Friday, July 07, 2006

Arriving home

When you first get home from a long trip, there is much to be done. For one thing, all the things you did not get finished before you left are still waiting for you. There are weeds in the flowerbed (they're still waiting for me.) There is overgrown grass - (Henry usually does the mowing.) The pantry and refrigerator are either empty or filled with items that are now out of date. (This time Jonathan had cleaned out my refrigerator -- that was nice to come home to). It also means a trip to the grocery store is top priority. There are the friends you need to get together with.

Then there is mail . . . . . have I said how much I HATE MAIL!!!!!!! I tend to come home to a month's worth of mail. And I have a post office box as well as my home mailbox. So that means I get two sets of bulk mailings. My initial sort looks something like this:
Throw away bulk mailings
Shred the credit card offers
Bank Statements
Brokerage Statements
Newsletters - Christian Chronicle, various children's homes, European Bible, etc
Mail addressed to my deceased mom : Theta, Ratcliff, Harvard, charitable hopefuls, etc
Stock Annual Reports
Mutual fund quarterly reports
Stock Class Action Suits mailings (I don't ever join those, but they mail them to me
anyway. But I have a hard time throwing them away thinking I should read them in
case I should want to reap some benefit.)
Breckenridge Colorado realtors hoping I want to buy or sell property there (look at
before throwing away - keeps me updated on what my Breckenridge properties'
current value is)
Mail for the kids that I need to get to them

When I'm on top of my game, several of these categories should go straight to the file box. This year I have not been on top of my game. Knowing I would be home a while this time, I knew that I needed to get caught up with the six months of filing that had stacked up. As of August 13th - I am close to being caught up.

Some mail is easy to file - it has its place, no decisions required. Some mail is deceptive. You know it is eventually a throw away item. But some of it you want to read or browse - or think you SHOULD read or browse. There is more of it than I will EVER have time to read or browse. Unfortunately, I have a hoarder's mentality . . . . . When I am tired, it is worse. At the beginning of a filing session, I'm throwing away things, sorting and filing. At the end, my unfiled, maybe I'll need this or want to look at this , or the I don't know what to do with this sets of stacks gets larger and fewer things are thrown away.

One partial solution for those items that I might want to look at, but don't have time right now is to find a place to store them . . . . one year later it is MUCH easier to throw it away. Unfortunately, once stored, they are out of site, out of mind, and take up space somewhere. Now to train myself to throw it away now . . . . . could happen . . . . . . . sadly, I've got a long way to go in terms of throwing things away.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Wave Magic at La Jolla

As I've participated at the various photography websites over the years, I've seen some beautiful photos taken as time exposures of ocean waves. In my journeys to California, I've made attempts at several places. Most of them are fun for me, a few people like them, but my efforts have not been competition quality. But I am happy to say that all the practice runs taught me things that finally came together at La Jolla.

During the convention, I went over to La Jolla three different nights to do photography. My emphasis the first night was on the seals so I only had my big lens. But as it got close to sunset, I repositioned my big lens and started shooting the waves. Unfortunately, I did not bring my remote shutter release - so many of the shots were blurred and unusable. At the end I started used the timer which helped some. But I got a few shots I was pleased with using the larger lens and getting a more intimate view of the rocks and waves.

The second day I came with my landscape zoom (28-105mm) lens and tripod - a much smaller. Henry came with me this time. I've learned to shoot aperture priority at the highest f/stop for the lens to get the deepest depth of field possible. Then I make exposure adjustments as I go along based on the histogram and what I see on the back of the camera. I've also learned that the rocks must be extremely sharp for this to work. So I focus on the rocks. Even so, from one shot to the next even without changing settings the exposures tend to shift. The remote shutter release is very important so I don't jar the camera during these longer exposures.

I make sure I get several different views - one for the larger picture.

But I find that I am most interested in getting the details in the rocks and waves - the intimate landscape.

On Monday I get one more opportunity to photograph at La Jolla. I've concentrated my photography over at the Children's Pool. I wanted something different. So I headed over where people snorkel and do their afternoon swims - a couple of blocks over. It was a totally different environment and I kept changing positions trying to get shots that might work.

The evening light fades. This is my last night on the Pacific this trip. Tomorrow is the fourth of July - and there will be NO parking around here. Besides Wednesday is the day we leave to go back to Texas. We'll have stuff to stow. I hope I get to come back to this site. I had wanted to snorkel with the seals and see the fish. I discovered that there is a sea cave to explore. And now that I've seen the photos - of course, there is more stuff I would like to try. Lord willing, we'll be back.

Morning Aerobics at a Con

The first morning I had gone to a Tai Chi class led by Stephen Barnes, a novelist and television writer. I found it interesting and wanted to go to the second one. While he said something about having another class on Sunday, the program said Monday. So I showed up on Monday all ready for another lesson in Tai Chi . . . . .

I got an exercise class all right . . . . Belly dance was not on my life list of things to do . . . . hum . . . . . .

Most of us were in "street clothes" or con attire. She conducted it just like an aerobics workout - only with middle eastern music - and a different set of moves. I stayed until the new moves and my back decided to disagree - about half an hour.

