Monday, February 28, 2011

Thank you note from Master J

I ran across this thank you note in Master J's backpack recently. It was some sort of assignment they had on letter writing. It's translated below due to the fact that while Master J's intelligence is high, his handwriting is atrocious.


Dear Mom,

Thank you very much for the electric guitar. I was so excited I couldn't express myself. Now I can play Star Wars. I love the guitar. It was the best gift ever! It was even better than legos! It must have cost a lot of $$$ (money). I hope you are not broke. What was your favorite gift?


Master J

Saturday, February 26, 2011

San Xavier del Bac

Mister C and I went to Tucson on Thursday to hear a lecture by a photographer. The lecture wasn't until five thirty but we headed down early so I could visit San Xavier del Bac, which I absolutely love. It's so beautiful and so very out of place. You come around a bend in the *rode and it just rises up out of the desert. This gorgeous, blindingly white mission contrasting sharply with the mostly brown background.

It's really hard to get a decent photo of the place though because of the tourists. When we went a few years ago, we made the mistake of going on a weekend and there were thousands of tourists milling aimlessly around. This time, since it was a Thursday afternoon, there were probably less than a hundred. But it was still amazingly difficult to get a decent photo because even though the total numbers were down substantially, the number of idiots didn't seem to be reduced much.

I don't mean to judge (or maybe I do), but the fact is that NOBODY needs to make a cell phone call while standing smack dab in the middle of the front gate to the place. Nobody. Especially not four hundred pound bald guys with mismatched outfits and heavy facial hair. And especially not for an extended period of time. I mean come on, it's obvious that other tourists are trying to take a picture of the place in it's entirety. Which means that we'd like to get the whole path leading through the pillars with the gorgeous heavy wooden doors to the chapel beyond. No, really, we would. We're not actually all standing here with our cameras pointed in your direction because we want you in our pictures. I finally gave up and went to take the rest of the pictures I wanted and then managed to get a few on our way out. Even then though, it was like playing a game of cat and mouse trying to avoid having a tourist show up through one of the portholes just as I was pushing the button.

But, idiots aside, it's really such a beautiful, peaceful place and they've done a fantastic job on the renovations so far. When my friend Brandy eventually comes down here we're going to head on down to Tucson so she can take pictures as well. I've already given her the heads up that I want to try and get there right about when they open, which is seven in the morning. Which means that we'll have to leave our house by about five am. It won't be pretty, but it's doable.

So anyway, here are a few shots that I managed to take that didn't have tourists milling around in them. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm pretty sure there's a tourist in the fifth portal from the left but he/she is wearing a brown or black top so they aren't standing out.

*I'm leaving this in as written because it made me laugh out loud when my mother pointed it out to me. Guess I shouldn't type up posts past my bedtime! I do actually know the difference between "rode" and "road", just not late at night apparently. Thanks for the heads up Mamoo!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Like we need more negative press...

Evidently the Associated Press printed an article wherein they stated that "70% of the homes in Phoenix are at risk of foreclosure." I'm sure there were lots of exclamation points to be had. They attributed this "fact" to ARMLS (the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service). Unfortunately for the original writers of this apparently now viral piece, this "fact" is totally untrue.

The writers pulled this information from a publication that ARMLS publishes monthly. The original statistic was that distressed properties accounted for 70.2% of sales, in January only.


Of the 6,541 sales in January, 70.2% (or 4,591) of them were "distressed", which is to say either closed short sales or lender owned properties. While that's a huge number, it's certainly not the much more headline stealing "70% OF PHOENIX HOMES AT RISK OF FORECLOSURE!!!!!!" bullshit that the AP put out.

I don't have an exact count of how many houses there are in Phoenix since the Bureau of Census hasn't yet released Arizona numbers to give me at least an updated idea of population, but I'm fairly certain that with a last known population of over 4.5 million, there have to be at least a million homes. Based on that, if we take the 70% attributed by the AP, we're looking at about 700,000 homes at risk of foreclosure. Seriously? If they had taken the time to do that simple bit of guestimate math themselves, maybe they would have realized how totally out of whack the number was. Maybe.

I can't decide if the writers intentionally misinterpreted the numbers to sell more news or if they're really so stupid they can't read a statistic properly. Unfortunately I am inclined to think it's the latter.

I won't sugarcoat it and say it's all fantastic and things are back to normal around here because they aren't. There are still a large number of pending foreclosures out there (40,461 to be exact). But that's down from last month's number of 41,485. And it's dropped a full 20% from the high of 50,568 in November of 2009. It's been steadily declining for fourteen months. It is getting better, it's just taking a lot more time than we thought it would. And it isn't being helped by the number of people doing "strategic defaults" wherein they decide to walk away not because they have but because they want to. And that's a whole different post for another day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Went to Cali this weekend

Took a few pics...

