I've got a piggy. I've got a piggy. I've got a piggy. Hey hey hey hey!!
The day Jordan and I were in Camden for the music festival, the clouds were just amazing. I took a lot of pictures of them, but this is one of two that I liked best. I took this shot in full manual and didn't post-process it one bit. It's straight off the camera. Woot!
One of these days I'm going to set up the tripod and use the self-timer to take some good shots of Jordan and me. For now, this one will have to do. I love the way his sunburned face and beautiful blue eyes turned out here. My double chin, on the other hand, I tried to crop out.
Hey! Stop looking at it!!
This shot was taken at the XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, NJ, just as the sun was setting.
I got a haircut today. It's fabulous! I'll post a picture tomorrow or something.
I don't like coffee, but this picture of a roaster at a coffee shop I recently hung out in turned out nicely.
I recently got a book called "Understanding Exposure," which I've been getting great advice from on how to use the manual settings on my camera. Hopefully, my shots will just get better and better. Keep an eye out!
Anyway, the school normally orders these shirts from the same vendor every year. This vendor charges approximately $10 a shirt. Having some experience ordering screen printed shirts, I can tell you that this price is too high, several dollars too high, in fact. So, I priced shirts on the interweb and came up with $6.50 a shirt for high quality 100% cotton with printing on the front and back.
To be a team player (and comparison shopper), I sent our designs to the school employee in charge of ordering these shirts to let her know our plan and to ask her to get a quote for us, just in case we could get a better deal from the school's vendor. She sent back an email telling me not to order the shirts from a different vendor because the school would take care of that. I wonder if the people over in the "summer session" office realize that ordering t-shirts from the internet is fairly simple and it would be almost impossible for them to stop us from doing business elsewhere.
Basically, I think this is an issue of stewardship. If we can save $3.50 a shirt, we should do it. And, I think that I'll have enough support from my classmates that we will. It's amazing the things that school politics can affect.
This shot was taken at the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis. Rachel, Jordan's sister, thinks these birds are "so ugly they're cute," but I think they're just ugly. They remind me of the evil skekses from Jim Henson's "The Dark Crystal."
P.S. I didn't get mugged on New Jersey Transit last night.
Today should be an adventure. I'll be meeting Jordan in Camden, NJ, around 3 p.m. to attend the WXPN XPoNential Music Festival, where we will have the chance to sample music from about ten different artists, including Los Lonely Boys and Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. Before I hop on the train around 12:45, I need to make a trip to Wachovia to get some cash, continue down Nassau to Hoagie Haven where I will purchase dinner for two for $5+tax (; ), decide which book I want to bring with me on the trip, and settle on which bag would be best suited for the trip (green shoulder bag or huge orange backpack?).
The trip down isn't daunting in the least, but I am a little worried about the trip back. Depending when I leave, I may be arriving in Princeton as late as 12:45 a.m. Such an itinerary would involve waiting at a bus stop in Trenton for half an hour, really late at night, by myself. I could leave the festival before it ends, but this is the last time I'm going to see Jordan for at least two weeks and he plans on staying until the last concert is over. I guess I'll leave my iPod at home and hope that no one thinks my ratty green bag from Target or strange orange Jansport is worth stealing.
Which book to bring is an altogether more pleasant question. I just finished The Omnivore's Dilemma (post upcoming), so I won't be taking that along. I just started Understanding Exposure, but I don't know if I will be able to read that straight through as it contains a lot of information, all of which I want to absorb completely. So, do I risk the possibility of running out of reading material for the six hours of train and bus rides, do I bring along something light and fluffy for mind-clearing after gorging on information about photography, or do I grab Thomas Merton like a good seminary student in search of a Ph.D. would do? Too bad I don't know anyone who's already finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows...
Anyway, enjoy your Saturday. With any luck, I'll be back posting tomorrow about my non-harrowing adventure on New Jersey Transit.
Here is another shot from my time in Iowa City. These coriopsis were growing in Jacinda (Jordan's cousin) and Dave's front yard. It was dusk when we arrived and the humidity was near zero, so the shots I took turned out pretty nicely.
Anyway, the simplest way to describe the book is to say it's about America's broken relationship with food. Pollan takes the time to follow several different meals from start to finish - from a fast food hamburger to a hunted and gathered feast. I've only read about two of the meals so far, fast food and "industrial organic." Reading about the industrial organic meal led me to make my first trip to Whole Foods ever. I'll write more about the book when I finish it, but for now it's the grocery store.
It was an interesting and strange experience. It's definitely a niche market. Whole Foods wouldn't last a week in a low income neighborhood where people are feeding themselves on a couple dollars a day. When I was a kid, my mother had about $300 a month to feed three people. That's just a little more than $3 a day for each of us. Organic gooseberries and whole wheat bread were definitely not on the menu.
I splurged a little, buying root beer made with real cane sugar, a .4 ounce piece of "organic smooshed" raspberries, some freshly made pico de gallo and a bag of fancy potato chips cooked in olive oil and topped with parmesan and garlic. The lowbrow version probably would have cost me less than $5, but at Whole Foods I spent over $12. (And, let me tell you, those chips and pico de gallo will last all week.) It's infuriating to me that the more nutritious a food is, the more it costs. And people wonder why poor people are also fat people.
Whole Foods is sort of a bittersweet place. It's wonderful to have access to organic fruits and vegetables, but buying from a place like Whole Foods does very little to support local growers and is only marginally more sustainable than conventional mega-farms where the cows are pumped full of hormones or chickens are fed beef fat to make them bigger faster. They still use just as much petroleum for transporting and processing their foods which grow in huge monocultures instead of polycultures, which is what nature intended.
All this makes me committed to growing as much of my own food as possible when I have a place to grow it. I'm also considering becoming a de facto vegetarian, eating meat only when it's served to me at someone's house or when I can get it from a farm that grazes its livestock. Eggs and dairy products present a products present more of a problem because I love both of them and don't know how easily I will be able to move away from eating them... Of course, the whole vegetarian idea is still an idea. We'll see.
Anyway, rant over for now.
Well, I don't. In fact, the last time I definitely remember having it was in the St. Louis airport. After the ordeal with Jordan's wallet, this situation seems tame by comparison, since I don't have anywhere to drive and I don't buy much alcohol, but it's still irritating because I don't want to pay for a new one.
Oh well, it certainly could be a lot worse.
For the first few days of class, I was waiting for Dr. Parsenios to throw a curve ball, something unexpected and strange. Around Wednesday, I finally realized that even if he throws something more difficult at us, it's still going to follow the rules because the Greeks loved logic.
Anyway, campus is quiet during the summer, not much to report.
I spent nearly half an hour on Jordan's back patio getting dozens of shots of this insect. Look at it. It's just creepy. It has a proboscis like a butterfly or moth, but no wings. We couldn't figure out what it was, so if anyone reading this has any insights, let me know.
It's my first day back at Princeton for the summer. Seems like Greek is going to be pretty easy compared to Hebrew, so I'm not too worried. I think the people taking Hebrew over the summer are completely insane, but I guess it's the way to do it if you're just fulfilling a requirement to be ordained.
My room is a huge mess. I don't want to finish unpacking, but if I don't, I will have to sleep on my couch tonight...not a terrible option. Getting my stuff out of storage was interesting. It was like one of those sliding puzzles we all played with when we were kids. You know the ones; sixteen spaces, fifteen pieces, only one piece can be moved at a time. If you still don't remember, check out Wikipedia on the subject. The point is that I could only move my things a few feet at a time because I left early and it was all behind everybody else's stuff. Needless to say, it was a hot, sweaty endeavor.
The housing office put me in the wrong room at first. They gave me the room next to my room... Fortunately, it didn't take long to get that straightened out.
