The Transfiguration

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☂ of the Day #2191

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☂ of the Day #2191

It’s been a busy weekend, and such a quiet one – I didn’t see a single other human today. This is a rare thing these days, though; I don’t have the long empty nights I did two years ago.

Today is my New Year’s Eve, the end of year six of this project. As always, here is a look back on the year:

My photos have been drifting more towards friends, and further from bugs and visual oddities – a bit of a leap from my first year, when I was so hesitant to photograph anybody. There are more snapshots than before, and fewer composed artistic shots; I’d like to get a better balance of that, but it’s okay if I don’t. As I become a better photographer, my old artistic photos tend to depreciate, in a sense; I become more aware of their flaws, and what they should have been. Photos of friends, though, only become more valuable with distance and perspective.

That is to say, it’s nice to be reminded of you.

This has been a good chapter – my year employed at the lab, getting my own apartment with Pearce, getting to know Laurel, starting at App Academy. Next year looks like it will be just as distinct, a chapter in itself; it’s good for life to keep moving.

On we go.

I’m the one in love

Written by Umbrella Man

September 21, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Posted in , milestones

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Hats of the Day #1497

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(I always get so self-conscious taking photos in shops, and can never get more than a snapshot before needing to put the camera away)

I biked to the Berkeley Hat Shop this afternoon, searching for pieces to help me transform into my alter ego, and I was surprised by how alive the place felt.

As I waited for the crowd by the doorway to clear, a woman asked someone named John whether she should go with the elf hat or the gnome hat, trying them on in turn. Something about the conversation made me grin, and she caught and returned my expression as she retreated into the shop.

Inside, past the light-up gloves, two of the shopkeepers – an older man and woman – argued about whether or not they had “toad” hats. Whether the request was for toad or toadstool (as in the mushroom retainers of Mario lore), the answer was yes – and they were right next to each other.

Another employee, a younger woman with glasses that made her eyes humongous, chewed on some red Swedish Fish and talked about how it was all she’d eaten today. She shared some with the others, and the older man was baffled by them; the older woman said they’d been around since the 70’s, and he replied that he hasn’t eaten candy since the 50’s.

In the back, another young woman in a black porkpie (with tag still attached) explained to someone that she’d only just started working there and didn’t really know what she was doing, so she was just hiding out. I later helped her hang a Peter Pan cap on a high hook and we talked briefly; I’d have asked her for a memory if my book weren’t stowed behind the counter. She had a nice smile, but I’m already having trouble remembering her face.

The place was bustling with people and the employees were all a little frenetic, but I still loved the atmosphere of the little shop. Everyone was so friendly, and in those brief interactions I saw they made themselves seem like real people – so much more openly human than you usually find in stores. I think I’d love to work in a place like that.

The black porkpies were a bit too rich for me, but I did come home with the sort of gloves I’ve wanted for years. It’s a lovely shop, to be sure.

look into the air

Written by Umbrella Man

October 28, 2012 at 1:20 am

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Mark of the Day #1466

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Berkeley continues to grow towards the sky, and today we passed one of its newest buildings, still unpopulated and coated with industrial dust. With its art gallery still empty, passersby have elected to use its garage doors as fleeting canvases, taking a moment to leave their marks before they continue on. Sam brushed away the dust in the shape of peace and love – or something with that sentiment – which perhaps balances out some of the more disgruntled scrawls here.

Sam is also leaving for the east coast on Monday, starting a new job and perhaps a new life in DC. It should be a great adventure for him – though it’s a bit sad to see an old friend go so soon after meeting again. We climbed rocks in the hills, played games and talked about language and perception – a good way to close out his time here.

summer from the four seasons

Written by Umbrella Man

September 27, 2012 at 12:37 am

Posted in , friends, people

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Graffiti of the Day #1430

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So today is, piece by piece:

Crepes sweet and savory, with apples, cheese, tomato and avocado;
Infinite mirrors in the kitsch graveyard;
The many uses of duck tape;
Sour fruit with seeds like molten gemstones;
Unknown musicians on the bottom shelf;
Carving stencils amid playing children and a man severely and vocally angry at Raphael;
A spraypaint malfunction that forced us to make our mark in sun and shadow;
(macro-and microliciousness being the beauty and flavor of things great and small, from galactic constellations to neural fibers, or from lifelong goals to eating peaches in the sun)
The rediscovery of the garden where dead scrap comes back to life;
Poetry that diffuses like violet smoke;
Not-quite-legendary pizza with a view of the world;
A candy-luminescent sky;
A difficult goodbye.

