Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cave Men

For my birthday earlier this year, Kristi and the kids gave me a great present - a Wild Cave Tour at Inner Space Caverns. Last summer we were there taking the regular walking tour when all of a sudden, this guy popped his head up out of a little hole a few feet from the trail. He was wearing a helmet with a light on it, and as he climbed out of the hole we could see that he was absolutely covered in mud and dirt. I was intrigued, so I asked our tour guide about him, and she told us the he was on the Wild Cave tour. I knew then that I had to do that.

So my birthday present this year was a Wild Cave Tour with any two friends I wanted to take with me. I knew right away who I wanted to take, but unfortunately neither Chuck Norris nor Ronald Reagan were available (the latter for obvious reasons), so I elected instead to take my brother, Adam, and my future brother-in-law, Johnny. You remember Adam and Johnny, right? So for their birthdays, we gave them each a ticket to the tour.

It took us awhile to coordinate our schedules and nail down a weekend to go, but we finally landed on July 30 as the date. Adam and Johnny were supposed to spend the night Friday night and we would leave for Austin early Saturday morning. We got a bit of a letdown on Friday, however, when Johnny called to say he wasn't feeling well and wouldn't be coming. I'll admit - I was bummed. It's nothing against Adam, but I really envisioned the three of us going together, and it just wouldn't be the same without Johnny. So when I got a text from Johnny that he was feeling better and was on his way, I breathed a big sigh of relief.

Johnny, Adam and I pulled out of Brenham at 8:30 and headed toward Austin. I enjoyed the ride there as we all talked and Adam shared information about the apartment he just got in Bryan for his upcoming semester at Blinn College. Johnny and I swapped horrible roommate stories. Although we had some very similar roommates, Johnny won because his story involved maggots and a puking dog. I just can't compete with that.

We pulled up to Inner Space Cavern right at 10:00, exactly on time. We joined the group that had already assembled for the tour and we all picked out a helmet, knee and elbow pads. Our guides, Billy and Brad ran through some basic instructions and some safety information. Then we headed down into the cave.

As a group, we decided that we wanted a more advanced route, so we started with an entrance called "Head First Hole," in which you literally had to squeeze through a tiny hole head first. It was a great way to start and set the expectations for the rest of the trip. It was exhilarating! Getting through that first hole reassured us that we could, in fact, do this. I think Adam was a little nervous about caving, but he warmed up quickly and was a good sport - he did all of the advanced "optional" stuff with me and Johnny that some of the guys on the tour opted out of.

The tour was amazing, and the quickest four hours I've had in a long, long time. I didn't take a camera down with me, but I wish I had (and I probably will if I do it again) because the sights down there are amazing. The tour was challenging. We spent most of the time crawling on our hands and knees and there were many times when we had to "Spider-man crawl" to get through some really tight tunnels. Anyone who is the slightest bit claustrophobic would have a tough time because there were some holes where you literally felt stuck and just had to keep wriggling until you maneuvered your way through.

On the tour, as we were crawling along, I started hearing ripping noises. Then I looked down and realized that I had ripped a huge hole in the crotch of my jeans. I felt sorry for the guy climbing and crawling behind me, which was usually Adam. But that's okay - early on the tour he stopped and apologized for not wearing a belt and that I might see his boxers.

We had a great day, and as we emerged from the cave the people on the walking tour and in the gift shop had a 50/50 reaction mix of "wow, that looks cool" and "wow, you guys are nuts!" Because seeing people climb up out of the hole we emerged from was how I found out about the tour, I was glad that a tour group got to see us emerge, too. It was fun to see their faces.

Johnny suggested a place called the Hangtown Grill for lunch, so we headed there after a quick outdoor shower and change of clothes. Then we headed home, tired but happy.

Thanks again to Kristi and the kids for giving me the tour for my birthday present and for giving me the opportunity to invite Adam and Johnny. And thanks to Adam and Johnny for going. I'm glad each of them went because it wouldn't have been as good without either of them. I'm looking forward to doing a lot more stuff with both of these guys. Up next with Adam: a weekend road trip, and with Johnny: Big Bend!



Friday, July 29, 2011

Ladies Need Not Apply

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Here's what's wrong with all the "I'm cleaning out my Facebook friends list, so if I don't hear from you, then you'll be unfriended" type posts I've been seeing a lot on Facebook:

A lot of people don't check Facebook every minute of every day. In fact, some people go days or weeks (and sometimes months) between Facbook sessions. Those people won't see your ultimatum in time and will just get the "unfriended" boot. And then, one day, they will realize that they haven't been seeing your posts lately and look you up, only to find that they've been unfriended. There are not many ways to hurt someone quicker than finding out that you're no longer someone's friend. It feels like you've been cut out of their life, culled.

I've been unfriended a couple of times by a couple of people I thought were my friends. I'll be honest - it hurt. A lot. And it turns out that one of them unfriended everyone from work. It's not that they didn't want to be Facebook friends with me, it's just that they cut everyone in a particular category out with the intention of adding them back in later one at a time. It was a shotgun approach to weed out a couple of bad "friends." But imagine my shock when a friend - both on Facebook and off - said in a passive aggressive way "you don't have value to me anymore, at least not enough to be a friend on Facebook." And that's the only conclusion I could reach because I wasn't given any notice of what this person's true intentions were. It was just one day - gone.

And here's the thing: Facebook is the perfect place to have casual friends. In fact, it's what it was built for. It's a great place to passively keep up with an acquaintance or someone you met at a conference or a long-ago friend from high school or someone at work who works on the other side of the building who you know from running into them in the break room. Facebook doesn't require an active connection.

So feel free to clean out your friends list. But PLEASE just go through and weed out the random contacts and people you really only intend to never hear from or speak to again. If someone is - or has ever been - a real-life friend, then leave them on. It's not hurting anything or anyone (unless it's a college friend who's gone freaking nuts and is just really annoying). But please try to think of the real-world equivalent of your Facebook "un-friend."

In the real world, if you told someone that you didn't want to be their friend, it's a pretty hurtful thing. You would never do it casually. So don't do it on Facebook, either.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Photo of the day

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chasing Cane

This past weekend I had a great experience that I'd like to share. First - the back story...

Last year, a friend from college, Roy S. Ford, self-produced a short film called "Chasing Cane: At What Cost." It was the first of a four-part series of short films, and it actually won some awards on the film festival circuit.

A few months ago, Roy announced on Facebook that he was preparing to shoot parts three and four of the story. Directing is something I want to do eventually on a more serious level. I've directed commercials and television segments and even some short films with the kids for fun, but I want eventually to work on some HD projects, some short films and some longer films. So I e-mailed Roy and asked him if it would be okay if I came out to the shoot to watch him work. He graciously agreed, and even said I could bring my camera along to shoot some behind the scenes shots. He said he would be shooting on a DSLR camera, so I was particularly interested in seeing his setup and what he did. The shoot was broken up into four days - I missed the first two day because I was at a conference in Chicago, but I would be able to make the last two days of shooting.

On Saturday morning, I drove out to the Woodlands for day three of the shoot. He would be shooting scenes from both parts three and four of the films. Everything was very professional. He had plenty of lights - even though he only used a couple. He had a boom mic and an operator, a makeup artist and a detailed shot sheet. He was using real actors - not just friends or relatives or people he pulled off the street. And the best part of the day was that I got to meet some really, really nice people. Everyone was great!

So throughout the day, I clicked away during rehearsals and in between shots (I didn't want to bust a shot with the clicking sounds of my shutter). And I even got to jump in and work with the crew on lighting and as a grip. I did some camera work on a couple of scenes that Roy was in because he was shooting with a Canon 60D, which is the very camera model that I use at work and shot all the footage for an internal documentary with.

On Sunday, the shoot continued with some exterior scenes and a couple of really emotional scenes inside a house. The actors did such a great job, and it was very moving to watch them work and get into their characters. And when it was all done at about 10:30 Sunday night, it was a wrap on Chasing Cane. I'll post again here when there are more details on when more of the series will be released.

I had a really fun, really interesting and (most importantly) really educational couple of days. I genuinely enjoyed watching Roy work and direct with a very gentle style, but yet with a very forceful vision.

These are some of my favorite shots that I took on the shoot. You can see the entire set on Flickr here.






















Sunday, July 17, 2011

Photo of the Day

Focus, please.

Friday, July 15, 2011

OBAMA and ACORN, Sitting in a Tree

From Big Government:

ACORN employees have been nailed time and time again for fraudulently registering voters (including Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys football team) — allegedly for the purpose of sweeping Democrats into office. They were caught on tape advising undercover reporters on how to evade tax, immigration, and child prostitution laws.

So why is ACORN still receiving taxpayer dollars in defiance of the funding ban? That’s what we’d like to know.

Judicial Watch investigators recently discovered that the Obama Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has issued a $79,819 grant to the Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) — an offshoot of ACORN — in apparent violation of the ACORN funding ban passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in 2009.

