Boise Weekly Fiction 101 entries

This year I entered the Boise Weekly Fiction 101 contest. The rules are to write a story containing exactly 101 words (hyphenated words count as a single word). I entered two stories and neither passed the judges muster. But, here they are for your review. The first is based on my visit to a humpback whale that had washed up on the beach in southern Washington. We were heading to the Oregon Coast and while in Astoria heard about the whale on the evening news and changed our plans. Being a wildlife biologist, I was curious to see the whale and to photograph it, but the trip turned into an observation of human behavior which was incredibly interesting. Some of the photos I made were used in the official report, which was unable to determine the cause of death.

The second is based on a poem I wrote many years ago, but have since misplaced so I only remember a couple bits.

Visiting the Whale
In twilight she rested, saltwater cradling her body. The air still but the sea restless. Thirty years near-weightless, her massive black-gray body rarely felt the pull of gravity. On the surface, three-foot-swells washed over her broad back. A final beat of her heart and slow exhale into the night, her body gave way to the mercy of the current. Under the stars she touched the Earth for the first time where once her ancestors walked on hoofed feet among towering ferns. With the sun they came; to see, touch, poke, gawk, photograph, pose, measure, sample; a funeral procession of Peeping Toms.

Universe
Her universe comes with her wherever she goes, dragged along by her measured pace. Stars and planets, mothers, sons, mountains, and alligators helpless against the pull of her gravity, as she is helpless against theirs. We are here and then; intersecting, obstructing. Bumping amorphous bubbles of existence flow through, encompass, attract, influence, repel. A mountain valley or deep ocean holds more than a tea cup. A river meanders among galaxies. Cool rain splashes on her upturned face. “Your universe is too small for me!” she shouts, defiant as she lies in the dugout canoe, dragging her hand languidly in the sea.

Scotland : Senses & Perception Kickstarter Project

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mikeshipman/scotland-senses-and-perception

Today I launched a Kickstarter project to create a photo book (and other rewards) about how our senses & perceptions influence our photography and art (not just for photographers), showcasing the stunning and mysterious landscape of Scotland, which I’ll be visiting this summer.

Rewards for backing this project range from postcards mailed from Scotland, photographic prints, one-on-one photography instruction time with me, an 80+ page signed and numbered limited edition hardcover book, to a 4-day Idaho photo trip.

Please have a look at the project and support it if you can, at whatever level. If you can pass it on to your friends and any others who would be interested, I would appreciate it. Thank you!

Project Backers to date

A thank you to the supporters of this project. Unfortunately, it did not get fully funded. I initiated a second round at Indiegogo.com, and set it up to receive all funds contributed. I’ve detailed that effort in another post.

Steve
Michael Rolig
Barbara McClain
James Bishop
Betty and Ken Rodgers
David Young
Robert Vestal and Jyl Hoyt
Ben and Marcia Cartledge
Michael D. Margulies
Linda Lantzy
Marcia Morris
Bader Alawadhi
Diane Ronayne
Shari Hart
James R Cummins
Connie Gibbons
Kathleen Fitzgerald
Clarence H King III
Leslie & Gary Green

Our Digital Leave Behind

Back in March, 2009, I gave a presentation at Ignite Boise 01 titled “The Electronic Afterlife: Digital Immortality” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v88G2PiFZ-A) in which I compared the longevity of the relatively hardy analog leave behinds of the past with the fragile digital leave behinds of the future. Essentially, the likelihood of someone finding a box of old hard drives in a dusty attic 50 years from now, and being able to plug them into a device to read them, is slim. What we do today with our digital files may not last long enough for prosperity to happily “rediscover” them down the road. While some things, like Twitter and Facebook posts appear to be destined to last forever out there in the digital aether, that’s not even certain. Plus, how would you find it or track its source? Technology may “improve” enough to make these bits and bytes immortal, but there will probably be an historical “blackout period” during the transition when a lot of digital information has gone missing due to lack of reliable storage medium or legacy equipment to read it.

I mention in the presentation an effort by Microsoft to develop equipment to document a person’s daily activities; an ongoing diary of your life (MyLifeBits) based on the ideas of Vannevar Bush. There are others working on similar projects. One I recently came across is by graphic designer Nicholas Felton who, since 2005, has produced a personal “Annual Report” of his life during the previous year. He developed a program to record entries of his daily activities, compiling them into various graphs and maps and statistics (www.feltron.com). An interview with Felton can be found (here). He’s also created a place where the average person can record their own activities (www.daytum.com). There are two levels of recording; free (public and limited data sets) and $4/month (which allows for privacy settings as well as unlimited data sets). You can track any number of things, from the number of phone calls made, daily miles run/biked/walked, how much money you spend on what, food eaten, people met, books read, relationships, etc. Access is via computer and smartphone or mobile device (m.daytum.com).

