Sunday, November 29, 2009

'Tis the season for thanks...

I know this is a little late. It seems everyone whose blog I keep up with has made it a point to publicly note what they are thankful for. It's not that I haven't been doing this as well - I am just a little more private about my thoughts in this area. This particular Thanksgiving, I have found myself buried with personal and professional commitments to the point that I am physically and emotionally wrung out. I even had a minor emotional event on Thanksgiving morning that I think really worried Ms. C and my Mother to the point that both have kept a closer eye than normal on me this weekend. I think it was safe to say that I was tired!

So, after managing the workload of a half dozen people Monday through Thursday of this week, and then getting up early on a "holiday" Friday morning and spending a few more hours at a project worksite that I am responsible for, I came home to this simple trophy prepared for me by my lovely 8 yr old daughter:

 A single impromptu act by an innocent. Or maybe a prescient act by an angel. Whichever it was, this simple gesture from my child made me stop...breathe...and let the worldly pressures that were weighing down my soul pour away. It was then that I realized that I needed to take stock and share with you a few things that I am most thankful for. So here they are.

1. I don't know about being the best Dad in the world, but I know that I am the father of the best daughter in the world...And I thank the stars above for every moment I get to share in her life.
2. I am thankful for the love and support of a truly fine woman...who one day I hope will realize how special the skills are that she shares with the world every day.
3. At a time when 1 in 10 are unemployed in this country, I am not only working, but thriving in an environment where my counsel is sought and my skills are utilized to the benefit of all.
4. I am thankful for the men and women of our Armed Forces, including my college roommate, who stand watch over our freedoms so that we don't have to.
5. I am thankful to be a part of a free society where talented professionals and rank amateurs can gather in a free exchange of ideas that builds the skills of many and broadens the minds of even more.
6. I am thankful for the love and support of friends and family who tolerate the imposition of my photography on their lives. I hope that I give to them even a fraction of the joy they give to me.
7. I am thankful for the strength of my little buddy Kirk as he kicks the butt of the big C one more time. Vaya con Dios, my friend.

Most of all, I am thankful for the opportunity to be a father and a loved one...A leader and a follower...a friend and an allie..and sometimes just to be. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Random thoughts ...

There is a lot going on as we head into the always hectic Holiday Season. There are just a few thought that seem to be stuck in my consciousness. I need to get them off my mind...
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With all of the vilification of overweight and obese persons in this great country of ours, I have to wonder how much longer it will be before those who have made it their mission to form the nations populace in their own skinny image take on the national holiday of Thanksgiving? You know, the holiday where we celebrate the bounty of the harvest by feeding our families, usually to gluttonous excess , as a means and excuse to gather them all together and enjoy their fellowship?

There will be walks to support the conversion of those afflicted by media imposed gluttony rituals. There will be telethons directed at getting you to donate money to support their efforts to just "Say no to the Bird". And I am sure that there will be some lame duck half-wit in either a state or federal legislative body who will decide that he/she needs to champion a resolution, or, God-Forbid, a binding law requiring government intervention in mandating an exercise program, or some other punitive action for attempting to overbuy the groceries for this annual family feast.They will of course point to this action as a means of validating their legislative acumen and efficacy as an elected official.

For the the interest of full disclosure...I must point out that I am a P.O.S. (Person of Size). That's right - I am overweight - morbidly obese - FAT! And I am a fully functioning member of society, who, save for his weight , has no appreciable health problems. And I have only one question for those six or seven people who read this blog -

When did being FAT become a crime?

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The 2010 calendar project is almost complete. All that is left is the self portrait that I will use on the back page of the landscape calendar. There are two calendars this year - one that is primarily focused on the people who I am able to capture in interesting moments with my camera. This calendar is titled "Spirits of the Soul". It will mostly be distributed to families and close friends who will be able to appreciate the images of the people involved.

The second calendar will get a little wider distribution. It is titled "Hauntings of the Mind's Eye", and it is dedicated more to the landscapes and events that I have taken my camera and my vision to over the last two years. I don't think that anyone who gets either of these calendars will be disappointed!!!

