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Finis

Jan. 6th, 2009 | 12:52 pm

This little entry marks my last post on LJ. I've exported the whole lot and taken up residence on WordPress. Thanks for four good years LJ - it was just time to consolidate the three blogs I'm involved with in one place - and that place is WordPress so...

Come to the new place with the old name.

Check out the Central Illinois Photoblog.

Over and out.

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Friday Four #16

Dec. 12th, 2008 | 02:17 pm


Ahem

By golly - it's the return of the Friday Four - AWOL for like seven weeks or something. Let's get right to it, shall we?

1. I was talking to a fellow vegetarian today, who also happens to be my fictional sister, about the complexities of hidden vegetarianism. And what do I mean by that term? Well, do you take a multi-vitamin? Do you know it's almost guaranteed to NOT be vegetarian? What's the nefarious ingredient in your multi? The ingredient that actually ends up in a craptastic amount of food? It's gelatin. Damn stuff is everywhere. Please at least feel a little sorry for us as we scour the Internet for a multi-vitamin that is both sufficient and gelatin-free. Good vegetarian gravy.

2. Going to lunch with fictional sister today in her car... with heated seats. Oh that is just heaven. My little Honda Civic is without 'em. That is my only sadness over that car. A warm butt is a happy butt. Be quiet Josh...

3. Something odd happened about two weeks ago. I was among an amazingly small minority of people on the planet who didn't catch very much e-mail spam. I'm not kidding you when I say I probably got less then 10 spam emails a day, and my Yahoo! filter correctly caught about 99% of 'em so I mean I never SAW spam. Until about a week ago Tuesday. Something changed. I bet I'm now getting about 150 a day and a few of 'em are making it to my inbox. Sigh.

4. The pic: Driving home across the Michel Bridge and the Illinois River on Wednesday night, the light looking downriver was beautiful. I parked at the bottom of the bridge and hoofed it back up in time to catch a little of it. First personal picture I had taken since early November. Man...

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Well frack...

Dec. 6th, 2008 | 04:19 pm


Unneeded

Alright kids - the news is starting to filter out here in the Peoria area so I will now share. Caterpillar is going to lay me off effective end-of-business on Dec. 19 - just two weeks from yesterday.

Cat made it public yesterday but with typical quietness. I'm going to also pretty much withhold details except to say I'm expecting hundreds will be effected in the Peoria area - all contractors. That's my opinion, I have nothing but my gut to back that up - but I bet by the time it's all said and done it will stretch into those unfathomable numbers.

When I walked away from Cat in January of 2007 to take up residence as a contract photographer, I knew the possibility for layoff was out there. With the tanking economy in 2008 though, it became more of a burden hanging over my head. In June, when the first layoff occurred, I didn't even miss a day of work, getting back into IT at Cat. This time however things are almost certainly worse - and I suspect I won't find work very quickly. The Peoria market isn't the worst in the world right now actually - it's been doing okay - but this late in the year things may be pretty tight. The contracting company I work for is doing what it can to find me something - hard to say what will be out there.

In the meantime, I'll be exploring about 18 different avenues of work photographically as Kev and I tighten up our budget and figure out where to go from here. By May she will be more then halfway done with grad school - and one of our top priorities is getting that finished so we can then explore options.

Sadly I had a feeling this was coming, although I thought I had a chance to last through the first quarter of 2009. Cat has no idea how long this will go on. Lot of contractors will be moving on immediately so perhaps when they start to think about rehiring I will be in a good spot. But I don't know if that's six months, one year, or more, down the road.

So for now we stand and hold our chins up. I'm neither bitter or upset - except perhaps at our continually failing leadership who helped get us here economically. We just need to figure out where to go next. Right now - I'm not sure where that is. At least now I get the week of Christmas off - and we're still planning to run down to North Carolina the week after Christmas. Then... then the work begins.

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Sunset on November

Nov. 30th, 2008 | 07:06 pm


Banner Marsh Sunset 2

Ahh - the end of a four-day weekend and the beginning of the last month of the year. When those two things coincide, you realize just how far behind you are - on some things. I did manage to knock out one more project today that has been hanging over my head - in total - for more then a year. I went to burn it all on a DVD tonight only to realize I'm out of DVDs. Probably somewhere in the next six months I can get it burned off but I wasn't surprised at this turn of events. Still - it was a very mellow weekend, in front of a very busy couple weeks. A little sprint to the finish and we are rewarded by a trip to the mountains of North Carolina come Christmas. That's just 18 days of work to survive - and it will be a full and busy 18 days.

Winter arrived in Central Illinois today - with a very wet snowfall. With winds, it was supposed to drift to 5-8" but the snow is just too wet - we'll top out at 2" max and it will probably melt pretty quickly. Still, somehow, Dec. 1 seems to be the favored weekend for first snows around here - two years in a row now.

We'll be taking a few days off here at this blog, after 29 entries in 30 days in my unofficial NaBloPoMo. It's back to the Friday Fours for a few weeks. On a side note, this blog is picking up and moving sometime in the next 4-6 weeks. After nearly four years on LJ, we're packing our bags for Wordpress - so I can consolidate all of my blogs in one place (I have 2.5). Stay tuned for that announcement - and we'll see you after we survive this week.

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Mission Accomplished Food Wise.

Nov. 29th, 2008 | 08:55 pm


Me In A Tux

Well it took until Saturday but we did finally knock out a bit of a Thanksgiving - at least from a meal perspective. The bunker mentality is settling in - just in time for the snows to reach the Midwest. Kevin has to head over to work tomorrow but I think we'll try and get the tree up and about before she goes so it can settle in. I've got one more project I want to knock out tomorrow - and a few house things outdoors weather permitting. And on the bright side - we do have lots of leftovers.