If only more days held so many colors.

please don’t get answers from eyes

Written by Umbrella Man

August 22, 2012 at 12:09 am

Posted in , crafted things, light

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Shade of the Day #1017

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Given my pseudonym, it’s about time I make some investigations into the sentimental power that umbrellas carry. They have a strange place in the collective consciousness, and the more I look into it the more embedded they seem to be in our minds.

An umbrella is to your modern lady or gentleman what the shield is to the knight-in-shining-armor of yore. Its purpose is to protect, and is only really fulfilled when one will wield an umbrella to protect another. There is such a perfect feeling to the moment when someone offers their umbrella to a stranger in the rain.

There is something mythical about umbrellas, something so very important, and though I can see it in dozens of other photos, I have difficulty really grasping it.

Someone valued umbrellas so much that they’re part of the standard Unicode character set: ☂ Try sprinkling a few into your text if you’re writing about a particularly gloomy day.

Emily here is not holding a true umbrella, but a silken parasol – a close relative, lighter and daintier than its storm-ready cousin. She made good use of it, though – it gave balance to her amble across the bricks as she kicked dandelions in the head.

Several years ago I was thinking of doing an umbrella photo shoot, and even thought of buying fifty or so $2 umbrellas from Ikea. I’m not sure that I’d splurge like that now, but I could still put some thought into this. We took this picture in the last few moments before night fell, and with a bit more preparation we could do something fantastic, I think.

love as a construct

Written by Umbrella Man

July 6, 2011 at 1:17 am

Posted in , friends, people

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Party of the Day #972

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Kelly (back and center) turns 22 in the middle of July, and by then everyone will have dispersed across the country, so she very wisely held a party for it tonight instead. It was a fantastic celebration, with gorgeous food and delicious music and a bonfire that could have sung me to sleep, and I’m glad Kelly chose to celebrate before the year ended. Here’s a large portion of the party posing in front of the very professional photo booth that Kelly’s friend Alex set up – note the silver umbrella looming in the corner. This photo is a bit less carefully taken, and as a result everyone in it has developed the ability to fire lasers from their eyes.

Rob came to perform for everyone, and Emily added her cello’s depth to a few songs, then Muriel and another friend came on to sing a few covers for Kelly. We were all sitting out on the lawn in the backyard, lit by christmas lights and the bonfire, and it was such a wonderful atmosphere, built by hard work from good people. I wish I could have done more to make the party go well, but it was successful nonetheless. At least I managed to bake some cookies for it.

Kelly has a lot of really amazing friends, and I wish that I’d gotten to know them better. Perhaps the opportunity is not entirely lost.

now let me at the truth which will refresh my broken mind

Written by Umbrella Man

May 22, 2011 at 2:45 am

Swatch of the Day #947

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When we walked into the chemistry lab this afternoon, it looked as though previous students had hung stockings up for Christmas, hoping to find them full of sweets and stuffed banana slugs. Though it seemed an adorable sight, these sadly are not socks, but mere cloth swatches – a different fabric on each stripe. We crafted colors today from colorless things – I added sodium hydroxide to a solution and it suddenly turned a deep, violent red; when I collected the solid dye, it took the form of cooled lava, dark and smooth.

Colors are made not only from the dye, but how it interacts with the fabric – those blues in the front all come from the same dye, Malachite Green (and Malachite is beautiful – look it up), while the orange and cream colors in back come from another.

One fabric even turned green under the influence of an orange dye, which was very curious.

It’s a good day when you gain a better understanding of why things have color. I remember when I thought “Why is the sky blue?” was an unanswerable question.

jet waves and dramamine fiends

Written by Umbrella Man

April 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Posted in , science and math

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