Tag Archives: General Nonsense

Two Thoughts On A Similar Subject

The North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte

Sometimes I just read a line that resonates with me. I came across these two over the last day:

From The Online Photographer: It’s one of the cool things about getting older…sooner or later you live in the future.

Directional sign on the Royal Promenade aboard Allure of the Seas

From Douglas Adams (Hitchiker’s Guide) via Terence Eden via Om Malik:

– Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.

– Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.

– Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.

Johnny Rockets diner on the Boardwalk aboard Allure of the Seas

Its interesting when you think about it. My grandmother, born in 1908, always talked about how her mother would be amazed with the microwave oven, invented, according to the Wikimonster, in 1955. Today we can’t imagine a home without one. Now, I imagine describing to my dad some of the technology we currently use. He was a “shade tree” automotive mechanic, aspiring electronic tinkerer and auto racing fan, among other things, so today’s electronic everything would be his microwave. But it seems like we have a lot more of those things today than we did 50-ish years ago. Maybe it just seems like more magic.

What will ours be?

‘Watch Your Step” signs in Cental Park aboard Allure of the Seas
Sign in front of the Westin Hotel in Charlotte

Coordinates vs. Location

Morning on the beach. Carolina Beach, North Carolina

“Knowing your latitude and longitude is not the same as knowing where you are.” From The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

I loved this statement as a stand-alone quote, but it is also interesting in the context in which it appears.

I just finished reading this fascinating book by Jennifer Egan. It is the second of hers I’ve read, the first being “A Visit From The Goon Squad.” As “alternative world/dystopian future/reality-fantasy” (my definition, strange as it is) it is outside my usual crime fiction subject matter but something I’ve been exploring more lately. It’s a lot better to me than non-fiction gloom and doom stories about failed and/or corrupt politicians, end of the world climate change or crappy economic news!

The premise of the book is a society where a huge social media corporation run by a super tech demi-god whose name everyone knows (sound familiar?) has developed a technology, “Own Your Unconscious”—that allows you access to every memory you’ve ever had, and to share every memory in exchange for access to the memories of others. Think about that. Of course not everyone chooses to participate, and whole companies are formed, both to promote and profit from and also avoid this (over)sharing of information.

Egan’s writing style can be a little hard for me to follow, as she changes characters, points of view and subject matter seemingly at random. I found it to be a good exercise of my reading and comprehension skills, as its important to pay attention to the story lines as they bob and weave.

Fun stuff, for anyone interested in this kind of writing!

A Good Walk Spoiled?

A quote sometimes attributed to Mark Twain but likely incorrectly, according to quoteinvestigator.com. Also the title of a book published in 1995.

View of the first tee of this year’s President’s Cup (not my photo)
A tee, but not the first tee. 2009 Masters Champion Angel Cabrera at the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship

I had an opportunity this past week to attend a day of The President’s Cup, a golf tournament here in Charlotte at the Quail Hollow Club. My brother, his son and a long-time family friend came to town from Ohio for the tournament and invited me to come along. I welcomed the opportunity to hang out with my brother for a few hours.

View of the course at the 2009 Quail Hollow Championship
Example of this year’s course cluttered by “hospitality” structures. (Not my photo)

I don’t consider golf to be much of an in-person spectator sport, as it is difficult to really stay involved in the action on an 18-hole golf course. You either have to camp out at one hole and watch the players come by (which is a lot like watching a Formula One race where you can only see one corner of a 2-mile track) or you have to pick a group or groups to follow around the course. The advantage of the first option is that if you get to a good spot early you can stay there all day. The downside of moving around is that you have to either watch the less popular players or be prepared to look from the back of a crowd of people who were there before you. Neither choice is ideal.

Example of this year’s course cluttered by “hospitality” structures, prior to the start of the tournament so no people. (Not my photo)
2009 Quail Hollow Championship

I played some golf years ago but gave it up because (a) I stunk at it and (b) it can get pretty expensive. Buying the equipment just gets you the gear, but then you have to pay every time you play (unless you live near where I grew up in Sharon, PA where they have what at one time was the only free golf course in the country.) A decent set of clubs can cost more than a good camera, and I know that it is possible to spend as much on one club as a good tripod and ball head. The choice is pretty clear to me, and I’ve managed to make more decent photographs than I ever made good golf shots!

Quail Hollow is a beautiful golf course, and I was fortunate enough to have volunteered there during the early days of the Wachovia (now Wells Fargo) Championship, which was before the sport became as commercialized as it is today. In the early days, the tournament course was largely as it normally exists, with a few grandstands and hospitality areas. But for the most part the course was still the course, with lots of green grass, long views and a chance to sit in the shade and watch the players go by with little difficulty. It was a completely different story this time.  There were huge grandstands, big hospitality structures where people could watch the tournament on television in air conditioned comfort, all with a great tax deduction for the corporate hosts. To even catch a glimpse of the first tee you had to be in the grandstand there or watching with binoculars from well down the fairway. And that assumes you had gotten there early enough to be able to see the fairway!

Example of this year’s course cluttered by “hospitality” structures, before the start of the tournament. (not my photo)
2009 Quail Hollow Championship

My cost of admission, which was not cheap, just got me in the gate. If I wanted to sit in any of the “premium” locations I needed to cough up even more money. There were a few “free” grandstands that were full long before we got there. And when I wanted something to eat, sheesh! I know it is usual at any sporting event, but $3 bottled water, $10 wraps and $11 beers can add up quick. And that doesn’t include the souvenirs. Shirts were selling for $80 and up, hats for $35 and up, and on and on.

2009 Quail Hollow Championship
One of the “hospitality suites” at this year’s President’s Cup (not my photo)

There aren’t many things about golf that appeal to me any more, but what I always enjoyed most was the quiet solitude of a beautiful course early in the morning. A little dew on the grass, the sound of sprinklers and mowers in the distance and the occasional bird chirp. Instead, there was the chanting of team support of USA…USA…USA, strange outbursts of things like “mashed potatoes” and other sounds. It was kind of like plunking an amusement park down in the middle of a wildlife refuge! Add to that the (to me) exorbitant cost of attendance, the huge crowds and the 95 degree day with tropical humidity, and it was a good thing I went with people I enjoyed being with!

All We Really Need?

No, this is not our patio!

Yesterday our 6 1/2 year old grandson Edison visited, along with his dad Scott, our oldest son. Prior to their arrival I had been outside cleaning the patio – the usual chores, scrubbing cushions, washing off the grill and hosing off a summer’s worth of rain and environmental residue.

Edison came outside as I was hosing off the floor, and asked me if he could help. Why of course, why not? I let him wield the floor brush, then the hose, then the broom ( I really need to buy a squeegee!) and we both had a blast – him giggling all the way and me just generally enjoying the company. Of course I had to go back and “touch up” a few spots. At some point Scott commented that the job was going to take twice as long with Edison’s “help.” Kathy told him she didn’t think either of us minded, and she was right!

As I thought about it later, and Kathy & I talked about it, I came to realize that a little respect, a sense of belonging, a feeling of contributing, and sometimes a whole lot of fun, is all we really look for. Whether we’re six or sixty-something, our needs are really pretty simple.

We all had periods of laughter and fun throughout the day, interrupted occasionally with Edison’s “grumbellies” and 6-year old orneriness, but overall it was just a few people who love each other enjoying a gorgeous almost-fall day and life in general. After they left, Kathy & I took a nap. Sometimes we need that too!

Words Worth Sharing

Telephone booths in Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

In earlier posts I have referenced comments by a local beverage store manager in his weekly “Boozeletters,” where it talks about special events and new arrivals at the store, along with interesting recipes. He ends each newsletter with an “After Rant.” where he opines on random things he has thought about during the week. Sometimes they are simply rants, other times they are very philosophical. I thought this week’s was especially good, and excellent advice for us all. It’s quite long (sorry) but rather that end up quoting most of it, I am pasting it below. I hope you enjoy it.


So my whole life, for as long as I can remember, I have been made to feel like an alien or a weirdo. You can pick whatever name you want to put on it. At a certain point you stop arguing and just kind of roll with it. Say you are odd before they do! “Oh yeah I like to reheat my pizza in the oven, because you know me, I am an oddball.” I like to wear socks that match I like to wear mismatched socks. I like things to be neat, I like things to be messy. I skip the ends of songs, I eat dessert first, I walk around with the pebble in my shoe for hours before taking it out.

YOU”RE NOT WEIRD! Maybe no one ever told you this before, certainly no one has told me this, but it came to me like a lightning bolt right when I was in the middle of apologizing for the way I like to eat a meal. I eat the worst thing on the plate first and finish with the best. I realized that there was in fact nothing wrong with this or me at all. It greatly increases my enjoyment of the meal and effects zero other people except for one ex that took notes “doesn’t like my green beans”. It is just a totally harmless ritual that gives me the most pleasure and I have no reason to apologize or explain it to anyone. You have your own set of idiosyncrasies, and they came not from some broken part of your brain but from trial and error. This concept of normal, this concept of the right way, these are outdated nonsense ideas that are only impeding your joy. When I was a young man I was making a sandwich and adding more and more things because it was disgusting my father. And even though I didn’t really like the creation I ate it all because it was more important to bother him. But what I took from that and it has been a great life lesson is that even at five I knew that I was going to find the thing, whatever it was. I knew that there must be some untried combination that was yummy and boring adults had not tried it because they were so boring. I have spent decades explaining and defending myself because I assumed that they there right. I was only enjoying these ghastly creations because I am a weirdo, an outcast, a nerd, a geek, or a freak. When in fact, the addition of crispy potato chips inside my sandwich elevates the meal because of the additional crunch, that is now in EVERY bite.

There is a huge part of the population that is walking around and very aggressively trying to maintain the “norms”. Raising their kids that way, interrupting peers, and even strangers to guide folks back to the straight and boring. They hold on to the “rules” like they were a life preserver. When they see you walking your own path they get jealous and defensive. They long ago gave up on living the kind of life they actually wanted and are now committed to ruining your good time because YOU are doing it wrong? Kick rocks! Playing it safe got you to a place to where you want to bother folks that are having a good time doing it their own way? This is your victory? This is your mountain top? When I see the person skipping down the path singing songs in their head, that is the person that inspires me. Not the person who has a cinder block land on their toe and says “unfortunate” as they limp off into the night.

The spiritual guide for The Boozeletter, is one Hunter S Thompson and he championed the doomed. He said let your freak flag fly! But as much as I love him, he was wrong in a way. We are not in fact freaks. That is the name given to us for knowing what we actually like. Figuring out what you actually like is one of life’s most important challenges and you can only arrive there by actually trying things out. You can only get there by trying lots of things and figuring out where you want to be. They said you should be aloof and cynical but you heart tells you to get involved and to celebrate joyously. They said Billy Joel is out, but you love Keeping the Faith. “you know the good ole days weren’t always good and tomorrow isn’t as bad as it seems”. You love reality tv and pizza rolls and have no desire to see the Opera. My friend Adam puts peanut butter on his burger, it’s a family tradition! His addition of peanut butter has diminished zero of my burgers. It has no impact on them at all. I tried it once, didn’t really love it and moved right along. Didn’t need to label him and his whole family freaks to make me feel better about my condiment choices. I love peat, i love smoke, I love funky rums, it doesn’t make me weird and you are not weird for not liking them. What would be wrong, is if you just kept buying Laphroaig and Adrbeg and Hampden Rum and Mezcal after Mezcal just hating it all but drinking it because they said they were cool and advanced or whatever.

Why is there an unending line of people telling us we are doing it wrong? Like there is some kind of fool proof guide book to live a happy life. You finally got to Paris and found out the city was dirty. The Mona Lisa is actually a quite small painting, and now that you finally tried it, you like Makers better than Van Winkle. Oh we cannot say these things aloud! We must protect our thoughts that fall outside of the agreed upon or else we shall be shamed once again! Well I am done with all of that! I will drink what I want, eat what i want, watch what I want, and do them all how I like it best. I will quit a movie in the middle because it is not going to get better, I will dump my unsatisfying drink down the drain, I will stop eating when I am full, and the revolution can start with me. No one has to follow me, we can’t defeat the volume of the “normies” but we can find our spaces to shine and be free, and your brain needs to be one of those spaces. Although, putting crispy chips in your sandwich because that is magic is something worth trying. You can do it all the way you like it and stop apologizing for it instantly.

