Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category

Sea Side Lunch

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

I don’t normally go out to eat lunch, but today I felt a little extra stir-crazy. In an act of pure selfishness, I decided to go to the Burger King close to my apartment. The biggest hurdle, now that the summer heat is far behind us, is the Gulf Road. With three lanes in each direction and only a slim median in between, it is an amusing game of Frogger. Yes, I could walk to a cross-walk at a light, but where I want to cross is equidistant and a long walk in either direction. Luckily, the ripple effect of the far stop lights give me a safe lull in the traffic after a few minutes.

To say this is a big Burger King is an under-statement. It’s two stories, indoor and outdoor play areas, and tons of seating that look out over a short beach and pier. I order the staple meal; A Whopper, fries and a Coke. For 1.450 KWD, everything tastes as it should. Well, almost everything. The ketchup isn’t quite right. Though I have a bottle of Heinz at the apartment, most restaurants seem to use locally produced condiments. This one is BK branded, but is made in Oman. It isn’t bad, per se, but it isn’t my Pittsburgh-raised ideal.

While I’m eating, and writing, I can look out the window at the water stretching out to the horizon. To think that the gulf is only a few blocks away on three sides is odd. Only on clear day can I see a sliver of it between two buildings when I lean out the kitchen window. Boats and sea-birds dot the blue-green gulf. A low flying military / coast guard helicopter flies past, its wash kicking up chop water. Shortly after, a large military hovercraft passes by as well. The Arabs are quick to point out that this is the Arabian Gulf, though most maps I come across still call this the Persian Gulf. It is a definite point of pride here.

A handful of stray cats lounge in a fenced off garden area. While they are surprisingly happy and healthy looking, you do not want to pet them and a table of covered women gave a passing tabby a wide birth. Other foreigners gape and take pictures of the kittens.

I’ve sat in the unofficial bachelors section. There is a bit of a taboo surrounding young men. Some restaurants and entertainment areas either have a ban on single men or have “family” sections. There aren’t any signs here at BK, but there is a noticeable self-segregation. As an obvious foreigner, however, would have given a bit of leeway but these are some of the best seats in the house.

Another difference here is that no one clears their own table. While we’ve been trained to bus our own tables at fast food restaurants, that is not the case here. All pervasive is the attitude that someone else will clean it up. Though that is true here in the restaurant, it’s not true on the streets as litter and detritus piles up. It is one of my bigger complaints about living here. It makes walking, an already dangerous proposition with the lack of sidewalks, even less pleasant.

With my meal finished, I head back to the apartment.


Friday, December 16th, 2011

Sitting in an American brand coffee shop in the Salmiya district of Kuwait, I can’t help but feel a sense of dislocation with the sense of dislocation promised me when I first arrived. While arabic is quite prevalent, with most signage in both Arabic and English, I can go days without a real miscommunication. In fact, most of the common interactions that I have with people are with non-natives who probably speak english better than they speak arabic. English/American culture, with a heavy skew towards American, is pervasive. Obviously, up to this point, I’ve spent most of my time in expat areas. But even places like the “Friday Market” and the “Souk Al-Mubarakiya” are relatively easy to manage with an embarrassingly small grasp of the language or culture. Negotiation in broken English and hand signs often suffice. Cabs can find most landmarks with even my shameful pronunciations.

The very basics, like shopping for food, can even be taken for granted. At a Chicago like distance from our apartment, the closest grocery store carries familiar brands and English labels on nearly everything. Many of our comfort foods are here and at prices that are similar to Chicago, expensive but not outlandish. While our favorite stores offer the polish of our western expectations, cheaper fare can be found in the local co-ops and markets. Though you may have to brave a slightly grungier appearance, they are really no worse than many of the inner-city stores that I’ve seen in in America.

A sunset view of Al Khansa Street in Salmiya Kuwait. This is a single exposure a little bit of cleanup in Photoshop.


Logotype Series or I actually did something for once.

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

Logotype Series, framed amongst our life

Logotype Series, framed amongst our life,
originally uploaded by acidmaple.

