Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pilobolus Dance Theatre

A friend of mine invited me to see the dance theatre group Pilobolus tonight since his wife was ill and unable to attend. Pilobolus performed an absolutely amazing set of routines to a sold-out audience at UofA's Centennial Hall tonight. Each routine was fresh and dramatically different from their other routines. Amazing choreography, strength, flexibility, music. If they are touring in your neck of the woods I'd certainly recommend seeing them if you get the chance.

Here is a youtube video someone took of one routine in a past performance. Some of their routines are solos, others with six dancers. Never heard of them before, will have to watch their touring schedule in the future...

[#4 new to me 2009]

layed off on the new things

As a not so good new thing I've been hit by a layoff - surplused by my employer who has cut a large number of jobs (thousands) in the last two weeks. I've got 30 days to try to find another internal job, and if unsuccessful I'll then receive a severance package. The severance package is pretty good for these days, in these times. It will certainly help buy some time.

I'll be focused on internal job possibilities for the next month and then expanding if necessary into general marketplace opportunities, possibly spend some time retooling. Yep, its a really tight market out there right now. I fully intend to keep my eyes open for rainbows, sunsets, and some of the good things that can result from hard times.

Keeping my fingers crossed, my eyes open, and my feet moving...

[new to me #3 for 2009]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

@ Broadway & Church

This large tile mural portrays the harvesting of saguaro fruit. It can be seen from car or on foot at the SE corner of Broadway and Church in downtown Tucson.

our brains are in our hands

This is part of a Shakespeare themed sculpture outside the Maroney Theatre on the U of A campus. Seeing this, I couldn't help but think of the catastrophic state budget cuts being considered for the state's higher education system.

The loss of Governor Janet Napolitano to Obama's Homeland Security position comes at a particularly bad time -- she recognized the importance of our state's educational system more than many of our elected officials. Every state agency is going to have to make sacrifices, including universities. But we need to be wary of those among us that would have us sacrifice the future to live more comfortably today. To be or not to be... indeed.

I'm reminded of the importance of seed corn for the Anasazi -- we may be hungry now, but if we eat our stored seed corn [for next year's crop], then the future is going to be much, much worse...
[Links: Kim over at the Spadefoot Toad has a post on this subject worth reading: So this is what we stand for]

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Border Dynamics

"Border Dynamics" is a sculpture by Mexican artists Guadalupe Serrano and Alberto Morackis installed near the southeast corner of the Harvill Building on the University of Arizona campus. It has four tall figures pushing against opposite sides of a wall. The sculpture is about 14 feet tall. Its a great sculpture to view and reflect on the barriers that separate nations, people, relationships, beliefs. I had seen pictures of it in the news when it first came out years ago, but saw it today in person on my way to the UofA art museum.

East / West Berlin wall: down. U.S. / Cuba "wall": still up. U.S. / Mexico wall: currently under construction. Which represents progress?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Anna's Hummingbird

Anna's Hummingbird at my backyard feeder early Sunday evening.

I found focusing on a small rapidly moving hummingbird to be a challenge for my camera's auto focus so I used manual focus, stood very close to the feeder, and pre-focused on where I thought the bird would likely be on arrival -- then stood still and patiently waited...

Pure confidence -- sees me right there and knows he is the fastest

I like this shot -- interesting wing illusion...

Must see the football game on TV behind me in the house. Who says refs have to be zebras?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

catching the light

Whoa Nellie, almost ran that light!

Shaking out a blanket before the storm

I've been meaning to stop at the SW corner of Campbell & Sunrise sometime when it was cloudy and take a few snaps of the three sculptures there. The contrast between the dark bronze and the bright sky is particularly challenging for me, and even with today's overcast sky I still had to play around in photoshop to tweak the brightness a bit.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Do you play to your strengths?


Doodle by Lee. The code for this doodle and other doodles you can use on your blog can be found at Doodles.

[I don't usually repost other bloggers material, but I really think this doodle sums up things nicely. It is reposted per the permission guidelines at Nicole's blog. -- Warren]

Friday, January 2, 2009

Butterflies, a cautionary tale

We've all got our concerns about 2009 and the Tucson Botanical Gardens is dealing with a few butterflies of their own this year... I dropped by the gardens today to take a few snaps of world butterflies in their Butterfly Magic exhibition. Click on pics for larger views...

The Tucson Botanical Gardens import crysalids under USDA rules from butterfly farms around the world. The butterflies then emerge and live out their lives in the controlled greenhouse, full of lots of plants and nector.

...including carnivorous plants like the one above (yep, you could see some butterflies down inside). Lucky they are plants, otherwise they would really have some butterflies in their stomachs.

Quite a few seem to hang upside down when resting... Less effort to just let their wings hang down?

Impressive colors! Neatly coiled proboscis.

Here are some of the crysalids in the window of the "nursery" being unpacked and setup for eventual emergence. I had no idea that they come in so many colors.

Wandering around out on the grounds to cool off after being in the humid & hot butterfly greenhouse, I found a few blooming flowers such as the iceplant above.

