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Archive for August, 2012

Drug Prevention- Executive Summary

If somebody were to have told me (twenty years ago) that I would be writing reports on drug prevention on a hot Friday night, I would have belted out a hearty laugh, followed by a shot of straight Tequila.

My typical Friday nights were spent in one of two ways:

a.) I was in church with my friends and family
b.) I was out running the streets, higher than a kite and no doubt on my way to becoming quite smashed.

Sometimes in that order.

If I didn’t puke, I generally wasn’t having a good time. This went on for a good twenty years. I suppose that my extensive experience on the subject fuels my passion for it. I know many people who think you can’t touch a drop to drink (or you’re a raging alkie) or that if you smoke a joint, you’re on your way to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seeing how pot is considered a “gateway drug”.

But I don’t think this is so. Many things change the brain’s chemistry and can cause addiction- not just drugs. I’ve had many Twinkie battles (when I had a chronic case of the munchies) and I was certain the Twinkie would win, but again, not so. Will power and a solid education go a long way. “Just Say No” simply doesn’t work, and the DARE program was an epic failure.

So what’s the answer?

I ponder these things. Drugs and alcohol littered my youth- they were my second skin.

Now, I haven’t smoked a joint in six years, and haven’t had hard liquor in six as well. I don’t care much for the taste of alcohol these days- that’s not to say I can’t have a beer or two, or a glass of wine with a salad. I just fell out of love with it, that’s all.

Photography has taken the place of drugs I believe. My art is satisfying enough for me.

When I’m excited- I take pics.
When I’m sad- I take pics.
When I’m stressed- I take pics.
When I’m angry- I take pics.

By doing so, I alleviate much of the stress associated with these intense emotions. I can add descriptions to my work so that the viewer can perhaps step into my shoes. It’s absolutely therapeutic. I remember the day I quit smoking cigarettes (six years ago also). I was wondering what in the world I would do when I was stressed. No weed- no whiskey- no smokes! Where’s the fun?!

Then I picked up a camera. 🙂

Maybe someday I’ll design a program for kids and teens, that incorporates “phototherapy” into their lives. It’s not too expensive- everybody has a camera these days, and they can express their pent up emotions through their art.

Good grief, am I really rambling on about drug prevention on a Friday night?!

Yes. I’m afraid I am…

And here’s the Executive Summary I turned in today:

 

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(Copying, “borrowing”, or outright stealing this work for the use of plagiarism is absolutely prohibited and any breach of this written warning could result in prosecution.)

Executive Summary

In 1983, Daryl F. Gates founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or DARE. The program offered a ten week, in-school, interactive learning module taught by local law enforcement officers and others. Authorized workers and guest speakers were to undergo 80 hours of training in the areas of childhood development, communication skills, and other interpersonal tools. Funding for the organization was based on certain criteria being met: The information was to be research-based, and effective. In 1998, funding for the program was cut as a result of failing to meet the required regulations. The Department of Education (DOE) has withdrawn from the program completely and refuses to give DARE any future funding. Recent scientific studies have proven DARE to not only be ineffective, but counterproductive as well. It is difficult to say whether the law enforcement officers’ lack of therapeutic qualifications played a part in the failure of DARE’s program. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that simply weren’t cohesive. Some of the teenagers in the program may have viewed the police officers as a threat. It is a fair assessment to say that minorities and inner-city kids may have been preconditioned to fear police officers, especially if they might have been told the same division put a parent or family member behind bars. Perhaps too, the overexposure to a variety of drugs gave the young DARE members more temptations than they might have had without the program.

Attempts at primary prevention education have been challenging over the years as well. Targeting grade-schoolers, many programs have used catchy slogans, such as, “Just Say No,” without reaping necessary and expected benefits. A major problem with this technique that must be taken into consideration is the exposure to a host of new drugs that many children are not aware of beforehand. By announcing the dangers of these items, children are being tantalized and seduced by an idea, “the forbidden fruit”.

Scare tactics is another method that has been ineffective. When presenting exaggerated effects of drugs to children and teens, but especially teens, they will often discredit the material altogether. When teenagers are shown dramatic images of horrific drug-related events, the emotional connection and fear are more temporal than long lasting. Children lack the foresight to understand what 20 years of hard drinking may do to the body, even knowing, he or she may not care. Connecting with these kids on his or her level is crucial. Targeting a demographic is necessary, but so is having the precision and ability to actually reach these children.

