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Melanie has pointed out to me that I seem to be in a bit of a depression, and I think she's right. My voices become more internal than external. I have things to say, but I only say them to myself, because they don't seem worth sharing, or because making the words takes what seems like an enormous effort. I find myself killing time until I can sleep.

Over the years though I've developed some coping skills that help me keep a relatively even keel. When things become too difficult, I recognize why, and instead of beating myself up, I try and shift gears a bit. Roll with the punches, so to speak. If I'm not feeling like shooting, don't stress over it. Just shoot less, until the muse comes back. It will and does come back. Sometimes in short guest appearances, sometimes for an extended booking. Whatever. Just roll with it.

Rest assured, behind the scenes, I'm still me, still doing what I do, just not being as vocal about it.

Anyway, just thought I'd post that bit of an update addressing my absence, and also share a few things with you.

One is this article by Ken Rockwell entitled "Your Camera Doesn't Matter". It echoes my own feelings, namely, that it's not the lens, it's the person behind the lens. It's the not the camera, it's what you do with it. Any camera can take great shots, if you use it correctly. That doesn't mean any camera can take any shot. It means that within the limitations of any camera, you can produce good work. Know the limitations and either compensate or work within them. If there are faults, avoid them or exploit them to your advantage (think Holga). A camera's job is to get out of the way of the photographer, and actually this is the reason I have found myself upgrading my cameras each time I have done so. It's not that I can't get the photos, it's that the camera is slowing me down, getting in my way, and if I have the money, I'd rather avoid that. When I can't afford it though, I use what I have, and do what it takes. That's why I ALWAYS used to shoot on tripod, except in the brightest light. Because that is what I had to do to get the quality I wanted.

Anyway, enough rambling, here's the link. Your Camera Doesn't Matter

The second thing I wanted to share is some photos from a trip to Abrams Falls in Bristol TN. I went with fellow photographer Cheryl Dancy from Abingdon VA. We had a good time, despite the VERY slippery trails and ice. I decided to do mostly detail shots this time... I am already quite happy with the wide view shots I have of this fall.


+6 )
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A friend's daughter was accosted and grabbed by an African American boy, apparently feeling emboldened by Obama's victory.

Anyone else hearing of this sort of behavior?

My own daughter heard some dumb comments, but nothing aggressive. Just stupid stereotyped assumptions.
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I am disappointed and saddened to see that it looks like Prop 8 will pass in California, making discrimination the law there.

Inequality in law also prevailed in Florida and Arizona.

So as glad as I am that we saw a turning of the tide last night, I am saddened that we still live in a time where people band together to deny equal rights to others.

I hope we can get some national leadership on this.
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Since it may be doubtful at this point, just reaffirming that I still exist. Been through a rough spell, with Mel's back being out, then various things one... after... another.

And right now, my website is broken, and yes I know. Moved it to a different server and haven't had time (with simultaneous brain cooperation)  to troubleshoot it yet. Probably permissions related to moving to a suphp environment. But also maybe going from php4 to php5.

I have had photos exported from Lightroom since... about a week ago. I need to post something. I'll post a picture of the battery sign i took with my cellphone. Batteries!
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... I turned 40 this weekend!

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when I have a bunch of photos to share, I often try to temper myself and make several posts a couple days apart each. Problem is, I often forget, and then I end up with a backlog of months old photos noone has ever seen, and which it seems stupid to post.

So rather than risk that, I posted them all in one several-hour-long session.

Sorry for the volume! Hopefully you found something to enjoy in all that.

New bike!

Aug. 5th, 2008 04:17 pm
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So, I've to commute to work via bicycle. To this end, I purchased a new bike yesterday... nothing fancy, a Schwinn "hybrid", which I find ideal. It's not a full-out comfort cruiser, but does make some nods towards comfort with a front shock and sprung seatpost. (I may ditch the seatpost to cut weight though)

Here it is:

You can't really see it in the pic, but the tires are between mountain bike and road bike thickness, for less rolling resistance while retaining some light trail-going abilities. It's a basic bike. I need to tweak the derailleurs some, the back one isn't quite on.