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We are going to be the hosts of Thanksgiving dinner for Ms. C and her family. We will be short three out of the full house of 14 for this event. I know that Ms. C and I wish those three were here also. It is going to be one heckuva feast, and I can guarantee all who are going to come that there will not be a single critical path schedule for dish preparation presented during this dinner, and anyone who deigns to mention calorie count shall be banished from the premises. Dishes on the menu will include :

Cajun Fried Turkey
Honeybaked Ham
Cranberry - Apple Compote
Ms. C's World Famous Garlic Mashed Potatoes w/ giblet gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Pudding
Sheila Partain's Sweet Sourdough Rolls

Goode Company Brazos Bottom Pecan Pie
Apple Pie (From the House of L. Belan)
Pumpkin Pie

The after meal snack (to be served during the annual Texas A&M - t.u football game) will include ham and turkey sandwiches on Sheila Partain's Sweet Sourdough Rolls and will be served alongside my famous Turkey Bone Gumbo.

Let the skinnies eat tofu...

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Since Thanksgiving is near and Christmas is close behind, it is inevitable that I will get asked for a "Dear Santa" list. I usually refuse to generate one because I never have felt that this was in the spirit of the season. A Christmas gift is to be given from the heart - it should never be a box checked off of a list that you take to your local mega-mart so you can feel that you have satisfied your obligations to the gods that be. Of course , that is just my opinion. I will, however tell you what items I am trying to accumulate in the next year or so in order to further fill out my photographic kit:

(2) Nikon SB-900 Speedlights
(2) Cheetah Lightstands
(1) 2'x3' or 3'x4' softbox for use with speedlights
(1) 1'x3' strip light for use with speedlights
(1) Boom kit to use with my light stands
Nik Complete Collection for Photoshop
Nik Capture NX2 Software
Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 Software

I am also planning on upgrading my computer to be able to do a few more things as I expand my skills in post processing my photo images. I am looking at a Sony Vaio with all the trimmings, including a 3.0 GHz processor with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. Now I just have to find the scratch to buy that bad boy!!!

C'mon , lottery!!!

Keep the faith.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just...

The last month has been a whirlwind of activity for me and my camera. I thank my lucky stars that I am able to do some of the things that I do, and that I have a broad group of family and friends who support my efforts at finding an artistic voice. To all of them, I say Thank You.

Today is a special is the day where the moon and stars align and smile in the knowledge that their favorite spirit...the inimitable Miss C...has begun another solar cycle. With respects to W.H. Auden, I find that part of one of his great quotes best describes what she is to me...

She is my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song...

I won't bother you with the rest of the quote, because it is somewhat fatalistic, and not at all how I feel about my Catie. Happy Birthday, Dear...many happy returns!!!


I have had many requests over the last year for another Lemmings Walk calendar. I have to tell you that the reason I have skipped a year is that I just did not think I had enough material to do a calendar at the quality standard that I have set for myself. After taking a little bit of time to go through the last couple of years of material, I have to tell you that I think I may have been wrong.

My first pass through the file archives of the last two years left me with between 50-100 images that I would and could use for a top notch calendar. As I started to develop the calendar concept further, the road I was going down sort of ...forked. So, instead of one calendar, the effort sits right now at two calendars. Miss C thought that I had outdone myself. I had another dear friend stop by this past weekend and I showed her the current two concepts, and she was polite in her praise, but she correctly pointed out another thing to consider that may make this project take another turn yet.

This year's calendar is titled "Hauntings of My Mind's Eye"...And I am working toward my goal of delivery on or about December 24th.

Keep the faith.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Albuquerque International Balloon Festival 2009 - Third Times the Charm!!!

I have made the trip to "the most photographed event in the world" two times before only to be thwarted by bad weather. I was hoping this time around to take the things I had learned about the venue during the previous attempts, marry them up with a dose of good weather, and end up with some images to last a lifetime.

It didn't start off well, as our flight leaving Houston was delayed by a strong early season cool front that touched off enough weather to delay our departure by over an hour. Since we had only originally planned to have two hours on the ground in Albuquerque before the first evening event - the Special Shapes Balloon Glowdeo - we knew we were in danger of missing our first of 4 possible sessions at Balloon Fiesta Park.

As luck would have it, we walked onto the field just as the balloons that were assembled had finished their inflation, and the announcer was set to begin the evening event. After such a stess filled start o the journey, it is always nice to be calmed down by a smiling face: