Flickr Fail

This is a short post to ask my Flickr followers and friends if they can sign into Flickr today? I’ve been trying all morning but I get the same error over and over: “Sorry, there was an error. Please sign in again with the same account or a different one.” I sign in through Google Plus and have tried using both the Chrome and Explorer browsers.

I’ve had login issues in the past with Flickr, but they’ve never lasted this long. Anyone else having problems this morning?  

Getty-ing There

I wasn’t going to write a blog post today, but after getting back from my weekly appointment with crazy massage lady Sandy (this week we discussed recipes, mostly, and home decorating, and lots of complaints about her husband) I decided to finally check out the links Getty Images has been sending me the past few months, detailing the changes they’ve made to their Flickr Contributor program.

I may have mentioned here before that I was accepted into the program a little over a year ago. My photos are here. When I was first invited to become a contributor, I checked the website constantly to see if I had any sales, but I never did, so eventually I forgot about it. But a few months ago Getty ended their partnership with Flickr, and started emailing contributors to let them know how they were changing our connections to their site. I kept getting the emails while I was at work and unable to really check into it, but about an hour ago I remembered about the messages and clicked on over to my Getty Contributor page to see what was up. Well lo and behold – I actually had money in my account. Turns out that just a few weeks ago I sold a copy of one of my photos, and on April 25th I’m getting $155.00 deposited into my PayPal account – it feels like free money! The photo Getty sold was this one.

Also, I no longer have to wait until Getty contacts me asking for a certain photo they saw on Flickr that they liked – I can just upload photos directly to my account and someone from Getty will review it and decide whether or not to take it. This is much easier, except that I have to fill out a model release for every single photo that has a human in it, which is a pain. But I’m going to upload some non-human stuff as soon as possible and get model releases from friends I’ve photographed so I can upload more portraits and jumping shots to my contributor page.

So, I’ve officially made my first sale. And I didn’t even know it.

Crazy Country Massage

In spite of my arm troubles, I have to type up a little synopsis of my experience getting a massage tonight. It’s not what you think, if your mind went into the gutter right away – but it is really bizarre, in a fun sort of way. Fun, if you are accustomed to this particular sort of Southern old lady I’m about to describe. For those of you not from the South, this woman might not be familiar to you, and furthermore, she might horrify you. I apologize if that is the case. My Southern readers will recognize this type of character right away. But I should warn you there is lots of hunting talk, and the talk gets weird – it’s something I’m totally used to even though I’d never shoot an animal unless it was about to kill me, which would only happen anyway if a bear crashed through the back windows of my house because I sure ain’t venturing out into nature to encounter any. Moving on.

Photo Apr 08, 7 32 57 PM

Now, when one thinks massage, one probably does not think of a strip center like this – at least, not massage of the therapeutic sort. But as it turns out, my dog groomer was housed in this little countrified shopping area right up the street from my house for years, so I was familiar with the woman’s massage office when Google pulled her up as being in my area – I just never thought of trying her out before. Had I not been frequenting this little place for years, I’m sure I would have taken one look at the place and kept driving, but I was already immune to its run-down “charm,” and didn’t really think twice about heading on in. This little center is actually one of the oldest in the area, sitting right across the street from a well-known neighborhood barber shop in a historic old home; everything has grown up around it like crazy, but it has always looked basically the same.

Photo Apr 08, 7 32 04 PM
The “payment slot” is always a nice touch.

Just based on the door alone, I was not at all surprised when “Sandy” explained to me later that she knew NOTHING about technology. You don’t say? I can’t even remember the last time I saw those peel-and-stick letters put to such good use on an office door. Good times.

Speaking of Sandy, she was approximately 68 years old, tiny, and aside from the entirely white ensemble of long-sleeved turtleneck, stretch pants, and orthopedic shoes, she was a dead ringer for Flo, the sassy diner waitress from the 80′s sitcom Alice.

flo.
OK, so she also had a little less hair.