Another aspect to consider when using scare tactics is the often romantic appeal of a thing when it is presented as “off limits”. That is not to say legalization of drugs or underage drinking should be an option, but perhaps emphasizing nausea as an effect, rather than euphoria, may tarnish its overall attraction. The effects of drug and alcohol use are tempting to children and teens because they like to feel good. Toddlers spin in circles to mimic euphoria, even before they are old enough to form sentences, much less understand the concept of drugs and alcohol and their effects on the body. No matter how well packaged or distributed antidrug campaigns may be, unless the parents or caregivers of the child are reinforcing, in the home, what he or she is learning in school, the whole of it will be counterproductive.

Programs like the Child Development Project (CDP) have been shown to significantly reduce drinking and drug use among adolescents and teens between the ages of 5-12. The CDP strives to promote closer bonds between students and their peers, teachers and students, and students and parents. Another useful prevention program is Class Action, which is a universal school-based alcohol-related learning module. Class Action targets children between the ages of 9-12. This program in particular has proven to reduce the onset of drinking among school kids, and has reduced binge drinking among high school students.

One reason for the success of Class Action is the interactive peer-led relationships between the students and their mentors, or speakers. The representatives focus on turning negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure; thereby changing the messages of alcohol uses and abuse altogether. Students who heed the warnings will perceive drinking as something that might be shunned by their peers, in turn, molding their choices into healthier actions. Unlike DARE, which is a tertiary prevention program, the CPD and Class Action are primary and secondary prevention programs.

Recommended Changes:

Avoid using scare tactics in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. The fear-related material can be effective in creating a necessary protective boundary in grade-schoolers. The same fear may compound stress in teenagers, causing them to actually want to try drugs or alcohol, and the same could be said in tertiary programs. Scare tactics are best used during primary prevention, when children are most impressionable.

Avoid using law enforcement officers in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. They may induce rebellion in teens, and resentment among addicts. Again, law enforcement officers are presented and often perceived as “the good guys” to grade-schoolers. A two step interactive transitional program is recommended that would bridge the gap from grade-school over to middle school, and then middle school to high school, promoting the positive images of law enforcement officers. Telling children to “stay away from bad things” simply does not work. Law enforcement officers would be encouraged to engage in activities that children and teens participate in most: gaming, texting, and hanging out at their favorite hot spots.

Abstinence rewards in school is another recommendation.
Reward middle and high school students who abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Implementation:

Develop a program specifically for middle and high school students offering monthly voluntary drug testing. Rather than spend money on building more incarceration facilities, increase funding for voluntary drug testing in schools. Rewards include: Ipods, clothing cards from their local malls, and ITunes cards that allow unlimited downloading of songs. By associating positive material gain (rewards) with abstinence, the fear and anxiety associated with drug testing would be diminished, if not altogether diffused, and kids and teens would develop an appreciation for drug testing that could possibly carry over into adulthood. Just as word-of-mouth among peer groups is drugs and alcohol’s number one promoter, so too, the Abstinence Reward Program (ARP) could be widely spread and promoted by peers among peers.

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Catwalk/My daughter, Heidi./Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Ops./Manual ex./RAW/GIMP

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Photo Therapy

So my assignments are stacking up already.

College Algebra
Fill out proctor forms/fax back to instructors
Read 28 pages in Nutrition/take first quiz
Finish up reading in Alcohol and Other Drug Problems- type out 2 page report as a treatment center assistant, specializing in prevention
Prepare for my first speech

They’re not due until next Monday, so…there’s time.

I’m tempted to go play hookie. Down at the river. With my camera. Maybe- maybe I could do research of some kind. For school. Or something.
With my camera.

Josh is frustrated. He’s on his laptop rambling on about his inconsiderate teacher.
I really didn’t hear a word he said.

“Is that your Spanish class?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, seemingly appeased.

I passed.

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Heidi/Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass Ops./RAW/Manual [Rebel xti]


I’m Not Above It

Oh…my goodness. Where to start.

I posted an ad on Craig’s List to pick up some extra cash. I am not above scrubbing toilets.
Josh and I got to Kate’s house a few minutes early. [Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.] We peeked through the windows.

Kate had already told me on the phone, that she was a heart patient.
What she failed to disclose, is that she is also a semi-hoarder.
And…her house hasn’t had a good cleaning in years.

We knocked on the door a few minutes early- no answer.
I caught the look in Josh’s eye and it was obvious that he was thinking the same thing.
We made our way quickly back to the car.

