Photography

Randomness & pre-update

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Good morning all!

The sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Spring has sprung and the rain clouds (at least for now) have gone away. The Pacific Northwest is the best place on Earth this time of year! There is green everywhere, the mountains are snow-capped, and the sky is blue checked with white puffy clouds…and those April showers have brought the May flowers (ok, we have a Tulip festival here in town in April so there were flowers then too).

Two random things on my mind this morning…

First, I am considering the purchase of a new car. Like BRAND spanking new, which I have never had before. The current vehicle is a little commuter car with 230k miles on it. I bought it because I knew I would run the wheels off of it and I know there is still like in it, but having better gas mileage would be even a better things. Currently I get about 33mpg, but I have to fill up about every four days and that is a drain. So, I am looking at two hybrid cars that get 50+mpg. I am considering the 2018 Hyundai Ioniq and the 2018 Kia Niro.

  1. Anyone out there own these cars already? If so, what do you like or dislike?
  2. Are there other hybrid cars that others have that they would recommend or not? Why or why not?

Second, the other random thing on my mind this morning isn’t all that random. Let’s call it a “pre-update” to an update for the goal I set at my 46th birthday. Anyway, now that the weather has taken a turn for the drier and warmer, I have started rolling outta bed an hour earlier each day to begin the day with a walk. Let’s just say, 4:30am is a killer. I am motivated to get this done and I am starting to see a little more progress…anyway, I’ll talk more about that next week with the official update!

  1. What things, at least when it comes to exercise, motivate you to get out of bed?
  2. When do you like to do your workouts, morning or evening and why?

Well, that is it for today. Thanks for stopping in and pausing, if only for a moment, with me. Now, off you go! Go make the day a great one!

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An apple tree in the yard, full bloom!

School Picture Thievery

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This school picture thing is a pretty big racket if you ask me, and if you’re a parent you know what I am talking about. If there is any place you know it and can feel yourself being ripped off but can’t do anything about it, it is definitely with school pictures and sports team photos.

I have felt this frustration in the past, but it kind of boiled to a head this year when I went to order my daughter’s school pictures. It usually isn’t a big deal trying to order them, but being the “non-custodial” parent who usually gets the information second-hand sometimes it takes a while to get it done. (Yes, I realize I could just have photographer friend take the photo and avoid all the trouble so I guess I am a glutton for punishment).

Anyway, I logged onto the website with my special code and wanted to just download the image to my computer and then go have them printed in the quantities and styles I desired. So, I selected the outrageously overpriced digital image – $22. Say what? Yeah, you read that right…let’s do some quick math…

If a school has 300 hundred students and the photographer can get 60 students through a line and photographed per hour, then the photographer would work for five hours. The photographer is, most likely, using a digital camera to take said digital images @ $22 each, therefore making $1320/hr, or $6600/day. That is of course presuming that each parent purchases just the digital image, let alone one of the other overpriced packages they offer. Now we know not all parents purchase the pictures, but you get the idea.

So, after choosing the digital image for download I get to the check out page only to see that I am going to be charged a “Shipping and Handling” fee of $7. Uh, wait, what? I am downloading a digital image. Why is there a shipping and handling fee? What’s worse is that I can’t remove the fee either. The radial button is greyed out. I either pay the fee right now, or wait until the next day to call them. So, I opted to call the company the next day since surely the fee for a digital download isn’t $7 bucks…

I called the next day and waded through their automated answering system until I got to a real person to talk to. I explained my situation and asked if there was some kind of error on their website that wouldn’t allow me to remove the shipping and handling fee. The response?

“No, that is a flat fee we charge for all late orders.” 

Late? Yes, it is true I didn’t order when the pictures were taken in the fall, but your website says they can be ordered at any time until following fall AND there is nothing to indicate this is a “late” order on the website. I was a little dumbfounded. I said, “You’re joking right? How does downloading a digital image warrant a $7 late fee or even a shipping and handling fee?”

“Well, we do have to mail you the rights release so you can have the picture printed.”

So what you’re saying is that you are going to charge me $7 to mail me a sheet of paper and an envelope that costs, at best, a stamp or maybe two? I said, “Listen, I understand it costs money to send a piece of paper and envelope out to me but I have ordered digital images from other photographers in the past and they didn’t charge me an extra fee for the rights release, they included it with the digital image download. Surely you have the ability to do that right? So, why would I need a piece of paper mailed to me? It takes less than three minutes to compose a generic email and attach two image files to it.”

“Ok, I suppose I could waive the shipping and handling fee. What email address would you like the images sent to?”

Thank you. Now was that so hard and how about you waive all shipping and handling fees for all digital downloads from here on out? I probably speak for everyone who has encountered this ridiculous fee. There is no reason for it other than you can, and you have families over a barrel. I would venture a guess that many people just pay the fee, which is sad.