And, for a final bit of trivia, one of the guys in my precept played professional football for four years, has two master's degrees, one of which is from Oxford, and studied classical Greek in undergrad. Sometimes I wonder what I've been doing with my life. ;)
Time to learn the Greek alphabet...
Those of you who think Iowa City sounds lame as a vacation destination, think again. I guess it could be under most circumstances, but when you are staying in the Sheraton downtown, which has the most comfortable beds you've ever slept in, and there is a free Jazz Festival going on a few blocks away and someone else is paying for everything and the weather is perfect, it's worth spending a few days. We spent our days wandering around town, listening to music and dining at local restaurants and our evenings hanging out with Jordan's cousins, all of whom he'd never met before. No crazy stories, but plenty of fun.
St. Louis was fun in its own way, but included a hefty dose of stress. (As an aside, if you're ever thinking about going to St. Louis for the Fourth of July, it's not worth it...really.) We arrived on the third around 2. Jordan noticed that his wallet was missing around 5, when we were headed out the door for dinner. The car was checked and rechecked. Jordan was convinced that it must be at his sister's house, but Rachel, her husband, Nate, and Jordan's brother, Jesse, were already on their way to meet us for dinner and a ballgame, so there was no way to find out.
We talked about it over dinner, but it didn't seem dire, so we went ahead with our plans and Rachel promised to check around her house upon her return. Jesse called around midnight to tell us that the wallet wasn't found. *sinking feelings all around*
The next morning, I used the hotel's computers to look up the number for the Quiznos where we'd had lunch the day before. I recognized the voice of the woman who'd made our sandwiches right away. Had they found a wallet? Why, yes, they had. Was it Jordan Burdge's? Yes, it was!
BUT! His wife had already come in to pick up the wallet... HIS WIFE!?! I quickly informed Patty, our helpful Quiznos employee, that Jordan had no wife.
So, Patty called Jessica, the woman who'd left the note about Jordan's wife coming to get the wallet, and then called me back. Jessica denied it, but Patty was sure that she had taken the wallet. While Patty was dealing with Jessica, Jordan and I were trying to figure out how we would get him home. Turns out you need government-issued picture i.d. to get on a Greyhound bus these days. If we didn't get his license back, he was going to be in St. Louis until his brother drove home in two weeks or more. Lori and Ernie found out from the airline that it might be possible to get on the plane with Jordan's boarding pass from the flight in and a police report stating his identification had been lost or stolen...
Before taking that step, though, Jordan made one last ditch effort to find out if he could get the wallet back without involving the police. We found out from Patty that Jessica was at the Quiznos and Jordan called to confront her. He told her that he wouldn't rat her out to the police or Quiznos, but he needed the wallet to get on our plane. She admitted that she took the wallet because she needed the money for a "friend's" pregnancy test and agreed to meet us at noon near the Quiznos.
So, we all hopped in the car and headed to Troy, Missouri, about an hour away from St. Louis. It was a stressful trip, all of us thinking that Jessica may or may not show up, but in the end she was there waiting for us. After retrieving the license, I suddenly realized I hadn't eaten all day and we went to Quiznos for lunch. :)
Through a tricky turn of events, I let the cat out of the bag about Jessica having the wallet. Even if I hadn't, though, she was going to lose her job for not getting ID from Jordan's wife when she claimed the wallet.
It's difficult to know how to feel about Jessica. She certainly wasn't an experienced pilferer, otherwise she wouldn't have kept the wallet. She wasn't thinking rationally and she got herself into a situation much bigger than she expected. We feel compassion because there was obviously some reason she needed the money, but it's hard to feel badly about her losing her job since what she did was wrong and could have caused serious problems for Jordan and his dad and stepmom. Of course, after all of this happened, we all stopped to wonder whether we would have given her the money had she just asked for it...
Here is a shot from the trek to Hawk Mountain that Jordan and I took with Laura. The trail was really difficult, but we made it safe and sound and got to see some amazing views.
This particular photo was taken in a section called the River of Rocks. I'm sure you can see how it got that name.