The massage itself was pretty good, and she worked a lot of the kinks out of my bum arm. But the conversation was the real stand-out here – and yes, I do mean conversation. Usually I fall to sleep during a massage, but although Sandy had the requisite tinkly, wind-chime-y music playing in the background, I could barely hear it over all her talking. Sandy is one of those people who manages to tell you loads of personal details about herself during the course of a conversation (she’s been married twice, her first husband died of cancer, she’s been in business over 30 years, she knows how to shoot both rifles and handguns and has a concealed carry license, etc. etc.) but at the end of it knows nothing more about you than your name. Well in this case, she knew my name and how much my right arm hurt, but why it was hurting (spending too much time on the computer) we never got around to discussing.

Photo Apr 08, 6 10 40 PM
Oh, and she also owns rental properties. LOTS of rental properties. Owning rental properties is a LOT of WORK, y’all. Sandy can tell you all about it.

So here I am, lying on a table getting my knots ironed out, tinkly music playing in the background, and for a good twenty minutes Sandy is describing to me, in detail, not only how many times she’s killed a deer, but exactly HOW she kills them - where she shoots them, how far away she is from them when she shoots them, etc. That set up a nice segue into what she described as a “typical old person afternoon” - shooting squirrels off the back porch with a BB gun, then heading to McDonald’s for some ice cream. Yep. That was how my massage therapist described the ideal life of a Typical Old Person. Then there was this:

Sandy: “This morning I told my grandkids how I’d shot three squirrels in the backyard, and they said they wanted to eat ‘em fried, just like they do on Duck Dynasty. So guess what I did?”

Me: “Um, you fried them…?”

Sandy: “Not yet, but I skinned ‘em! Then I put ‘em in the deep freeze, so the next time my grandkids come over they can have fried squirrel.”

Me: “So, where do you live again?” (Answer: in my neighborhood)

Photo Apr 08, 6 10 11 PM
Abandon hope, all squirrels who enter here

When I told my husband where I was going for a massage, he immediately joked that the place probably got mistaken a lot for a massage PARLOR by the all the old country boys in the area, which surprised me because the thought had never entered my mind. But as it turns out, Sandy has lots of stories about men calling for appointments asking for ‘special services,’ as she called them. She even told me that when she first moved her business into our area she was denied a license because the assumption was that she was opening a house of ill-repute. For her first few years, she was only allowed to have female clients, and she was not allowed to operate after 5 PM (the assumption being, I guess, that most people looking for happy endings would do so after-hours. As if). And keep in mind, this was back in the NINETIES. Ah, the South. So much fried squirrel. So little massage.

Photo Apr 08, 6 10 31 PM
I love it that you can get your feet massaged for $20. And I’m assuming this sign doesn’t actually mean you can get five and a half hours of massage in one session. Because – no. I refuse to reflect on that further. 

But after all the crazy-talk, my arm did feel better (although typing this post up has caused it to flare up again – damn), and my wallet was only $50 lighter, so I went ahead and made an appointment to go back next week. The more I reflect on the experience, the more I think she might really be crazy, and I’m now a little suspicious about the fact that the client leaving the massage room right before me was a dude (she’s not REALLY doling out happy endings, is she?). Plus, her phone was ringing constantly the whole time (the rental properties, don’t ya know). But as far as the massage went, she was appropriate and respectful and she did seem to know what she was doing, so for now I’m going to surmise she’s just a bit nuts. If nothing else, she’s certainly an experience. We’ll see how long I can tolerate it.

Job Lurch

A few things to share:

#1 – I am attending a job fair this weekend and one later in the month. Now’s the time when local school districts bring the whole dog and pony show to town, so this year I’m gonna suit up and show up. A lot has changed since last year at this time, when I was so certain I’d send out one or two resumes, get two phone calls, go on at least one interview, and land a job in a week flat. That’s how it’s always worked for me, but it sure didn’t proceed along that path last spring, when I only got one phone call after sending out about 15 resumes and did not get the job I interviewed for. I never would have dreamed of attending a job fair last spring; I thought my years of experience over-qualified me for such a thing. But I’ve got no such illusions this year; in fact, my years of experience may be working against me as I earn a pretty respectable salary as a teacher, and districts may be looking to hire people fresh out of college to save money. I don’t know. I’ve already faxed out about five resumes, but unlike last year, I didn’t place too much hope on any of them, and haven’t been particularly surprised or disappointed by not getting any callbacks on them. It is what it is, and for whatever reason (my guess is the demand now is much greater than the supply) it’s going to be slow process. Moving on.

