Sunday, October 31, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday Cat on Pumpkin

An old photo becomes a Halloween treat for you!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Getting Paid to Make a Halloween Costume

Every year, my workplace has a Halloween Costume contest. I never dress up, although sometimes I'll halfheartedly wear a clown face or a pirate head wrap with a fake earring. Then after the contest, I get inspired and start planning for next year.

It was the same this year, too. I was shaving this morning, and I had done nothing to prepare. As usual I started getting all kinds of amazing ideas for costumes. This time was a little different, though. I felt strong motivation to do something.

So the last-minute idea I settled on was to wear a homemade Albert Einstein mask, which would go along with my naturally unruly gray (or white) hair. All I had to do was find a suitable picture of Einstein's face, scale it to life size, perhaps crop off any background imagery, print it out, pop eye-holes into the paper, and tape it on my head. I would borrow a lab coat from work and tape a homemade name tag to it to complete the likeness. "I can do this!" I thought to myself.

So before I left for work, I started step one, which was to find a suitable picture. Unfortunately, there were no high resolution pictures of Einstein in which he faces the camera straight on. Also I came across unsettling and disrespectful caricatures of him. That made me depressed, so I abandoned the plan.

But then I had an even better plan -- I would dress as the president of my company. It was a brilliant idea, I thought.

All during my commute, I imagined the plan. And when I got to my desk, I got started right away.

First, I searched the network for pictures of the boss. I found a great picture of him that was taken with his family during a company picnic. I had to crop it and enlarge it greatly, and then rotate the face about 7 degrees. I did all this in The GIMP, an amazing multi-platform, Photoshop-like freeware program that I use to fix up some of my photographs.

Finally done, I printed out his perpetually grinning face, cut the eye-holes out and cut away the excess blank parts around the chin. I affixed the tape to the mask right at eye level. Then I borrowed the boss's lab coat, and taped the mask to the sides of my eyeglasses.

The time came for the contest, so I worked my way to the cafeteria. I had to go slow -- the mask was hard to see through because I made the eye-holes fairly small (about 1/4 inch).

I entered the cafeteria. I cannot describe the effect I had on everyone who turned to look at me!

Jaws dropped in amazement!

Eyes widened with surprise!

Huge smiles formed!

And then the boss walked in. Even he enjoyed the gag. He stood next to me so that we could be photographed together.

The judging commenced. We were vying for one of three prizes, Funniest, Most Scary, and Most Original. The others who dressed up looked great, so I hardly expected to win. After all, most of them put a lot of planning and effort into their costumes. Or they went out and bought an outfit.

Funniest was awarded to SL, whose costume was over-the-top, as usual. He was dressed as a Reno NV sheriff in silk, a la Reno 911.

Most Scary was awarded to JM, aka Moon Man, who wore an astronaut outfit and a plastic ass.

Then I started to worry that I might actually win. Worry? Yes, because most of the other folks aren't paid as well as me. They need the money. They invested a lot more in their costumes and deserved the prize more.

The emcee was looking at the person whom I thought had the most original outfit, but then he called my name. Actually I felt really bad and even considered giving the $100 gift certificate to the other person.

But the amazing thing is that I couldn't detect any hard feelings. And a few folks said that they were glad I won. They talked about how I even had the same mannerisms as the boss. That was mind boggling.

I had completed my costume within 30 minutes after arriving at work, and that includes waiting for the slow computer to log on, searching for the photograph, printing out the image and fetching the lab coat. I even paused to fetch someone a set of three balls that I use for juggling. I didn't have to buy anything -- all the supplies that I used were from work. And I even got paid to work on the costume.

It doesn't get any better than that.

I've wanted to show up as the boss for a few Halloweens. I have the hair for it, but I always imagined that I'd have to grow the beard (or make one).

I'm still glowing with amazement that I won. Wow!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Neurology Now Magazine

Neurology Now Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine from the American Academy of Neurology that's "distributed free to individuals with neurologic disorders, their families, and caregivers through their neurologists' offices. [Some patients] are also eligible to request free home delivery." Of course, you can read it online, too.

The AAN website offers lots of resources for patients who are dealing with everything from Absence of the Septum Pellucidum to Zellweger Syndrome.

Wednesday Weigh-In 20101028

I forgot to measure my waist this morning. So I just repeated last week's measurement.

Waist = 38.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday Earth

Sort of cheating this week I suppose, but in this evening shot, everything is under the shadow of Earth.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Toward a Dreamlike Reality

Lately I'm striving for a dreamlike reality. That probably makes you think I'm trying to avoid reality by spacing out into a daydream. But just the opposite is true.