“Look. Let’s just call her. Tell her that it’s going to take longer than we thought. We can come back again,” Josh said.

“If we leave now, we’ll never be back,” I said. “It’s just how things go.”

So we started rationalizing.

“What if it was our Aunt Ida or something? Or a family member…”
“Why did we come here? To leave?”
“What is so important that we have to do besides help this woman?”

And so on.

And so between us both, we decided that we had no choice but to return to Nan’s house, and do the best we could for her.

I knew she was a fiercely intelligent woman; I could tell within seconds of meeting her. Her eyes beemed with an intense light. Her skin was amazing!
Nan was probably going on 60 or so, and I liked her right away. A very earthy, down-to-earth woman. My kind of person. No BS, no fronts.  Just herself.

“Kate, you look like a psychologist,” I said to her.

“I am,” said Kate.

And so we stayed for five and a half hours and cleaned our butts off. We put in a few extra laps for her, and it was our pleasure.
I’m used to making $20 per hour by myself when I clean, given my 25+ years experience and proficiency in the area, but Josh and I are both doing the school thing, and we’d rather clean houses privately, and on our own time, than to work a public job and so on. Also, we get to meet many interesting people this way.

Kate cut us a check for $125. We kissed her dog Daisy goodbye, and locked up behind us.

I can barely believe we did what we did there in only five and a half hours. Unbelievable.

Grocery shopping. (Beer, watermelon, rasberries, vanilla ice cream, sodas, smoked mussels, etc.)
Dishes. Bubblebath. Cleaning my own house. A bit of reading in my schoolbook, “Alcoholism and Other Drug Problems”. And finally…

…to bed.


Recent Work

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Public of your Past/Canon G3/self portrait

 

G3/self

 

G3/self

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Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass Ops.
Falls of the Ohio/Water

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The Hiding Place/My daughterBrianna-reworked(added film filter + mastered levels and hues)
Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass

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Thirty one Hours/ My daughter, Heidi,Reworked
Lensbaby Composer Pro/ Double Glass/Canon Rebel Xti

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Times Square/New York, New York
Multiple Exposure/Sigma 17-70

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Warhol/ Warhol exhibition (Campbell’s soup cans)
Museum of Modern Art- New York, New York

Multiple Exposure

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Warsaw/ Abandoned Government Facility
Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass Ops.

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My daughter, Heidi/Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass

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He’s Leaving Again/Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass

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Interrogation/ My kitchen chair in natural window lighting (my favourite lighting)
Lensbaby Composer Pro/Double Glass

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Self Portrait/Long exposure experiment/Canon G3/manual (8 secs.)

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Shadows and Leaves/Harvest Homecoming/Canon G3/Manual


Last Day of Freedom

I can’t believe school starts tomorrow. My summer vacation is officially over.

Heidi emailed me and asked if she might come to live with us until February. I’m ecstatic! We’ll be moving into a new house before September 10th. The $5,280 in school grants and loans will be a big help. Josh will be going full-time this semester as well. He’ll be receiving less than $4,000, but between the both of us, we’ll pay for five months of rent up front, which will take some of the pressure off. Because Heidi will be with us, we’ll probably go with a four bedroom house. When she’s back in Bloomington (here and there), we’ll use the room as an office.

I’m a bit weirded out by my Speech class. I’ve put that class off for two years. (Sigh.) I’ll also be going into my fourth semester of college math. I was going to break up my classes and only go part-time, but decided to bite the bullet and face all of my fears at once and simply get it over with. I’m saddened that I will have to put my photography on the back burner once again, but excited by the fact that I’ll be simultaneously working on my online gallery.

I was also just juried in to Sojie 18:

Birgitta, hi, your image below was nominated for SoJie 18 –
Solo’s Juried Invitational Exhibition on “Abstracts”

It’s time to post!

  1. deadline is this Friday, August 24, 2012, 8AM New York time!
  2. judging starts immediately after the deadline
  3. show opens Monday, August 27th!

SoJie 18 – exhibition space and instructions
Use the special “Easy Button” linked in the intro to get image code to copy/paste into a comment.
There is the link, and an illustration in the intro on how to use the Easy Button, 1-2-3.

Congratulations!
Frannie

p.s. Below is your nominated image. You will see your nomination sticker in the comments. Click it, or the above link for instructions.


