Sunday, March 28, 2010

Break time

I'm just putting this little note in here
so people won't think I suddenly died
or forgot how to type.

Like a sticky note on the refigerator,
"Had to go to store for milk...
be back soon."

Not milk, in my case...but work,
which I don't blog about much. 
But I've got some soul searching to do
in that

I'll catch up with y'all later

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Shootout - Bridges

Is it Friday already?!   Well, no.   It is more like Thursday and tomorrow is Friday but it was rhetorical.  In any case, the point is that time flies...and if I recall, this week is Bridges and it is the first black and white alternative.  Thanks to the digital world, I can become a black and white photographer in the flick of a saturation slider.  Although I feel a little uneasy that the ghost of Ansel Adams might be looking over my shoulder with disdain. 

The next challenge was to find a bridge. 

A bridge!  Oh.  Not that kind of bridge.  Yeah, I knew that but I wanted an excuse to post this old picture of Brian.

Now THIS is the classic bridge we all sang about as children
before falling down.   It doesn't look too bad in black and white.

Is a dam also a bridge?  Sort of a bridge?  Kind of like a bridge?

There is bridging of the generation gap.

Some bridges are temporary.

Some are more permanent

Okey!  So I broke the rules!  But I didn't like this one in black and white so much.  And Ansel Adam's ghost was giving me a hard time about flipping sliders in Photoshop after he had worked so hard to develop his Zone System.   (Yes, I have his book.  No, I never had the patience to really learn to use it.  Yes, I pretended I used it anyhow just to impress girls in college.)

Since I'm already breaking the black and white guidelines for this post...

An emotional bridge.
Okay, back to black and white

This is the Ravenel Bridge in Charleston during our annual
Bridge Run...which is going on this weekend, coincidentally.

This one needs a bit of an explanation.  Now I have a general rule for myself not to blog about my job so that Bagman doesn't say something smart and gets me in trouble.  But I wanted to show this.  I have a small role in Charleston County's emergency response team, that drills every summer in case we have a hurricane or other disaster.  And last year, drilling in the Emergency Operations Center, we experimented with a collaboration with the Air Force.  If you look carefully, on the screen in the background, is a live picture from a video camera in the nose of a jet fighter that was doing a practice fly over so we could do damage assessments even before roads were open.  It was a bit disconcerting to see a targeting "X" pointing at things like the Ravenel Bridge.  But kind of neat to see technology in action.

And finally, we have this young fellow
doing his best imitation of a bridge.

Well, that's about all I've got for this week...I can't wait to see what everyone else does.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Adventure in Independent Living by Conner

Don't worry about me at the beach.
I can get my own potato chips.


What?  Where?  I don't see anything.

Wait a doggone minute!  There were 9 chips in here a minute ago!
I wonder if Diggy took some...thinks he's so sneaky  
lying on the ground behind the chair with that camera.
I don't care.

Potato chips make me thirsty. 
Don't bother, Diggy, I can get it.

BAGMAN: "Yeah yeah...cute pictures and all.  But who is this Diggy character?"

BUTLER:  "You don't pay close attention, do you, Mr. B?  That's just his grandfather name."

BAGMAN:  "Why does he need a grandfather name?   What's wrong with Gramps?"

BUTLER:  "Nothing.  But.  Well, (sputter sputter) names are names.  They just happen."

BAGMAN:  "No they don't!!  Names require thought!  They are important parts of who we are!"

BUTLER (thinking):  "You may be right.  I do kind of like the name 'Butler'."

BAGMAN:  "My vote was to call you "Pain in the &$$."

BUTLER:  "You didn't have a vote!"

BAGMAN:  "Did too!  I'm older than you, remember?"

BUTLER:  "Well,  (sputter sputter)  I'm glad he had the final say on my name."

BAGMAN: "Who?"

BUTLER:  "Diggy.  I mean Mark.  Oh heck, let's have a potato chip if they're not all gone."

Monday, March 22, 2010

On comments

Dear Blogspot Friends,

Bagman and Butler walked in on me unexpectedly the other day and caught me crying. 

Of course, they didn't know exactly what to do.   Bagman considered the Heimlich Maneuver.  Butler started to design a database in order to run a statistical analysis on my feelings.   Seeing their confusion, I made it simple and explained it.

