Monday, December 18, 2017

Feels Like Spring!

It's getting warmer! This week, the temperatures will stay above freezing every day. It couldn't come soon enough as my restlessness has reached critical mass. So, I am looking for excuses to stay outside to replenish my depleted reserves of the sunshine vitamin and I grabbed my camera and headed out the front door.

They are changing the shape of the earth in front of my house. There is a mountain of dirt the size of my house in my side yard, and there is no access at all to my driveway as the street is gone in several directions! There is no firm word on when this work is expected to be done, so from the front of the house, it's like we live on a moon colony. My best hope is to explore the back yard.

Ahh, the back yard. Serene nature.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lady Victory!

I have lived in Indianapolis or Central Indiana my whole life. I have been to Monument Circle thousands of times. Whenever I am downtown with a camera, I tend to pay closer attention to details, especially the architectural details. In case you don't know, and frankly, if you live in Central Indiana you probably don't know, our Soldiers and Sailors Monument is quite amazing. It is the first ever monument dedicated to the common soldier, in particular the soldiers that fought the civil war and a few other skirmishes of the day.

Cut from Indiana limestone, there are amazing chiseled sculptures that I have shot several times. There has remained one feature that I could never photograph, the bronze sculpture that is the crown jewel of the monument, Lady Victory. She is at the very top of the 280ft. structure and there is no satisfactory perch to see her properly. I have looked online and there are no photographs that show any real detail. The story goes that she is a sentinel with a sword facing the south to remind them who won the war. I though that sounded pretty cool, so it made me a little crazy that I couldn't see her!

Without my knowing it, there was a massive restoration project underway on the statue this summer, I only found out about it when they said they were ready to put it back up there! Fortunately, it was a holiday weekend and the statue would be on display at street level over the holiday. So yes, I went downtown with my camera!

She was all tied into the steel cage that would lift her to her perch, so I had to deal with that, but there was quite a crowd gathered for a Sunday afternoon, affirmation that I am not a total kook for needing to see this sculpture up close.

It seems crazy to make something of such detail and beauty and stick it way up where no one can see it especially in 1893 when she was made! It is said that no one has ever seen her close like this since she was originally assembled at the top of the monument

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sarah Palin

Late last year, I had bought my wife a copy of "Going Rogue" by Sarah Palin. She had wanted to read it and I was also semi-interested in seeing what she had to say as well. I remember when the book signing tour came through I gave serious thought to standing in line to meet her. When I made it to Borders and I saw the line, I said 'forget it'. It was four or five people wide and went on for two to three hundred yards outside of the store!

Well Kim loved the book and was an enthusiastic 'Palinite.' With Christmas coming up, I saw that Mrs. Palin had released a new book, "America By Heart". Well this is one of those 'no-brainer' gifts that I know Kim will enjoy, so I grabbed a copy. Two days later, I hear that there will be a local book signing for this one as well. I thought if I could get the book signed by Sarah Palin, my no-brainer gift would be elevated to something really special. I couldn't tell Kim what I was doing and I didn't know for sure I even would, remembering the lines from the last time. Well publicity for the book signing made it impossible for me to hide what I was going to do, but I still was very doubtful I would go through with it.

This time, the event was hosted by Meijer in Carmel, IN. When I arrived, at 3:00p, I could see no line outside of the store. Once inside, I could see an area sectioned of by very tall black curtains and a table full of books and the instructions. I had to buy a new copy of the book here and now in order to get it signed. The book signing started at 6:00p and once I bought the new book, I had to get in line and I couldn't leave the store.

Well I am used to standing in line for a long time at Meijer, but this was different and it was decision time. When I was a teenager I gave no thought to waiting three or more hours for the doors to open at a concert so we could make a mad dash for the best seats, but I wouldn't do that for a concert any more. I thought, what the hell, I've come this far. I picked up a copy of the book and headed to the checkout line.

Turns out there was a line forming inside the store. They were snaking them up and down the aisles on one side of the store. I had my iPod and a new book I could read, so I settled in at the end. People were making the best of the accommodations, sitting on the bottom shelves and chatting away. Periodically, Meijer would send someone around offering cookies and bottles of water. I would have preferred a nice lawn chair. I tried to keep to myself, but occasionally the ladies around me give me sideways looks or tried to involve me in their discussion. I decided I had better participate, since they were making an effort. Representatives from the publishing company came around to verify we had a valid copy of the book with a receipt from that day and they told us Sarah would be working from a pile of books at her side and we would be surrendering the books we were holding back to them in the signing area. Well most if the conversation turned to grumbling from then on, until the line finally started to move. I estimated that if she signed 500 books in two hours, she would have 14 seconds for each one of us. The publishing people mentioned that she likes to challenge herself to see how many she could do, so we may be pushed through faster than that! As we approached the curtained signing area, I noticed quite a few security people and local law enforcement. We are told to remove our coats and there are to be no pictures taken once inside.

