Blog Test: Working Out the Process

As I finish up the tasks that hopefully will secure my spot in The Peace Corps, I find I also need to fully work out the process by which I will blog my experiences. While the process of simply writing seems to work well using the iOS Notes app, which let’s me post directly into WordPress, I am unsure about how photos will work. So, this installment will focus on formatting photos into my blog. Let’s hope it works.

I walk a lot. When I have something I need to think out I walk even more. When I am stressed, unsettled or deeply troubled I head to the beach and walk a lot there. Such was the case this morning. The beach I go to is Playalinda, near Kennedy Space Center and inside the Merrit Island Wildlife Preserve.

Please stifled your giggles, quiet your chuckles and purge your mind of the image of me cavorting, sans clothing, in the rising morning tide. For those of you who are unaware of the rumors concerning Playalinda, I shall elucidate. Rumor has it that Playalinda a beach for nudists. The bare truth is that the five or so miles of pristine beach is NOT home to naked sun worshippers, well, not four and a half miles of it anyway. If you do feel the need to be totally free you need to go to the last half mile of beach. There the park rangers turn a gratefully blind eye those who insist on sunbathing bare. On the rest of the beach you’ll find fisher folk, families, surfers, and other beachgoers all attired in normal beachwear.

Now, as I was saying: I had a lot on my mind this morning, and I hadn’t been to the beach in quite some time, so I set out to walk the sands and enjoy the morning sun.

Will I find bare sand and bare bodies, or just bare sand?


I usually park in Lot 1 and did so this morning (the naked folks hang out at lot 11 through 13). I choose this lot because of its closeness to NASA, about a mile south. There the public beach ends and NASA property begins and the walk to that border is usually a nice one.

Ahhhh! Nothing on the beach but surf and sand, or so I thought.


Making my way towards NASA proved harder than I hoped. Hundreds, maybe thousands of Man-o-Wars had washed ashore. I couldn’t walk in the waves like I normally do because these creatures were still being left on the beach with each wave and, as I understand it, the sting of the creatures are painful.

Interesting thing about Man-o-Wars, most people mistake them for jellyfish, but they are not. In fact, they are not one creature at all, but a symbiotic colony of animals, called siphonophores, that are so interdependent on each other that they seem as one.


That blue bladder is a gas bag topped with a sail, that’s how it moves about. The dark blue mass are the tentacles. Normally they just float about, catching breezes and eating small fish and making little man-o-wars.

Because there were so many of those darned man-o-wars I couldn’t enjoy my walk and had to cut it short. I’ll have to hit the beach again soon.

Hopefully the photos posted properly. If not I’ll have to keep working on the blogging process.

Well, I just found out the hoots won’t post to a blog directly from Notes. Bummer!

Pin Cushion: Medical Tasks Nearly Done!

When I first applied to join the Peace Corps I had thought it would be similar to the experience I had when I joined the Air Force some 40 odd years ago. We were in the midst of the Viet Nam War and military recruitment and the processing of those recruits was about as efficient a system as you can imagine. They somehow managed to take thousands kids front all walks of life, filter them into careers, train them, then set them loose on equipment and in operations that costs millions of dollars and where real lives were dependent on that training.

Imagine a series of conveyors with kids lined up on them. They are poked, prodded, scanned, tested, fitted, and felt. After each test the kid was steered to another conveyor for more poking and prodding until he or she gets dumped into a bucket which is then carted off to some training facility. Nothing warm and fuzzy about such a system and many young men and women didn’t make the cut. So, if you found yourself at your first duty assignment you could claim a certain amount of pride for having survived all of that poking and prodding and conveying.

The Peace Corps has no such system. There is no recruitment center were volunteers line up to get poked and prodded. Instead, you are given several long lists of tasks to complete and it is entirely up to you to get it done, and done on time. If you see how the Peace Corps operates then you’d see why this makes sense.

