(mostly) daily photoblog

Posts tagged “Musings

The boys club


I remember being this age.  I thought I knew everything.  I knew that I knew more than everyone else, at least.  I felt like the world was waiting for me.  My boys, my friends, were the only thing that was important to me.

Man…I knew nothing back then.

Implied narrative – choose your own adventure

There is a story here…but I’m not telling what it is.  Please feel free to write a comment explaining the story you see in this photo.  I immediately felt the presence of a narrative that doesn’t match the reality at all, but this is a photo that is worth the proverbial “thousand words”.  Well, I think it is.

What do you think?


I’m stuck not knowing how to react to the city in which I live.  I walk, daily, past people who subsist on very little.  They live on 1 000 000 Rupiah (that’s $100 US approximately) a month, sometimes less, sometimes more.  I walk past open sewers that are sometimes smelly and sometimes revolting.  I walk past mansions that exist next to shacks.  Mercedes driving past men pulling home-made carts.

What does all of this have to do with a flower?  There are no parks but lots and lots of green.  There is asphalt and trees, and because it’s always summer (or seemingly) the blossoms on trees and vines bloom and die all the time.  I’ve been here a month and I’d almost gotten used to it.  Leaves fall off trees all the time, but it’s never Autumn.  I wonder if I’ll get used to all of it.  I hope not.  I hope that I’ll always be shocked, saddened, enraged, curious, and hopeful.

The paradox…

…of Jakarta is that there is incredible wealth and abject poverty.  There are designer clothing stores and a community of people who live in the garbage dump (one of many, I’m sure).  The difference, as I have been noting many differences between life here and “home” in North America, is that there is no way to escape the paradox of this city.

I was having this discussion with some of my colleagues (Chris, Glenn, Trent – I’m talking about you) and we talked about how easy it is, in the “developed world” to see poverty and those living in it, and then escape back to the suburb or neighborhood or gated community of your choice and forget what was just seen.  Here, in Jakarta, there is no escape.  The wealth lives next to the poverty.  The highly fortunate live behind a wall that is built against the open lot in which people barely subsist.  The Rolls Royce (and yes, there was one that passed me on my walk home from work last Thursday) drives right past the flower sellers and “Ayam Bakar” merchants.  They all live in the same place.

Purposeful ignorance is the only way to avoid seeing those who, by chance, were born into a life of poverty.  That’s the paradox of the city in which I live.

You’re awesome!

Good morning.  I hope you have a great day.

Oh…and have a I told you that you’re AWESOME?  If not, you’re AWESOME!

Religion or electricity: who has more power?

Electricity is power.  Without it, we’d have no lights, televisions, movies, lcd projectors, cameras, computers, internet, cell phones, iPods, cars…um…the list goes on in a long, long mile.

(Please feel free to send me comments about how things like these can run in some manual, un-powered way.  I know.  My Pentax K1000 is completely manual, but still relies on a battery for the light meter and a whole crap-load of power to convert the film into photos, as an example.)

Religion, however, has started wars and brought peace.  It has ended lives by transporting the dying into another realm, while started lives through dedications and christenings.  It has started and ended civilizations.  It has inspired creation and destruction.

I know which one I think is more powerful.  What about you?

Is teriyaki beef and broccoli a breakfast food?

The teriyaki beef and broccoli, pictured above, was really good for dinner last night.  It isn’t what I’m eating for breakfast.  I’ll be eating steel-cut oatmeal with a little brown sugar and milk.

It brings to mind a little question I’ve had for a long time:  why are certain foods only for breakfast?  Like toast?  Or scrambled eggs?  Hash browns?

Is this just a North American thing?  Why is that we have this thing called “breakfast for dinner”?  I love it when we have breakfast for dinner, but why do we not just call it toast-bacon-hash browns-scrambled eggs-orange juice for dinner?  Or, just dinner.


Holding hands…aww…

I feel like it’s an affirmation of all that is good in the world when people find each other.  I’ve recently been trying to focus on all that is positive and, when I can’t, at least look for positive solutions to things I want to complain about.  I think I often focus on what is negative because it’s easier.  Complaining is easy.  Bitching about all that is bad in the world is easy.

Coming up with solutions is not easy.

Which is why seeing people holding hands makes me smile.  When I hold my wife’s hand, I think of nothing else but what is good.  I don’t criticize the world.  I don’t complain about other people.  I say silly things.  I laugh.  I smile.  I feel affirmed and postive and…

I’ve got it!  We should just all hold hands.  World peace might be achievable, people!  Hold hands with someone near you right now and tell me you don’t feel better about the world.  I dare you!

What should I do with a bag I don’t use?

I bought a shoulder bag from Old Navy years ago and it’s been sitting in my closet.  I found it while cleaning and decided that, seeing as I wasn’t using it anyway, I’d modify it and stencil a little something on it.  It’s a nice bag, but I’d nearly forgotten I had it.

