Spring Cleaning: Photography Version

My beloved 40D and accompanying lenses have gone unused for far too long. It’s time to get them into the hands of someone who will make great photographs with them far more often than I have been for the past couple years. So, the whole lot is for sale!

All of the gear is very gently used by me and me alone. The lenses and body are in great shape. And the lens are just fantastic ones. Seriously, that 85mm portrait lens is amazing.


  • Canon EOS 40D 10.1MP Digital SLR Camera Body
  • Canon 430EX Speedlite Flash for Canon EOS SLR Cameras (Older Version)
  • Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens
  • Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Standard AutoFocus Lens
  • Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • Spare battery
  • Black Lowepro camera backpack
  • Sparkle Rainbow Unicorn not included

For someone ready to take their photography to the next level this would be a great kit. Or it’d be a pretty awesome graduation present. But if people are interested in the individual components I’m cool with that too.

Get in touch to talk prices (Google to get an idea of the pricing ballpark): michellej AT gmail DOT com

You need to be local to Louisville or at least local enough to come to Louisville and pick it up.

On Home

Kentucky Has Always Been Home

I’ve lived in other states but I did so not out of desire. And I always knew that as soon as the reason for living in other states ended (say my wife’s medical residency) I’d be heading back to Kentucky with the quickness.

As an adult Louisville has been where I make my Kentucky home. We’ve been back from our last out of state adventure for nearly 8 years now. It’s the longest my wife and I have lived in one place during our almost 20 year relationship. To be honest, I’ve never doubted that I’d live in Kentucky forever. Until now.

I think a lot about Portland, Oregon. I got to visit there over the fall and it was as beautiful and charming as I expected it to be. I also think about cities in other states where gay marriage is fully recognized. I’m not saying I want to leave Kentucky because the governor sued to keep my marriage from being recognized. I am just saying that if we were to move it would only be to a marriage equality state.

But why would we leave? I don’t have a reason, just a feeling. A feeling that home isn’t fitting exactly as it should right now.

What Makes a Home

Kentucky’s uncontested reign as “home” was rooted in two things: family and a deep love of place. It’s an odd thing to love a place. A place can’t love you back. It can’t show you emotion or affection. And yet you feel those things just the same. A cool October day in Kentucky is simply magnificent. The sky is radiant and trees are alive with color. The air feels like it’s just trying to get your attention, not actually make you cold. And as the sun sets the light, my god the light, is a golden glow of wonder that embraces everything. It is a beautiful thing to behold and it is a thing that feels like love.

But other places are beautiful too. Other places have mild fall weather and beautiful foliage. Other places have different rivers or mountains or oceans that help the sun create other kinds of light in the waning hours of the day. How can I know that I wouldn’t love one of those places as much as I’ve loved Kentucky?

Love of place is only one part of the equation. Family, as always, is the more complex issue. My wife’s parents don’t acknowledge my existence. It’s not an issue, I made my peace with it a very long time ago. But they love her and she loves them. They are aging and already have some serious health issues. We live about 3 hours away from them. Far enough that it’s not awkward they pretend I don’t exist, close enough that B can visit them whenever she likes or if there is an emergency. Moving all the way across the country would be difficult on B and heartbreaking for them.

My family is a cake of a different flavor (I’m trying a new expression out here, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯). My relationship with my family isn’t exactly what I’d want it to be. Yes, I know, everyone has family issues. But let me bastardize Tolstoy: All happy children are alike; each unhappy child is unhappy in its own way. I am so different from my siblings (I left the farm for the city, I’m gay, I’m Jewish, I was a band geek and they were athletes, they work for our father and I work for the interwebs, I have a different mother and am in a different generation than them). Despite all those differences I love my brother and sister completely and always want to grow closer with them. In truth I wish for a better/closer/different relationship with many members of my family. I’ve never been able to find the secret formula for making that wish come true though. I live across the state from my family but it’s an easy and pleasant drive so visits are easily accomplished. Would I ever find that formula if I moved further away? Or, at 38 years old, is it time to stop looking for it?

So Now What?

Nothing I suppose. There are many reasons to stay exactly where we are: my wife’s job, our synagogue, the community of people in Louisville who support and offer advice on my various creative endeavors, the aforementioned love of place and family. But I think I should try to find something more, to make me happier with home again.

Perhaps I should travel more. I’ve grown to really enjoy travel, that wasn’t always the case. As long as I give myself enough time to recover after a trip the travel experience leaves me feeling happier when I come home than I was before I left. With my new job (yes, I have a new job yay!) I get paid vacation and that’s a perk I’m planning to take full advantage of.

Perhaps I should be doing more good works (donating, volunteering time). OK of course I should be doing more good works. I used to visit seniors at a retirement community and really felt good that the Louisville Jewish community had put together the program I was volunteering with. It made me feel proud of the city at large.

