In January, we had a couple hours of snowfall. Not snowstick, mind you, it just fell and melted. I went out on the balcony and took a short video with my phone, saying on the record that “this is it, this is all the winter we’re getting.”
So of course here we are a couple weeks later and the Portland Oregon metro area is blanketed in ice and snow, with more coming down this morning.
My superpower, as I may have noted before, is Being Wrong. As soon as I state something with absolute certainty, the universe will bend over backwards to prove me wrong as soon as physically possible. Usually this happens within minutes, but apparently entire weather systems take a while to move into place.
I’m glad that we finally got some winter in our winter, but I can’t help but feel like the programmers and management of this Matrix-y simulation we inhabit are laughing at me every chance that they get, and I’m a bit tired of it.
Was this a hellyear? I can’t imagine anyone (other than the billionaires who got richer than ever) answering in the negative on that one, can you? I don’t need to recap the crappy parts, so I’ll leave off 20-effing-20 with a few bullet points of positivity.
This wasn’t the year I became diabetic, it’s just the year I was diagnosed. It is, thus, also the year during which I got my blood sugar down below the danger level via diet changes, an exercise routine, and a medicinal regimen. I’m counting that a win.
Some great new music entered my library this year, including a new Midnight Oil EP-length entry, The Makarrata Project, which was quite the surprise since they’d essentially retired & disbanded some time ago. Assemblage 23 came through during the grim middle slog of the year with the stupendous Mourn. Pet Shop Boys started the year with Hotspot, which includes some all-time gems. Also in January, Mono Inc gave us The Book of Fire and Apocalyptica went back to their instrumental roots for Cell-O. A friend suggested Jessie Ware’s What’s Your Pleasure record, and so I shall suggest it to you as well.
While the transition to work-from-home hasn’t been a thoroughgoing delight, I can’t complain about my employers hunkering down and finding ways to keep the outfit afloat during these challenging times. I am supremely fortunate to work for these people, make no mistake.
Things could have been, and may of course yet become, so much worse. I’ll count my blessings as best I can while giving this calendar year the double-bird on its way out…
We know that the year twenty twenty delights in beating us down every chance it gets, but sometimes we get to punch back.
Since the diabetes diagnosis in late July I started taking a series of medications, started a daily exercise routine, and modified my diet. This week, the first test results came in to show if those efforts paid off or if I need to take more drastic measures.
Not only are the numbers good, but the key metric (called “A1C”) is actually in the normal range. I’m not even in “we’re still concerned” territory anymore, thanks to the last few months of changes and work.
Mind you, this means I need to keep at it. The medicines are part of my life now, as are the exercise regimen and dietary changes. But at least I have the chance of staying alive longer now, and even in this hellyear that counts for something.
I built the LEGO Ghostbusters “Ecto-1”, the box for which I’ve had tucked away in my closet for years now, finally, to join the holiday-season LEGO display in the library (what’s supposed to be the dining “room” in this little apartment of ours), but my attempts to photograph the build process turned out poorly.
Related to that, I’ve learned that I really need to avoid the “auto” modes on my new camera or it’s going to give me very grainy pictures. Ah well.
The previous webserver is now shut down, I moved everything over, and it looks like we’re stable on the new server. Huzzah, and thanks again to Linode for making such a great VPS environment.
I burned my first M-Disc archival Blu-Ray disc filled with music videos, mostly saved & converted materials from various DVDs on the shelf. It certainly took a while, but so far it seems to have worked. Check back with me in 1000 years to find out if the claims of lifespan for M-Disc media are proved by real-world experience!
My main game right now is Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I finished my first run through a few days ago (I backed Edelgard, which… from a storytelling perspective is very questionable, admittedly) and now I’m in “new game plus” mode with all the advantages that entails, working with the Golden Deer faction. Archery everywhere.
Out of sight out of mind, the saying goes, and with a mind as dull as mine the saying is doubly true. A few days ago we unearthed some bins from the big closet in the master bedroom, and I realized that one of them had several old notebooks and 3-ring binders from my high school years.
Note that I’m not far from turning fifty, y’all.
This afternoon I finally turned most of that material into recycling. (And the rest into actual trash.) Old lyrics sheets and song timings and doodles and (ugh) poetry and (uggghhhh) story ideas, gone at last. It’s about time, really.
The other items in the bin with the old notebooks I decided to keep: A stack of old VHS tapes, stuff like Pet Shop Boys music video collections and Pink Floyd concert videos (the official releases, mind you), that I’ll need to track down on DVD before junking for good. I hope I can, because have you seen the price of a VHS deck lately… provided you can even source one? Yikes. I should’ve digitized those tapes a decade ago. Sigh.
I also found a whole mess o’ ducks I’d forgotten about. So, some day in the not-too-distant future, I’ll be doing another round of glamour shots…
As noted, I have my new camera (and it’s great). I have a bin full o’ duckies. I have a tripod. And now, as of this afternoon, I have a light tent (or whatever it’s supposed to be called, I dunno, I’m not a pro photographer or anything like that).
So how about some duck pics?
The “tent” is… larger than I originally wanted, but the size I wanted wasn’t in stock and I didn’t feel like waiting even longer to start this project, so here we are. It’s a 60x60x60cm cube with a big ring of tiny bright white LEDs up top for illumination and reflective surfaces on two sides. It gets bright in there, is what I’m saying.
During the process of figuring out this test shoot I discovered that my camera has an aspect ratio setting. Hooray for the 16:9 option, but this means I need to be more careful about vertical composition since I won’t be slicing selected bits off the top & bottom anymore. A new learning curve to ascend, I suppose.
I figured out how to lock the camera to an ISO of 100 to keep the graininess to the absolute minimum that I can with this rig. The aperture’s set to give me just a wee bit more than the minimum available depth of field as well. What I might need to do before embarking on the final photo shoot is to find a way to account for just how dingdanged bright it is inside the light tent. We’ll see, I suppose.
At first I wanted set dressing that wouldn’t distract or detract from the look of the ducks, but as I went through a variety of test shots I noticed something: While the gray blanket works great for the more traditionally (and less-traditionally) colorful ducks, the monochromatic ones have a harder time, like so:
We have a polyester throw blanket similar to the gray one you see in these pictures but in purple, and I think that might do the trick. Otherwise, we’ll figure something else out.
Of course, the perennial problem of taking high-resolution pictures of plastic toys is that they get so dusty and dingy so very easily. And some of them are rather hard to clean due to the specific formulation of the plastic. I’ll do the best I can with what I have, I suppose.
There’s a long vacation-like stretch coming up next week, and that’s when I’ll try to get this project done properly. Wish me luck!