Thursday, January 31, 2008

In New York City's Central Park, there is a memorial to John Lennon. It is an area of the park called "Strawberry Fields," and there is a mosaic that is a reproduction of a Pompeii mosaic on the ground. Two years ago, my friends and I, along with a small group of passersby, were admiring this mosaic. I like having everything captured for posterity, so I asked a man who was standing nearby to take a picture for us. He looked like a nice, competent man who would not run away with my camera. My friends and I stooped over the mosaic. The man graciously took the picture and placed the digital camera in my hand, but once I looked at the picture, I realized I had been wrong in my assumption of his competence. He had taken a shot of just our heads. No mosaic, no trees...there was nothing to denote that we were in a park at all. I had to wait until he was a safe distance away before I could ask another person to take a picture for us.

I can't travel with a tripod, and I certainly can't fit a tripod in the small clutch purses I use when I go out, so I often have to rely on other people to take pictures of the best times of my life for me. I don't expect people to compose shots a la Annie Liebowitz, but I do expect some common sense. If we're at the Grand Canyon and I ask you to take a picture for me, please don't zoom in on just our faces. With digital cameras, you can see in the viewfinder what the picture will look like, and you can also see the picture seconds after taking it. Short of bar scenes where I expect my fellow revelers to find it difficult to operate a camera, there is no excuse for taking photos of just heads, or worse yet, parts of heads. (Note: more than once, male photographers have focused on just the chest area. I suspect this was deliberate, however.)

I'm patient enough with older people who look at me blankly when I hand them a camera. As for everyone else, what kind of cameras have YOU been using?

Here are some things to remember about using, oh, just about every camera on the market:

  • Just push the big button. Yes, the big button. It's the same one that's in the same place on every camera.
  • You have to hold the button down until the flash goes off. Longer. No, don't take your finger off yet. Damn it, just give it a few seconds.
  • I don't care if it's a vertical or horizontal shot. In fact, I don't think anyone cares. I don't need to remember what shoes I was wearing on a particular day.

And people wonder why I think it's more fun to take pictures of ourselves--two or three people leaning in, and me extending my arm as far as it will go...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Cell phones are great and everything, but I really can't stand being forced to listen to strangers' conversations. I find it creepy when I'm in a public restroom and hear a girl talking on her cell phone inside a stall. Is there anything so important, it can't wait five minutes for her to do her business, wash her hands, and exit? I doubt it.

The worst is when you're sharing an elevator with someone and he or she is yakking away as if there's not someone two feet away in an enclosed space. Sometimes being in an elevator can be awkward enough as you listen to muzak, wait to get to your floor, and try to not look at the other people in there with you. When I become an audience for a tirade on clueless boyfriends or unreasonable bosses, rundowns on a person's day and his or her to-do list (so that I'm just as bored as the person on the other line) or even wildly inappropriate stories that make me wonder if I'm in an elevator or a confessional, I start to yearn for the days when private conversations remained private. At least those Nextel walkie-talkie type phones are becoming passe' and texting is taking over.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Yes, that's the bore of comfort. We only know when we're uncomfortable." --Lord Warburton in Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady

A first world problem is not really problematic. It's Paris Hilton losing a purse that contained $10,000 in cash...and finding another purse with $20,000 on the floor of her bedroom. It's a mom planning her four-year-old's birthday party and frantically trying to find a Dora the Explorer pinata. It's the indignities of waiting in line and being put on hold by an operator. It's finding out your favorite soda won't be produced anymore.

Apparently, we're not supposed to "sweat the small stuff," but there's a difference between worrying needlessly about things one can't control and finding amusement in everyday things that are also kind of annoying. Everyone has their quirks and pet peeves, and most of us observe things in the world around us that make our eyes roll or make us go, "Oh, come on." This blog is dedicated to the little things that make us groan. There will be times when I find the need to wax on odd things that make people smile, but I promise you, I will never write about the pleasures of hearing a child laugh for the first time or smelling freshly cut grass.