In which habit is who you are

Jack Cat says oh no you didn't.

Jack Cat says “oh no you didn’t” to Lucy Peanut. That’s his usual line for her.

If you’ve been paying attention, you might have noticed that I’ve fallen behind on Lucy Peanut pictures while I’ve posted more Alice and paper crane pictures lately. I decided to make up for that today. Here are a few of my dog challenge shots for this week.

For the prompt, “stepping out.”

Lucy Peanut is stepping out.

For the prompt, “Starts with W.” W is for “welcome, friend.”

W is for Welcome, Friend

For the prompt, “dramatic.” Lucy Peanut is a drama queen, especially when told it is time to go inside.

Drama Queen

I almost didn’t do a paper crane today. I’ve done a few extra along and along, so I’m ahead of schedule, and I didn’t have a chance to fold any at work today. I was busy typing most of the time I was in my office, and while I can do lots of things while I fold origami cranes, I haven’t yet built up the skill to type and fold at the same time.

I’ve had a busy day, and I’m tired. It didn’t seem to really matter whether I got in my cranes or not. While I have determined that I will have to rotate between taking pictures of Lucy Peanut and Alice and my other photo projects, though, the paper cranes are the one thing that I’ve tried to commit to on a daily basis. I have a specific goal in mind for completing 1000 within 1 year, and that can only be done by remaining diligent.

But what’s one day off, right?

I’m sure I will take a few days off this year. I might even take a few weeks off when push comes to shove. It is still only January, though, and I know I won’t finish if I start slacking this early. Besides, meeting a goal like this requires developing the habit of working on it. Just like becoming physically fit or finishing a dissertation requires developing the habit of working on it. That’s the principle of the Fitbit, and it’s why I love my Fitbit so much. It reminds me to make a habit of being more active. When it comes right down to it, your habits are who you are. You can change them and mold them and challenge yourself to become someone else, but while you are doing what you do, that’s who you are.

I want to be a person who finishes what she starts. I want to be a person who takes some time out of each and every day to meditate on peace and goodwill and hope and prayers for others. I want to be a person who makes paper cranes.

I’ve been trying to average three cranes per day. I did not meet that goal today, but I did sit down and make one crane after deciding I didn’t feel like it and then deciding that wasn’t much of an excuse. As always, once I just got started, I found my groove and got it done.

I present to you crane #63, a delicate and humble lady.

63

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No matter where you go, there you are

No matter where

Did Confucius really say this? No matter where you go, there you are. The Internet says that he did, so it must be true.

The concept is certainly true regardless of whether the attribution is legit. I sure seem to drag myself around wherever I go.

My latest thing has been an obsession with the idea of desk cycles, those things that fit under a desk and allow a person to get in 8 full hours of exercise a day while holding down a full-time job. I’ve been getting very little exercise lately, so when I heard about these puppies, I knew I had to have one.

I read reviews and searched around. I narrowed my preferences down to two: Desk Cycle and Cubii. Of course, I really wanted the Cubii because it is the most expensive, but I was willing to settle for the Desk Cycle because it got good reviews and looked pretty slick as well.

I ended up purchasing a cheaper variety to test out the concept, the Mini Bike. It is very like me to remain obsessed with something until I make a potentially ill-advised purchase. It is not all that much like me to go the cheapest route, but this is January, and that’s a long month for teachers.

I used this for the first time today, and it wasn’t terrible, but I did learn that I’m too tall for this to really work as planned. I think these devices are designed for short people. I’m really only average height, but my legs are a little too long. I tried this out under my desk, and my knees bumped. I moved it out from under my desk, though, and it worked just fine. The disappointment, of course, is that this minor adjustment considerably reduces the amount of time I can spend using it during the day. I have to at least mostly face my desk to do the larger portion of my work. The eight-hour daily exercise marathon is out.

I did use it for 5-10 minutes at a time about 4 times today. I didn’t record exactly how much time I logged in, but even if it was only 20 minutes, that’s 20 minutes more than I would have exercised otherwise. I was also able to do other things while using it. I read a couple of articles on my phone while cycling, and I made a few notes for myself about a project.