Perhaps I should do the home owner equivalent of retail therapy. There are some things about our house that I really hate. Maybe if I fix/change them I’ll get a jolt of happy each day when I look at them.

Perhaps I should try to shake my hermit tendencies and take more advantage of what Louisville has to offer. We tend to visit the same restaurants, shop at the same stores and participate in the same activities. More nights out, more visits to the parks, more walks through the neighborhood and more new restaurants might be just what I need.

Perhaps I should learn something new. I’ve flirted so many times with upping my skills and finally moving beyond HTML and CSS. Maybe this time I’ll follow through?

The New Newness

I guess I just really need to shake up the status quo. My new job is one way to do that of course and I’m really excited about it. But work can’t be everything and I need to up my game when it comes to self care and “personal development.” I’ll let you know how it goes.

On the Holiday Season

When people say the “holiday season” they mean Christmas. Thanksgiving kicks off Christmas season and New Year’s Day marks its end. If you don’t celebrate Christmas it can be a strange time of year.

Though I came from a Christian background Christmas was never about anything religious. Occasionally I went to midnight mass with my stepmother but Christmas was about presents and food (shoutout to divinity, the world’s best candy and to my mom who makes it better than anyone). I get that it comes from a religious place but my experience of it has always been secular. So I never gave any thought to religion during the holiday season while enjoying the lights and food and presents and music during December.

And then I converted to Judaism.


After my conversion I thought about Christmas a lot. Not because I missed it, but because I realized just how much you can’t escape it. You can’t move an inch in middle America during the months of November and December without being hit with some sort of Christmas decoration or greeting. Truly there is no way to opt out of Christmas, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

A couple years ago a bank teller wished me merry Christmas and I said “It’s not my holiday but if it’s yours I hope you have a great one.” I thought it was a pretty good response but it made him mad. It didn’t matter to him that I didn’t celebrate Christmas. It didn’t matter that I’d actually hoped for him to have a nice holiday. He just wanted me to participate in the ritual of wishing merry Christmas and was offended when I wouldn’t play. I was offended by his being offended.

Last year I took a different approach. As Christmas neared I wore necklaces with larger and larger stars of David. By the time December 25 rolled around we were almost to Flavor-Flav clock levels of Magen David-ness. It was awesome in its silliness. Well meaning people who noticed it would wish me a happy Hanukkah. Hanukkah overlapped Thanksgiving last year though so I had to tell them that Hanukkah ended weeks ago. Their faces dropped like I was the Grinch who stole all the holiday spirit. But they were committed to holiday greetings so eventually most said “Well, happy new year then.” It was their third choice in holiday greetings to be sure, but I think it made them feel better to say it.

The Love Below

Perhaps it’s because I’m so completely settled and comfortable in my Jewishness that I don’t think of Christmas season as my adversary anymore. And I don’t feel like a “bad Jew” for enjoying the secular aspects of the season.

Perhaps it’s because I have a nephew now. Christmas is his holiday and I want him to have a wonderful one.

Or perhaps I’ve watched Love Actually so many times I have completely absorbed the movie’s vision of a 100% secular and 100% awesome Christmas season.

I’m not sure what to credit with my change in attitude. What I am sure about is that this is the first year in many years that I’m enjoying Christmas music. I noticed that all the Christmas music I used to love has absolutely nothing to do with anybody being born in a manger. I also noticed that a whole lot of the Christmas music I used to love was written by Jews. There’s something deliciously fun about listening to Christmas songs written by Jews that have absolutely nothing to do with the religious catalyst of Christmas.

So here is my “Hanukkah and Secular Christmas” Rdio playlist. There are far more Christmas songs than Hanukkah songs on the list which makes sense when you consider that Hanukkah is actually a very minor holiday. American Jews make a big deal out of the festival of lights so we’ll be more integrated into American society. I mean what’s this time of year in America without a holiday? And Hanukkah food is pretty freaking awesome.

Of course this doesn’t mean that I’m not still mad that everything except Heine Brothers is closed on Christmas Day. I got errands to run yo.

Watching Geese on a Rainy Day

It’s raining as I sit in a coffee shop staring at a blank document. I look out the window. Across the road is an empty field. It’s an odd empty field. On one side it is bordered by the interstate. On another the parking lot of a boxy office park. On the third, way off in the distance, houses. The fourth is the busy road the divides the field from the coffee shop and shopping center.

There’s a marshy area in the field that is currently occupied by maybe 30 geese. Geese are intimidating creatures so it’s nice to watch them from a safe distance. I notice that none of the geese are moving. They are just standing, in the rain, and all of them are facing the same direction, North. Is that the direction the rain is coming from? Or the direction the rain is going to? Or is it the direction of home and the feeling or scent of the rain reminds them? I don’t know but I find it fascinating.

The geese are not still, exactly. Heads occasionally bob, some bodies wave from side to side but they all look in the same direction. I watch for several minutes and then finally turn back to my work.

