn’t suddenly decide I’d had enough – for me, depression was an insidious disease that slowly crawled into my brain and took over.  I would come to learn that it had been a lifetime in the making and it could mean a lifetime of recovery.

I remember walking along a path near my home and fantasizing about laying down in the snowbank to sleep; the only problem was that I loathe the cold.  The fantasy of sleep would be interrupted by the image of me laying there, shivering and getting wet.  That’s not what I wanted.  I just wanted to drift gently off to sleep.  Over the years my sense of hope and purpose had been completely overwhelmed by despair and hopelessness.  I want to be very clear about this: I didn’t want to kill myself; I just didn’t want to keep on living.  That may not make any sense to 99% of you but then I guess there’s not a lot of logic involved with depression.

Despite these feelings, I was cognizant of the fact that maybe, possibly, I was “depressed” and there were options.  On my own, I sought help from a doctor and began taking anti-depressants (ADs).  In the days and weeks that followed, the meds weren’t helping and in my mind, depression’s worst lies were confirmed.  This isn’t treatable, it isn’t brain chemistry, it isn’t anything other than life being pointless and me and my sour mood are doing nothing but dragging everybody else down with me.  I talked about this with my Dr who replied “That’s normal; you have to understand that things have to get worse before they get better.”  Well. Let me tell you, if there’s a list of things you don’t want to tell somebody in my position, that’s gotta be near the top of the list.  I didn’t have it in me to get through anything worse.  I’d spent years trying to pull myself up by my own bootstraps/etc.  I couldn’t even imagine what “worse” could even mean and I damn sure had nothing left in the tank with which to face it.

I left her office that day knowing I’d never be back and figuring that it was just a matter of time before this all resolved itself.  When I got home, my kids were downstairs playing in the living room.  I sat at the table and very calmly considered their future without me.  I decided I’d take one last run at this depression thing.  I told my spouse where I was in my head and about my latest Dr’s appointment – I didn’t know how she’d react but at least this way, I reasoned, I’ve given it my best.  I tried.  She picked up the phone, made some calls and we were directed to the CAMH emerg/intake centre.

We put the kids in the car and headed downtown.  I can’t honestly say I was hopeful as we drove in – the truth is I knew it was pointless – but I didn’t want people saying I hadn’t tried.  Everything just hurt so much at that point all I wanted was some peace.  That’s a word that had been swirling around in my head for months – Peace.  I didn’t want to die, I just wanted peace.  Depression convinced me, in the most absolute terms that peace wasn’t to be found amongst the living, and in fact the longer I hung around, the more people I’d drag down with me.  My kids deserved better than that.

The CAMH folks were great.  I got hooked up with a psychiatrist who got me on meds that worked and who took me on as a patient and helped me get things turned around.  They literally saved my life.

The world of depression isn’t monolithic.  Not all depressions are the same but having somebody to talk to about it could mean the difference between life and death.  I know people who have treatment-resistant depression who willingly endure ECT and hospitalizations in an effort to temporarily end the horrible thoughts.  They say talking helps.  The feelings of isolation, pain, loneliness and worthlessness take over our brains.  Talking helps.  Just saying the words out loud sometimes is enough to shine a different light on things.  I don’t know what part my kids played in my decision to try one last time to get help. I really don’t know. What I do know is that the idea that I should have been willing to endure endless pain simply because I had kids is ridiculous.  The fog of depression convinces us that the opposite is true – our existence is harming our children – “they’d be better off without me.”  I can understand the hurt and anger of loved ones who’ve been left behind.  I understand why suicide is viewed by some as cowardly or selfish but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  In that place and time, releasing your loved ones from being drawn further into the abyss feels like the purest act of love of which we’re capable.  All we want is peace.  Peace for ourselves and for our loved ones.  Depression lies to us and tells us that’s the only way. Talking helps. 

It isn’t easy to broach the topic with somebody and it can be incredibly uncomfortable to have those conversations with somebody in need.  There was a brilliant commercial on TV recently.  It was a mother who was clearly at the end of her rope in dealing with her teenage daughter.  “It isn’t easy to live with a teen.” Flashed up on the screen then they showed the woman sitting on her child’s bed, in tears: “It’s harder living without them.”  Talking helps.  If you’re depressed, talk to somebody.  If that doesn’t help, talk to somebody else.  If you think your child, spouse, co-worker, neighbour, babysitter, cousin, mailmain/etc is depressed – talk to them.  It will be uncomfortable but funerals are worse.  Talking helps.  I’m not suggesting we can save others just by talking to them but we can make sure they know they’re loved, cherished, they’re important to us and that they’re not alone.  Please don’t tell them to suck it up, or that they have it good compared to XX.  I’ve enjoyed a life of privilege and if there’s one thing that Robin William’s death should make clear it’s that depression doesn’t discriminate.  Having money, friends and being adored by millions isn’t enough.  But.  Talking helps.