I admit that I have a little problem when it comes to three things:  bags, jackets and shoes.

I buy shoes very rarely, but I’m very specific.  I buy shoes that I know will last many years.  My Doc Martens have been around for more than five years.  I have one pair of Converse All-Stars, but they’re Batman shoes (the DC Comics release last summer).  I’m pretty picky.

I love a good coat, but most of them serve both a fashion and practical purpose.

But bags?  I’ve got backpacks – a couple of different daypacks and I still have the first Mountain Equipment Co-op backpack I ever bought.  I’ve got a 100 liter duffle bag that my wife once climbed into.  I’ve got a laptop briefcase and a laptop backpack and two different camera bags – one to hold all of my gear and a smaller bag that’ll hold my camera and an extra lens.  And then there’s the…well, I think that’s enough.

I guess my other problem is that once I’ve got a good bag, pair of shoes or jacket, I’ll never let it go.  Why get rid of it if it works?  I’ve learned that if I’m not using it, I should get crafty and change it and then I’m suddenly more interested in using it.

Oh, and yes, that is Boba Fett.   I guess Star Wars would be my fourth “problem”.

It’s the details that count.

What is missed most in day to day observation are the things that exist, the beauty that exists, right under our proverbial noses.  It is the trees that I pass every day on my commute.  It’s the grasses, above, that grow outside my classroom.  It’s the way headlights illuminate the reflectors on the road barriers.

Sylvia Plath wrote a poem called “Black Rook in Rainy Weather”.  In it, she wrote the lines:

... A certain minor light may still
Lean incandescent

Out of kitchen table or chair
As if a celestial burning took
Possession of the most obtuse objects now and then...

It’s this “celestial burning” that I’m going to keep trying to capture this year.  It’s day three of 365 photo posts.  Let’s see how the rest of the year goes.  Notice the most obtuse objects and capture celestial burning.

Well…at least that’s not too much a challenge.

We’re all weirdos.

I enjoy some of the commentary that occurs on concrete walls, written by what I can only guess are people who’ve decided that the conventional methods of communication are not suitable.

I don’t know what that thing is, with its little flag stating, “All the weirdos”, but he’s got it right.  I wish it said, “We’re all weirdos”, though.

I’m of the mind that we’re all strange and that’s what makes us human.  It’s the things we do and think and love and feel passionate about that make us who we are.  It’s only when we’re dumb enough to think that we need to fit in and conform and compromise our passions that we become less than who we are.

What are you weird about?



The path to photographic adventure

I’ve had people ask me where I shoot some of my graffiti photos.  I shot the six photos above on the way in (the first three) and on the way out (the last three) as I headed back to the car.

Often, when I describe it, people ask me, “You really go down there?” and, “Isn’t it a little sketchy?” and, “How did you find it?”

Let me answer these questions.

1.  Yes.  I really do go down there.  I’ve never felt completely unsafe, but I do leave my wallet in the car and carry my Blackberry with me.

2.  Yes.  It is a little sketchy.  I once came upon a homeless “campsite”.  I felt like I had just walked into someone’s bedroom.  It was weird.  I was trespassing on BC Rail land, but I felt like I had violated some person’s home.  Weird.

3.  I found it by living near it.  The house in which I used to live was a couple of kilometers away, so I used to drive past this stretch of railway underpass.  One day I noticed a large, colorful piece of street art.  I found a nearby place to park and took a walk through the area.  What I discovered was a street art paradise.  So cool.  I had driven past it hundreds of times, but had never really looked closely.  Now I go down there once a month.  It’s like documenting a living, ever-changing art exhibit.

BTW, more graffiti tomorrow.

Also, I know you call two photos together a diptych, and three are a triptych, but six?  Is it a sestych?  sextych?  I don’t know, but I hope you like it.

“Look what I can do!”

I took these three photos and stitched them together.  The vista of my backyard, the mountains in the background, the umbrella on my deck were too tempting to resist.  I snapped a good number of photos while on my deck, admiring God’s handiwork.  It’s like He came down on Sunday night and said, like an excited four year old clutching a crayoned piece of paper, “Look what I can do!”

Pretty cool.

Please feel free to click on it to see the full size version in detail.

Inanimate friends?

I’m not talking about zombies, although I do love them a lot.

I’m talking about those things that grow on you, those things that take on a life of their own.  Those things that you have and wear and keep for a long time and when it comes time to retire them you’re not sure if you want to get rid of them or bronze them.

It’s pretty stupid, really.  They are just things, after all.  It is a solid reminder of the consumption-driven lives most of us lead.  It is a symptom of a society that is becoming enamored of things and not people, of virtual relationships rather than actual relationships.  It’s the purse you can’t part with, the iPod that finally charged one last time, the VCR that still plays but not well.  In my case, it’s a pair of ASICS Fortitudes that have almost given up the ghost.  They hug me in just the right way.  They support me.  They…

…are inanimate.  And they will have to go soon.




