30.6.07

I remember back in the day...

when MTV was new and music videos were too.

Enjoy (if you can dela with the shitty nusic and video quality).

And while you're at it, enjoy the new Video du Jour too.

28.6.07

Eulogy for Carl

One of the worst things about leaving my old job at the diner was losing all connections to K-town. That meant that a lot of things happened to a lot of people and I just wasn't aware, wasn't in the loop anymore.


Marriages, births, deaths... they all went on.


Carl was perhaps my favorite old veteran customer. I confess to a weakness for WWII vets - after all, Dad was one. And so was Carl.


He lived at the Dayton Hotel in downtown Kenosha. That link shows the Dayton at it's height, back in the 30's or 40's. Now it's much much different.


Gone are the days of walks to fancy restaurants, doing evenings at the local play houses and high-rise elegance.


Now it's home to men who are mostly forgotten - and often somewhat crazy - vets. You'll see them hanging out on corners, sometimes panhandling, often smoking cheap cigarettes and occasionally playing instruments (with varying success - Gods forbid) for tips.


The new dwellers - the gentry that are being pulled in to the townhouses and the "up scaling" neighborhoods around the downtown fear them. Or find them unsightly, a nuisance that needs to be removed to a hidden place - maybe a set of houses in the Lincoln or Columbus Parks areas. But those of us who dwelt street ourselves at one time know they are just guys trying to make it by, maybe ugly, maybe smelly, but part of the downtown.

When you're poor and in a home your basic needs are met, but the routine must be maddening. Nothing new, no family around. Like a gallon of 2 per on the shelf at the convenience mart you are just waiting to expire.

And the only way to beat this game is to raise some money yourself.


Carl didn't panhandle... at least not generally. He hung on the corner between the diner and the Walgreen's smoking shitty cigarettes, smiling that big toothless smile at passersby and trying to sell faux jewelry. When he scared up a sale (and those were mostly the result of pity, not a wiley customer seeing a good deal) he'd come into the diner for coffee or a slight meal.


"Hi buddy," he'd say to me with a smile. Sometimes he'd say more, but with no teeth, a southern drawl and speech made lazy from lack of use the "Hey buddy" part was about all I could understand. Still, with minimal conversation we were able to make a friendly relationship.


I met Carl's daughter last year. She came in to the diner from down south - I think it was Alabama - to visit him. She did this yearly. When I found out who she was I asked some personal questions about Carl, a couple of things I really wanted to know.


She could have told me to "Go to hell, it's none of your damned business," but she must have understood the curiosity. So, she told me a little about her dad.


Carl was in the Army in WWII. He was attached to a Navy ship in the Pacific theater. His job was combat-related, but dwelt on what might well have been the darker side of combat. Carl was charged with watching the ocean roll by and fishing dead and dying vets from it.


It was shortly after that he became disabled, being diagnosed schizophrenic.


As for the picture, I took it for an online photo site that was holding a portrait contest. Carl's' face seemed perfect. While a young person sees beauty in the line less, uncreased face (one which is blandly like anime) I found it in faces like Carl's - creased and furrowed and full of the past.


He tried smiling for me at first, but that didn't work. It was too posed. So I just told him to sit and ignore me and just do what he wanted and the pictures would just happen. This isn't the perfect picture, but it is the one I liked best. It was the one that showed Carl at his most Carlesque.


With our session done I paid Carl and he was off and running to get some cigarettes and lunch, probably at the diner.


Rest easy, Carl.

27.6.07

The last 25 years encapsulated...

While driving around in the truck today I wondered what I could say to really capture the high moments of the last 25 years or so. To be most honest, I'd have to say there have been too few high moments, but for shits and giggles here is a time line of the really important stuff -


  • 1982 through 1984 - Two years in the Army infantry. Due to my efforts to guard the country the Canadians were unable to storm over the border and take Colorado nor were the Hungarians, East Germans or Czechs able to roll through Bavaria capturing the all important heavy weizen factories.


  • 1984 - Quit drinking to excess. Because of this I can proudly say I have not urinated on anyone's radiator for over two decades!!!


