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Equinox

There's something about autumn that makes me restless for change and that's saying a lot for me, not exactly a rolling stone. Maybe it's the engrained beginning-of-the-school-year feelings of new opportunities from my youth, or something deeper like the witness to the world around me slowly dying that inspires me to do more with my life before my leaves begin to fall. In any case, instead of cozying up for winter I'm trying to figure out how to direct the energy in my bones into positive change. I usually undertake projects and start ambitious books but my enthusiasm wanes as winter hardens, likely because these are just outlets and not the real change I'm looking for. Which makes sense, because I can't say exactly what that is.

So now my mind turns to the equinox just passed, when light and dark are in perfect balance, and I think of how easily I let my own life slip out of balance. Little concessions here and there add up and tip the scales. Not that achieving this balance is easy—like physical balance, it takes strength, coordination and concentration, all of which are made difficult by the fact that in general life will throw objects at you of various weights and at various rates. But with enough conscious practice, I have to believe that it's possible. I also think of Ramadan, which begins today and for a billion and a half people around the world means a month of mortification and spiritual reflection, and I think that this is the kind of training that gets you where you want to go, to achieve that balance.

It is on that note that my fall begins and on which I hope it will end, with perhaps some progress made in-between.

September 24, 2006 | Comments (2)

Pano-rific

For as eager as I was to stitch together a panorama when the D50 arrived, it sure took me a long time to get it together. Everywhere I went, I snapped off twenty pictures, dreaming of the 180° panorama that they would become, and then came home, loaded them into Photoshop and gave up on the panorama after being disappointed with the results (if experience is any indicator, this is not a shortcoming of Photoshop but of the operator). I was finally clued into the magic that is Autostich, the free (for non-commercial use) and simple stitching program. With the default settings, I got unrecognizable output, but I kept toying with it and eventually realized that it didn't understand the vertical orientation of the images I was trying to stich. So I set the image rotation option (I think that's backwards, by the way—I had to use anti-clockwise when what I really wanted was clockwise), turned off auto-straighten and let it rip. The result was, to my eyes, a pretty seamless and distortion-free panorama. I have generated a number of panoramas since then and been similarly impressed, but I'll let you judge for yourself (warning: the files are pretty big, between 200 and 300 kb each):

Shea Stadium | Yankee Stadium | Rye, NY beach | The orchard we visited last weekend

September 15, 2006 | Comments (1)

Father/Son

Working on it

Three weeks ago, after another tough night with Ivan, I wrote the following:

Things haven't been going as swimmingly as I had hoped between Ivan and me. He won't really take a bottle from me and I can count the number of times that I've been able to successfully get him back to sleep in the middle of the night on one hand (ok, maybe two). And I don't know if you knew this, but sleeping and eating are two big things to babies. Dinka says that this may be in part because I've spent less time with him, since we have that other one to take care of too. I guess she's probably right but that doesn't make it suck any less.

How quickly things can change with an infant. It was almost as if Ivan had snuck into my room, found the key to my secret diary, and felt remorse over the distance between us. In the last few weeks, he's been all smiles when I get home, has regularly taken the bottle from me, took two Saturday afternoon naps with me, and has even fallen asleep with me several times during the tough 4 - 6 a.m. shift in which he regularly loves to be alert. I'm still not acceptable as a soother between bedtime and 1 a.m. or so, but we're working on it (and by working, I mean that my tolerance for his screaming is increasing to the point where one day he may eventually fall asleep and realize that I am a safe alternative).

When he and I are having a tough time, I try to remember that he won't be small for very long and I should enjoy him for what he is right now. You think they're never going to outgrow that one painful phase and then you turn around and you're dropping them off for their first day of preschool. And to answer everyone's burning question about that, no, I did not cry. I was certainly the closest of anyone in the family, as always, but I was able to rise above my tear-soaked lineage and hold it together.

September 02, 2006 | Comments (1)