And daylight savings ends

I grabbed this image while sitting at the traffic light just north of the King Park community center at the corner of Vliet and 17th. I can’t say it’s not beautiful in its own way, especially that sliver of crescent moon rising above tiny stars of light twinkling among the silhouetted trees and houses below.

But it is so disorienting and depressing to leave work and walk straight into night! I’m never ready for this sudden shift into winter darkness.

Although if I’m honest, I did enjoy getting that extra hour of sleep over the weekend😄

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Some Friday going-home-from-work photos

I was going to do one post and title it “Blue and Red” (you’ll see why), but I decided that these pictures would make better sense if I just lumped them all together beneath an umbrella title uniting them within the context of a coherent “story,” which is that they are random photos documenting my drive home from work last night, including a quick stop at the same grocery store featured in last night’s Edward Hopper photo from two weeks ago.

So.

First is the photo I would have titled “Blue.” Taken facing west at the intersection of State and 11th as I sat at the traffic light on my way out of downtown. I liked the crazy reflections of the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility in the Sinai Medical Center complex windows, but mostly I liked the colors. My windshield was filthy, but I chanced taking the photo through it anyway, and it turned out okay. You can’t even see the bird-dropping residue that the wiper blades couldn’t quite get rid of 😂

This next one I was going to call “Red.” I was at the store where I took my “Edward Hopper” awnings photo two weeks ago, and I just really liked the strong confluence of reds at this stop sign.

While I was in the parking lot, I took some more pictures of those awnings to show how ordinary they look without the drama of that intensely warm, slanted evening sunlight. (Well, I guess there’s a tiny amount of evening sunlight and drama here, but nothing as noticeable as in yesterday’s photo.)

And from the side, with the FedEx collection box, etc., at the corner, the awnings are just an add-on adornment of a rather ordinary, featureless wall.

Although actually, I tried cropping that last image as a square and decided maybe it could look pretty good after all. I like the way sunlight is catching the edge rims of those somewhat Art Deco looking faux columns that alternate with the awnings. It gives what is basically a flat surface a bit more of a three-dimensional appearance.

After fooling around with all this awning malarkey, I slipped my phone back into the outer pocket of my purse and got down to the business of loading my groceries into the car. Waking back to my car from returning the cart to the corral, I noticed the parking lot lights had already turned on, even though it wasn’t dark yet. I liked that look of little “stars” barely noticeable at the tips of these light poles.

Then, as I shut the rear hatch and turned to get into the driver’s seat, I noticed all the vapor trails up in the sky high above cars now rendered nearly invisible by contrast in the gathering twilight below. And suddenly it occurred to me that, at this time of evening, those planes were most likely headed to their final destinations of the day, the crisscrossed lines representing a homeward commute for hundreds passengers nearing the end of their work day or week. Just like me.

It was a nice moment of awareness, reflecting on our shared humanity and the fact that, despite our many differences, we’re all seeking essentially the same things.

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If Edward Hopper stopped for groceries on the way home

I took this photo after work at the supermarket near my home two Fridays ago. The sun was already low in the sky at 5:30-ish p.m., as it sadly is at at this time of year. But on the plus side, just look at this cool image created by that low-angled sunlight slanting across the parking lot.

Three yellow-green awnings casting slanted shadows on an industrial brick wall

Doesn’t it kind of remind you of an Edward Hopper type mashup of light and shadow?

small town storefronts on a sunny morning Edward Hopper’s “Early Sunday Morning” – Whitney Museum of American Art (visit: https://whitney.org/collection/works/46345)
white gabled house with bright noon sunlight and shadow on its walls Edward Hopper’s “High Noon” – Dayton Art Institute (visit: https://www.daytonartinstitute.org/exhibits/edward-hopper/)

I love Edward Hopper! He’s one of my very favorite artists. There’s something about his stark, clean lines and sharply delineated areas of light and shadow (bright light and deep shadow, I might add) that I find very appealing. Maybe because I tend to take photos of light and shadow myself (only because they jump out at me while I’m going about my day, not because I’m actively seeking those opportunities), I feel a special affinity with Hopper. Like he and I sort of experience the world in the same way. Visually, at least.

In doing some quick poking around online, I found a very interesting 1959 Hopper interview, with several similar light-and-shadow paintings illustrating, on the ASX (American Suburb X) art & photography website (link HERE). This is actually a fun website to explore if you like photography and art, by the way. Main website URL is americasuburbx.com.