Now I can see how this is working. An assistant slides a book in front of her, she locks eyes with the person approaching, reaches out her left hand to shake theirs and introduces herself as she is signing the book with her right hand. She thanks them and is on to the next person. Well here we go, I will get my turn in front of the famous signing/greeting machine and then it will be over. The lady in front of me starts to cry as she predicted she would when it was her turn. my heart suddenly starts pounding harder as I realize it is my turn. What should I do, should I try to say something clever? My mind races as I quickly consider and dismiss several approaches to this situation. Then, I lock eyes with her. My mind goes completely blank as I feel her hand reach out for mine and she says "Hi, I'm Sarah Palin." I stammer out "Hi, I'm Bill". She holds on to the moment, still looking at me and asks me what kind of work I do. I said "I'm a photographer" Unbelievably, I see her scrambling for another question to engage me! "What kind of photography do you do?"  "Portraits mostly" I answer. "Yeah? Hows business?" I kind of chuckle at her persistence  and I say "Not too bad, but it could be a lot better." "Ok, well it was nice meeting you!" she said. "Nice meeting you as well" I tell her. I turned and walked out, smiling from ear to ear and in complete shock. That was surreal. I felt like she wished we could go somewhere and get a cup of coffee.

I know I did.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our Giant Is Laying Down Quietly

Have you noticed the erosion? Factories are closing everywhere. In the larger cities, it might not have quite the obvious impact that it will in a smaller town, but don't kid yourself, we are circling the drain as a nation.

Take a small town of say, 57,000 people. Say that town has a large factory that employs 1,200 people all earning a decent middle-class income of $45 to $65K. Life is sweet in our little town. There is a whole infrastructure built around the existence of that plant. One that was necessary for it to survive. Stores, restaurants, hotels, services of all kinds. Banks, churches, schools and hospitals for the employees, entertainment centers of all varieties. The community serves the plant and the plant supports the community.

One day the factory says they are closing down the operation. With this decision, our little town will loose over $60 million every year from factory employees alone. All of these support businesses have to keep rolling because they are still here and with all of that activity the little town seems to have absorbed the loss of the factory, but all of the support businesses feel the loss and it starts a landslide. Soon our little town is more of a ghetto than a community. Crime rates soar as more and more people live in despair and on welfare. More of their children never complete high school and the crime rate soars again.

If we could peek around at the other side of the world, and, you know, through the big wall, we would see a nation on the rise. A huge industrial monster standing up to flex it's muscles and growl at us from across the ocean. This monster is running on steroids, because it is not restricted by pollution regulations or even quality standards. It has negligible concern for employees wages, benefits or working conditions. It is not burdened with invention, design or research and development. It's only mandate is to be cheaper, and we all cheer it on.

It seems our industrial giant has grown tired of carrying the crown and wants to retire in a recliner in front of a large screen tv. We want to cheer on China because we feel entitled to the good life, but we are too lazy to earn it. Consequently we need our good life to be easier to obtain, or more plainly - cheaper.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Award-Winning Photographer!

Halloween has come around again and, as is my custom, I decided to take a photo of Stevie in his costume. This year it was a fireman.

It is not hard to pull the character out of Stevie.

Ok, no biggie, shoot it and put the camera away. The evening's festivities ensued.

The next day, there is mention of a photo contest with a fall/Halloween theme and it looks like everybody is sending in pictures of their kid in their Halloween costume. I'm thinkin' I got one in the bag of Stevie, why not participate? So I sent it in.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the contest has nothing to do with the merits of your photo, but everything to do with how many of your friends you can get to go online and "Like" it. Now it is a campaign. We rallied as many of our friends to go online on our behalf as we could. (If you responded to one of these pleas, you have my heart-felt thanks). Unfortunately, the winner had a gazillion friends mobilized for a landslide victory. We were, however, able to maintain our status in the community with a very distinguished finish at third place.

If you have ever been to our little town, you will have noticed a landmark in the form of a giant pink elephant hoisting a martini in front of the liquor store. It is in the spirit of our fabled landmark that I reveal to you my distinguished prize.

Obviously, I am going to have to address my rates in light of this accomplishment. I recommend you book your project before they go into effect! :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Got Sad Mac'd!

Monday night, while I was at the Fair, I started having a problem with my iPhone. The Home button quit working. If you have one of these phones, you know this is like loosing your mouse on your computer. You can get in applications, but you can't get out. Tuesday morning, I was still having problems with it, so I thought I would try syncing it and that maybe it would straighten out.

Recently, I updated to the new OS4.0. I suspected that upgrade might have bugs that was causing my phone to behave erratically. While I was syncing, I noticed there was already an OS Update and iTunes was suggesting I should take it. God help me, I clicked on the button that said "Update". That, my friends, is when I fell down into the rabbit hole.

