Traditions

I went to sleep late last night. Technically, early this morning. I think it was nearly 2, honestly. And yet, I woke up this morning at 7, ready to face the day! Okay, no I didn’t. I did wake up at 7, and I did not go back to sleep, but I sure wasn’t ready to get out of bed, either. An insistent bladder made sure I changed my mind. It’s okay, I wanted to get up. Today I was going to the Renaissance Festival! Whoo hoo!

Human Battle Chess
Human Battle Chess 2012. We saw the man battle again today.

It’s become  a bit of an annual tradition. Years ago, I’d gone a couple times, when it was still new and only the truly dedicated attended (pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before), but it wasn’t a regular thing. As comfortable as I am doing things alone, some things are just better with someone else, and I either had no one else to do these things with or I had no money. Usually the former, actually. Because it was still on the new side, the 10th anniversary festival wasn’t too terribly expensive. and everyone dressed. Well, nearly everyone, anyway. I enjoyed it, I just hadn’t made it a regular thing. Now, though, it is. Now I have someone to go with and we have fun. Sometimes we finish up with dinner. Might be fast food, might be a real restaurant. Tonight, we went to Outback. And now I have lunch for tomorrow.

That’s not what this is about, though. It’s only a few years along, but I have what seems to be becoming a tradition, one I like, this annual trip to the Renaissance Festival. Just like Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas are spent at my father’s house, and stores attempt to outdo each other in the Black Friday wars. Or should we call it the Turkey Day Turnout? I’m not quite sure how I feel about this – well, I do, truly, I think it’s horrible that people will have to work on Thanksgiving Day, or feel they have to shop on Thanksgiving Day, instead of spending it with family, watching the Lions lose. The only tradition held sacred is the one of consumerism, convincing us that the model we got last year – or last month, last week, last night – is outmoded and needs desperately to be replaced.

It’s all well and good to say it helps the economy to be constantly buying. And in the short term, it does. In the long term, it’s untenable. What we have is a closed system. Like water, which circulates around and around, cleaned, swum in, drunk, evacuated, discarded, and cleaned again for another trip, this constant buying has created an economy based on the same money, the same jobs, the same everything we already have, just not as new. That means more products have to be created, which is great, because it means people have to be employed. Then those products have to be sold, but because there are so many choices, those products have to be made more cheaply, which then means the manufacturers have to cut wages or move production to a place where they hadn’t heard of child-labor laws (or are corrupt enough to ignore them), and make sure they keep advertising so that we know when our item is obsolete, when we need the new one. Of course, as products are manufactured more cheaply, they become less durable, more disposable, and more likely to be replaced. The only people truly being helped by this are those who own the companies, who have significant ownership in those manufactories, not the ones they hire. In this closed system, rather than the money recirculating – the lie we’ve been told for decades – it is pooling at one end, with people who don’t need it, other than as a way to keep score.

Lytle Taft and Tacocracy_0020b
A picture of the Great American tower just because. I like it.

It’s no longer enough to have a place to live and food to eat – now we need the coolest phone, the biggest television, the hybridest car. I’m certainly not innocent in all this, I’ve spent money I couldn’t really afford on things I didn’t actually need, just so I could say I had it. I’ve bought the latest re-release of a DVD, a special edition, now with a different font! I don’t need it. I already have a DVD of that movie in excellent condition, sitting on my shelf. If I’m satisfied with that, though, the publishers can’t make anywhere near as much money, so, they convince me I need the new version, and convince us that if they keep making stuff, they can keep people working. If they were really as altruistic as that, wouldn’t they pay a living wage? I’m not talking about raising minimum wage to $15/hour – that’s ludicrous, and would cause inflation to explode. But there was a time when the minimum wage was intended to be a living wage, enough to have a roof over your head, and food in your pantry. It’s not.

Now, I realize there is so much more to this, of course, that it’s just not so simple as make less stuff and stop selling it to us. It is, however, a dangerous tradition, elevating the cost of living, as well as the minimum expectations for a reasonable life. As it continues, the lower class will grow, the middle class will evaporate, and the wealthy will continue to blame it on the poor, many of whom are perfectly honest and hard-working.

