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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Obey Shepard & Vote Obama

Obey Shepard & Vote Obama
Originally uploaded by !Habit Forming
I hope these get put into production.

I'd like to see them out in the world.

Saturday, January 05, 2008


A trip to the store becomes a discovery of the forgotten...

From my the January 4th entry of my 2008 Daily Photo Diary

As I mentioned above, my camera and I are still in honeymoon thrall, so even a simple trip to the grocery store turns into a photographic adventure.

One of the things that, I think, makes me my father's son is my penchant for taking meandering routes, for getting lost on purpose. I've got a pretty good sense of direction from growing up riding shotgun with someone who enjoyed driving for more than just getting from point A to point B faster than walking.

So on our way to the store, I purposefully took the wrong exit. It was getting near sunset, and a 'storm' (or what passes for a storm here in San Diego) was brewing. I knew I wouldn't have much light for long.

This exit deposited us in the local hinterlands just off one of the Naval bases, along long forgotten railroad tracks, where the nearest industry is the cement plant (I know, sound desolate for being in the middle of San Diego!). We parked and walked around a square block, discovering other bits of society's flotsam.

Turning back in the direction of the grocery store, I was drawn to take yet another 'wrong' exit. Still in the relative desolation of the local industrial port area, I turned onto an unfamiliar street, thinking that I would simply photograph the abandoned warehouse I'd spied. As I got out of the car, though, I spotted some color, and discovered that we'd parked across the street from the San Diego Electric Railway Association's historic National City Depot. The colors I'd spotted were the old street cars that had been brought over from Vienna back in the '90s. Another gift from my father is a fondness for railroads and cars--he had quite the model railroad when I was a kid, and we'd visit railroad and model railroad museums.

As we'd gotten there just before closing time, we left the depot after a short visit. It was quickly growing dark, anyway, and we still had to go to to the grocery store. Along the way, we came upon a young lady panhandling at stop sign in the middle of the road. When we began our journey, we'd picked up a couple loaves of bread at a bakery. I offered her one, and she gratefully accepted it. As we continued on our way, I talked to Ren about how sad it made me feel to see this girl begging on the street, especially with foul weather on the way. I said to him that maybe we could find something else to bring her from the grocery store.

"Maybe she can come to our house and we can have dinner together," Ren suggested innocently. "Maybe she could stay with us."

"But we don't even know her, Ren. Why do you want her to stay with us?"

"Well, y'know, 'cuz maybe she doesn't have a home, and, well, I don't have a mom."


Not really knowing what to say, but not wanting to not say anything, I said, "Well, that's very sweet of you, Ren, but we really don't know her. I hate to say it, but we don't know if she's a bad person or not." I hated suggesting to him that I hold some underlying distrust of human beings--not to mention women being considered--even in the slightest--for the role of playing Ren's mom--let alone that he was speaking of a (possibly) homeless girl.

"Well, I hope she has a home, you know, shelter, to go to," he said.

My imagination, though, wouldn't let me off the hook that easily. Scenes of 'Pretty Woman' and 'Shrek' and the 'Frog Prince' played in my head; long deleted chain emails, telling stories of a young man giving a rose to an old crone, only to have her lead him to his beloved, were dredged up from my mental recycle bin...

So we did our shopping, and I picked up a bag of tangerines and a scarf for the young lady. We drove back to where we'd seen her earlier, but saw that she'd moved to a better lit, more trafficked intersection. It was at the end of the freeway exit, so we had to park about a block away, then walked over to where she stood.

"Hey, you changed spots," I opened.
"Yeah, well, people act like you're invisible over at that other spot," she replied. I could see the reluctance in her warm, but guarded, eyes.
"Well, we brought you some tangerines, and a scarf, cuz it's getting cold."
She brightened. "Oh, I love tangerines! And a scarf? That's so nice!"
I introduced us, and she told us her name was Brandy. (For those of you who've followed me, you know that the song immediately popped into my head.)
Having noticed that she'd had a book lying next to her pack when we saw her earlier, I asked her what she was reading. Digging into her pack, she produced a forgettable paperback novel, but went on about how much she loves to read. I told her I'd be sure to keep a couple books with me for next time I saw her. She thanked us, we wished her well, and we said good-bye.

We discovered a lot of forgotten stuff today.

I hope Brandy feels a little less invisible.

Friday, January 04, 2008


Happy New Year!

Boy, oh, boy!