I printed a present for Bethany using the day’s earlier photos. After I had framed it, which was a pain due to our dusty need of a spring cleaning), I just happened to set it up on the cutting mat. The result was yet another photo.

In the background you can see our life; a jumble of Whisky, semi-bittersweet chocolate chips, our nicer photo printer and a few days accumulated detritus. On the mat in the foreground lies Bethany’s type cutouts yet again.

What a grand adventure for them today.

The photo’s description really says it all, but this is the first print I’ve made using our new D90.

Bethany has used it for several clients and grad-school projects and her prints have turned out great. However, I’ve been shooting with it nearly every day and have accumulated a few thousand shots in Aperture from it (I can get a little overzealous with the burst). I’ve uploaded a few to Flickr before but this series, culminating in the print and this final photo, is by far the most conscious I’ve been while shooting. A fair amount of time was spent setting up and composing the four shots.

This is all a departure from my normal shooting. While I rarely crop my photos later and I set up my compositions in frame, I usually shoot in the moment. The situation presents itself to me and I shoot it.

So, yes, I’m proud of these in that I went back to my roots of making things happen rather than letting them come to me. Hell, it even got me to write this post.

It’s a step back to my old self, but can I keep it up?

My Heart on My Sleeve, Not on My Bumper

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

While I like guns and shit-tons of money, I also think we should be able to kill babies and not have ill-conceived wars with oil-rich countries. Yeah, I said it. Some might say that an inflammatory sentence like that is the last thing we need, but petty squabbling has left the two candidates to fight over each other’s intangibles.

While I’m not completely behind the Obama/Biden ticket (mostly because of Mr. Biden) I sure as hell can’t get behind the crusty, out of touch, old man and his even less experienced than the competition, hick running mate. McCain/Palin scares the crap out of me and as I walk the streets, looking at way too many lawn signs and bumper stickers supporting them I worry about how close the election will once again be.

This is not to say that I don’t see as many, if not more, “Hope” being bandied about, but I like many others don’t often show our support so visibly in either direction. We’re left with polls that conflict with each other and media outlets who pretend to be impartial. Even when I try to aggregate all of this information and simplify it into simple red and blue, all I see is a blank canvas.

In the end, the most vocal supported on either side are the minority. They hold little sway in the bigger picture. Unless you believe in the conspiracy of rigged polls or feel that the electoral college is a broken, outmoded system (both of which I struggle with) then the election lies in the soft spoken heart of America.

Either way, half of us are going to think we’re fucked. I just don’t want it to be my half.

Distractions – My Life as an Artist Turned Digital Consumer.

Monday, October 6th, 2008

My ratio’s of digital input versus output have become so skewed that even though I realize that the disparity has become almost overwhelming I can do little about it. Like a debtor who borrows from the bank to pay off his credit card loans, I constantly find myself turning to the internet more and more to fill in the gaps left by the absence of my own creation.

While I have eschewed most of the trappings of the cable mentality, sitting through a crappy show to get to the good one, the quality of on demand content is rapidly growing. Legitimate and cheap TV and Movie sites are getting significantly better. Blogs update more often and with a high enough signal to noise filter offer a more “real world” picture than even the best news organizations. (Though don’t get me started on the true difference between blogs and the news.)

Social networks offer the ability to peek into someone’s life without the reciprocity of a real conversation. “Did I tell you about that?” “No, I read your blog.” I feel like I know people better than I do, or at least have a stronger relationship with them because of it.

RSS aggregators, notification services, push email and the like first leave me in a constant state of distraction and then make my computer nearly useless without an internet connection. While, I have more clock cycles than ever, I truly use them less and less. A dumb terminal to the internet would be sufficient.

Even now, as I test drive WriteRoom, a distraction-less text editor that takes up the whole screen and blocking everything but the text, I still find the internet creeping in via Growl notifications which I take for granted as always being there. There is always something to read, or watch or try.

Sadly, the title is much better than the text and once again, I’ve run out of motivation. The second half of the piece was meant to talk about my own production of digital content, but we might have to put that one into part two. (Who am I kidding?)

Count down to the big freakout

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Oh man, how the time just whips by like a passing train that you almost failed to notice because you were dicking around with your iPhone. It give you the same cold sweat that trickles down your spine.

