Month: January 2009

My windshield the other morning

My windshield the other morning

It was so pretty, looked like regular frost until you got up close, and saw that some flakes were lying flat, some were standing up, and there were all kinds of cool shapes. Like a million tiny ninjas had battled with miniature throwing stars in the night. πŸ™‚

Dear Middle-aged Bleached Blonde at the gym…

Thank you for not moving out of the way so I could get to my locker.

Thank you for spreading your ass and your stuff across an entire bench.

Your perfectly coordinated outfit and water bottle, ridiculously pink and expensive bag, gold cell phone, and spotlessly new pink and white Nikes are ever so cute.

Based on the look on your face and how you were moving, I would have sworn you’d just finished running 30K. Well, except that your hair and makeup were still, y’know, perfect when you took off your running shoes.

I can only assume that you’re telepathic, since you felt the need to stare at me intently while I put my coat on on the other side of the room. Was my mental snark that loud? Or did you just find my sweaty, red-faced, ripped t-shirt presence distasteful?

I’m so not going to miss you when you stop coming to the gym next month…

Congratulations, United States of America!

I think all the words have been said, the feelings felt, the images captured. I, for one, high-tailed it home when our internet connection crapped out at work around 11:30am yesterday morning. Sure, I could have watched the proceedings in the evening, and will be able to watch them online forevermore, but when you can witness history, it’s good to do so, I think.

As my small contribution to magnificent hyperbole that’s been flying around, and to express my hopes for all the expectations that have been heaped on this administration, allow me to simply offer up this.

(Link courtesy of Andrew.)

Unphotographables

This is a picture I did not take of a cab full of people, including a collie in the middle of the back seat, wearing a jaunty red winter jacket.

This is another picture I did not take of an old apple tree with plenty of wizened, brownish apples still hanging from its branches, each one sporting a conical cap of white snow, like a tree full of tiny wizards, or toque-wearing hockey fans.

New gym = WIN!

I commented back in November about my lack of love for the closest temporary gym location available to me after mine closed and its new location was under construction. And in truth I ended up going to the women’s gym very few times. Fortunately I had yoga to explore (there’s a post coming on that) and continued to try and get in as much walking as I can.

I noticed the other day that they’re charging me dues again, so I figured that meant my gym had finally opened. I decided to check it out today, and intentionally chose a Saturday morning in early January, since I wanted to see just how busy it would be with the newly resolved. It actually wasn’t bad at all, so I don’t know if I hit an hour between rushes or if many folks don’t know it’s open yet. Either way, I was happy. (And I still managed to run into an ex-co-worker and a cousin.)

I got lucky finding parking right out front of the doors, which never hurts. There’s a fair bit of parking there, which is good, since that was ALWAYS an issue at the old location. At the new location there’s more overflow parking available around the building, too.

The gym itself is smaller than I was expecting, though still bigger than the old location, and with more equipment. Nice, big reception area, too, which I’m sure the staff appreciate. The change room locations are a bit odd. The women’s lockers/changerooms/showers/etc. entrance is right up front around behind the front desk. The men’s is farther along, and more where I’d expect the changerooms to be located. Overall the place is done, but you can see little touches that still need to be finished up, like painting corners and the like.

The number of lockers in the front area of the changeroom is misleading, since there are LOTS around the corner in the main changeroom area, along with the bathroom, sauna, showers, etc. The new carpet and paint smells and whatnot are still fairly noticeable, so those who’re sensitive might want to wait a bit yet before checking the place out.

I was very happy to see that they hadn’t gone with radio-based audio for the cardio theatre, and you could use standard headphones. I really, really don’t like radio-based audio at the gym, though I’m sure it’s cheaper. The rest of the entertainment experience was where things got really sexy, though.

There is “ambient” music playing, just generic Top 40-type stuff. Fortunately with your headphones on you won’t even hear the Nickelback, blessedly. There are a couple of TVs mounted in general locations, too, but you can’t change the channels on those, of course. Doesn’t matter, though, because all the cardio equipment now has individual HD monitors. Glory be! I need lots of input for me to be able to just zone and get into a workout, and that does the trick nicely. A nice balance of fun trash and educational programs and I’m happy as a clam.

The arm rests of the treadmills have the controls and where you plug in your headphones. You don’t have access to a billion channels or anything, but enough that it appears most interests are covered. I watched some CBC and some HGTV. I could have watched the show about gardens in Australia forever. πŸ™‚

The treadmills now are all the newest style they had at the old location, which is nice. The ellipticals are all new, and very fancy – video display, virtual trainer, assorted views, ridiculously customizable workout inputs. I went fairly manual this time around, but plan to play with the virtual trainer at some point. It was cool seeing on a “map” how far I’d gone on a 5km track.

The ellipticals also have an iPod input, so presumably you could bring your own shows or movies and watch them on the monitor, which kicks ass. They have a USB port is well, which I thought was cool, but thought it was even cooler when, at the end of my workout, the machine asked if I wanted to save my stats to USB. What an awesome way to track workouts. Will have to start bringing one of my keys with me.

I haven’t checked out the stair machines and others yet, or the weights upstairs, but will get around to it tomorrow and in the coming days. It’s nice to see there are a couple of open areas with mats for stretching and floor work. It seemed really dumb that they didn’t have that at the women’s gym.

