Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Morning Shootout -- Breaking the rules, as usual

I know the theme is about celebrating the holidays but I've been busy enough preparing for the holidays -- made difficult since the grandchildren are around and trying to get their presents hidden and then revealed and then wrapped and then hidden again leaves little time for shooting the celebration.

Of course, I will shoot lots of snapshots of family over the next couple of weeks but while they will certainly be cute, I sometimes wonder how many pictures do I really need of children opening presents and adults eating. 

So...while Butler will be irritated with me...I'm going to completely ignore the theme this week.  Apologies to all. 

Photographically, I've been devoting almost all my free time to processing (and deleting) 528 raw shots that I took last month when Karen and I excaped the daily grind and give ourselves a well-needed vacation in Costa Rica.  Mostly in the Southwest around San Isidro del General. 

I'll probably miss next weeks shoot entirely but with any luck I'll get back to the correct theme in 2014.  

I'm so glad to be back in touch with you all again...old friends and making some new ones.  Have a wonderful holiday season.  I love you all. 

Mark's FHTSO "Wrong Theme": Costa Rica

I was going to try and re-arrange these in some kind of order that made sense but, as usual, time is running away from random is the order.

Great two hour horseback ride to reach these falls

No...I didn't climb the falls, nor jump from them...
just cheered those that did.

From the tops of mountains, you look down on clouds...
Of course, driving up, the clouds become great foggy challenges on twisty roads.

Mother and baby sloth -- in the wild
but visible from the balcony of a restaurant.

These white capuchins come down to the beaches from the surrounding trees
and steal potato chips from sunbathing tourists.

Throughout the Southern part of Costa Rica there are handcarved Baruca Indian masks for sale.  But if you want to destroy your rental car on a 7 kilometer rutted dirt road straight up a mountain you can reach the town of Baruca, itself.  In a bit of pure luck there was a Baruca woman at the bottom of the road looking for a ride.  On the way up, I asked her who the best mask-carver in the village was.  She took us deep into the village and introduced us to Ishmael Gomez and his family -- at 95, he is the village carving teacher.  He and his family were the nicest people, just opened up their home to us for a wonderful two or three hours.

Ishamel at work

Incredible clouds everywhere

View from Baruca

Town of San Isidro del General

Thanks, in advance for letting me sneak into the Friday Shoot with the wrong theme. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

FHTSO Lights

No time for much banter but I feel, once again, that old urge to at least attempt participation.  Being welcomed back after such an absence felt so good.  We all really get attached to each other, don't we.

Anyhow, I'm throwing into the pot today a picture of our Christmas tree -- it was really more of an attempt to balance indoor and outdoor light in the same picture.  And four snapshots from the James Island Festival of lights -- every year we pile the kids into the truck and tour the County Park which has a huge display of lights. 



I know there has been some interest in the return of Bagman and Butler and you will be pleased to hear that because of my post last week, both of them have contacted me and expressed interest in returning. 

However, at the moment they are being detained.  Butler has taken a sabbatical from Chef School but is stuck in London.  Apparently all the flights are overbooked because of a major conference of International Stock Brokers.  He has decided to wait for the conference to end and spend his time researching the life and works of John Maynard Keynes.

Bagman somehow managed to get himself captured by a primitive tribe in New Guinea where the chief has forced him to become the Tribal Toy and turned him over to all the tribe's grandchildren who spend each day climbing on top of him.

With any luck they will be returning soon.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Yes, thank you, Ginger, I'm still alive

I never thought I'd come back to this place again...except I know that whenever I say never, God is sure to overturn my obstinancy. 

But when Ginger emailed me and all the other Friday Hometown Shooters last was a reunion I could not refuse.  I am fortunate, in retirement, to be so busy with a life full of people and projects, that I can't say I will get back to the old blogging frequency and creativity.   I'm not even  sure these days where Bagman and Butler are.  I think Bagman is in Amsterdam and the last I heard Butler was attending a chef school in the South of France. 

But I am going to post a couple of pictures for tomorrow's shoot.  The theme is a problem for me.  Rush hour.  Since I no longer comute to work, I don't remember what rush hour is, let alone have any pictures of it.  

But I do have a couple of pictures of "rushing"....or experiencing a "rush" of adrenalin.  I guess these will have to do.


 Mostly I can't wait to see what all my other old friends come up has been along time, but the Blogspot Community is like family -- you can be gone for years and when you come back, it's just like you never left.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Just to prove I'm not dead

At least not yet.

But I do seem to have abandoned blogging for the most part.   Just spending a little more time in the real world -- not that any of you are not real!  More time with grandchildren and also getting out with the camera a bit more and trying to learn something about High Dynamic Range photography.  But not getting very good results yet. 

I do miss reading blogs and I do miss so many of you. 

It was also scary to come back today, look at my last blog and see that it had been spammed by several people selling money making ideas and porn.  I deleted them but wondered whether they have also hit earlier blogs.  Damn.  Why can't everybody be nice?  I guess there are just so many people in the world that there have to be outliers to the statistical niceness bell curve. 

I've also been spending more time in the woods behind our house. 


I discovered last October,  that it is a lush battleground between vines and trees. It has been urging me to experiment with a photo series that I think of as "The Codependency of Vines and Trees." many blogs could be written about that.

I'm not getting the images that I see in my mind yet but I'll post a few.  There are some things that don't convert well from idea to image.  Vines on trees may be one of those subjects.  Too busy!  Too messy.  But I guess that's also true of codependency.  


