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This is good tidings for the ACS, the creators, for us as individuals, and for us as a community as well. Not only will the annual tradition continue, but this will give us as a community the opportunity to socialize and relax from the stress we are currently under. Remember to be patient this year, as the Faireland sims will probably be under a lot of strain for the first days. Keep your costume as gentle on the regions as you can, and don’t grouse if you find yourself walking around like in a cooled vat of treacle fudge.

Fantasy Faire 2020

Dear Friends,

It’s a scary time. Let’s just get that out of the way. I have been following the news more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years. I worry about what is happening around the world. How it is going to affect all of you. How it is going to affect the Faire. I have asked myself is having the Faire even a priority right now; however, my heart left no room for doubt on that question. Now is definitely the time for the Fairelands to reappear. Perhaps now, more than ever in their twelve year history, they are needed. They provide a home for us to return to from our scattered corners of the world. We will gather with friends and family in a way that is shut off for so many of us now in our physical lives. I find the…

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Flickr In Trouble

The above was posted by SmugMug on the Flickr Blog on December 19. You can read the entire letter on their site. It outlines a situation that I’ve wondered about for some time — how Flickr pays its bills to pay for what is probably thousands of servers and thousands … if not millions … of terabytes of storage. Clearly, they’ve been having problems, and they’re still having problems, even after being purchased by SmugMug. Nobody can afford to pour water out a flagging-open window forever.

Some fast (and not necessarily authoritative) thoughts —

The concern is not absolutely immediate, but it’s something we users of Flickr need to be aware of, especially if we have photos on the service that we haven’t backed up in recent years. As I’m seeing it, SmugMug has a few options open to them:

  • Let Flickr eventually go under
  • Find outside backing
  • Sell the service to another company

You may see other options I don’t.

We also have choices we can make. The ones I can see at the moment are:

  • Buy a Pro subscription
  • Locate to another service — many did when SmugMug changed Flickr’s terms of service, moving to Instagram
  • Moving our galleries to our own blog spaces

I advocate none of these in particular. I do point out that, whatever choice you as an individual make, you have to do it with your bank account and future purchases in mind. We’re each probably going to end up paying for a service at some point, no matter where we end up if Flickr goes under. We can’t keep on getting something for nothing. (That’s one reason why I eventually bought a premium subscription to Second Life.)

What you decide to do is up to you. I’m probably, since I have a Pro account, going to offer exhibit space to my blog-sisters and -brother again, as I was doing a year or so ago, as I know they can’t or won’t buy a Pro account for various reasons. That’s not a guarantee for the future, though, and we’ll need to discuss this together at some point.

There’s one thing all of us should do, though: back up any photos we don’t have copies of, if we want to save our archive of work. I’m fortunate; I’ve kept an archive of everything since the start of 2013 on an outboard terabyte drive. (Frankly, most of my earlier stuff was trash by current equipment standards, anyway.) The others are so recent (or do so little work in world) that they have their entire archive already safe. Your mileage may vary on what you want to keep; if you do want to preserve all the work you’ve done, whether Flickr survives or not, I’d urge you to get down to it.

And now, as my professors said on the exam papers at the end of an essay question or two, “Discuss.”

Posted December 22, 2019 by Harper Ganesvoort in News

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HOW LONG, O LORD???

How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart …?

Psalm 13:2, King James Version

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An open letter to the lawmakers of the United States of America:

You are accused, and stand convicted in our eyes, of moral cowardice and of shirking your responsibility to govern this country for the good of its citizens.

We the people you are supposed to work for … something you seem to have forgotten … stand aghast before you on the day following not just one, but two more mass shootings.

We see the blood beginning to paint our streets with greater frequency, but we see nothing of substance done to stem or reverse the flow. All we detect are the pious, if not sanctimonious, expressions of sympathy to the families of the victims, and the accusations of each political side against the other before microphones and cameras. You are again revealed as hollow, shallow and venal, spouting words of intent, and yet bowing before the money of the National Rifle Association and its antiquated idea of “gun owners’ rights.”

None of your empty posturing and “profound sympathy” and calls for prayers and support will drown out the anguished wails of the parents and families of the dead and wounded. Neither will it silence the angry cries of the ghosts whose once-living blood now soaks our soil … blood that itself accuses you of immobility on solving the problem, and of corruption of moral intent. You have lost even the remotest knowledge of what constitutes good government … if, indeed, such has ever been your intent.

In a country where you so often invoke faith and “family values” to bolster your images, we more and more hear instead the words of Thénardier from the sewers of the musical Les Misérables:

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It’s a world where the dogs eat the dogs
Where they kill for the bones in the street
And God in his heaven
He don’t interfere
Because he’s dead as the stiffs at me feet
I raise my eyes to see the heavens
And only the moon looks down
The harvest moon shines down!

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The only thing that keeps us from surrendering to that philosophy is our faith in a God or deity that does care for us … seemingly more than the people we constantly and mistakenly elect to hold temporal power.