I didn’t really check out the women’s changeroom facilities much beyond a cursory glance yet, either, since I don’t tend to use them much. I greatly prefer showering at home (where I don’t have to wear shoes…), and so have no need of mirrors and hairdryers and whatnot, either. I might just try the sauna some time, though.

Oh, and there are two massage chairs off to the side of the cardio area, before the squash courts. You can recline and get your bits vibrated. I imagine once my eyes were closed and I started to drift I’d stop being self-conscious about using one fairly quickly. πŸ™‚ There were people using them almost the whole time I was there, so I guess folks aren’t too shy. The squash courts were in use, too, which is not surprising, given the dearth of good squash courts in town.

So, we shall see if new equipment and high tech accoutrements keep me coming back. I’d tell you to say hi if you see me, but honestly I’m about at my most antisocial when working out and not much inclined to chatting.

Stealing your soul?

Photography superstitions aside, I had a brief, interesting (and mildly absurd) exchange with a gent on Twitter this afternoon.

Twitter conversation

And decided late in the afternoon when my brain didn’t feel like thinking about important things anymore that I’m not sure I agree with him. (Perhaps why only one of us is a professional photographer…)

The question of the existence of souls aside, can or does having your picture taken capture some small element of your soul? Hrm. Well, true enough that there are iconic images, captures of a moment compelling enough to capture potentially millions of people. Is there something more to these images than merely a dramatic scene and good composition? The flat, dead nature of passport photos would imply not.

There is also the idea of trust. Some element of trust is required before you’ll allow someone to photograph you (people who’ll just do it anyway aside), and a rather larger element of trust is required, I’d think, before you’re comfortable enough with the photographer to be photographed well.

Of course, the paparazzi rely on this, since terrible, unflattering photos are more salacious and thus worth more, and there is certainly no trust present in photos taken with a thousand-yard lens to imbue them with flattering qualities.

The other issue I have is that I believe most photography (maybe all?) is theatre. Professional photos are staged and painstakingly crafted and then the resulting images are even more painstakingly processed. The result is not “truth”. A look at what shows up in any women’s magazine reveals that glaringly enough. But hell, even amateur point-and-shoot cameras come with editing functions built into them these days. Artifice isn’t just for the pros anymore.

And where there’s that much artifice present, I don’t believe there’s any soul. Not that the people in the photos don’t have souls, just that the intent of art prevents the capture of them. (And my definition of art has long centered around the presence of intent.)

So other than the soul, what is captured, then? Appearance, certainly (photo editing notwithstanding). A moment in a timeline; archive of the physical state at a certain time and place. And, depending on the picture, a moment in the subject’s emotional timeline, too, perhaps. A memory trigger. As much as a smell or a song or any other number of sensory inputs can trigger people, places, and things, a photo is a visual cue to take you elsewhere.

I disagree, too, that photos aren’t duplicates, of the fragments of the soul or anything else. Photos or any other sort of recording are duplications of what was or what happened. Sometimes there are many duplications (like the aforementioned iconic images), and sometimes a single image is the only witness to that ever so brief moment of exposure.

Guess it’s a tree falling in the forest argument, though. Hard to prove anything without “sensory approved” evidence. Of course, with the aforementioned processing and editing, sensory approval can’t be trusted either, these days. (“Real” becomes pretty subjective when the only image/record has been edited, though, and the original is lost…)

I wonder about power, too. If photographing something more gives you more power over it (or more fragments of it, or whatever). Kind of like the idea of belief in a deity giving its existence power. Or maybe being the subject of fascination gives power over the photographer to the subject. Muses are not passive vessels, after all.

One wonders, too, if amassing images, thousands upon thousands as it’s so easy to do these days, decreases the value of them. Just one among so many, and so many similar, and so easy to lose or forget that one moment, that one image, that at the time seemed to have the promise of being iconic.

Assorted interestingness

2007 Tokyo International Quilt Festival — truly stunning art, and Mennonites don’t have the market cornered on gorgeous quilts. (Though it was cool to see a couple patterns I recognize from the family collections.) (Courtesy of HΓ©lΓ¨ne.)

Quinoa is pronounced “KEEN-wah” or “KEE-no-ah”. Why it took me so long to finally look that up, I’ve no idea. Because over-pronouncing words amuses me, however, (German thing?) it will probably still be “kwin-OH-ah” in my head. πŸ™‚

How to Be a Woman — solid advice. (Courtesy of Violet.)

Hatsuyume — I love when other languages have words for stuff that English doesn’t (which is often). The first one I remember from this year is that I was shopping and trying on jeans (which I did recently). And was surprised to notice I was rawkin’ a kickass six-pack. Why it was buried under a sweater I have no idea, cuz if I had such abs they’d be out all the time. πŸ™‚ (Courtesy of Violet.)

As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God — This led to an excellent discussion between Sherry and myself, through which our personal experiences shone through very clearly, I’m sure. (Courtesy of Sherry.)

Sockmonkeys taken to another level — makes me wish I could really sew.

Emily Oster: What do we really know about the spread of AIDS? — Fascinating holistic view of how part of the world and people tick.

Nicholas Negroponte: Bringing One Laptop per Child to Colombia: TED in the Field — Maybe cuz I’m a web geek, maybe cuz I’m a reading and learning junkie, but this inspired the hell out of me. I will help.