The large congruence of upcoming events has me a little freaked out but no more motivated than ever. My procrastination gene is in full effect as I become more and more distracted on a daily basis from the real things that require my attention. Weddings, moves, prepping houses for rental and regular old work are harder to think about when your RSS reader of choice isn’t at zero unread. Or your email. Or your Twitter. Or your Flickr. Or any other number of things that have been embedded into the daily ritual.

Jumping the Gun…

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

It may seem that we’re rushing into things, but I assure you this has been a long and drawn out process. Many (most) of our friends and family know already, but I just wanted to let the world know what the heck is going on. I’m going to see if I can get another sentence in without actually getting to the point. Ah, there it is. Oh, and here is another!

Bethany and I are finally getting around to the formal act of marriage! We’ve been together long enough that sometimes it feels like we already are and others have said that we’re “married in God’s eyes.” (Though not in the law’s eyes…) Part of the problem has been that previous dates have fallen through for one reason or another and we’ve both been hesitant to really get comfortable with the idea that it is coming soon. In fact, it has come so quickly that we’ve only got a month to go!

Friday, August 8th is the big day, and I know that many friends and family won’t be able to come on such short notice. However, we’re fine with that. I feel like I don’t want people to make a big deal out of it. We’re not doing a church service, though it will be a christian wedding, and we’re not having a huge bash afterward. I’m sorry if it seems we’re not being inclusive because we really do want all of you to come, but small and intimate were the big goals. Well wishes are preferred over people going out of their way for us.

We have another website setup where we’ll keep you up to date on the goings on. Check out the first post here.

If this is the calm before the storm…

Friday, June 13th, 2008

My, how plans change. One minute we’re on course with everything (relatively) laid out in an orderly fashion and the next we’re scrambling to catch our bearings after the floor drops out. While I’ll be the first to admit the failure of a mixed metaphor, there seemingly can be a time and place for such transgressions. Swearing under your breath as one more thing goes south is a common occurrence for me now.

It’s not that things a bad, per se, but I think I could do without all of the drama.

We’re moving to Baltimore. Oh, wait, now we’re moving to Chicago. This is my shining example, the most dramatic of a long list that I dare not commit to “paper”. After what seemed to be a very long ordeal for Bethany to apply to and accept a grad program, we had settled on MICA in Baltimore. The program was perfect, run by a very well respected designer who’s admirations came from both university and professional sources. We had also come to grips with the idea of Baltimore. While it wasn’t our highest choice in cities, we had come to build a short but potent list of pluses.

Can’t let a month go by…

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

Well, more than a month *has* past, but the archives don’t care.

It’s not that I haven’t had a lot going on that would be blog-worthy (at least from a journal-ish standpoint), but I just have had the time or the motivation to post. High up on the list; getting married (soon), moving (soon), getting a (brand) new car and work++. Plus, there are lots of little things like movies, games, music and friends that deserve mention.

Oddly, I do like to write and I love to use all these great gadgets to do it. I’ve lowered the barriers by leveraging them do it quickly, easily and from everywhere, but I just don’t do it…

Keep and ear open for me though, I hope to reshape my habits over the summer. With any luck, being a little more prolific will be part of it. For now, this post is just a reminder that I’m still here.

Guitar Hero: What have I done?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I may have rocked so hard that I've hurt myself.

For some stupid reason, I though it would be a good idea to pick up Guitar Hero III for the Wii. It was almost 50% off by the time I was done with my order.

For the longest time I had scoffed at GH, but I always burned with the secret shame of envy. The rhythm mini-games in RayMan Raving Rabbids was just too much fun. Luckily, the GH entry point was too high. Unfortunately, that couldn’t hold out forever. The awesome Gizmodo pointed out an extremely short run sale on Amazon. I got approval and popped it in my cart. To my surprise, I had a $17.01 gift certificate in my account for which I have no explanation. With my Amazon Prime membership, it arrived disturbingly fast.

After a few minutes of unboxing and setup, I was plunking away at the tutorial. After a few hours of straight play, I got my first five star rating on easy.

This will be a very bad thing.