We tell you now, you shall listen to the cries of both us and our children — in our lives, in our beds, in the graves you have helped dig with your own bloody hands — and you shall find a way to right the vast wrong you have done in the name of power and greed. If you don’t, then the future you create, whether it lies far away or just around the corner, will fall at your feet; and it may be a future all of us wish to avoid.

The blame will be another matter. That must be shared by us all ….

Posted August 4, 2019 by Jem Sternhall in News

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Just Do It in SL

While performing some badly needed, time-consuming housekeeping in Flickr (pruning my group load to remove mostly “opted-in” groups), I came across a new group called Just Do It.  in SL.  If you know anything about the Colin Kaepernick affair and Nike’s support of him, you can guess what this group is about.

If you feel moved to support Colin and Nike, click on the link above and check out the rules for submission.  Please do not use the word “Nike” or any of the logos in your submissions, as that is a most definite copyright infringement. The group is just starting, and it will be interesting to see how it develops.

Posted September 8, 2018 by Harper Ganesvoort in Arts, News, Real Life

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Fern Hill

I wanted to pass this one on to Harper, really.  She lives up to her handle, and knows so much more about poetry than I do, or is just plain better at researching it than I am.  Our Fearsome — that is our Fearless Leader, however, insisted that I write this one since I shot the photos.  And, for once, I know a little bit about Welsh poetry — a very little bit, but I have a taste for Dylan Thomas.

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OFPC 2018 Update 1 — Winona Ryder

I’m taking a pause in Oscar Fashion Photo Contest work to check out the bar at the Rose Theatre.  Lots of wood and chandeliers, nice atmosphere, and plenty of beer.  Stop in sometime and have a glass.

While I’m refreshing myself, here’s a quick update on the OFPC.  As of today, we officially have enough in this year’s group pool to make a full contest — eight Residents are in with photos.  But there’s still plenty of room for more, and just over a month for the Oscar Fashion Photo Contest to run, so you should get your glam on and start shooting photos.  Remember, you can submit as many times as you like, but only the most recent one will be considered in the judging, or the one you designate in the end.  Read the full rules, and ask questions if you’re uncertain!  And, of course, submit your contest entry photo to the OFPC group on Flickr.

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This year’s featured red carpet actress was a name to conjure with in the 1990s; then a combination of a career slump, personal difficulties and a conviction for shoplifting almost derailed her.  The woman is back, though, strong as ever, with her own show on Netflix, and still catching attention on the red carpet when she appears.

Let’s take a look at Winona Laura Horowitz — better known as Winona Ryder.

Born in Winona, Minnesota, Ryder began auditioning around 1985, did her first film (Lucas) in 1986, and broke out in 1988 — before she had graduated high school — with three films:  Beetlejuice, 1969 and Heathers.  The last film became one of Ryder’s signature films, the black comedy of “teenage angst with a body count” placing her in a generation’s mind. She appeared at the 1989 Academy Awards in a black velvet midi, on the arm of her Heathers co-star, Christian Slater.

Black seems to be Winona’s signature color; she’s worn it more often to the red carpet than any other color in my memory.  For instance, in 1990, Ryder came to the Oscars in this lovely strapless sheath, accented only with a bracelet and earrings ….

… and appeared in 1997 in this frock, which is actually my least favorite of what I’ve seen her in.  (This also illustrates Ryder’s taste for vintage.)

In the same year, though, Winona showed she could also rock color, at the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award for Martin Scorsese.  This is one of my favorites ….

… as is this look from 1994 (which is, I believe, at an after-party).

Finally, come forward to the 2017 Golden Globes, with Ryder the adult star of Stranger Things.  The old standby black once more — but Winona Ryder makes it shine.

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Next update in two weeks or so, then our own appearance after that.  Get shooting, folks!  And, to help you along, here’s some inspiration:  a 2017 Harper’s Bazaar slideshow of the great Oscar looks of all time to their date.

Real Life Intervenes

It seems like 2017 is going out like a snapping turtle for us here:  evil, wicked, mean and nasty.  I’m needing to replace a washing machine, and find a fresh van after a hit-and-run yesterday on someone else’s car popped theirs over the curb … and dropped it onto the front end of mine.  Nobody was inside — especially my daughter, who was borrowing it to do laundry from the washing-machine problem — and I haven’t heard of anybody killed yet, though I haven’t gone over the accident report.  But I’ll be in recovery mode for several days yet.

Jem is reporting some issues as well, so don’t count on anything from the blog unless we’re lucky.  (Diana doesn’t write, and Conan prefers not to, but we’ll see.)  Wish us luck for fast clawbacks!

Posted December 30, 2017 by Harper Ganesvoort in Meta

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Christmas Eve Special: Crosby and Bublé — Together Again For the First Time!