"When I read everyone's comments on my blogs, I get humbled and frustrated because I want to reach out and hug everyone.  I want to go to everyone's blog and write long letters to them telling them how much they mean to me.  People tell me I'm funny and creative and a good photographer -- and those praises are so powerful because I've seen the blogs of all my blogspot friends and know how talented and creative and wonderful they are.   I don't know how to 'thank you for your support' adequately."

BUTLER:  "That's really nice, Mark.  I'm sure the people who read and comment on your blog will be glad to know how much they mean to you."

BAGMAN: "Pfui!  He sounds like a school girl who's just grateful that someone asked her out!"

BUTLER:  "Leave him alone.  Gratitude is a good thing!"

Anyhow, I wiped away my tears -- although I've never been really capable of crying so the tears were figurative and easy to wipe away.  Although the feelings behind them, if they had been actual tears, are true.  I really do feel humbled when people I admire and respect so much like things I post. 

Because the feeling goes in the other direction as well.  When I have the time -- which seems rarer and rarer every week -- I look at the posts of everyone who comments and the posts of everyone I follow -- and I am blown away by the quality of thought, perception, writing, photography that is out there.  

Aw shucks -- I just love y'all so much.  

BAGMAN:  "I think I'm going to throw up."

BUTLER:  "Then go do it someplace else, please.   Mark's trying to be serious here."

So Bagman and Butler quietly left the room.  I sat for awhile longer.  Took a deep breath and started to explore all the incredible and interesting things that my bloggy friends around the world have been saying and doing today.  But then my grandson woke up and it was time to re-enter my actual day to day life.   And I'm grateful for that life too!  It's just a shame that I can't be everywhere at once all the time.  



Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Communication about Communication

Spoiler Alert:  The following post was written by Butler and is, therefore, reasonabily serious, dull, and school marmish.

BUTLER:  I object!  I believe I have used rather entertaining examples to make my point.  However, I will ignore the barbs and insults that I have grown to expect from Bagman and sometimes even Mark and will continue. 

Ahem. Communication.  Let us begin.

Screwed up communication is the bane of mankind.

BAGMAN:  "I'll bet a million dollars that that's the first time in history that anyone has used the phrase 'screwed up' and the word 'bane' in the same sentence."

BUTLER:  "Sit down, class!  And you just made my point.  Not hearing what someone is saying has started more bar brawls, divorces, and holy crusades than anything!"

     But this is not surprising since there are 6 parts of any communication and it can go wrong at the junction of any of them.  And usually does.   It takes a black belt ninja communicator (two of them actually) to get any message straight. The six parts of communication are:
  1. What you feel
  2. What you think about what you feel
  3. What you actually say about what you think
  4. What someone actually hears you say
  5. What someone thinks about what they thought they heard
  6. What someone feels about what they think.
For clarification, I will give two examples.  The first is that rare piece of good communication done well by two practiced professionals. Do not try this at home.

The setting is cozy bedroom where the man is dutifully repairing a broken board on his wife's bookcase and accidentally slams his thumb with the hammer.

What he feels:      Pain
What he thinks:    Ow!  That was clumsy!  And damn, it hurts!
What he says:       Ow!  That was clumsy!  And golly gee, it hurts! (Notice that even the best still make small changes at critical places).
What she hears:   Ow!  That was clumsy!  And damn, it hurts!   (Notice that people who have been communicating a long time can sometimes hear even more accurately than the other speaks).
What she thinks:   He must be feeling clumsy and in a lot of pain.
What she feels:    Sympathy and desire to comfort him.  (Which will result in the next several cycles of good communication which will result eventually in laughter, love-making, and a bookcase that is still not repaired. 

However.  Let's see what can go wrong when amateurs attempt the same communication.  Same setting.  He slams his thumb with the hammer.