A nasty week upcoming - commitment-wise - mostly due to the play and the fact that I've got class on Tuesday and Thursday - and Kev has - well way too much. After tomorrow - it may be Friday before we resurface. But the end of the year is coming - and not a moment too soon. I'd like to get this year behind us and get a relatively fresh start for 2009.

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I misspoke

Nov. 28th, 2008 | 06:25 pm


Lismore Garden's Sculpture

I did - I misspoke. Somehow I said we would do Thanksgiving today. Well what I mean to say was that we'd do Thanksgiving tomorrow - on Saturday. I don't know where that Friday thing came from. It's a good thing we don't have kids - we'd only ceaselessly disappoint them.

We are going to run up to Pekin in a few minutes - at least to grab a quick bite at Fiesta Ranchera and to hit the grocery store. That way we can have the food we need to conduct our Thanksgiving tomorrow - on Saturday - you know - as originally planned.

I'm glad sarcasm doesn't have a smell.

It was another peaceful day here at Camp V. We each had a catnap (with cats!). I removed another todo that was venturing on many weeks old, and we started watching Ken Burn's lengthy "The War". Why push? That's my motto for this weekend.

Oh - and a note about the picture. This was a small sculpture we found in Lismore, Ireland - at a lovely set of gardens on the grounds of Lismore Castle. I saw it was Kev's desktop picture today and I remembered how much I like it so... there it is. We decided yesterday that we could use about a month hanging out in Ireland and Scotland. We need to figure that trip out one of these days.

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A little off - what else is new?

Nov. 27th, 2008 | 09:28 pm


Cranberries and Soup

This picture is a lie. Oh sure - it's a real picture - but it was taken about 11 months ago. This was definitely NOT the scene in our household today. We chose to punt - almost everything - today. As orphans with most of our family about 1,000 miles west of here, we decided on a low key Thanksgiving - and for that we can be thankful.

We finished lighting the play last night but didn't roll home until about 11:00pm. We had done no shopping and were both pretty dog tired so... we decided to make this day a restful one - and we succeeded. Sure -around 3pm we ventured out on a beautiful afternoon for a walk down by the Mackinaw River - but that was about it. Oh - and I baked a pie - but that was accidental. I did finish one project that had been hanging over my head for a few weeks and Kevin did some work on her paper.

We're gonna do a little grocery shopping on Black Friday and cook up a fair vegetarian feast for a Friday night. Other then that - the Christmas Tree may make its initial appearance this weekend - perhaps one or two outdoor decorations - and a final attempt at lawn-putting-to-bed and gutter appeasement. Kev has to head back to work on Sunday and I have one more project that is sitting idle that should not be.

We hope you all had a great day TODAY - with you and yours. I'm gonna go back to being thankful for my spouse, and Pandora.com, and my friends, and my family, and even my frickn' cats. At least until they piss me off again.

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I love it when a plan comes together

Nov. 26th, 2008 | 11:56 am


Bokeh Overkiller

Unfortunately... that doesn't happen often enough. We're maybe as close as were gonna get though. I'm a few hours away from four glorious days off - and jotting down a couple quick thoughts at lunch - as the rest of the day looks pretty full. After work, I'm headed back to Normal to finish lighting the ISU One Act plays with Kev. Doing it today gives her three full days without having to go over there and gets this out of the way so it isn't hanging over her/our head. That may go on for a few hours - as we have to probably move, hang, and focus about a dozen instruments - and then program the show. But then it will be finis!

We're gonna do the mellow thing over the next few days - with no real plans beyond a long walk on Thanksgiving. Kev has a big paper due a week from Thursday - and she'll lose her Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday to the play so... it goes as it goes. We both have plenty of work do to within 250 feet of our front door. I like this hiding out stuff.

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Civics

Nov. 25th, 2008 | 12:16 am


Ingersoll

No - not Honda...

Here is a challenging 33-question test for you on American Civics. To set the bar - I scored an 81% (missed seven questions). One I was idiotic on - the other six I really wasn't sure... The national average is running around 50% so let's see how good you really are. Leave scores in the comments and good luck.

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More Happy Birthday Debra stuff

Nov. 24th, 2008 | 04:19 pm


Christmas Barn

Whelp - Scarab and I took Debra out to lunch today for her birthday - which was last week - but she's a popular girl so you have to get on calendars when you can. We of course went to One World Goodness, but I had a special surprise for her as a "present". Timing being everything, it turned out that dante8 and exp626 were back in town from their new digs in Colorado and they just "happened" to stop in to surprise Debra. Which was pretty cool. It was fun to have the band back together - even if only for a few minutes.

Now if only I could get Vincent D'Onofrio to surprise her next year - that might really push her over the edge.

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Listing

Nov. 23rd, 2008 | 09:54 pm


Living and Dead

Well, this weekend disappeared. And now I've committed to going to sleep shortly after 10pm tonight. I don't know what I was thinking - I'm usually just getting warmed up at 10pm. But - sometimes you need to suck it up and do what someone else wants to do. Turns out I'm really crappy at that. So I gave myself about eight minutes to do two things: blog something and make a list of all the things I'll try to get accomplished in the next few days. Eight minutes. Good lord - what the heck am I doing blogging. I'm pretty convinced no good list gets built in under 10 minutes. Proofing this is right out. I just hope there's enough paper to contain my to-dos. Here's a bad list of good items:
1. Turns out I like butternut squash - as long as it's in soup form.
2. I've been encountering an oddly large number of people lately who are really living/loving life. They are impressing the pants off of me and making me question where I'm going wrong. And frankly that is a good thing.
3. I need to go make a list. Living/loving life won't be on it - but it only has to get me through the next 10 days or so. I can wait that long.

