Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Thees ees Sheet

"This is SHIT!!"
"What? So, it's like Good Shit right?"
"No! It's *shit* shit!!"

- Running Scared, 1983

(Sorry, Ive been wanting to use that quote for the longest while. Its arguably the best 'shit' quote from the movies.)

I used to wonder why artists, at points in their career would take perfectly good pieces of their work and destroy it in frustration.
To most observers, the work would be more than acceptable.

And when they tell people that the work brings them to despair.. well, then you know the fuckers are taking themselves faaar too seriously.

Now, I kinda understand. I still dont know why exactly, but Ive seen that despair.

It fucked me up for quite a bit. My picture taking routine became a chore instead of being relaxing.
It now takes me several tries to get one shot, instead of my usual one or two takes.

All this drama cuz of that one image.


I look at that image, and try to think of ways I couldve taken a better picture at the time I took it. Nope.
Lighting? Nope, perfect.
Framing. Maybe a tad off-centre, but cropping one millimeter does not make it horrible.
Focusing? Sharp with filmlike texture at every point.
Color? Slighty blue, but its consistent with fading light and all the colors are true, with realistic skin tone and balanced range.

Yeah, I could take it into Photoshop and ferk with it, but could I have taken a better picture at the time I took it?


My tale of woe has brought suggestions that Im just being a typical perfectionistic Virgo (ehhh, nah.), obsessed with the subject (actually, no..), being psychotic (very possible..).

The resident poet/black panther/photographer/musician of the Mediterranean Cafe said he knows of whence I speak, and suggests that THAT picture wasnt the perfect picture. The perfect picture was the one I took before that I made my adjustments.

Hmm. I think he's right about that in a way.. but thats another discussion and another level for another time.

My theory as to why I freaked out is that with that picture I inadvertantly stepped out of my comfort zone, of what I thought I was capable of with the resources I have.

Way out of my comfort zone.

Stepping out of one's comfort zone is rarely an easy process. For some, its like stepping off into a chasm.

For me, realizing I had stepped waaay out of my league was like waking up into a dream, freaking out and thinking.. "Where in the fuck am I??"

Heh. Welcome to California, baby.

So, I stepped out of my comfort zone before I thought I was ready.

Well, that explains that. I guess.


Rolling my own

It used to be that when I realized I had a lot more to learn, i would get frustrated .

Nowadays, when I realize I have a lot more to learn - I find it exciting.

I think the reason for that is:

When I was younger I didnt know what I didnt know and I wasnt comfy with that. Now, having done a few things, I can identify what it is I dont know.

Im not as afraid of the unknown. Maybe.

I dont know. ;-)

So, Im currently RTFM'ing

QuarkXpress, Page layout fundamentals.
Photoshop. Color spaces, color theory, tonal adjustments.
Illustrator & Adobe Streamline. Tracing paths, vector layers.
Epson 2000P - the manual.

A former friend, after knowing me for 5 years, looked at me and exclaimed.. "Even when you look idle, yer always planning and scheming."

I replied, "You just figured that out?"

Even tho Im committed to living the laptop life, Im thinking of building another Plentium(tm). I got reasons.

Xeon class Dual PIII or P4, (depending on the CPU and Mboard costs).
2 Gb of RAM (a minimum, dependent on memory type, available slots and costs).
Dual head video card.
Gee.. I wonder if I put 2 vid cards in I could run 3 monitors with that? Hmm. (Why? Why not.)
2 120Gb 7200RPM drives to be striped for an internal array, with a 40gb unit for system use.

Add misc case, drives, I/O cards, fans and target price: $750.

Heheh. I dont build Porsches. I build effing Mack Trucks.

Cuz mah shit *hauls*.

*grunt grunt grunt*

Shimmy shimmy yah, shimmy yah shimmy yay

It was more and less than I expected.

In my minds eye, downtown Oakland's famous daily morning Tai Chi tradition took place in a bucolic grassy park with a group of about 30 folk participating in loose-fitting white tai-chi uniform garb.

I was expecting to take artistically verdant scenes in the golden california morning light.

Uh, no.

It takes place in a concrete-paved public plaza of Oakland's county government, and as a resident put it "Its just regular folk in regular clothes getting together and doing their thing 365 days a year.".


