28 August 2009

Men Who Stare at Goats

what more needs to be said? i think i'm going to be in a cinema near me on the release date :)

what could go wrong? :)

27 August 2009

Several Random Acts of Kindness

I have to say, this is one of the more heartwarming articles I've read in quite some time. For someone to pony up several hundred dollars for a complete stranger, then have the stranger return the favour is remarkable.

Finally, a albeit-small online community deciding to join in in an altruistic manner, well, this has made my day.

To quote the last paragraph:
Send a check to Second Harvest Food Bank, 750 Curtner Ave., San Jose, CA 95125.
You can write "Carolee Hazard"s $93 Club" in the "memo" line.
To donate online, go to www.virtualharvest.net. Select "Friends and Family Drive" and choose "Carolee Hazard $93 Drive."

For what it's worth, I believe if you were to help a local foodbank or charity in need during these times of economic hardship, I'm sure the people involved in the article probably wouldn't have a problem with that. :)

23 August 2009

Satyrday, Juanita Bay

I'm not big on chasing rarities, in part because I'm so poor at it, but I was headed to a party in the general neighbourhood later in the evening, decided to give both of them a go.

About 1430 or so, the Franklin's Gull at Juanita Beach was as easy as any. S/he was waiting for me on the hot sands of the swimming area, not too far from a number of Ring-billed juveniles. S/he gave me about 2 minutes undisturbed before flying towards a BBQ in search of fast food. Once in the crowd, I lost him/her...

I then headed over the Juanita Bay Park in search of the Red-naped Sapsucker. I ended up finding two sapsuckers, one of which my poor photograph believes could be the RNSA, but I'm not 100% sure...

Also around at JBP were six Wood Duck males in eclipse, a single Great Blue Heron, and Barn Swallows in multitude; they appeared to be the only swallows in the neighbourhood...

20 August 2009

2009.0819 Marymoor Hot Dogs - Buddy

I bumped into a friend of mine from my old chess-playing days; he was out walking his dog, Buddy, along the Marymoor Slough yesterday.

Of course, a photo of Buddy was required while we wiled away about an hour or so of catching up... The result: a sultry, almost 1950s noir-like image that has me wondering if Buddy was channeling Humphrey Bogart or Katie Hepburn...

Buddy is in the process of changing the colour of his eyes: the right is mostly blue, the left is half-blue, half-brown. It's an eerie look, and I have to say, I love it...

2009.0818 Marymoor Hot Dogs, Part 3

The last shots for Tuesday's Hot Dogs are Dane (Chocolate Lab), Hokulani (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel), Josie (White Lab pup), and Petey (unknown Hound)... I am SO intrigued by Lani's eyes; so expressive, so delicate, so seemingly dangerous...

Three Trees in Belgium

A little over six years ago, I was driving in Belgium from Bastogne towards Liege or Bruxelles (I wasn't picky) by the slow and unsure route of simply pointing the car in a particular direction, then seeing what was to be seen on that route.

Along the way, I'm in between the towns of Durbuy (on the south) and Tohogne (on the north, mostly) when I see three trees standing alone between me and the horizon. Given the lighting and the interesting look, I took a picture of the scene. Looking at it today, I can see lots of things I would have done differently while taking the photo, but so it goes. It's still a favourite for its stark simplicity, not to mention the ability lo these many years later to evoke memories.

Speed ahead 6.5 years, and my computer is scrolling through a slideshow about 1000 of my favourite shots, and behold, the three trees photo appears. For some reason, I get it into my head to find those towns and see where I was back then.

It is only after zooming into the area between the two towns that I notice something: the three trees are visible using Google Maps.

Showing Liege (centre, top-right) and Durbuy (bottom-centre):

View Larger Map

Showing the trees themselves:

View Larger Map

I have to say I'm surprised for a few reasons, not the least of which is finding three specific trees between two cities years after-the-fact, that the third tree (the one closest to the road) hasn't been demolished by speeding traffic, or that none of the trees have been removed to create more farm land. Google Maps even shows the slight bend in the road.


19 August 2009

2009.0818 Marymoor Hot Dogs, Part 2

Cody (Dakota) and an unnamed chihuahua with an attitude...

Cody is another dog with an incredible amount of energy. As you can see from the middle photo, she has displaced a large volume of water, and has already leapt up to meet the top edge of the displacement... Serious air-time...