Because I was wearing a Fitbit inside my shoe while I used the mini bike, I logged in a bunch of steps and met my step goal before I came home from work. This might be slightly cheating since the cycling didn’t take much effort, but I will take my step credits where I can get them. I don’t think this is a total cheat. I can feel that my leg muscles have been used today.

You can adjust the tension on the mini bike, but that feature doesn’t seem to work quite as smoothly as one might desire. I believe that would be one major difference in purchasing a higher end brand. Now that I’ve purchased this one, though, I’m going to make myself use it consistently for at least a whole semester before I allow myself to believe I have earned a higher end version.

If you want something that is gym quality, this cheapo option is not for you. If you just need something functional that will do the job and not completely suck, you should go for it. The ride is fairly smooth. The assembly is easy. It only weighs ten pounds, so when you bang your knees, all you have to do is pick it up and move it somewhere else.

I’d say this is a good option for using in front of the TV or in a home office. With a laptop stand holding a computer up higher than at normal desk level, a tall person might even be able to use it while working.

This will not be my only exercise. I also plan to jog in place, take extra trips up and down staircases at work, make extra trips back and forth to my office when I forget things I need, and jump to lots of conclusions. It’s possible that I might leave my house from time to time to go to an exercise class, but that would require more motivation than I’ve worked up to in one day of mini-biking. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Meanwhile, I’ll just show you my cranes for the day.

#62

62

#60-#61

60-61

My photo prompt today was “on the page.” The book shown here is Pride and Prejudice. The cranes are folded from a Pride and Prejudice calendar. I bought the calendar for the purpose of using it as origami paper, but I had a hard time peeling off the pages today. The calendar has the text of the entire book in it, and I felt like I was violating a sacred manuscript.

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Catching up with the cranes

59

Crane 59 of 1000 for 2016.

I’ve been out of town for the long weekend. I took a bunch of pictures, but I don’t have time to sort through them now. I just wanted to take a jiffy to catch up on my cranes.

57-58

57-58

55-56

55-56

52-54

52-54

The top image and the bottom image show cranes made from a motivational calendar. I put the MLK quote for today on crane #59, which is a crane I made today for MLK Day.

The quotes for cranes 52-64 are as follows:

–Rainer Maria Rilke, “The only journey is the one within.”

–Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

–Coco Chanel, “How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone.”

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Out of office

This is just to say that today’s blog post is still in the camera.

 
I’m away from my computer, so I haven’t posted any pictures today, though I have taken many. I’m testing out my WordPress app right now to post this from my phone. 

It was a sunny day spend with friends. I got sand in my shoes and forgot to worry about whether I was accomplishing anything. Sounds awful, doesn’t it? 

 

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In Love and War and Laundry

All Dressed Up

Alice believes she should always look her best no matter what she is doing.

My photo prompt today was “all dressed up and nowhere to go.” This is what Alice decided to do to help me get the shot.

I haven’t taken the dog photo yet today, though we can’t blame Lucy Peanut. The dog prompt is “stepping out.” LP has been raring to go all day, but I’ve been in the laundry room with Alice. Lucy P will just have to wait her turn.

I did, however, manage to make my cranes for the day while waiting on the wash.

49-51

These are 49-51 of a planned 1000. When I look at those numbers, I think this is going very slowly, but then I remember that it’s still January, and this project is supposed to last me the whole year. I only have to do 83 per month to get to 1000, so I’m actually ahead of schedule. That’s a good thing. Research paper season is coming. I’m bound to fall behind at that point.

Meanwhile, I’ve been thinking about this quote that I read.

In Love and War

I love this quote because it rings true. I came to a similar realization in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. When disaster strikes, we find out who people are. They might be able to convince us up to that point that they are who they want to be, but when everything is falling apart, we find out.

Some people are better than they know, and others are a whole lot worse. We just don’t know until put to the test.