All of those people that have been calling you out for all of this your entire life were dead wrong. Jealous, insecure, closed off jerk faces that saw your joy and freedom and wanted to ruin it for no good reason. You were happily putting sesame chicken on top of plain spaghetti noodles and they said “you can’t do that!” What do you mean I can’t? I did and I like it. “Because it is wrong!” “It is wrong for me to enjoy something?” “Yes it is wrong and you are weird.” So you believe them because they are older and seem wiser and oh boy are there a lot of them. Family members, romantic partners, teachers, coworkers, RANDOM strangers! They are everywhere they are one hundred percent certain you are doing it wrong and that you are abby normal!

Perhaps our greatest gift is that we are these unique people struggling through all of life’s same situations. That the individual and the universal coincide harmoniously. That you like a mocha but she likes plain coffee but when it falls off of the roof of the car spilling before even one sip has been taken, well you have done that as well. You know that pain and frustation. Do you go back for more? Do you go home and quit? Do you suffer through your now certainly ruined day? So even though you like to get warm coffee and let it sit until it is room temperature, and she takes her ice coffee and puts it in the freezer to make it even colder, it still stinks when it spills! If you dress like a fashion runway model or you are just trying to pass through without being noticed, neither of you wants red wine to spill on your clothes. We see people doing a thing that we don’t do or maybe that we don’t enjoy doing it and part of us just wants to label them as crazy, odd, misguided or flat out wrong. But why? I mean someone out there likes soggy fries and that is just fine! People love Basil Hayden and I have never owned a bottle of it and I never will but dammit, enjoy it if you do! Do I think you should just keep buying it over and over and over until death? No I do not. I think there is a whole world out there to be explored and if what is preventing you from exploring it is fear then that is not being in your happy place.

I am talking about the results of exploration. You tried the crispy fries because that’s what everyone said was the best. But you just don’t like them. You tried all of those cask strength bourbons but you just don’t like them. You want soft and mellow. Great, enjoy it! The real test in life is to just be the best verison of you that you can be. That’s all. You may not get to change the world, but you can still drop your friend off at the airport. You might not learn another language but when someone from another country is trying to figure it out you can patiently help them. They said “Citizen Kane” is better than “The Big Lebowksi” but you dozed off to the one and have seen the other one hundred times. You don’t owe them anything. Their rules are arbitrary and based on who knows what! Every single hundred point wine is not meant to be had today. They are meant age, so you can grab a Page Mill Cabernet and wipe the floor with Silver Oak or any other Wine Spectator anointed wine. You are an adult and you have hopefully figured out who you are and what you enjoy. So go and do those things and do them proudly.

I have a friend in the business that does Midori shots. Midori is way too sweet for me, but it gives him great joy, so he is not wrong, and neither am I. Because there is no absolute. Scotch tasted rotten to me when I was 21 and now it tastes like magic. I wasn’t wrong then and I am not wrong now. So the next time you are about to bring out the speech about “well I know that people say I am weird because I like to put ranch dressing on my steak, but it just tastes good to me.” Skip it, pour the ranch on and enjoy YOUR steak. I tell customers all of the time “I am not taking confessions today” and the reason I say that is because the only part I care about is did you enjoy it? If you enjoyed it, you won! And you can say that you don’t like Blue Label, that you thought Silver Oak was too oaky, that Clase Azul is too sweet, that you don’t enjoy Marvel movies etc because the reverse is true as well. You don’t HAVE to like something because they told you it was great.

Boil it down to this folks. We are all wrong about so many things on a daily basis. They thought the sun revolved around the earth. What we are NOT wrong about, is preferring Chicago style pizza over New York. We are not wrong about unpacking our suitcase the moment we get into the hotel. We are not wrong about cake being better than pie. We are only wrong when we take the pie out of someone else’s hands and shout “let them eat cake!” You worry about you, and let them worry about them, and if someone prefers pie over cake that’s great! You do not belong on the island of misfit toys because you watch the entire credits at the end of the movie. I am sorry if no one has ever told you this.



