This makes a better story if you know a few things about me. I hate to be late. I am extremely uncomfortable with strangers and I know very little about cats. I despise feeling helpless.
Scene: Flowery Branch GA- a town that feels recently birthed from farmland an hour or so outside the sprawling mass that is Atlanta
I need to be at the school roughly three miles away by 8:30AM. I am at a hotel. It’s is 7:30AM. I figure I might as well leave early. I turn the key in my cat. Nothing. Not a click. Not a twitch. I open the hood and see the scene below. Blue powdery stuff2 and the metal thing that attaches the wires to the batteryx3 had been completely eaten in half.
I tried a few things. I tried to wedge the terminal against the battery post with a box . I tried using the jumper cables like a giant clothes pin to hold the terminal in place.4 Time was passing and I was displeased. Very displeased.
I opted to return to the hotel and see about getting a cab. The response was not comforting. Something was said about another county and a wait of an hour or so. I canceled the cab call. The helpful lady at the front desk mentioned that the lady who delivered the food might be willing to give me a ride. She was. I got a ride and a lot of information on how much this place has changed. I hitched a ride back to the hotel with the Hall County Director of Technology.
AAA is probably more like a C+
I get back to the hotel around 4:45PM. I call AAA. They call me a tow truck and promise it will take me someplace useful that can fix the cat. The tow truck driver arrives and disagrees. He also says he’s never seen anything like what’s happened to my battery. He opts not to try to jump directly to the cables and mentions fear of an explosion.
I call AAA to discuss this. They appear to be googling garages. This does not increase my confidence. It is now closer to 5:30PM. Hopes are fading. Lacking a destination the tow trucker driver leaves. I begin to seethe.
After venting a bit on the phone, I turn to YouTube. I find the video below, which is sort of close. I worry about electricity. I worry that I’ve probably already fried some computer somewhere. I have been well sewn with fear, uncertainty, and doubt but I am also very unhappy. I google auto part stores in the area. I find an Advanced Auto Parts that’s open until 9:00PM. I call them. Carlos tells me that they don’t have the exact part I need but indicates we can probably figure something out. I commit. I tell Carlos I’m having my cat towed to the parking lot.
I call AAA back. While waiting for the tow truck, I go through all of the tools in my trunk. I break a socket driver. I then make sure it is broken. I find the adjustable wrench is coated in wax or maybe paraffin.5 The tools are utterly useless. The waiting is unpleasant.
The tow truck arrives around 7:30. The store is seven miles away on the highway. It’s getting dark and sporadic rain drops are hitting the tow truck’s window as we head over. There is no small talk. I have committed. I will fix this in the parking lot.
After being pointed to the general area by a clerk. I stare at the various terminal ends. Another clerk approaches and asked if he talked to me on the phone earlier. It is Carlos. Carlos is awesome. He looks at the cat. Calls it an easy fix and proceeds to help me pick the part, borrow the tools, and get this done.6 Cat works perfectly. I am a better person.
1 Or non-start I guess.
3 I later learned it was called a battery terminal. +1Vocabulary addition
4 That almost worked.
5 I vaguely remember why this might be the case but can confirm no details.
6 A pry bar was involved at one point to get some extra cable length.
10:00 -10:50 am | Tom Woodward will be your guide on this photo safari as we look at the world through different lenses. This shift in both perspective and attention has the potential to change how you think about many things. After a brief exploration of a few different types of photography, we’ll take our new considerations into the world we walk through every day. On our return we’ll share what we’ve captured and look at opportunities to extend these conversations beyond today’s excursion.
I’ve been wanting to take a group of faculty out to take pictures since hearing about Abilene Christian doing it. Seems like it’s a good idea in a few ways. We look at our regular location in a new way. People get a chance to see how many interesting possibilities are right in front of us every day. In general the process opens up the chance to talk about lots of things that apply outside of photography – like the ability to tighten up action/feedback loops to make progress, framing things conceptually and then doing, trying to imitate styles, etc. etc.
I made a quick website that morning to hold photos we took so we could have discussions around the photos after the fact. Participants could submit via the Jetpack post by email option or through the Gravity form on the site. A quick and easy way to create a multimedia website with multiple authors but without the overhead of accounts.
I used the images below to demonstrate some thematic/style considerations. I wanted the photos to be from the VCU area for credibility and, after some internal back and forth, I opted to use my own photos. I decided it gave me additional credibility to use my own images.1
The World is a Stage2
The world is like a movie set if you look around. It seems fake at times there are so many strange and amazing things out there . . . but you must look . . . and keep looking.
Sometimes looking at patterns/lines/colors and enjoying them more for their relationship than for any inherent subject based interest is a fun way to look around.
Bokeh is harder to do with camera phones but still possible and some apps let you do it after the fact. Bokeh refers to the portion that is out of focus. Instagram is one of those apps but there are many others. The depth of field is a related concept and refers to how much of the image is in focus. The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.
Macro shots focus on closeup images. Cell phones can do a decent job with shots like this but special hardware is often useful for DSLRs or cell phones if you want to pursue this seriously.
Street photography is usually black and white and often focuses on capturing an ephemeral moment. There are issues you want to think through when photographing in public and how you might or might not want to interact with strangers in public. There are whole groups dedicated to interacting with and photographing strangers.
Reflections are always fun ways to look at the world. Pools of water, windows, sunglasses, actual mirrors etc. can all provide interesting effects.
So what is the real “why” of your course? Why should students take it? How will they be changed by it? What is your discipline’s real “why”? Why does it matter that students take __________ courses or become _________ists? How can digital and networked technologies effectively support the real why of your course?
I struggle with the ideas of courses and school in general but here is what I hope for my children and the people I interact with at any time.
I hope to both arm people against misfortune/abuse/boredom and provision them for additional opportunities amazement, wonder, and happiness (and the ability to inspire those feelings in others). I don’t know what -ist these people might be. The -ist doesn’t fit for me. Maybe passionate intellectual omnivores? Reflective Renaissance figures? Happy ambidextrous wanderers? Magical weavers of detritus and wonder?
I hope to get people to realize their own power and capabilities, to pursue their own interests and connections. I hope to point out options that enable you not to simply take what’s given but to build what you want. That applies to what you might make, how you might make it, and the community within which you might make it. That fits pretty well in the digital spaaaaaace. It’s big. It’s open. It’s malleable. It’s full of wonderful things and people interested in just about anything you could want and it gets easier and easier to make more and more powerful things.