I’ve been reading the book The Nightingale, and so far it is very good. I found it on one of those “best of the year” lists at the end of 2015. It is the story of two sisters and their experiences in France during World War II. It is thought-provoking and compelling and beautifully written. If you are looking for something to read, you can’t go wrong here.

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Shooting at the moon

Meet me on the dark side of the moon.

I’m not going to post a zillion pictures today. I’m tired, and I only took half a zillion pictures. I think I’ll just leave you with this one.

Professional photographers, if they are nice people, share their recipes for how to get certain shots. I’ve just been reading some of those recipes. Every shot requires a certain combination of shutter speed, aperture size, and ISO (or light sensitivity). Then there are things like lenses and filters and focal points and white balances and so on. What ingredients are you going to use? How long are you going to cook that picture? At what temperature?

I love reading these recipes, and I always get ideas from them, and when I’m serious about doing the job right, I follow them.

Often, though, I’m just fooling around to see what will happen. We never used recipes in my house growing up. We read a lot of cookbooks, but when we started cooking, we mostly just fooled around to see what would happen. Lots of times we used respectable ingredients to create meals from scratch, but lots of other times, we banged open a can of biscuits.

This photograph came from a can of bang biscuits. I don’t suppose that means there isn’t a recipe to share, though, so I’m going to tell you how I did this.

I took this shot handheld (look, Ma, no tripod) with a point-and-shoot camera. It’s a superzoom camera (a Sony HX400V), but it is still a point-and-shoot, meaning that it’s made to operate on fully automatic pretty much all of the time. It’s supposed to take nice looking pictures for people who don’t know or don’t have time to care where all of the camera settings are.

If you would like to take pictures of the moon that show some detail, and you want to do it handheld with a point-and-shoot, here’s one little trick you need to know. Take the photograph while it is still daylight. This one was shot in the daylight. That’s why it was able to pick up that much detail even though I only used the canned biscuits approach. The camera was on fully automatic, and it was not on a tripod. Not even big fancypants DSLR cameras can shoot the moon in any degree of detail under those circumstances after dark. If the moon is the only bright thing in the sky, it will be blown out in the photo so that you see no details in it whatsoever. There are recipes that will get you an awesomely detailed moon with real camera gear using manual settings and a tripod. But if you are too lazy or too pressed for time to go through all of that, or if you don’t have the gear, try to catch the moon sauntering out in late afternoon before the sun goes down.

So this one was taken in daylight, but it was very grainy and nothing to be particularly proud of, except for the fact that it did pick up some good detail. A DSLR with a fancy lens on a tripod, using settings recommended by a professional will get you much better than this. Homemade bread that you knead a couple of times and let rise for five hours will also taste better than a bang biscuit, but a bang biscuit will fill you up. You just have to put enough jelly on it to make it taste good.

I needed some jelly on my moon shot, so I uploaded it to a free photo editing site called PicMonkey, and I added the Daguerreotype effect, which turned the grainy blue background into a dark background, which was still grainy but dark enough so that the grain wasn’t so obvious. I liked that effect, but it looked odd to have a moon in a dark background with no stars in the sky. I was way too lazy to attempt to make that look natural, so I just slapped a quote about the moon onto it, so it would look like I meant to have a starless sky all along.

And there you have it.

I hope that I use my photo project this year as an opportunity to teach myself new camera skills, but I also hope that I just enjoy doing it. My little moon shot won’t win any awards, but I did have fun creating it. Also, I happen to like the occasional bang biscuit.

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In which we all suffer for the art

Lucy Peanut is not impressed with her new outfit.

Today’s dog photo challenge was “all dressed up,” and Lucy Peanut had to endure grave insult because of it. She was not impressed with her new outfit. I had been saving this sweater for excessively cold weather, but after having to model it today, Lucy Peanut informs me that the weather will never be cold enough.

Chase

Jack Cat was also busy today keeping the yard clear of neighbor dogs. He may have been trying to protect Lucy Peanut, but it seems more likely that he was establishing a one dog limit for his territory.

