Thursday, December 29, 2011

Please, PLEASE, oh Pretty Please Let This Be True

From Big Government:

Alexandra Pelosi, daughter of House Minority Leader and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, told Big Government this week that her mother wants to leave Congress–and that she remains in Washington only at the behest of her campaign donors.
The day we don't all have to look at Nancy Pelosi or worry about her hand in our pockets anymore is going to be a great day for the nation!

I May Need Some Assisdents

Almost forgot to post this. Thanks to Kristi for pointing it out to me last week.

More awesomeness from Lowes.  Thanks, Lowes.  Every visit is a treat.

..and We're Done.

A couple of days ago, we took a load of books and CDs to Half Price Books to sell as we get ready to "big kidify" the kids' room.  Among the things Kayci put in the bag to get rid of were her Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana CDs.

She thought I'd be upset, but I've actually never been so proud.  Personally, I've been done with Miley for quite awhile now.  I tried to warn her.  I begged an pleaded.  But Miley just wouldn't listen.

Then today I found out that over Thanksgiving, while no one was really paying attention (including me, apparently,) Miley came out in support of the Occupy Wall Street crowd and even dedicated her song "Liberty Walk" to them.  That makes me even more happy that our house is now Miley Cyrus -free.

I've threatened it before, but now it's official.  We're officially done with (that trashy ignorant train wreck) Miley Cyrus.  It's too bad, really.  There was a time when she had so much potential, too...

It was a good run.  We sent a lot  - and I mean a whole friggin' lot - of money her way over the years when Kayci was into Hannah Montana.  But all mediocre things must come to an end, I suppose.  Just like the impending doom of her career.  It says a lot when a little girl who spent years watching and listening to an *cough* actress and *cough, cough* singer is willing to trade in her entire collection for $12.

Let this be a lesson, kids.  When you don't appreciate what you have and choose to throw it all away, don't wonder why people don't want anything to do with you anymore.  At least, not the real 99%.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Day to Order

Don't forget, Bearkats...  today is the last day I'm taking orders for the panoramic I shot of the Bearkat fans rushing the field following the Bearkats' historic victory over Montana a couple of weeks ago.

Orders will be accepted through Tuesday, December 27.

$25.00 plus shipping, paid via PayPal.  Photos will be mailed the first week in January.  If you happen to be in the Brenham area, let me know and there will be no shipping costs.

To order, e-mail your shipping address to, and I will send you an invoice to pay from on PayPal.

Thanks, and Eat 'Em Up Kats!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

But the Mayans Didn't Say That At All!

We're not all going to die.  Okay, actually, that's not true.  We are all going to die... eventually. Just probably not on December 21, 2012.  That's the date - a year from now - that some people are claiming that the Mayans predicted the end of the world.  That's what we've all heard, right?

Funny thing is.... the Mayans didn't say that at all.

From AP News:

Many archeologists argue that the 2012 reference on a 1,300-year-old stone tablet only marks the end of a cycle in the Mayan calendar. 
"The world will not end. It is an era," said Yeanet Zaldo, a tourism spokeswoman for the Caribbean state of Quintana Roo, home to Cancun.
The Mayan civilization, which reached its height from 300 A.D. to 900 A.D., had a talent for astronomy. 
Its Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. Thirteen was a significant, sacred number for the Mayas, and they wrote that the 13th Baktun ends on Dec. 21, 2012. 
The doomsday theories stem from a stone tablet discovered in the 1960s at the archaeological site of Tortuguero in the Gulf of Mexico state of Tabasco that describes the return of a Mayan god at the end of a 13th period. 
"The Maya are viewed by many westerners as exotic folks that were supposed to have had some special, secret knowledge," said Mayan scholar Sven Gronemeyer. "What happens is that our expectations and fears get projected on the Maya calendar." 
Gronemeyer of La Trobe University in Australia compares the supposed Mayan prophecies to the "Y2K" hype, when people feared all computer systems would crash when the new millennium began on Jan. 1, 2000. 
For some reason, Gronemeyer says, people have ignored evidence that dates beyond 2012 were recorded.