All of these photos are available in high-quality prints to 20x30"...

2009.0818 Marymoor Hot Dogs, Part 1 - Annie

One of the most athletic performances I've seen this year, provided by Annie, a Lab/Border Collie mix. Her human said Annie could do these jumps into next week, rarely tiring.

After watching for the better part of 30 minutes, I'd have to agree. Few of the photos I took convey the consistent height (and consistent "grabbing" success) she portrayed, which I estimated reached 4-5 feet at times while beginning from a standing start in at least 1-2 feet of water.

17 August 2009

2009.0816 Marymoor, Part Last

Sorry to have taken so long to get the last entry in. I'd forgotten about an eye examination scheduled early morning, and the doctor decided to dilate.

Well, dilated eyes don't do well for hours. And hours. And hours.

Anywho, the final five are: Pete (Boston Terrier), Solo (White Lab pup), Sydney (Australian Psycho), Turner (Bulldog), and Zach (White Shepherd/Border Collie)...

All of the images in this set are available in sizes from 4x6" to 20x30", poster or simple print. Enjoy!

2009.0816 Marymoor, Part 2

For this page, we have Jackie (Pied ?), Otis (Pug), and Patience (?)

2009.0816 Marymoor, Part 1

In alphabetical order, allow me to present Bruce (Australian Cattle Dog), Burton (Siberian Husky), and Cleo (Basenji mix). For Bruce, this is his second showing here; Burton and Cleo are appearing for the first time...

16 August 2009

Sunday, Marymoor

Sorry about not posting photos for Marymoor Park today. Life happened, and I'm exhausted enough to hit the sack early. I've triaged a few, and have some real winners to display.

With a little bit of luck, the photos for today's shoot at the Slough will be posted here (and on Flickr, provided it starts working soon) by 1400 (2pm) Monday, about the time I leave to start Monday's Slough shooting...

Honest. :)

15 August 2009

Park Gallery Pet Pics

the ParkGallery PetPics business card
Reasonable Pricing, Great Quality, 100% Guaranteed

While the weather is warm and dry, make your appointment now; have your photos in time for the holidays! We can provide everything from 4x6" to 20x30" prints...

12 August 2009

Opting Out, Google-style

I have to say, I've enjoyed the occasional Onion Network video for its truthiness, but this one truly scares me...

Google Opt Out Feature Lets Users Protect Privacy By Moving To Remote Village

10 August 2009

2006: Home Again

What I Won't Miss (to get the rants out of the way quickly)
  • Tailgaters. Self-explanatory
  • Narrow, one-lane (plus, in some cases) country lanes that have highway designations, and drivers who believe that 50 feet of visibility is enough for 60mph
  • Petrol prices. I promise not to bitch about prices in the US. Remember that, and beat me upside the head if you hear me complain about petrol in the US. My treat.
  • Difficulty in finding photo shoppes that sell professional equipment and products. My fault for not having packed an adequate supply of CCD cleaning liquid, but still, one would think it could be found in large cities here. Nope.
  • Handwashing laundry because the closest laundromat is a 35+-mile roundtrip. Expensive due to petrol prices without taking into account charges for 30-minute washes and 7-minute drying
There, that wasn't so bad, now, was it? A pretty short list for such a holiday, I think.