Whereas the military is more interested in the number bodies in can find to fill in where the need is greatest, the Peace Corps is more interested in the quality of its volunteers. The military surrounds you, cradles you, and holds your hand through its system and hope that you are up to the tasks it sets for you at the far end. The Peace Corps does not have that luxury. It needs to make sure that the people it sends out into the field can operate with little support, or even direction. A volunteer may get dropped into a spot days away from any medical or technical support, and he or she must be willing and able to not only survive, but integrate into the local culture and work on, and hopefully complete an assigned task. So, if you can’t complete a list of todos where everything you need is a phone call and a ten minute drive away, how can you possibly be of help out in the wilds?

Still, when you first look at the list of things you need to get done you wonder how in the hell can you do it? Some tasks are about stuff you may not be able to pronounce much less have an idea how to complete it. Luckily for me I’ve had some experience in this department. On the legal side, fingerprinting, background check info and so on I’ve done many times in my career. All easy peasy.

The medical tasks were a different story.

I mentioned the poking and prodding done in the military recruitment center. With the Peace Corps you schedule your own poking and prodding appointments, and vaccinations, and x-rays, and so on and provide the info back to them. If they don’t like what they see they kick it back and you talk to your doctor, nurse or whoever is doing to prodding to get things corrected.

I started off with a list of about 18 medical tasks, that expanded to about 30. I’ve had at least 6 vaccinations including Yellow Fever and Typhoid, some of them made a a wee bit sick (low grade fever and body aches for a few days). I’ve given what seems like a half gallon of blood for a variety of tests for stuff like hepatitis (negative), cholesterol (slightly elevated), HIV (negative), and others including a test to see if I’m allergic to the drug they use to treat malaria (I’m not allergic). I’ve had my heart tested, my teeth inspected, and a few tests that were more, ummm, invasive.

After all of that poking and prodding it seems that I am a healthy guy, more so now that I’m immunized against damn near everything but a meteor strike. I have one more task to do, I see that doctor this week and he should be happy to sign off on the task. Score!

So, the Peace Corps should feel good about dropping me off in the middle of some place days away from a doctor, a phone, or a Mikey D’s, it seems I’ll survive.

I should have started writing long ago

Today I was listening to an NPR show. In it a doctor was being interviewed who had climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro essentially naked. He did this to prove a point to himself and to others.

He theorized that the human body is far more highly adaptable to external conditions than we give it credit for. He looked at our ancestors, people who not only survived, but prospered in environmental conditions that seem horrendously harsh by our standards today. He reasoned that there must be a forgotten mechanism in our bodies that would allow any of us to, for instance, walk barefoot in snow or on hot sand.

Hold that thought for a moment.

When I was a kid growing up in Baltimore I remember purposefully wearing light jackets in the winter when everyone around me were bundled up with heavy coats, scarfs, earmuffs and whatnot. I did this because I was in tune with my body and only needed what I felt was the appropriate amount of protection from the cold. For instance, I never worn a undershirt because it was too warm. In fact, I don’t wear one even to this day. I believed that if I didn’t allow my body to feel at least some discomfort then it couldn’t adjust to effectively accommodate changes. By allowing this constant adjustment my body was, and perhaps still is able to accept environmental extremes that others find uncomfortable.

I still believe that and will wear only what keeps me from being too uncomfortable, not what keeps me comfortable.

Now, back to the naked mountain climbing doctor. This guy’s theory, which he used himself and a mountain in Africa to validate, is in essence, what my thoughts were some 40 or so years ago. Was I some genius? Hardly. It was just an observation that I made and then I integrated into the way I live. The difference between me and the naked doctor, besides the amount of clothing we wear and the fact that he’s a Phd and I’m not, is that he wrote it down so that others could benefit. I was a kid and had no such foresight. I’m a lot (emphasis on ‘a lot’) older and augurably wiser now, so I’ll put into writing more of these observations as I go.

What brought all of this to mind was another incident, one that just occurred and prompted me to write this blog entry. I was reading a book called Dairy of The Way by Ira Learner (thanks Marcia). The book is about how three Asian budo masters, one a master of Aikido, another a Chi Kung master, and the third a master of Tai Chi Chuan, approach their mastery of Tao (the Way).

I’m not looking to become a master or even a student of Asian philosophy, but I do try to learn as much about cultures and ideas as I can, and this book, published in 1976, offers some interesting perspectives. (Again, ideas from 40 or so years ago. This could be some kind of kismet at work.)

