Sunday, September 25, 2011

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Conversation with Noble at the mall

Noble: Daddy, a pterranadon eats meat.
Me: they do? Are you a pterranadon?
Noble: no, I'm a Pharaon.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tom Selleck's Moustache Makes Every Movie Better

(click on the post name to view if you're seeing this on Facebook)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How... you suppose THIS guy feels?

from MSNBC

Quote of the Day...

Regarding the economy and deficit spending...

"Just because there are check in the checkbook doesn't mean there's money in the bank."

That should be a Republican campaign slogan in 2012.

Put Up or Shut Up, You Hypocrites

Hey, all you anti-death penalty people out there... please, PLEASE tell me that this guy doesn't deserve to die for the crime he committed.

What?  Silence????

I thought so.

REM No More

From E! Online News:

Michael Stipe & Co. made the announcement in a posting on their official site this morning, breaking the news by thanking their loyal fans for 31 years (!) of listening.

"To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and coconspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band," the band wrote
"We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening."

It's too bad, really.  I've recently started listening to my REM songs again (even songs I used to hate, such as "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?"), and listening to "I Am Superman" with my son on the way to school has become a tradition of late.

Silly T-Mobile... Misdirection is for Rabbits!

From Appleinsider:

A T-Mobile exec has reportedly denied claims that the wireless operator will land iPhone 5 during the 2011 calendar year, leaving the German carrier as the only major U.S. cell service provider not expected to participate in Apple's launch next month.
The comments were reportedly made by T-Mobile's chief marketing officer Cole Brodman in a corporate newsletter distributed internally on September 15th, a copy of which was photographed and shared with 
“We are not going to get the iPhone 5 this year,” Brodman allegedly told T-Mobile employees, without further expanding on the matter.
...and he's correct.  But here's the secret: NOBODY is getting an iPhone 5 this year.  What will be announced (and released) next month is the iPhone 4 S.

Way to spread the FUD and muddy the waters a little there, genius.

Open Letter to Facebook

From Facebook, via e-mail:

Hi James,
We're trying out a new feature to reduce the amount of email you receive from Facebook. Starting today, we are turning off most individual email notifications and instead, we'll send you a summary only if there are popular stories you may have missed.
You can turn individual emails back on and restore all your original settings at any time.
The Facebook Team

Dear Facebook,

QUIT MESSING AROUND WITH MY SETTING, ESPECIALLY MY PRIVACY AND NOTIFICATION SETTINGS!!!  It turns out that I LIKE getting e-mail when people send me messages or respond to my posts.  It lets me know that I need to go out to Facebook to interact (because, no, I don't spend all day wasting time on your site.)  You just keep disregarding the my preferences... I REALLY hate it when you change my feed to "Top Stories" instead of "Most Recent" without my knowledge.  I despise it when, after I've gotten my privacy setting JUST the way I want them, you come along and start turning things back on again because you changed your privacy policy or added a new feature.

And per your e-mail this morning, I don't want to have to go and turn things BACK ON.  I want you to respect the settings that I've already chosen.

Please leave your interface alone for awhile.  Having to learn a new interface three or four times a year is REALLY annoying.  I don't want you to put a chat bar on the left side of my screen.  The old chat wasn't broken.  I don't want lists on the right side of my screen. I hate having to search for my own photos.  Change your interface maybe once a year, if then.  I think you've got a pretty good interface going, but you keep monkeying with it, and most times I don't understand why.  For instance, six months ago, when I clicked on a friend's photo, it took me to a photo page that looked like the rest of the site.  Then about three months ago, when I clicked on the same photo, a black popup screen came up containing the photo.  And now it's a white pop-up screen. And the worst part is that each of those three pages acts COMPLETELY differently.  Ugh!

I've been teetering on the edge of quitting you anyway.  All these interface changes may just push me over the edge.  No website should require this much work on my part.  No website is worth the amount of energy I have to expend to keep trying to figure you out.  I suppose you're trying to "stay fresh" and to innovate.  Fine.  Innovate, but please keep it to once a year or so.  This constant monkeying is really pissing me off.


