Some Fraction of 365


So at the beginning of the year, I started the 365project, in which you take a picture every day for a year.

I did not, in fact, take a picture every day for a year.

Over the course of 2010, I took over 300 photos, hitting somewhere around the 85 percent completion mark. Not bad, but not one photo every day either. Still, I’m proud to have made it the entire year without quitting, even if I did miss a day here and there.

Apart from the discipline of taking a picture every day, my main goal for the project was to work on my composition.  I’m lousy at just about every part of photography except aiming the camera, and I’m only decent at that. So I limited myself, primarily to taking pictures with my iPhone, which has little to work with except composition. In retrospect, I’m not sure how I did. There are some good photos at the end of the year, but I’m not sure that there are any more or any better photos than at the beginning.

The one thing that I did do, arguably, is get worse. By the end of the year, I was much more likely to rely on the battery of photo-modification apps I have loaded on my iPhone. In other words, I got use to cheating. And I don’t know how much that helped or hurt.

In my defense, by the end of the year, I was exhausted. I’d taken a lot of pictures, and felt like I was running out of ideas.  So that probably didn’t help the pictures near the end of the year either.

Which leaves me with the question of what I do now. I could declare my 365 days over, and quit. I could keep going until my 365project has 365 pictures, and then quit. Or, I believe, I could keep going indefinitely, and just continue to take a picture every day, and just let the 365 represent that it’s something I do every day.

Right now, I’m committing to the middle option. I’m going to continue the project into next year, taking photos until I reach that 365 mark, and my completion stat reads 100%.

After that, who knows?

Here are some highlights of my participation during 2010:

 

Wordle


I’ve been having so much fun with these tweet-cloud and status-summary and whatever end-of-the-year things that I’ve gotten a bit carried away. This cloud from Wordle isn’t even just for this year, and it’s not the top words from the blog, it just picks words from the blog and weights them by usage. That said, it sure is pretty.

With This Ring …


Once upon a time …

And my response was something like: Absolutely, 100%, without any reservation, most definitely, YES.

So after the kissing and hugging, he showed me my ring and my response was, “Wait, that’s not my ring!” I had already seen what I though were to be my engagement rings because I was there to pick them out. So when I looked in the box and those two weren’t there, I was so confused and panicked thinking something had happened to my rings. What I didn’t know was that David had purchased my engagement ring already and the other two I picked out were just accent rings if I chose to wear it that way!!! It took him a while to convince me that I got to keep the one he was giving me right then.

— Susanna, 20 January 2009

Where to start? Once upon a time, a man bought some rings as a declaration of his love for a woman. She put them on as a declaration of her love for him, and as a sign of their commitment to each other.

Unfortunately, the fairy tale sort of fell apart there. The rings were taken off again, and confined to drawers and boxes and bags and ultimately forgotten and ignored.

But, eventually, something must be done with them. And that’s where the problem arises.

Among my faults, I am a sentimental man. And I am, at this point, quite OK with the fact that the rings are not being used for their original intended purpose. But it’s still difficult figuring out how to end the story. The ending should be fitting of the beginning. The rings were a good thing. I was proud of them. She was happy with them. We were excited about them. And they were not intended to be a temporary thing. So the idea of having to work to sell them was a very unappealing possibility. The idea of pawning them would be to officially seal that the would-be fairy tale had ended dismally and tragically.

And then I heard about With This Ring: “So you’ve come to this site and your wondering what we’re all about? Maybe you’ve heard that we’re about giving away our wedding rings so that others may live. Maybe you’ve heard that we’re about giving clean water to the children of Africa by providing water wells that will last for years to come.”

I’ll admit, I’m a wimp. I don’t know that I’m to the point where I could take a wedding ring off my finger and donate it. I don’t know that I’m there yet. But, you know what, right now, I don’t have a wedding ring on my finger. But I did have a small bag of engagement rings.

And Ali Eastburn, founder of With This Ring, gave me the chance to do something incredible. To turn the rings, laden with disappointment and hurt, into a good thing. Rather than the story ending with price negotiations at a jewelry store or the rings sitting on a shelf at a pawn shop, the rings will be helping to save lives.

There’s another neat twist in this story. Heather was talking to me not that long ago about the fact that she had heard several things recently about the need for safe drinking water in underdeveloped nations, and that she felt moved to support the cause. There’s a simple beauty in being able to close one chapter in my life in a way that ties in to the beginning of another.

