Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Who Needs Flying Dreams?

I know that I said I seldom use Photoshop, and my very next post is quite manipulated! Life is once again in a state of flux. My job ends tomorrow, and I do not yet have another lined up. On Friday I segue right in to a five day dance retreat which will provide a much needed escape from my brain and a deep decent into my body and intuitive/fluid/unscripted self. After the last eight or nine months, it will be delicious. This upheaval has made me think about life in new ways.

Flying dreams?  Nah, flying life!

As I was flying to Boston last week to re-create the work lab that I had just disassembled here in Madison (dismantling my own job), I bumped into a former coworker. He's the sort whose primary talent is asking insightful questions. We got to talking about my job search and I mentioned that I was looking for direct hire, or contract to hire, rather than an endless string of hired-gun contract work. After a bit of verbal dicing, he said, "What makes you believe that a so-called permanent job will be any more secure than contract work?" And there it is: My old-school view about work is outdated, and invalid. No employer is going to show me any loyalty. I am a consumable resource. The old ways are gone.

And so I re-evaluate my goals and desires, stretch out my arms and L E A P into flight, aiming for the stars. The next big adventure starts now.

Stay tuned.

Read the rest of the post!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hoop Dancer

While I do not do a lot of work in black and white, every once in a while a photograph seems to beg for a more timeless look. This shot of a hoop dancer, again from the Willy Street Fair, was one such. The day was bright and it was nearly noon, so everything was pretty harsh and generally washed out with blown highlights. So I opted to accentuate that and worked to take it to sort of an infra-red feel.

Hoopin at Willy St 2012 BW

Other than the conversion from color to black and white, I used Photoshop - a tool I use sparingly - to to add some more blur to the background to make her pop a little more and to reduce some bruises. She is taking aerial dance classes with the troupe I am part of, and she has been working with me on poles (ours are steel, and mounted from the ceiling rather than the floor) which are pretty unforgiving and we all sport a collection of alarming bruises on our legs and thighs, and the inside of the upper arms. In context, they are a badge of honor. In a photo like this, they are a distraction.

Read the rest of the post!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

More Willy Street Fair

Last weekend was the insanely fun Willy Street Fair. It is the end cap of four music festivals on the East Side of Madison (what's wrong with the West Side? They've never *heard* of these festivals, much less organized one of their own. Weird.) and it is an open door for geeks and freaks of all sorts, including and especially kids. The parade is a thing of beauty because despite its total lack of organization (only the start time and route are controlled) the costumes and creativity on display are awesome. I posted some pics of the fair in general earlier. Today will be some scenes from the fair itself.


The parade is lead by this car. Not typically with a lovely woman draped across the hood. The car has been modified to blow bubbles. A lot of bubbles. See those two tubas? They percolate bubbles. The owner and general-good-guy Jim Wildeman (aka The Bubble Guy) and the car creep ahead of the parade and blows bubbles. This photo was taken later in the day when slinky Luv asked for permission to drape herself across the car for some pics. Jim laughed and obliged. While fun in color, I like the result in black and white.


Music is a huge part of the fair. There are at least five stages set up along the four block route for a twenty or so acts to perform. I did not save a program, and I am uncertain of which band this horn player is from, but as is generally the case the music was fun and free (the fair is largely funded by grants and proceeds from the beer sales (this IS Wisconsin, after all).


While many simply take in the sights and sounds, those who actively participate: Costumed, performing, or dancing in its infinite variety are my tribe, the people with whom I identify. There is a burgeoning hoop-dancing scene in Madison. Trust me when I say hoop dancing - this is no mere hula-hooping that kids are doing. This is dance plain and simple, and you can clearly see the hours and hours invested in it. I love it and watch it with glee.


This demonstration of capoeira was fun to watch. A Brazilian martial art, capoeira is disguised as dance because the slaves who developed it were not allowed to train as, you know, fighters. These players - they never refer to it as fighting or sparring, but rather as "play" - were doing a nice slow demonstration. I have seen two experienced players going at it and at full speed it is pretty jaw dropping to watch.

Thus concludes my travelog of the Willy Street Fair. I may have the odd additional pic to pop up simply because I have so many, but life moves on and I can never look too far into the past. I'm more of a future guy!

Thanks for dropping by.

Read the rest of the post!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And What To Me Wondering Eyes Should Appear?

Costumed beauties on stilts entertain the crowd at the World Music Festival in Madison, WI. The festival is a celebration of music from around the world, provided free to the public through grants and beer sales (it *is* Wisconsin, after all) to promote broader understanding of other cultures. These three are part of Cycropia Aerial Dance, a Madison-based collectively run dance troupe.


The music dovetails into the Willy Street Fair and lasts all weekend. Good times, and a closing bookend to summer.

Read the rest of the post!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Gratuitous Cat Photo

Does there really need to be a reason to post a photo of a glamor puss like Nala? I think not.


Read the rest of the post!

Lemons --> Lemonade

My last post was melancholy, the result of dismantling my job and preparing to ship it elsewhere. I am not, by nature, one who dwells on the negative side of events. There is always a silver lining, a soft landing, disaster averted. Yes I am losing my job, and no I don't have a new one lined up yet, but I am working on it, and I interview well, so it's just a matter of time. Meanwhile, there is much "trash" becoming available as equipment and furniture is determined to have no material value: Not worth shipping, and no obvious salvage value. Cue the junk-picking opportunities!

I passed up on the dozens of dead-or-dying servers that hit the e-waste bins. I didn't need one of the fifty or so wifi repeaters. But cubicle panels? Heck yeah! We were eager to replace the pipe-and-drape (and slightly transparent) dressing room we had created during the first days the photo studio was open. It was inexpensive, and worked to a point, but when the vanity lights were on, it was not the model of discretion for the model!


I was able to salvage enough 6-foot panels to make a pretty decent 8x8 replacement for the pipe-and-drape setup. Much nicer!


Part of the secret to happiness is finding ways to take the lemons life hands us and turn them into lemonade. This surely doesn't replace a job, but it is a nice little something to take the sting out of it.

Read the rest of the post!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Work, Work, Not

It has been FOREVER since I posted, for which I most humbly apologize. Life has been ... interesting ... in that way that does not always equate to fun and exciting. In addition to rehearsing four aerial dance pieces (2+ hours per week, each) I have been employed at a day job since January that proved to be difficult and demanding. I have been doing quality assurance for a local tech company. It is a job for which I am plenty smart, though not especially trained. To complicate matters, this software is complex, and a bit Frankenstein's monster in construction due to mergers and acquisitions. And there is no documentation. And there was only one other QA guy and he was buried and stressed, and did not particularly care to share information. And the software needed to be functional with perhaps twenty source and archive servers. Here is what my portion of the server lab looked like:

DS3_6081 DS3_6080 DS3_6081

Until this last week. You see, in early July we were almost all fired. The company decided to close this MAdison office and only a handful of the forty-five employees were given an option to relocate or work from home. Alas, I was not one of them. The past weeks have been spent decommissioning the building and making plans to move or discard equipment. Over the last week I had the non-pleasure of dismantling and shipping my job and all its related equipment to another state.


You might understand how disheartening that is. Going to work every day and watching - and participating in - tearing apart your workplace is quite challenging. To make matters worse, I will get the pleasure of traveling to set up the lab in its new location and train my replacement. Joy. Rapture. Not.

In the meantime I am actively seeking employment and revitalizing my photo studio efforts. As the woman says, I will survive.

Who knows, I might even have time for more blogging!

Read the rest of the post!