#2 – in light of the possibility that even by the end of the year I may not have anything lined up, and that I still intend to resign my post here as a counselor with or without a job lined up for the coming fall, I need to hold off on more photography purchases for now. So, my macro lens won’t be arriving anytime soon. But that’s fine. I just know that if I tell myself I can come back in the fall temporarily while I continue to look for other work, I’ll be stuck here another school year before I know it. And I really do not want that to happen here again. If they offer me a teaching job, great, but otherwise I really need to quit and move on. We can handle it financially, but I still feel the need to curb my spending until I know for sure what I’m going to be doing come fall and where I’ll be working.

#3 – my right arm hurts. A lot. All the way from my shoulder blade down into my fingers. That’s what I get for spending so much time on my computer. I finally broke down and called some massage therapists today, and am going in to see someone this evening. I used to get massages every two weeks, but quit doing it years ago, mostly because it got to be an inconvenience to deal with – plus my therapist’s prices kept going up and she got really expensive. I managed to find a new person literally ten minutes from my house, and she charges half what my previous therapist did, so I’m glad for that. I am going to my first session tonight, and may need to slow down on computer use and typing for the time being until the pain is less constant. I’m even finding it hard to write lately, it’s gotten so bad. Here’s hoping the massage helps.

All this to say that blog posts may slow down, either due to having no new pictures to share or my arm hurting too much to type. While I still want to get out soon with my new telephoto lens and take shots to share, these job fairs are going to take up my weekends (April is unofficial Job Fair Month in the world of public education), and my arm is slowing down the editing and typing process. I’m sure I’ll keep limping along now and then, but forgive me if things slow down a bit this month. I should be back to it soon.

This Might Be The Most Boring Blog Post Ever

In spite of the predicted thunderstorms, there was no rain to be seen on Saturday; unfortunately by the time I realized I could have taken pictures I was already out shopping and had left the camera at home. So I didn’t get any pictures taken, but I did manage to do some damage to my checkbook.

Photo Apr 05, 11 16 23 AM
Nope, no rain here. This is where I had lunch, by the way.

I actually bought some pretty cool stuff while out and about, and I did try to take photos of some of my new clothes when I got home, but the pics weren’t in the least bit interesting to me, so I didn’t bother to process them. I was shooting in a rush as the sky was getting stormy by the time I got home around 3 PM, plus I tried to shoot in our little brick atrium which turned out to look too cramped and, in spite of using my ExpoDisc, terribly orange. I did process one jump shot before deciding to give up, so I’ll share that here, but even it isn’t all that thrilling:

shoptake2_Snapseed

I’m wearing a dress I bought while out that afternoon; it was from one of those little boutique stores that carries odd designers you’ve never heard of and would never find anywhere else – mostly overpriced shiny stuff in strange prints and sheer fabrics with polyester linings. The sort of clothing store where broomstick skirts are always in style. But never let it be said that there is a clothing store in the universe in which I cannot find an outfit. This is actually a skirt and top ensemble, and the material is kinda cool and parachute-y and light, plus there’s this dip-dye effect to the skirt so it fades from khaki into a dark olive green.

I also hit up a boutique at the opposite end of the price spectrum and scored a load of cheap, loose-fitting t-shirts and some kelly green jeans, which I’d been desiring since seeing a pair over on Pinterest. I took pics of a pretty cool green-jeans-and-royal-blue-shirt outfit I put together, but was too bored with the shots to process them.

Photo Apr 05, 12 35 27 PM
Enjoy instead this picture of t-shirts.

While hitting up a handcrafted jewelry store next door to Cheap T-Shirt Central, I spied this clever idea for a birdcage decoration, and thought I’d share it with all of my blog readers who might have spare birdcages and strings of lightbulbs sitting around the house, waiting for this to happen:

Photo Apr 05, 12 18 34 PM
I totally know people who would do this.

