Sunday, April 13, 2014

Photos of Your Daily Life, or "Why I am an Instagram Addict"

You may have noticed that this blog is full of my personal photography. Most of it is not an attempt at "capital-A" art, but my attempt to capture a fleeting moment of my daily life that I think is neat, nifty or otherwise interesting.

My memory is like a steel sieve. I don't have clear memories of a lot of important things in my life, so there is almost nothing of the daily stuff that I can call up without having another trigger to bring it back. Smells provide the most impact, but it's not as easy to make a smell happen when I am feeling melancholy or need a quick emotional pick-me-up during a long day as a corporate cog.

(Side note: This is an interesting article from the BBC about the evolutionary link between scent and memory.)

I have photos from me as a kid, but they are mostly all holidays or costumes or other 'special' events, like this one, which is from Halloween in maybe 1983? I was a kid when "digital" didn't apply to photography and "social media" didn't exist as a concept yet. It meant film and bulky cameras and developing; even as film and processing got cheap and one-hour photo convenient once you had the photo you had to frame it, put it in an album or store it in a photo-safe container. You carried the occasional family photo in your wallet, but not photos of your favorite city sky line.

A little llama, circa 1983-ish. I was a pretty, pretty princess for Halloween

Now, I carry a Samsung Galaxy S3 which has an 8 megapixel camera and enough storage for hundreds of photos. I can share them easily, I can display them easily, I can share the little bits of my reality with the click of a button.

Flipping through the photos directories on my handheld and desktop devices is a little walk through that time in my life. I take photos of all kinds of things that I just find fascinating or interesting that might be categorized most often as "plain" or "mundane".

If Wikipedia is to be believed, I'm not alone. 87 million people use Flickr. 100 million people use Instagram. Scroll through the photos on either of those sites at random and while some of it is certainly professional photography, a significant amount of it is kids, food, clothes, scenery, animals, selfies. Mundane stuff.

People bitch endlessly about the 95 photos of their old high school friend's baby on Facebook or slam people for taking photos of their food. My suggestion, if you don't want to see it, figure out how to use filters and blocks on your social media sites. Sharing experience is a useful and worthwhile endeavor, even if it is eye-roll worthy after the 11th post in a day of the same adorable-but-not-yours baby.

We are creating a new kind of collective memory that is created by our individual narration of our daily lives. When my kid looks back on his childhood he will have a wealth of information to help him create a narrative of times in his life that he likely can no longer actively access without that record. When his generation looks back not only will they have images and personal of the most important, most tragic and most impactive moments of my generation, but they will have mundane examples of everything from food to art to fashion. Images and input at their finger tips for a time they can't remember.

I follow several people on Instagram whose post commentary I can't read because I don't speak their native tongue, but I am fascinated by the images they post of their daily lives. It's a small window into a real culture, actively being narrated to me as it happens. ( Check out @ghaidaalrotoue and @anastasia_volkova )

My favorite community on G+ right now is the Street Photographers. It's international and highly active and all photos of just people and things on the street in whatever place the artist happens to be in. I'm totally addicted.

There is the school of thought that we are spending too much time looking through the 'lens' of our phones instead of being present and in the moment and experiencing what is going on around us. It's not an argument that I entirely disagree with, but it has a flaw - a photo take a moment and leaves you with a way to remember the moment later. I strive to be present in the moment, but I also don't plan on not stopping to take a photo because that act of stopping occasionally centers me into that experience.

If you share bits of your self via social media, tell me, I want to look at all your pictures!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } Nothing Like an Taco - Burning Man 2009

10 days in the desert. No showers. No bath. Covered in a layer of playa. Dehydrated. Sleep Deprived. All pretty well by choice. At the end of Exodus from Black Rock City and just a little ways down the highway are food trucks run by local residents of the Indian Reservation that serve what is mostly a taco served on this fresh, hot, chewy flat bread. Mana from Heaven. Ambrosia. 

I wake up in the middle of the night with a craving sometimes. 

