Dramatic Monotony

Friday, March 25, 2005

Crazy times.


I'm the happiest I've been in a while. Yet I'm also the most depressed. It's a strange combo.

I have no clue what the future holds. We'll see.

I'll upload more pictures soon. I have to wait for Nicole to return my card reader.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

I'm hanging out with Samantha today! I'll update on where our adventures take us. I miss my gal - ever since I quit the marching band, I've had problems staying in touch with TMB friends. I still think she's beyond fabulous, though. I have a feeling I'm going to have a lot of fun - and imagine, it's Saint Patrick's Day, too! This is a recipe for a good time.

On a more geeky note, I was browsing a few photography forums when I ran across a link to this program, called VirtualPhotographer. It's a free filtering program for Photoshop, Elements, or any photo editing program that uses layers. I've only had it for ten minutes, but I'm already in love. It's a super easy program that goes well beyond the standard filters in Photoshop. Plus, there are even more downloadable filters available, all for free - without a catch!

Let me show you a quick example. This took two minutes; I used a red polarising filter, adjusted the levels a bit, and did a little Gaussian blur to smooth some of the edges. Yes, there are a few artifacts and problem areas. However, if I spent ten minutes, I think these could be fixed. (And I know my highlights are close to being blown - don't chide, Lauren!)

And here's the original.

I'm a big fan of automation within Photoshop. Hell, I'm the dork that creates my own actions to save time. But this is beyond easy.

BTW, Ajeet sent me an interesting link about the essence of photography yesterday. I agree with a lot of what was written. It's a nice starter guide to photography, although I'm still trying to figure out the technicalities of manual photography, just to be a purist. (Plus, eventually, I'd like to be able to use my dad's Minolta and his massive collection of lenses.)

(Please, daddy?)

Okay, I'm going to shower. Samantha wanted me to pick her up at 10am.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

So, I didn't update on Tuesday. I'm sorry. I fell asleep - tent life is not for me, I've decided.

I had a lovely time in Joshua Tree. I've driven past it numerous times, but I've never actually stopped before. My companions, Kevin and Ajeet, were fabulous. A post detailing the entire journey would take too long to write; I've got a thesis waiting for me! So, I'm just going to post pictures and descriptions.

On our first full day, we decided to venture to the 29 Palms visitor center. They had a miniature trail behind the building, so we looked at cacti. Did you realize over a million tourists visit Joshua Tree to see the blooms?

Joshua Trees appear to have little in common with real trees. We stopped to frolick, and I ran into this monster of a specimen. Ah, the beauty of decay and death... wait, this isn't an emo blog, I forgot. Anyway, it was huge and pretty and photographed nicely.

Ajeet and Kevin ran ahead like madmen. I'm the sane one of the bunch, so I strolled through the desert, basking in the peaceful environment. I found lots of fascinating examples of desert wildlife. The butterflies were numerous, thanks to the beautiful blooms of the flowers. This little guy stopped for me.

Rabbits were plentiful. But fast. However, this one paused long enough for me to take a snapshot.

Did you realize that kittens are indigenous to the desert? I didn't... but I found one!

Evidently there are many types of desert ecosystems. Joshua Tree encompasses two different deserts - the Mojave and the Colorado. Elevation determines the characteristics of the wildlife and rock formations. You see? Spring break can be educational.

These rocks are plentiful throughout the Southwest, especially along I-10. I've never stopped to take pictures, though. Evidently they have a very rough texture. Kevin and Ajeet decided to climb a formation and showed me their red, chapped hands as proof of this statement. I'm inclined to believe them.

On our way to the highest point in the park, I saw this sign and HAD to pull over. However, I soon realized that these "exhibit areas" are just fodder for suckers like me. I saw no horrors. Instead, there were a couple of caves, lots of Joshua Trees, and a bit of sand. What a sensation.

Because I'm a girlie-girl at heart, the idea that the Hall of Horrors would be a perfect place for a nature buff to get married dawned on me. We found a natural aisleway, a natural altar, picturesque scenery, a parking lot, and the perfect bathroom. Isn't she a beaut?

Ajeet surveys the landscape. Note the flowering Joshua Tree behind them - yes, they flower too!