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Wait - Friday was easier

Nov. 22nd, 2008 | 11:55 pm


The Tree 48

What a long Saturday - but a good Saturday.

In a fit of, I don't know, doofessness, I volunteered to spend the day with my wife. No - it's actually more complicated then that. Today was a big workday at the theatre and I went over to help with lights. Ended up being seven hours of work hanging lights, focusing lights, teaching some youngsters lighting design. Up and down the ladder. Up and down the scissor-lift. Oh man - I'm beat. But we got some good work done on a tight schedule for Kev and that makes me feel good.

We got home around 5:30pm, showered and immediately dressed and headed for the Peoria Art Guild. Tonight was the big 8x8 auction/fundraiser for the Guild. The idea was that dozens of artists submitted works to the guild - in all different artistic genres. Each on had to be 8" x 8". The show was a one-night show essentially - as all the pieces were sold tonight in a dutch auction. This basically meant that the bidding started at $200. Want a piece for that price? Go take it off the wall and it's yours. Don't want to spend $200? Wait 10 minutes and the price on all the pieces drops to $175, and then $150, etc. I had just one piece in the show (a square version) and I was glad to see it go in the middle.

After we hung around there for a bit, we headed down to Pekin to see a number of our friends who were kind enough to feed us dinner and good conversation. We lasted for a few hours and then had to bail cause we were both pretty tired. I got home just in time to jot this down - and now - to bed.

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Here We Go Again

Nov. 21st, 2008 | 11:53 pm


Here We Go Again

A little promotional blogging. We did the headshots for the next play at NCHS on Wednesday. For those keeping score we did 24 portraits in 33 minutes. It was whirlwind. I like to set-up and try every lighting set-up I do before I have to do it - but no such luck this time. I emailed Kevin on Monday to start fishing for a date - and she said Wednesday. I was out Monday and Tuesday nights so we winged it. This was kind of what I was going for - but not all the way there.

We enjoyed Bond - James Bond tonight. My expectations are always on target for Bond movies so I'm rarely disappointed. Daniel Craig is the right guy for the direction they've gone in and Judi Dench could kick everyone's a**. Indeed.

Heading over to help do lights for the next play tomorrow and then up to Peoria tomorrow night for the big, er little, 8x8 show at the Art Guild. There are 105 pieces, all 8" x 8" on the walls, including one from moi. Another full day - followed by the Peoria Flickr Group Business Roundtable on Sunday - at One World - 1pm. If only this next week was shorter... Oh? It is?

Awesome.

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Unexplainable

Nov. 20th, 2008 | 11:53 pm


The Tree 47

There are numerous things I don't understand - I have to admit it.

I can't explain my sudden song crush on Natasha Bedingfield. NOT my style and yet I can't stop listening to her. Her music - which I guess I would consider "dance" just has a pulse and an energy that I find infectious - probably for about 48-72 more hours. But I can't explain it.

I also can't explain how the fall has again beaten Kev and I to a pulp. Due to scheduling conflicts at the school, her second play comes just three weeks after the first one. There's no rest for the wicked - and I'm just at a loss for why that always happens.

I can't explain certain memes on the Internet. I saw one my friend Alissa filled out this morning. I always read them to see if I want to invest the time. This one was all about favorites. As Alissa explained it, it was very Canadian in origin. Maybe that explained the detail on "Favorite College/University President". Really? I can't explain that (and I didn't do it).

All I know is that the spouse and I are going for a date night tomorrow. We're gonna check out the new Bond movie and crab a little chow-chow. I could explain chow-chow but screw it, I'm going to bed. I guess I can't really explain that either.

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Teh Intertubes - A Funny Place

Nov. 19th, 2008 | 11:04 pm


Kevin's Costumes 2008

I've got Kevin reading RSS feeds now - she's slowly coming into the 21st century which is very exciting. For even suggesting that, I'll probably get smacked in the back of the head while we both sit in the office, a very meta thing as I probably wouldn't be getting smacked except for the fact that I've mentioned it here so now she kinda has to do it... But I digress.

This picture today - a bit of a funny story. These were Kevin's four primary costumes at the Murder Mystery Weekend back in early October. The image had a couple dozen views but within the last few days the hit count really spiked. In fact there were 154 views just three days ago. Flickr has built some absolutely excellent stat-tracking into their site so I was very quickly able to track down where the bulk of the referrals were coming from: a site that, for at least one moderator, was all about drag queens. Somehow - and I'd love to know how - they tracked these images down. Combine it with my wife's unique name (thanks again Jack and Lynn) and somehow the conclusion was - yes - drag queen. The page at this site was full of links to other drag queens so Kev is in good company I guess - but I'll stick with the female version please. And frankly SHE looks great.

Yeah - teh Internetz. Just a LOL a minute. And a brief warning. Giving your kid a really unique name? STUPID IDEA. I'm just sayin'.

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Web Comics

Nov. 18th, 2008 | 11:45 pm


Lynn

I've been a fan of comics since well... forever. I remember growing up in Pittsburgh when the two daily papers had a lengthy strike and ceased publishing. What was the most important thing? Tuning into the daily news where they read the comics out loud so you didn't miss them. That was big.

In the Internet age, I have to admit, I've picked up some new comics. Some are well known (Internet) classics: XKCD and Real Life come to mind. But I've got a small handful of other web comics that I just love: Basic Instructions is always delightful. So is Evil Inc., Questionable Content, and one of my favs - a comic dedicated entirely to photography (and yet it's still funny) - What the Duck.

What else is out there web-comic wise that you read? And is good? Do tell. Oh - and let me probably be the last person to wish Debra a Happy Birthday today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Debra - only 364 days to go 'til the next one.

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Happy Birthday Debra

Nov. 17th, 2008 | 11:58 pm


MBB Sunrise

In just a few short minutes, it will be Debra's birthday. I just wanted to officially wish my little sister her first Happy Birthday of the day - so it's out in her RSS reader when she wakes up at 3:30am or whatever ridiculous hour she rolls out of bed.

She's good people. And she likes my bridge pictures so today's picture is for you kid. Have a good one.

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A Day for the Birds

Nov. 16th, 2008 | 10:46 pm


Four The Birds

Only managed about an hour at home on Saturday - I was invited out to Wildlife Prairie State Park near Edwards to see the raptors - up close and personal. Fellow photog Tim L., who photographs a lot of stuff at WPSP, arranged for a bunch of flickrites to get some unfettered access to a number of fantastic birds. We saw the following: Turkey Vulture, Cooper's Hawk, Red-Tail Hawk, Barn Owl, American Kestrel, Barred Owl, Peregrine Falcon, Horned Owl, and a Bald Eagle. It was pretty darn cool.

After a necessary lunch at One World, I raced home, showered, and headed on over to the final night of the play. We're all glad that is over - but frankly it went pretty well. The cast and crew did a great job - as did my lovely spouse and her team of crack cohorts. Due to some wonderful scheduling issues with the facilities, the next set of shows is only three weeks away. Directed by ISU Theatre Education students, it will be going up Dec. 2-3. Then I think Kev gets a break for a few weeks.

I'll be stopping in Morton tomorrow night to hawk some images at the show at the Bertha Frank Center. We'll see how that fairs as well.

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Friday - okay I'm ready

Nov. 14th, 2008 | 06:09 pm


"Curious Savage" Cast

Well - time to spend another weekend with then teen wonders in the Curious Savage. Kev and I have had quite a week - let's just leave it at that. We're both ready for a break. We're going to be heading down to the wilds of North Carolina over the Christmas break - and right now that seems FAR away.

I did get 15 pieces hung at the Bertha Frank Center in Morton today. They'll be up probably until the week before Christmas so if you find yourself at an event there - take a look. It looks good on the wall - it always does.

Potentially interesting event tomorrow afternoon - we'll see how it goes. And when I blog it... It all comes down to that.

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C'mon Friday - Hurry up and get here. No wait - not too fast

Nov. 13th, 2008 | 07:22 pm


Looking Down

Let's see ... tonight. Edit last night's photo shoot - over 400 shots - down to about 60 shots. Get them uploaded to Flickr. Get them converted to display on the digital frame tomorrow night. Pack up 17 framed prints and all the supporting gear to hang tomorrow out in Morton. Pick up the house - cause the housekeeper is coming tomorrow. Don't forget to blog. Whew. Get some sleep. Uh-oh.

The weekend cannot come soon enough this week. It's been a heavy week. It'll be a heavy weekend too - but at least that should mostly be about me - and Kev. I can't wait.

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Rain rain go away

Nov. 12th, 2008 | 10:13 am


The Flood

It has been a wet year here in Illinois - as I've talked about before. But in just the last few days, we've come to see how wet. It turns out that 2008 will be the wettest year ever in Illinois - at least since they've been keeping records. I'll let you guess how many inches of rain have fallen... Or you can just look below.

For only the second time since they've been keeping records, Illinois broke 50" of rain in a year. We're already at 51.01 inches for 2008, breaking the old record of 50.84 inches back in 1927. And we've still basically got six weeks to go. While no individual month was the wettest individual month ever, July was the third-wettest July ever (11.00 inches) and September was ranked third as well (10.30). I have the feeling about half of the September rain came in one day, courtesy of Hurricane Ivan. The photo today was taken in September, at the concert for with the Fogelberg All-Stars, where flooding was rampant at the Peoria Opera House.

What's even more odd was August. It was the fifth DRIEST ever - only 0.77 inches of rain.

We're pretty good at all-or-nothing.

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Hello Morton

Nov. 11th, 2008 | 10:43 pm


Three Sisters

So this Friday I'll be hanging a brief one-man show in Morton, IL. The performing arts center out there likes to always have some artwork on the walls. I was going to be the artwork in February of next year, but someone backed out on them at the semi-last moment, so I am stepping in. I have pulled 17 pieces from the 'ol inventory - all 18x24 or larger and all framed or on canvas. I don't know that I'll hang them all but if they have room we'll stick 'em up. Essentially if I sell just one piece I'm ahead for the show. There's a concert out there on Monday night where I'll be introduced to the crowd. They will be playing a slide show before the concert (just like at the movie theatre, you're subjected to ads) but this time my stuff will be included. Freaky. Hopefully I can move a few pieces and make it worth my while. I don't even know how long I'll have stuff hung out there or if there are other shows. Ya got me.

Sometimes the less I know the better.

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Word

Nov. 10th, 2008 | 01:47 pm


Decay

Some memes are just challenging for wordy people...

The One Word Meme
Where is your mobile phone? Desk
Where is your significant other? Work
Your hair colour? Hah!
Your mother? Awe
Your father? Some
Your favourite thing? Cameras
Your dream last night? Ummmmmm?
Your dream goal? Contentment
The room you’re in? Office
Your hobby? Cameras
Your fear? Waste
Where do you want to be in six years? Elsewhere
Where were you last night? Home
What you’re not? Brief
One of your wish-list items? Cameras
Where you grew up? Pittsburgh
The last thing you did? Lunch
What are you wearing? Flannel
Your TV? Whatevs
Your pets? Complex
Your computer? Sigh
Your mood? Indigo
Missing someone? Yep
Your car? Steady
Something you’re not wearing? Yoke
Favourite shop? Internet
Your summer? Short
Love someone? Yep
Your favourite color? Green
When is the last time you laughed? Recently
Last time you cried? May

Okay - frankly - that was hard. SO MANY answers calling out for two words where one WON'T do.

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Calm Before

Nov. 9th, 2008 | 09:21 pm


Banner Marsh Sunset 1

Today was all about resting. After the second of four showings of Kevin's play last night, and the brief appearance at the cast party afterwards, we rolled in around 1:00am this morning. And we were both dragging to say the least. So we slept in this morning - somehow to 10:00am. Not sure how that was achieved but it was. Unreal to say the least. After that it was all down hill. We did manage to watch "No Country For Old Men" on DVD. It was typically Coen Brothers - and pretty well done. Otherwise we've just managed little things around the house today - getting about two of ten things on our list crossed off. We have to pace ourselves.

I have a fairly busy week this week. On Monday I have to get all my title cards built for an upcoming show of about 15 pieces. More on that shortly. Tuesday night is teaching at the Guild, Wednesday night we have production shots for the play (these are posed shots - not taken during the play itself), Thursday night I have my Photography Style class at the Guild, and then Friday and Saturday are the last two shows. There's a flickr outing on Saturday and I suspect once again on Sunday I'll be doing the same thing I did today. Acting pooped out.

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The Fall Play is a Go

Nov. 8th, 2008 | 02:00 pm


Actors

This is the thing about actors - you have to work so hard to get them to give you anything. For example - take Betsy here. I just pointed my camera in her direction and she was making faces. Oh - the effort.

But seriously folks - Kev's fall play, "The Curious Savage" opened last night to a pretty full house and I would say it went pretty well really. This is the culmination of a couple months of work for her and her kids did great, the set looked great, and the show was fun to watch. I took many backstage photos, which you can always see in the NCHS Drama page.

We go back tonight for show two. This is also the first year they are doing four shows - so next weekend should be as action-packed as this one.

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Pogo Goodness

Nov. 7th, 2008 | 03:46 pm


Haney Barn

For those of you who don't read the Central Illinois Photoblog - well first of all SHAME. SHAME ON YOU. And secondly, well, you may not know that I gots me a Pogo Printer. And what is a Pogo Printer you ask? Well it is a ZINK printer. And what is a ZINK printer you ask? (You're doing great - here comes the good part). It is a Zero INK printer - meaning no inks at all. This sucker is fun - it's small - intended for one size only - 2" x 3". But you hook the printer - which fits in your hand - up to your camera - and less then a minute later you have a print. And it looks pretty good. And it has a sticky back. And it runs on batteries so you can take it anywhere.

And how does it print without ink?

Magic.

No really.

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Oh Deer

Nov. 6th, 2008 | 12:34 pm


Dinner Visitors

I can't believe that - in the five-plus years we've lived out in the country - that I haven't hit an animal on the road yet. To say that roadkill is abundant in the country - well that would be an understatement. More raccoons and possums have sacrificed their lives then I thought possible.

Last night I came within yet another hair of nailing a deer. Most everything in the car - and that's a lot of crap lately - ended up in the wheel wells. It happens in one of two ways - either they come out of nowhere and you either get 'em or you don't OR you see them from some distance and yet still they do almost everything in their power to position themselves in front of your car at the wrong time. I took the latter last night. Saw her from some distance off - was slowing down and at kind of the last minute she bolted from well off the road to just in front of me. For an instant, as I was standing on the brakes, she was running right in front of me and away from the car. It was as if I was chasing her.

You see them in various spots on the drive home but there are two spots we pass often where they seem to be all the time. In fact when I hit these spots at night - I just slow down regardless. I was coming back from Normal last night around 11pm and passing deer spot #1 - a stretch of about 1,000 yards from the Mackinaw River on Townline Rd., just east of I-155 to the Interstate. There's a river and a creek in there - and lots of undulating hills. And that's where she was. The second spot is on Springfield Rd., just south of Dillon - and The Tree. You end up down in the valley - where again there's lots of water - and that's where they tend to be.

I'm telling ya - it's got to happen someday - and I am not looking forward to it. Kevin hit a raccoon last year. She was doing about 45 and caught him in the right-front wheel well. He was stunned but got away. Sucker was huge. He actually broke part of the plastic housing on her car. She thought she'd hit a cat at first (and oh brother - there are way to many domestic animals running loose on the road) so she called me. She was only about a mile from home so I came out and we tried to find him but he was long gone. I don't know - maybe he was wearing his big red cape.

Drive safe.

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Laundry woes

Nov. 5th, 2008 | 12:12 am


Chatty

So my poor wife is spending the night over in Normal. The big fall play opens this Friday and they're behind. Through the wonders of scheduling, they actually had to tear down their entire set Sunday night so that that the district could have a concert on the stage at school. Tonight was putting it back up, painting it, and about a million other little things to overcome. This has put them two days behind when push comes to shove.

So I didn't have much to do on a Tuesday night at home alone. I decided to do a load of whites. Threw everything in the dryer and ran it - and when it was done everything was still damp. And that's been the story of our dryer lately. I need to get it "taken apart" and cleaned up. Therein lies five years of lint somehow making things much more inefficient.

Yeah - a pretty quiet Tuesday night in the heartland. That's about it.

Oh - one other thing. I don't know how I forget this until the end.

OBAMA WON! Thank goodness.

Can we move on now? I'm ready for something new. And for dry underwear. Change IS good.

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Votey goodness

Nov. 4th, 2008 | 10:33 am


Wagon

Big Election Day today. It's maybe the most important election day of my voting life - which dates back to 1980. I've not fared well in presidential elections - just two of the seven presidential votes I've cast have gone to the winner. I'm really hoping - and expecting - that today will be different.

Our polling place was fairly busy this morning - all indications so far are that we're going to have a spectacular turnout - a very un-American thing I think. Kevin had to wait a bit when she arrived around 6:45am. I had a similar but shorter experience around 8am. I'd like to think the big turnout is all about starting to erase the stench of the last eight years - but I suspect in a "things are tough all over" world - a lot of people just want to take action and do something.

And somehow if my guy doesn't win - I don't think there's gonna be a lot of change and I think it's just gonna keep smelling. So c'mon Barack - let's make history and let's see a little change. No - let's see a LOT of change - and good freshly-baked buns smells.

It will be a late night tonight but that's the price of democracy. Hurrrrry up!

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Farming Ups and Downs

Nov. 3rd, 2008 | 08:16 am


Haney Silo Sunrise

I'm amazed at how a city boy like me has gotten so into agriculture.

I guess it's all about where you live - and for me - where and what you photograph. Since I spend the bulk of my time here in Illinois - amongst the corn, beans, pumpkins, and hay - I see more then my fair share. And when you see that much - you oughta get curious - otherwise the drive is going to be looonger then usual.

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day. Her husband is retired and now farms quite a bit. She told me they were getting an astounding 290 bushels of corn per acre - sometimes struggling to get the combine through that much stock. It's been a really good year for corn here. At about $4.60/bushel, that's a nice haul per acre. I had no idea. Hopefully fuel prices haven't totally wiped out those profits. You could tell it was a good year from the harvest too. Most of the time it's wrapped up by Nov. 1, but not this year - they're still going hard at it. My informal survey of fields passed the other day has me guesstimating they're about 85% done. But you can still hear the combines driving in the fields at 11pm or midnight. Those farmers - it's kind of quiet for them in the winter but right now - it's making for some long 18-hour days.

And while I'd probably rather be running around the American West photographing that beauty, I guess I'll stick with the motto of trying to find beauty in unexpected places - even if those places are the entire state. Of Illinois.

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10 years

Nov. 2nd, 2008 | 05:22 pm


Ghosts

We just passed a significant anniversary. It's been 10 years since Matthew Shepherd was beaten to death on the plains of Wyoming.

The significance of that event was felt by a lot of people, but for Kevin and I it was particularly bizarre. Matt was a student at the University of Wyoming - where Kev and I both graduated - and he was killed in the town where I spent 10 of the most formative years of my life - Laramie.

The crime was gripping because of the ferocity of the murder. And the ferocity was somewhat transferred to the town - something I always felt was completely undeserved. Laramie is/was no more of a violent town then any other city of 15,000 in America. But things played out there and the national spotlight showed brightly on my favorite little Wyoming city and it is what it is.

One significant outgrowth of the murder was "The Laramie Project". A play first - then a movie - it examined the thoughts of dozens of people in Laramie as a way of explaining it all to the world. The play has been universally well-received, and is a real lesson in tolerance and acceptance. It's certainly one of the most important works - to me - of the last 20 years in American theatre.

All of the characters in the play are real people. Three of them are people Kev and I know pretty well. And that's a strange sensation to see your friends portrayed on stage. All three had ties to the University's Theatre Department - which is where Kevin and I spent a significant amount of our time. Kev's degree is in Theatre and I spent four years working for the department as a lighting designer/electrician/carpenter. The department had a great reputation for tolerance and many of our good friends in the Theatre were openly gay. And one of them - who's gone on to great success in Hollywood as an Art Director (were so proud of him) - had this to say in an email to me a few weeks ago when I asked him if he and his SO were going to get hitched after California opened the door to same-sex marriage. Paraphrasing, he said "Yes - we're really thinking of getting married before the election - just in case things go badly".

California Proposition 8 is the potential for things to go badly. This is the law that will make gay marriage illegal in California again. The Prop is getting a huge infusion of cash from out of the state (not surprising) and a lot of that cash has openly come from an effort by the Mormon Church. While that is a sad statement and full of hate, there's some optimism in the state that the initiative will go down in defeat on Tuesday. I hope it is defeated but I'm still afraid that this is a battle fair-minded folks are going to have to fight over-and-over.

But hey - screw that. I hope Ramsey and Scott have tied the knot. That would be so darn cool. And after ten years, it's maybe one mark that we're a little more tolerant as a nation. And more on that tomorrow.

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (I love that)

Nov. 1st, 2008 | 08:35 pm


The Tree 49

So apparently my Yahoo email account was hacked this afternoon. Or at least it was used this afternoon... I was out early this morning with the Peoria Art Guild's Digital Photography class - from about 5:30am to a little after noon. By the time I got down to my computer, around 1:30pm, I noticed I had quite a few mailer daemon emails from Yahoo - which was odd since I hadn't sent any email in about 20 hours. Checking those mails, I saw numerous email addresses from my address book - including many recipients whom I had not emailed in years. Checking more, my sent mail indicated four outbounds at 1:08pm today - to essentially my entire address book - none sent by me.

So no worries - while I'm always curious about my next career move - I have no future in electronic parts sales. The site advertised looks like it may be Chinese in origin. If I only had mad hacker skillz - revenge would be mine. It also looks like people with last names beginning with "De" and going through "La" only received an empty email with my signature attached.

The only resolution I felt I had the time was to change my password to something even more aggressive and to change any other Yahoo-based security info I had. The password I used for Yahoo is not used anywhere else so I'm not too worried about overspill but what a pain in the butt. On the other hand, I've got a number of emails from old friends today which has been kind of fun. And numerous people assumed I was advertising my blog(s) and went and read about Josh. Dude - yer kinda famous now - at least to one friend in Montana...

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Hit the road Josh

Oct. 31st, 2008 | 02:31 pm


Dante8

First: A Disclaimer. I have used this photo before but Rule 38, Special Circumstance 6 allows for it's reuse today only.

Second: The ying-yang pictured here - as some of you know - is my/our good buddy Josh - aka Dante8 here on LJ. He has the emotional maturity of a seven-year old, which is the primary reason we get along so well. Actually, while he's 28-years old physically, he's 38-years old mentally, and 48-years old wisdomly (I made that last word up). Poor Josh and I met at the office. He inherited the mess that I and the somewhat anonymous Scarab left behind (okay I mostly left the mess - Scarab mostly kept it running - jack down Scarab).

We realized early on that we shared 1.5 brains between us (we are guys - we don't get a whole brain) and we became fast friends. And now - the sonuvabitch is moving to Colorado and I AM PISSED and I wish him all the best. The funny thing is - we're still going to be working on the same super-project for the foreseeable future so we'll still stay in touch that way. Even though we only sit about 50 feet from each other, the bulk of our communication is via IM, so it won't really be any different. Plus it'll smell better.

But seriously. This is a good human being and Colorado is lucky to get him. I now have tons of family and friends in the Denver metro area - so really - with the Peoria/Denver direct flight I should be going out there for lunch once a month.

Josh - you rock and you are wise beyond your years. I hope you and Tasha have a great couple years in the big CO. If you land in Laramie, WY - just 2.5 hours north, go to Jeffrey's for lunch and the Overland Deli for dinner. That is the best advice I can give you. No really - the food is great. Here's some mediocre advice: It snows a little more there - so drive carefully. My sister-in-law, whom I love and think is great - is just south of you in Littleton. If you ever need anything DON'T CALL HER - I said I like her and I need to keep you at a distance. Go see a show at Red Rocks. Go into the mountains every chance you get. They're off to the west there. If summer comes on a Sunday - have a picnic (that's an old Wyoming joke). Do not, I repeat do not ever root for the University of Colorado or Colorado State University for ANY reason. The Cow Palace - I don't want to explain the Cow Palace. The Tattered Cover bookstores - they'll have what you're looking for. They do have Cowboys and Cowgirls and Rodeos out there. You should see one once - and then you're off the hook. A small-town Colorado rodeo is way more bizarre then an event at the Cow Palace. Everything else - you're flying solo. You'll figure it out.

Okay - I'm just yammering cause I don't want to say goodbye. Don't leave me alone with Scarab (just kidding Scarab). I'm melting... The end.

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Thanks David duChemin

Oct. 31st, 2008 | 06:35 am

If you've arrived here from David duChemin's blog... consider heading over to the photo side of the house:

escapesphoto.com or the
Central Illinois Photoblog.

Thanks for stopping by but as I tell my regular readers of this blog: Nothing to see here - move along.

No wait. Fizzbin.

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Two Videos Two Smiles

Oct. 24th, 2008 | 08:01 pm

1. You saw the original commercials eight years ago - now see this update. And there's a twist at the end that I had no idea was coming. I, of course, loved it.

2. This second video is as simple as it starts out and yet I double-dog dare ya not to smile. It exceeded my expectations. Go ahead - check it out.

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Friday Four-Plus #15

Oct. 24th, 2008 | 03:01 pm


Lake Huron Sunrise 2

It's Friday and I have a stinking suspicion I should be doing something blogworthy. I've actually gone "public" with the Central Illinois Photoblog now and I've been posting my tush off over there because I have so much spare time. On to the regular non-photo Friday content now.

1. My love of my home continues to shrink. I think we've got some issues in our upstairs bathroom that causing water to leak in behind the shower. And I think we're building a fertile area for mold. And I think it's getting to the point where we're going to abandon the upstairs shower for the basement shower. And then I think I'm going to have to rip the upstairs shower out and see what damage we've got. And if the damage is bad, we'll have to replace framing. And then we'll put a real shower in. The interesting thing I guess is there was only one shower in the house when we moved in five year ago - we converted the upstairs. I'm just not thrilled with how it was done - we didn't put in a real shower unit. There's a system where you can glue big sheets of "tile" to the wall - and they overlap and blah, blah, blah. After five years, it isn't holding up. The joys of home ownership. On the bright side, our new guest room is empty - which means it can fairly quickly be painted and guest-y things can be moved in (like the bed etc.). Let's see how long that takes.

2. In the bad-to-worse area, my computer at home is really crashing a LOT. I'm pretty convinced that I should waste a week or two totally reinstalling everything - starting with Windows XP. I think - with the possible exception of my sound card - the hardware is fine. On the bright side, I can get rid of a lot of stuff I probably don't need on my computer. I'm going to hold on until the middle of November, and then start from scratch.

3. Looks like I'm going to hang about 15 pieces of my work at the Bertha Frank Center in Morton for about a month in mid-November too. This is the performing arts center in that little bedroom community of Peoria. One of the people responsible for getting artists to hang their work in the building is a former PAG Photo Student so she tracked me down. I was going to do this in February - but they had someone back out so I said that I would step in. I'll start working on organizing that this weekend - my last supposed quiet weekend before Thanksgiving. Shhhh.

4. I can't wait for this darn election to get here - both for the implied change I think will come and for all the whining on everyone's parts to come to an end. I just want to be able to drive over all the signs along the side of the road on Nov. 5. I'd prefer to do it smiling but I'll do it regardless. I can't remember being any more grumpier then I've been, politically speaking, the last eight years. I just hope that change does come and that it's real - and not lip service. And that the 40% of my retirement I've lost finds a way to come back and that I still have a job in three months. We can do so much better. What a comfort to know we can send Dick Cheney back to Wyoming - at least metaphorically. A tough thing to do to one of my favorite states but we all must carry the load.