Bagman and Butler aren't here right now but they send their regards.
BUTLER: "Easy does it, Baggie.  He just doesn't want to put in the extra time and energy to let us dialogue."
BAGMAN: "Lazy bugger."

Monday, January 7, 2013

Alpha Males (Females), Evolution, and Matchbox Cars

  1. The sound of little feet running up the wood stairs and running across the playroom floor.
  2. The hardly audible sound of a large plastic drawer being pulled out of what I can only describe as a toy dresser, followed by the avalanching crash of 4,378 small cast metal cars being dumped on the floor!
  3. The sound of a 2.5-year-old and a 4-year old giggling and discussing automobiles in an almost-English language that they understand better than we do.
  4. The sound of increasingly louder words that I understand well and expected from the first sound of feet on the stairs:
    • "Mine!"
    • "MINE"
    • MAH-EEEEEEEEN!!!!!"  (When establishing childhood pecking order, "mine" becomes a two-syllable word.  The first syllable is shouted forcefully and the second syllable escalates in pitch and volume until it sounds like a member of the Vienna Boy's Choir on steroids with his robe on fire.)

At this point, Karen will yell up the stairs from the kitchen, "Stop fighting!! Why do you always fight!!  You're brothers!!"

And I will mutter, "Exactly."   Because that's what brothers do.

Whcih leads us to two important topics for consideration: Matchbox Cars and Alpha Males.


We have more toy cars than we know what to do with.   Maybe that's the reason but I don't think so. 
We have Hot wheels, Matchbox and at least three other miniature brands that I can remember but am not inclined to go dig through the piles in the playroom in the name of accuracy.

We have new ones and old ones.  Brian's cars when he was his son's age.  And some from Uncle Stephen's childhood collection.  We  even have some so old that they weren't even made in China but in Malaysia and Thailand.  And there are two that were actually made in England and would probably be worth a fortune if they had all four wheels. 

You might think that 400 or 500 toy cars should be enough for two boys.  But 396 or 496 of these cars are irrelevant.  Within the pile are the four cars that count.  Even when playing alone, Conner can get frantic: "Where's my red car!!"  

Difficult for me to respond to this basic need since there are probably more than 200 red cars.  But over time, I have learned which car he is talking about.   And I understand it.  Maybe it is a male thing.  At 67 years old, even I have a couple of favorites in the pile -- a Nissan Turbo Z and a vintage Aston Martin that I have coveted since my son, their father, was a child.  For awhile, I even kept the Z in my desk drawer to protect it. 


But none of this is about cars anyway.  Each brother knows the other brother's favorite car.  As soon as the cars are dumped on the floor, the boys dive into it like the Green Pay Packers on a fumble.  I used to think they were trying to gain possession of their own favorite cars but they are really trying to get possession of each other's favorite cars.  That way they can wave it in their brother's face.

In the NFL, the referee would throw the yellow flag and charge the offender a 15 yard penalty for taunting.


The screams of young Alpha Male wanna-be's.  

Until Karen stops yelling at them and turns on me.  "Aren't you going to get off the couch and do something?!"

I know that the first answer that pops in my mind ("Not unless bleeding in involved") is NOT the correct answer so, reluctantly, I go upstairs to settle it.

I also know that this is not a problem of good manners or etiquette or the most recent flavor of childhood development theory.  It is a problem of anthropology and evolution.  Therefore, the tools of pleading, instruction, negotiation, manipulation, bribery, and even parental discipline are only going to be minimally effective. 

So I walk into the toy room and perform the ogre roar from Shrek II.  It is the commanding Alpha Male roar of all evolutionarily advanced large mammals -- lions, gorillas, etc.  

Except for whales which, I think, are even more evolutionarily advanced than humans and do not need to roar.   Either that or whales have given up roaring because underwater roaring only results in a lot of large bubbles which then causes laughter in the other whales they are trying to impress.

Hey!  Maybe that is the next step in human evolution -- to establish dominance through giggling.  I kind of like that idea.  Wars could be conducted through stand-up comedy routines.  Come to think of it, politicians are already moving in that direction.  

But I digress, as usual.  I, the true Alpha Male of the house, roar and the kids stop screaming at each other and start trying to make a legal case to me.  "I had it first!  No, I had it first!  Etc. Etc."   Whereupon, I fall back on the wisdom of Solomon and threaten to cut it in two.  Although, truth be told, I think that it would be a real challenge to try and cut a Matchbox Car in two even if it was made in China. 

So I just say, "Come on, guys.  Play nice."

Which usually works for an hour or so. 



While I have focused, here, on the Alpha Male, I should note that humans have evolved -- a little -- beyond lions and gorillas.   Most of our prides and packs and families are now, thankfully, controlled more by the Alpha Female with the exception of some members of the National Rifle Association.

The Alpha Male Ogre Roar is almost always trumped by the Alpha Female Look.   The Look is silent and deadly.  It is done with a slow turn of the head and a stare that was first developed and patented by Medusa.

After roaring, I always prepare for The Look - even if I was only responding to her request to get off the couch and "do something." 

The Look instantly turns me to stone and lasts as long as is needed for me to process, within the granite of my head:  the socially incorrect use of roaring, all other recent guilt-producing errors of my ways, the wisdom of whales and the contents of 40,000 self-help books. 

Having had years of practice, I can complete this internal act of contrition in five seconds or less.

After which, we all demonstrate forgiveness and love to each other by changing the subject and discussing the lives of celebrities.