I may have mentioned this before, but the salon where I get my nails done every two weeks is in a modern town square-like mixed-use facility that includes our city hall and a large Marriott hotel. The grounds in front of city hall hosts all kinds of events on weekends, including movie nights, a yearly American Idol-like singing competition, and Saturday gatherings and festivals. The hotel stays busy with different events which are held in the conference rooms – proms, conferences, and dance/cheer competitions are always going on, and the whole area overall is usually bustling with activity. The area also has a large Indian population, and it is not unusual to at all to see women in colorful saris and men in kurtas around the hotel; on this particular Saturday I managed to capture the tail end (no pun intended) of a baraat as it ended in front of the hotel’s entrance to the conference halls where a wedding was about to begin, which was pretty awesome (as usual, I forgot to hold my phone in landscape position, so the proportions of the video are wonky):

As that was going at the hotel, literally right across from it in front of city hall, this was happening:

Photo Apr 05, 1 06 46 PM

Yep – car show. Complete with blasted-out country-western music and roaring Corvette engines. Only in Texas?

Oh, and a friend of mine has been asking me to take a photo of my hair to see how much it had grown, so I finally got that done. Here you go:

shoptake1_Snapseed

Happy Spending

I noticed as I was wandering around the past few days with my new telephoto lens that I was taking a lot of macro shots, or at least attempting them, which got me thinking: perhaps a macro lens is another purchase I need to make. Need might not be the best word to use, but I’m going to go with it for now, because obviously it’s a type of photography I’m interested in as I was so drawn to taking those photos with my new lens, and hey, I’ve come this far, so why not keep throwing my money down the photography hobby-drain?

I could keep attempting to take macros with the telephoto, or give my 50mm a go now and again, but they are not ideal for such photography and are incredibly persnickety to use. Plus, I can’t get too close to a subject with them because they simply cannot focus, so I lose a lot of shots I’d like to take and have to settle for less than stellar results. Believe it or not, there’s a LOT closer I could be getting to some of these subjects if I had a lens that could focus at such a close distance – the ones I have simply turn to mush and can’t find anything to latch onto until I back up or get incredibly lucky. So today I hopped on the information superhighway and researched what might be a good macro lens for me to try out.

zoom6_Snapseed
Pixlr’ed to disguise poor focus and lighting. Also I love it that my blog readers know what it means to be “Pixlr’ed.”

Now, I could go with something low-end like one of Canon’s S-series lenses that doesn’t work on a full-frame body, but my level of satisfaction with a cheaper build-quality lens isn’t going to take me very far. And with the few shots I’ve managed to pull off using the lenses I have, I can tell I’d get a lot of use out of a higher-quality version, so I’d at least like a mid-level range macro lens to start if I’m not willing to shell out for L-series glass right off the bat (which, of course, starts around a grand as usual). After all, neither my 50mm nor my 85mm are L-series but I am happy with them for now, and when I exchanged my S-series 50mm for the mid-range version I definitely saw improvement.

So, what to buy: I’ve landed on the Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens for now. There’s a pricier L-series version, but as you can see there’s a big jump in cost, and I can get the mid-level model for about $450 off eBay if I play my cards right. Obviously I am not making this purchase right away, as I just spent a lot on the telephoto lens, but this one is definitely on my radar now, and I bet I get my hands on one sooner rather than later. I may suck it up and sell some stuff on eBay to help pay for it, when I get some time to do that.