Whether you decide to have a go, the annual reports at feltron.com are well designed and interesting to look at.

I’m certain there are other sites and applications (other than Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and the like) that allow for the collection of personal datum and it begs the question regarding the debate about personal privacy. We seem to like to share everything about our lives with complete strangers, but don’t like it when “others” want to look at that same information. We can’t have it both ways.

Save Frequently and Often

Back in the “Old Days” of computers, the mantra “Save Frequently and Often” was a hedge against the common system hangs and crashes of the day. While operating systems and software are much more stable these days, the mantra is still worth hanging onto and practicing for two main reasons:

1. Technology is not infallible
2. Human beings are not infallible

Computer operating systems and programs will crash and hang. Hard drives will crash and fail. Humans will format hard drives and memory cards thinking they’ve downloaded or saved the information stored on those devices. Humans will drop things they shouldn’t be dropping and misplace things they should be paying better attention to. It’s natural. It happens. However, if you can avoid that knot in your stomach when you’ve lost 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, or even 2GB of image files due to a hardware crash or other mishap, that’s a lot of stress and woe energy you can redirect to restoring that data instead of looking for the nearest window to leap out of.

Your job, if you value your digital photographs, is to make a practice of Saving Frequently and Often. There’s much more to this than I can squeeze into this little space, but let me point out some options (there are many) that can relieve the pain if such a disaster strikes you.

A second mantra is the 3-2-1 Rule:

3. You should keep 3 copies (at least) of any important files – a primary and 2 backups
2. Your backup files should be on 2 different media types (i.e. hard drive and optical media – DVD/Blu-Ray) to protect against different types of hazard
1. 1 backup copy (at least) should be stored offsite

The 3-2-1 Rule is really a guideline (like most “rules” in photography) and should be understood to be a minimum recommendation. You can never have too many backups (versus having no backup).

There are many more backup options now than just a few years ago and they range in price from around $5 to several thousand, depending on your needs. Let’s run through a general list:

1. DVD and Blu-Ray. The least expensive but probably the most time-consuming backup tool. DVD capacity is 4.7GB and Blu-Ray is 25GB (50GB for dual layer). The cost per GB is nearly the same for each with DVD at an average of $0.299/GB ($0.60 – $0.90 each) and Blu-Ray at $0.213/GB (about $5.00 each). The $300 cost of a Blu-Ray drive might offset any small cost-savings for now, until prices come down.

2. External Hard Drive Dock. These devices are relatively new, dispensing with the difficult-to-access enclosure for a simple “drop slot” for the bare drive. The BlacX SATA dock by Thermaltake connects using Firewire or USB and can read 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives and costs between $35 – $55 depending on the vendor. You do have to be careful handling the hard drive since it is bare, but the dock is a convenient way to quickly backup or transfer information.

3. External Hard Drive units. Large drive enclosures like the Seagate FreeAgent Pro or Western Digital MyBook are more for ‘permanent’ use as backup space or storage. Connecting via USB or Firewire, they range in price from $90 for 500GB to $200 for 2TB.

4. External Hard Drive enclosures. Sometimes called JBODs (Just a Bunch Of Disks), these enclosures are simply extensions of the disk capacity of your main computer, with from 2 to 6 or 8 or more hard drive bays. Some enclosures have removable hard drive carriers for “easy” replacement while others require the hard drives to be attached in the bay (like in your computer). Connecting via Firewire or USB, they can also be set up in a RAID, individual volumes, or as a large volume. Other enclosures are used for single drives and can be purchased with a drive or empty.

5. RAID and BeyondRAID. RAID is an acronym for Redundant Array of Independent (or Inexpensive) Disks and allows for the division and replication of data among multiple drives. Some cons for RAID is it’s difficult for the unitiated to set up and maintain (I think) and the volume is set by the smallest capacity. So, if you have a 250GB drive and a 500GB drive, the capacity is driven by the 250GB and you “waste” the 250GB from the 500GB drive. Also, if you upgrade capacity, you have to backup and reload all your data. Systems such as the Buffalo Terastation (2TB $730 – $900 empty, 4TB $1150 – $1400 empty) use RAID. A system called BeyondRAID, used by Data Robotics in their Drobo line, allows the use of multiple capacity drives and easy upgrading of capacity without the need to reload data. Drobo products range from the 4-bay Drobo (up to 8TB capacity, starts at $310 empty) to the 8-bay DroboPro and DroboElite (up to 16TB capacity, starts at $1250 empty).

6. Solid State Drives. This technology is very promising but still expensive. These drives have no moving parts and are very durable, like your Compact Flash memory cards. They use less power than conventional hard drives, run cooler, are smaller, and are faster. The downside is the price. A 64GB solid state drive is $200 and a 256GB solid state drive is $700. As with all new technology, the price will come down as the devices enter the mainstream.