[Edit 1] - Now I have to be on the lookout for little blue triangles????!!!??  What is this - an episode of Dora the Explorer?  Oh, you DO know how to get at me, don't you?


[Edit 2] - And so now I have to click somewhere just to bring up a text box so I can post a status?  There's no box waiting there, wondering what I'm thinking?  WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT, FACEBOOK?!?!?!  

Monday, September 19, 2011

On the Buffett Rule

Pause a moment on the Buffett Rule. Almost all of Warren Buffett’s income comes from capital gains taxed at 15 percent. He only pays himself $100,000 a year, which would be taxed at the top rate. Most of his wealth is untaxed as unrealized capital gains. So his effective income-tax rate is lower than his secretary’s.

What Would an Average Customer Think?

From AdAge:

My reaction to the first line: "Sweet, they're rolling back the price hike." Then: "Wait, they're not rolling it back." Then: "Wait, what? Two companies? I'm so confused."

That was almost exactly my initial reaction to Netlix's announcement, too.


From AppleInsider:

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent a letter to subscribers on Monday, admitting he "messed up" and announcing that it would spin off its DVD and Blu-ray-based mailing business as a new service dubbed "Qwikster." 
The company's changes come in response to a subscriber backlash that was spurred by higher prices for rentals of physical DVDs. Hastings said the pricing for combined streaming, via Netflix, and mailed rentals, from Qwikster, will remain the same as it is currently.

Too little, too late.  And a stupid name, to boot. Way to go, Netflix.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Welcome to the Jungle

...played by two guys on cellos.  Awesome!

View here is you're seeing this on Facebook:

Thanks to Tony T. for sending this.

The Story of Old Homestead

I entered two of my photographs in the county fair this year (for the first time ever).  I thought it would be a good experience and would help me to show a little bit of my work.

I entered two photos (I had three, but the image I shot of Keith Warren didn't print to my satisfaction, so it didn't go) - a shot of the Alamo that I shot early one morning back in May (the same morning that I later used small flashes to light the front of the Alamo at sunrise) and a shot that I call "Old Homestead."  And as it turns out, Old Homestead won Reserve Champion.

The story behind the Old Homestead shot is a little interesting, so I thought I'd share it:
This year on New Year's Day, two friends of mine, Nick and Jen, got married near Abilene.  Early on the morning of January 2, I left Abilene headed back to Brenham.  It was 12 degrees outside and everything was frozen, including the windshield washer fluid in my truck.  The moon was especially awesome that night, so I stopped briefly to try to get a shot, with not much success.  I hadn't brought a tripod with me on the trip (I know, I know...) and so I tried rigging up something using lens caps, my keys and my wallet.

After about 30 minutes of freezing my arse off (and after being questioned by a local farmers as to exactly what the hell I thought I was doing), I decided to head on down the road.  

About 30 minutes after sunrise, somewhere between Cross Plains and Comanche, Texas I happened to look in my rear view mirror and saw this great little old house with a windmill sitting up at the top of a hill with a beautiful valley below.  So I whipped my truck around and went back for the shot.  I almost didn't. I had been gone for a couple of days and I was still several hours from home (and it was really, really cold!), so I really just wanted to get down the road so I could see my family.  I actually sat in my truck debating whether I should get out and shoot or just pass it up and move along.  My experience on my photo trips at work has taught me that I often regret it when I decide to pass up a shot in the interest of time, so I got out and started shooting.

I shot in color and I shot several panoramic shots of the hill and valley.  I loved it because everyting was so crisp and golden.  But when I got into the color correction and the editing at home, I found that this shot really lent itself well to a sepia look (probably because it was a natural sepia color anyway.) So that's how I processed it.

As I was preparing my entries for the fair, I had actually forgotten all about this sot.  I've gotten some really interesting shots this year, from Chasing Cane to Back at the Ranch to the San Jacinto Monument to   a B-17 bomber.  But I happened to stumble upon this shot, and it immediately jumped out at me as being perfect for the fair.  So I ditched one of the other shots I was planning and used this one instead.

