growing old, haiku, photography, tanka

Going Gray?

Some photos need color, some are better in grayscale (aka “black and white”), and many are good either way.  Here are some examples and a tanka that touches on the symbolism of color in general.  Visit the links to see more examples.
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Bare Branches
|Some go to grayscale
|when form is “all” that matters.
|I keep azure skies.
|My world will gray soon enough.
|I keep color and press on.

If somebody chooses to emphasize form and texture in a photo of bare branches by going to grayscale, I am likely to disagree with (but respect) that choice.  So far, I have always wanted to keep color in my own photos, often with minor adjustments in my photo editor.  Here are some examples where grayscale would be goofy:

Click on a thumbnail to see the full image in another tab.

While I have no qualms about really needing color in most of my own photos, there is more to be said about the ways various photographers have used color or grayscale.  Some examples follow.

A somber poem with grayness as a metaphor has been illustrated by a photo of a mostly gray scene.  But it is a color photo, and rightly so.  The subtle color is a reminder that the grayness is there in the scene, not an artifact of how the image is displayed.

Of course, I admire the photographic pioneers whose images were compelling despite then-obligatory grayscale.  Some classic photos are best left in grayscale anyway, and contemporary photographers may choose partial desaturation.  There are even a few photos that benefit from going all the way to true black and white, where every pixel is either pitch black or stark white.  Scroll down from the header image in Choices to see an example.

flowers, history, photography, politics

Memorial Day 2020

Originally a day to remember and honor the fallen in the American Civil War, Memorial Day expanded to include later wars.  Now it should expand beyond the military.  In the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers risk their lives and sometimes die, defending the rest of us from the disease itself and the societal collapse it could cause.
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In wartime, ignorant and impulsive pols can somehow make horrendous situations even worse.  So it is with the pandemic.  Medical workers (including EMT-s and hospital support staff as well as doctors and nurses) have been sent into battle with inadequate personal protective equipment for themselves and inadequate intensive care facilities for their patients.  Stockpiling such stuff would cost money.  Might even need to raise taxes on those who can work from home, if they need to work at all.  And so on.

It’s so much easier to claim that all is well until all Hell breaks loose, then claim that all will be well when the weather warms up, if we just go back to work and drink a little bleach.

The governors of some states have stepped up.  Learning from each other and from countries (like New Zealand and South Korea) that took the threat seriously, they made tough decisions.  They include a few Republicans (like Hogan in Maryland and DeWine in Ohio) and more Democrats.  It is too early to be sure, but they just might have saved the USA from criminal incompetence in the White House.  Federalism works.

The doctor in Wuhan who first sounded the alarm about COVID-19 was punished for “spreading rumors” and later died of the disease.  Remember him also today, along with our essential civilian workers and those who serve in our military.  Remember that dark money and gerrymandering and vote suppression have sickened American democracy but not yet killed it.

Remember in November.

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language, philosophy, photography, science, seasons

Emergent Leaves and More

Much more.  Careful consideration of emergent things provides some hints about how to live fully and righteously on a little blue planet in a big oblivious universe.  Does that sound too grandiose?  Let’s start small, with some spring leaves and two ways to make adjectives.
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Turning Verbs into Adjectives

While we do it mostly by adding the suffix [-ing] (and maybe tweaking the spelling), we sometimes add [-ent] (or [-ant]) instead.  There is a subtle but important difference when we turn [emerge] into an adjective.  Leaves emerge and then go about the business of growing and photosynthesizing.  It would be a little better to say that my photo shows “emerging leaves” because there is no “and then” for emergent things.  They just are emergent.  What they emerge from is still there.

For example, look again at my photo, not as leaves but as an image.  It emerges from about 700,000 pixels encoded with about 480 KB of data in JPEG format.  That matters if I want to e-mail it to somebody who pays for data flow over a slow connection.  For many other purposes, to fret about the underlying pixels and bytes is a waste of effort.  The shapes and colors and composition are not in the pixels themselves.  They emerge from the way the pixels are arranged and interact with each other and the viewer.

My mild misuse of the [-ent] suffix for emerging leaves is a point of departure for considering bigger issues, not just a bow to the exact wording of Patrick Jennings’ challenge:

Emergent ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #232 – Pix to Words

Poetic Naturalism

Once we start looking for emergent things, we find that the world teems with them.  (Water, ice, and steam all emerge from crowds of the same kind of molecule.)  We find that fretting about “ultimate reality” may well be as pointless as trying to understand my photo by always diving down into those 480 KB and never looking at the emergent image.  While some contexts demand a deep dive, others demand a shallow one.

