I called up the travel agent around noon today. he said that he needed a couple more hours to get my tickets together. I never heard back from him… I’ll try again tomorrow, if he doesn’t have something for me it’ll be time to move on…


Getting there..

I should have the flight tickets bought by the end of today. It looks like I’ll be leaving the 28th of october! Only 4 months away… My last day at work will be sept 30th, that ought to give me enough time to see the people I need to see and get all my loose ends wrapped up. Now all I have to do is make it through the next 4 months at work, it won’t be easy, but at least I’ll be in a good mood:-)


Left handed writing

So far in my (limited) practice writing Arabic, I’ve done pretty well. My latest experiments with trying to resurrect my cursive writing led me to the conclusion that it is much easier to write script with a fountain pen. Since all Arabic is in script, I started to use my fountain pens for that too. In addition, I’ve decided to write all of my Arabic with my left hand.

Why? Well, first of all, Arabic is written and read from right to left, so it is easier to write that way and avoids getting ink on my hands. I’m also going to try out the theories I’ve been reading about mind/body coordination. In theory, if I use the other hand while writing and learning another language, I’ll stimulate new neural pathways in the brain, making learning and retention easier… We’ll see how it goes. For now, I feel pretty good about finally using my left hand for something, I’m completely right handed dominate with everything else.


Photofinishing costs…

The most compelling argument for going digital is the cost of high quality shooting with film. I’m hoping to take 200 rolls of 120 film with me. That cost really won’t be too bad, it’s do able. The real problem is what it costs to have all that stuff developed. Even if I can get it down to 8 dollars a roll for developing and scanning to cd (my preferred way of doing this), it’s still 1600 bucks. SIGH. Why am I such a snob? I’ll say this, my test shots from my cheapie Russian camera made one of the guys at work question his move to digital, the quality from those big negatives is outstanding. And that was with the old, cheap camera! Can’t wait to see the negs from the big boy… I went out and shot a couple of rolls of film with the Horseman, can’t wait to see what they’ll look like.

Turns out that my step nephews are not going to be here tomorrow at the same time I will be, I have to work… I was hoping to do some oldschool snapshots of them with my Russian beauty. Since the viewfinder isn’t parallax corrected, I will cut off people’s heads and have odd framing until I get the hang of the offset. They’ll look just like all those snapshots from the 30’s and 40’s! It’s fun to be shooting again although I can tell how rusty I am. I have to really pay attention to what I’m doing and it doesn’t help that I’m using new cameras. Gotta practice more before I go!


Found another camera

I was thinking the other night that I’d like another camera to compliment the one I got for the trip. It needed to use the same film, but be much smaller and easier to carry around. So I started to troll ebay looking for likely candidates. After putting several bids in on Rolleiflexes (c’mon people, you gotta outbid me, mine is a pittance) I realized that I already owned what I was looking for. It’s an old Soviet camera from the 50’s that I bought on a whim several years ago but never got around to using. I had actually lent it out to someone and she told me that it worked pretty well. I put some film in it yesterday after work and picked it up today. It works! It works well! It’s sharp and light. It is a bit clunky and awkward, but I’m willing to live with that so that I can have a cheap camera that does what I want

Isn’t she a beaut?


Recent iTunes stuff…

The iTunes music store is a dangerous place for me. Picked up another video, htis one from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The song is “Y Control”, one of my favorites, but the video is not at all what I expected. It’s a truly disturbing thing, lots of kids being really bad and doing horrible things like cutting off other kid hands and disemboweling themselves. Not really sure what I think of t, it;s as if they were being deliberately provocative, but I have no idea why… Oh I do know one thing, Karen O is freaking hot. I knew she had to be the way she sang “Bang”, but she’s even better than I imagined…

I also downloaded an album by the Dollyrots. If you’re looking for something cool, you could do worse than to do a search with the term “Jackie Chan.” I was actually looking for the song played during the end credits in “Rumble in the Bronx.” Still haven’t found that song, but the Dollyrots have a song called Jackie Chan which is pretty good. They do sound a bit like they are advertised. Imagine combining Belly with the Pixies and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how they sound. I’m a sucker for pop punk, and this is a pretty good example.


Really cool software for iTunes

It’s called MPFreaker and it’s amazing. Waht it does is scan your library and automatically put in whatever you’re missing. This includes ordinary things like title, artist, and album bu it also includes album art and lyrics! If you’re a nut like I am about your iTunes library you need this program. One other uber geeky thing on their website is a mac OS X version of Ultima III. Yes, that game… It is so much better on a newer machine, no more overheating 1541 disk drives!


Next on my “to do” list for the trip

Got to set a date for departure
Got to buy airline ticket
Got to get insurance
Got to set up bank account
Got to get visa

Things are looking good, the only one of those things I don’t know how to do is the setting up a bank account. Everything else is just a phone call/email away. The money situation is looking good again, I’m now on track to have enough for two years if i feel like it. If I was willing to live like the average local, I could probably stretch that out to 4. Of course the average Yemeni is really poor and has a rather short life expectancy, so I don’t think I want to do that:-) It’s true, after living the typical privileged white male American lifestyle for so long, I’ve gotten soft…

Another soon to be American student in Yemen commented on my blog earlier this week. I really don’t think it’s my imagination, I think that interest in Yemen is picking up. Of course a 100% increase of something that is really small is still really small… Anyway, not too much longer till my trip!


It works!

The camera I recently bought that is… Not that I expected any problems of course, but it is good to see some actual pictures from it. Shot a pack of Polaroids to test the shutter and rangefinder. Everything looks spot on. I had forgotten how much fun Polaroids are, too bad they’re incredibly expensive. Spent the weekend not doing much of anything, but I needed that. This’ll be my third week in 4 where I work 50 hours+ a week. It was starting to wear me down a bit. My mind was complete goo at the end of last week, plus my back, feet, and knees were starting to complain as well. I’m feeling pretty good right now, we’ll see how this week treats me.


A perfect way to waste time…

I downloaded DOSBOX the other day, big mistake… It’s an emulator that allows me to play all of those games that I can play forever.. All those early 90’s games like Railroad Tycoon, Civilization, Master of Magic, Master of Orion, Romance of the Three kingdoms, etc. I’ve been spending some time with Neuromancer, I used to play that on my Commodore 128! Anyway, this is worse than my Commadore emulator, the games are much more engrossing. The only downside is that I’ve had to remember my MS DOS commands. It wasn’t difficult, not as difficult as remembering the Commodore commands! Anyway, it’s a free program and it’s available on most platforms, including Mac OSX, Win XP, BeOS(!), and Linux. Go get it, it’s fun!