What (and Who) I Will Miss, A Much Longer List and Much More Important
  • First and foremost, Madame Bernadette. Even though she sometimes scares the living bejesus out of me by coming unannounced into the apartment, I feel like she has taken me under her wing, has given me a French culture lesson I could not have acquired any other way. I provide her with chocolate, she provides me with a wonderful laugh (especially when I have to run back into the apartment to get my French/English dictionary), a ready smile, questions regarding my day, where I've been, and the occasional courgette (zucchini) grown by her daughter, said vegetable the size of several large and illegal Cuban cigars. We talk about the weather, her flowers, and occasionally laundry. She has forced me to learn French, something you can't get from a book. And, while I have a very long way to go before we can just sit and talk (in my opinion) about the world in general, she cannot be faulted for my inability to always keep up with her.
  • Madame Simone, who lives two doors down. Between Madame Bernadette and her, two 80-year-old women, I was well-looked after. As an aside, they've both made me promise to go back to school as soon as possible. The subject: la langue Fran├žaise.
  • Bertrand and Lesley, who live the next town over. British retirees, they moved to France to live upon retirement, and are flourishing. When asked by a perfect stranger to help with a personal matter last month, they offered themselves without reservation. For their help, they have asked only that I "pay it forward," asking nothing from myself in return for their generousity. Their wish will be done.
  • the French People, in general. When they are confronted by someone who butchers their language as easily as I can (and do), they usually go out of their way to help, or find someone who knows a bit of (and sometimes MUCH more) English. I can't think of an instance where communication was just an impossibility, and it was almost always due to their wanting to help.
  • the Food. Need I say more? I never once ate in a restaurant or small takeaway stand and didn't find the offerings worth every penny. From freshly-baked croissants, crepes, and baguettes to fruits and veg to the "run-of-the-mill" strawberry preserves, chocolates, and dijon mustards, it was hard not to become jaded by what was readily available. And I must find importers for a specific young Gouda cheese and those milk chocolate bars with nuts...
  • Limoncello. My best Nederlands friends hooked me on the good stuff one incredible evening. the American equivalent isn't
  • Visit to Rye (9 mile walk, tons of birds)
  • Lunch with many old friends on Sunday
  • Chinese food at You's
the list continues, but the most important:
  • Ambrose and Les. They made this trip possible, and I can't conceive of a better birth anniversary gift than their friendship and trust.
Thank you, Boyz...

08 August 2009

2006: Heathrow to Seatac, and Beyond

08 August:

It's my birth anniversary, and I had planned on getting to the airport early to ask for all sorts of concessions, not the least of which was a seat with more leg room, and a possible upgrade. How many of us can say our birth anniversary lasted 32 hours? I was hoping they would take pity on me, and allow me to enjoy the trip in style.

Wasn't going to happen. Summer travel on British Air is nuts, even in the middle of the work week. The plane was booked from stem to stern, and I was lucky to have a window seat with a forward neighbour who didn't recline too much, and an aisle neighbour who didn't snore, drool excessively, or speak inanely for 9 hours.

Given the crowding, given the hassles of getting to the airport on time, the incredibly-crowded airport, etc, it was still a mostly enjoyable flight home. It was sad thinking the past three months had simply flown by, and I was returning to work.

Life settles in once again, with sleep easy, so let's fast forward a little more than 24 hours.

10 August:

Apparently, my flight is one of the last out of Heathrow before draconian and totally-unnecessary requirements go into effect:
  • no more than 3 ounces liquid, period
  • no carry-on luggage (this included laptops and cameras, with which i was expensively-encrusted)
  • strip searches (not mandatory, but regular enough)
  • dozens of international flights cancelled
  • lines at ticketing and security that were, in some cases, thousands of people long
  • etc
If my flight had occurred about 24 hours later, would I still be in the UK for not allowing them to check my laptop and camera :)

Here's a link to more information regarding the aftermath...

07 August 2009

2006: Sussex to Heathrow

07 August

Travel day from Sussex to Heathrow environs. Trip into central London was simple enough, but getting from Charing Cross to Heathrow took a bit more creativity.

Seems the construction of Terminal 5, intermixed with some sort of traffic issue, caused the Piccadilly Line trains to stop somewhere near Hounslow. Buses were called in to shepherd most of us the rest of the way in what really wasn't a very organized manner. Imagine a train full of laden travelers debarking from a train, walking to several bus stops, then loading their goods into those buses for the 15-minute ride to their terminal.

Once at the airport, it was necessary to trundle all my goodies from the bus egress to a place where, once called, the B&B transport van could pick me up, which wasn't simple, quick, or without pain. The plus: I was first. The negative: he had all the other terminals to visit at breakneck speed. I wasn't deposited at my flat for almost an hour; Heathrow terminals are large, and separated by quite a distance if traveling by road.

However, a quiet neighbourhood walk, a simple dinner and some time watching the telly helped me to decompress before sleep stoned me into submission.

06 August 2009

To Scott Berkun:

Scott Berkun, a well-known management and creative thinking guru, has asked his web readership to provide free photography for his upcoming book. He laid out a number of chapter titles, asked folks to come up with shots that match those titles.

When a small number of us complained about the "free" part, stating photographers should be paid for work that appears for commercial endeavour, he stated that "It’s a long standing tradition for unestablished artists, writers, and even designers to work for free for the credit, and portfolio building, and to have other people see their work, in a successful, published book."