One of many places with examples and discussion of various emergent phenomena is Sean Carroll’s book The Big Picture, which somehow manages to be a good read (and a mostly easy one) despite dealing with deep stuff in science and philosophy while being fair to other viewpoints.

While nothing in science is nailed down as tightly as 3+2 = 5 in math, there is much evidence that we are in a tiny corner of a vast universe that goes its own way with no overall design or purpose or supernatural intervention.  Can we live fully and righteously in a cosmos that does not give a rat’s ass about beauty or goodness?  In much more detail than I can hope to put into a blog post, Carroll argues that we can.  Emergence is part of the story.

Tho a little queasy about Carroll’s use of the phrase [poetic naturalism] to name his upbeat attitude in the face of knowledge that would depress many people, I can’t think of a better name or a better attitude.

Don’t despair if love and justice seem as fanciful as unicorns when U consider only the underlying dance of atoms and molecules.  Love and justice may be real enough, but emergent.

 

flowers, humor, photography, seasons

Nothing Needed

Long ago, I bought some dwarf tulip bulbs and went thru the forcing rigamarole to get indoor blooming before planting the bulbs.  Nothing but leaves came up.  Feh.  Tossed the bulbs out back.  Guess what happened about a year later.
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Nothing ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #231

Yes, the bulbs survived and put out leaves.  And flower stalks.  Which bloomed.

Year after year, the discarded tulips bloom in spring, while I do nothing for them.  Maybe they are old Yankees like me: compulsively self-reliant.

haiku, photography

She Giggled

I am not just being ornery when I avoid common subjects for haiku or photos.  Seldom do I see a common subject in a context that tickles my muse with the possibility that I might say something not already said many times, often better than I can say it anyway.  On 2020-04-28, my muse giggled at the sight of a popular haiku subject displayed with a cheerful color combination that is special to me.
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Seen on Green
|Swaying in light wind,
|branches only seem to weep.
|Pink cherry blossoms.

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flowers, haiku, photography

Haiga with Several Time Scales

Haiku poems commonly deal with events on short time scales.  In a split second, the frog jumps into the pond.  In minutes, the sunset fades.  In days, the cherry blossoms fall.  How about decades?  How about millennia?  They can show up too, along with the split second that a camera’s shutter is open.
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Sunlit Moment
|Mums are good silk fakes.
|Rock is real and will outlast
|both mums and viewer.

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Dunno why the WordPress algorithm for choosing “Related” posts missed the one that is by far the most closely related: Weather’s Works.

 

(reblog), health, history, humor

Comedy Relief

As Abraham Lincoln said when somebody objected to his fondness for corny jokes during the Civil War:

«I laugh because I must not cry.»

So far, the COVID-19 crisis is still not as bad as the Civil War.  The USA survived that, partly because the POTUS was caring and competent.

Visit the post reblogged here to see a fine collection of cartoons and jokes.

Mitch Teemley

After performing tragedies, the ancient Greeks always staged comedies, often making fun of the tragedies they’d just presented. Why? Comedy relief. Likewise, humor flourishes during wars and epidemics. Morbidity? No, survival. When we’re under attack, we ridicule our attackers and tease ourselves. Why? Because it helps us cope, reminds us we’re in this together and, well, simply provides comedy relief. Those Greeks had it right.

Click on any image to enlarge it, or to start slide show.

Some Pandemic Humor found Online

  • I’ll tell you a coronavirus joke now, and check back in two weeks to see if you got it.
  • Finland has closed its borders. That’s right, no one is allowed to cross the finish line.
  • I ran out of toilet paper and had to start using the New York Times. Man, the Times are rough.
  • Kids who came of age during the millennium are called Millennials. With…

View original post 153 more words

health, humor

The Groan Ranger

This post’s title is a contemporary answer to an old conundrum: “Who was that masked man?”  A shorter answer is that he was (and is) me.  While I have no horse or silver bullets, I do try in my own small way to fight evil.  Fighting COVID-19 is trickier than fighting cattle rustlers.
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Many people were already wearing masks when I shopped on 03-31.  Contrary to the usual guidance about colds and flu, the CDC now urges everybody to mask their nose and mouth if they must go out in public.  Asymptomatic people may still carry and spread the virus.

Long ago, I sometimes needed to wear the sort of paper mask that helps in a workplace where sawdust or bits of fiberglass are in the air.  I see many of them now, but I don’t have any.  I recall them being uncomfortable and prone to clogging.

So I improvised with a scarf that can be pulled up over my nose, much like bandanas worn by the Lone Ranger’s foes.  The pulled up scarf is tolerable and lets me breath freely.  Any nastiness not caught by the scarf will go straight down.  Any strangers fiddling with my belt buckle will deserve what they get.

