Because I’m a man, from time to time, I like to compete. I don’t know for sure what it is about us that we have to prove we’re better at something (anything) than someone (anyone) else. It probably has something to do with our fathers, insecurity, establishing dominance and throw in a little something Freudian for good measure. Regardless, if you give us a smidgen of talent at something, we’re going to turn that interest into a competition somehow so we can feel better about ourselves knowing that once, just this once, we were the better man.

As an example of this twisted compulsion, take the above photo. What would lead an otherwise sane individual to spend a better part of an hour arranging and re-arranging peppercorns liberated from their rightful home in my pepper grinder in an attempt establish the best natural lighting scenario? An act of desperation born of competition if I’ve ever seen one.

After resounding trouncings in my two previous attempts at entry into the MatchPoint Tournament on Flickr, I was determined to take my rightful place as a winner in the macro theme this go around. Hence the careful prodding, poking and placing of black, red and green peppercorns that caused my 4-year-old to wonder aloud if I was, “counting how many,” I had. As frugal as I can be, I resisted the temptation to take him up on his suggestion.

In the end, all my efforts were for nothing. When I initially read the rules for the “Larger Than Life” round, the organizers had included a caveat of no plants or bugs. “Great,” I thought, “I’m totally in the clear. Pepper is a spice!” As any Star Wars aficionado knows, spices are manually extracted by means of slave labor from exotic spice mines. Surely they couldn’t be a plant?


Sometimes ignorance is not bliss. Sometimes it just forces you to post a picture of the tiny carbonated bubbles in a glass of Coke instead.