Monday, April 26, 2010

Still Clearing My Head And Other Things...

After my battle with the wall last week, I'm still trying to clear my head.

The impact left me somewhat dazed for several days. Concerned friends and family all wanted me to go to get my head examined (for more than just that reason) but I didn't feel it needed it. Of course, any head injury could lead to serious consequences, I just did not feel I needed any medical attention.

My right upper arm has a huge bruise from it hitting the doorframe however. It takes several days for bruises to really look bad. I recall while working in law enforcement that we would take additional follow up photos of domestic violence victims several days after the incident. That's because the bruising really only starts looking bad at that time.

Today is really the first day that I feel pretty much back to normal. I'm still taking things slowly, but I think it is now ok.

Last Friday however, I went to my elementary school's 100th year celebration and took a bunch of photos there. I saw some old friends as well. So even though I was still somewhat dazed from the injury, I still worked as an "unofficial" photographer of the event. One friend I met just last year who was in an earlier class than I, brought some candies from our past to give to me. Ok, it wasn't OLD candy... it was just candies that as kids, we would all recognize. Things like Bazooka bubble gum, Smarties, Moritz "Ice Cubes", Necco Wafers and Ferrara Pan Lemon-head candies. Most surprising though was a pack of candied cigarettes! I thought they had banned those! But apparently, they still sell them over the internet! The "brand" she got for me was Lucky Lights (of course that's to make it look like the "Lucky Strikes" brand of cigarettes.)

While I never smoked and never had a desire to, I do remember these candied cigarettes. Thanks Pam! :) (Image borrowed from the internet)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

This Is What Happens When I Put My Head To Something

Yesterday, I had an appointment to teach photography early in the morning. I woke up around 8:45 AM and looked at the clock and thought my appointment was for 9:30 AM. Thinking I was going to be late, I rushed out of bed and tripped and fell, plunging my head right into the wall between our bedroom door and mirrored closet door!

Dazed, I picked myself up and looked up. I could not believe that the hole in the wall that I had created with my head was the size of a basketball and perfectly round! No dry wall pieces were found on the floor as the crack was not “spidered” out, but rather was cracked perfectly in a circle! I thought to myself, “This is what happens when I put my head to something!”

I have a sore shoulder from landing on it, but my head really doesn’t hurt all that much. I had (and still have) a slight headache, but that’s about it. I can’t feel any bruising on my head at all. Perhaps all my TaeKwonDo training paid off after all.

The sad part about all this was, while I had thought my appointment was for 9:30 AM which caused me to rush, it was really at 10:30 AM. I had plenty of time. So all this was for nothing… Ouch!

Be sure to click on each photo for a closer look. These photos remind me of the evidence photos I used to take while working in law enforcement...

Monday, April 19, 2010

April Is Cancer Awareness Month

(Copied and Pasted from a friend's Facebook page:)

In loving memory of every cancer patient, family member, patient and friend who has lost their battle with cancer, and in honor of the one's who continue to conquer it! Put this on your page if you know someone who has or had cancer. Many won't copy and paste this. Will you? APRIL IS CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Apple iPad - Is it ready for you?

I've been interested in the Apple iPad even before it was released. While I don't have one - yet - I wanted to see if it would be all that it was claimed to be.

My wife has been interested in this item as well. Normally she isn't all that excited about electronic gadgets, but she had hoped to use it to read books. She reads a LOT of books that are borrowed from the library. But she's yet to read a book electronically.

The Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader are products that could compete against the iPad in this area. But both of these devices are just black and white units and she doesn't like that. And, the display screens are smaller in size as well. So she had high hopes that the iPad would be a good choice.

We contacted the company that makes electronic books available to our local library and asked if the iPad would be supported for their software. But at the time, the iPad had yet to be available for testing, so we had to wait until they were able to test an actual unit with their eBooks. They held true to their word and emailed us as soon as they had a chance to test the machine.

The conclusion was that since the iPad had the same OS (operating system) as the Apple iTouch, the iPad would work with their audio software. But, the iTouch and the iPad will not read any of their books since the iPad does not work with Adobe PDF, Adobe EPUB or Mobipocket.

Because of this, we won't be getting an iPad - yet - but have hopes that maybe one day either the iPad will read the downloadable books that are offered by our library or that the library will start offering books that can be read on an iPad. That could take a little time.

No matter really, because we also found out that some other features which we think would be good to have, aren't a part of the iPad either. For instance, currently, the iPad cannot do multitasking. It can only do one thing at a time. Rumors have it that Apple will be addressing this issue soon, so that's good. Another thing we don't like is that it does not support flash websites. Considering how many sites are shown in flash (including my own websites), that's not good. And, we feel it would be nice if the iPad had a built-in camera so that you could use services like Skype and not have to attach an external camera to the iPad.