2012 will, indeed, be a watershed year - just not for the reasons people are freaking about about at the moment.  But never let the truth get in the way of a good freak out, I suppose...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"Bearkat Fans Take the Field"

"Bearkat Fans Take the Field"

Following the SHSU vs. Montana game last week I shot this panoramic shot of the entire field as Bearkat fans stormed onto it.  I've had several requests for prints of the shot, so I'm posting this here in case any other Kat fans would like one, as well.  

Order your 32"x9" panoramic photo print of the crowd taking the field following the Bearkats' historic victory over Montana!  This will be a one-run only print, so don't wait and miss out!  This will be a high resolution professional photographic print, suitable for framing.

Orders will be accepted through Tuesday, December 27.

$25.00 plus shipping, paid via PayPal.  Photos will be mailed the first week in January.  If you happen to be in the Brenham area, let me know and there will be no shipping costs.

To order, e-mail your shipping address to, and I will send you an invoice to pay from on PayPal.

Thanks, and Eat 'Em Up Kats!

Friday, December 16, 2011

SHSU Battle Message

Mad crazy Kat props to Michael F. for putting this together.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Respect the Bull

Pinc Gator does it again.  Nice work.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Eat 'Em, Up Kats!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Continuing Case for Optical Drives

This morning I ran across this post from a year ago regarding the need for optical drives and making the case that the time to kill optical hasn't come yet.

Since that time, Apple has shipped new models of the MacBook Air and the Mac Mini without an optical drive.  Lion shipped without optical (they opted, instead, to make the OS available on a flash drive after user outcry).  And Netflix attempted to shift its business away from DVDs by breaking its streaming and DVD businesses into two separate companies (only to cancel that move shortly afterward).  The Mac App store launched, offering software for download instead of on DVD for install.  But some titles, such as OS X Lion weigh in at 3.5 GB, which would take hours to download.

Several times in the past year I've attempted to deliver some portraits I took digitally, instead of on DVD (but in every case, the client called back and requested a disc so they didn't have to download all their photos).

Also this year, I was able to burn and produce DVDs as freelance projects.  I was able to install some games that I hadn't played in several years from the discs, which I still have.  I was able to deliver press files to print quickly (and cheaply) by burning them to DVD.  I never got these discs back, nor did I expect to because DVDs are so cheap.

So the optical drive landscape has changed somewhat in the last year, but I still agree with every word of what I wrote last year.  We still need optical drives.  Period.

On Android

People who claim they are happy with their Android phones are the same people who were happy they got Gobots instead of Transformers because they could pop off the arms and interchange them between robots.

Sure, the results were ugly and didn't work properly afterward, but you could do it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Typo Roulette

How many typos can you count on this one sign alone?

Turpin Family Portraits

Last weekend, I was honored to be asked to shoot some family portraits for some old friends of ours - the Turpins.  A few months ago I got to shoot baby portraits of baby Jackson, and so I was very pleased when they asked me back to shoot the whole family.

They wanted to shoot outside, which I always love.  But the day was gray and overcast with light that most photographers LOVE to shoot in - but that I hate.  I love contrast, and I really like shooting in sunny conditions.  But the shoot must go on, to paraphrase and old saying...

So we went down to a park near where they live and shot using a flash, diffused with a gel on it to give a bit more warmth than the day would have otherwise offered.

Here are some of my favorite shots:

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shut Up and Suck It Up, Big Babies

I'd like to add a fourth: nobody helped me pay my student loan debts.  It took me and my wife eleven years to pay off our loans, and even though it took considerable resources out of our monthly budget, it was still an obligation we had made and  it was our duty to honor it, no matter how much we disliked it.

Memo to students: shut up, get an education and then pay for it.  Education isn't free, and it shouldn't be.  Suck it up and quit being suck big damn crybabies.  You're (technically) adults.  Start acting like it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Way Reminders SHOULD Work

Dear Apple,

Your Reminders app in iOS5 is a great idea.  I love the location-aware nature of it.  But it's awfully hard to use, and that's not very Apple-ish.  I know, I know.... you're probably tired of people giving you grief about the Reminders app.  But I really do like it.  And I have a suggestion.

