Sunday, October 24, 2010

Leaf Blow Me

Autumn is a time of decay and hibernation. Squirrels gather the last of their nuts for the coming winter, trees shed their leaves so that they may better weather approaching storms, and the warm, playful spirit of summer retreats into its annual exile. It seems that the volume of the entire hemisphere is lowered a little every day leading up to the winter solstice.

That is until some jackass with a leaf blower comes by at five in the damned morning and jerks you out of the restful cocoon into which you’ve nestled yourself for the night, unaware that leaf blowing is in fact an utter waste of time. Leaf blowers are the bane of my existence, and if I never had to see or hear a single one ever again, I could die happy. Leaf blowing is perhaps the least productive activity performed today, ranking firmly ahead of doing absolutely nothing. At least when you’re doing nothing, you’re not making a detrimental contribution to the environment by burning up gasoline and generating a ton of noise. Leaf blowers contribute to degradation of auditory senses and air quality just to push leaves around—not to dispose of them or turn them into something useful like mulch, but just to move them around.

It is with this session of bitching that I entreat you leaf-blowing people of the world to put down your instruments of annoyance and pick up a damned rake. Thank you.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Professional Empathy Service

It’s getting close to election time, and that means some important decisions have to be made. I’m not going to pump up or knock down any candidates, nor am I about to launch into any political agenda, but I do have a last-minute proposal that I feel needs to be put on the ballot. Just as many countries have compulsory military service, the United States should implement government-mandated professional empathy service.

“Professional empathy service? What the crap is that?” you may be asking. Well, I’m glad you may have asked. Professional empathy service entails spending a year working in several different occupations to gain appreciation for the work that people do everyday. The year would be broken up into three four-month periods during which people would work in one of three fields: blue-collar work, custodial work, and customer service. People would learn what workers in these fields experience on a daily basis, as well as learn to empathize with a greater portion of society in general.

Actually, forget putting it to a vote—let’s just make it law. A program such as this would reduce the number of miserable bastards in the country, and if it catches on elsewhere, reduce their numbers around the world.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Photography Pholly

Photographers, camera-wielding people of the world, we need to have a talk. I understand that there is a need within many people to create art, and I am no exception. Whenever I write, I feel fulfilled, like I’m chipping away at a monolith of marble to reveal the figure captured by my mind’s eye. The need to write is right up there with food and shelter. Creation of art is a worthy pursuit from which I could never in good conscience dissuade anyone…

But let’s be realistic.

Let this thought set the tone for the rest of this post: taking black and white photos of flowers with a DSLR does not make you a photographer. What separates photographers from people who take photos? Technical skill, knowledge of how to properly use equipment, and perhaps most important of all, an eye for the art. I know I’ll never be a photographer, or even anyone who is decent at taking photos. Why? Because I don’t have an eye for photography. Photos I take tend to turn out crappy or mediocre, and though I’m sure there are ways I could make improvements, they will only be marginal. Seeing as this is the case, I know full well that I should just stick to writing.

A constant source of annoyance for me is seeing someone I know take an interest in photography, instantly label themselves as a professional photographer, and start pimping out their new business: [insert last name here] Photography. Please be realistic. If you’re going to try to make a living out of this, at least put yourself in a position to do so. Read up on technical details, ask people (not friends) for honest feedback on your work, and get the right equipment. Blurry, noisy 1024x768 photos of baby nieces and nephews taken with a three-megapixel point-and-shoot with a smudgy lens are not going to cut it.

As I said before, I would never discourage anyone from creating art, and if it satisfies your needs, then by all means please continue to do so. Please follow your dreams, because you never know whose art will be recognized as something exceptional. If you just try, you have at least a small chance of success, but if you never even put forth the effort, then your chances of success are those of a fart in a windstorm.

Is this post going to keep any of you out there from snapping sepia-toned pictures of your pets? No. Does this post make me seem like a person who understands the plight of the amateur photographer, set adrift upon the deluge of like-minded photography enthusiasts who have flooded the professional photography market with their entrepreneurial ambition? Not at all. Does this post make me feel better about denying requests on Facebook to “like” three new photography businesses per day? Absolutely.