Anyway, I rode it to work this morning. I love it. My old bike... well, let's just say I bought it in the late 80's. It would need lots of parts to feel this good. Unfortunately, in my speed and enthusiasm, I was reminded the hard way that skinny tires don't roll over cracks the way mountain bike tires do. I went to take a fast right and my tire decided to follow a crack/ridge in the concrete, resulting in front wheel going straight while the rest of me was trying to turn. Somewhere in there gravity asserted itself.

I can do better with practice, but here are the wounds I managed in this initial effort.

Behind the cut )
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Quoting from http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/jul/29/suspects-note-cites-liberal-movement-church-attack/ ...

Adkisson went on a rampage at the church, Still wrote, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of major media outlets."
seized three books from Adkisson's home, including "The O'Reilly Factor," by television commentator Bill O'Reilly; "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder," by radio personality Michael Savage; and "Let Freedom Ring," by political pundit Sean Hannity.

As you may know I listen to talk radio (which means "conservative talk radio") and while the viewpoints of Adkisson are shared by many (dislike of liberals, dislike of gays, a lack of tolerance) the specific phrases I was hearing, released in tidbits here and there, were reminding me of particularly stuff I had heard on Hannity's show. I was betting to myself that he was a listener, but I figured we'd never know. I hadn't thought about the book angle. Well, there ya have it.

I wish they'd just release the frickin letter already.

Allow me to point out the irony of this man owning a book titled "Liberalism is a Mental Disorder".
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I called the main news dept, the reporters associated with the story, emailed via their comments form, and posted about it in the comments to the story. I'm glad they listened.
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My heart goes out to all those involved, particularly the children.

The one my heart does not go out to is the shooter. He would do this during a children's program? I have different thoughts for him.

The Knoxville news reports a "manifesto" was found in the shooter's car:
But they aren't saying what it contains. There is of course rampant speculation, which I'd rather we didn't get into here. I'll wait for more facts.

If you're interested, here is the murder warrant against the shooter:
I find it bizarrely irresponsible that the paper is not redacting the names, home addresses and phone numbers of witnesses. At worst, this could be endangering their lives if there are other nutcases out there, and at least it could subject them to unwanted harassment and attention. I have already called the paper to request the info be redacted, and emailed them as well. It it technically public info? Maybe. It is still irresponsible? I think so.

On a side note, I think it is time to arm up again. I say that with some sadness. I sold several guns to finance my photography. Maybe it is time to reverse the process.

I just watched a news conference with the Knoxville Chief of Police. He said the letter in the car indicated:
  • The shooter indicated one of his reasons as being hatred for the liberal movement in general
  • The shooter indicated hatred for gays specifically (the church was flying a banner stating gays were welcome)
  • The shooter chose this church intentionally

Edit 2: Video about the letter:
Video is called "KPD Chief talks about the letter found in Adkisson's car"
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"Who Watches the Watchmen?"

Woo, I'm excited! The trailer for Watchmen is out!


If you're not familiar with Watchmen, it's a graphic novel (aka: really thick comic book) first produced as a 12-part series by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons of DC Comics in 1986-87. According to Wikipedia, it stands unique as the only graphic novel to win a Hugo Award, and was the only graphic novel to appear on Time Magazine's 2005 list of "the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present." I had to check the Hugo bit, because I thought Maus also had a Hugo, but it turns out Maus has a Pulitzer.

I think what makes the story so engrossing is that most of the "superheroes" don't actually have superpowers. They are more like a collection of Batmans (Batmen?)... normal people with some advantage on their side, be it wealth, military training, psychosis, or whatever. And a costume, of course. As people, they all struggle with human failings, doubts, temptations, and mistakes, which feed into the plot. The plot, best described as a "conspiracy-theory-driven mystery of global proportions", helps pull you in too.

I've been following the project for a while, it's been long in the making. I appreciate that the director Zack Snyder (of 300 fame) is doing an interpretation that is faithful to both the storyline and style of the graphic novel. There are many "the making of" video snippets available out there, if you are interested.

This film is slated for 2009 release, I hope I don't get burnt out on anticipation by then.

Time to go reread Watchmen. :)

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I am making the posts about recent events private.  Thank you to everyone who commented and lent their support and advice. I was overwhelmed and brain dumping to this LJ helped.

