Sunday, July 17, 2011

Web Winnings

Mail in an entry form or a winning bottle cap, and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of other people are doing the same thing in the same contest. The odds are against your winning anything substantial, though you just might. I won a trip to Hong Kong once, which is why I never expect to win anything like that ever again. Follow the right people or businesses on Twitter, though, or like the right people or businesses on Facebook, and your odds might be better. In the last six months, I've won seven books (six in one contest and one in another) merely by re-tweeting an item or commenting on a Facebook post. I also won this image which looks like this on my wall by relating one of my crazy dreams on Facebook. The first image looks much better, because that's a thumbnail taken by the professional photographer from whom I won the print. I took the bottom photo, and I'm a rank amateur.

How I managed to win the print makes a moderately good story. When the husband and I decided to go to Iceland for our 25th wedding anniversary and try to see the Northern Lights, I decided I wanted not only to see them but also to try to photograph them. I asked one of our master kendo instructors who freelances in photography if he had any pointers. He didn't but suggested I look at the Facebook page of Karl Johnston, a photographer in the Northwest Territories. "Friend him and ask him how he does it," my kendo friend said. "He's pretty amazing." He is, as you can see here. Basically shy person that I am (blogging is really pretty anonymous when it comes right down to it), I couldn't just ask this person how he took such great photos. Instead, I called on my friend Google and read various posts that were out there, and while I in no way came up with anything jaw-dropping, I think I did okay for a rank amateur first-timer using a cheap tripod and an entry-level DSLR camera and lens. I blogged about one of the shots here.

Anyway, I kept following Karl on Facebook and checked his blog and website regularly. I probably would have purchased a print from Karl at some point as a gift for my dad; unfortunately, Dad passed away before I could do that. At one point, Karl invited people to comment with dream stories, offering three of his prints as prizes. I posted several of my dreams and lo and behold, won one of the prints. As you can see, it's pretty darn gorgeous, and it has a place of honour (Canadian spelling) in the living room. I look at it often, especially as I enter various web contests offering trips to Iceland as prizes. If I make it back, I think I might feel comfortable asking Karl for advice this time.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Checking in at Midyear for a New Year

So my birthday was two days ago, meaning that I should do my annual reassessment of the New Year's resolutions I made six months ago. If you missed those the first time around, you can see them here. As to how I'm doing on them, that would be the usual: better on some than on others.

I divided my resolutions for 2011 into physical, mental, and somewhere in between. The first of the physical was to lose five pounds and keep them off. Not gonna go there. The more I resolve to lose weight, the less I lose. At least I'm not gaining it instead. Truth be told, I do not need to lose weight. My BMI is quite acceptable, and I don't look all that bad. There are jeans in my closet, though, that I'm scared to try to put on because I suspect they may not fit or will not fit as they once did.

I resolved to run, walk, swim, ski, or otherwise travel 700 miles to nowhere. This is an easy one to keep; I've gone over 500 miles already. I'm more likely to exercise every day than I am to miss a day. I get grumpy if I can't get some sort of exercise in the course of a day. I have much more exercise on a given day if I work out in the morning. Otherwise, it takes too long and too many cups of coffee to get the blood flowing.

I resolved to eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more water and less caffeine. I'm working on these. Some days are better than others, but all in all I'm probably doing better on these two than I thought I would.

On the mental front, I resolved to do one creative something weekly. While I've worked on something every week, I haven't finished something every week. In that regard, I'm now trying to document my 56th year with a daily photograph that says something about me. You can see the results so far here.

I also resolved to put up one blog post weekly. That hasn't happened and probably won't, unless I succeed at the aforementioned blog of daily photographs. I made this resolution in hopes that it would spur me to do more writing. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened. I too often let little things get in the way or tell myself that I don't have anything worth saying. I need to work on that.

Finally in the mental area, I resolved to try to learn some Vietnamese. Does it count that I learned I can probably study Vietnamese at Hue University when we return there in the spring of 2012? Learning a language on your own is hard enough. Learning a tonal language on your own is virtually impossible.

On the somewhere in between front, I resolved to learn all the material for my next rank in Myo Sim karate. I'm working on that. Sitting out for three and a half months with plantar fasciitis hasn't helped. I'm back to karate now, taking things slowly, but I fully expect that barring another injury, if I don't succeed at this one it won't be for lack of trying.

I resolved to try to finally finish the fifty things I wanted to do in my fiftieth year of life. Still working on them; still plan to finish them.

Finally, I resolved to concentrate more on needs than wants and to try to find something for which I am grateful every day. I'm pleased to say that I'm doing fine on these two.

And there we have it. I'm human. I may now be checking a new box when surveys ask my age (the box for the age range that starts at 55 rather than the one that ends at 54), but I'm not going to let that get me down. At least not today.