I should be able to set up a reminder directly from the maps app.  For instance,  this morning I'm going fishing at Seawolf Park in Galveston.  I searched for it on my Maps app and found it.  I should be able to add reminder for this location directly from the screen where I have the option to save as a contact, share my location and save as a bookmark.  There should be another button directly below those that reads "Set a Reminder for this Location."

The way it works currently, I'd have to add the location to my contacts first in order to set a reminder.  I don't want to do that.  There are lots of places I go all the time - the mall, the grocery store, a restaurant - that I might want to set a reminder for but don't want cluttering up my contacts list.  And since the Reminders app is a built-in app (and can't be deleted), there shouldn't be any reason why it can't have system-wide presence like Maps and does.  Heck, even some non-built-in apps have that kind of access ("Open in iBooks, for instance.)

So there it is.  It's a pretty simple request.  I'm sure you thought of it and just forgot to flip the switch on the code or something when iOS5 shipped.  So get on that, please?  It'll make Reminders a WHOLE lot more convenient to use.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pat Curtis 1929-2011

My earliest memory of my Grandma is of her putting a towel down on the seat of her car (a Mustang, if I remember correctly) because my bare legs were burning on the hot vinyl seats.  It was the '70s, shorts were short, socks were long and everything seemed to be made out of vinyl.

I remember her getting me Cheerios down from the cabinet at her house because she didn't want me eating the dog biscuits that I could reach, so she helped me get something more appropriate (and just as tasty). I've got a lot of other snippets of memories from around the time I was three - about the age that Noble is now - of playing in her back yard with my cousins.  And family Christmas at her house.  And playing her piano - the same piano Kayci now practices her piano on.  And sitting at her table eating.  I remember playing at her house with soap operas on - Days of Our Lives - and of "helping" her in the back yard, which usually consisted of her giving me various errands and tasks to do ("there are some sticks on the ground over there.  Can you bring me all the sticks?") to keep me busy while she tried to get some work done.

But I have two memories of her that are my favorite.  The first is of driving down South Main where it intersects South Post Oak. There used to be a K-Mart there on that corner, and I remember passing by it many times with my Grandma (and of getting some portraits made there, too).  I have no idea where we had been, but we were on our way back to her house.  I was sitting in the front seat (remember - it was the '70s) and I remember her making up a song about my name.  And I remember her teaching me "The Ants Go Marching" - the same song Noble loves to sing with me today on our way to drop him off at school (and sung, naturally, in the same dramatic staccato as Grandma did).  And I remember her singing me a very silly song by Carmen Miranda called Cuanto Le Gusta.

And then there was the day I decided I wanted to go see Grandma, so I walked a block and a half to her house.  Unsupervised.  Unannounced.  We lived around the corner from her when I was three, and I distinctly remember walking down the sidewalk of my street, carefully looking both ways for cars (as I had apparently just been taught) and knocking on her door.  I remember her surprise when she opened the door and saw me.  I remember her calling my frantic mother and telling her that I was there and that I was alright.  And I remember her making me lunch.  Nobody ever made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich better.

I spent a lot of time with my grandma, and I loved every minute of it.  She really seemed to understand me when no one else did.  She understood that kids have a tendency to write on walls, so she gave my cousins and I a special place in her house  - the closet in "the childrens' room" - where we could write on the walls all we wanted.  My first knowledge of science was at Grandma's house when she explained how a potato would grow roots in a vase on her windowsill. She answered all of my questions, and I'm sure there were a lot.  I marveled at her paintings and loved it when she would read stories to me.  I loved hearing about all the wonderful adventures she had had (she lived a really interesting life).  She was adopted, and so I think she had a little bit of a different taste for life.  Everything seemed like an adventure.  And I think I got my love of adventure and mystery from her.

When I think about my Grandma, I think about sun brewed tea (lemon and mint), Avon and costume jewelry.  I think about drinking from the hose in her back yard.  And I remember her patiently reading every one of my Bill cartoons, no matter how dumb the jokes were.  I remember taking trips with her and Granddaddy to all kinds of interesting places - Teague, Richmond, West Columbia and all sorts of cemeteries all over the state (we used to love to see what the oldest grave we could find was).  I remember how beautiful and park-like her yard always was.  The day my sister was born in 1981, I recall a sunny May day picking dandelions in her back yard.  I remember the mint plants in her yard and her making mint jelly (which she vowed she would never do again).  And I think Grandma gave me the nickname, "Destructo."

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to have Grandma over to the house for a weekend and just sit and talk.  We talked about all sorts of things, but we really talked about family.  I grew up enjoying countless hours of sitting in her chair looking at old family photo albums.  I knew that she was adopted and that she was the keeper of our family knowledge, so it was important to me to sit down and get as much of that out of her as I could.  She brought the family Bibles with her and we talked for hours and hours about as much as we know about the history of our family.  I recorded those talks, and I'm looking forward to sharing them with my aunts and cousins soon.  It was a weekend I'll never forget, and one for which I will always be grateful.

The past three months, Grandma has been in the hospital almost non-stop.  She was finally in a rehab facility getting strong enough to go live my Aunt Peggy.  She was supposed to go home Monday.

I was supposed to have dinner with Grandma and my mom today.

Next week we were supposed to have our first family Thanksgiving in over 20 years.  We still will.

But Grandma died yesterday evening.  The last time I talked to her - last weekend - she sounded great.  She was feisty as every and looking forward to getting out.  In fact, she was trying her best to convince the doctors that she was strong enough to go home early, but she was frustrated because they weren't buying it.

She told me a couple of weeks ago while she was laying in her hospital bed that she was just tired.  She knew that she was still here for a reason, but she didn't know what that reason was.  It turns out that she was here just long enough to see her family come together again in way that hasn't happened in more than a decade.  Everyone is speaking to each other again and we all have new perspective.  Tempers have calmed somewhat and bygones are in the process of being what they are.

I wish that she could have been with us forever.  I wish that she could have watched Kayci and Noble  and Shannon's daughter, Avery, grow up.  I wish that Grandma would've gotten to see Kayci's first piano recital (and to tell her again the story of her first recital when she had to be escorted off the stage). I wish that she had gotten to see Noble grow into the mini version of me that she loved and understood.  I think they would've been great friends.  But they got to meet her, at least, even if they didn't get to know her.  They'll have a memory of her.  And for that I'm grateful.  I'm thankful for her life and for the intangible lessons that she has taught us all.

I'm going to miss her spirit and getting all sorts of crazy e-mail chain letters and hoaxes from her. I'm going to miss her cards.  I'll miss her asking about what the kids are doing.  I'll miss her stories.  I'll miss her breathlessly referring to me when I was a little monster.

Thanks, Grandma.  Say hi to Grandaddy for me, okay?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sick minds think alike

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Perry is Finished

Having watched NONE of the Republican debate last night except for this clip, I can't see how he can possibly overcome this.

If you're seeing this  on Facebook, the clip is here:

Monday, October 31, 2011

I got a treat!

Valerie McCullough Senior Portraits

Yesterday I got the opportunity to shoot my first-ever Senior portraits for a friend of mine at work.

One day a few months ago, Valerie - one of the girls who works in the mail room part time - sidled into my cube and said she really like the photos I take at work and wondered if I take Senior portraits.  I thought she was joking, so I said something about taking photos of geriatrics and laughed off the request.  She insisted that she was serious and I told her that I'd never shot any before, but that I'd be willing to try.

So over the past couple of months, she periodically stopped by my desk to remind me about her portraits.  I still wasn't sure if she was completely serious, so I kept putting it off "until it wasn't so hot outside."

But then about a month ago, she stopped by with an earnestness that told me that she was, indeed, serious.  So we set a date for the shoot and talked about what she had in mind and what she was into.  I really wanted her portraits to reflect her personality.

