Wednesday, September 9, 2009

For those of you who only check my blog for the baby pics

I couldn't go too many posts without talking about our little Scout, or you might stop reading my blog entirely. Okay, really, I wouldn't know if you did. But because I'm not one to miss an opportunity to brag, and in honor of her being four months old today and having more than doubled her birth weight, here are some recent photos.

She's taken to wearing bugs on her head. It distracts from the ever-worsening baldness.

Hats also solve the aesthetic problems with thinning hair rather nicely. As Grandpa used to say, "You can't grow grass on a busy street."

This last one is here because I'm pretty sure she's putting her hand on what will shortly be a tooth.

Time for some Real News

I think I first discovered the night George W. Bush beat John Kerry to remain President. It's not forever, but it's been a while. For some time, now I've also had the New York Times bookmarked, but CNN has been the first place I click for news. No more. CNN's reign as my go-to news source has come to an end and I have removed it from my bookmark menu entirely (I know, I could just as easily type "CNN" in my address bar, but I won't. I live by my bookmarks). My news will now come from the NY Times and BBC News. Why the change? Well, to put it simply, I only have time for real news.

This change has been a long time coming. It probably began the day I sent an angry email to CNN about the pictures on their front page. If I want to see stills from Paris Hilton's latest commercial, in which she is either completely or nearly (I can't remember which it was) nude, I'll click on a link to a story with that title. I don't need the picture to show up just because I decided to visit CNN's front page. It was furthered by the summer I spent in a house with Cable, in which I realized that CNN Headline News never has any real news on and never has anything I want to watch. The other CNN channel was much better, but they did have a nail-biter of a presidential primary to cover at the time. I got closer to the edge when Michael Jackson's death became a multiple-months event rather than the brief, if significant, story it should have been. Once I realized that if I see a story on CNN, I immediately click over to the NYT to see whether they're covering it too and thus decide whether it's worth reading, the decision was pretty much made.

I had a conversation with friends a few weeks ago in which one person, who reads what I would consider fairly significant news outlets, related a revelation she'd had when cut off from the internet for a few weeks. She spends hours of each day reading nearly everything that's available in the news. And she knows very little about anything of significance in the real world. I'd like for what I take the time to know to be politically, economically or historically significant. For that, I need a legitimate news source.

I'm a strong believer in not supporting things you don't agree with. I actively avoid shopping at certain stores because I don't approve of their business practices and I don't find their products worth my money (definitely a rant for another day). Similarly, I will not click on stories that I don't find worth the time spent writing them. I'm tired of Sarah Palin, and except for the day she announced her resignation, I haven't clicked on a single headline with her name in it since John McCain lost. For a long time, I have resisted CNN's penchant for celebrity gossip over news by refusing to click on stories that I don't think merit the front page. And I'm increasingly disgusted by the contents of their "most popular" articles section. Just as much of America seems to live in blissful ignorance that a war in Africa really is more important than who wore what to the Oscars, I am now choosing to remain ignorant of what stories America chooses to read on the "news." I don't want to know that John Gosselin's announcement that he loves his new girlfriend more, Ellen DeGeneres' appointment to American Idol, and Chris Brown's fight with Oprah are more important to a "news source" than a hijacked plane in Mexico. I used to think that if I wanted celebrity gossip, I would go to People Magazine. Now I realize I can accomplish one-stop shopping at CNN, except that the "hard news" may be difficult to find amidst all the insignificant but still sensational goings on of such newsworthy topics as the "Crasher Squirrel" web frenzy.

There are legitimate, significant things going on in the world today. They are of political, economic and historical importance. And maybe most Americans don't want to hear or read about them. But I do. So I will "vote with my feet", or in this case my clicker finger and head to a news source that tells me what's happening in the real world, and not the sensationalized celebrity world. I hope a few of the advertising dollars that seek my attention will follow me.

::Melanie steps down off her soapbox and resumes normal life.::

What I Should Be Doing Instead of Blogging

Finishing up my lesson for Enrichment tomorrow night
Making handouts for Enrichment
Baking treats for Enrichment
Planning what to teach in my tutoring session tomorrow
Sleeping (still recovering from last week's cold and about to be hit by today's flu shot)
Learning how to make baby food (I checked out three books, ask me if I've read any)
Figuring out what to do about the fact that Virginia seems to be getting a tooth
Washing the dishes
Finishing the email to my law school friends that has been in progress for nearly a month

...but I need a break from the to-do list. So, now that I've written it all down I'm going to go ahead and keep doing this, secure in the knowledge that my to-do list will definitely keep.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Foray into Nature

A friend and I recently took our children to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, ostensibly to enjoy the beauty of nature. However, since my baby is too young to appreciate such an outing much and my friend has a snazzy new camera, it was actually just an excuse to take some pictures. I recently discovered (after six months of procrastinating actually reading my camera's owner's manual) that my little point-and-shoot has a macro setting and I wanted to get a better handle on what it could and couldn't do. Here are some of the results:

I've never actually watched a bee in the process of pollinating before. It was interesting.
Many of the flowers were freshly watered, which made the pictures more interesting.
Trying to be abstract...

There's that narrow depth of field we were looking for. Macro at its up close best.
A lot of interesting colors.

This is actually a crop job on what turned out not to be that great of a composition. My dad always tells me stories of taking his photography students on field trips and letting them take only one photo. In today's digital world, it's way too easy not to be careful about your composition and instead to allow quantity to substitute for quality. I didn't take a large number of pictures at the gardens, but I did try to be very careful in my composition. For the most part, I was quite pleased with the result and most of these have not been cropped. This one, however, just needed help.
Hydrangeas in black and white. I guess I'm trying to be Ansel Adams. It's not working.
There are many beautiful leaves in Wisconsin. I don't know why I always used to think of leaves as needing to be green. It would seem I didn't listen to enough Harry Chapin growing up.
Well, it's sort of breaking the rule of thirds, but I like this one anyway.

Yet another misconception from my youth. I always thought petunias weren't that pretty. I'm not sure where I came up with that, but I was obviously wrong.

I like the lines in this photo.

Near the end of our trip, my friend actually let me use her camera for a few minutes. This was extremely generous, considering that she used to avoid even taking the camera out of doors. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I hurried a bit more with the SLR, however, so the results aren't quite as good as they might have been. Here are some of my favorites (sorry, it's another collage):
My favorite is the one in the middle. Ah, fancy cameras. Someday....