Posted in architecture, Art, Creativity, Life, Milwaukee, Photography | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Nancy E. Hatfield Memories, Part 4 (1974)

Howard B. Lee, former Attorney General of West Virginia, provided this account of Nancy Hatfield (widow of Cap) in the early 1970s: “Mrs. Hatfield, …

Nancy E. Hatfield Memories, Part 4 (1974)

I have “reblogged“ at least two of these interviews with Nancy Hatfield (of the feuding Hatfield and McCoy families) from Brandon Ray Kirk’s wonderful website where he posts all manner of documents detailing bits and pieces of West Virginia history, especially Logan County. I can’t resist sharing this one as well. It’s so interesting to learn more about this woman and get a glimpse history from the perspective of her unusual vantage point!

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Look for the Union Label (some thoughts prompted by the Alec Baldwin on-set shooting incident)

When I saw this “poster” today, I realized that I haven’t seen any union promotions in a really long time.

It also put me in mind of this old TV ad. I’ll bet every American above a certain age still knows every line of the International Ladies Garment Workers Union song by heart.

I’ve belonged to two unions in my life. When I was a grocery store cashier for several months in high school, I had to join the Amalgamated Meat Cutters and Butcher Workmen of North America because it was the union that represented our shop. I still remember their name because, really, who couldn’t remember a name like that, LOL. They used to send me the membership magazine, and I can still recall (if memory serves, all these decades later) bloody photos of meat saws and cuts of beef on the cover. The other union was when I was in graduate school. It was a new thing, voted in toward the end of my time there. I can’t remember if this was the name then, but I just checked and it’s now called The Association of UW Professionals (UW-Milwaukee graduate employee chapter), Local 3535g.

Unions were far more prominent when I was a kid. My dad was “management,” so I saw them as a somewhat undesirable element growing up. Not as “the enemy” so much as a sign that a company had failed in its relationship with workers if things had gotten so bad that a union had successfully infiltrated. Kind of like a virus that infects you if you’re run down and haven’t been taking good care of yourself.

In the past couple of decades unions have weakened and many have disappeared. With the Alec Baldwin on-set shooting incident prompting much online attention to exploitative and unsafe working conditions on Hollywood’s production stages, however, I wonder if unions might begin a comeback in the public’s consciousness.

Posted in Movies and film, News, Political Analysis, Popular culture, Television | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Birds on a Wire

I saw this flock sitting along the wires and loved the sight of their collective silhouette against the cloud and light behind them. 

flock of birds strung along a power line against a large clouda large

The resolution isn’t great because I was far away and had only my phone (instead of a better camera, story of my life). But I really liked the image and thought I’d share. 

Whenever I see a group of dark birds together like this, I pretty much assume they are starlings. We had a ginormous flock of starlings visit our neighborhood several years ago. Every tree, every bush was filled with birds. The “song” was deafening. The sidewalks were a mess afterward with the accumulated defecations of hundreds, if not thousands, of birds. Starlings are commonly considered pests in urban areas. They are not native to North America and were introduced when a fan of William Shakespeare (who mentioned starlings in his works) released about sixty birds in New York City’s Central Park in 1890. (Wikipedia article on the common starling HERE.)

Despite their dirty artifacts (as it were), starlings are so beautiful to watch in flight en masse! You can search online for video. Here’s a gorgeous one from National Geographic.

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Adding free stock photos to your blog with quick, easy attribution

I was showing a student how to use free stock photos to illustrate an online project, and since I was doing the work anyway, I thought I’d put it here on my blog to share with anyone who was interested.

Most of the images on my blog are photos I’ve taken myself, but sometimes I just want a photo that illustrates a post. Like this one, “Paradise Breached,” a short-story writing exercise where I wanted a photo of a creek in the woods. I didn’t have a photo of my own, so I went to Wikimedia Commons (link HERE) to search the free images available. I also could have searched Creative Commons (link HERE) for an image, as that’s another good go-to spot for free images.

The photo I found for my short story was public domain, so I gave the proper attribution in my caption but didn’t have to mention the license I was using it under. Other times, though, a photo will name specific licensing terms under which you are allowed to use the image. Usually you will then need to identify the photographer and/or state which license is attached to the image.

When I first started trying to do this, it was confusing and time consuming to figure out. I’d get the relevant information from the photo source and then sort of follow the format I’d seen other people using to cite the license information on their blogs. It was kind of like the experience of learning how to cite sources using MLA or APA for the first time. It wasn’t completely clear what details needed to be included or how they should be formatted in my attribution.

Then at some point I noticed that images had started making it easy for people to give proper attribution by putting the appropriate info into a box with instructions for how to copy and paste it into your blog or website. This is what I was showing my student how to do the other day and then decided I’d share here just in case you haven’t discovered it yet.

So, step one would be to go to Creative Commons or Wikimedia Commons or even Wikipedia or other online photo source. I went to Wikimedia Commons to get a photo for my student.

First you click on the photo you want, then on the file name. (Excuse my handwriting; done with poor finger control on my laptop screen. Plus, these photos are kind of blurry. I had trouble uploading my original screenshots to WordPress, so I used my phone to take screenshots of my screenshots and lost some clarity in the process.)

 

Then click on “use this file on the web.”

 

Then copy the “Attribution” text and paste it into the caption for your photo on your blog.

 

And that is basically it. Often, as with my photos above, I don’t use the “caption” format to insert images into my blog. But if I were using a stock photo instead of my own image, I’d select “caption” when I inserted the photo, and then paste the CC 2.0 (etc.) info in.

Like this, for example.

Mannequin wearing Alexander McQueen evening jacket Isabell Schulz (photos · sets), CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So maybe you knew all this already, but if you didn’t and you want to try using stock photos to illustrate your blog posts, providing the proper attribution is easy if you follow these steps.

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Friday afternoon (leaving work) photos

The Grohmann Museum was quiet on the second floor when I left work at MSOE this afternoon. I pressed the button to call the elevator but then, immediately after, decided to step away and take a picture of the stair rails because I liked how the light was shining on them.

Then I had to call the elevator again because it had come and gone while I was taking the photo. While I was waiting for the next go round, I noticed the interesting shadows cast by the late-afternoon sun on the small Frederick Remington sculpture right across from the elevator. So out came my phone again.

But it was so hard to get the details of the cowboy’s face to show up in those shadows. Plus, I was too far away to frame the image on my screen in a way that matched the way I was seeing it in real life. So I moved closer, then back again in order to get the right perspective, but having to zoom in a little with the lens to compensate.

Behind me the elevator doors opened and closed. A little more fiddling around with my phone till I finally felt set with my picture and called the elevator one last time. Another week in the books.

When I got home I took a closer look at my pictures and started fooling around with them. Brightened up the one with the stair rail. Cropped the Remington cowboy. His shadowed features still weren’t very clear, so I tried enlarging the picture.

Cool. Up close the photo looked like a painting to me. I liked that El Greco look in the folds of fabric and the planes of the cowboy’s face. What if I magnified it even more?

A little weird, and starting to be unrecognizable. Even better😄

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Two spires

I was walking back from the Library and Science Buildings shortly after noon today and saw City Hall reflected in the BMO Harris building—a reflection I realized was new to me from this vantage point, since I guess I haven’t walked this sidewalk since the pandemic began. Yes, in fact, I just checked and found that the BMO Tower was new in 2020, so that makes sense.

Anyway, I was just really struck by the way City Hall looked in the reflection. Maybe it’s the tint/color of the glass, maybe it’s something about the construction of the windows themselves? But the City Hall reflection in this building’s windows looked different than it does in the windows of other downtown office buildings. (By the way, I’ve shot MANY photos of City Hall reflected in office buildings. If you search my blog for “city hall reflections” you’ll no doubt find a bunch of them😄)

In this first picture today I was trying to capture City Hall itself (well, its reflection) the best I could with my phone. And I do like this photo., although now I can see the little fringe of leaves in the upper left that ought to be cropped out.

But then I wanted to get Old St. Mary’s spire completely in the photo to correspond with City Hall’s, so I took this second photo.

I couldn’t decide which one I liked best, and neither could my family when I asked for their opinions, so I’m just putting them both up.

What do you think?

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Tosa Turkeys update

I posted on our Milwaukee suburb’s local wild turkeys back in May. Here’s video update from the Milwaukee County Transit System on a bus that got behind schedule down in “The Village” thanks to our snooty, slow-footed feathered friends. 😂

Posted in Life, Milwaukee, Nature | Tagged , | 3 Comments