Turns out Valerie is a transplant from Oklahoma, and a self-described "country girl."  So I envisioned something with sweeping rural landscapes and tall waving grass.  One problem: Texas is in the middle of the worst drought in its history, so all the grass is dead, and it has been all summer.  Up until a couple of weeks ago, I was secretly panicking.  The Texas landscape is just downright ugly right now.  And then a couple of cool fronts came the second week of October, and with it some much needed rain.  And it turns out that the rain we got was just enough to make some grass grow in some places.

Saturday, my family and I headed out for a picnic/location scouting drive to see where the best grassy landscapes were.  Luckily, we found some great locations all in the same place.

The day of the shoot, I called my buddy Matt and asked if he'd like to go along and help me out with the shoot.  This being my first portrait shoot, I was a bit nervous that I'd screw things up and end up with no good shots.  I would have made myself look silly and have wasted poor Valerie's time.  Matt is an exceptional photographer in his own right, so I knew that with him there that if need be - that is, if I completely sucked up the joint - that he could just beat me over the head with a telephoto lens and finish the shoot himself.

The shoot started rather oddly with me trying to awkwardly explain what I wanted Valerie to do - "okay, stand on the back of my truck in front of this sign."  But thankfully, it got better very quickly.  I knew we were racing daylight.  Golden hour was just beginning, so we had about one hour in which to shoot as much as possible.  I had several locations in mind, so it was going to be tough.  But Valerie was a great sport.

I literally could not have completed this shoot without Matt's help.  Being a photographer himself (and having worked together several times before), we were completely in synch. He popped out a bounce card at exactly the moment I was opening my mouth to ask for one.  He knew exactly when the bounce wasn't doing the job anymore and that it was time to switch to flash.  And best of all, he knew exactly where to stand and where to direct the light without me having to explain it.  And then, toward the end of the shoot - after the sun had gone down and we were winding down and getting "a couple more just for fun," he suggested we shoot through the reflector, which created a huge beautiful, soft light.  And we shot for another 20 minutes in three more poses.

My thanks to Matt for all of his help and to Valerie for giving me the opportunity and for trusting me based just on what she's seen me shoot at work.

These are a few of my favorite shots:

See the entire Flickr set here.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Back to the Future Alternate Ending

Click on the post title to see this video if you're seeing this on Facebook.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Obama Asks Designers to Work for Free

From Rolling Stone:

The Obama campaign has more than $60 million cash on hand. In an economy this bad, you'd think a presidential campaign that flush would be happy to pay good money for a talented designer to create a campaign poster.  
But the folks at Obama campaign have taken a page from the Arianna Huffington book of economic exploitation and called on "artists across the country" to create a poster ... for free.
And here's the kicker. It's a jobs poster.
Yes, the Obama campaign is soliciting unpaid labor to create a poster "illustrating why we support President Obama's plan to create jobs now, and why we'll re-elect him to continue fighting for jobs for the next four years."
If you win? You get: A framed copy of your own poster, signed by the president ("approximate retail value $195").
And if you don't win? Well, that's too bad. You've not only lost the contest, you've also surrendered your intellectual property. "All submissions will become the property of Obama for America," according to the fine print.

You stay classy, Obama.

Surely, no self-respecting AIGA member would dare get anywhere near this, right?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What I Want For Christmas in 2013

From /Film:

If you thought Back to the Future Nikes were cool, you’re about to see some serious shit. At the International DeLorean Owners Event in Houston, Texas last week, DeLorean Motor Company announced a partnership with electric car company called Epic EV. The intent is to mass-produce a fully electric DeLorean called the DMCEV by 2013.

The companies haven’t released any specs yet, but if it’s anything like Epic EV’s Torq Roadster, it’ll get a 200 hp+, 44V/156V electric motor, powered by a 24-30 KWh lithium ion phosphate battery. Sure, it’s bit low on jiggawatts right now, but the companies have two years to get that sorted out. 

Horrible Photoshop job on the image above, but the thought of a BRAND NEW DeLorean is awesome!

Start saving, people.  I need you to buy me one of these.