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Full of Hot Air
WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: September 19, 2010   |   WHERE: Plano Balloon Festival

Kylie and I went to the Plano Balloon Festival last night with our friends Amy & Daniel.  Maybe I'm just gettin' old and cranky, but festivals don't seem to have quite the nostalgic allure I remember as a kid.  And about 1 every year or two is all I can tolerate.  I dunno, maybe it's the big, stinky crowds.  Maybe it's the terrible, overpriced food.  Actually, lemme qualify that... some of the food in all it's fried glory is good, but it's terrible for you, like so bad that it makes a Big Mac and it's 2 all "beef" patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickle, onion on a sesame seed bun seem like a healthy alternative. 

Everything is is such excess... the crowds, the lines, the calories, the prices, the glutony, the smell of port-a-potty's baking in 95 degree sun...  It's kinda like someone said, 'Hey, let's take everything that's ugly about America and make an event out of it, and we'll charge people admission to see it.'  Maybe I just have this disillusion in my head that there still exists those nostalgic, cool hometown feel festivals that are more about the experience and less about the capitalism... like in Sweet Home Alabama, Sleeping with the Enemy, and Elizabethtown.  You know, the festivals like those in chick flicks.  Maybe I want a chick flick festival.  Please chime in with a comment if you know of any such festivals, 'cause I wanna put 'em on my list of places to see.

Wow, look at me bein' all negative.  Okay, sorry... I'm over it.

And hey, the balloon launch was, after all, kinda cool.

And so was the balloon glow.


WHO: Me   |   WHAT: Random   |   WHEN: September 1, 2010   |   WHERE: In the bushes

Finally, some agua from above.  The monthly water bill has been begging for a reprieve, and if we don't get a little more rain, I may sneak over to the neighbor's house in teh wee hours of the morning and hook our soaker houses and sprinklers up their outdoor water spickets.


Down Time
WHO: Me   |   WHAT: Personal, Random   |   WHEN: August 30, 2010   |   WHERE: On R&R

I took a picture of some grass in the front yard tonight because, well, looking at this blog for the last couple weeks has been a lot like watching grass grow.  Not a lot happening.  Each year summer is one of my down times where I don't schedule photography sessions because, let's face it... 103 degrees and smiley, happy clients just don't go together.  Or maybe it's that 103 degrees and me don't go together.  Either way, I've been enjoying my R&R in the AC... maybe a little too much. 

As much as I love being connected with technology - so much so that I'm contemplating whether I have an addiction - the last few weeks have been a little less stressful and I've actually felt refreshed and enjoying the actual face to face time with Kylie and friends.  Imagine... spending time with real people.  Crazy, I know.  And for a few days, I've been reminded what life was like before photography and before I was brain washed into believing that I had to be blogging, facebooking, flickr'ing, RSS'ing, photography foruming, tweeting, or just plain internet'ing every 5 minutes or I'd be missing out on something.  And on more than one occasion, I've been tempted to go back to that life.  But alas, the fstops have been calling my name, and I'm excited about the upcoming busy fall client season.  I've made a few behind-the-scenes changes, though, that will hopefully help me take on more clients but get more of my life back in the normally-crazy next few months leading up to the holidays. 

I've got a couple sessions to post after clients come in to view the images first, so in the mean time here's a bit of randomeness from the last couple weeks.

On the automotive front, we finally decided it was time to trade in Sophie, Kylie's 1998 Saturn SC1, for a new set of wheels.  Searching for a replacement ride was a bit of an 'adventure' with Kylie and I.  She's more into the practical side of cars and as long as it gets her from point A to point B and gets reasonable gas mileage, she's good.  Me?  If I'm going to be going from point A to point B a lot, I want to enjoy the ride.  And while reliability and practicality are also on my list, they're a little further down below the really important things... you know, like the sound of the doors closing, the feel of the turn signal knob, the sound of the horn, the look of the dashboard, etc.  And for the love of Pete, the car has to have an arm rest in-between the driver and front passenger seats.  Sophie didn't have this, and I can't even count how many times Kylie just rolled her eyes at me every time I completely dramatized the re-enactment of me demonstrating to her how I nearly fell into the passenger seat every time I drove her car because couldn't put my right elbow on an arm rest. 

But while I admit I appreciate good design and am willing to pay a little more for it, I'm not willing to go into debt for it.  So, we bought another '07 car, this time an Infiniti G35... and I'm loving it.  After a LOT of looking around and doing some homework, we traded this...

for this...

Mayb the most amazing part about the whole process is that after we finally bought the G35 on Thursday, I listed Sophie for sale on Craig's List around 11:30am Saturday, and by 3:30pm that same day we had sold the car and had cash in hand.  That still blows my mind.  4 hours!  Thank you Craig, whoever and wherever you are.

And on other random fronts, I went to the dentist last December and had some medical Flexible Spending Account money l had to use before the end of the year or I lost it.  So, I went to my dentist and told her I needed a bite guard because I was concerned about grinding my teeth.  Long story short, I called and went in on December 30th and told her I was in a rush to get this before the end of the year, so I paid for it that day but didn't bother going in to pick it up until April of this year.  And after using it for about a whole 5 days, Mia got ahold of it and decided to us it as a $400 chew toy.  End of bite guard.  It wasn't a total loss, though... I still have my wicked cool molds that I can put out as decorations to greet guests with a smile. Although... it looks a little disturbing and kinda like I have 3 week old Fruity Pebble bits stuck in my gums.  Zoinks.  Oh well, cheeeeeeeeeese!