Lord knows what I’ll decide I need next. I’m usually happy plodding along with what I have, but I guess adding to my boredom with taking self-portraits and jump shots comes the desire for more gear as I take different types of pictures. I’m happy to purchase higher-quality stuff at this point too, that can add to my growing collection of gear. I’m getting quite a nice little arsenal built up, so overall I don’t mind having a few less pair of Uggs as a tradeoff (plus it’s warming up here, so I’m not wearing my Uggs as much now).

zoom5_Snapseed

What will I decide I need next? Probably a new camera body! The idea of buying a Mark III hasn’t left my head, and sometime soon Canon should be introducing a IV or some other upgrade that drops the price lower on the III (and by “lower,” I  mean, still quite high) and makes it the right time to buy. Going from a cropped sensor to a full-frame would involve a learning curve, for sure, but it’s my next logical step and I’m sure I’d love the results (don’t ask me for specifics on what exactly a ‘full-frame’ camera is vs. a ‘cropped’ one, because aside from cost I barely know myself. Except that math in involved). Plus, all the lenses I currently own will work with full-frame cameras, so yay to paying a little more for quality – buying a new camera body won’t suddenly deplete my gear collection! Hear me justifying the purchase already? But seriously, it’s not gonna happen soon. I’ve got a lot to learn with all the new equipment I’ve acquired, and I really do want to wait until a newer version comes out and the price goes down. $3400 for a camera is a huge chunk of change, and I’m not up for it right now – but it does make $450 for a new lens look downright reasonable in comparison. :)

zoom7_Snapseed
This is a wall. You’re welcome.

(No) Photo Opportunity

I haven’t taken any photos since my March 17th photoshoot, but that’s OK as I still have a few from that shoot I’d like to process. Work has been busy since it’s fall registration time and I’ve got loads of students and parents with questions about course selection, so it’s been a week of work all day, then come home and chill out until getting ready to do it again tomorrow. It happens. My father in law has also been ill for two weeks now; he appears to be on the mend but it is slow going, so a lot of free time has been occupied helping my husband out with that. So, as much as I’d like to be taking new photos, I’m also not upset over being too busy lately doing other things to take them. I’m still not overly interested in taking more self-portraits anyway, so when I do get back to shooting, it’ll probably be other faces you see as a result. However…

I had to pop in to share that I just broke down and bought the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4 L USM, a lens I’ve been eyeing for awhile. I’m so excited I’d do a little happy dance if I weren’t still at the office. I didn’t buy it from Amazon this time; I decided to risk buying one used through eBay to get a better price ($550). As I move forward with my photography purchases, there’s just no way I’m going to be able to maintain my never-buy-anything-used attitude and get the best deal, and I’ve generally had good luck with eBay in the past (although I rarely buy anything pricey through the site; I usually limit my purchases to vintage  clothing), so I figured this was a good time to try. My husband is a musician, and he always searches eBay auctions for used deals when trying out some new piece of equipment, and I trust his judgment if nothing else, so we’ll see how this one turns out.

Anyway, the lens should come in early next week, and I am sure I’ll rip into it right away and test out some shots to share here, but I’ve never used a telephoto lens like this before so I’m not going to have a clue what I’m doing at first. Most likely this will frustrate the hell out of me, but I think this is a nice addition to my growing gear collection. Speaking of which, it’s also time for me to buy a bigger bag for all my lenses and gadgets, as the one I currently have no longer holds everything I want to cart around. Sheesh! It never ends.

Anyway, stay tuned, and if I don’t pop in again, happy weekend to all!

Medical Reserve

I have to take back what I said yesterday about the anti-inflammatory medication I was on making me less dopey – I took my evening dose around 7:00 PM Thursday night and almost immediately felt ill. It seemed like every time I took a dose, the side effects got worse – stomach cramps, body aches, lethargy, mind fog – it was awful. I had to keep sipping on soup to control the nausea and had a hard time getting to sleep due to the stomach upset and body aches – but then once I got to sleep, I slept like a zombie. My alarm went off at 5:30 AM and it was as if I’d never gone to sleep; I could barely keep my eyes open and I still felt a mess, so I skipped the morning’s dose with the intention of calling the doctor as soon as his office opened. By the time I got to work I knew I was still no good to anyone being there; fortunately the principal took one look at me, realized the same thing, and told me it was fine for me to go back home and get my health issue straightened out. As much as I bitch about work, that is one nice thing about that place – they keep no track of absences and never dock people for being out sick. It’s a real luxury.