It would appear that once again, the topic has veered from my original target. That was a bit unexpected. Still, this economic tradition has to stop.

Lacuna

Lots going on, much stress little energy, so on and so forth. Something had to give; unfortunately for me, it was the things I enjoy – writing this blog and taking photographs. I haven’t been out with my camera in almost two weeks. It’s summer for crying out loud! Officially so today. I need to do something about that, not let it go on any longer.

Alms Sky_0022b
Heavy rains and temps in the upper 80s. Bit steamy when the sun finally came out.

As you might know, I do a bit of photography. Because of that, I notice things like light and shadow. I think most visual artists do. Occupational hazard. If you don’t notice, not really sure how you accomplish anything. Something I’d noticed when I moved back to Ohio from Colorado was the way the sun – particularly in the summer – brightens up the area. It’s quite a bit more humid here than it is in Colorado. The air out there is thin enough, it can’t hold much water at all. It rains at 50% humidity. Here, on the other hand, the air is plenty strong enough that even at 100% humidity, it’s not necessarily going to rain. Miserable then, because when that happens there’s also rarely a breeze to move it around, unless it’s just blowing across the ground, lifting the heat from the sidewalk, because it just wasn’t radiating enough heat.

Gets a little unpleasant.

Anyway, what I’d noticed is how the humidity affects the quality of the light. I figure the humidity in the air acts much like a magnifying glass does*; the best word I can think for it is sharp. When it’s really humid, if you pay attention, it almost seems that you can see individual water droplets. Each one of those has a little light from the sun in it, a pinprick of energy and heat, magnified by the sheer number of droplets in the air.

That’s the best way I can explain it. It makes the light more golden, regardless of the time of day, providing a coloring I only saw at sunset or sunrise (I did see a few of those) in Colorado. Even when it rained, which wasn’t often, I didn’t see it after it stopped. Not enough moisture in the air, I guess. I haven’t figured out, yet, how to make that work for me.

With all those tiny droplets and their tiny point of energy from the sun, just hanging there, not moving, it gets oppressively hot. At least, that’s my theory. I suppose I could actually look that sort of thing up and see how accurate it is, but I don’t wanna. Any atmospheric scientists out there want to comment? No? Okay. If you change your mind…

Sometimes I think out loud^; gets a little weird.

For instance, one of the things that’s crossed my mind most recently – it has in the past, too, if I’m honest – is what is my alignment? Lawful Good? Neutral Evil? These are important questions.+

I've gotten different results, but this one came up most.
Loki is Chaotic Neutral IMO; in most incarnations anyway.

If I were a made-up person – a topic for another discussion, perhaps – would I be one who follows the rules/laws because they are the rules/laws, and without them there would be anarchy? Would I do what I could to get what I want, regardless of the consequences to others? Would I be the type of person who does good even if it is breaking the law?

Well, because this is the internet, someone has already made such a test. Naturally, I had to take it to see how I shake out. Gotta admit, not particularly surprised with the result.

True Neutral

Pathfinder Alignment Test

True Neutral or Neutral Neutral, is called the “Undecided” or “Nature’s” alignment. This alignment represents Neutral on both axes, and tends not to feel strongly towards any alignment. A farmer whose primary overriding concern is to feed his family is of this alignment. Most animals, lacking the capacity for moral judgment, are of this alignment. Many roguish characters who play all sides to suit themselves are also of this alignment. Some Neutral characters, rather than feeling undecided, are committed to a balance between the alignments. They may see good, evil, law and chaos as simply prejudices and dangerous extremes. Mordenkainen is one such character who takes this concept to the extreme, dedicating himself to a detached philosophy of neutrality to ensure that no one alignment or power takes control.

I did mention the fatigue and exhaustion, right? Well, it’s affecting my attention span, too. There’s a reason I preferred to write these first thing in the morning instead of the middle of the day. I do have some time off coming up. Not going anywhere, but I do have a few things I’ll be attending. My HS alumni picnic, for instance. Special kind of family, that. Some of us have some incredible life events since graduating, but there was something special about that place that defined our lives. A lot of valuable life lessons learned there, and in a relatively safe environment that nonetheless taught us about disappointment and loss, social politics, and how to work effectively with people you can’t stand. I was always a bit jealous of those who got to be there from 4th grade on.