Men Walking
by Birgitta

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I took the shot with a Lensbaby Composer Pro (Double Glass)- slow shutter sp./ Night shot (about 8 seconds or so).
RAW/manual/Canon Rebel Xti

I love to bend the light. This image is almost SOOTC/straight out of the camera.
I did a slight level adjustment, but apart from that- it is.

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It’s a prestigious nomination. I’m pleased. 🙂


Another Sale

 

Sales have been good to me lately.

I just received this email this morning:

Hi Ḃḭṙḡḭṫṫä,

You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.

‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid

Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.

Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News

———————————————————————
1x Photographic Print of “”The Longest Dream”
Print Size: Large (610mm x 117mm)
Finish: Lustre

Your Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
———————————————————————

The sale details:

Retail Price: AU$39.17
Manufacturing fee: AU$24.95

Total Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)

You’ll receive: US$14.95
———————————————————————

While $14.95 won’t buy me a new car, or even a full meal at a buffet, (ok, I think it would cover the buffet), I’m not complaining because when you’re as busted as I am, every penny counts.

Fine Art America is now telling me that they’re having “technical difficulties” with my print order. Here’s our problem: they want a crystal clear image (seeing how it’s a B&W landscape of trees in the rain) and fail to comprehend that the ADDED blur and grain they’re seeing on the image is very much intentional, as it is with many of my photos. I create mood with added film grain and gaussian blur- it’s present throughout many of my images. I create depth and mood with my textures. (This is why I’m fond of film cameras.) When shooting with a DSLR, I will purposefully jack up my ISO so that there is present grain in my photo- I also shoot only in monochrome, and RAW. (All manual.) Trying to explain this to somebody who is a “straight photographer/staff member” is beyond frustrating, because now I feel like she’s (“Dawn”) challenging my artistic merit.

The site is called “Fine ART America”, not Fine PHOTOGRAPHY America, and it pisses me off to no end that now, the staff can officially “interpret” what is and what is not- your art!

Would they tell a painter that he or she needs to resubmit a painting using “this or that” acrylic brand paint? Then why do so with a photographer? I intentionally muck up many of my images with blur and grain- that is my trademark style, and I’m known for that.

I wrote Dawn/Fine Art America back and told them all of this, to no avail, and she proceeded to tell me that I needed to reshoot the image (?!! “Are you for real, Dawn?!”) so that they can produce a higher quality photo without blurring or grain. GEH!!!

They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

How unfair is it to the buyer, who’s paying $731 for that print- to assume that they’ll be getting what they ordered, all the while, behind the scenes, the staff is telling the artist to RESHOOT THE FRIKKING PHOTO and then- they’ll ship the buyer a completely different image than what the buyer ordered- without letting the buyer know!

I immediately lost respect for Fine Art America. Completely.

I told Dawn that I would not be reshooting or resubmitting a “new photo”, and challenging my artistic interpretation would not be tolerated, and that she had only two options:

1.) Print and ship the original, as the buyer intended, yes, I’m aware that it is 9 feet long. It IS supposed to be somewhat blurry if you’re looking at a 9 feet photo on your farging monitor, Dawn. You have to back up about 3 or 4 feet, Dawn!

2.) Release the buyer’s name and address so that I can deal with him or her directly.

I then gave Dawn my Redbubble link, that links her up with their # 1 competitor’s site, and showed her the 160 comments on that image, and how I’ve already been selling the same image there- with no complaints.

(And, again, have made another sale this morning in fact.)

Dawn considers this a “high risk print” because it’s 9 feet long.

I reminded Dawn that while they consider it “high risk” to print, if they didn’t go through with the order, it would be an even greater risk to them, because I will post a journal entry at Redbubble- and within one day- at least 5 countries would know about it by the end of the day.

All of my friends, buddies, pals, and acquaintances are all artists, all over the world. I don’t know many who’re not.

Dawn decided that she would contact the buyer and “inform him” of their troubles. I am livid.

They’re used to seeing landscapes that are crystal clear (etc. etc.) but I inject my own mood and presence into my work with my lighting, exposure, film grain and blur. It adds a retro-vintage feeling to the image that isn’t done in one little mouseclick. It’s not a simple filter that’s applied. It’s various layers (sometimes 20-25) and very much like a patchwork quilt, I will errase bits and pieces from each layer, blending and merging and blending and merging- much like painting- until the final piece has a certain depth and mood.

I’m waiting to hear back from Dawn/Fine Art America.

Will update soon.                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                     Land and Sea

 

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