After iTunes finished updating my phone, it didn't recognize it anymore. I was given the message "iTunes has detected a phone in recovery mode. Use "Restore" to return it to normal". Understand that "Restore" wipes your phone back to factory new and removes all data. It then attempts to restore the data from a backup. I clicked on the button that says "Restore".

After the restore process was complete I get a message: "iTunes has detected a phone in recovery mode. Use "Restore" to return it to normal". After looping through this procedure two more times, I am about ready to throw up from the vertigo.

Nothing else matters when you have to rush one of your little ones off to the emergency room and I tried as best I could to obey traffic laws, but I felt woozy and my mind was reeling on all of the information I depended on this little guy to deliver on the spot whenever I needed it. The imperceptible loss started to creep into my thoughts and I fought to keep them at bay. There was something they could do. There had to be!

My first line of defense was the AT&T Store. I bought it there, so maybe they will know what to do. Things were a little slow in the store so I had the attention of three associates when I burst in through the front doors screaming for a doctor. What I actually did was approach the closest one and start to tell my story in the shortest way I could. They all get this oh-you-poor-man look on their faces and punt my case over to the guy that handles phone hardware issues. After they established I was under warranty, he was quick to turn me over to the folks at Apple. He directed me to the Apple Store in my area. They were kind enough to set an appointment for me, I think they could tell by looking at me I was in no shape to get the appointment myself. The warned me there could be like 30 people ahead of me when I get there. On a Tuesday afternoon? I scoffed, but then again, I had never been there.

It was right at 1:00p and my appointment was for 2:10p. In my haste, I had left home without my wallet and I thought I had better run home and get it. Driving home I remember I had done a load of laundry that morning, including the shorts I had worn to the Fair the night before. Did I take my wallet out of my pocket last night? I start to drive faster, fearing the worst. I run into the house, straight to the dryer door, pull it open and most of the contents of my wallet jump out and land all around my feet. Credit cards are curled, my drivers license is curled and everything that was paper in indecipherable. I rant (quickly because I don't have much time) and grab the essential items and cram them in my still damp wallet and run back to the car.

Once at the Apple Store, I am shocked to see what must be 150 people in the store. Half are scared parents like me and the rest are customers shopping. I am impressed at the number of employees though, maybe twenty. I am directed to a kid with a pink iPad to check-in. After check-in, I wait and I watched. The Apple people are all trained to be smiling, polite and very calm. For me, this was a trauma center, so I appreciated their calm. I watched as they helped people while I waited my turn.

There is a strange phenomena surrounding Apple products. They are all designed in a way that says "We only want very smart customers". Their devices only have one to three controls on them. As a consumer, when you have a problem with one of these devices, you are going to try every combination of controls you can think of to try to fix the problem yourself. You hand it to one of these smug little Apple people and they disappear with it for 30 seconds and present it back to you fully restored. They won't tell you what they did or what the problem was and you know it won't do you any good to ask.

Finally, my turn came and the girl shot to the back room with my phone and quickly returned with it saying we do indeed have an issue with that home button, so she will have to give me a new phone. I have to sign a disclaimer about all of the data I am going to loose, because I must set this device up as a new one and it cannot be restored from the backup of the old one.

I'm not sure I know the moral to this story, all I know is I have a phone again and it will take me a week to get it running like the old one did. Please don't send cards or money...I think I will be ok.

Monday Night At The Fair

Got a rare opportunity to go out with Kim Monday night as we had no kids. When we were discussing what we should do, she announced "I wanna go see KISS at the fair!" I had to look at her to make sure she was serious. She wasn't sure if she was or not. I am always excited about doing something unusual, so I started the feasibility study. There were tickets available, but when you factored in Fair admission and extras, the costs got prohibitive quick. In my mind, I was already starting to taste Fair food. Kim had already dismissed the idea, since the Fair itself offered no appeal to her. "You haven't thought this through", I told her. "There are all kinds of craft exhibits!"
I convinced her to go and inside, my mouth started watering for the Fair food again.

After we got there, we were thinking about food right away (at least I was). we saw the deep-fried Twinkies and I had to try them. We split one and it was delicious! I mean, why not - Twinkie good, fried batter good, what's not to like? I couldn't see any reason to try deep-fried butter or deep-fried Pepsi, so for that I have no report.

After 'dinner' we hit nearly every exhibit hall and barn available and my feet were killing me. Even though we weren't going to see the concert, we didn't want to leave before it started. We thought maybe we could get a glimpse of the action from the side as we were heading out to our car. Well, a few other people had the same idea, but someone had figured out how to open a gate, that got us a lot closer! If you click on the picture below, you will notice Mr. Simmons um...singing on the jumbo screen on the lower right.

So we got to do the fair and see KISS after all. By the way, I have never been a fan and the show is pretty much what I expected, but it is a sideshow and what would the Fair be without one.