Apart from guarding against the possibility that I might be an asymptomatic carrier, the combination of my scarf mask and sanitizer vest may make some ambient virus particles less infectious.  They will see me and laugh their coronas off.

 

health, humor

Flask, Rag, and Vest Fight COVID-19

The standard advice to wash hands frequently is worthwhile but leaves many gaps.  Goaded by the COVID-19 pandemic, I finally thought of a hack to fill the gaps.  Sharing the hack is one of the few ways I can fight back against the pandemic.
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The standard advice to wash hands frequently is worthwhile but leaves many gaps.  Suppose the restroom door swings inward, as it does in several markets I visit.  However well I wash while in the restroom, I can’t leave it w/o grabbing a handle whose last grabber may not have washed enough (if at all) to get the virus off his hands.  And so on.

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When I must go shopping, I now carry a small flask of isopropyl alcohol (the active ingredient in hand sanitizers) and an absorbent rag or washcloth.  I can wipe my hands just before and/or after touching anything that might carry the virus.  I don’t need to sprint to a wipe dispenser and then toss a used wipe onto the pile that is already overflowing a wastebasket (if there even is a wastebasket there).

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The flask and damp rag fit nicely in a pocket of my photographer-style vest.  Don’t have or want such a vest?  Appropriate outer pockets are on many gadget bags, gym bags, purses, and so on.  Buying one may be easier than buying toilet paper.

flowers, haiku, love, photography, seasons

Widower’s Song #4

The first three are haiku in a previous post.  This new one is a tanka in response to a CDHK prompt.  A vase with this special urn’s shape and colors would have pleased Edith, and that means a lot to me.
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Carpe Diem #1814 lost love

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Widower’s Song #4: This Urn
|It held her ashes,
|waiting until daffodils
|came for them in spring.
|Then it held one last bouquet
|of her favorite flowers.

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haiku, history, humor, photography

Vertical Shoreline

How can a shoreline be vertical?  Well, steep cliffs can plunge nearly straight down into the sea.  There may be a cave entrance right at the actual shoreline.  Do we dare enter the cave?  Perhaps (to borrow a few words from Patrick Jennings’ Challenge #220) a beautiful light awaits us there.
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Shoreline ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #220

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Is the sea at Capri’s shoreline still as clear now as it was when I was there in 1977?  I hope so.

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While we’re on the subject of clarity, let’s note that it is not clear whether the eponymous goats really did live on ancient Capri.  But it is clear that the island sited precursors of Mar-a-Lago for Imperial Rome’s fat tyrants.

From the outside, the Blue Grotto (Tiberius’ private pool) looks much like the (other?) grotto in my photo.  The view from inside is entirely different.

A cave entrance right at the shoreline can sometimes work magic.

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Blue Grotto (Capri) [edited image]

Capri Shoreline, Long Ago
|Goats traverse cliffs while
|pink whale swims in blue grotto.
|Naked emperor.

food, haiku, photography

I Dig This Challenge

Photographer-poet Patrick Jennings posts a weekly challenge to create something inspired by one of his photos and a single word.  Challenge #219 is posted with a photo and an appropriate haiku (using the challenge word “dig”).  Fortunately for me, it is OK to reuse Patrick’s splendid image in a haiga with my own haiku.
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© Patrick Jennings | Dig ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #219

Low Tide at Seaside Creek Beach
|To dig for clams is why
|we are here, beneath this sky.
|No clams?  No problem!

Two Cheers 😀 😀

The first is for anybody who noticed that changing the haiku’s initial line

To dig for clams … ⇒ Clam digging …

would make the haiku comply with the 5-7-5 rule.  The second is for anybody who noticed that the version of the initial line with 6 syllables has a better rhythm.  The actual editing change was from 5 syllables to 6.  Does that seem like an odd direction to move?

The outside story says that a haiku “is” a 3-line poem in blank verse with syllable counts 5, 7, and 5.  While this story is oversimplified, it is still a good place to start.  (Some haiku poets disagree.)  The inside story is more complex.  Various poets bend or break various rules at various times for various (and often good) reasons.  Tho messier, the inside story is ultimately the better one.  Just ask the clam digger who went home with an empty bucket but a full heart.

 

haiku, music

Love in Norway

There are several good musical compositions that I hear too often because my radio station loves to air them.  For years, Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite was like that.  Then I heard one orchestra play it their (unique?) way, with deep love and infectious joy.
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Carpe Diem #1805 Introducing our new Theme … Love month

The lightly edited screenshot ending this post links to a performance by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra.  They love this music, and it shows.  Near the end of the last movement, they even dance.  When was the last time U saw classical musicians dance while performing?