5. There's a very real chance I'll be doling out justice in a Tazewell County courtroom next week. That's right - I've been called to jury duty - for the first time since moving out of Peoria. My county is pretty peaceful - maybe when I dial in over the weekend I will find out I don't have to come in on Monday. Every day on jury duty is a day without pay for me so boooo - no jury duty.

6. Alright - let's wrap this sucker up. I have to go shoot a publicity shot for the NCHS fall play tonight. It's taken me all day to write this; I'll be darned if work doesn't keep getting in the way. The picture above: one of my favorite Monday Morning Mackinac images. I miss the place and would just love to be back there right now. Sigh.

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Darn - if only it were Friday

Oct. 20th, 2008 | 04:46 pm


Ma and Pa Canoe Renew

Wow - I am back to being AWOL on a too-regular basis. I can't even make my Friday Four post - for a second week in a row.

Oh well. I'm over it. So - I suspect - are you.

Somehow it's another busy busy window of time. October and November seem to excel at that. I'm out every night this week with one thing or another. Thank goodness I'm 1,000 miles overdue for my oil change - or I wouldn't even be posting this. Somehow though someone screwed up - I've got nothing on the calendar next weekend. It amounts to my only free weekend until Thanksgiving so maybe I'll actually do a little work around the house. Or I'll just take six or seven naps. That would feel good.

My last Friday four absence was due to the fact that we had four house guests arriving last Friday night - and after a day of work - well the house wasn't quite ready for visitors. We got there eventually and it was great to see my folks - hitting the canoe on our lake above - and our friend Doug (and his son Mitchell) over from Cincinnati to pick up something he bought on eBay (it was a massive piece of workout gear) from Washington, IL.

Onward and upward from here - at least on a well-oiled engine. Whew!

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Back from Mackinac

Oct. 13th, 2008 | 10:41 pm


Mackinac City Sunrise

Well, it was a great, great weekend up on Mackinac Island for us - just back tonight and I had time for one image and one short blog entry.

We had a very productive and very full weekend, which left no time for anything remotely like blogging. And then amazingly, we've got my parents in town this weekend upcoming - which I only found out about yesterday. Looking forward to it - but I'm out every night this week with the start of Art Guild classes and a few other vital to-dos. And right now - we have no guest room - as we're half out of the basement and half into the main floor. And I have a major photography project that I'm trying to finish by Sunday next. Yeah - see y'all next week I suspect.

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Friday Four, #14

Oct. 3rd, 2008 | 04:34 pm


Sunset Fields

Crud. I kinda forgot about this today. I'm actually heading out to Banner Marsh, southwest of Peoria for the rest of the day to shoot some landscapes and nighttime long exposures so it's now or never. Let's see how fast I can write...

1. I guest blogged for someone yesterday - my very first time ever as a guest blogger. She of course got what she paid for. It was kind of fun but the pressure - oh the pressure. I'd be happy to guest blog for any of you of course - if any of you could afford me... I promise to go for the cheap laugh - and then say something nice about you. Prices start at $10.

2. We're off to big Michigan next week, so my Friday Four will be from the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island next time. Looking forward to the drive - it's always beautiful. Maybe I'll figure out a way to reinvent myself on the way up. It seems better then waiting for the drive home. I'm also looking very forward to some early morning island photography in what should be pretty peak fall color. Yummy. Oh - and that murder mystery thing...

3. I signed a contract to shoot my first Cat gig as a freelancer today. It's for a good group of people and right up my alley shooting-wise so it should go pretty well. Doing it the first weekend in November. I'd love to land about 6-10 of these next year - imagine all the good gear I could buy then. I am renting a few lenses for this gig - nice and much faster then my stuff. Renee Byer, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2007, spoke at Bradley last night and I was in the audience and snapped a few pics - at 3200 ISO. That's incredibly high for my camera. If you don't look at it too big it looks okay - but if you see it closer - well you can see what digital noise looks like... Faster lenses... Faster lenses...

4. The pic: A gorgeous cloud night in Tazewell County on Wednesday night - I caught this cornfield/soybean field at just about the last possible minute.

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It's Monday and Still I Have Something To Say

Sep. 29th, 2008 | 01:52 pm


Scales

It just goes to show ya... I was set to leave the house early this morning - the light was very interesting and with the harvest already started, I thought I might see something good. What I saw, by 7:15am, was a ton of rain for about 45 minutes. Light gone. No corn dust in the air. I gave up.

Standing in the shower this morning, I got the feeling that I'm living beneath a bowling alley. We've got a bunch of black walnut trees on the property. And starting in July every year they start dropping big seed pods that contain a black walnut. The pods are big, maybe 2-3" across. And they're weighty. When one of those things drops 50 or 75 feet to the ground, the pod splits open and the walnut jumps out ready to grow into a new tree. When they hit any of the concrete around our place - they bounce 10 feet in the air. But when they hit our roof, the make a sound like a small caliber gunshot. They're just loud. And then they roll down our roof, which takes about 10 seconds, and it sounds like a bowling ball rolling across an alley. I'm utterly convinced the two ways I'm likely to die are 1) a black walnut pod falling on my head or 2) me tripping over a cat on the steps. And that will feel like a black walnut to the head.

Hey - this image here was fav'd by this 'person' on Flickr. That's right - the band favored a pic of themselves. Nice to be noticed by someone you like. Girlyman rocks.

And last but not least - I'm going to do a guest-blog entry for a friend in Kentucky who's feeling a little busy right now. This seemed like a mediocre idea (just kidding Alissa) when I read her post. Now that I have to write something by Wednesday night - oh lord - this will be interesting. I'll post a link when it flies. She's pretty awesome so it shouldn't be to hard to talk about me on her blog...

As for the pic: I found this poor deceased fish in the Mackinaw River before the flooding. I think it's safe to say it's moved well down river by now.

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