Moreover, this grant was provided to the organization less than a year after ACORN/ACHOA was criticized by HUD’s inspector general in two separate investigations for misappropriating funds from federal grants.

You remember the funding ban, right? It was a signature moment for Barack Obama (dubbed the “ACORN President”) when he signed a law on October 1, 2009, known as the Defund ACORN Act, which effectively prohibited the federal government from funding “ACORN and any ACORN-related affiliate.”

Shameful and illegal. You know, I find myself saying that more and more about President Barry...

Oh, The Irony...

From Austin

Gerald Birkelbach of City Meat Market in Giddings on how to tell if you're eating good barbecue: "You want to know the real flavor? Taste it first without the sauce on it, and if you gotta put sauce on it, then it isn't worth shit anyway."

It's ironic because I've never eaten at the meat market precisely because their logo looks like a steaming pile...

He's right, though, even if he does have a crappy logo.

So Awesome It Hurts

The final space shuttle launch as seen from cameras on the solid rocket boosters - all the way until splashdown:

I never thought there would be a time in my life when there would be no more space missions in the foreseeable future. Even when the Challenger and the Columbia exploded, it always seemed like a given that it would only be a matter of time until there was another shuttle launch - once the bugs were worked out.

I think the space program will happen again, but I suspect it won't be for a decade or so. Thanks, Obama, you short-sighted piece of trash. Thanks for killing the space program. The space program is one of those things that gives our country hope. And, as in so many other ways, you sucked the hope right out of the country.

So it seems to me that once the bugs are worked out that the United States will be in space again. Once the bugs are worked out of the White House, that is...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Video Geek Porn

To me, this is porn.

BTS Shooter's Commentary // Joann + Donald NDE from VisualMasterpiece on Vimeo.

Oh, yeah.....

Aggie Joke Safe Haven

When I was little, I remember hearing Aggie jokes galore. My dad and granddad and aunt were all draftsmen (no PC draftswomen back then), and it seems like they always had an Aggie joke to share. But since then, political correctness has taken hold and people don't tell Aggie jokes much anymore for fear of OFFending somebody. But not here in Destructoville. Destucto decrees this to be a "making fun of Aggies if you want to" zone. So here's a great Aggie joke I got this morning from my grandma:

A Texas Aggie won a bass boat in a raffle drawing. He brought it home; his wife looks at him and says, "What are you gonna do with that. There ain't no water deep enough to float a boat within 100 miles of here."

He says, "I won it and I'm a gonna keep it."

His brother, also an Aggie, came over to visit several days later. He sees the wife and asks, where my brother?

She says, "He's out there in his bass boat", pointing to the field behind the house.

The brother heads out behind the house, sees him sitting in a bass boat with a fishing rod in his hand down in the middle of a big field.

He yells out to him, "What the hell are you doing?"

His brother replies, "I'm fishin, What the hell does it look like I'm a doing?"

His brother yells, "It's people like you that give us Aggies a bad name, makin' everybody think we're stupid. If I could swim, I'd come out there and whip your ass!"

You got your joke. Now get the hell off my lawn!!!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

WTF of the day

Seen at the local Wal-Mart.

Is that a ... Reindeer?????

... And back to the bad

I wish bad design wasn't so easy to find. This is just one sign at our local dump. Every sign there has stretched type like this.

The good stands out

I post examples of bad design all the time. Here's an example of some really nice looking design by a company called Fastlane.

Friday, July 8, 2011

What is this again?

Dear Sam Houston State,

You never ever, EVER put the word "brochure" on the front of your brochure. #designfail

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back at the Ranch

Yesterday Kristi, the kids and I headed out to Washington-on-the Brazos State Park to cap off our Independence Day celebration. Normally, they would have one of the best fireworks displays around, but due to the burn ban the fireworks were cancelled and there was a laser light show, instead. Before the light show, local band Back at the Ranch played music for the crowd as they arrived.

I'm honored to know Clover and Rachel Carroll, two members of the band, so I picked up the camera and tried to get some shots of them on stage. The evening sun was hot, but it was setting really nicely to the right of the stage, which allowed me both some really good light and the opportunity to practice playing with lens flares. I've recently switched to full manual shooting and have only recently found the joys of shooting beautifully sun-washed photos that, frustratingly, were almost impossible on the semi-automatic modes I was accustomed to using.

I shot over 600 frames in all, but these are a few of my favorites. A couple of them are going in my portfolio. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.














The Way I Shot It

I love it when I see people using photos I shot in a way that I had in mind when I shot them. This image is part of this shoot of Keith Warren for his new show, "Ranch Properties TV."