My partner in life and in crime about to inhale the best taco on the planet. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Photolog - Snake in the Garden

I had a ball python for a long time. I used to let him have supervised outside time on my back porch.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } Unsafe Construction is the Best Construction

The happiest part of any burn for me has always been building. This is me, hanging off of unsafe scaffolding with a sawzall cutting wood along another piece of wood. Alchemy build weekend, October 2008

It's Better Than Cereal Again : A Quick Meal for a Busy Tuesday - Roast Chicken, Gnocchi, Broccoli and Alfredo Sauce

My role as a corporate cog reaches a fever pace at the end of each month. I end up working 11 hour days that are full to the brim so my brain meats are mush and the only thing I want to do at the end of them is drink wine, put my feet up and watch @midnight.

9 times out of 10 we play The Dinner Game. The game play is simple and repetitive:

Player One: "Dinner?"
Player Two: "Yeah."
Player One: "Whatca want?"
Player Two: "Meh. I dunno."
Player One: "We have to eat something."
Player Two: "Take out?"
Player One: "Meh."

You only have the chance to 'win' this game if at least one of the players is motivated to go above and beyond a stomach-growling stale mate of cereal, or a ham sandwich. So.Many.Sandwiches.

I try to keep our house stocked with cereal and lunch meat, but also some easy to throw together items, staples that are shelf stable or happy in the freezer but that aren't box meals full of preservatives, sugar and salt.

I'm never happy with a decision to eat crap food after a long and stressful day. My body wants something easy, but tasty, that leaves me pleased with my food choice.

Last night I walked out of my office near 8pm and headed home. We won the "Dinner" game because I decided to pick up a rotisserie chicken from the local green-themed big box grocer, a bottle of the store-brand Alfredo sauce and some greens for salad.

I already had frozen broccoli bits, the cheapest ends and pieces you can get for a buck or so. The stalk ends are my favorite and they hold up better in this application. Additionally, I had a package of gnocchi in the pantry. It's nothing like making your own, but on a terrible Tuesday there is no way I am making them from scratch.

Substituting any tube pasta will also work. It's too chunky of a mix to use a long pasta like spaghetti or linguine.

For a gluten free option -use day old rice, even brown rice, but add more moisture to the sauce.

** It should be noted that what follows is less of a recipe and more of a food plan. I would suggest you read all the way through it and grasp what happens start to finish. **

Step One: Read package of gnocchi and follow the cooking instructions. While you are waiting for the water to boil, do Step 2.

Step Two: Put the Alfredo sauce into a pan over the lowest heat possible. As it gets warmer, taste it. It's not likely to need salt,  but try adding some fresh pepper or lemon juice or garlic. Using a little butter or milk will help take the 'bottled' taste out and make is less starchy.

Step Three: Take the chicken apart and off the bone. I use a half a chicken for the 2 of us. A full chicken would be enough for a family, but you might want another package of gnocchi.

Step Four: Cook the gnocchi. This takes about 3 minutes, so have a bowl and a hand strainer standing by. Your goal here is to keep the water. If you don't have a hand strainer or if you are making tube pasta, you are going to need 2 pots of water.

Step Five:  Drop the broccoli into the gnocchi water. It's only going to be in there until it's warm, so no reason not to use the old water.

Step Six:  Put the chicken in the bowl with the gnocchi, add the broccoli as it gets warm and add ladles of the Alfredo sauce until it all comes together. The chicken will break down a little and it will dry up rapidly. Don't over mix it. Toss it together and serve while it's still hot.

Add a tossed salad and you have a less than 30 minute meal that doesn't suck.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Photolog : Portal of Evolution - Burning Man 2009

There is nothing that compares to the spectacle and scale of Burning Man. I don't care who you are, if you find you possess both the inclination and means to go to Burning Man. Do it. It's truly an unmatched experience of art and people and expression.

My last visit to Burning Man was in 2009. This is the Portal of Evolution. You can now see it in downtown Reno, although rusted it  loses some of its organic grandeur.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Photolog { Throw-Back Thursday } Alchemy Temple 2009

Taken at the Alchemy Festival, the Burning Man style event in North Georgia that until recently was my whole life, in October 2009 at the Temple on top of Effigy Hill.