It's every man, er, every woman and child for his or herself!

1 comment:
My fellow (North) Americans,

The internet blew up today with people voicing their reactions to the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on Hobby Lobby versus the Affordable Care Act.

I think a lot of the anger directed towards SCOTUS, and Hobby Lobby for that matter, is misdirected.  Those five conservative judges were installed in their positions to be able to carry out partisan work just like this.  The owners of HL are crazy right-wing Christians who believe all sorts of silly stuff and would love to rid their great country of liberals and non-believers.  Hey, they’re allowed to be crazy.



What I think people are missing is that what happened today is perfectly in keeping with the desires of the Republican party.  There are countless other examples throughout the States (and I won’t even pick on the low-hanging fruit of AZ) of Republicans trying to dictate what women should or should not be allowed to do with their bodies – especially when it comes to procreation.  This too, is perfectly ok.  The GOP is a party that’s run by rich, heteronormative, white men for rich, heteronormative, white men.  There’s no avoiding that fact.  Sure, they tolerate women, gays and brown people so long as those people know their place and behave accordingly.  Just don’t get all uppity or step out of line.

What does have my blood boiling however is the number of women, immigrants and members of the LGBTx community that belong to, support and defend a party that openly wishes to marginalize them.   Now, if you’re a self-hating ______ and support these policies then go nuts, but, if you’re going to tell me that you “overlook” these things because you’re a fiscal conservative, that not *all* Republicans are like this or that you’re “working from the inside” to change the party - bitch, please.  Oh, wait, but you’re a Republican because you believe in small government!  I’m sorry cupcake but small governments don’t spend trillions of dollars waging wars around the globe; we all know how much the GOP loves their defense spending. Seriously, folks, get a grip.  You’re not changing the party from the inside; YOU make it possible for them to behave this way!  You’re who they point to when it’s time to win over your demographic so they can be empowered to further subjugate you.  You’re not one of them.  They haven’t accepted you as one of their own.  They own your ass and soon you’ll be picking their proverbial cotton.


Imagine what would happen if the GOP only put forth candidates who are truly representative of their platform?  Imagine all the Kochs the public would be faced with at the ballot boxes.  The porcine 1% who would be forced to be seen to be doing their own bidding.  The GOP is a party of elitist bigots and racists who are hell bent on pushing their own agenda; an agenda that does nothing but harm the vast majority of Americans and particularly targets those most in need of protection and support.  Leave. Leave in droves and watch the party implode; maybe then there’ll be an opportunity to start something fresh from the ashes.  But until that happens, you’re the problem you keep bitching about.

Feel free to vehemently disagree below.


Peace.

Why I hate twitter today.

1 comment:
Lately it seems as though twitter has been overrun with people who are out to set the record straight.  These people, and only these people, know what it means to be a feminist.  Only they know what kind of privilege everybody else is obliviously basking in.  They, and only they know that everybody else’s opinion on the Dylan Farrow tragedy is complete and utter crap. And they just wish the rest of us would shut the fuck up already (actual tweet from my TL today: “If you're convinced that "we can never know what happened" then SHUT YOUR MOUTH. Why are YOU even talking?”).

Twitter started to seriously rot my shorts as the Dylan Farrow tragedy picked up steam online.  The
common theme that danced through my TL was that “victim blaming” was in full effect and some people should die.  Apparently some folks had the nerve to suggest that perhaps Woody hadn’t assaulted this young lady in the way that she had described and that none of us would likely ever know one way or another.  Ah, “victim blamer”, the sweet catch-all phrase used to immediately dismiss folks as evil and put a stop to any conversation.  I dove into the matter and read as much as I could find from the original case some 20ish years ago, as well as a few interesting pieces on the weeks and months leading up to the release of Dylan’s letter and some mechanics behind how it got published.  It’s my opinion that Woody probably did not assault Dylan in the way that Dylan remembers.  Having said that, there can be absolutely no doubt that Dylan has been victimized and I suspect she absolutely believes everything she put in that letter.  I think this poor woman has been through hell and to the extent that publishing that letter helps her to heal, I support it.  I’ve not shared this opinion on twitter because these are the sorts of issues that tend to attract more name-calling than intelligent dialogue.  That and the fact that my opinion couldn’t be less relevant to the people affected by this tragedy and fighting over facts that likely only one or two people alive know, is pointless and ridiculous.  Having said that, my opinion on the matter is no less valid than yours and I’d bet it’s a hell of a lot better informed than most.