TV News - from Westercon

New Voyages

One of the panels I went to talked about something new for Star Trek fans. A man in New York state is filming episodes to complete the original five year mission from the original Star Trek. They have built a complete set . . . . . at Ticonderoga, New York. It has a new cast playing the familiar roles. However, the second episode has Walter Koenig and the third episode - yet to be shot will have George Takei taking on the role of an older Sulu. This is a new concept - these episodes are being aired over the internet. The third episode has picked up a real TV producer who is planning to shoot in high definition. Most of the actors have real day jobs, and this is a work of love. I haven't yet seen an episode - Henry has downloaded them for me. But the review I heard at the con makes me think I'll enjoy them. Because this is all volunteer work - don't expect episodes to come out frequently.


A new TV series will air on Tuesday night on the SciFi channel. The official blurb: "Nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Eureka is a seemingly ordinary town whose residents lead ordinary lives … at least to the naked eye. Shrouded in secrecy, the picturesque hamlet is actually a community of scientific geniuses assembled by the government to conduct top-secret research." At the SciFi panel they showed clips and previews. I think it will be worth watching at least the first few episodes.

Garth Marenghi's Darkplace

They showed clips from this - It will be shown on SciFI beginning July 27. Filmed in the 1980's, it apparently has never been aired - or perhaps it was filmed to look like it was filmed in the '80's. Definitely looks strange. I'm not sure it will be on my watch list more than once, but I know I've got friends in the science fiction world that will watch this.

Dr. Who

SciFi is negotiating to get the second season of the newer version of Dr. Who. We've got it on Tivo, but I have not watched it yet. Most fans of the original Dr. Who seem to like the new one.

Saturday night movies:

After going to the website, some of the trailers make sense now.I will have to say many of these movies that were mentioned as upcoming for Saturday Night Movie night - don't thrill me. They sound more like the "B" movies from my childhood. But once again some people LIKE this kind of stuff. This is from my notes, there is better info on the website.

Cyclops - Roger Corman
Supergator Roger Corman film
Screech - deadly bird flu
Yetti - curse of the snow demon - college football team struggles to survive . . .. .
Lake Placid II - sequel to 1999 thriller . . . . .
Beyond Sherwood forest - slay creature slaying poor and innocent
Stan Lee - Lightspeed - guy who travels faster than anyone else
Harpies - female wing monsters
Ron Moore - Batle star spin off set 50 years before . . . . .

Other news:

It looks as though the SciFi channel will be showing "Dead Like Me" perhaps with cleaned up language. From the website, first episode, July 18. They also talked about showing the original "Nightstalker" complete with episodes that were never aired. For those that actually like reality shows - on Thursday night "Who wants to be a Superhero?" Count me out on that one.

In development:

I'm just going to post my rough notes. These are series in development. They may not ever make it to our TV screens.

In development:

Kip Stanley Robinsons - Mars

Tale of 2 cities
Mini series base on Myst
Remake of Thing
Ringworld Pilot live action anime witchhunter robin
Urban arcane
Own pilot for Time Tunnel 3or 4 versions pilots made nothing happened

Lots in developmnet but whether we see

developing Steven Baxter ???? - Times' Ice novel series - very preliminary

Surface and Invasion - Threshold - all cancelled by networks -

Surface in daytime block - new episodes - not likely

Maybe pick up Threshold , Invasion - genre series - sci fi will look at if cheap enough to pick up

For those of you wondering about the wrestling now on SciFi - ratings went down beginning in 2006. Wrestling in theory is bringing in those coveted younger viewers. SciFi is owned by NBC and connected with USA Network. For those of us that have been enjoying some of the good science fiction on TV, I guess we either need to be vocal (which is not really very effective - the networks don't tend to listen) or we need to pass the word around about the shows that are good, that we enjoy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Science Fiction/Fantasy Conventions

I've been going to science fiction conventions (cons) since the early 1970's. Being married to a science fiction writer means I've been to a lot of them. Large cons, small cons, gaming cons, film cons, costume cons - there's a wide variety.

This weekend we're at Westerncon - this year named Conzilla in San Diego. While it has been smaller than I expected, it has been rich in panel discussions.

In the hallway this morning, I overheard this snippet of conversation- the fun thing about a con is you see all the crazy people - just like me! And that is true in many ways. Last night was the masquerade - so in the hallway were Arabian sheiks, belly dancers, Sand people (Star Wars), wizards, Hogwarts professions and students, a guy with a helicopter beanie, etc. There has been a children's track - Hogwarts themed. They did not do that when my kids were little.

While I go to be supportive to Henry, I also like a good con. Many of the panels give you things to think about that in my "normal" life, I probably would be too mentally lazy to explore.

