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Archive for September, 2008

Awkward Shot

 

A photogenic bird.

A photogenic bird.

I often find that it is the awkward photos that give some of the best results. For the photo above I had been hiking over and around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh for the afternoon taking photos when I noticed a lot of ravens flying around. Unfortunately, at the top, there is a constant cold wind coupled with hard jagged rocks and wet dirt to sit on. Waiting for a bird to land and face the camera was not a comfortable experience.

But waiting at ground level with a camera ready eventually led to a bird landing nearby and facing the camera without having the sun directly behind it.

The more uncomfortable the position, the better the photo. Well most of the time.

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Freedom!

Freedom!

 

In Stirling, Scotland there is the William Wallace Monument. To the Scots William Wallace is a hero, to the world he is Braveheart. There are no pictures or imagery of William Wallace so every picture, statue and engraving is based on what a scottish hero should look like.

So at the base of the Wallace Monument (it is on a hill) there is a statue of Mel Gib–William Wallace. It was donated to the memorial but there are some issues with it. The first is that it has a relatively strong resemblance to a certain actor from a certain movie. While the Scots like the movie (at least the ones I talked too) there is a very strong undercurrent of dislike of this particular statue.

Strong enough to break off noses it seems.

Since it was initially put in place this statue has been chipped, vandalized and almost torn down. Now it is monitored by CCTV (in the UK? CCTV? I am shocked).

At five o’clock every day this statue symbolizing freedom of the Scottish people is locked away behind a blue cage. 

I was told by a tour guide that Braveheart was not in fact William Wallace but rather Rob Roy. I am not sure how accurate this is since trying to find any information on the original Braveheart or William Wallace turns up the movie and occasionally some websites that only reference the movie slightly.

I will find out one day when I return to Scotland who the moniker Braveheart belongs.

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Lazy Day

 

Boats lined up at Lawson's Landing.

Boats lined up at Lawson

Today was a day lost to textbooks and lounging about.

Work to be done.

Work stacked on a desk.

Work left unfinished.

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La Cumbre Peak

 

I should have brought more water instead of a camera.

I should have brought more water instead of a camera.

A ten mile hike with a three thousand foot elevation change? Sure, no problem! I have ten miles before, I did ten miles in a day in Paris, I walked five miles a day in Edinburgh. I assumed that I could do it. To be fair I did make it to the top of La Cumbre peak, the highest in the Santa Barbara area. I had to have a lot of encouragement from those I was with, two people who did backpacking and serious hiking. They are training to climb Mt. Reinier next summer. I just wanted to get out of the area.

Initially we had this hard rock clambering path planned out, thirty minutes up in the brush we realized that we had no idea where the path was. We were not looking for a nice wide path, rather a direction that was not blocked by thick scrub or vertical rock. We had to turn around. Instead we did the Tunnel Trail up to the top. It was a dusty, hot path covered in loose rocks and more dust. I wheezed, lost vision for moments and stumbled forward and up. With the pushing of my friends I made it.

Once at the top we had a nice break without water (none was left) with our good friends the flies. The problem with this is that I was done in. Except the only way home was to hike the five miles and three thousand feet back down with temperatures reaching nineties and into the hundreds for small segments. I thought I was not going to make it.

I was never more thankful for seeing a car with air conditioning. 

Now of course I barely move.

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Marijuana

 

Good Sage Advice

Good Sage Advice

I never understood why marijuana is illegal. Alcohol alters behavior and causes us to do stupid things, yet it is legal. Tobacco causes long term health effects including death, yet it is still legal. Coffee alters our state of mind and it addictive, yet it is legal. But marijuana? No can’t have that!

We should legalize marijuana in the same capacity that tobacco, alcohol, caffeine and all of our other non-drug drugs are legal. If we legalize it then we can, surprise, tax it. This tax money could then be used for the cost of enforcing whatever agency would then supervise the growing or selling of marijuana. Sort of the like the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control or the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Except with Marijuana somewhere in the name.

Most of the anti-marijuana ads that I have seen really highlight one or two things. The first is that smoking marijuana will cause you to forget about life and fall into a spiral of neglect and forgetfulness. This could also be TV, video games, bad relationships or any addiction. 

The second argument is the one where a stoned driver crashes into a tree, and dude, seriously, that tree totally jumped in front of him. Or if not a tree then a small innocent child whistling happily to themselves as they ride in front of the beat up, often brown, car filled with smoke.

Well, if we legalize it then we just make driving under the influence a crime. Maybe we could abbreviate that to something like DUI? 

Legalization of marijuana in all cases would also allow for a better development and acceptance of medical marijuana treatment.

I should also mention to prevent any ad hominem reactions I should say that while I do live in and near areas where medical marijuana is legal and that I also go to school in one of the top twenty pot schools in the country, that I personally do not smoke marijuana.

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Trojan Reindeer

 

Watch Out!

Watch Out!

If anyone located in northern Europe receives a gift of a large wooden reindeer I would highly suggest that they do not accept the delivery. The particular trojan reindeer was casually grazing on tourists in Tivoli in Copenhagen. It was last seen there last December so given the average travel rate of trojan reindeer it could be anywhere within Scandinavia, Germany, Poland or The Netherlands. Maybe even England if it learned to swim.

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Photo Blur

 

An attempt at zooming during an exposure.

An attempt at zooming during an exposure.

Tomorrow classes start at UCSB and with it a quarter that will be full of work. At first the load of work was going to be manageable: three classes, some research work and graduate school applications. Now I am adding a fourth class (all upper-division physics) to put met at 19 or 20 units (the average is fifteen) for the quarter. Oh, there is also the Physics GRE in November. 

All of Edinburgh University classes transfered over nicely to the UCSB classes I needed with an elective actually counting for a few. Goes to show that study abroad is possible with a science major, it just needs careful planning. This particular opinion I now hold may change once classes start, in particular Quantum Mechanics, because it is the third part of a series and I believe that my Edinburgh class covered the first two parts of the series. I hope I am not dreadfully wrong.

I have all these plans for great photography shoots now I do not know if I will have the energy to do so (most are right around sunset and sunrise).

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