Aside from the Allen/Farrow disaster, I started to notice trends along similar lines.  Everybody claims to know what feminism is and that everybody else is “doing it wrong.”  Everybody else is abusing and misusing the term.  We have folks sitting home in their PJs on a Wednesday afternoon sending out tweets from their iPhones about how everybody else enjoys “privilege” and how this affects their lives.  Much omniscience.  So enlightening.

You want to share your opinion with the twitterverse?  Awesome!  I know I’m incredibly opinionated and frequently spew forth my views on any number of topics – some of which I know little about, but, I’m not going to let that stop me.  Sometimes, I’ll even do this in an inflammatory way, hoping to trigger some opposing viewpoints.  What I try not to do, is to tell you to “shut your mouth” because your opinion differs from mine.  I suspect there are many (equally valid) definitions of feminism that are anchored in common themes.  I suspect that the biggest privilege that folks are blind to is the privilege they they enjoy themselves on a daily basis.  And there’s not a single person on twitter who does not enjoy some level of privilege.  Does Trump enjoy more that most?  Sure!  Kanye? Of course.  But so do you, just maybe to a lesser extent.

My beef is that twitter seems to be heading towards a binary world.  There’s right, and there’s wrong.  There’s black and there’s white (it was actually a tweet about black v white families that pushed me over the edge earlier).  Rich and poor.  Fat and skinny.   That’s the kind of world that most kids live in, but as adults, we should be able to see that everything falls on a spectrum somewhere between 0 and 1.

I realize that my follow list is in urgent need of surgery to cut out these cancers if I’m going to continue using twitter and I'll spend some time doing this in the days ahead. 
It’s important to remember that the entire world, with one trifling exception, is made up of others.  Others who also have opinions, many of which are far better informed than your own – so listen up, engage in conversation and be open to revising your views.
Peace,
Brad

On Privilege & Parking

12 comments:
A few weeks ago, at the grocery store, I called somebody out for parking in a spot designated for pregnant women or folks with small children.   I did it rudely (shocking, I know).  She was a little older than me, I'm guessing early 50s, and slightly overweight (or possibly just bundled up in a bulky coat) and as she got out of her car and saw me standing behind mine (I was parked next to her) I asked “When are you due?”  The tweet from me that followed read:
50ish overweight woman parked next to me in the expectant moms/mmall [sic] kids spot. I asked her when she was due.
The next day I lost a tweep, but, before she unfollowed I received the following messages from her “The blatant display of privilege and policing, neither of which are your right was too damn far for me. Those pregnant/kids spots are a curtesy [sic] not an actual protected right. Whether she parked there and for what reason. Not for you to judge or say anything about.” My response was that I was sorry to see her go (we had been interacting regularly for quite a while on Twitter and insofar as we have “friends” online, I would have considered her one) but that I understood why and I wished her well.

The truth is, I would have understood if she said that I was a rude asshole and she didn't have room for that garbage in her life, but calling me out on my “blatant display of privilege and policing” rubbed me the wrong way, and it still does. I think we can all agree that the way I went about it was wrong and unnecessarily rude – honestly it’s just what popped in my head in the split second she made eye contact with me; so let’s just move on past that for now.

Our society works based on a fairly delicate balance that we citizens make an effort to uphold.  Some things are so important to this balance that we write laws to deter people from certain behaviours, and should they cross that line, they get punished. However, the vast majority of what makes our society civil is how we regulate our behaviour with and toward one another when the actual rule of law is not at stake.  There’s no law stating we can't butt into line ahead of somebody, take a parking spot that somebody has been waiting for, or sneeze in somebody’s face.  We choose to not do those things because at our core, we want to be good citizens.

