Blork’s Top 10 Things About January 20, 2009

Apparently there may be a few traffic jams around Washington DC on Tuesday. Regardless, I’ve managed to come up with a list of good things about that day. Therefore, I present to you Blork’s Top 10 Things About January 20, 2009:

10. No more misunderestimating.

9. Finally, a hot First Lady!

8. Job opportunities at Halliburton as they open their new “Tenders & Proposals” department (previously deemed unnecessary).

7. Oprah Winfrey to release her copyright on the letter “O.”

6. A lot fewer black SUVs driving around Crawford, Texas.

5. Condoleezza Rice can go back to being an oil tanker.

4. Quadrennial opportunity to learn how to spell inagural innaugurral inaugural.

3. Osama bin Laden might have to sell that timeshare in Florida and go back into hiding.

2. One word: Labradoodle!

1. It’s official: there’s no chance that Dick Cheney will ever become President.

Congratulations, President Obama! No… congratulations America!

Five Years of Photoblogging

Five years ago today I launched the Monday Morning Photo Blog with the following image:

Vanished

My original intention was to use the photo blog as a venue for some of my old photographs from the 1990s (and in a few cases, the 1980s) that were otherwise just sitting in boxes collecting dust. After all, what a photograph loves most is eyeballs. I figured the photoblog might run for about a year.

As it turns out, my archive of prints and negatives ran deeper than I had expected. Five years later it’s still running, although these days I am more likely to include new images than old ones. However, I’m really glad to have found a place to show some of those old photographs. My only regret is that a tiny scanned image on the screen is no comparison with an actual black & white print. I’m an obsessive printer, assiduously massaging light and shadow and contrast, printing over and over again just to get it right, and choosing photographic paper for it’s tonality and texture. All of that is lost when the photograph is shown on a computer screen.

Over the five years of the Monday Morning Photo Blog I’ve occasionally messed up. A couple of times I’ve accidentally posted a duplicate, forgetting that I had already used the image some months (or years) earlier. There are also a few images that I regret posting because they simply aren’t up to standard, but my rule is “once it’s up, it’s up.” (I occasionally tweak images, but I never remove them.)

I have no idea how much longer I’ll keep at it. My stock of unshown yet worthwhile older images has dwindled (although I always find new ones when I go poking around), and I feel like much of the new photography I’m doing is little more than Flickry snapshots. (I always strive for narrative, not just aesthetics in the images I post to the photoblog. Not that I frequently achieve either, but I keep trying…)

I have no immediate plans to stop, nor do I have specific plans to continue. It’s a zen-like activity that will stop on its own, when the time is right.

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One Cent Credit

A few months ago I canceled my American Express Gold Card. I’d been a “member” for about ten years, and for the first few years I didn’t mind paying the annual fee because, as I saw it, it was a small price to pay for the prestige of having an American Express Gold card! Also, most years I’d recoup the fee by taking advantage of some of its benefits, such as being able to refuse the extra insurance on car rentals.

But now that I’m all grown up I’ve lost the need to flash gold at hotels and restaurants. To be precise, I still go to hotels and restaurants, but I no longer feel the need for the flash, particularly since I know (and really, have always known) that it doesn’t really impress anybody. So why bother paying the fee for gold?

Well, year after year the annual fee would sneak up on me. I’d always forget that the card was coming up for renewal, and when the fee would show up on my statement I’d think “oh well, might as well keep it for another year.” But last year I got smart. I used Future Me to send myself an email the month before the card was to automatically renew, reminding me to cancel it.

And that’s exactly what I did. When I got the email from Future Me I paid off the balance, waited a couple of days, then phoned and canceled the card. There was only one problem; when I paid the balance I mistyped and paid exactly one cent more than the amount owing. A month later I got a statement from American Express for the canceled card, with a zero balance, but a notice that there was a one cent credit.

my amex bill

So now what? It’s not like I’m going to demand they cut me a cheque for a penny. If I ignore it, they’ll send me these one cent credit notices for the rest of my life. I suppose I could always call them and let them know they can keep the penny, but I’m not prepared to lose an hour of my life explaining to some guy in Bangalore why I paid an extra cent and why I don’t mind if they keep it. I could always write to them, but experience tells me that writing to a bank is like writing to Orwell’s “Big Brother,” but in a Kafka novel.

What do you suggest?

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