Its been a number of years since I last visited the Tucson Botanical Gardens -- I like it and will be back much sooner. I stopped for lunch at their little cafe and had a Mediterranean chicken salad which was quite good and reasonably priced.

One of the impressive things of note with the pics above is that they were taken today with my Canon G9 P&S camera which was fully submerged in over a foot of water on new year's eve -- sigh.

I was sitting above one of the fountain pools listening to a cool psychobilly band called the Mission Creeps. While juggling a hot chocolate, sweater and program guide, I somehow managed to knock my camera soundly off the edge and into the fountain below. Since I didn't have the shutter set to "bulb" (smile), the camera promptly sunk to the bottom. Not good, not good, not good at all.

Usually when I've heard of folks having this kind of accident with a P&S camera, the results are catastrophic & repair not worth the delta with a replacement camera. I assumed the worst, tried not to make matters worse by kicking myself for my carelessness, and chose to stay downtown for the rest of the celebration (hence my missing event pictures). When I pulled the soggy camera out of the fountain, the front green focus assist beam was on, even though the camera was off. Hmmmm. I pulled the battery, memory card, and poured as much water out of the soggy camera as possible.

When I got home I decided that since things were pretty grim anyway that taking action was probably slightly better than not. So I shook out more water, blew some compressed air around in the battery, memory, and usb slots and ... [WARNING -- I DO NOT RECOMMEND taking these actions as they could certainly make things much, much worse; I'm just describing the procedure/risks that I chose to take.] ... put it in my clothes dryer.

No, no tumbling. My dryer came with a removable shelf that could be inserted in it for, I think, drying shoes? Never used it before. So I put the camera on the non-moving shelf and set the dryer for its delicate lowest temperature setting. I checked the temperature inside after 5-10 minutes and it seemed reasonable; after all, our cars get really hot in Tucson in the summer.

After about 90 minutes of this, I pulled the camera out. Hmm, a little too hot I think. Outside was certainly dry, nothing melted (!), but the rear LCD screen had either a condensation fog or the LCD had crystallized from the temperature... Still, not a lot more to lose, so I popped the battery that had been in the camera back in and powered it up (another not recommended to do so soon after soaking in case there is still water present). The front lens opened and, no surprise, there appeared to be some condensation inside the lens elements somewhere, God only knows what happened to the sensor. Rear LCD display showed image, but very hazy from the fog mentioned above. Ok, well that was pretty much what I was expecting anyway, one last sigh and time for bed.

In the afternoon yesterday, New Years Day, I checked back on the camera and powered it up again. To my amazement, the internal lens condensation had cleared, leaving a couple of faint water marks on an internal element. Slightly less surprising, but a bet I wouldn't have made, was that the rear LCD display was now also looking normal. Hmmm. Out to the yard to take some test shots to see how bad those dried water spots would affect images. Not bad. The sensor seems to be undamaged, amazing.

So today, rather than taking my older S400 to the Botanical Gardens, I took my formerly waterlogged G9 and took the snaps above. Can you say lucky? I have the distinct impression that if I was to repeat the accident and my twisted recovery method multiple times, more often than not I'd end up with an unusable camera...

I've still got to give some thought on the trade offs of contacting Canon to pay for full refurbishing versus continuing to use as-is and eventually move it into a back up camera role for more at risk activities (like bicycle mounted time lapse videos). One of the wild cards is not knowing what was in the water and what that might do over time... Thankfully this was not a DSLR, in which case I'd have been simultaneously contacting the manufacturer and my bank.
I've heard other people say this many times, but I obviously wasn't practicing it -- "when around water, camera around neck or firmly around wrist". Lesson learned.

Sorry for the long story, but I thought I would suck up my pride and share my story. Had I known I was going to blog about this I would have taken some pictures that would have been truely disturbing, from a camera owner's point of view.

Oh, did I say those were butterflies above? Those are hummingbirds... (smile)

[2009 new to me #1, successfully dried out a water submerged camera; #2 visited the Butterfly Magic exhibition at TBG.]

Thursday, January 1, 2009

First First First Night Celebration

I went down to Tucson's first, First Night celebration New Year's Eve. At 5 pm things were just warming up at the La Placita Village Courtyard above, one of five downtown venues providing family-friendly and alcohol-free entertainment while counting down to the new year. I really enjoyed listening to a number of different groups -- my favorite was a Latin fusion dance band named La Mezcla playing a lot of lively music to a full house in the Leo Rich Theatre (CD / audio sample here, check out "Heart Full of Salsa") . They are from Bisbee, AZ and I'll certainly keep my eyes open for when I might hear them in concert again.

The organizers did a great job for Tucson's first First Night. I hope to see this grow and continue as a new annual community event.

Well, that wraps up 2008 and here comes 2009 full steam. I'm going to continue the informal "new to me" pursuit in 2009 as a way to keep my eyes open to new opportunities, things to try, and forks in the road.

Thanks to everyone who has followed my blog over the past year -- I appreciate your support!

Wishing you all a safe, healthy, and happy new year!