Well, I have work to do. It’s Saturday; it’s the first day of Summer in the northern half of the globe. The longest day of the year. Go out and enjoy it – it’s all downhill from here.

 

Alms Sky_0009a
Grab a basket, have a picnic. Enjoy the first day of summer.

_________________________

*Because surely no scientist in the history of the world ever considered how water behaves like a magnifying glass and increases the focus of light or anything.

^Think out loud, type out loud, potato, potahto.

+Fly, Geek Flag, fly!

What’s New?

Photowalk 343a
From 2013 Worldwide Photo Walk – Lytle Park, Cincinnati

I haven’t been very good at keeping a few promises to myself, lately. One of which, obviously, was the writing. Well…when the weather starts to be more often cold than warm, and it becomes more dark than light, I find it hard to keep a lot of promises to myself. Best I can do is to promise myself to get out of bed, bathe, eat, and go to work. The rest this time of year is gravy. I do love fall, I really do. I don’t like what comes after it; I spend a lot of time being miserable. I know the change of season affects everyone. But, as in many other things, not everyone responds the same.

Part of it may well be self-imposed, since I’m well aware by now how this time of year affects me, but not all. I do try to be up and about; I wouldn’t be able to get out and enjoy the crispy leaves, the smell of their death fresh in the air, the trees promising more after their rest. Oh, and the apples. How I LOVE going to an orchard on the side of the road and just picking a sack of apples picked from the trees just out back. Of course, as more corporations take over farms, fewer and fewer of these are purely family operations – most just can’t afford that anymore – but it’s still a nice little illusion. Makes me think of one of our northern suburbs, Mason. Before I moved to Colorado, I worked up there. Nasty commute – I-71 was undergoing construction through that area, so it turned a bad commute into an awful one. The area isn’t built for the amount of traffic it sees, either, so most people avoid it, particularly during rush hour, if they can.

While I was working up there, it wasn’t too overdeveloped just yet. I could drive down the road about a mile and hit a farm or two. And when I remembered, and timed it right, there was one that sold produce out of their home, right off the screened-in porch. They had a couple of mini schnauzers. Thanks to the dog I grew up with, I have a soft spot for mini schnauzers, so that was just a nice little bonus for me. They sold whatever was fresh that time of year. Silver ear corn right around September, beautiful apples right about now. I don’t know what else they sold throughout the year, because I never remembered in time. It’s gone, now. Across the street from there is a generic strip mall, full of stores you can find anywhere, laid out the same as just about anywhere. That strip mall in Mason is almost identical to a new one in Briargate, a suburb of Colorado Springs. The only significant difference – you can see Pikes Peak from the one in Briargate. Otherwise, it might as well be the same place (as I say often, the homogenization of America continues apace).

Spring Grove 080a1s
First set of photos with my new camera.

Some of the best times with my mother were this time of year. She loved the fall. She couldn’t really tolerate the high heat, especially once the MS started taking over. Until then, though, we would go on road trips just for the leaves and the orchards. My father takes a lot of snapshots so he can save his memories. Mom did that too, but she also took photos for the beauty of the shot. One of my friends posted a self-portrait showing her hands and a camera over her face, saying that was how her children were likely going to remember her. I mentioned she looked just like my mother, except her forehead said “Minolta.” She loved photography, and when she wasn’t trying to talk me out of pursuing it in any sort of way, she would take the time to show me things. I learned about aperture and shutter speed, and tricks you can do with each, from her. Processing film was too expensive for me, though, so I didn’t get to experiment as much as I’d have liked. This is one of the best things about digital photography, I think. Otherwise, I do prefer film. Digital is rigid. No matter how many pixels your photo has, there is a point where it’s just a dot. They’ve gotten MUCH better, but it’s still there. With film, those sharp edges aren’t there. Still, too expensive, even moreso with the popularity of digital over film.