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I was surprised to realize that not many people have heard of salmonberries. They are a close relative of the raspberry, and in case you're wondering the salmonberry name derives from their color, not their flavor or scent. :) They range from red-orange to a bright pinkish-orange to a light sherbert-orange. On the bush, they may be easy to mistake from raspberries when on the reddish end of the spectrum, but look for the crown of sticky hairs around the top. Here's a pic I found: http://www.botany.ubc.ca/herbarium/images/Rspectabilislrg.jpg

My first introduction to salmon berries was in New Jersey. I worked for a couple weeks at a place called Colby Mansion (here's the only semi-worthwhile link I found... http://www.strangeusa.com/ViewLocation.aspx?locationid=6367), emptying it out in preparation for demolition. That is a post in and of itself, but I digress. In the courtyard was this HUGE salmonberry bush that the caretaker had been grooming over the years. In my mind, this bush stands as one of the true experiences of bounty I have ever had... walking up to this bush, laden with ripe berries, most easily an inch long, and holding an enameled wash tub in one hand, I brushed my hand lightly over the berries, making them cascade effortlessly into the tub. Between my friend Derk and I, we took gallons of berries home in maybe a half hour's worth of picking. Derk's mother made a fine cobbler out of them, and I imagine many other things, as the cobbler used only a fraction of what we had picked.

In any case, salmonberries hold a place of mythical awe in my memory. So when Melanie told me she knew of a large salmonberry patch, I was happy to accompany her on a raid. Well, these wild salmonberries were not as large as the ones in NJ (perhaps something to do with Colby Mansion being a Superfund site??) but they were still ripe and tasty. We had picked for perhaps 15 minutes when a torrential rain blew in. We were a good 500 yards from the car, and it rained so hard that I was soaked to the bone. Literally, I couldn't have gotten wetter if I had walked into the lake. My hat turned to a soggy lifeless frump, and I amused Storm by drinking the water that was falling in a stream from the bill. It was quite the adventure. But in the end it was worth it. Here is a picture of the berries we collected, after careful washing by yours truly:

And here is what we did with them... )

Thank you

Jun. 20th, 2008 12:55 pm
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Thank you to those who took time to reply. I am reading every response, and reading it again twice. I want to state that I am going to keep all comments to the previous entry screened indefinitely, since it's a sensitive issue.
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And I'm so mad, I'm considering ending the friendship.

A couple weeks ago, this person sort of flipped out, took a bunch of pills, sliced his arm up, and generally tried to kill himself. Luckily 911 was called, friend was hospitalized, and things turned out ok. I went and got friends car, gathered clothes at his house, fed his cat, and brought him his clothes before he was transferred to the mental hospital. I talked to friend on a cellphone as he was transferred to a distant mental hospital in a police cruiser, and among the things he said was that as soon as he got out, he would "finish the job". I called ahead to the facility, let them know of previous suicide attempts, and also let them know what he had said, hoping to get him the care he needed. What a hellasuck week it was, with some very unpleasant decisions to make. I then get a phone call, they will release him, can I come pick him up? I make the 200 mile round-trip in my car to pick him up.

A day or two later, he drops out of communication. No response to emails or IM, doesn't answer phone or return calls. I spend all day worrying that he may have killed himself, and as soon as I'm able I drive out to his apartment and let myself in with the spare key. He's in bed, not bothering to answer calls. I get rather irate, explaining to him that after you just tried to kill yourself, it is NOT okay to drop out of communication for 24 hours.

We have some contact the next day, and I come over the day after that to help him work on his car (it's barely drivable), so he can get to work. We have a couple days of communication.

Then, I hear of trouble... he has broken it off with his fiance, and told her he is "leaving". "Where are you going?" "I'm just leaving, I'm going away."

I try calling him to check on him, no answer. His computer is online, I IM him, no response. I'm trying not to be too concerned, but the fear that he may have killed himself again stirs in my head. Thursday rolls around, still no word. His now-ex-fiance goes by his apartment to check on him. His car is there, but he is nowhere to be found. Strange. She says an empty six-pack was on the floor though, and says a friend saw him leaving the liquor store with a large bottle of something. Great. Depressed, drunk and missing is not a reassuring combination.

The hours tick by with agonizing slowness, and I spend a very distracted and useless day at work. After work, I talk to his ex-wife. She is also worried and says she sent the police to check on him, but the door was locked, and no one came to the door when they hailed. They can't do any more than that without a key and someone there.