My Saturday schedule

10:00 - Tai Chi with Stephen Barnes
11:00 - Basic SF Library
12:00 - Technology of Writing (Henry was on this one)
3:00 - Logistics of LARP - Live Action Role Play (I ended up in there by accident- it had so few people - I decided to stay)
4:00 - Raising the Dead: Remaking Old TV and Movies
5:00 - The Science of Art

1:00 Star Trek: The New Voyages (more on that later)
2:00 - KaffeKlatch: Sheila Finch
3:00 - Writing for TV
4:00 Art Show as Marketplace
5:00 Writing from a Non Human Point of View (Henry was on this one)

10:00 Tai Chi - er, no, this ended up being an aerobics class done belly dance style . . .
11:00 SF/F and Spirituality/Religion/Ethics
3:00 Television Series that Died Too Soon

11:00 But It's British! Comparing British vs American Genre Television
12:00 The (Sometimes) SciFi Channel
2:00 The Economics of E-books

I don't fill all my time at panels. I like to browse through the dealer room. Sometimes there are fascinating things there. This time the highlight was an artist who had been to China and learned the fine art of creating wood carved dragons. They were very impressive (and expensive). I always go to the Art Show, but rarely buy anything. But I enjoy looking at the creative work. This year I took my computer each day, to catch up on my blogs that were in my head, but not yet written and to do some initial sorting on the photographs I was taking each evening.

La Jolla Seals - Natural Drama and Human Controversy

Someone called my attention to one of the younger seals who is off by himself and not moving. Over the next few days, I return for other ocean shots. This little one is in trouble. The only people who can rescue him have to have special licenses - and even so there are restrictions on what they can do. If he is still making efforts to get out to sea, they have to leave him alone. This pup probably won't make it.

I photographed one seal injury that I saw while I was shooting.

But when I scanned my shots back at the RV, I noted another injured seal. While this is a normal resting position for a seal (especially after bouncing up from the sea), this injury may be slowing him down. Whether a cut from hauling himself up over sharp rocks or an injury from another animal or hazards in the sea, he'll probably have to heal on his own. Just as life can be rough for humans and their situations, life is rough in the wild, also.

On one of my other visits I find that these seals are controversial. La Jolla Friends of the Seals stations people to help protect and provide information about the seals. Unfortunately, there are those who begrudge these animals their place in the sand. It turns out that the seawall was built in 1931 to provide a pool for children to play in. The wall encouraged the beach to grow, and was modified after a drowning occurred. The sand filled in the pool. It is my belief that the majority of people enjoy the close proximity of the seal rookery with its opportunity to watch both adults and baby seals. Certainly, the seals and other marine life at La Jolla Cove bring many tourists with their dollars to benefit the economy of this area. And there are other much larger beaches nearby for humans. It is sad to know that a few individuals come on a regular basis to harass the seals (a federal offense) in hopes of getting them to find another place to rest.

While sad about the seal issues, I enjoy each of my visits to this area. I am fortunate to come back two other evenings with a different camera set up to try to capture the ocean waves in an artistic fashion. While I have not had time to process very many of the shots, I am pleased with the results. Some will be entered in the major competitions I enter each year. I am hopeful.

La Jolla - the Seals

On our first pass through San Diego, my sister-in-law, Martha showed me La Jolla cove and the seals. Naturally I was dying to come back with my camera and big lens. After we get settled into our new campground. I dig out my 300-800mm lens with its big tripod. Henry is going to stay at the RV to do his mental preparations for the con. I say a mental prayer that God will help me find a parking spot close to my destination (lots of people go watch both the seals and sunset here - parking is VERY limited!). With the weight of the camera equipment, I COULD carry it several blocks, but it would not be my first choice. When I get there, God is VERY good, I find a place right next to the viewing area for the seals. One of the tricks for parking around the La Jolla ocean front is similar to finding a parking spot at a mall. Watch for the people who are walking to their cars to leave or who are packing their stuff back into their cars. Put on your blinker and wait for the spot. This seems to be commonplace and the drivers behind you are prepared for it.

So I lug my lens in its case and the big tripod over to the small seawall to the best viewing area. The walkway is narrow, but there IS room if I put two of the tripod legs through the railing.

When the seals haul out, they ride the waves as far as possible and then bounce into their resting spot.

They go bounce, bounce, bounce . . .

collapse on the sand, catch their breath and go bounce, bounce, bounce into their spot. It reminds me of when I climb a big long hill or a tall flight of stairs - I have to stop and rest before I can go on. As they are bouncing, their bodies contract such that they look a little bit like bouncing balls. My goal was to try to capture some of this "action."

I enjoy watching the strategy of the seals as they choose the rock or the beach as their destination. They'll ride a wave, head back out and ride a bigger wave - using the wave's energy to get them where they want to be. My big lens is giving me a close view.

The seals use this area as a resting place and a rookery. They need so much time each day out of the water resting either

on the sand

or rocks.

To get these shots I'm using my big SIgma lens. I am a traffic hazard on the narrow seawall, blocking the foot traffic just a little. People have to ask me to readjust the lens positioning so they can get around me. They don't seem to mind and I certainly don't begrudge the time it takes to move out of the way. I'm planning to spend a couple of hours here enjoying the seals.

As sunset approaches, the number of seals coming in has diminished. So I reposition my lens to try to capture the wave action on the rocks.