My regular photo challenge today was “upside down.” I took that as an opportunity to play with office toys.

46-47

The yellow cranes were my second set for the day. My first batch were a bunch of clock watchers.

43-45

I have a lot of office time right now because I’m teaching a second eight week class that obviously hasn’t started yet. I’ve been doing most of my crane folding in the office because it is easier to complete them without help from Jack Cat, Stella Calico, and Lucy Peanut. It is also a good office activity. The repetitive process of crane folding sort of puts me into a meditative state, but that’s a good state to be in to work through mental puzzles. I’ve been planning lessons and reading stories I’ve assigned to my students and figuring out how things work while folding those cranes. It’s a good thing. If I didn’t have that little bit of activity to keep me focused on the moment, I would probably get bored and wander out of the office dozens of times during the day.

I’m really not meant to sit still all day. I need to get one of those bicycle work stations in my office. I have room. It would be a better investment than most of the things I purchase on impulse. I feel sure I could pedal and fold cranes and plan lessons at the same time. I could probably pedal and fold cranes and conference with students at the same time. I need to make this happen. Who wants to float me a little bit of cash?

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Don’t be sad, sad kitty

Sad Kitty

Stella Calico was stuck inside today, watching Jack Cat and Lucy Peanut play outside. Stella is a shy and skittish kitty and does not go outside, but sometimes she sits in the window looking sad to be left home alone.

To which Lucy Peanut replies…

Wise Puppy

I don’t have anything to add to that. Lucy P has pretty much said it all.

Here are today’s cranes.

40-42

I am done now. I have not done all the things today, but I have the tired, and I am done.

Peace and love.

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It only takes one

Sunset Parking Space

I chose a random shot for my photo of the day because capturing these random moments is what a photo project is all about.

My cranes for the day were busy reading a literature anthology to prepare for class.

37-39

My photo prompt for the day was “hidden treasure.” Alice hid some treasure from herself out of fear that she would no longer fit into her skinny jeans. The fact that this treasure exists I blame on a child and those infernal chocolate fundraisers that are oh so delicious and horrible.

Hidden Treasure

My dog challenge for the day was “words of wisdom.” So far Lucy Peanut hasn’t said anything to me that is repeatable. I came home from work and went right back out again. She peed on the kitchen floor to express her opinion, but I didn’t think anyone wanted to see a photo of that.

Instead of sharing a Lucy pic today, I’m going to revisit and revise my crane shot from yesterday.

Cranes 34-46 Cropped

I cropped this shot so that the birds would show up better. I wanted to write something about this particular image last night, but I was so caught up in saying farewell to David Bowie that I didn’t have the heart to focus on anything else.

The prompt yesterday was “black background.” I set this up in my kitchen and used a witch’s cape left from Halloween as the background. I arranged the cranes, shined a lamp on them, and took 36 shots. I knew how I wanted this to look when I started out. Of the 36 shots, though, only one turned out as I envisioned. Turns out it only takes one. I wanted the cranes to appear to be floating in the dark. So here you go…my colorful birds are floating in the dark. In the words of David Bowie’s last video, “Now ain’t that just like me?”

I’m particularly proud of this one because I colored the design on the cranes myself, so I was involved in three stages of the creative process. I colored the paper. I folded the cranes. And I set up and took the photograph.

My brother gave me a day-by-day pull apart calendar for Christmas that was a perfect square, perfect for origami paper. That gave me the idea to use calendars for my paper crane project, so I went to a bookstore after Christmas and found a 60% off sale on day-by-day calendars. I bought several. One of those is an adult coloring calendar. That’s what I used for these birds.

Lesson of the Day:

It doesn’t matter how many times you fail to get the right shot. It only takes one success.

Peace and love, my friends. Never forget to turn and face the strange.

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Just like that bluebird

34-36

Cranes 34-36 of 1000 for 2016.

“This way or no way
You know, I’ll be free
Just like that bluebird
Now ain’t that just like me.”

Rest in Peace, David Bowie.

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