Well, not really. It happens, I'll grant. But, it's something most professional organizations, including those involved in the art/business of photography, decry regularly. After all, Mark Loundy of the Digital Journalist has it pegged: "If you are doing it for free, it's just a hobby."

However, early in Scott's remarks, he also says: "Show me an amazing kick ass funny beautiful photo you’ve taken that fits my book, and then maybe you have something to negotiate with :)"

Personally, I think the posted photo here is perfect for Chapter 2: The Attack of the Butterflies. Personally, I think I might have one or two others that would work almost as well.

Will this copyrighted-rights-reserved photo be good enough for someone to say they would love to include it in the book, and for the photographer to be paid for its inclusion?

Let's find out.
[ The image displayed here is a low-res upload of a hi-res crop, just in case someone thinks this particular version just isn't large/hi-res/whatever enough ]

04 August 2009

2006: Rye

One of my favourite locations in the Southeast is the town of Rye. It's an inexpensive and quick train ride from St Leonards or Hastings, and a quite easy and beautiful town to walk from top to bottom.

It's when you want to go out towards the Camber or the Nature Reserve that an easy walk becomes a lot more exercise.

The birding on the Reserve and on the Camber make the eventual exhaustion enjoyable. Common and Sandwich Terns, English Shags and Great Cormorants, Common Sandpipers, Eurasian Oystercatchers, Yellow Wagtails, even Canada Geese are frequent visitors to the area. This visit was punctuated by a Tufted Duck sighting as well. Several blinds are available, and there are at least two working web cameras watching our flying friends. [ 2009: At this very moment, the time is 2230 British Summer Time, so all I'm watching are a pair of harbour navigation lights blink on and off :) ]

01 August 2009

2006: Sussex

01 August

It rained last night and this morning. During breakfast, the sun came out brilliantly, but by the time I arrived in Calais, it was threatening rain again. Ferry is easy to find, and while EuropCar wasn't marked well, the car was finally dropped off in time for the noon sailing.

The SeaFrance ferry Berlioz is a large sucker, with a bazillion all-sized vehicles below on several decks, and above the cars are numerous bars, restaurants, duty-free shoppes, and just plain seating for watching the English Channel sail by. I was lucky enough to encounter yet another wonderful retired UK couple on their way home to Wales, their hometown just outside the Brecon Beacons. They drive their camper van to Portugal slowly, enjoy life, then drive back to Wales, just as slowly. When I suggested the husband would like Seattle and its environs, he agreed provided he didn't have to fly there. For the record, he is retired military, a paratrooper with 23 years experience jumping out of perfectly-good airplanes...

A quick bus trip through Dover to the train station, a 20-minute jaunt by train to Ashford International, then 45 minutes to Hastings/St Leonards on Sea. The taxi service outside the Warrior Square Rail Station quoted me an exorbitant eyes-glazed and lips-drooling tourist price for the ride to Sherwood Guest House, so I walked. I laughed first, but I walked. An easy 20-minute stroll down to the waterfront and along the promenade, passing storefronts and residences I remember very well, and I was at my destination. Moments later, I'm in Room #4, overlooking a lawn-bowling and putting green, the beach promenade, and the English Channel.

Life could be worse. Oh. My landlords agreed with me about the taxi price, for what that's worth. They think Mr Taxi Dude saw someone who didn't know the area and was ripe for the picking... Unless Mr Taxi Dude thought I wanted to purchase his car, he was being Bad.

Lastly. There's a new Chinese restaurant in West St Leonards, located right next to the Bo Peep pub. Over 150 dishes to choose from, priced right. Tonight's meal is Kung Pao Chicken with Cashews. Mmmmmmm...

Fans of history will appreciate the history of Hastings and St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, and that of the Bo Peep Pub not 100 metres from the Sherwood's front door. You should know what your children sing about when they chant the nursery rhyme. (grin)

2009.08 Desktop Calendar

Every year, Seafair and the Blue Angels come together in quite a spectacular way over Lake Washington.

And every year, I try to be in the middle of the action.

This photograph was taken in 2005 from Mercer Island, and I believe the group was flying into a 360-degree loop. The tight formation is incredible to witness; being that close together at those speeds for about one minute would probably require a quick shower and a change in clothing once I came down. :)

Please feel free to download this photo for personal use on your computer's desktop. To download, just click once on the image, which will bring up the enlarged image on a new webpage. Then, right-click on the image and follow your operating system's instructions for pictures / images.