  • 1986 through 1991 - Enrolled at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois where I earned several distinct honors - Phi Beta Kappa, Honor Society, and the J. Howard Atwood Award (given each year to the best Anthropology student. This has all the import of being named "The Greatest Swordsman in All Wadsworth, Illinois").

  • 1991 - Father dies in Kansas City, MO.


  • 1991 through 1995 - I begin a small and insignificant writing career which spanned working for three newspapers and freelancing at two others. At the final one (The Monmouth Daily Review Atlas Illinois' 75th smallest of 79 daily papers) I win the Illinois Press Association's "Columnist of the Year Award" 1994, Division D. Then one Monday, Approximately one month after receiving the award, before the plaque from the IPA even arrives, the paper unceremoniously fires me. This is due to a column I had written two days earlier.

  • 1992 - Discovered after incurring a $25,000 student loan bill that I should have listened to the Taoists and just been happier with the ignorance as it seems the pay scale for either education and idiocy are about the same.

  • 1995 - Diagnosed Bipolar Type II at the Veterans Administration Hospital in North Chicago. This resulted in being treated with Depakote, Lithium and finally on Tegretol. While still doubting my diagnosis I have to admit that the meds have helped take the most of the anger out of my life. Unfortunately no cocktail has been able to take the edge off my wry sense of humor and pessimism.


  • 2002 - Begin going out with a young woman who I met in the early 90's while working as a barrista (re: coffee jerk) in a local cafe. I move in with her one year later.


  • 2004 - Linda and I get engaged then promptly promise to get around to marrying each other eventually.


  • 2005 -Dan King dies of his 4th heart attack.


  • 2006 - Linda and I marry. What follows is a touching yet dramatic reenactment of the final decision to get married right then and there -


Me: Ow!!
Linda: What's wrong?
Me: My molar, the one on the bottom left side is killing me.
Linda: Take some pain killers.
Me: I've been taking them all week, but they don't touch it.
Linda: Go to the dentist.
Me: I can't afford to and the V.A. doesn't offer me dental treatment.
Linda: Well, I have dental insurance, and it kicks in right away for new spouses...

Two mothers, a living room and a Unitarian minister snatched out of church for an hour between first and second services and the deed was done.

The rest as you can guess is history.

You are invited to my coming art show...


Hello Gentle Reader,

Let me first start by saying I lied - it's not my art show. But it is a show which will feature between 5 and ten pieces of my photography.

My selections will be entitled "Somethings Old; Somethings New" and will include older items from the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra, Bulletin photos and other assorted stuff. The new works will be shots taken in the last month and a half and will include a couple of fun shots from Kenosha's Bloomin' Days Festival and some band shots featuring Local faves the Radioactive Squirrels and one of my most favorite musicians of all time Joan Jett.

So please do me the honor of attending. Here are the specifics


  • Where: Clocktower Art (link to their website)

  • Address: 2200 Northwestern Avenue in Racine, Wisconsin (Mapquest directions from Kenosha)

  • When: Friday July 13th

  • Attire: whatever you would normally wear to an event featuring over a dozen artists and a handful of bands

The evening promises to be fun, so make your best effort to be there!

it is hot and muggy as shit outside today...

and that is why I am determined to hide indoors all day at work today. It ws in the low 90's yesterday with high humidity and that simply wiped me out. Right after getting home I crashed for a nap (at about 7pm) then got up at 8 to go shopping with littleone. Right after getting home at 9 it was out to sleep on the floor in front of a movie before going to bed at 10 and sleeping till 5:30.

The worst part is that I still feel sleepy.

Went to the V.A. a while ago for a sleep study to see why I went through these periods of extreme tiredness. They did give me a reason - only dreaming 5% of the night instead of the human normal of 25% seems to leave me tired, or so they said - but other than telling me not to have caffeine after noon each day gave me no help. And there was no followup.

One of the reasons I hate the tiredness is that it bites hard into my married life. T'were I still dingle it would make no difference. Sleeping all the time would be okey dokey. In fact, it would be a joy. I love sleep. But when your mate wants and needs you awake it is really not a happy thing.

If anyone has any suggestions on what to do I would appreciate them.

25.6.07

fucking boneheads...