We went to Keyes View, one of the highest points in the park. The winds were crazy - I thought I was going to get blown off the mountain. Kevin and Ajeet had the same problems. The old fogeys in their Chrysler Sebring convertibles couldn't even climb to the top of the path. Ah, the joys of being a spritely college student.

This is a coyote. This coyote came within 5 feet of my vehicle in order to beg for food. Ajeet wanted to feed it aged Tillamook cheese, but thankfully, Kevin discouraged that.

We went on a trip to gather kindling for our fire. One is not allowed to remove any branches from the National Park, so we drove outside of Joshua Tree to retrieve dead branches. I shall now document our antics with the kindling.

Kevin? Or monster?

Look! It's the Statue of Liberty in the desert!

Uh-oh. Is someone being attacked?

Finally, safe in the fire.

That's about all to relate.

"WRONG!" (In-joke alert.)

I almost forgot. Here's a picture of Kevin and his flower offering. He wishes you a safe journey on your way through the internet. (Actually, I made that up, but it sounds nice.)

P.S. Palm Springs is kinda cool. But they lack all-you-can-eat buffets. I tried to satisfy my hankering for unlimited fulfillment, but I was thwarted.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I'll be back to updating on Tuesday.

Hopefully with tons of photographs.

Mmm... Nature photography.


Pager is out of batteries. Therefore it beeps at me. And woke me up. And despite my best efforts, I cannot figure out how to turn it off. Didn't they stop selling these things with the advent of the twenty-first century? Why do I have to deal with this antiquated technology?!

Blah. It's too early for this! I think I'm just going to take the batteries out.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I have "Stupid" by Sarah Mclachlan playing on repeat.

I just spent an hour dancing around the halls to melodramatic Sarah Brightman songs.

God. I need to get away from here, but I'm on duty! I must make sure the building is safe during this time of vacationing! I must protec...

Argh. Going crazy. I think Lauren Schneider wanted to kill me for listening to "Meadowlark" from the Baker's Wife for half an hour.

Yeah. Maybe it's a good thing that not very many people are around.

At times I wish I were a better writer.

Or a better speaker.

I lean towards the melodramatic, the cliches. I'm a cornball; I have a genuine inclination to think in age-old adages. And most of the time, my pedestrian forms of expression suffice. But I'm facing certain situations that demand more eloquence. And I lack the words.

Is this what I get for being a literature major? Maybe I should've embraced creative writing, despite the fact that I've dismissed it for being an imaginary major.

God. I wanted to say, "Many claim that practice makes perfect. Maybe it's true in this case." But then I realized that's just utilising another trite aphorism. I'm locked in a cycle of my own perfectionism. If I didn't care about originality or authenticity, I wouldn't mind this continuous rotation.

But I do.

So I'll continue to bite my tongue when I want to shout the plethora of truisms that pop into my mind. And I'll be worried that I'm not communicating my true feelings or intentions. Here I am, just another person struggling to convey my humanity in an intelligent way to the world.

I'm not a complete failure. I'm expressive in other manners. Personable? Check. Compassionate? Sure. Empathetic? Yes. I don't want to dive into a pool of self-pity. I don't need that. But I'm merely frustrated at what I feel to be my major inadequacy. I can analyze myself for days; unfortunately, I'm good at recognizing my shortcomings. Criticism seems to be the only skill I've spent time developing in regards to my academic career.

"And now for something completely different." I've been watching Red Dwarf for the past few hours. I'm almost finished with Season I. I'm on duty tonight and tomorrow, so I feel somewhat trapped in New. While there are other people around, I feel like sitting and eating Armenian string cheese while laughing at Lister. I'm a bit co-dependent at times; this is why I like living in the dorms where people are constantly providing forms of entertainment. However, I often regress to my childhood habits of watching TV for long stretches of time. I'm alone... without being alone. Which is fine- Max lent me Seasons I-IV of Red Dwarf, as well as four DVDs of the Prisoner. Between my mounds of schoolwork, my little side trips around Cali, and my RA duties, I'll be quite occupied during this break.

Gazpacho Soup. I love it.

I want to be on a plane. But I'll cope with my wanderlust and resign myself to a thrilling time in Southern California.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Forgive me, I'm trying to catch up with several months' worth of backlog with my photos.