While reading through an interview with Yukiso Yamamoto, the Aikido master, I was struck by something he said.

“Through teaching others we find out how little we know.”

Hold on to that thought for a moment.

When I got married nearly 40 years ago I believed I had a fairly good handle on how the world worked. I was 21 and like most kids, I was too naive to know what I didn’t know about the world. It was my children, Toby and Sarah, who opened my eyes to my true ignorance. Watching them grow, teaching them what little I knew of the world, discovering things together was both humbling and exhilarating. Much of what I am today I owe to my kids, because they’ve taught me more than they’ll ever know.

So, as I prepare for Namibia, I do so feeling confident in my uncertainty about what the experience will bring, but I am certain that it will stress me and force me to adapt, which I believe I’m fully capable of doing. I believe I will grow. I believe I will teach and through that teaching, learn.

So, the lesson here is that I should have written down my thoughts, no matter how trivial they seem. As I said in my previous blog, much of this could get boring fast, but hang in there with me. I think this is gonna be one helluva adventure.

Blog Test: Prepared to be bored.

I enjoy writing, but I was never much of a blogger. I’ve tried to keep a journal on several occasions, but, like my attempts at learning French and playing the violin, it just never worked out. ( Much to the relief of French speaking music lovers everywhere.) I don’t think it was because I was lazy, seems I’m always busy doing something. And it wasn’t because I had nothing to write about, I’m always meeting interesting people, discovering places and stuff, and generally into all sorts of mischief that could easily be blog fodder. I think my problem with blogging has been that, while I am a somewhat social person, I tend want to share things with the people I know, not the world. So, when I talk about the stuff I do or run into I don’t do it in FaceBook, I do it through text messages or, more rarely, email

Yeah, I know, FaceBook, Twitter, SnapChat and the like is the “New Blog Media”, and using them lets me talk to a bunch of folks at once, and carry on conversations and so on, but I’ve never been a fan of any of them various reasons. However, now that I need to communicate to a lot of people I find that I need to use something like them.

The other part of my problem with blogging is that I’m just not in the habit of journaling, and it’s a habit I need to get into. So, in preparation for my upcoming Peace Corps journey I am attempting to get the blogging memory muscle so that it isn’t quite the chore it seems to be for me. If you are following my blog then you might want to consider waiting until I’ve got something interesting Peace Corps-wise to blog about. Up until I leave in April, this blog may be pretty boring.

Interestingly, the Peace Corps suggests that I journal my experiences before, during, and after my stint in-country. So, blogging is part of my duties as a Peace Corps volunteer. (Who knew?)

Back when I wrote weekly articles about iPhones and such I had a publication process that was a helluva lot of work to get an article published. I don’t want to have to go through that when blogging. (I guess I am a bit lazy!) What I found is that I can write my blog in Notes on my iPad, even include pix, then upload and publish directly to WordPress! Sweet!!

Anyway, this post is my first test of this new process. Be prepared to be bored to tears.

Vern

Faces on the Wall: Success!!!

This post is a bit late because I’ve been so very busy, but the Faces on the Wall exhibit was a success! I had over 80 portraits on display! Check out the video of the display just after the portraits were hung…


Thanks to everyone who allowed me to take their photo. As I hope you can see, your photo added to the collective beauty of this project. 

Thanks to Stardust Video and Coffee for allowing me to shoot the portraits, then allowing me to display them. They even let me keep them on display through the weekend and invited me back to show them again. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to support another show.

Thanks to everyone who came to view the display, especially to those who came the opening night. You’ll never know how much I appreciated your support.

And thanks especially to Marcia and her son, Spencer, who helped me set up the show. I don’t think it would have looked as nice and I certainly would have been struggling to get everything hung had it not been for their help.

What’s Next? 

Well, it will be a while before I’m able to put on another show. I hope to be leaving the country soon, I’m in the process of joining the Peace Corps. I’ve been assigned to serve in Namibia and I leave in April, 2017. I will be blogging my experiences while there so I hope you all will check it from time to time. As you might expect, photos will be included.