And enjoyed the time with our friends immensely.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Why facial products should never change.

I won't be offended if the few menfolk that read this disengage right

For as far back as I can remember, I've always had sensitive skin. I can't wear jewelery or watches (lucky Mister C!). I can't wear most makeup, although I won't go out in public without my lipstick. And I really have to watch what kind of moisturizer I use. So when my family was looking for ideas for Christmas, I sent them a link to the exact moisturizer I have used for years. And when I opened it up at Christmas, I was very happy.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I had finally opened the box up to start using my favorite moisturizer. When I pulled it out of the box I thought "Hmmmm, they changed the packaging." I wasn't too concerned as I know that most companies change their packaging periodically. So I started using it.

A few days later I noticed some minor breaking out. Considering that I had just started night class and my in-laws were still in town, I figured I might be a little stressed out and didn't worry too much about it. A few days after that, I noticed when I put my moisturizer on that it kind of felt like it was burning as I was applying it. I figured my skin must be really dry and again, didn't worry too much about it.

About five days ago I looked in the mirror in the morning and thought "Hmmm, what the hell? Why am I covered in acne?" It did not occur to me at the time that it was a reaction to anything since I hadn't used the moisturizer the night before. I didn't realize that a contact dermatitis can take up to 48 hours to appear.

But anyway, I thought I had acne so I went over to the pharmacy and picked up some Cetaphil and a cleanser with benzoyl peroxide in it and started using them that night. I alternated between the two products, using one at night and one in the morning. I did this for two days, hoping to see good results rapidly.

But guess what? When you have an allergic reaction to a product and then you add on a harsher product (the benzoyl peroxide) it makes the problem much, much worse. I mean REALLY worse. Like, scare small children worse. Let me put it this way, when I went back to the pharmacy today to pick up some cortisone cream and benadryl I took the cream up to the counter and the following conversation ensued...

Mirth: Hey, will this cortisone cream help with this reaction I'm having?
Young Man behind counter: What are you reacting to?
Mirth: A moisturizer.
Young Man: It should, but hang on and let me ask the pharmacist to make sure.
He then walks further behind the counter to where the pharmacist is.
Young Man: Hey, will this cream help this woman with an allergic reaction? She's reacting to a moisturizer she used.
Pharmacist: Yes, it should.
At the point, the pharmacist starts walking toward me while reading the box and looks up mid-sentence.
Pharmacist: Yes, this should work for your...OH! You really DO have a reaction don't you? Wow. (At this point, she has completely stopped in her tracks and is looking at my face.)
Mirth: Yes. Yes I do. So this will work?
Pharmacist (pausing while staring) Yeeeeesss, but you might want to take some Benadryl as well. Yes, I would take the Benadryl and use the lotion. But if that (oh my goodness, my face is a "that"?) doesn't get any better you need to go to a doctor. That must be so painful. Does it itch?
Mirth: Yep. It's driving me nuts.
Pharmacist: Wow (big pause). Yes, take the Benadryl for sure, that's going to make the most noticeable difference the quickest. But no driving because it can make you sleepy.
Mirth: Thanks. I'll just take my Quasimodo self over to the aisle where the Benadryl is.
Pharmacist: Yes, do. Good luck with that.

I think it's safe to say that it might be a tad noticeable. And also, kudos to the young man for looking me in the eye and not reacting at all to my swollen, red rashy face. And don't worry about me driving under the influence, I'll be trying to avoid going out in public for a few days until I stop scaring small children. It probably doesn't help that every time someone does a double take I want to throw my hand up and shout "Do not look upon me! I Am NOT an animal!" So far, I have resisted. But there's not guarantees for tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Continuing with the motion project

Trying to produce a shot of "motion" by dropping an object into a glass of water repeatedly and attempting to photograph it as it drops. I took several dozen shots on different shutter speeds and I'm still not happy with how it came out. I need an assistant to drop the strawberry so I can react better.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Boca Raton Radio Call In

If this isn't a joke, I think we've found the problem...

Click here to listen to Jo

From what I can tell, this is from a radio call in show with Michael Savage and it was from last May or June. If it's real (and it wouldn't surprise me if it was), we have done one helluva pathetic job in educating the masses about how government works. I'm really hoping it's a joke because in that case, it's hilarious.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

By Candlelight

Here's something I didn't know about the camera I've had for almost two years, I can take shots using longer exposure times in low light. It only took me thirty five attempts to get one that wasn't blurry, underexposed or perfectly clear but with him looking goofy. Thirty five shots and finally one that doesn't displease me greatly. I gotta tell ya, I am really enjoying this class.