One of the reason I hate corporate morons is that they are all good in coming up with methods to make lots of money but without the commonsense infrastructure in place to make sure there is follow through. For example, we have two truck teams on duty but six routes - three apiece - to cover.

When jobs are scheduled for the same time the goal is for the person in the office to keep track of the schedule on the computer making sure to shut down routes as they become overbooked. This is done to both maximize profit and minimize customer dissatisfaction.

Today the GM shut down two of the routes because he would not be in the office and he did not want us to get fucked. As a backup plan I called the booking area to let them know no one would be in the office today and they needed to call each truck individually when a job booked to keep us abreast of how the schedule was going.

The agent who took the call said he noted it in our file and not to worry.

Right.

Directly after finishing our second job of the day I returned to the office to check the schedule, figuring it would still be empty and that I could send one of my guys who's hurting home. No such luck.

Four jobs had booked. The jobs were not dispatched to the proper phones for us to handle. Neither did any agent bother to call us with the news. As a result three of the jobs were called after they should have already been finished and the third was called late.

Fucking greedy boneheads.

I celebrated coming back to work today...

by submitting my two week notice yesterday.

I don't know about you, but submitting a notice always has me of two minds - on one hand, I dread doing it because I don't like confrontation and I am afraid I am screwing someone over and they'll yell at me about it. On the other hand, I want them to protest enough to let me know I was useful and needed.

In this case the boss' reaction told me they might have been planning to fire me anyhow, or at least that they saw me as stale, part of the problem and might see this as a godsend.

Ouch.

But in any case, it's done and over come July 7th. And it couldn't make me happier.

I've got bunches of photos to edit, other projects to rearrange and some other money to try and make.

Already a friend of a friend wants me to try and eBay some stuff (consignment) from her late brother's estate. The nicest thing about this coming job is it did not come through the friend. Rather, they found me on eBay registered as a trading assistant.

That gives me some leverage to try and make this a legit job and to prove myself. And that makes me happy. Working for yourself is no panacea, but it is nice not to be trussed to the corporate uberlord when trying to magically make cash appear.

Now for the magic...

23.6.07

prepping

to go over to Harborfest and grab some Joan Jett pics as well as some photos of the Twang Dragons. Hopefully that band will want to end this with some paid work, but we'll see.

Am printing out an 8 X 10 of the T.D.'s lead singer doing the National Anthem the other night before the Squirrels gig. It's to be a small gift to her BF to give to her later today.

Speaking of the Squirrels, I'll be posting a hell load of pictures of them in the next couple of days. As Fate maneuvered me into having to learn to automate some of my processes it turns out I can crank out a hell of a lot of work really fast. The batch photo processing sized and did initial color corrections on over 400 shots this morning, all without me having to worry or work.

N-i-c-e.....

I can do the quick crank stuff that way and still do the careful stuff by hand.

By careful stuff I am referring to a couple of projects I have in mind that might make me some money or at least will get me noticed in areas that might be happy to pay me. We'll see.

22.6.07

This is the final post, then I actually have to do some work today...

Just a note to say I will be turning in my two weeks at the junk shop. My plans are insane and will likely cause me nothing but grief in the short term, but I want a life back. The end of the 14 hours devoted towards work (including transit) and thinking for other people who are assumed to be grownups is near.

I'll be going back to the diner and to bartending and catering and to anything else which turns a buck.

On the bright side, I see a lot of bike riding in my future. And that's something my fat, tired ass can use.

Gods know I can use the breather. My time back at Franks should start on or around July 8th, unless they terminate me when I give my two weeks.

Final Note on pictures

Found an old friend has come back to K-Town from London. She's here working the coffee house until she goes to school in Boston come fall. Her boyfriend's new band is working the fest on Sunday. After getting out of Franks I will try and shoot over there and catch them.

The Squirrels at Harborfest

Went to Racine's Harborfest last night to get pictures of the Squirrels. It was an odd gig.

On the plus side they did a great two hour set and the crowd loved them. A lot. The records shows (at all theri gigs) that the people who see them really like them. It's just a matter of getting people to get there.

On the minus side the weatherman predicted some severe storms for showtime. That helped thin the numbers and that was just too bad - especially since no rain actually fell until over an hour after their show.

The opening night crowd was thin. Next year if the guys elect to go back (and juding on crowd response they will be invited back) a Friday night slot would serve them much much better.

Anyhow, getting in the backstage area with my camera and no pass was fun. They tried to keep the bandleader's wife and I out. Eventually our protestations of "I'm with the band, man!" worked (I just love saying that. It is so stereotypically 60's burnout).

To make a long tedious story short (but no less tedious) suffice it to say that my question to an event organizer about bringing my camera in to take pictures of Joan Jett on Saturday resulted in a media pass. And as long as I am there, it would be nice if I got pictures of a certain other band too... (That in itself would be good as I like doing band photos.)

The most fun thing for me though was that the organizer is part of a company which major sponsors Country Thunder. My thoughts are that if I can impress him with my photos and turn them over in quick fashion I might be able to get a C.T. media pass. And that could lead to my being able to do something I have wanted to do for three years - putting together an official Country Thunder Calendar.

And so my nefarious plans are laid...

and of other photos...

Had a lesson yesterday on how some folks feel made for one side of the viewfinder or the other.

A professional photographer friend of mine is running for office. He had seen my work and wanted me to do his picture. I was flattered and agreed. We did the shot in his wife's law office, which is adjacent to his studio. He had some great equipment - not the newest or most impressive, but some good solid stuff that it was refreshing to work with. So all the techie stuff was okey doke.

The problem was that my friend is very uncomfy in front of the camera. He was very worried about looking "right" and that made his task and mine just a bit harder.

We did a bit over 50 shots, none of which really thrilled me but a couple of which were workable. I'm to head back to his place soon and get some shots of him on the streets and such.

What I learned from this? 1) get some information on how to pose people. He gave me some pointers but I need to get a friggin' lot better. 2) find a way in the next year to get some of the flash heads he had. They were cordless and 800w each. They put my old corded 500w unit to shame. 3) Just do more and more.

And the wedding photos are done...

The reason I took vacation was to catch up on some photos I needed to process from the first two weekends of June, those of the wedding and of the K-town festival - a total of slightly over 1500.

At this point I've finished the 746 from the wedding and of those over 500 (+/-) were keepers. The main issue with these photos was that they were taken on a sunny day (sun was a bit too high in the sky) so there was a lot of shooting into the sun during the ceremony. Also, the reception was tented and the sides of the tent were removed. The back lighting was bad in some shots and those were lost.

However, most of the shots were OK to good and right after I posted them and sent the bride a link she reply-mailed with glowing reviews. It was a most blush-worthy moment.

If you want to see the pics, here's your link.

For those with dial up connections, you might want to use this link instead.

As a sidebar, the flickr paid account will be worth the $24.95 if it gets me even one job, wedding or otherwise. If you elect to get it, download the free upload tool. It'll be worth your while.

21.6.07

I shit rosey pickles...

Or at least I seem to do something extra-ordinary and phenomenal.

Sent the link to the wedding pic page to the bride and she wrote back, heaping praise on me for the pictures. It is hard to make me blush (gods know pink cheeks do not sit well under grey beards) but I was overwhelmed by her comments.

In other earth shattering news the axe falls tomorrow - got word from the diner on when they want me back. Seems it is ASAP on that. Later today I will tell them two weeks from Sunday and this evening will call my boss to give him the news.

This leaves me full of fear and trepidation* (let this = $10,000 pay cut per year) but let's ride this train as far and as well as we can, eh?

* this link was for my sake, not yours. I just wanted to underscore the happy dread I am sensing.

The last of the wedding photo work

Ok, it began on June 2nd with the wedding of Eric L. and Joy R. (a couple of you know them). and today, June 21st it is over. I've editing all the photos and am uploading them to my flickr account now.


I've chosen to upload the low-res images (why upload all 3.5 GB?). And rather than watermarking them they're left open for anyone who wants to simply downlaod them for their decktops or whatever. Anyone who wants one of the hi-res images can buy them from me.



Oh, and here's a hint for you -if you choose flickr to upload pics for piblic view then you ought grab their upload tool (found on this page). Rather than just loading five at a time on the upload page you can get upwards of a hundred loaded while you do other things - like blog about uploading (why yes, I am pathetic).

The pictures are all posted and the bride has been notified and given the links. As of tomorrow I will be free to post them publicly.

Finally.

the biggest flaw in Texas Justice

may be that the people from Texas are too stupid and vindictive to get it right.

Had the angry mob beat the driver of the vehicle which killed the child I wouldn't have flinched. instead they beat his friend to death.

Doofuses. They deserve to live in Texas.

20.6.07

And finally...

they are done. All that's left to do now is count em, put them on a quick disk, make of some disk faces for the final disks and deliver them to the bride and groom.

and so it goes...

the photo editing that is.

I'd taken the week off just to work on the 1500 photos =/- over the last two weekends. so far this has proven to be a more daunting task than I'd thought. Right now I have worked through the wedding and the formal reception photos. There are now about 200 dance pictures to go through.

The dance pics will be the easiest as I already know (and went into it knowing) that a lot of them would not turn out well. The dance floor was not lighted at all, thus I knew that focusing would be a bear of a task. In short, what ever works works and whatever doesn't hits the cutting room floor (so to speak).

I was very happy with a lot of the pictures and more than a little disappointed with others. The wedding party march into the tent and the best man's toast yielded the worst results. The march was done under a tent with stark sunlit greenery to the background. Focus on quick movement and excessive back lighting made a mess of some of these.

As for the toasting I am not sure what the problem was. At the same table under the same lighting the Bridesmaid's toast gave good results. As a former pagan and current Taoist I would like to blame it all on Karma or the wrath of an angry potted plant spirit.

In truth though the issue was what most issues turn out to be in photography - operator error.

Oh well, time to get back to it. Only 210 left to go, +/-. I'll post a link here to the pics when they are posted.

18.6.07

Huzzah!!!

this idiot blog (and idiot blogger) have finally broken the 2000 hit mark!

Thanks to both of you for clicking on this 667 times! As for the one that clicked only 666 times stop your slacking!

and now there is no excuse...

Well, vacation has officially begun and I celebrated it by staying up till 1:15 this morning watching Roeper movie reviews on his archive. He's nothing special to me, but movie critics can be so catty and funny that they're worth watching to just see how inventive their insults can be.

But after sleeping in till 8:45 it was time to come downstairs, waste time reading Google news and then drag myself to editing the first 750 of over 1500 pictures. Actually, the first 746 pictures need to be done by Wednesday, put on decorative disk and given to the bride.

Anyhow, enough of my lunch break. I did over 60 photos this morning so far (that's 110 sorted through, sized and filed) and hope to knock out at least another 200 before bed tonight.

Damn, but I hate running out of rational reasons to procrastinate.

(FYI - samples of the photos will be posted to my picture blog. If you're friends with Joy and Eric or just like looking at pictures just give me till Thursday to have them posted and linked here.)

15.6.07

packers and movers...

We had a job scheduled for yesterday at 1:30. When we called ahead the customer requested to rebook at 3... then 5... and finally 7. Seems the packers and movers from Korea Express we taking a wee bit longer than he anticipated.

We live in fear at these times. When you're doing a moved out you never know what you'll get. We've taken anything from a half truck to a five truck load in these circumstances. And when the last dump is closed by 3:30 you really don't want to put these things off till early evening.

As it ended up though it took us about 2 hours to clear out a 7/8's load from his whole house. The most memorable things we pulled out were a violin (yes, in perfect condition - that was snagged by the loan musician in our team). a Beta (fish) and a guinea pig. Their boy was desperate to have one of us take it as he couldn't bring it with and did not want to just let it go.

I ganked the pig and gave my wife a quick call to see if she could find a place to take it. I dropped it at the local pet shop on the way home with instructions that if they could not find it a home they would call me back in a week or so to get it back.

It would be nice to call the boy and let him know that Sparky is okey dokey but he's on the way to Seoul by now.

10.6.07

and the mad photo rush begins...

Over the last year I have been very busy with my big boy job - you know what that is? It's a job that demands lots of time and rewards you with very little but money (leaving you no time to engage your loves).

Luckily this month I've been blessed with opportunities to take pictures at three different venues - a wedding and two festivals. A local politician who is also a professional photographer has asked me to do shots for him too.

So far I have the wedding and the first festival under my belt. This is a shot from the festival. It's of a belly dancer who hopped on stage at the festival to dance with the band.



I'd previously taken pictures of one of her troup's performances and she wants more shots. This will be fun.

As for the band, they're the Radioactive Squirrels and I've done a lot of paid and au gratis work for them in the past. They're also the folks I'll be getting pictures of at the next festival.

On a side note, I've signed up to take a week of vacation effective 6/16 in part to give me time to edit the other 1500+ photos lying around from the wedding and this festival.

As soon as I have all of it ready and posted I'll put some more shots up here along with links.

4.6.07

One down...

Wow, that was a great weekend. Nothing like three days off and intense steeping in one's "night job" to refresh.

Not sure why the boss gave me three off in a row, but I'm pretty sure it had to do with my "less than fresh" attitude. Well, if that's the case, his plan worked. My attitude is a lot more positive (even where work is concerned) and I am ready to get up and at'em.

As for the weekend itself, the wedding shoot on Saturday was really splendifferous. While I haven't counted an absolute number, I figure I smoked off about 700+ shots of various family members and such. Now a lot of these will be duplicates - make sure to get three shots of the same thing just in case of a blink or a bead pose, then select the best of the three to get to the bride and groom.

Still, Eric and Joy should have hours and hours of viewing pleasure (note: this pleasure normally devolves into tedium around the end of the second hour) ahead of them.

And just for the record my old theory still holds - when you mix certain woman, some alcohol and a camera you just naturally end of with a photo essay on exhibitionism.

Sunday was a mixed bag of weirdness. Things at the house were tense in part because the rain (which is still with us) helped ruin plans. However on my end things went well.

Met with the chairperson of K-Town's Bloomin' Days festival to hear what she wanted shots taken of this weekend. We sat over a Cafe Americano and toast as she outlined what her group needed. While this is a freebie she did offer to reimburse me for small equipment which means I'll be repaid for that 2GB card I bought yesterday. The purchase of that card makes it formal - I am no longer 1GB short of a wedding shoot.

Final notes on the wedding - this new camera (the refurbed Canon 20D I bought on eBay) worked like a charm. The light balance was really good to fixable quality on all the shots I previewed via Adobe. That alone makes it a world better than the 10D I've used over the last 5 years. Huzzah!

The 20D even worked in harmony with the 10's flash. I am thinking of selling the 10D "as is" on eBay as soon as the 20D proves it's reliability on the next shoot (which I estimate to be another 400+ pictures). The minute I finish the foto finishing on wedding pics a whole load of them will be published via my other blog, Piczilla. Any interested parties can check them out through there.

Peace.

2.6.07

1gb card short of a wedding shoot...

June promises to be an interesting month. Since starting my infernal junk job I've been too involved and had no time to do the things that I like (i.e. photography and coffee shop socializing). But the spring of my discontent fell upon me some time ago and with it came a blatant disregard for my duties.

And this June that shall result in photography.

Here's the itinerary -



June 2nd (today) - Eric and Joy's wedding over at the Kemper Center

June 9th - Bloomin Days in K-town (I get to be the wandering picture guy)

Later that evening - Main stage duty doing photos of the Radioactive Squirrels

June 21st - The Radioactive Squirrels at Racine Harborfest.

June 23rd - For personal reasons, back to Harborfest to take pictures of Joan Jett.



Three of these are paid, the others are for friends or self. But the best part is they are photos.

To give myself a venue and actually get to see who all is interested in the pictures (admittedly they are interested in the event and not the photographer, but that's fun as hell too) I've set up a web space for giving people a looksee.

Piczilla is the new blog. Right now it has two pictures on it, one of some political signs and another by another photographer. It's sparse now but by the end of the month it'll be well populated with pixels.

With any luck it'll help me make a bit of extra money through Google Adsense and through print sales. That would be kind of nice, to get a extra/passive income through print sales.

Anyhow visit it that blog in a few weeks and it should have lots of stuff on it.