WHO: Garry (a.k.a the "FIL")   |   WHAT: Portraits, Random   |   WHEN: August 2, 2010   |   WHERE: Plano, TX

Kylie's parents just left today after staying with us for the last four and a half days, and I 'm sad to see them go for a couple reasons:  1) It's just nice to relax and hang out with them because they're good peoples from the mid-West.  2) No more fresh corn on the cob straight from the Indiana stalks.  3) The indulgent snacks (home made ice crean, brownies, homemade strawberry shortcake, Klondikes, homemade cinnamon rolls, buckets of soda, etc.) suddenly become harder to justify eating when all the company leaves.  4) Mia seems a little depressed after being in K-9 heaven with the nearly 24-7 attention and spoiling she got from "Grammy" and "Grandfather Garry".  5) Now that Garry's gone, I'm designated as the resident handyman again, and for those that know me, the term "handyman" and me?  Well, we're not exactly friends.  In fact, most days we're downright adversaries. 

Oddly enough, my dad is quite the Bob Villa as well when it comes to fixing things around the house.  Apparently I was absent the day he and I had an appointment scheduled to transfer that father-son knowledge.  In general, it just seems like men from my dad's and Kylie's dad's generation know how to fix more stuff.  Me?  I'm blaming the internet and Microsoft for my home improvement shortcomings - the internet because it's made me lazy and Microsoft, well, because it's been a while since I blamed Microsoft for anything (and it's due).

Anywho, back to Garry (a.k.a. "the FIL")... everytime her parents come down for a visit, Kylie makes a list for her dad of things around the house that need a little help.  And typically Garry goes above and beyond in blowing through the list and then some.  For me it's great because I pick up all kinds of tips and tricks for fixing things while Garry does the work and I pretty much stand there and say, "Great job, Garry.  Lookin' good... You need somethin' to drink?  Need me to wipe that sweat off your forehead before it gets in your eyes?"  WIll I ever remember said tips and tricks when the time comes and he's not around?  Dunno, but I like to think I'm absorbing his skills through osmosis, and they'll magically come back to me next time something comes up and he's not around, and it will be my time to shine.  Wishful thining?  Prolly. 

I was out watering the plants in the front of the house last night - a skill I picked up all on my own, thank you very much - and I noticed the sunset and wanted to grab an image.  I decided to snag Garry and rescue him from watching Design Star with the ladies for the moment and do a quick portrait in the middle of the street.  It was pretty dark, and all I had was a light meter and a Nikon SB-800 flash, but no light stand to hold it.  So I had Garry hold it, laid on my back in the street (as a neighbor and his 3 dogs walked by, of course), and fired a couple images.  The one above was my favorite because he kinda looks like Super Garry, which - considering there's not much he can't fix - seemed appropriate.

For you photography geeks out there who might be wondering, I put the flash (with Pocket Wizard transciever attached) in manual mode and set it to 1/128th power and placed the light meter right in front of his face to get a reading.  I set me shutter speed to 1/250th of a second which is what my light meter told me to use at ISO 400 with an aperture of f/5.6 at a flash output of 1/128th power.  I ended up slowing down the shutter speed to by a stop to 1/125th to burn in a little more of the orange sunset light in the background.


One Person's Junk...
WHO: Me   |   WHAT: Random, Travel   |   WHEN: July 31, 2010   |   WHERE: Canton, TX

... can be another person's junk for the low, low price of [insert your offer here]. 

Yesterday Kylie & I and her parents went to First Monday Trade Days in Canton, TX to get a quick fix for any desire we may have had to have a garage sale any time in the next several years.  In hindsight, I can't think of a better thing to do than walk around 100+ acres of what I can only describe as the world's biggest garage sale in 100+ temperatures.  I mean really, who wouldn't want to walk around for hours with your shirt stuck to your skin and sweat dripping in your eyes while looking at bird houses made of license plates, rusted car parts converted into yard "art", and used spark plugs from 1977?  What can I say?  We're livin' the dream.

Actually I'm being unfair wih the sarcasm; there's actually a fair amount of some pretty unique new retail items in addition to old treasures to be found at Canton.  Unfortunately you won't see hardly any of them on this blog because unbeknownst to me before we arrived, it's actually against the rules to photograph any of the stuff for sale without the owner's consent, and based on all the "absolutely no photoraphing or sketching signs posted in the booths and shops, I'm guessing most weren't in teh consenting mood.  I was politey reminded of this by a gentleman who looked like the kind of guy who could smile and make you feel like his best friend while at the same time permanently disabling you with some Jedi mind trick if he so desired. 

I did manage to sneak a few images in while in stealth mode, though. Actually, it was more like ignorance mode.  All the images posted were taken before I was aware of the strict rules against photography, and even then there were plenty of things to photograph that weren't for sale... I was just too hot to put forth the effort in most cases.

I was really stoked when I stumbled on these old microphones and was all set to buy the one in the front lower left foreground in the image below (with the black slots).  As I was reaching for my wallet to pull out the $35 I thought it cost, I walked just a bit further around it and noticed the "2" I couldn't see from the first angle.  $235 was a bit lot more than I wanted to pay for a non-working microphone, no matter how cool it looked.


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