For me, the rings are laden with history. I gave them to Susanna when I proposed to her. She had them resized by selling the gold from the ring given her by her previous fiancé, whom she’s now again planning to marry. Too much history and drama to put on three lovely pieces of gold and diamond. And when I put them in the mail, they leave that history behind. They go to eventually find new owners, as nothing but three beautiful rings, that were donated to save lives.

It’s not the ending that I originally envisioned at the beginning of the story, once upon a time.

But, thanks to the work done by With This Ring, they may give a new, deeper meaning to the other end of the story —

And they all lived happily ever after.

Happy Birthday, Heather!


Happy birthday, Heather!

May today bring you happiness, fun times with friends and family, a great reminder of how special you are, and maybe a cool present or two!

May the coming year of your life be an amazing one, and may your Father bless you in cool and creative ways that you could never imagine today! I hope the next year of your life is one you can look back on a year from now as an incredible journey of adventure, blessing and growth!

Thanks for letting me be a part of that journey! Love you!

My Gift To David (via Calluna)


When I wrote about a month ago about getting a preview of the upcoming Lori McKenna album, I mentioned that it was setting the bar high for the Christmas season. Heather took that challenge, and came back with a gift that was a definite Christmas highlight for me — that perfect combination of something that’s a great item in and of itself, but that also involved a lot of thought and time and effort and showed that she knows me and cares.

My Gift To David David introduced me to Lori McKenna music Feb. 25, 2008. At least that’s the date I added to my iTunes “Heather Stuff,” a CD of music David gave to me. On the CD were the first four Lori McKenna songs I ever heard: Witness to Your Life, What’s One More Time, Your Next Lover and Unglamorous. I had actually heard Lori before on Oprah when she performed Fireflies, which she wrote, with Faith Hill, who recorded it. But I didn’t know she wrote more or … Read More

via Calluna

Because I Could Not Stop For Death


This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This post’s topic is “Death.”


Well now, everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on, fix your hair up pretty
And meet me tonight in Atlantic City

— Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

From the moment we are born, we are dying. All of us. It’s eventual, inevitable and universal.

The only question is when. And, ultimately, that’s not really much of a question. Fifty years from now, most of us will be gone. A century, almost all. We hear about huge tragedies that kill hundreds or thousands and our minds boggle, but all of those people were already marked for death. Even a global catastrophe, the end of life as we know it, only speeds things up a little for people who would die soon anyway, relatively speaking.

If a man were to be killed today in a earthquake that kills thousands, it would be considered a disaster.  But the same man could die today, and with greater probability would, in a car accident on his way home, and it would be considered tragic only to his near and dear. The same man dies 30 years later, and the passing is considered natural.

And not only do we die, but our creations all too often do as well. Empires crumble. Businesses close. Photographs fade. Buildings burn. Books disappear into obscurity. Relationships end.  Languages die out. “Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!

Everything that dies does not, in fact, someday come back. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, since Monkey’s Paw abominations can be all too common and are best avoided.  Few things worth recreating can actually be recreated in a way that does the original justice. Witness most romantic relationships, the Star Wars movie series, and the Los Arcos Mexican restaurant in Indianola, Miss.

We die. It’s what we do. It’s a part of who we are.

Many of us believe that death our death, and the deaths of loved ones, are merely the passage into something better. We believe it, but we have a hard time living it. Arguably, if we fully embraced that, we’d have no reason to want to stay in this life.

But so much of our focus has to do with the things undone, and the things left behind. We consider it a tragedy when someone dies young because of the things they never got to do, and because of the impact the loss has on the friends and family they leave behind.  We consider it a disaster when large numbers are killed, because that tragedy is multiplied.

So where does that leave us.  To quote a great, if fictional, man, “How we deal with death is at least as important as how we deal with life, wouldn’t you say?” But how do the two relate. A song by Rebecca St. James argues that “until you find something worth dying for you’re not really living.” But, I believe that a corrolary is also true: “Until you find something worth living for, you’re just slowing dying.”

If the tragedy of an early death is the things not done, and the impact the loss has on those left behind, then those things should be the focus of our life — doing the things we would want to leave this world having done, and living in such a way that our lives have more impact on those around us than our deaths.

Because we only have so much time.

2010: Time, Improv and Space


Here are the most commonly used words in my Tweets during the year 2010, via tweetcloud:

For comparison, here’s my 2009 cloud:

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