No Trolls Here
|Free from penguin suits
|and long gowns that wipe the floor,
|love and skill combine.
|They rescue Grieg’s Holberg Suite
|from bland transits thru the notes.

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fiction, humor

Weird Works Wanted in 2020

While the image for this post may be funny or offensive (or both), it also hints at possibilities for responding to a call for submissions of weird stories for Volume 3 of an annual anthology.  (Previously published work is OK if the author retained the rights.)  The deadline is 2020-03-31.
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Volumes 1 and 2 of The Rabbit Hole have many good stories and some gems.  Links to those volumes are in the call for submissions for Volume 3, which I will just call “RH-3” below.  Here is an excerpt:

This year marks a new departure, in which we explore how ‘weird’ fits into a genre.  And we’re kicking off with ‘romance’.  Do your aliens fall in love?  Is your young hero consumed, swallowed and digested by desire?  Does your ageing husband bring his passion back to life only to find it’s not what he thought it would be?  The possibilities are endless.

Perhaps you never read romance.  Perhaps you’ve never written it.  So much the better!  Who knows what lies outside the box?  • • •

I’ll stop there.  You’ve got the idea.  In fact I’m sure you’ve got plenty, and you don’t need me to give you more.  Simply bear in mind that ‘weird’ doesn’t always mean outlandish – it can be subtle, discreet, even furtive.  Witty too, or burlesque – we’re always open to humour.  Or even, at a stretch, humor.  We look forward to discovering whatever means you choose to warp, subvert, disfigure, disguise or otherwise befuddle the concept of romance.

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Image cropped from meme as posted 2015-10-07 by TheAnswerWasAlwaysMoreLube

I know.  A red light district is a weird place to look for romance.  Maybe U can make it work for RH-3.  Maybe a closer look at the image will suggest something else to try.

The line formed by Alice’s straight spine meets the line formed by her legs somewhere under that flouncy skirt.  Nobody on Earth has such long thighs.  Hmmm.  Maybe Alice is a Martian spy, practicing her skills before trying to seduce Earthian leaders into betraying our planet.  (They already do that, but not in ways that would benefit Martian colonists.)  Maybe interplanetary espionage will be kerbolixed by interplanetary romance when Alice moves on to the corridors of power.

I can’t think of a good way to use the idea of Alice as a Martian spy with a conflict between love and duty.  (It would not suffice to write a hackneyed conflict story and tack on some extraneous weirdness about how an Earthian and a Martian get it on.)  It is unlikely that RH-3 will include anything by me.  That’s no great loss, but it gets worse.  The medium with a laptop turned out to be a fraud, so RH-3 is also unlikely to include Lewis Carroll’s posthumously written Alice in Amsterdam.  Unless U can step up.

 

photography, seasons, serendipity

Two Visual Illusions

Follow the photons.  The backstory of one illusion begins far away and ends on a window pane.  The backstory of another illusion turns day into night, but not in the same way as the challenge that inspired this post.
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A ghostly translucent squid seems to hover in midair between the viewer and nesting herons.  No, I did not combine a heron image with a squid image in my photo editor.

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The photo is of a page from National Wildlife magazine, taped to window glass and lit from the outside.  (The page blocks a reflection of the sun from a neighbor’s window.)  The squid looks a good deal closer than the herons despite being farther away, but only by the thickness of the page.  The illusion in real life is just like the illusion in the photo.

The photo below illustrates a haiku about a bright full moon shining thru autumn leaves.  Is it really the moon or just a flood light?  Neither.

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The photo was taken by daylight.  The sun was above and behind me, but the light was dappled by unseen leaves (between me and the sun) before reaching the leaves I photographed.  I was hoping for some chiaroscuro and got more than expected by sheer dumb luck.  Most of the photographed leaves were in shade.  Thanks to some unusually reflective green leaves that were in bright sun behind the colored ones, those colored leaves seem to be transmitting light from behind them when they are actually reflecting light from in front of them (and behind me).

The photos displayed above were chosen from among several exposure settings, then edited only by cropping.  More extensive editing may be needed to create other illusions or to compensate for differences between how cameras and eyes see things.  In particular, consider the challenge that inspired this post:

Illusions ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #213

Here are smaller versions of the images displayed in the challenge:

Desaturating a deliberately underexposed photo turned day into night.  At any single exposure setting, a photo of the contrasty daylight scene would be either washed out in light areas or blacked out in dark areas.  (Maybe both.)  Editing merged several exposures to approximate how the scene looked to human eyes.  Visit the challenge for more details on HDR editing and a fine haiku with no technical prerequisites.