Art Show: Faces on the Wall


Date: December 2, 2016

Time: 7pm – closing 

Where: Stardust Video & Coffee

stardustvideoandcoffee.wordpress.com

1842 East Winter Park Rd, Orlando, FL 32803 

(407) 623-3393

The result of a five month long project by photographer, Vern Seward, featuring over fifty portraits, all shot in Stardust, all shot using an iPhone.

Appointments!!!

Though I am getting some great portraits I’m beginning to wonder who else I can get to sit in front of my camera. There’s a bunch of folks who actually work for a living, and they do it during the time I normally set up at Star Dust. So, I’ve decided to open this project to allow appointments.

If you’d like to let me shoot you, but can’t get here on Mondays or Wednesday’s between 1pm and 5pm just drop me a line (vernseward@mac.com) and let me when you’re available.

There is one limitation, unfortunately. I can only shoot in the afternoon because of that’s when the light in Star Dust is best. Beyond that, it’s all good.

Also, if you’d like to get creative, I’m open to suggestions. I’ll shoot pretty anything you feel comfortable with.

So BRING IT!!

 

Vern

The Wall: Star Dust Coffee Portrait Project

It’s only been two weeks since I started taking portraits at Star Dust Coffee for this project and I’ve already got some great shots. As you can see here.

image

While these and the others I’ve shot are good, I feel I’m only scratching the surface. I want more daring portraits, shots that really reveals the person in front of the camera.

Its only been two weeks and I’ll be taking portrait until the end of October. Hopefully I’ll get some even better shots.

If you want to sit I’ll take the shot. Almost anything goes.

 

Orlando: World Class Cuz We Got A Statue Mime!

20140328-153103.jpgO-Town is growing. I’m not just talking about urban sprawl, though there’s plenty of that. Over the years my adopted home has steadily morphed from quaint to urban to international, and now, world class.

Check out the downtown skyline. It’s not as crowded as San Francisco’s or as historic as New York’s, but it’s not just a hodgepodge of geometric shapes faces with glass and steel. Our skyline has color and, now, depth.

Check out the downtown nightlife. Fueled by nearby colleges, attractions, and beaches, on Friday nights our downtown starts hopping early and keeps on hopping until the well into Saturday morning. You’ve got just enough time to sleep it off and go again Saturday night. And it’s not just dance clubs, thought there are plenty, there’s a comedy club, art shows, upscale restaurants and fast food chains. You can buy a slice of really good pizza, 24hrs a day, seven days a week. You can take an art walk viewing sculptures and other works of art while strolling around a huge glowing fountain in Lake Eola. But what really put Orlando in the same league as Paris, London, New York and San Francisco is the presence of an icon of all great cities, a really good mime.

Yep! I said mime. Those silent performers who either fascinate or infuriate passersby in every major city in the world. Now Orlando has one, and a good one at that.

I imagine there are disciplines of miming. Marcel Marceau is likely the best known mime and he followed what I’ll call story pantomime where the mime uses gestures and exaggerated expressions to relay story to the audience. Our O-Town mime follows the statue pantomime discipline, the actor dresses and moves (or don’t move) to simulate a statue. You would think that’s easy, but keeping your body completely rigid for minutes at a time is hard work, and our mime was at it for 6 hours!

As with most street performers, our mime didn’t move for tips, and she appeared to do well. She was set up at the south-east area of Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. The spot was wisely chosen because it’s near a large and very active playground. Kids gravitate to mimes like little moths to a flame and she attracted them by the droves.

If you’re ever downtown O-Town stop by the lake and check her out. She worth the visit and the tip.

Oh Well…s

I was supposed to talk about getting up close and personal with my pix because I’d just got the new Olloclip Macro Lenses and I wanted to put them through a nice workout. I fully intended to have a nice cache of cool macros to show off.

That didn’t happen. What did happen was that I got busy doing other things and didn’t even have time to write a new post. Well, I’m making up for that now and while the photos I’m displaying aren’t macros I think they’re pretty good nonetheless.

Lake Eola Fountain in Morning Fog

 This shot was taken with the Olloclip 2x Tele Lens.

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