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Update on Life

February 11, 2018

The first week of the spring semester is almost over, and week two starts tomorrow. I'm doing vector calculus, linear algebra, music fundamentals, voice lessons, and an aquatic fitness class. I might do the men's glee club, which would put me at 14 credits. Starting this week, I'm not going to have my phone on my person at all times, and I'll check it only a couple times each day. Overall, my cellphone has caused more harm than good. Any positive outcomes could have been achieved through other channels, and my phone leads to wasted time and eye-strain. The iPhone X is $1,000, but as a camera system, it's an absolute joke relative to its cost. You could just get a nice Sony a7 and 5 different fast prime lenses, achieving far more optically. Technology is dead. I have a typewriter and thankfully am majoring in math, a subject that doesn't often require computer stuff. So anyway, I'm nearly 100% sure that nothing is so pressing as to require a cell-phone, and for the majority of our existence, we've managed to survive without them.

Earlier last week, a friend drove me to Portland, and we picked up my Sony a7, went to a grocery store, and walked around a fish store. I bought some nice bread, bananas, and mascarpone cheese, planning to make one of the 31 grilled cheeses that are better than a boyfriend. Perhaps given the proximity of Valentine's Day, I'll wait a few more days and then make it. But on the subject of romantic interests, I'm very glad to not be in relationship. The other week I remarked that if I had a girlfriend, I wouldn't have as many cameras. Altough spending money isn't necessary for a relationship, it's an inevitable consequence. I made a Tinder account a couple weeks ago, and it was hidden while I worked on my photos and bio. Just as a joke, I included, "Send me $5 and see what happens," with a link to my cash page. So Tinder deleted my account and banned my Facebook ID and personal cellphone. I don't care that i can't use Tinder, because it's stupid and always has been. But I'm annoyed there's no process to protest the decision.

Photography

Now that I have a digital camera, I'll be shooting a lot of sports and campus stuff, because I enjoy getting out and socializing via photography. Hopefully I can stay on track with homework and have time to do pics. I need to meet up with a few people this week to make progress on my homelessness project, too.

Adapting film lenses is pretty nice. I'm getting fantastic results optically, aside from some intense lens flares and ghosting. For studio work, this is not an issue, but for photojournalism you sometimes get unpleasant results. There are creative ways to use flare artistically, so overall it's a non-issue. It's absolutey incredible getting true depth of field on a full-frame sensor. There's very little subject isolation at mid-range telephoto with the D500 or other crop-bodies. Even with a 70-200mm 2.8, the photos don't pop the same way they would with a full-frame sensor. I brought some zooms to the basketball game last night, but the max aperture is 3.5 or 4.5, and it's significantly darker. Also, I've shot with primes for so long while doing film, so I don't like zooming. I'd rather be limited to one focal length, walk around, and shoot wide open at f1.2 or 1.4. There are no affordable zooms capable of going below f2.8. With primes, I can shoot two stops faster, doing far better with subject isolation and lower ISOs, and faster shutter speeds.

In the same line-of-thought, manual focusing is another nice restriction. You probably have a bunch of sharp, focused images that are not exciting. I've taken many clear images that are not good. They are boring and lack any artistry. So the sharpness has nothing to do with artistry. It is nice to have an artistic photo be sharp, but ultimately your composition and lighting will carry the photo, not autofocus capabilities. Having AF leads to rapid-fire shooting, and I have no interest digging through 4,000 images.

I haven't done much shooting yet, but I'll post a nice assortment of manual focus sports photos very soon. Back when I was at Chemeketa taking a film class in January 2017, I remember doubting my instructor who claimed that manual focus would be faster. I had my fancy 50-100mm 1.8 lens and was enjoying it at the wrestling tournaments. But after shooting film for a year and getting a feeling for the process, I'm sure he's right. It's faster to have fewer images to sort later. But it's also faster if you work more efficiently. Instead of the "spray and pray" style, you can slow down and be more deliberate with your shots. The Sony a7 hits 5FPS and has some lag, but it's tolerable and ultimately not a big deal.

If you're camera-shopping or currently using a crop-body, I'd definitely encourage you to get a cheap a7 and not worry about AF limitations with adapting modern or vintage lenses. AF is nice, but it's also irritating to have too many photos to sort. If you want to try out my gear, it's available for rent or bartering.

Other thoughts

I'm going to try some journalism. Current topic involves how much Linfield pays for journal access. Publishers are charging a lot of money for access to research, and I'd like to know what it costs at my college. I'm planning a cryptoparty as a PLACE event, and it's to educate people about cryptography. Possible topics include using Signal, Tor, TAILS, or other privacy tools. I'm going to start taking a more aggressive approach to my digital behaviors. It starts with limiting my cell-phone usage, but another component is to start using TAILS more religiously. Everything I'm doing right now is being monitored by the college, because I'm using the college computer system with my personal account. They have backdoored all the machines and can probably keylog if they want. If you try killing the remote desktop process with the Activity Monitor, it'll re-spawn in a couple seconds. There's no escape from surveillance, because the system is compromised. So with TAILS, I use my own system. This doesn't prevent network analysis, but it hopefully means I can have a greater level of trust in the software that's running.