7. Personal (or Portable) Storage Devices. These palm-sized devices are primarily for backing up memory cards. Epson, Hyperdrive, JoBo, Wolverine, are some of the brands that manufacture PSDs. They come in various configurations and capacities. Epson PSDs tend to be the most expensive, but feature rich. However, upgrading capacity requires the purchase of a new device and battery life is low. Hyperdrive makes a PSD with smaller color screen, but faster upload and longer battery life for about 1/3 the cost of the Epson. These devices are great in the field for backing up memory cards. They connect to your desktop or laptop via USB just like an external hard drive.

In addition to the backup devices, a regular program and procedure to backup your data is needed. Whether you backup every day, once a week, or once a month, doing so on a regular basis will save you a ton of grief if you ever have a crash.

Ignite Boise, March 19, my presentation

On Thursday, March 19, 6 – 9pm at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, the first Ignite Boise will descend upon our fair (?) city. What is Ignite Boise, you ask? Well, stripped from the www.igniteboise.com website is this description:

“Ignite Boise is a 3 hour-ish idea feeding frenzy that brings together artists, geeks, entrepreneurs, academics, government officials, and others to share their ideas in fast-paced, bite-sized presentations. It’s a great opportunity to meet smart, interesting people (if we do say so ourselves) and maybe even learn something.”

These bite-sized presentations are 5 minutes and 20 slides long. The slides automatically change every 15 seconds to keep things moving along.

I’ll be one of the presenters. The title is “The Electronic Afterlife: Digital Immortality?” and will be about

Recent events with Facebook and the control of electronic content by social networking sites and others and talks of “digital life diaries” to record every
aspect of your life for posterity. What will be the “leave behinds” of the digital society? Future generations will no longer be lucky enough to exhume a dusty old trunk of
documents left behind in a musty attic. Where does this digital history reside? How long does it survive? What digital history is being lost down the rabbit hold of the digital
trash can? Who controls our digital history? What are the privacy issues? Who pays for the storage?

Admission to the event is free, with ticket holders allowed in between 5 – 5:30, everyone else between 5:30 – 6:00. The event starts at 6:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Oh, man – one extreme to another

Two jewels in the news today:

#1
Stow, Ohio (AP) – An Ohio man may have tipped off his intentions when he stood in line at a bank wearing a ski mask before staging a holdup (at least he was polite and waited his turn).

Police in Stow say Feliks Goldshtein of Highland Heights was arrested thursday following a brief car chase (I wonder if he signaled his turns?).

Police say the teller asked the man to take off the mask before being served. The man displayed what turned out to be a toy gun and demanded money from the teller. He made off with an undisclosed amount (which they soon recovered, via the above statement).

#2
Victorville, Calif (AP) – A 6-year-old boy brought a loaded handgun to his southern California elementary school and it wasn’t discovered until recess when he was sent to the campus office because of sagging pants.

The .45-caliber handgun slipped down the first-grader’s pant leg Wednesday while a clerk at the Victorville school was helping him put on a belt (so, that’s why those pants are saggin -don’t stop, it gets better).

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Karen Hunt says the boy took the gun from his father’s vehicle. Investigators say the weapon was stolen during a November robbery.

The boy’s father, Michael Lewis, was arrested and booked for investigation of receiving stolen property and possession of a firearm by a felon.

There’s nothing more to say, these accounts speak for themselves.

Idaho Photographer Pulls Angler from Ice

source: Idaho State Journal

MALAD, Idaho – Clay Ross had just finished a photography job in Oneida County Wednesday and was driving north on Interstate 15, talking on his cell phone with a friend. Just a mile or two north of town, something caught his eye on the Devil Creek Reservoir north of Malad.

“As I looked over to the right, I saw what I thought was one man trying to pull another man out of the water through a hole in the ice,” said Ross, who’s from Idaho Falls. “I told the person on the phone, ‘Let me call you back.'”

The 46-year-old Idaho Falls photographer used an extension cord and his truck to rescue an elderly fisherman whose venture out on thin ice nearly killed him.

Clay Ross had just finished a photo shoot in southeastern Idaho and was returning home on U.S. Interstate 15 near Malad’s Devil Creek Reservoir when he saw two men struggling near the boat ramp.

A recent cold spell had frozen the surface of the popular fishing hole, and Scott Ravsten, 78, says he wandered onto the ice with a ski pole as a probe before falling through.

Ross used an extension cord and a tie-down strap that Ravsten was clutching in the water to pull him to safety.

Ravsten required treatment at the Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello because he’d spent 15 minutes in the icy water.

Domains for sale

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idahopw.org $300 TDNAM

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pamwhitephoto.com $400 TDNAM

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