While checking around for goodies on YouTube, I ran across this piece done by Michael Bublé on the Global Network in his native Canada.  Enjoy a special video, everyone.

Christmas Eve 2017

From 2016.  But this year of 2017, my annual tradition has even more meaning than before.  My son is now 18 years old, and my daughter 22 and newly graduated from college, and the turmoils of the world make me fear for them both.  Please read all the way through for my personal message from last year.

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As always, Around the Grid upholds its Christmas Eve tradition — here is Bing Crosby and David Bowie from 1977, performing their famous duet, “The Little Drummer Boy / Peace on Earth.”  This was the last Christmas special Bing did before his death.

Almost every time I write an article in these pages, I use my “signature” graphic, which bids you all peace.  It has several meanings for me:  the earthly dream, sung of by two wonderful musicians above, and the more lasting, eternal peace we greet each other with in the Episcopal Church (as well as other liturgical churches).  Peace on earth has been a dream for my generation — those of us who still remember our dreams of that time — since our youth in the Sixties and Seventies, and sought by people of goodwill around the world for hundreds of generations.

Nearly forty years after these singers, now both sadly dead, performed this song — which has become a holiday classic in its own right — the world still reels on through conflict and hatred, and the dream of peace among all peoples seems elusive, more of a pipe dream than a reality.  But I have to believe that there is still hope for peace — both the kind we think of, between each other, and the sharing of the true peace of God, “which passes all understanding,” no matter how each of us perceives God in our minds and faiths.  Perhaps, on the day we achieve earthly peace, the peace of the Earthly Paradise will be made at last apparent to us all, and that other serenity become the true inheritance of us all ….

Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

May you and yours have a merry, meaningful and — most of all — hopeful Christmas season.

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Me On Canada 150

Since I live in Saint-Lazare-de-Vaudreuil, Québec, Harper sort of arm-twisted me — uh, make that “sweet-talked”; I can feel Harper staring at me as I write this, and she’s across most of a continent — into writing about Canada on its sesquicentennial birthday.  I don’t know if I’m really the right person for this; I may live in Québec, but I’m not native Canadian.  (I was born in upstate New York, and then my parents moved here some years ago.)  But I’m the closest thing to a Canadian on hand, so I suppose I’m anointed.  (I was also supposed to publish this on July 1, but Second Life must wait for the RL working schedule.)

And there’s really a lot to be proud of as a citizen of a country as great as Canada is, even if I wasn’t raised on hockey and poutine.  Harper actually said a lot of good things about us last year, when she happened to write a piece in this blog for our 149th birthday.  And she got it mostly right.  But there’s always a few exceptions to quick observations, some missed at the time, some which slip in later.  For instance, our eminent publisher didn’t really catch the ambivalence of many here in Québec toward being part of a country whose original rulers kicked out the king and government that founded us years before — specifically, France.  A separatist referendum back in 1995 was defeated — by only 1.16%.  Stresses exist to this day between Québec and the other provinces, and Québec has never approved the 1982 Constitution.

And then there are the relations with the First Nations peoples, who in the US are called Native Americans or Indians.  There have been few wars of “pacification,” along the line of the Indian Wars of the American 19th century.  Great efforts have been expended in modern days to work with tribal leaders.  But there have been many rocky moments as well, with promises broken by the white man; the British and Canadian governments of the 19th and early 20th centuries did have a history of land dispossession, Indian residential schools and forced assimilation.  A “reoccupation” tent was raised on Parliament Hill by an indigenous group in the days before the Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, as a reminder of these past blots on the Canadian copybook.  In a politically shrewd move, the tent was not ejected, but moved closer to the Centre Block Peace Tower — and the celebration stage.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited it as a gesture.

And things like this are actually a sign that gives Canadians hope for their country.  In the long run, Canadians have tried to live up to the more noble aspects of their country and culture.  The country itself (more properly, the Dominion of Canada) was confederated in 1867 in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, on the principles of “peace, order and good government,” and the full patriation of its Constitution from British control (in 1982) included a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that codifies constitutionally Canadians’ protections — aside from one interesting “notwithstanding” section that can be invoked, but rarely is due to political costs.  Outside of, perhaps, the House of Commons and the provincial legislatures, there’s usually a real attempt to find dialogue and consensus between sides of a question.  And the old chestnut about Canadians being just plain nicer than other peoples has a lot of truth to it.  (Aside from, maybe, Stanley and Grey Cup championship games.)

So yeah, I’m glad to be a Canadian in many ways.  It’s not the perfect place to live; but what country is?  And it strives to be better than many other places are around the world.  Canadians have worked hard for 150 years now to hold their place among the other countries of the world, and we’ve made our contributions, to politics, science, medicine, economics, and entertainment.  We’re gonna keep on working hard, and we should be here in some form or another for a few more decades.  Maybe we can even help keep the rest of the world from destroying itself, if we can export a little “Canadianness” to other places around.  Our children will find that out for us.

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