Sometimes you feel like a nut…

…and other times you stop your car along the side of the road, put the hazard lights on, run around to the passenger side of the car to get your camera to take “that” photo of a hazelnut orchard because the light is catching it just right.  All the while, wearing a solid wall of black (shoes, pants, belt, button-front shirt) and a hot pink tie, thereby weirding out all drivers passing by.

Or does that just happen to me?  Just me?  Oh…well then…carry on.


Sunsets are always nice

I learned something about how my photographic habits have changed since switching from film to digital.  I took my Pentax K1000 with me to Oregon and snapped off a roll and a half.  I took my film camera up onto the dune and down onto the beach and snapped off some lovely photos.  And then there was this sad moment…

I snapped off my first photo and felt the familiar “chunk” of the camera’s mirror snapping back in place and then I pulled the camera from my eye and looked at the back of it to see how the photo turned out.  On the LCD screen.  That doesn’t exist on the back of the camera that was produced in 1976.  Hmm…that was an unforeseen stupidity on my part.  I chastised myself for having become reliant on technology to tell me that my photo was good.

I snapped another photo and once again looked at the back of the camera.  Twice stupid.  Yeesh…

Another photo.  Another look.  Oh, for crying out loud.

Over the next few days I snapped off the rest of the roll and must have looked at the back of the camera at least ten more times.

Oh.  The photo above was snapped on one of the evenings on my K1000.  Nice sunset, I think.  And below, that’s what I kept looking at expecting to see an LCD screen. Ha.

Beauty comes in many colors, shapes and sizes.

I don’t know when or how this was instilled in me, but I think every person is beautiful.  There are many ugly characteristics, character traits, that people have by which I am disgusted.  I’m terrified of jealousy and envy and hate.  A lack of tolerance and acceptance is sad.

But beauty?  Is there a way to judge what is beautiful?  Is there a standard by which all people can be judged?  I don’t think so.  What do you think?


Photo Friday: Manufactured

Photo Friday this week has challenged photographers to capture Manufactured.  I haven’t been able to get out and photograph anything this week, so I’m recycling a two month old photo of our local railroad.  There is nothing about a railroad that feels natural; everything is manufactured.  From the telephone posts that line the sides to the twin rails of steel lining the ground, it all feels otherworldly.

Random ramblings. Also, treetop.

So I’m watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on tv right now.  I love this movie.  I haven’t watched it in so long, but it is so great.  There are six people in spacesuits standing on the moon somewhere and the music is so creepy that I may not sleep well.  I am so tired, though, so I figure I might pack it in early tonight.  We’ll see.  Well, I’ll see, not you, unless you’re stalking me, which I hope you’re not.

It’s weird watching this scene right now because I already watched the ending earlier.  This is the fun of having satellite t.v.  I watched it earlier on the first broadcast on HDNet earlier tonight, but only the end, where Dave sees himself as an old man.  Now I’m at the beginning and will probably go to bed before I even get to HAL9000 and Dave and the whole, “Dave?  What are you doing, Dave?”  I love that part.  But, like I said, I’m tired.

Do you like 2001?  Do you like any of the Stanley Kubrick films?  I love The Shining, but, again, if I think about that too much I’m not going to sleep tonight.

Oh, and there’s a photo of a tree at the top of this post.  Huh.

Sun in the willows.

Yesterday as I was driving home, I took a detour through one of the farm roads near where I live.  We had an uncharacteristic hour or two of sun yesterday and the light was jumping off a grove of willow trees growing out along the boundary between one farm and another.  My camera, however, was at home, so I got off not one shot.

Today, hoping that providence would shine on me (and the trees) I hefted my camera into the passenger seat on the way home.  The sun did not disappoint.  While the surrounding areas were darkened by the clouds you can see above, those willows shone.  I love willow trees as long as they’re not in my yard and I don’t have to trim them or rake up after them.  In spring, they are wonderful and yellowy-green as they come back to life.  Apparently the sun and I share an appreciation of them.

Stop watching that clock. Stop it! Seriously!

How is it that something inanimate, a clock, can be such an enemy.  We feel like time is always running out, as seen on the clock, when we’re doing something we enjoy.  Time is standing still when we’re doing something we don’t like.  Time is running out when you get older, but not moving fast enough when we’re young.  A watched pot may never boil, but a watched clock never moves.  It seems that the more I look at my clock, which is no longer a wristwatch because my Blackberry Curve can tell me the time, the slower it seems to move.

About that, I’ve stopped wearing a watch entirely.  I have two great watches, one a Batman watch and one a dress watch.  I never wear them.  I thought it was some kind of breakthrough.  I no longer existed within normal time.  The world is full of clocks; why wear one?  It turns out I’ve become addicted to my smartphone because it does all kinds of things, the least of which is tell me what time it is.  I think I may have become more of a clock watcher now that I’ve stopped wearing a watch.  Sad…


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