What a holiday season it's been! As you know, we spent Christmas at my mom's, which was nice. My mom really digs decorating for the Holidays, and this being the first Christmas in her new house, it was kinda special. Of course, Ren made off with the big take-away, with lots of fun stuff coming at him from all sides, like all the Bionicles:

Like every year, though, my brother hooks each of us up with the dope goods. You know how there are people who are so hard to get gifts for? My brother is that guy. But not only that, he always knows what to get all of us. Besides The Dark Tower graphic novel (which frakkin' rocks, if you're into Stephen King's Dark Tower saga), he hooked me up with The Digital Photography Book and Understanding Exposure. You all know how this is perfect for me!

These books couldn't have come at a better time, as Ren and I would be going to Las Vegas in mere days to attend Ren's Auntie Ariel's wedding, which she asked me to photograph. Which brings me to a bit of news that may not be news to you, my dear handful of readers. I got a new camera! Yes, I know, I just got the other camera not even two months ago (which, by the way, is now up for sale *nudge nudge wink wink*), but when Ariel asked if I would take photos at her wedding, I started thinking about whether I could adequately cover such an important event with a point & shoot.

Sure the Lumix FZ8 is a really good camera, but it is still a point & shoot. Now, I'll always agree that it's not the camera, but the photographer who makes the image; but the proper tool will give you the proper result. Now, what's wrong with a point & shoot? Nothing, as long as you're shooting in good light. If the camera has shutter speed control and your subject is stationary, then you can get away with some low-light situations. But if you try to crank up the ISO ("film speed") in order to take pictures in low light, your photographs get more and more grainy, or noisy. This is because the image sensor in a point & shoot is much smaller than the sensor in a dSLR. Another point I took into consideration was speed. With foresight and anticipation, a p & s will capture many, if not most, of the shots you want. But nothing beats the responsiveness of a dSLR. Now, this sounds all well and good, but to be honest, I'd been itching to make the jump for a long time, and this just gave me the rationale to convince myself to spend my holiday gelt on a new Nikon D40 (like Lauren and Lydia)!

So NYE weekend was beautiful, crazy, and too much fun packed into way too little time. First of all, we stayed at the Venetian. Can I just say, "Holy shit!" It had been 15 years since my last trip to Vegas, and back then it was Caesar's Palace (Forum Shoppes) with all the Ooh-Aah factor. The Venetian (and I'm sure all the other competing resorts) is pure opulence.

Actually, it's a shame that we had such a nice room, 'cuz we hardly spent any time in there. I think most of the time was spent feasting--from the 'rehearsal' dinner at Sushi Roku in Caesar's Palace, where the sushi seemed to be never-ending; to Fried Chicken and Waffles for breakfast with the boys at the Grand Lux Cafe; to the sumptuous meal at Zefferino's back at the Venetian. The wedding, held at a man-made-lakeside 'chapel', was quick and not-so-dirty, which was fine considering how cold it was. Our post-reception celebrating continued into the night, dovetailing into New Year's Eve debauchery.

We drank, watched an insane pyrotechnics display, then went back inside to do some dancing and more drinking. If the axiom "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" implies behaviour that would be unacceptable elsewhere, then the corollary must be true: "Whatever doesn't happen in Vegas is open for discussion, as long as you are willing to accept any ridicule for your lack of game." Here is an excerpt from my Flickr 2008 Daily Photo Diary:

Some two hours into the new year, and I find myself with these young ladies at their reserved private table in the Venetian's V Bar nightclub.

And that's where the excitement ends. I've always read about the way people perceive someone with a [slr] camera. Show up with something bigger than a Canon Elph, and people think you're the official event photographer--what more when you've got your new wide-angle attachment screwed onto the lens of your new dslr! So these girls were having fun on the dance floor when I pointed my lens at them. They responded encouragingly, so I snapped a few more shots, and when Monica (pictured with me above) asked about the photos, I gave her a MOO mini card and told her to email me for them. Later, she saw me taking more pictures and she said, "Hey, you're taking all the pictures, but you're not in any of them--come take a picture with me!" Of course, I acquiesced, though I was reluctant to hand my camera to the drunken newly-wed. He held on well, though, and even managed to take a couple viewable shots.

This was more action than I've seen in an embarrassingly long time; and while there really wasn't any action to speak of, if this is how 2008 starts, then maybe there's hope for me yet!
Really, though, as much fun as Las Vegas was, I really only went for Ariel's wedding. Otherwise, I could never keep up with that kind of craziness. It was fun to cut loose, though, and a lot of fun documenting it all.

It was not so fun, however, having to catch a 7:00 am shuttle to the airport on New Year's Day.

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