Sign outside a bar in Hamilton, Bermuda

Silly Lens Review Comments

The North Davidson (NoDa) area of Charlotte

We photographers all spend a certain amount of time looking over the lenses we don’t own, sort of in an “ask your doctor if this lens is right for you” way. 😉  Yesterday’s surfing took me down the rabbit hole of the recently introduced Tamron 18-300mm zoom lens. I’ve been thinking of renting a copy of this lens to evaluate its suitability as a do-everything lens for travel and wanted to check out some reviews. I was amused by a couple of the comments that seemed especially contradictory:

“Not as sharp as my Fuji lenses, but perfect for travel photos.” So…travel photos don’t need to be sharp?

“If you’re an amateur/occasional photographer maybe it won’t make much difference but if you shoot on a frequent basis, I highly recommend looking at other options.” I don’t take a lot of photos so I won’t know if the lens is good or not?

“A great Kit lens, but image quality and focus are lacking. The edges and corners are soft at most focal lengths, and it focuses poorly at the longer focal lengths, 200mm to 300mm. I was never able to get an image in focus of birds on a rock. The focus seems to be behind the subject. I even shot at 1/1000 of a second to make sure there was no camera movement. It’s a great kit and travel lens if image quality and critical focus at the higher mm lengths aren’t important to you.” Hmmmm. No.

Why We “Process” Our Photos

After (L) and Before (R)

Often, a non-photographer will ask me if I “Photoshop” my photos. My answer is usually something like “I don’t use Photoshop, but I do process my photos.” The follow up is usually some version of “why.”

As we photographers know, cameras today give us lots of latitude for exposure adjustments, which is what I use the most, along with straightening horizons (a lot!), removing dust spots (almost as much!), cropping, contrast & saturation adjustment, and more. And while it is possible to get way beyond reality, I tend to try – as we all do – to improve upon reality just a bit.

After (L) and Before (R)

Ansel Adams is credited with the words “Dodging and burning are steps to take care of mistakes God made in establishing tonal relationships.” A bit modest, perhaps, but that pretty much summarizes – with a bit of humor – what we do and why.

After (L) and Before (R)

Here are 4 photos I made at the summit of Haleakala that show what I mean. The ideal time to get even lighting in the crater is when the sun is directly overhead. But that unfortunately is one of the hardest conditions to photograph anything else! So I did my best to counteract the highlights and shadows in order to bring everything back to what my eye was able to perceive.

After (L) and Before (R)

Something In Red

Siena, Italy

These aren’t all “decor” photos, but they are RED!

Tom’s Mustang at the Davis General Store in Croft, North Carolina
Karman GhiaCars & Coffee in Charlotte, NC August 3, 2013
Red Corvette
National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky
St. Petersburg, Florida
John Hippley gardens and public park in Columbiana, Ohio
Videographer aboard Sea Princess departing from San Francisco, California
Ship’s photographer in Victoria British Columbia
Skagway, Alaska
Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia
Motif #1 at Rockport Harbor, Rockport, Massachusetts
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Loch Katrine, Scotland
Tabasco Factory in Avery Island, Louisiana
“Big Red Lighthouse” at Holland State Park in Holland, Michigan
Fall Colors near Linville Falls on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Hollywood Beach, Florida
Golden Rock Plantation Inn in Nevis, West Indies

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Magic Wings Butterfly House, Durham, North Carolina

Going with the green theme on a Friday!

Golden Rock Plantation Inn in Nevis, West Indies
Little Glade Mill Pond Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway MP 230
Romney Manor, home of Caribelle Batik on the island of St Kitts
Key West, Florida
Romney Manor on St Kitts, home of Caribelle Batik
Jungle Gardens in Avery Island, Louisiana
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Limberlost Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Morris Childers’ 1938 Chevy
John Deere Tractor & Engine Museum, Waterloo, Iowa
Green Giant Statue, Blue Earth, Minnesota