After some time the light from the window is noticeably brighter, the rain has stopped. I look to the field and the geese now appear to frenetically busy. Individuals are turned toward every direction. Heads are plunging into the marsh. Backs are being scratched with beaks. A game (or battle) of follow the leader with four competitors seems to be taking place.

I suppose I could Google why geese might stand in a uniform cluster, all facing the same direction in the rain. But it’s so much better to imagine possibilities. So much better to just enjoy observing instead of necessarily knowing.

Public, Private and The Culture In Between

A few weeks ago a conversation I was involved with on Twitter became a news story. The details of the conversation aren’t really important but the gist of it is the Louisville Orchestra made an odd scheduling decision, I commented on it and then commented again when the LO didn’t respond. Because the conversation took place between two public accounts on Twitter other people saw and joined in the conversation. That’s the way Twitter works and it’s great. As the conversation continued and the LO finally responded quite flippantly a local arts reporter got interested.

The reporter reached out to me on Twitter for a comment on the story. I had no interest in being part of her story in any way. I also didn’t want to be rude. It seemed like common courtesy to respond to the reporter in private and decline to comment, so that’s what I did. Instead of saying something like “Michelle Jones declined to comment” the reporter copied and pasted the private message I sent her.

To recap: she asked me (through her public Twitter account) to speak with her so that my words could be included in her story, I privately declined to do so (through a Twitter Direct Message between just she and I). By publishing words that I expressly chose to be private the reporter disregarded wishes that I thought were perfectly clear.

When I voiced my displeasure about the reporter’s actions I was scolded and told “unless you expressly say ‘THIS IS OFF THE RECORD’ you have to assume a reporter will publish everything.” Aha, I see now. And I 100% disagree.

I couldn’t explain exactly why I disagree so strongly until my friend Sarah tweeted about a conference she was attending. She said:

“I’m not going to live tweet much of this conference because there’s not a culture of tweeting & people don’t realize statements [are] public”

There it is: culture. And secondarily: respect.

The statements Sarah would be hearing at the conference were in fact public but posting everything she heard would be a violation of the conference community’s standards of accepted (and expected) behavior. Though no one had said “THIS IS OFF THE RECORD” she knew that people were not expecting and did not want their every word posted. She respected the people, the environment she was in and its culture. The statements she chose not to post exist somewhere between public and private.

Now would be a good time to mention that the reporter in my situation not only published my private message but she also “outed” a friend I’ll call Jules. Jules doesn’t list her real name anywhere on her Twitter account nor does she ever mention, by name, the company she works for. Since Jules participated in the same conversation I did the arts reporter decided to play investigator. She dug around until she found some mention of Jules’s real name. From there she hit LinkedIn and found the company Jules works for and her exact job title. The reporter published all of those details in her story.

So let’s talk about culture and respect. To my mind the reporter completely misunderstands the culture of Twitter. To a “Twitter native” (for lack of a better term) it would be obvious that a direct message shouldn’t be published in a public forum. It would also be obvious to someone immersed in Twitter that if someone doesn’t use her real name on her account she doesn’t want those two things to be connected. Essentially: “if it’s on Twitter it might be public but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for publication.” It might be somewhere between public and private.

Seemingly the reporter was observing the culture of print journalism. As best as I can tell that culture’s standard is that the reporter feels good about publishing any piece of factual information she can dig up. Essentially: “if it’s public I can print it.”

These two cultures are fundamentally different. If a reporter is going to mine Twitter for story ideas shouldn’t she learn and respect the differences? I think so.

Hello world!

Through user error (more on that in a minute) the database that held all of this site’s content, even the really old shit that wasn’t public anymore, was deleted. Yep, deleted. Not renamed, not misplaced, not out of reach. Deleted. Gone, forever. Technically I could have paid my host to retrieve it all from an old backup but I wasn’t compelled to do that. In fact other than one giant gulp when I realized what had happened I wasn’t upset about the loss of this site’s content. The vast majority of the content had been out of view for years. Even more of the site’s old content is actually still in a Moveable Type backup on my hard drive and in the cloud. I guess what I’m saying is that I still care about the early years of my content and since I’ve rebuilt this site I clearly care about my future content, but the middle years? Much like middle school they’re best left vaguely remembered, not documented and referenced.

While I’m not mad that the data is gone I am mad that my host made it so easy to make the error that led to deletion. It’s such a poor user experience that led to clicking the button that deleted the database. The button didn’t say delete by the way, I thought I was creating a new db with a different name. Instead I was deleting and replacing the existing one. There was no “are you sure you want to delete database X?” Just poof, gone. So while the blame for the deletion is all mine I really do wish my host hadn’t made it so easy for user error to cause the complete loss of content. But if I think about that I have to think about how I haven’t performed my own proper backups of this site in ages. And that’s no fun so let’s just move on.

In any case here we are, a new beginning.