7am and more than 200 people in various groups doing assorted tai-chi exercises, is still a damned impressive scene.

I dont think I captured it all properly (my soul has been in a foul mood lately).. but I tried.

Heh. This guy spent twenty minutes trying to show me how to get started in tai-chi.

After that, my knees told me I was no match for the grannies and the papi's in the plaza.

Analysis, Mr. Spock?

As I lay half asleep, the couch shuddered intensely. Not for long, just for two or three seconds or so.

Then it was calm again.

As my eyes lay closed, the computer quickly delivered its analysis along with the cross-competing possibilities..

  • Earthquake? Possible. I did hear a deep rumble along with shudder. And it was intense enough to jostle and slap my brain fluids around.
    Probability: 85% +

  • Passing heavy vehicle? Possible. Except that there was no echo of an engine or road noise. And, although this is earthquake country.. the bedrock here is stiff enough where I cant remember ever feeling sympathetic vibrations from passing trucks or its ilk.
    Probability: 65% +

  • Mutzu the Cat, who was on the couch with me by my feet, indulging in some heavy-duty scratching? Likely.
    I looked over, and he was curled up tightly into his ball, protected against the Berkeley chill, fast asleep. No indication of REM-sleep grooming.
    Plus, he doesnt weigh enough to generate the inertial momentum that shook me awake.
    Probability: > 40%

  • Passing BART train in the Berkeley tubes? Although the BART lines are a relatively short distance from where I currently am, I will hear the high-pitched whoosh, sounding like passing F-16's on distant afterburner, but I never feel vibrations.
    Solid bedrock and isolation engineering at work.
    Probability: > 30%

  • Neighbors turning up the bass, dropping furnitures, drive-by boomboxes?
    Probability: > 15%


    That was an Earthquake.

    Combine the intense shuddering, enough to feel my brain innards move around, the deep, but almost inaudible rumble.. yah, a passing earthquake.

    A) Earthquakes happen several times a week along the fault lines that criss-cross the Central and Northern California area (Berkeley and Oakland sits on the Hayward fault lines). Most are of such low magnitude and short duration that they never bring attention to themselves except to seismology detectors.
    If I hadnt been lying in the sunday morning quiet and going about the daily life, I wouldve not noticed this one.

    B) Im not a total neophyte when it comes to earthquakes, having been through a few tremors before.

    The most powerful wouldve been a 6 magnitude that lasted several seconds in Jamaica. That was my first experience in seeing (and feeling) land that seemed totally solid move laterally from side to side like Jello in front of my eyes.
    I never looked at reality the same way again.

    (Kingston sits very near a deep fault line that although usually relatively quiet, has produced some excitement from time to time. The most notable one in the late 1600's dropped most of the previous capital, Port Royal, into the sea.
    Port Royal is not known now for having a lot of land. Or being a port. )

    There were occasional low frequency tremors in Chicago that made a few of the solid buildings I was in sway back and forth, thanks to the mid-country San Madras fault several hundred miles south in the Missouri Valley taking a few mild farts. 3 to 5 magnitude farts.

    Seismologists are more afraid of the waaay overdue Big One from the San Madras than they are from California's San Andreas, as the last Big One in the very early 1800's flattened the entire eastern seaboard from the Dakotas to the Atlantic.

    And a few ones in New York (which also sits on several small fault lines in its granite bedrock), that I honestly didnt even notice, mistaking them for passing subway trains, construction activities or trucks. (They sounded like explosions or metal beams falling as the granite plates shifted. Again, not uncommon daily sounds in the New York triangle, where buildings are known to fall spontaneously.)

    But, this was different.

    The energy produced in this short episode was of such a sharp and intense magnitude that it made me lift my eyebrow.

    To be honest, this is one reason I came to California. To experience the California quakes.

    If I say that out loud tho, people here give me a look as if Im *beyond* daft.
    Just driving along the lower levels Bay Bridge and the views afforded by the removal of flattened freeways, the result of the 89 quake, still make people here cringe.

    But yeah, this was an earthquake.
    Apparently, MinJung - who isnt far from me felt it too.