As my tweep said, those spots are COURTESY spots and there’s no law against parking in them (unlike with “handicapped” parking spots which will earn you a hefty fine).  The store manager isn't going to come out and chastise you, the cart boys wouldn’t say shit if they had a mouthful, and 99.9% of other customers will simply shake their heads but say nothing.  Again, to quote her, it’s not for us “to judge or say anything about.”  I disagree vehemently with that opinion.  The individual with the galling display of privilege was the person who chose to disregard the multiple signs for these “courtesy” spots (in addition to the posted sign, the stalls are painted pink) so she could save herself an additional 20-30 foot long walk to the doors (the parking lot was mostly empty).  I think it’s precisely on us, as fellow citizens, to call this woman out on her abject lack of courtesy.  We should do it in a civilised and polite way (I didn't) but we should do it.  I genuinely believe that she will never park in one of those spots again and I think that will contribute in some minute way towards making this a better community in which to live.  A community where we give a damn about each other and do “the right thing” even if nobody is looking or no laws will be broken either way. Yeah, I know, it’s just a parking spot…

When somebody breaks one of our unwritten rules if we don't make the conscious decision to point out to them the error in their ways, then we all get just a little bit closer to living in a place that nobody will want to call home.

Peace,

Brad

The xmess spirit!

6 comments:
I've been asked a few times over the past week what my problem is with Christmas (or, as I've taken to calling it, xmess).  I could tell you that I loathe how it has become a giant orgasm of consumerism (which is true) but that doesn’t really begin to scratch the surface of why I truly hate this time of year.  My reasons are quite personal to me so what follows is likely to sound very whiney and ‘whoa as me’ (yes, I know, but that spelling of it has become an inside joke around here) so please stop now if you’re as sick of that crap as I am.

My loathing of xmess goes back to my childhood; see, I’m a Christmas baby – not the 25th but close enough.  As far back as I can remember I always felt like my birth(day) was a bit of an afterthought.  It's an insanely busy time of year for families so it's understandable that the world didn't quite stand still for my one special day.  Whether it was the one big b'day/holiday present meant to cover off both occasions or the yule log as birthday cake, it just always felt pretty... meh.  I'll readily admit that these are petty, childhood reasons, but they laid a solid foundation for me turning my back on the entire season; birthdays included.

While my early childhood ensured I would not get all warm and fuzzy about this time of year, the icing on my loathing cake was to come later.  I’ve written a bit about it in the past so I’m not going to delve into it again; I miss my kids.  My daughter turned 20 a couple of days ago and my son is 14.  These are the kids I've not set eyes on in years and have had no recent contact with at all.  I feel cheated.  I’m bitter about what has happened and while I cope quite well throughout most of the year, I find December to be brutal.  Everybody is talking about their kids and what they want and how cute they are/look/etc. because THAT is what this season is about.  It’s watching our kids experience it all that gives us joy.  From oblivious babies to reticent teens; our joy comes from the reflection of the season in them.  That was stolen from me.  I’m bitter, and I’m angry and this time of year it tears through me every fucking day.

DrJ and I have had the pleasure of raising her boys together and for that I’m grateful and I love them like they were my own, but… well, you know.  There’s a gaping hole in me that can’t be filled, so while I can bury that deep for most of the year, the pain sometimes overwhelms.  It’s a shame because neither DrJ nor Spawn v1 & 2 deserve a bitter Brad.  But. I try to do the best I can, with what I have, at any given time and for now, bitter Brad still makes a conscious choice to wake up every morning in the hope that that day will be different.

Peace, and sorry if you've stuck it out and actually read this…

Brad

#DEverb - because venting is healthy too

10 comments:

It's been a very long time since I've really felt like writing but over the last few days I've actually felt the NEED to write.  Having said that, I have a really tough time trying to organize my thoughts and staying on topic for more than a few seconds at a time.  It was many years ago when I first discovered the Reverb project and through that I found a voice.  I can't even begin to describe what those prompts did for me, both in terms of helping me to find a voice but maybe more importantly by helping me to work through a lot of stuff I had been struggling with for years.  Which brings us to today...

Naturally I tried to return to the fount and decided to look into some of the prompts being offered for Reverb13.  The problem was that none of them resonated with me.  I'm in a different place now and quite frankly it's anything but upbeat and I'm not in the mood for celebratory or inspirational posts.  Please understand that this is NOT meant to take away from the hundreds or thousands of you who ARE. I applaud you and honestly wish things were different for me this year, but they're not.