What he feels:     Pain.  (So far, so good).
What he thinks:   Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  Ow!  What an idiot!  I'm a klutz!  I hate it when I do that!  Damn that hammer!
What he says:      "Dammit!  Why does this always happen to me?!"
What she hears:   Dammit!  Why am I fixing your bookcase in the first place?!
What she thinks:   He doesn't love me enough to fix my bookcase
What she feels:    Rejection

(Let's continue this on a bit)

What she feels:   Rejection and growing anger
What she thinks:   He's a thoughtless, self-centered idiot!  And a klutz.
What she says:      "Why are you taking it out on me because you can't hammer a damn nail straight!"
What he hears:     You're a loser!
What he thinks:    She doesn't love me enough to see that I'm in pain.
What he feels:      Rejection

(Yep.  We can see where this is going.)

What he feels:    Rejection and growing anger
What he thinks:  She's a thoughtless, self-centered ass and she couldn't do any better anyhow.
What he says:     "Do it yourself then!  I quit!"
What she hears:   "I quit!"
What she thinks:  He's leaving me. 
What she feels:    Who knows?  By this time every feeling in the world is caught up in the fury tornado.

What she feels:   The roaring of the fury tornado
What she thinks:  (Note:  There is no way of expressing this in actual words.  But she is about to do it anyway.)
What he hears:    She wants a divorce.
What he thinks:   Do I grab my laptop or a change of clothes on my way out the door.
What he feels:     Deathly cold.

Now, even at that last interchange the situation would be redeemable if he had heard accurately what she had said.   Because what she actually said was, "If you feel that way..."   And if, for a nanosecond he could have realized that he didn't feel that way at all...that he actually just felt pain and a bit embarassed.  If, if, if...he might have said, "Wait, I don't feel that way!  I just feel hurt and clumsy." 

BAGMAN:  "I'm beginning to feel bored and tired of getting a lecture."

BUTLER:   "Fine.  I'm done anyway.  I just thought that communication is interesting.


Postscript from Mark -- I suppose I should add a disclaimer that conversation above is pure fiction.  Of course, it reveals that, at various times in my life, I've done my share of very poor communicating and may well screw up again in the future but this one is purely imaginary.  We're all happy here this week, enjoying the weekend. And the bookcase in the bedroom doesn't even need fixing.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Friday Shootout - My Favorite Color

Or How I Discovered That I Do Have a Favorite Color After All...!

Thank you, Doreen, for the this challenge!  I'm sorry. but I will admit that my first thought was to skip it because I used to believe that the idea of a favorite color was silly.  Why pick one at the expense of others? 

Then Bagman suggested "flesh tones."   That seemed to have some merit since it had life and passion and diversity --

But after awhile I rejected it, because, to do it justice, I would need to shoot a bunch of nudes. While that appealed to Bagman, it wasn't going to happen in my lifetime.  And besides, the more I thought about colors, the more I began to think that what I really like about color is the juxaposition of contrasts -- how different colors play against each other.  Maybe I don't have a favorite color but I might have a favortite combination of colors.

By now I was into the game. I was opening up archive file folders in the Adobe Bridge Program that I use to sort pictures. I'd look at large numbers of tiny thumbnails to see if a pattern stood out -- if I liked warm colors or cool colors based on visual data.   (The only thing that popped out was that when I opened the file folder "Nature" is appeared there was a great deal of green in it.  Duh.

For some reason, I began looking more carefully at file folders markerd: "Abstract" and "Images for future use as shapes and colors" and "Manipulations."  

 I seemed to like any kind of color superimposed over black.  By now, this had almost nothing to do with the "My Town" aspect of the Friday Shootout.  But I was having a lot of fun. 
Almost all of these came from files I hardly ever look at.  File folders named "Fodder for Future"
 and "The Dustbin."

Thanks a lot,  Doreen!   You've got me into Spring Cleaning.  I may not be doing a Hometown Shootout but now I'm moving photos back and forth in computer files and deleting some and finding others I like.  By now, I've got so many thumbnails on the screen and trying to set up a complete re-organization system and I still don't know if I have a favorite color...

By now, half the time I forget why I am even doing this in the first place.  Then I remember the Friday blog and throw in whatever picture I happen to be looking at the time. 

I'm lost in cleaning my visual attack and trying to find my favorite color and picking shots to post at random.

When it slowly begins to dawn on me...
...that besides making a silly visual "dawn" pun...

I did seem to have a propensity (at least today) for picking out color in particular. 