Highway robbery, I tell ya, only there was no highway and the bandit holds parents and other family members hostage every dang year around school picture time.

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The MOVEMBER Experiment (sort of)

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November has come and gone and you probably heard about a lot of men doing the Movember thing…it’s where they grow a mustache in an effort to bring awareness to prostate cancer. I think it is sort of the equivalent of everything turning pink during breast cancer awareness month, only not as widely advertised. If you want to know more about Movember, check out the Movember Foundation. Apparently the “rules” say it should be a mustache, but I think it should be expanded to all facial hair, but what do I know?

Anyway, that brings me to my experiment. I don’t do mustaches…I have grown out the facial hair in past and shaved all but the mustache and I just couldn’t walk out of the bathroom with that look on my face. I mean, my ugly mug doesn’t need any more help in disrupting traffic and scaring small children. So, why punish people with a mustache hovering between my nose and upper lip?

I, therefore, have taken it upon myself to expand Movember to include all facial hair. Now, that being said, it isn’t all that unusual for me to allow the hair to grow a little during the winter months for short periods of time because I get lazy. I don’t really like shaving, so it is a good excuse to just let myself, I mean face, go. This year I had a purpose, a goal, if you will. I wanted to try a look I had not done previously but I know my dad has a one time and, apparently, was rather popular in the past.

The photo above shows the four phases of the month. #4 is the standard beard and doesn’t take much upkeep. I have been known to wear this look for weeks, so it wasn’t all that much of a stretch for this little experiment. #3 is also an old reliable for me. I have also been known to wear this on my face for weeks at a time and, again, not much of a stretch.

That brings me to #2. I am talking about them in reverse order here because that is really the order I wore them on my noggin. I had never worn #2 in the past, but because it wasn’t much of a change from #3 I thought it was a relatively easy look to pull off. I have to say that it wasn’t much of a favorite among the family or co-workers. I didn’t really like it all that much either since my two-tone facial hair seemed to get highlighted by this particular iteration of cowboy style. Maybe if I had been living in the dusty southwest and had a cowboy hat on I could have made it work.

Finally, that brings me to #1. Oh, the Mutton Chops….yeah, I can see why these are no longer popular. The looks I got from strangers…perhaps they thought I had escaped from a mental institute. The looks I got from co-workers…well, that mostly falls into the camp of “So, when are you going to change that?” (I am not sure if they were talking about my facial hair or my face.) Last but not least, the looks I got from my family. To quote my sister, “It is slightly entertaining, but mostly just creepy.” Of course, my mom just puts both her hands on my cheeks and says, “When is this going to go away?” Ah, but my wife, but especially my wife…the look of horror on her face when I came out of the bathroom before heading off to work said it all! She actually stated, “I can’t believe you are going to leave the house like that.” Mind you, I only sported this look for FOUR DAYS, but she definitely expressed over that time the desire for it to never be repeated again.

I guess I’ll never do that again…or perhaps I will. It’s all in fun and, after all, it’s just hair and it, unfortunately, just grows back. So next year, how about I go with the Friendly Mutton Chops? (you can look that up if you like)

What do you think? Do you participate or know someone who does? What facial hair style to you like, either to try or like on men?

Positive Post-it

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What if you were given a fresh, new pad of Post-it notes that came with a requirement?

Let’s pretend I just gave you a pad and the requirement is that you could only use the notes to pass out encouragement to others, whenever and wherever you can.

  1. How would you use them? Sign them or make them anonymous?
  2. Where would you use them? Leave them in the open or hide them to be found as a surprise another day?
  3. Who would you leave notes for? Obviously you have friends and family that could use some encouragement, but have you ever considered leaving encouragement for strangers – maybe on the bus, at the restaurant, while you are shopping, or at work? Why?? Well, maybe the stranger did or said something that you noticed and deserves a compliment. There could be any number of reasons, but the cool thing is you get to decide.

With all the negativity floating around in the world these days, it would be nice to spread some love and encourage people instead of tearing them down. What do you think?

Are you up to the challenge?

**NOTE** Comment what you would do, or who you would encourage in the comments below. OR, if you want, I would really like if you could take a photo of your notes and post them in the comments. Let’s build a “blog post of positive!”

What if you could rewrite your life?

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Ever have one of those days?

Ever have one of those days where the “What ifs…” begin to wander in and you start to think about what you would have done differently? What you would do if you could go back and start over?

I am not having one of those days; but, as my pen lay on the notepad in front of me, I had a moment of creative inspiration with an app on my phone so I decided to record it and create. I guess, for a moment, I was being philosophical.