About twenty-five years ago I became very interested in dreaming. My diary morphed into a dream journal as I recorded dream after dream, first thing in the morning. I would even read about dreaming1. And when I discovered lucid dreaming, I started to have lucid dreams.

If you've never had a lucid dream, let me describe it for you this way. An ordinary dream might be like watching a movie on a small laptop computer with the sound turned very low. Your body is somewhat numb from too much inactivity. A lucid dream is like experiencing a movie in a theater with surround sound that you can feel, and seats that move so that it actually feels like you're flying. You become aware that you're dreaming, and then every aspect of the dream becomes extremely vivid. In some cases, you can actually change the dream, control it.

My recent love affair with the books of Lynn Andrews2 brought back fond memories of my old lucid dream experiences3. I'm longing to have those lucid dreams again. But then it occurred to me that it would be nearly as nice to experience lucid reality. Normally I spend my entire day just functioning, without paying any attention to my activity. So now I'm trying to pretend that I'm in a dream.

Just before you become lucid in a dream, you question reality. Sometimes an incongruous situation might make you think, "Wait, why am I playing basketball with a pineapple that has an animated talking clown face carved into its side? Is this a dream?" And then it becomes apparent.

Right now I appear to be typing a blog post about lucid dreaming and lucid living. That seems reasonable, I guess. I have my headphones on -- I'm listening to a Pandora station ("I Caught Myself," by Paramore). But I'm inspecting my room when I pause to gather my thoughts, acutely aware of my surroundings, looking for something that doesn't belong. Would it be possible to pierce the facade of this reality and reveal the true existence behind it?

I know now that certain foods promote brain fog -- mostly wheat. But even large, hi-carb gluten-free meals can sedate me. Would fasting help me to become lucid in this reality?

The crisp autumn conditions we have now in Northeast USA are perfect for this exercise -- each colorful leaf vies for attention against a perfect blue sky. An exercise in mindfulness. Or is Autumn just the sort of incongruity one needs to prove that we're in a dream?

1 Especially "Creative Dreaming," by Patricia Garfield and "Exploring the World of Lucid Dreaming," by Stephen Laberge.

2 Namely The Woman of Wyrrd: The Arousal of the Inner Fire and Shakkai: Women of the Sacred Garden

3 I do wonder why Lynn is not able to become lucid in her dreams of past and future lives. Maybe she doesn't dream about her situations; maybe she inhabits her past or future selves.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20101020

Still under 165lb. The extra waist size is due to inflammation from the bowl of ice cream I had last night.

Waist = 38.5"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday Slats

Just some effects from our louver closet doors.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20101013

Trying to stay under 165lbs...

Waist = 38.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday Pets

I haven't photographed the pets in a while. Here's the dog and one of our cats basking. These mortal enemies have one thing in common -- a love of the Sun.

Our dog had to have a toe removed because of a cancer growth.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In 20101006

Again, Wednesday seems to have arrived too quickly. Whenever it seems to me that time is moving quickly, I wonder if I'm fully conscious. I even wonder if I'm having seizures. You'd think there would be some online screening test for this, but I didn't find anything. Most of what I found online pertain to learning about seizure disorder after getting diagnosed with one and with managing it.

Waist = 38.0"
Height = 5' 9"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Tanita Scale with Body Fat monitor
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dave Barry on Dogs

The last thing you want is a smart dog. ... You want a dog that considers you brilliant because of all the amazing things you can do, such as open a door; a dog that worships you as a treat-dispensing god; a dog that, when you have an intestinal flu and reek like a Hong Kong dumpster because you have not showered or changed pajamas or brushed your teeth in four days, and you are crouched in the bathroom spewing random fluids and semi-solids from every orifice you possess, your dog is right there next to you, wagging its tail and licking you and just generally doing everything it can to communicate the message: "Wow! You have never smelled more interesting!"
From I'll Mature When I'm Dead : Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Shadow Shot Sunday "New" Car

I had a request for a picture of the new car I had written about on someone else's blog. Well, here it is, along with its shadow. Sorry about the glare.

If you look closely, the plate reads, "F = M A". Obviously, I tinkered with the license plate marker a bit. That equation is a fundamental law of physics: Force equals Mass times Acceleration. I like the bit about acceleration. Anyway, I'm pretty sure you can't get an equal sign from the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

SDP: Try Out Sweet Home 3D

Sweet Home 3D is an interior design Java application for quickly choosing and placing furniture on a house 2D plan drawn by the end-user, with a 3D preview.
And it's free. The screenshots look impressive. It looks like a handy application for layouts of home furnishings. Right now, I use my employer-supplied AutoCAD just to get a bird's eye view of the floor plan.