I went to the LA Auto Show in January with Alex, Michelle, and Ariel. It was a fabulous time, even though I'm not convinced that Michelle was digging it as much as Alex, Ariel, and I were! Those were tasty margaritas at the end, though.

Here are my favorite photoshopped images. I've discovered that my eye is slightly off with manual focus. I had a lot of almost perfect shots with just the tiniest bit of blurriness. Maybe I just needed to take my tripod next time. Also, jostling with the crowd is a major problem in car shows. I had several shots ruined by anxious little children and pushy car enthusiasts.

Alex is obsessed with Mazdas. I thought I'd pay homage to his love by including a photograph of him with a Mazda 6.

But I'm not forgetting about my own obsession. The car show did not disappoint - this was a super-hot Nismo tuned 350Z. I love the color; the wing is a bit ostentatious, but that's forgivable for such an amazing car.

The Nissan section also had a very pimped out Frontier with a cool black/red package. I loved the interpretation of the logo.

My favorite part of the auto show? AFTERMARKET! The whole tuner culture fascinates me. When I get my massive Cadillac Escalade, I'll be sure to put on some phat rims like this!

And one day, I'll get up enough courage to dress like the girls that walk around various showcases. Maybe. I took this photo to piss off Michelle, but I'm rather intrigued by the whole pin-up model idea. Do these girls really know about cars? Or are they merely ornamentation in this testosterone-filled world?

I'm trying to make sure I put my camera to good use. My dad calls me spoiled; my residents call me spoiled; my friends call me spoiled... but I might as well take advantage of that!

I take it back.

I love my freshmen.

So, yesterday, I went into the venerable Freddie Wong's room and started chatting with him, Ana, and Jen. The three of them started talking about the need to have a floor meeting. "It's very important... but I can't tell you what it's about!" Needless to say, I was a bit wary of the whole idea. I acquiesced, with the condition that they ask John. Evidently, as they were putting up the door notices later in the afternoon, John asked them what they were doing. The reply "Oh, Jen called a floor meeting" was given to my confused co-RA. So, when 9:30 rolled around, John and I were completely befuddled in regards to the purpose of this congregation.

Freddie started the meeting by relating the story of the fire alarm. Then he detailed John's and my participation in the capture of the hooligans. Then he pulled out two track trophies and presented these works of art to us.

Needless to say, I was shocked beyond belief.

My trophy reads, "Dep. Jen Noble, A Credit to the Force" while John's trophy mentions his "Noonan syndrome." John and I each made a speech. He talked about how his other trophies were stolen when he moved, so this was a big deal for him. I talked about how I only caught the bastards due to the fact that the cinema floor residents won't let me go to bed at a reasonable hour. It was sweet, simple, and heart-warming.

Yeah. I'm pretty happy right now.

By the way, I had a lovely chat with Tania yesterday. One of my residents wanted to spend the night at PIRC, so I drove her over there. Might as well do some visiting at the same time, right? Sadly, Matt, Molly, Nitin, and Ebonee were MIA, but at least I got to converse with Tania. I fussed at her for her lack of pictures with me on her wall... so, I'll post a picture of her just to prove I'm a better person than she.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

And hey... because I'm obsessed with myself, here are two more pictures from the photoshoot. These are a bit less serious. I'm actually smiling!

That's all for now.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

By the way, Ajeet sent me this link in response to my Shih Tzu post. I laughed. So should you.

I love Rafael. True to his word, we had a photo shoot. These are my favorite of his photoshopped Jens. Enjoy!

Notice the shoes. They're hot. They're Kate Spade. I paid way too much for them... and I liked it.

I'm such a poser with the guitar in the background. I don't play guitar, and I didn't want it in the shoot... but I was overruled. Ah, well.

This is the only one of my smile. I should smile more often... I think I'm just reacting to my high school time in the drill team. (Vaseline for your teeth, anyone?)

Damn. Those are hot shoes.

I'm between the flowers and the David. I love it.

I might have more up soon.

But I can't believe that I look pretty! It's exciting for me... normally I schlep around in jeans and t-shirts. My beautiful heels lay abandoned in the closet for the majority of the time.