These issues could all be addressed in the future. But for now, the iPad doesn't have the features we think it should. So we will be anxiously awaiting the next generation of iPad to see what will be included. (Image borrowed from the internet)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Doyle Dykes - Live Sessions - People... Places... And Pickin'

This is Doyle Dykes' second DVD and I can honestly say, "It's a good one!"

If you have never experienced Doyle's playing before, you need to get this DVD. It contains a lot of the music you will find from his latest "Bridging The Gap" CD and it also features other legendary musicians playing with Doyle as well as interviews with them too.

Who is on this DVD? It's an all-star cast really... Duane Eddy, Phil Keaggy, Tommy Emmanuel and Steve Wariner for starters. And let's not forget Dave Pomeroy, Jimmy Capps, John Gardner and Doyle's own brother Aubry Dykes. Plus, Doyle's son Caleb Dykes and daughter Haley Dykes join their dad as well! Oh and for Taylor Guitar fans, there's a nice interview with Bob Taylor as well. What a treat!

While it is always nice to hear Doyle play in concert by himself, it is an added dimension when you hear him play along with these other talented musicians. But besides the music, I especially liked the interviews. You'll hear testimonies from the other musicians telling you not only how great a guitar player Doyle is, but also what a nice and humble person he is as well. I can personally attest to that.

Having known Doyle now for many years, I can tell you that while I admire his incredible guitar playing, I admire him even more as a person. I think the other musicians will agree with me on this one. He's one of the nicest guys I know and an even greater Christian. Doyle is the first to admit that his talent comes from God and that he plays to honor Him. Those who have attended his concerts will tell you he is not shy to tell others about Christ and gives all glory to Him as well. How many internationally known artists do you know do that?

If you will be attending any of his concerts, I encourage you to pick up a copy of this DVD. Not only will you be able to re-live the amazing things you heard and saw in concert, but you'll get some interesting insight to who Doyle Dykes really is and what drives him. Especially touching are the comments from Doyle's brother Aubrey who himself is a fine keyboard player.

This DVD is easily my new favorite music DVD and that's not because I know Doyle. It is because it contains exceptional performances from a wide range of talented musicians all celebrating their friendships with a great guy... Doyle Dykes. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Doyle Dykes / Haley Dykes at Guitar Works - Evanston, IL 4/09/10

Doyle Dykes and his daughter Haley Dykes performed once again at Guitar Works in Evanston, IL on Friday, 4-09-10 to a standing room only audience.

My friends Jerry, Jeff and Andy were in attendance with me. An interesting thing about this was how all of us were connected through something that had to do with weddings. I was a groomsman at Jerry's wedding and sang at it too and he was a groomsman at my wedding, I photographed Jeff's son's wedding last June, Andy is a professional videographer and we've worked several weddings together and I photographed Doyle's daughter Holli's wedding back in June 2007.

Doyle and Haley drove in from the St. Louis area and made it to Evanston just in time to set up and do a quick sound check. Chicago's difficult traffic on Fridays really slowed down their travel. Luckily, the staff at Guitar Works had the sound system all set already, so all they needed to do was set up their own gear and plug into the house system.

As usual, Doyle amazed everyone at the show. There were quite a few people in attendance this time that had never seen Doyle play before. You can always tell because when you look into the audience, you can see how mezmorized these audience members are when they see and hear how fast Doyle can play guitar!

Haley played her mandolin and sang as usual, but she surprised us all with a new Weber Mandola this time! Wow! I really like the sound of a Mandola. It really compliments her voice. It's a larger instrument than a standard Mandolin, so it has a deeper tone to it. It's great!

After the show, Doyle, Haley, Jerry, Jeff and I had a late night dinner at the Cheesecake Factory in Skokie. It's always nice to go out and catch up with what Doyle and Haley have been doing on the road since the last time we have seen them. I think the toughest part of their jobs is simply driving so much from gig to gig. Jerry suggested they really need to get a professional driver to drive them around. I agree. It would really ease a lot of the stress from the job. But we all joked that if that were to ever happen, that driver better be built with enough muscles to help move equipment around too! Have you ever tried lifting a Rivera amp? It's heavy!

Get out to see Doyle and Haley perform if they are ever in your town. I guarantee you'll walk out as a fan of these two! Be sure to click on each image to see a larger version.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

4-1/2 Years of Blogging

My first blog post was on October 4, 2005. I never thought I'd still be at it! Encouraged by another photographer to start a blog, I did it and have been consistently doing it for four and a half years now.