So, tell me, have you had one of those days? Or, moments? Tell me your “blank page” moment/story in the comments – what would you do if you could rewrite your life?

Branching out, er, expanding?

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Just a quick note to have you take a look at the new page on the blog. You’ll find it up there in the top next two “Home,” “About,” and “Contact.” If you can’t figure it out from all the hints, try looking for “Stupid Board: Classroom Quotes.” There is an explanation about what it is and where to look as well.

Happy viewing, and I hope you will be intrigued enough to join me on Instagram as well!

Gaffigan and Giggles

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That is one happy girl! Tickets to Jim Gaffigan’s “Noble Ape” tour.

She waited a long time for this night, since April in fact. We asked her what she would like for her birthday – something tangible or an experience – weeks in advance and she chose an experience. Before her birthday arrived, the chance to do something we knew she enjoyed came up on Groupon so we took the opportunity to get something she would enjoy. We knew she would enjoy it because she has enjoyed every one of the Jim Gaffigan’s specials on Netflix. So, now was her chance.

It was hard for her to wait, I mean, it was almost six months before she could enjoy her birthday present. She has watched him on Netflix over and over. She has listened to him on Spotify over and over. She has been patient, though it was hard. But the tour had finally arrived in Seattle and off we went! And as we went, she played DJ in the car and we listened to tunes the whole trip.

First Stop

Our first stop was for dinner. I asked her about where she wanted to stop but she didn’t have too many ideas. I mentioned a couple of places, but nothing sounded like it was a winner with her until I mentioned a place we have gone to several times for different trips to “the big city.” We didn’t want to battle too much downtown Seattle traffic so we decided to grab a favorite just north of town. It’s cheap, it’s greasy, but it is fairly tasty.

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It just so happened that this evening there was also a Washington Husky game in town, so there were lots of people in the parking lot and a wide variety of people to watch as we downed our food. It was certainly a happening place while we were there…but it was also dinner time too!

Seattle Center

After dinner we headed down to Seattle Center. We knew we would have time to kill so we found some parking and wandered around the iconic area, the place of the 1962 World’s Fair.

As it turns out, there was a festival going on with people wandering around with aromatic food and colorful clothing. There was music too! Again, there were lots of different people to watch and we found an art gallery that was open so we wandered that to start with.

We saw the sights, we took pictures, we “played tourist” as she said.

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Jim Gaffigan – The Noble Ape

We stood in line and did the now ever-present security check to get into the event. This process was a little different from what I was used to going through at a sporting event, but we made it through fairly quickly and made our way to our seats in Key Arena…our seats clear up in the “nose bleed” section (second row from the top, if you must know). I actually expected to have a little better seats than we got for the price I paid, but I guess that is for another discussion, another day.

We watched people come and go. We discussed the music the house was playing – all seeming favorites of hers, all very current. We talked about the other artist’s tours that were coming and which ones she would like to go to. We just had a nice time visiting. Laughing. Joking. Testing each other’s knowledge of the music.

Then came “the warning.” The warning about not filming or taking pictures during the performance (yeah, like that is going to be happening…I mean, not me of course…) so we took some pictures before it started. Really, there wasn’t much to see in the one I took. (I tried to scale it to what it actually looked like instead of blowing it up and making it look like something better than it was.)

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Inside Key Arena – view from our seats

The opening act (can’t remember his name) was pretty good and we laughed. I am not sure how much she totally got – I mean, he was talking about being a guy in his 50s and the aches and pains that go along with age so she couldn’t really relate, but I could. I think she enjoyed watching me laugh at the jokes. I could be wrong. I am, after all, her dad…

We both really enjoyed Gaffigan though. Even for as much as we have watched and listened to him prior to the performance, he really did have mostly new material. There was only a little bit that was a repeat from other shows and, as my daughter put it, “he expanded on the topic a little more tonight.”

What I loved was watching her. What I loved was watching her laugh uncontrollably with a smile as big as her face. She giggled. Her eyes sparkled. She was having a good time and memories were made, that was the goal.

It was over too fast. The performance, that is. It seemed like it had just gotten started and then it was over and time to file out of The Key like cattle. We walked back through Seattle Center and stopped to take a couple more pictures, specifically one that would kind of encapsulate the whole evening – an early and late picture of the Space Needle (almost three hours apart).

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Space Needle – 6pm & 9pm

We piled back into the car and made our way back north to home. We talked about what we liked best about the show. She can be rather insightful when she wants to be! The conversation didn’t last long though. She was ready to play DJ once again and we rocked out to a wide variety of music (even some old 80’s music “just for me,” but she likes it too).

As she gets older, and busier, I cherish these times. I know they will get fewer and farther between, but for tonight it was perfect. Just giggles, smiles, and laughter perfect.