Now I have two digital cameras I use – one is my last point-and-shoot, a very good camera for its class, and one is my DSLR, almost the bottom of the line. Gotta go with what you can afford, you know. The camera I really want costs more than I spent on my current one for just the body. And used is tricky – quite often, they’ve been abused by their previous owners and there may be something in there that just doesn’t work the way you need it to. It’s a risk. Might be worth taking, though. Lenses are another story. Those get very expensive, too. For now, I am happy with my setup. It’s mine, and it is good enough to get started. I want to buy my next camera with money I earned from my photos.

Speaking of, the opportunity for showing is sort of on the back burner right now. They only do it one night a week, and it’s the one night I’m already committed to something very important to me, necessary for my own mental health – my choir. I didn’t realize how important it was to me until I didn’t have it anymore. Not didn’t have it but it was available, just didn’t have it at all. Shortly before I left Colorado Springs, I auditioned for the Colorado Springs chorale. I needed to practice, desperately, but I didn’t have access to a piano or accompanist. What I sang didn’t matter so much as how, and I sang half a pitch high. I’d been practicing without music for so long, I transposed it up. They tried other things, too, and knew that I could definitely follow a pitch when it was given, just needed to practice with someone. The director asked me – not recommended, not suggested, but asked me – to get with a voice teacher so I could get a little more practice, then come back and audition in six months when they held the next auditions. They don’t do that – usually when you blow an audition, they say “thank you, we have all we need.” That flubbed audition gave me a bit more confidence in myself. It’s still not easy for me to sing solo, but it’s a lot easier.

And again, this time of year, all my energy is put into functioning. Luckily, I have a number of friends who know what this season can do to me, because it does it to them or to someone they love. They won’t leave me alone, even when I want them to. Gets annoying sometimes, but it’s worth it knowing there’s someone out there who will come knocking on my door if they don’t hear from me in a while. I had that in Colorado, too, but it was just one person, dealing with her own complicated life. We didn’t always have the energy to check on each other. No, I will gladly take all those days when they irritate me (because on those days, everyone irritates me); it reminds me that someone is paying attention, and someone does care.

Satyr But Wiser
Pretty special when you can make a satyr blush…

Speaking of, I need to get breakfast and a shower. I’m going to the Ohio Renaissance Festival with one of them later today. Seems to be becoming something of a regular thing, since I’ve been with her for the last two years. Getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I’m really looking forward to it.

Ye Olde Renaissance Festival

Image
Some visitors to the festival dress up in costume. In the early days, many visitors did, and they made a point of dressing in the correct period.

Interesting beast, the Renaissance Faire. Or Festival. Or, you know, just Fair. In Ohio, it’s a Festival, and it starts Labor Day weekend. It goes through October. Gets a bit chilly at the festival as time goes on. Not so bad, though. Many come in costume. Actually, this time around, there were an awful lot of people NOT in costume. Or some that only dressed up their kiddies. It wasn’t quite the nerd-fest that it used to be. I suppose that’s good, I mean, that means it will continue for years to come. But part of the fun was the costumes of the visitors.

I used to have a costume. I dressed as a wench. Yes, partly because it was the cheapest way to go, but mostly because if you dress, you have to be accurate. And if you’re a medieval lady, you really don’t get to have much fun. If you’re a wench, you get to make all the bawdy jokes you want. So what happened to my costume? Oh, nothing. I still have it. I’ve just, um, outgrown it. Yeah, that’s what it was, I’ve outgrown it. No longer have the 28″ waist I had when I bought it. Never will again, either, but that’s another story for another time.

This past weekend, I visited with old friends – The Swordsmen and the Theatre in the Ground – and found some new ones. Like the Pirate Comedy Stunt Show. I walked around and saw some very impressive costumes. The 10th Doctor was taking in the sights, and the Steampunk movement was well represented. I did notice a distinct lack of Captain Jack Sparrows, and for that, I was grateful.

The most impressive costume I saw that day was easily the satyr. He couldn’t move particularly fast, and he was drenched in sweat on what was a relatively comfortable day, but he was immediately recognizable, and spend a good part of the day posing for pictures. Yes, I got one with him, too, but you can’t see his feet.

One day, I will go back in costume. I’ve already decided that I am, in fact, a gypsy, who uses magic. Now I just have to start putting something together. I already have a really cool glove piece…