So, the doc called me in a new medication and I am happy to report that while I still feel a little queasy on it, the horrible reaction I was having to the other one is no more. It’s also a lower dosage – 800 mg a day instead of the 1500 mg I was on before. My back actually feels better, but like a good little patient I want to take the complete course of medications as prescribed to me (I always do). I have never in my life had a bad reaction to a medication, so this is all new to me, but I was seriously miserable on that other stuff and will never take it again.

As far as pics and plans for them over the weekend, I have none. I am still feeling wrung out from all the problems I had with the medications and my back this week, so my general plan is to lay about and rest. We’ll see if anything else occurs. Aside from online shopping due to boredom, actually – I am sad to report than in all my stuck-at-homeness of the past three days, I managed to purchase yet another pair of Uggs (banana yellow ones – don’t judge) AND a $90 tee-shirt from Neiman Marcus (it’s really long, and it’s sleeveless…those two things are really hard to find in a t-shirt. Honest). I need to get myself straightened out and back to work before I end up with a whole new, overpriced wardrobe.

Up next week: my 14th wedding anniversary (for which we’ll do nothing, as is our way – not a complaint as I am not into forced celebrations; truth be told I didn’t even want a wedding, that was my husband’s doing) and then the following week is Spring Break. I am really itching for a week off, in spite of the more or less week off I had this time around. Hopefully I’ll be healthy for it this time around.

Jump Sum

Tuesday evening, after taking some jump and levitation-style shots, my lower back was bothering me, as it often does. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t get what I came to think of as a little “twinge” in my  lower back, on the left-hand side, after every set of leaps I executed for photos. Often when doing yoga, that lower-left side would feel tighter than the right side too, and somewhat tender – but honestly, this had been going on for so long I’d come to accept it as just the way it was. I even felt the yoga was helping it some, and that the twinges after leaping weren’t as bad as they used to be.

All that may be true, but this time, by the next morning, the twinge had gotten worse instead of better. By the time I got to work in the morning, I had to peel my fingers off the steering wheel because I’d unknowingly been gripping it so hard due to the pain; by the time I got into the building, I’d knew I’d have to go see a doctor. By the time I got to the waiting room at 10:45 I was actually crying. Not huge sobs or anything, just little tears slipping out the corners of my eyes due to the stress and frustration of trying to ignore the pain for so many hours.

I’ve had kidney stones in the past, and quite honestly I was worried that was what I was experiencing again. The pain was that nagging and throbbing and difficult to ignore, and there was literally no position into which I could sit or stand and feel comfortable. By the time the doc entered the room I was pacing and occasionally texting my friends messages like OMG I CAN’T STOP CRYING WTF?? and I HOPE THIS ISN’T MY KIDNEYS AGAIN SHOOT ME NOW. Fortunately, the doctor did not think it was a kidney infection or stones (and the one difference I’d already noticed between this pain and my previous kidney stone pain was that I could actually stand up this time, whereas with the stones I could only walk while stooped over), but he did diagnose me with sacroilitis, in other words, inflammation in the joint where the pelvis meets the lower spine. He prescribed me anti-inflammatories and sent me on my way, and I decided to call it a day and go home. The meds helped, but also conked me out, so I’m going to stay home again Thursday to try and adjust to them better. I have to take the NSAIDs for 7 days, and the last time I was given such a medication, I found after a day or two they quit zonking me out and I could function.

Truth is, whatever initial injury caused this inflammation probably happened a damn long time ago – as I already mentioned, I’ve had this pain in my lower back for months if not a year or more. I already have some issues due to sciatica, so I always considered this part of that issue – and I do think the two are related somewhat. I always just stretched a bit, took some Aleve, and waited for it to get better; this was the time it finally got worse.

So all in all, this is turning out to be one hell of a short work week. Worked Monday, off Tuesday due to an ice storm, then back to work for two and half hours and now home again until Friday. I could do without the pain, or the stomach upset this medication causes me – but I got some damn nice pictures out of Tuesday’s shoot anyway. I will share more of them tomorrow, I promise – and in the future, I think I am going to have to tend to this sciatica on a more regular basis than I have been the past few years, The yoga is good, but I probably could stand to get regular maintenance like acupuncture or massage to keep things loose.

More pics tomorrow! Resting for now.