Thanks, Raf. You're awesome.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Fun with Photoshop this morning. I downloaded a lot of actions, restored a lot of my old actions, and uploaded all of my pictures from my 1 gig CompactFlash.

Here's my favorite one of John. I might (jokingly) submit this to the Cinema Floor Art Contest. I'm a judge, so I can't win... but I think it's funny.

My camera was used for Max's Sexiest Indie Gamer competition photo shoot. So, now I have about 70 photos of Max. I decided to fool around with one of them. He looks really young, due to my liberal use of Gaussian Blur. Whoops.

I also have a lot of pictures from Big Bear. I took a picture of these children while I was waiting for my staff team to stop skiing. (People with healing tailbones should NOT go skiing.) I think the brothers were pretending to smoke a cigar. I had a difficult time getting this shot; thank goodness for my telephoto lens. Otherwise, I'd look very strange. Now, I just look stalker-ish.

Finally, here's a more abstract piece. Frozen branches. It's been so long since I've taken these photos, I don't remember which way is up. However, I like the saturated look of the sky. I tried to emulate Velvia film, with limited success.

I'm no Ed. But I miss taking photographs... I've stopped since I've gotten sick. I should start up again.

Every once in a while, I talk about my dog. He's a strange animal - a bit possessive, crazy, and schizophrenic. I blame that on the fact that he was hit by a car and abused by his former owners. Our family's relationship with him can be classified as love/hate, with an emphasis on love. You can't stay mad at him; he's too damn cute! He'll bite you, and then look REALLY sorry that he did such a horrible thing and continue being a good dog for the rest of the week. It took us nearly a year to decide to keep him permanently - he only recently got registered with the city of Houston because of our indecision. But we really like him a lot, despite his foibles.

He's also amazingly photogenic. Niles POSES for the camera. Let's see a comparison between him and my former doggie, Trixie. She was a sweetheart, but she was not very pretty.

Niles, in the most spectacular of his model stances:.

Trixie, in the best photograph we have of her. (And yes, that's a hose behind her head.):

Anyway, so I was talking about my dog the other day. And I received a barage of ridicule, merely for owning a dog with an unfortunate secondary pronounciation of the breed's name. By someone that supposedly thinks I'm a cool person. (Ahem).

Some of the following quotes are paraphrased from this twenty minute doggie-bashing:
"Shih Tzu? Don't you mean SHIT ZOO! What a shitty dog!"
"Yappy, disgusting creatures."
"What do they do? Spend all day eating their own shit?!"
::laughs for five minutes solid, sans breaking for breath.::
(to Kevin) "You have one too? How shitty!"

I didn't mention all of the intellectual banter, ie stupidity. Anyway, I told him to stop. And eventually he did because even the best joke gets old. And I still like the guy, despite his feigned attacks. But I bring it up because I rarely encounter such disdain for dogs. And it still bemuses me to imagine that much dislike for such an interesting animal.

There's no real reason for this post. I have more important thoughts floating around in my head, but I'm not inclined to share at the moment. I just wanted to mention this pet peeve to the world. (haha, pet... dog... so punny... err, shit..) If you want to get on my nerves, just follow suit. I suppose now's the time for people to start cracking all of the shih tzu jokes in their repertoire. I've opened myself up to it. However, remember -- I'm a firm fan of this breed. I won't forget.

Nope. You'll be in my bad books for a long time. Or I'll just sic Niles on you. That mauling should take care of all problems.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ajeet, you are a lifesaver. You remind me that people are spontaneous, fun, and intelligent - and this can all be had without ulterior motives, power struggles, or drama.

Phillipe's rocks, especially at 6am. A beef French dip and a glass of lemonade was the perfect remedy for my shitty night. Echo Park, downtown LA, Little Tokyo, and the Miracle Mile all in four hours? Sounds good to me.

Now that I'm fully emotionally and physically tuckered out, I'm going to sleep for a bit. My constant headache has returned; I thought it had disappeared, but I hoped too soon.

I can't believe it.

I really can't believe it.

I don't understand people. I'm tired. And I often wonder what's wrong with me.

Yeah, freshmen suck. It's a canned, trite answer. But they do. Even those that you thought didn't.

Amen, Alex.

I'm going to go frolick. Fuck it.