I don't have a car this evening, as Melanie has to take Lorelei to PFlag, and then to the "movie on the lake" thing the city does in the summer. I have overtime work I am massively behind on (I missed a whole week due to stress over the suicide attempt) so I try to keep busy doing work stuff. I finally get tired and worn out enough that I think I can sleep, and head to bed.

An hour passes. I stare at the ceiling. I can't sleep. I keep wondering, did he try to kill himself again? Did he get drunk and go off into the woods to hang himself? Is he laying on the floor right now, slowly dying from an overdose of sleeping pills? Fuck. I might as well get up, because I'm not sleeping. And if I'm up, I might as well drive out there and see if there is anything to be seen that might give a clue to his whereabouts. It's now been over 48 hours since I last heard from him.

So at 1am, under a full moon, I drive out there. I knock several times, no response. I let myself in.

The apartment looks like a tornado has hit it. Clothes and boxes in piles, stuff strewn everywhere. His cat runs to me, meowing. I pet her, and make a mental note to check her food before I leave. I look around the living room, look at his desk, nothing helpful... I see the six-pack bag on the floor... nothing much else of note.

I step over piles and go to the bedroom... the dresser that I had helped move in just weeks ago for his fiance's clothes is now gone. The bed has been slept in, and on the right hand side... his cellphone. I check it, it's on. So whereever he's gone, he's not getting my messages. On the other side of the bed, on the floor, there is a huge orange stain, not sure what it is. Some cleaning supplies and a bucket show someone had started to clean it.

I check the bathroom. No one in the tub. The toilet is full of what looks like antifreeze. WTF. I note the cat's dish just has dregs left. Must feed the cat before I go.

I go back into the bedroom. I know he has a large backpack... I stuffed it full of clothes for him when he was going to the mental hospital. Maybe if I can determine the backpack is gone, it will give me hope that he has gone camping or something. I glance around, don't see it. Once wall of the bedroom is taken up full width by a closet, with two sets of double louvered doors. The right-hand side is open, but I don't see the backpack.

The left side is closed though, and that strikes me as strange. He doesn't usually close his closets. I have my flashlight on as I start to pull the door open.

My flashlight beam lights a human hand, and I jump back as my heart skips a beat. Oh fuck. Jesus. I open the door some more, and there he is, lying on the floor under a blanket, motionless. Why is he in the closet? I shine the light on his face, and watch for signs of breathing. He is still.

Suddenly, his eyes open. "Wha... what the hell are you doing?", I ask. Sleeping, he says. "In the closet?!?" It's dark in here, he says. I ask him if he needs help, if he needs me to take him back to the hospital. He says no. I tell him his cat needs food. I go sit in the living room. I realize I am shaking. I review in my head... He's been out of contact with me for 48 hours, ignoring calls, ignoring emails, ignoring cops pounding on his door, all the while hiding in his closet? And all this after making the cryptic announcement that he was going away? I know he knows what this is doing to people. I know he knows what people will think. I know he knows how much stress he is causing me, because I explained it to him when he disappeared for 24 hours.

Look, folks, if you're ever tempted to try this, let me tell you... setting up a situation so people will fear that you've killed yourself is pure Grade A prime ASSHATTERY. For people who really care about you, it's a cruel, cruel mindfuck. It's unconscionable. It is abusing people in the worst way, to satisfy your own selfish need for attention and drama. You are not so out of control that you didn't know what you were doing.

If I sound harsh, let me explain that this isn't the first time he's done this while I've been his friend. He showed up at my house once, slurring his words, having taken a whole bottle of wellbutrin. And he did something else, which is slipping my mind at this early hour. But he later admitted both were not real suicide attempts, they were done for the attention. And that's pretty screwed up, when you're a father of two.

I got pretty mad then. I threw stuff, I yelled. And then I left. I drove back and forth on the same stretch of road for 45 minutes, debating whether to go back in and physically kick his ass.