So I've decided to do something about it.  I've decided to relaunch my own Reverb type project but to focus on all of the stuff that so often goes unsaid. I want to give my fellow curmudgeons and xmess haters a safe place to express how they really feel. I'm going to pull together some topics in the next few days and start to send them out to an opt-in mailing list (Click HERE) and if I can find the time and brain power I may create a separate blog to host whatever mess I end up creating.

I can appreciate that there's a lot of love and goodwill built up around the Reverb movement and I've certainly benefited from that so I hope you all understand this isn't any kind of rebellion or backlash against it or against those who have decided to carry on the tradition (FWIW, I was one of those people in 2011 and it's a bitch of a job so they all deserve a great deal of thanks for what they're doing.)  This is me and this is the space I've decided to create for myself and like-minded individuals who want to have a bit of fun.  If you sign up, obviously you can write whatever the heck you want to - serious, funny, sad, angry or some mix of all of these things.  My posts will be heavy on bad words and sprinkled with humour (I hope).

I'm just doing this off the cuff so it won't be professional or pretty or well organized and I have no idea how many prompts I'll have or on what kind of schedule I will send them out but The Flying Spaghetti Monster willing, the first one will go out tomorrow.  If you're deeply offended (or shit, even appreciative) please feel free to email me, comment below, unfollow me, burn me in effigy, or whatever else feels natural.  I've blathered on way too much now so there's no way I'm going to go back and proofread this so... yeah.

In case you don't already have enough crappy looking "buttons" on your blog or car or pet or whatever then feel free to add this one:

The dedicated site will be at DEverb.GeekinHard.com

Peace,
Brad

Bewbies - The Final Chapter

3 comments:
BI-RADS - 1

:)

EDITED to add:
Wow, so after she got the good news she was having a regular check-up so I bailed and left her to her Dr.  I'm home 2 mins and my phone goes off and it's Her.  Turns out the Dr read us the wrong report.  The Dr doesn't have Her current mammo results but she's asked the radiology folks to fax it over ASAP.  Unfortunately there's no way I can get back to the hospital in time now to be there.  This better still be good fucking news.

2nd EDIT
OK, so after fifteen minutes of the worst nausea imaginable we got the proper results back.  BIRADS-3 which is still great news.  At a 3 there's not even a biopsy indicated; she'll need a follow-up mammo every six months for a while to track changes.  I think I just aged about  ten years in the last fifteen minutes.  Do Drs have any idea what "little" mistakes like this do to people?!  How do you give potentially life and death test results without first checking they're the right ones?

Bewbies V - The GP Strikes Back

5 comments:
So her appointment was today.

Her Dr wasn't willing to offer any assessment whatsoever other than saying she needed to get the diagnostics done ASAP.  She's scheduled to go in for mammo/US/bx on the 19th.  On one hand I guess we should be happy that the appointment for all three is only 2 weeks away.  On the other hand, I have to be honest and say this isn't how I thought today would go.  I expected the doc to downplay the findings and order the ultrasound (US) and possibly the biopsy (bx) since it makes sense to do that at the same time as the US.  Today it seems a lot more real than it did yesterday.  The fact the Dr didn't downplay it doesn't mean a damn thing because it's reasonable for her not to want to falsely reassure nor unnecessarily worry us.

She's surprisingly upbeat and seems at peace with the fact that there's not a damn thing any of us can do right now besides waiting to have the tests done then waiting some more for the results.  I'm still expecting them to come back negative; I'm still confident that this will end up being a mere inconvenience.  But.  But what?  I don't know.  I'm scared.  I'm embarrassed to even write that - not because I'm embarrassed to admit it but it just seems so pathetically self centred.  I cannot imagine being in her shoes right now.

We have vacation booked for the week immediately preceding the tests.  We're going to be in a lovely little cottage in the desert (Joshua Tree, CA) and the idea of being alone in the middle of nowhere suddenly appeals to me even more than when I booked it.  She's still eager to go and I think it will do us both some good to get away and breathe.   We'll do some hiking, take a foolish amount of pictures and do our best imitation of two people relaxing.


I'm an asshole for being out of town for this appointment and that's not going to happen again.  We fly home together on the 17th and then we just keep putting one foot in front of the other until we get to breathe that big sigh of relief and get back to our regularly scheduled lives.

Thanks to everybody who left a comment, tweeted well wishes or sent me email.  It's appreciated.

Peace.

P.S. it's total bullshit that the 2nd movie released was named as though it was the 5th