One particularly concerning thing about our school's security system is password management. Passwords are not hashed in the browser; they are sent in plaintext. And the printing software can expose passwords over the network. I know this because Chemeketa uses the same program. Unless it's been fixed, it's a security risk. Also, when you login to Spotify, you need to actually log-out. Deleting the app doesn't actually log you out. I re-installed the app on a computer, and I was able to login. The Tor browser keeps it's data in a folder in the same directory as the application. Other apps will dump private information everywhere throughout the system folders, so it's a nightmare trying to remove apps. All applications should keep their data under one folder.

I crashed my scooter the other day. It was a new one from the thrift shop, and the wheel column isn't tight enough, so the handlebars and the wheels can rotate independently. It caused me to cut up my knee just before the crosswalk heading to the library from the mailroom. I'll fix it soon.

The college is mainly focused on increasing enrollment. It's possible there will be opportunities to get involved with websites, photography, and other stuff to assist in the overall goal of bringing new students to this college. More importantly than our webpages, we need to be making human connections. I'm trying to get a partnership with the high school art program for photography, and if I ever get my life together mathematically, it'd be cool for an open tutoring sysytem, so students can visit the college math building for free help on their stuff. These kinds of programs are going to have a measurable, clear impact on others' lives, and the technical projects are far more abstract and unclear. Besides, fixing a website isn't a long-term activity, but developing new programs is pretty awesome.

I'm very glad Linfield chose Dr. Miles Davis as the new president. The other candidate was far too similar to a politician. She gave no concrete answers to any questions, despite having months to do her research. She seemed unapporachable, elitist, and intellectual. She is everything I hate about higher academia. The chosen president seemed humble, friendly, and sincere. His suggestion to teach a course and have cook-outs was pretty cool, too. In general I despise authority figures and would rather have the faculty collectively fulfill administrative duties, so the concept of authority exists as group leadership rather than being centralized in one person or a new group whose sole purpose is to rule. The federal government is supposed to exist largely as an intangible union of individual states, but the current system has morphed into a ruling class, duplicating governance and wasting resources. In the earlier days, Linfield faculty did fulfill the role of the president, and I hope one day the college will restructure its authority and become a miniature republic or democracy.

Today in the shower, the scab on my knee separated, so it's mildly painful. Now there are two scabs, because the bending stretches the skin. That's good I suppose, so it doesn't heal in a shorter distance than the original skin. When I was back at home, I tried cutting a reusable K-pod to adapt it to a different machine. The plastic shattered, and the knife went into my thumb pretty badly. I somehow didn't lose the original skin; it healed back into my hand just fine, but the scar tissue was more rigid or shorter than the original area, so I'd pull my thumb back occassionally to stretch it out or break it up. Back in middle school, I was hit on my right eyebrow with a baseball. I was playing left field during a parents vs kids game for the all-star season, and a pop-up went over my glove, cutting my eyebrow. It didn't really hurt that much, but I had to get stitches. My dad pulled his hamstring at the same game while running to first base. Anyway, the scar tissue is very noticeable, and it bothers me. I was supposed to massage it and break it up, but I didn't, so now I have a bulge that makes it look like my eye is swollen. People sometimes ask what happened or if I got a black eye, even today, 10 years later. It's the only thing I don't like about my face, but whatever.

When I see myself in the mirror, I don't think I look too weird or too un-attractive. But when I see pictures of me from the external perspective, I look strange and definitely not attractive, especially with the swollen eyebrow. I wonder how people think about the dual images. Do they feel as I do looking in the mirror, or do we both judge the external photo the same way? From a judgemental standpoint, is their first glance at me the same as my glance in the mirror? Or is my first glance at a photo the same as their perception? What a conundrum, and what a waste of time worrying about it. Ultimately, the people who care about me will not care about stupid things. Judgement from people who don't care about me is worth absolutely nothing, but it's the only judgement I'm concerned about. Why is that?

I'm going to wrap this up, upload the edits, and then go home. I have accomplished nothing academically today, partially because I woke up at 4:30pm, but mostly because I am a fool. I want to start a social network for Linfield that runs on a local server. My current social life involves having loosely to moderately close friendships with a lot of different people. I consider myself pretty fluid and am open to hanging out with just about anyone. If you want to get together for whatever, work on homework, do photography, or explore the state of Oregon, get in touch...

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