Under Construction

It’s been a busy but good weekend so far, and hopefully I’ll have accomplished even more before my head hits the pillow tonight. It began with a strange experiment involving The Incredibles. I’ve been really trying to find innovating ways to learn French besides the usual iTunes lessons. As great as they are, I want to expand my exposure to la Français as much as possible. So I put on The Incredibles and watched it in English with French subtitles.

You see, when you learn French from an audio source like a book on iTunes, you learn proper pronunciation, but you don’t know how to spell anything. But if you learn French from a book, you pronunciation is… well… in the case of French, all wrong. So by listening in English and watching the French on the screen I picked up a few more words and phrases. Then after a bit, I switched to French audio with English subtitles. An interesting experiment. I may continue it when I can, although I must say that with all the projects I’ve got going on, sitting down in front of the TV for even 20 minutes is pretty rare these days.

I’d have to say that for the first time in my life, since I was perhaps three years old, days go by without me watching TV. It’s taken me a week and a half to get through the first two hours of Alexander. Not a movie that got rave reviews, I know, but I’ve been trying to watch it from a historic perspective. It’s not that the movie is bad, I just can’t sit still for any long period of time when I know I want to accomplish so much.

But if I’m learning French at the same time…. well…

And speaking of French, Morgan and I are now members of Alliance Française de Chicago. It’s basically an organization that promotes French language, culture and history through classes, film, discussion and general community. I went there this last week to find out a little more and decided on the spot to get our memberships. It was really wonderful to be able to speak my broken French again after a few months. When you walk in the front door, it’s like you just stepped off of a plane. The sounds of French being spoken immediately brought me back to our time in Paris. And I could say bonsoir, merci and au revoir without sounding pretentious.

On the second floor is a library or médiathèque full of French language books, magazine, DVDs and videotapes that can be checked out just like any other library as long as you’re a member. As a browsed the aisles, two people were sitting at one of the tables conversing in French. I took my time exploring, enjoying the simple sounds of a conversation I didn’t understand the majority of. I’m planning on taking French language classes there, possibly as early as two weeks from now. It’s a difficult task to get me out of my film editing world and anywhere by 6pm, but I’m going to try it. It’s just two weeks. Very intensive schedule, but as Morgan recently said in her recent blog entry, if I don’t start now, it will soon become tomorrow, and tomorrow will become the next day. I am serious about this. I am certain I have a future in Paris.

So…

Mon nom est Billy. J’apprends à parler la français.

In addition to that, the creation of my little Billy Sheahan Photography ad banner this week and a lengthy conversation with Jillian Ann last night, has motivated me to really get going on redesigning my website. Oh I was so close to having a site I could easily update on a regular basis with this last version. The one that is currently up is version 7 if you can believe it. I’ve had a photography web presence since it was still cool to host your site on AOL way back in the mid 90s. You can still amazingly see the AOL pointer page, Billy Sheahan Photography has moved to www.billysheahan.com, when I finally got my own domain name back in 1997. Not sure why AOL has left it up for eight years, but it’s sort of nostalgic to see it there.

In fact, one of the coolest hidden gems of the internet is this thing called the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. It has been quietly archiving the internet for at least a decade. billysheahan.com has a reference as early as 1996, but an actual website archive didn’t begin of my site until 1998. But it’s there, I guess as proof that I was pretty out in front of the curve on this information superhighway thing. You can even see me dissing AOL’s built-in browser in small legal type at the bottom of one of the earlier pages. Never afraid to speak my mind I guess. There’s even a link to a website stats company at the bottom I was using to track hits to my site. After a year of taking my money for the service, they informed me that content on my site was objectionable and they were terminating our relationship. The company was based in Utah. Not surprising.

But back to my point, The Internet Wayback Machine is great fun to see what veteran sites like Yahoo! used to look like when they were only a search engine back in 1996. Ah the good ol’ days.

So the new billysheahan.com website. I’m tempted to put it up in pieces as a work in progress, but I know if I do that, it will be tempting to leave it unfinished if things get busy. The Thanksgiving holiday could give me four uninterrupted days of work on it, aside from a dinner with my family, so it’s possible. However, I am waiting for Apple to release a new piece of software called Aperture, that may both help keep my photography catalog organized as well as assist me in producing more attractive web galleries more easily than I have in the past. Sadly, it looks like it won’t be out until after Thanksgiving, which might force me to put off creating the new galleries, which is arguably the most important part of the website.

Jillian correctly reminded me last night that I have a tremendous amount of new work from the past year or two that has barely been seen outside of an occasional blog entry – and that it’s some of my best work. If I’m going to really present myself with the proper due, the new work needs to get up there sooner and on a much more regular basis. She did tell me one of our images is the one she’s using on her business cards. Considering how many incredible photographers she’s worked with over the years, I am humbled by the compliment.

So do I create a new site with galleries that I may re-work in a few weeks or so? Well, the process of collecting the images, retouching them and putting copyright watermarks on them has to be done regardless, so maybe the most time consuming part of creating the web galleries has less to do with the website coding and more to do with image preparation. There, I’ve talked myself into it. I’ll go ahead and begin creating the galleries and then re-create them when Aperture arrives.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of a preview of what the home page may look like.

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