But eventually, the hot anger wore off, and in it's place I feel ice water running in my veins, cold and crystal clear. I've sat down to type this story, and I find myself at it's end. It's mostly for myself, I guess, because I'm looking for a reason I would choose to continue being this person's friend. He is either doing this purposefully, or he really is as utterly clueless as he is pretending to be about why I am angry. But whatever the truth, choosing to stay is choosing to have this happen to me again. And kids, I'm fried.

comments will be screened.
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Yesterday I was running the Althaea Soaps booth at the Blue Plum Festival. I was hanging back in the shade of a doorway, talking to fellow photographer Susan (I'll link her LJ when I know it) and keeping an eye on the booth. I had just gotten some ribbon fries (spiral cut potato fries), and they were sitting on the table, along with my camera, and all the soaps.

A stooped old woman with tan skin and slightly wild hair shuffles up. She's wearing a long, sleeveless pink polyester dress. She looks a bit left, a bit right... I thought she was looking at the soaps. But no. She reaches out, and grabs a huge handful of my potato fries. She holds the plate and sops up every bit of the ketchup, and then takes a huge bite of the handful, like she's eating an apple. Susan and I both turned to each other with our mouths agape. Did that just happen? We look back, and the old woman is chewing with slow, exaggerated chomps. I look at Susan, and we both say "That is AWESOME". And so it was.

The woman then starts poking through the soaps, and given her somewhat liberal view of personal property I stepped up and helpfully let her know these were all handmade soaps, etc. She inquired how much, I told her, and she said okay and walked to the next booth. Still clutching my fries.

It was truly the best thing I've seen in a long time.

A distant second but still fairly awesome was the guy with the "can't grow hair" genetic condition that came up to the free face painting booth, and had them paint eyebrows on him.

All in all, I had a great time at the festival. And many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] nonspecific who helped out manning the store in the morning, and Sandra and her boyfriend/hubby (?) who helped out the rest of the day. You guys are lifesavers!
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Thursday: Went to Johnson City chapter PFLAG meeting with Lorelei. I am considering joining their Speaker's Bureau. I sent off some emails to see if PFLAG can have a booth at the upcoming Blue Plum Festival.

Friday: Work work work, then over to [livejournal.com profile] shirokarasu's house to help him move some stuff.

Saturday: Got mowing, weed whacking done before it got hot out. Had planned to take Melanie to work, but her neck has her in a bad state and she could barely get off the couch when necessary. Went to store for some misc needs, took Storm to a friends house and then took Lorelei driving. She is doing well for a n00b. Picked up chicken and biscuits for dinner and brought them home. Ate dinner. Stopped by Best Buy and picked up Boom Blox for the Wii. The kids seem to like it a lot. I like it too.

Sunday: Melanie is feeling somewhat better but is still in obvious pain. And, it's raining on my photo-taking parade. I had plans for hiking, but it was raining too hard for that. Instead, drove over to the far side of Buffalo Mountain and came through the gap, looking at the results of the forest fire we had a couple weeks ago. Then went walkabout downtown with my camera and the lensbaby lens for a few hours, making good use of awnings, doorways and such. Arrived home, and [livejournal.com profile] nonspecific was already there. We ate dinner and played Killer Bunnies for a while, and were later joined by [livejournal.com profile] cheeze. General hanging out (and a bit of photo editing on my part) ensued.

Monday: I'm at work. Melanie is feeling worse than yesterday. I hope we learn something from the doc soon.
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Falling behind on the posting, that is. I've been fighting with my brain somewhat, which tends to make me hide in dark corners and shun the light. Really not enjoying this, it gets old after a while. At least I know what is going on these days. But, on the plus side, it's birthday month for nearly everyone in my family, so there are lots of joyous parties and tidings to attend to. Much business abounds.

Anyway, I am getting a backlog of photos to post again, I must have a mental block. Any suggestions on what to do when this happens? What do you do?
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I wore shorts
I laid on my back in the grass
I flew kites
I got a sunburn

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that this is probably the worst time to be doing a posting flood, if I want anyone to see it. I seldom get comments on things I post monday nights. Since I'm tired anyway, I will pick back up tomorrow.

Other things to do this week, besides lots of posting:
  • List stuff for sale on ebay, including guitar hero 3 for the wii, a double hard drive enclosure, a couple lenses, more
  • Get some 4x6 prints made, to take to the Acoustic and hand out. i suck at moderation though, i uploaded everything and it was close to $50.
  • Refill scrips, now that insurance is working again
  • Get a quote on the roof
  • Eastery stuff, eh?!


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