Recently, I was talking to another photographer about blogging and we discussed what a blog should be like. Unlike other photographers, I adopted from the beginning that my blog would not simply be about photography or specifically wedding photography. There are plenty of those kinds of blogs around. Plus, can you really post anything more than just photos of recent weddings for four and a half years?

Because of the potential lack of new and interesting things to write about, I decided that if this blog were to be able to go on for years, it would have to be about things that just simply interested me. Hopefully my readers would find it interesting too. I didn't want to just post photos of brides every week. Besides, wedding photographers don't always work on new weddings every week! Bookings can vary... can you imagine how lucky we'd be if we could find a new client to book every single Saturday without overlap? Impossible really.

So here, you read about things I like. Guitars, fishing, forensics, photography, video reviews... whatever. It's kept me going for four and a half years, and on average, I'm writing about twice per week. If I'm lucky, I have photos to show you. If I don't have something new that I photographed, I try to find photos on the internet to support what I'm saying.

My blog statistics show me that many of my readers are not from the Chicago area. Many people find me by simply doing a search on Google looking for photos. I often wonder if they read the things that I write to support those photos. And, I wonder if they come back again too. I know I get a lot of viewers from across the world. It's always fun to see where people come from. I can tell you, it's all over the world.

I'll continue this blog for as long as there are interesting things to write about or interesting photos to show. There are weeks that I struggle to come up with things to discuss. Other times, it is really easy to find a topic.

Thanks for continuing to follow along and read about my interests!

Monday, April 05, 2010


I am surprised that many people do not use their local libraries. I'm there all the time! I borrow DVD's (for free), books, books on CD and music CD's. I use their conference rooms, I go to free lectures and I even borrow their computers when I need to look something up quickly while I'm there.

I'm a "regular" at my local library. While not all of the librarians may know me by name, I'll bet they all know me by face. I am there several times a week. Sometimes, I'm there more than once per day!

One of my first jobs ever was when I was 16 years old. I worked at the Niles Public Library in Niles, IL. I was assigned to work the circulation counter. I checked out library materials for patrons and checked them back in as well. I didn't have to shelve books though... that was a job given to the girls who worked there! I suppose the logic was that they wanted a male to handle the front desk to keep some kind of "order" to the library. I had keys to open and close the library and it was my responsibility to do that. I had to walk the entire library to make sure nobody was hiding somewhere before we officially closed the doors. It was a huge responsibiity for a 16 year old boy! Before working at the Niles Public Library, I was a library aide at my former grade school. I shelved books there and also helped keep the library organized.

While in high school, I would study at the school library all the time. Well, I actully didn't study all the time... I often went to the library annex section to check out magazines to read. Now you may think I'd be checking out Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal or The Chicago Tribune, right? Wrong! I usually asked for "Black Belt" magazine or "Mad" magazine! Yeah, I was a real library genius in high school!

In college, I used the library as well, but surprisingly less than any other time in my life. Most of my studies could be done simply with the text books I had to buy.

My wife and daughter go to the library often too. As my daughter was growing up, we'd take a lot of books out for her to read. I think that made a huge difference in her education. She was reading at a very early age and she loved getting new books to read all the time too. Today, she and my wife continue to do a lot of reading... although it seems most of their reading are fiction books.

For me, I really only like to read technically oriented books or other non-fiction books. I will take out computer books, books on photography, sports books, music books, fishing books, and other non-fiction books. I like biographies too, but I only like that on "books on CD" so that someone else reads it to me.

But what I take out most are DVD's. This is really the only form of entertainment I have that involves a television. I rarely watch TV shows anymore. And I get most of my news from the internet now too.

Here's an interesting thing... I've never seen an episode of Monk on TV... but I've seen every episode of Monk. How can that be? Well, I've seen them all on DVD's borrowed from my local library!

I really like Monk. It's a fun show. I would not say Monk uses the most technologically advanced methods of forensic science to solve cases, but his powers of observation is what helps him solve crimes. I love all the main characters on the show too. In fact, Ted Levine who plays Captain Leland Stottlemeyer on the show is a dead ringer for a supervisor I had for one of my past jobs! They could pass as brothers!

If you have never watched Monk, I'd highly encourage it. It's funny and entertaining. It ran for eight seasons, so there are lots of episodes to watch. Can't afford buying all those DVD's? You don't have to! Go to your local library and borrow them! (Image borrowed from the internet.)