Postcard From Minneapolis

The Music Wall, Minneapolis

Since I’ve recently disconnected my blog from Facebook, I’ve been trying to come up with a good way for people who really care what we’re up to to keep track of our adventures. Stealing the name but not exactly the concept from someone more famous than me, I’ve decided to start posting “postcards” as single photos along the way.

We’re in Minneapolis this week so Kathy can train her replacement. I’m working but also have some free time to explore.

Living The So-Called Dream

Sunrise over Swans Cove Pool, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island, Virginia

There was a recent post on The Online Photographer titled “How to be a Professional Photographer” where Mike Johnston commented about how difficult it was to make a living as a professional photographer.  There were a number of comments both in support of his post as well as lamenting the difficulty of the profession.  There were also a few humorous comments.

The joke that I’ve always loved about being a professional photographer goes something like this: An amateur photographer is someone who has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  A professional photographer is someone whose spouse has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  Somehow that’s never worked for me – I couldn’t get the spousal support I needed to pursue my passion.  I’m kidding, of course!

Kirk Tuck chimed into the conversation with a thoughtful comment and a post on his own blog.  Most of Kirk’s post was his usual well-reasoned commentary.  He is a professional photographer with a lot to be proud of.  He has seemingly mastered the business side of the business while staying current with technology and changes in the marketplace.  His is a voice to pay attention to when it comes to operating a photography studio as a business.  The statement that got a little under my skin, however – probably because it is a bit of a sore subject for me – was when he said that “retirement is only for people who didn’t like their careers.”

Of course the publishing world is full of people writing about how everyone should be pursuing their passion/finding their North Star/determining the color of their parachute, etc., and that if they aren’t living their dream they need to (after buying the author’s particular book, of course) set off on their own path of self-discovery and do their own wonderful passion-inducing thing.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  In my opinion, very few folks are fortunate enough to even figure out what they are passionate about, let alone have all the skills and (to a certain extent) good luck required to actually make a living from their work.  And that assumes they figure out what they are passionate about early enough in their life to actually do something about it!

The rest of us get jobs.  Even if it is banking or insurance or hospitality or something that isn’t terribly glamorous, hopefully our jobs provide enough of whatever kind of satisfaction we are looking for, pay enough to cover the rent and save with a little left over to spend on something fun.  If we’re really fortunate we are able to keep our jobs long enough to call it a career while saving and investing responsibly so that at some point we can walk away from work and do something – anything – else.  Not that our work sucks or that our careers have been a failure, it’s just that instead of “pursuing our passion” we found a good enough job that we were able to do long enough to finally be able to walk away.  That’s not failure, it’s a different kind of success!

Retirement is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for.  I’ve had a great career and am proud of what I’ve accomplished over 40 years in banking.  Even though I haven’t been “pursuing my passion” by someone’s arbitrary standards, I’m very happy with the direction things have taken and am looking forward to being able to explore the world with the person I love without the constraints and distractions of work.  And that is something I’m very passionate about!

Last day at work – for both me and Kathy – is May 25! 🙂

A Touch of Spring

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Here in the Piedmont of NC spring has been springing for several weeks, and we are almost into early summer.  The dogwood have been out for a week and the hardwoods are unfurling their new leaves.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Several weeks ago Kathy & I visited South Mountains State Park for a little hiking and sightseeing.  The park is west of Charlotte, about halfway to the “real” mountains, and a slightly higher elevation, so spring was a couple of weeks behind us here.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

One thing I love about spring is looking through the woods and seeing just the hint of green.  I think that “Spring Green” is a shade of color unique to new growth leaves, and to me it speaks as much about the seasons as the fall colors do about fall.  Coupled with redbud and the occasional other early bloomers, they make for a hopeful sight after the gray of winter.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

These photos won’t do much to show off my nature photography skills, but they do a reasonable job of showing the spring that we saw as we explored the park.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Lightroom Update

Hennepin Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis Minnesota

I don’t usually get too excited about software, but the most recent update to Lightroom has me pretty intrigued.  Most of the changes were cosmetic in nature, related to the layout of certain menu items.  But Adobe has introduced some new and improved Develop profiles that I really like.  I’ve never been able to come up with black & white conversions that I was consistently happy with, but some of the new profiles are pretty sweet.  I might even give Monte a run for his black & white money!  The color profiles are pretty nice too.  I’m still working and fiddling with them, but I think I may have found some new tools!

Means of Expression

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

It always interests me to see how people tend to refer to their equipment in more specific terms the newer or more expensive it is. I was reading a recent blog post that was commenting on the age-old (at least 10 years!) argument about whether phones were “real” cameras. Never mind the argument (which I think is silly), but the writer stated that “there are significant differences between my iPhone 8’s camera and my OM-D E-M5 Mark II, not to mention some newer full-frame cameras.” Well, no sheet, Sherlock!

The thought that went through my mind when I read that sentence was that, if he were shooting with a 3-generations old Android phone (like me) or a hopelessly obsolete mirrorless camera (like me) he might not have been so quick to mention his gear. Is that what is referred to as “humblebrag? As in, “I had a hard time finding a suitable parking place for my Porsche?” Anyway, my weird thought twists on this Saturday morning.

I hope everyone has enjoyable holiday week/weekend, whichever holiday (if any) they choose to be observing.

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Galley Tour on Celebrity Summit

Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

Another highlight of our recent cruise and part of our chef tour was a tour of the galley.  We have done galley tours before on numerous cruises, but ordinarily they are held in the morning, and the most exciting thing you see is someone making gravy!  For this tour we were taken through the galley during dinner service, and it was quite an experience!

Chef Stephen on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

It’s been a long time since I worked in any kind of restaurant environment, and I’m not sure I actually qualify to say that I worked in any kind of restaurant!  But the things we found most impressive were how clean and organized things were, and how friendly everyone was, especially while they were busy.  I took a lot of photos on this tour, and these are just a few, to give you a “taste” of the experience!

Escalator from the dining room to the galley
Executive Chef Kuldeep Singh on Celebrity Summit
Dessert station!
Dessert station!
Dessert station!
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

Chef Tour in Nassau

Chef Stephen

In my earlier post about the Conch Guy I mentioned that we had taken a tour in Nassau with one of the chefs from our ship.  In addition to the fish market, we visited a roadside vegetable stand, a couple of guys cutting up coconuts for juice and meat, as well as a distillery.  Here are a few more photos from that trip.

Chef Stephen at a roadside fish market

Our guide was Chef Stephen from Jamaica, and he explained a lot about the different things we saw and how they were used in island cooking.  While we or the chef weren’t permitted to bring anything back to the ship due to health regulations and ship policy, Stephen used many of these same ingredients and themes when preparing the meal that we had back on the ship that evening.

Roadside produce stand
Roadside fish market
Roadside produce stand
Roadside produce stand
Roadside produce stand

In a separate post I’ll share photos from our galley tour.  But unfortunately I was too busy enjoying the food to take any photos at dinner!

Sampling fresh coconut and coconut water
Sampling fresh coconut and coconut water
Sampling fresh coconut and coconut water
John Watling’s Distillery
John Watling’s Distillery
John Watling’s Distillery
John Watling’s Distillery

The Conch Guy

The Conch Guy

One of the ports on our recent cruise was Nassau, in the Bahamas.  We did a shore excursion there that involved touring some of the island’s fish and produce markets with one of the chefs from the ship.  One of the stops on our tour was at a roadside fish market where fishermen brought in their fresh catch.  Coolers after coolers with fish of all types – including snapper, grouper, mahi and lobster.

Roadside fish market stand during our Chef’s Market Tour shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas
Roadside fish market stand during our Chef’s Market Tour shore excursion in Nassau, Bahamas

Also at this stop was a tent where a man was shelling conch for conch salad.  If you aren’t familiar, a conch is a sea creature that grows in those beautiful pink shells that everyone likes to collect.  He used an ax to punch a hole in the shell in just the right spot, then dug the conch out of the shell with a knife.  The conch was then chopped up, marinated and mixed with veggies for a salad.  Delicious!

The Conch Guy
The Conch Guy
The Conch Guy
The Conch Guy

Watching the conch man work the shells was as interesting as eating the conch.  Kathy asked him if he ever cut himself.  He just smiled and said, “sometime, mon, but not in a long time!”

Conch salad!

Oh, There Were People in San Juan, Too!

Trio On A Bench

Cedric commented on my last post about how the lack of people contributed to the “Tranquilidad” of the scenes.  Of course not all of my photos were devoid of people, as the people are a large part of what makes San Juan special.  Here are a few photos “with” people as a counterpoint against those without.

Painting a Fine Line
Afternoon Walk
Three Dimensional
Wrong Way
Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Scenery near El Morro Fortress in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Lunch at Barrachina, allegedly the birthplace of the Pina Colada. In San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit

Photographs and stuff!