The Blue Heron

I've never cared much for using long lenses in my photographs.  I like to work mostly with my ultra-wide 10-20mm.  But the long 70-300 zoom has its place for shooting wildlife.  This blue heron wouldn't let me get  any closer than 50 yards.  But that was close enough with the 70-300.


Ozone and Fine Cabernet

Drinking red wine and sitting on the back porch with a stormy ozone breeze in my face.  These are the moments for which I live.  To say any more would ruin the moment.  Cheers.
  • Current Music
    all in my head

Salvation for Boredom

I was feeling a little bored and blah today having to be inside on a warm Spring day so I jumped in my car after eating my sandwich and paid a visit to the Salvation Army in Oakbrook Terrace.

The parking lot was full when I arrived.  Perhaps Monday is a good day to visit.

As I walked through the door the familiar smell of thrift store was in my nose.  This must be the smell of slowly decomposing synthetic fibers, aging book bindings, feet, naugahyde, mothballs, farts, old electronics and stuffed animals steeped in the drool of infants.

First stop: knick-knack shelf.  Nothing remotely interesting.  Past a filthy-looking vacuum cleaner then a glance to the familiar scuffed fiber drum in the corner stuffed to capacity with crutches and canes.  Reversing my direction, I head back to the aisle of questionable appliances.  Today, a combination fax machine/copier/telephone is the prize article.

I am now standing in front of a severely warped shelf loaded with CDs ranging from Pavarotti to the Black Crowes.   To my disappointment, the CD for 'Amorica' is missing from the jewel case.  As I squint to make out the titles of the remaining CDs, I am startled by the voice of a man behind me saying "How you doin' today?"  I turn and look up to see a 6'5" manchild wearing the goofiest of bicycle helmets on his head with the chin strap pulled so tight the soft skin of his face has extruded.  A line of dried toothpaste lines his lips top and bottom.  I nod and decide it is time to move on.

I work my way through the clothes aisle.   The first article on the end of the rack is an absolutely scandalous pair of black lace thong panties clipped to a hanger.  Peeking out from directly beneath is a stuffed life-size old English sheepdog  with a dirty, matted coat.   Another turn takes me to an aisle where an old man with skin as wrinkled and gray as an African elephant is muttering unintelligible epithets.  A Bluetooth earpiece juts out from his ear.   Overhead, the sultry voice of Alannah Myles sings "Black Velvet". 

Instead or trying to get around the old man I backtrack through the t-shirt aisle and see one printed with the saying: "I'm not 40, I'm 18 with 22 years of experience."  Pretty clever, actually. 

Mission accomplished.  I got back in my car and laughed all the way back to work at the freakishness of it all. 

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Or more accurately, I weep for my guitar.

I ordered a beautiful new Martin D15e acoustic guitar from the Sam Ash web site last week.  I've always wanted a Martin and I decided that I wasn't going to settle for anything less.  So I bought it.

I waited all last week checking the Fedex web site to see when it would be delivered.  It came in a great big box (5 feet tall) this past Saturday.

Took extra care to make sure that I let the boxes come to room temperature before opening them (as recommended by the mfr.)

It was beautiful when I cast my first glance into the green velvet-lined case.  The smell of mahogany, gold strings, perfect in every way.

I gently removed it from the case and tuned it up.  Strummed a couple of songs.  "Old Man" by Neil Young.  Had to hear if it had the beautiful tone I was expecting.  Yes, it was all there.

After the first wave of euphoria wore off--about 30 minutes into the unpackaging--I decided it would be wise to check for any defects or blemishes on the wood.

I turned the guitar over and in the curve of the shell was horrified to find a 4 1/2 inch crack in the wood.  I would have to send this back.

With all of the pain in the world, this story doesn't even rank.  But it was disappointing.  I had to carefully place everything back in the case--the owner's manual, the plastic wrap over the case, the case in the cardboard box and the cardboard box in the shipping box.  It was like putting something you loved in a coffin and bidding a final farewell.

I attached the RMA label to the box and took the whole thing back to Fedex. 

No idea when the replacement will be sent.  This particular model is on back order from Martin.

The picture below shows the line of the crack.  <sniff>

  • Current Music
    While My Guitar Gently Weeps
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Bush's State of the Union

Horribly boring and disconnected.

To summarize:

A presidency defined by an unnecessary  war, domestic incompetence, diplomatic ineptitude, contempt for the Constitution and process of law and extreme partisan corruption.   Wrap all of these goodies in an Orwellian tortilla of deceit and  indifference and you have the Bush burrito.

A guaranteed case of the shits.
  • Current Mood
    nauseated nauseated

The Career Struggle

I just got around to checking my linkedin message queue this evening and it struck me: 

We are all struggling.  Most of my contacts have had several jobs in the past 8 years.   Everyone has a similar story--mostly of survival.  Few ever reach escape velocity.  We are all in orbit; some moving faster, some slower but still moving around the same object.  Mortgages, families, life balance.  We face despair, disappointment and uncertainty. 

The jobs and technology are secondary.  It is the struggle that binds us, the common fear of losing our paycheck, of not being able to pay our bills, loss of pride, prestige, identity.  I suspect we all share this dark fear--it is a universal theme.

Obama Wins In Iowa

Just got back from the theater.  Went to see "Into The Wild." More on that later. 

When we switched on the 10 o'clock news it was all Barack Obama.  There was one insight by CNN political analyst Candy Crowley that summed up where this election is going--to paraphrase:  "the fundamental strategy for presidential candidates is shifting.  It is less about exploiting wedge issues and more about finding common ground."

If this is true, and I hope it is, we may yet find our way out of this dark period that George W. Bush and other cynical hacks like Karl Rove have brought us.

Arboretum Redux


Went to the Morton Aroboretum to visit the trees today and test out my new 10-20mm wide-angle zoom.  I got only one shot that I care to share at the moment.  The remaining pictures were throwaways.  Just putting the equipment through the paces so that I could get a feel for its capabilities.....