And I'm glad I did.  It won me $3.00, and now I can say "James Pharaon, Award-winning photographer" with an (almost) straight face.

And if you'd like a copy of "Old Homestead," it's available for purchase at

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Remebering SHSU

I'm not sure how I missed this (or forgot about it), but last year I did an interview with the Building SHSU website for a feature called "Remembering SHSU" where I relived a little bit of my experience at Sam Houston State, especially as Sammy Bearkat.

Check it out here if you're so inclined.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


From Lone Star College:

Wow.  I've never seen anything that made me want to attend a school of "higher learning" more.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Camera Recommendation

I'm not a Nikon guy, but I just got a look at my buddy, Harris', photos from Big Bend and they look absolutely amazing. And he took them all with his little point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix S570. And all on full automatic, at that.

Great tones, amazing handling of high contrast situations- and better shots in many cases than I got with my Canon 60D under the same conditions (especially the sunrise and sunset shots). The low-light stuff is a little rough, but the other shots more than compensate for it.

So if you're in the market for a point-and-shoot I'd highly recommend the Nikon Coolpix S570 based on the shots I've seen come out of this little camera.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Bad the Drought

If someone were traveling through Texas for the first time, they would (understandably) think that Texas is just like it was shown in all the old John Ford/John Wayne films (that were actually filmed in Monument Valley) - a desert from end to end.

A few years ago, a friend of mine who had never been to Texas (and who now lives in Texas) asked me if there were trees in Texas.  "Of course," I told him.  There are mountains and huge, tall trees and green grass everywhere.  But driving out to Big Bend a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked at how many trees were dead along the way.  And not just any trees - cedar trees - one of the most pervasive, hardest trees to kill.  Dead, everywhere.  

As we drove, we saw dead deer everywhere.  We saw some live deer, too, but they were all half-starved and bony.

Even in the desert, which I had assumed would be more resistant to drought conditions, the normally vibrant and alive desert floor was brown and yellow with dead vegetation and cactus.

As I drove to Pflugerville over the weekend, I looked around at what should be grassland and saw nothing but dirt.  Cattle everywhere I looked are roaming through fields of dirt looking for and source of vegetation.

The drought is bad, my friends.  We've started watering the 100+ year-old oak trees in our yard because the leaves are starting to turn a sickly yellow.  I'm not looking forward to next month's water bill, but if we can save our trees it will be worth it.

Kristi and I took the opportunity on Monday to ride out bikes out at Lake Somerville.  We were able to walk out on a beach that hasn't been there since before the lake was created.  We walked a hundred yards out into what should've been water.  It was striking.

The drought is bad.

We've gotten some relief from the record heat, at least.  But what we need is water, and a lot of it (just hopefully not all at once).  It' been said many times before that God blessed Texas, and I believe it.  But now we need God save Texas, as well.

Bastrop Wildfire

I traveled out to Bastrop (well, as close as I could get, anyway) yesterday to shoot some photos of the Bastrop wildfire. I didn't know what I'd find, but I wasn't prepared for what I saw. Huge parts of the Lost Pines forest were consumed by the blaze. I ended up at Park Road 1C, which is a scenic road that runs between Buescher and Bastrop State Parks. It's also the part of the MS-150 bike tour that is both loved and feared: loved for its beauty and feared for its challenging hills. I didn't even recognize it when I arrived there, even though I've both driven and ridden the road dozens of times. It's now a charred wasteland, and realizing where I was was quite jarring. The good news is that after some good (hopefully) winter rains, the forest will grow back and will be green with new life next spring. I just hope that the tall pines weren't too damaged by the drought before they were swept with fire. Losing those tall trees would be a tragedy, indeed.

I was in West Texas and Possum Kingdom earlier in the year shooting shots of wildfire aftermath there. And while I saw quite a lit of damage there, I think I was moved more by what I saw yesterday, possibly because it's a more familiar place and possibly because while there was a lot of cactus and mesquites burned out in West Texas, there wasn't the kind of tree and vegetation damage as in Bastrop.

Here are some of the shots that I took yesterday: