A Year in Pictures – Lamps at Kiyomizudera

Lamps at Kiyomizudera
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Most of our time at Kiyomizudera was spent wandering around outside, but there were portions of the visit where we passed through some of the buildings. I quite liked the lamps along this gallery — even if I have no idea where in the temple we were when I took the photo.

So, Okinawa

I made reference to this in my previous post; I’d forgotten that I hadn’t actually said anything about it before now.

I’m going to Okinawa in July. Every few years, on an irregular schedule, Shihan and various other people put together an intensive karate and kobudo seminar, bringing in people from a variety of countries (Germany, Spain, Denmark, the U.S.) for about a week in Naha and on Kori Island. It will be my first time going; the last one was five years ago, and I was much too low-ranking to attend. Sometimes there’s a tournament, but apparently Shihan got tired of waiting for other parties to get their act together, so this time it’s a seminar only.

I made the decision to go before I knew I was having ankle problems; I paid the fee before I got told I was going to need surgery. But honesty compels me to admit that before I went to the doctor, I told Kyle that I didn’t care what the prognosis was, I was going to Okinawa anyway. Because it’s bad enough to have to do this again: I will be damned if I let it take away my chance to experience that kind of intensive training. I’m going to be sweating to death for 4-6 hours a day in an un-air-conditioned budokan, and that isn’t exactly a thing to look forward to — but I am.

And then I’ll come home and have surgery and not go to karate for a month or more. But before then, I’ll work my butt off.

A Year in Pictures – Angel at the Door

Angel at the Door
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The Église Saint-Jean-de-Montmartre in Paris is decorated in a very unusual style — elements of Art Nouveau, and (as you can see) a mosaic surface that almost looks like beads. While I’m a big fan of Gothic architecture and other standard church designs, it’s also nice to encounter one that breaks the mold in attractive ways.

I believe the abbreviation I’m looking for is FML

Same song, second verse. A little bit louder, a little bit more JESUS H CHRIST THIS ISN’T FUNNY ANY MORE.

Which is to say, I will be having ankle surgery.

Again.

Same ligament as before . . .

. . . just on the other foot.

Listen up, kids: sprain your ankles too often as a youth, and this will be your reward before you’re anywhere near your dotage. An orthopedist wiggling your foot around and saying “Wow!,” followed immediately by “Sorry, that’s not what you want to hear your doctor say, is it?” An unstable ankle joint that’s causing microabrasions and is already building up a bone spur, so let’s get this surgery done soon, shall we, before we’ve got ourselves a lovely case of arthritis? Oh and it’s so helpful that you still have the boot from the last round. We can just stick you right back in it. Not your first rodeo, here’s your forms, you know how this goes, and hey you’ve even got some blog posts to remind you of the unpleasant things in your future. Isn’t this great.

The surgery isn’t scheduled yet, but it will be some time between the very end of July and mid-September. Putting it off that long probably isn’t the most intelligent thing I’ve ever done, but god dammit I am going to Okinawa. The last time this karate seminar happened was five years ago; I don’t know when it will happen again. And I am not letting my stupid fucking ankles keep me from it.

A Year in Pictures – Ashmolean Coins

Ashmolean Coins
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Happy Tax Day to my U.S. readers. :-P

Photographing museum exhibits is hard. The light is often low, or else glares off the glass; the glass itself is generally smudged, scratched, or both. I’ve started getting better at it, though, and this shot is possibly my finest museum photograph ever. I’ve mentioned before that I clean up my photos in Lightroom, right? Well, this one is almost completely untouched. I cropped a bit of the left edge and upped the clarity by a tick, and that’s it. Sometimes the picture just comes out right on the first try.

world’s worst ad

I play solitaire a lot on my tablet, and there’s a banner add that has been popping up on it lately which is, I think, the worst ad I’ve ever seen.

It flashes between a white bar with black text and a black bar with white text. And I do mean flashes — very nearly at the level of “isn’t there something about this kind of stimulus causing epileptic seizures?” It is phenomenally distracting. Good ad, right? Nope — because it is so. bloody. annoying. that I might light my hair on fire before voluntarily tapping it. (Nor is it in a location where I’m likely to tap it by accident.) And if you’re thinking that even annoyance-publicity is still publicity, and they’re at least getting their product into my head . . .

. . . the text of the banner is “(1) Free Game.”

That’s it. No brand name. No hint of what type of game it is. No image I might recognize if I see it again later in a less annoying context. Just a seizure-inducing, content-less banner which is so obnoxious, it’s giving me a strong inclination to stop playing solitaire entirely, so I’ll never have to see it again. Which is about as profound of an advertising failure as I can imagine.

What were they thinking?

A Year in Pictures – Squirrel in Action

Squirrel in Action
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This is another lucky shot: the squirrel happened to stay still long enough for me to catch him in this great pose. Every time I look at him, I hear Eddie Izzard in my head, going on about the difference between “Executive Transvestite” and “Action Transvestite.” This, my friends, is distinctly an Action Squirrel. :-)

sound effect

There’s a particular . . . sound effect? I don’t even know if that’s the right word to apply. It’s a quality sometimes heard in the background beat of techno songs. I have a hard time describing it in words (and can’t think of any examples to link to, since I hate the songs that do this and therefore always turn them off) — it’s kind of this muffled effect at the end of the beat that then slides into the sharp beginning of the next one — but the easiest way for me to summarize it is, it makes me feel like I’m being punched in the eardrums. Repeatedly. Ad nauseam.

I don’t suppose anybody a) knows what I’m talking about and b) can tell me whether it has a specific name?

So there’s this artist named Todd Lockwood . . .

. . . and he does bee-yoo-ti-ful book covers:

This one was revealed on Tor.com yesterday; I would have posted about it sooner, but I spent pretty much all of yesterday out of the house. Check out that link if you’d like to see commentary from Irene Gallo (art director at Tor, i.e. the person who makes book covers happen), Todd, and myself.

It’s, um. Purty. Real purty. *^_^* Don’t you agree?

A Year in Pictures – Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain
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Getting a good shot of Trevi Fountain is exceedingly difficult. You wouldn’t know it to look at this shot, but the place was mobbed with approximately eighty billion people that day. To get this photo, I had to worm my way to the direct center of the place and up to the very edge of the fountain itself, then lean back as far as I could to take the widest shot possible. It paid off, though — and I must say that Trevi is one of those sights I found to be exactly as splendid as I had hoped.