I realized, thanks to Doreen, that I have a favorite color!  "Fire!"  I yelled.  "Fire, Fire, Fire!!"

Whereupon Bagman and Butler burst in with fire extinguishers and seltzer water bottles and began spraying me while I tried to sputter, "No...I mean I like the red colors in fire!"

Finally they ceased their fun and Butler looked at all the thumbnail pictures and the ones I had picked almost at random.  He thought a minute, then spoke slowly.

BUTLER (speaking slowly after thinking in minute):  "But you haven't yet opened the folder marked 'water pictures'?"

I clicked it open and saw that almost every water picture contained the color blue.  I began to get very confused and frustrated.  Because, by now, instead of making fun of the idea of a having favorite color, I desperately wanted one!  So I decided to quit and hit the post button and keep it simple.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grandson Parade - Conner walking, Noah waiting

Look at me!  I'm walking!
...and standing on one foot!
...and dancing!
And confusing Daisy by carrying around her leash!
...and opening the door by myself so I can
sneak out, get in the car, and drive to San Francisco!
But I guess I should stick around so I can help teach
these things to my brother, Noah, who is...
...due to arrive in a couple of months!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bagman Covers the Stiletto Stomp

Okay boys and girls, it's Bagman here!  Free from Butler's endless obsession with being proper and Mark's recent episode of chronic whining!  For your viewing pleasure I slipped away -- in case you didn't know, I've very good at slipping away -- to watch Charleston's Annual Stiletto Stomp!  

Now jogging is BORRRRRING...but this is a 100 yard dash in high heels and they give a pretty big cash prize for winners -- and costumes.  I think the guy below was looking for bucks for the costume category. 

Remember this costume (how could you forget?)
It plays in commentary later in the men's race.

Running in high heels is right up old Bagman's alley.  At least Bagman likes high heels!  Whoooeeee!

The thrill of victory and the agony of de feet.  I got there just as the race began so here's the play by play!

Number 32, looking slick in black, is running hard -- in high heels?  How can she be that fast?  Because the winner gets over $1,000!  At least I think that's what the ad said!  Number 66, the blond amazon who was pushing for second looks like she is pulling up!  Did she break a heel?

Nope.  But look at those shoes!  Heavy duty serious running heels!  Does Nike make them?  Did I mention the $1,000?  Determination on her face!  Neck and neck.  Old Bagman, here, has to admit I didn't notice any the details until I blew up the photographs.  During the race, I was mostly looking at legs...I can say that because Butler isn't here to stop me!  Bhua ha ha ha!

Now in stride, Blondie heads for a victory, followed closely by Demi Moore in a cute dress.  Two other things to notice in the shot above.  Blondi did not break a heel but her high priced Nike running heels peeled off the sole which is flapping in the wind!  Also, you need to notice bystander Steve Martin and his son in the green t-shirt who is jogging in place with excitement.  (You will see more of them.  Here Steve is holding his son back from joining the race.)

Further back in the pack, the costumes are better and your announcer's attention is drawn to other things besides legs.  He he.  And here Steve Martin and his son have their attention caught by different things.  Get your hand out of your pocket, son.   But no, we've misjuded him.  He's actually looking at the men's race that is getting ready to start. 

Even with $1,000 on the line there are not many men prepared to run in high heels!
For some reason, Bagman missed shooting the winners of the men's race.  Could I have been...



But by the time I turned back to the race, there was only the middle of the pack...a rather small pack.

But a rather big middle
(You might want to click on this one to see expressions in the crowd)

Because we now turn our attention back to Steve and his son above.  Steve seems to have become rather more protective of his boy.  Is Steve's silly grin a little nervous? Does he want to put his hands over his innocent son's eyes?  Can it get any worse?

Steve's grin is now absolutely frozen on his face and he is hugging his son so protectively it looks like the poor kid can't breathe!!   

And in last place, we finally understand why so few men enter even with prize money at stake.  
Despite the lithe strides of the women's race winner,
it is not that easy to run (or walk) in high heels.

Not easy at all.

And they need to carry signs to maintain their masculine pride.

So that's it for the Stiletto Stomp.  This is your reporter, Bagman, signing off from Mount Pleasant, near Charleston, South Carolina.