The Odd Mix

I have moved to Everything that was here is now over there as well. Come on over and join the fun.

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Location: Virginia, United States

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Photos are Here

At long last - I know you have been holding your breath out there - I am ready to share a select few of my photos from our trip to Orlando. I would have shared them sooner but some foreigner - probably from Kansas, or Montana, or some other unearthly place - brought their foreign germs to the East Coast and infected us with the plague. We had no resistance to the pestilence and were laid low before it. (How's that for melodrama?)

After laboriously winnowing my massive photographic output down to a measly 379 shots I have come to an impasse. I can't part with any more. My kids are just too darn cute; my wife just too darn hot beautiful. The fireworks were too captivating, and there were just too many giant fuzzy cartoon characters to hug. Soooo... I'll just have to deal with it.

Rather than post all 379 pictures here because I too used to have a dial up connection, I am linking you to a photo album. The read only password to view this album is: cgea. Yes I am posting the password on a public blog - I only put it on to keep people from randomly surfing to them.

Here is an appetizer. Sort of visual hors d'oeuvres, as it were. Bon appetit.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day Greetings, and WWC #4

While I do hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day holiday weekend (assuming you got one) I find myself hesitant to say "Happy Memorial Day" - so Memorial Day Greetings it is.

We spent this weekend working on our move - more to the point, MDW and AnnShh worked on our move and I got to watch the kids. While it made for a long, tiring weekend, I am convinced I still got the clean end of the stick. While they sorted, packed, cleaned, and loaded, I got to play with the best four kids in the known universe - no arguments please; your's will just have to settle for fifth, sixth, and seventh, etc. - do some landscaping, dig in the garden, and push the swing. The most strenuous thing I had to do (aside from move one bloody heavy washer/dryer combination) was mow a couple of fields with the mother of all lawnmowers.

OK, On to the Weekend Words Challenge. This one was tough for me to get my head around. I could come up with quite a few ways to show remembrance and a couple to show duty, but none seemed quite right. I wound up choosing these:

Duty -
The price of doing one's duty is sometimes life itself.
In World War Two over 400,000 United States servicemen and women gave thier lives doing thier duty. Each of our allies had thier own toll - some many more than the US. In remembrance of the US dead there are 4000 stars sculpted on a wall at the US World War Two Memorial in Washington, DC. It is a poigniant reminder of the price of freedom - and the duty accepted by its defenders.

Remembrance -
Stone remembers when the frailty of human memory would allow events - momentous and small alike - to slip away into obscurity. On a small stone building on the corner of the whitehouse grounds are highwater marks . The building was moved there from the Capital gates (which are at a significantly higher elevation) so the marks record truely significant floods. No one remembers these events which must have seemed apocalyptic at the time - only the stone recalls.

How did you say the words?

Friday, May 26, 2006

SPF #7: Inspired by an Auschwitz Survivor

Brought to you by Kristine.

This weeks assignment, inspired by the story of an Auschwitz Survivor, was to take a picture of:

  • Your Bag
  • Your Ground
  • Something You are Powerless To
So I took a picture of:

My Bag -

My laptop case carries all my esentials for a day.

My Ground -

There are two ways this shot shows my ground.
My little one's hand in mine
The land I farm

Something I am Powerless To -

When one of my Little Ones says "Hold You!" (pronounced as one word - 'hOl-jü ) with arms upraised. Especially when they are sick, or sad, or hurt. And let them fall asleep... well, I'm not going anywhere.

Did you Play?

Thursday, May 25, 2006

WWC #4 - Memorial Day

In the United States, the last Monday in May is a federal holiday. It is a day known for picnics and swimming pool openings. For school being closed and family gatherings. For beer and hotdogs. For the Indianapolis 500. It is the unofficial start of summertime.

Sadly, it is almost too easy to forget why the day was set aside. Originally called Decoration Day, it was a day to tend to the graves of soldiers and care for their widows and orphans. It is set aside to remember our war dead – Memorial Day.

In 1993 I came close enough to being among those memorialized to make this day very important to me. I cannot listen to Taps with a dry eye. A flag at half staff makes my breath catch. A lone soldier saluting a white stone in Arlington will stop me in my tracks – and sometimes make me weep.

I have no doubt that some of those I served with are now among our honored dead – though I do not know who. I think of my friends and comrades; my subordinates and my superiors. Men and women who – for an entire spectrum of reasons – felt service to our nation was worth risking their lives. I can see their faces though many of their names have fled my memories. Some of them I liked, some of them I didn’t – Some of them I loved in a way that few can understand who have not lived among us.

Though the holiday is celebrated by the US, the remembrance and honor are by no means restricted to her own. We should remember all those who have given their lives to protect the liberties we hold dear, regardless of the flag they were burried beneath.

So we should enjoy this free day - have our parties, eat our burgers, splash in the water, spend time with friends and families. But let’s try not to forget those who are no longer with us – and why they are absent.

And, with that in mind, the words for this week’s WWC are Duty and Remembrance.

“from these honored dead we take increased devotion to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Monday, May 22, 2006

I'm Changing My Name to Doolittle...

...and not because I am lazy, either.

One of our boarder horses stayed at a convalescent facility while we were away. As we were coming back, we got an offer from the owner of the facility to send "Red's goat" along with him if we would give it a good home.

Red is a former race horse and evidently had a companion goat when he was at the track (a common practice). He was doing much better with the goat around so we accepted. Witness the newest member of the team - my new shadow, Charlie the Nubian Goat.

He followed me everywhere I went in the field today. He bleated (blat?) pitifully when I would leave. We connected. We bonded. I like my new shadow. He is cool.

What a Day! and WWC #3

Too much happened today. I will blog it later. For now here is my WWC contribution for the week.

Miror - I had a hard time picking, so here are two from Artoo ;)


Missing - this was more of a challenge for me.

And just for grins - since I missed last week - here are Motherly and Wonder as well.

Motherly - I couldn't choose between the mother who is...
and the mother who will be.

Wonder was easy.

How did you say the words?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Leaving Neverland

After seven magical days and nights and a 26 hour trip home, I am once again in the land of reality. The lawn is in desperate need of mowing; there are chores to be done; we have 36 cubic yards of luggage and shopping bags to unpack; and there is that pesky household move to complete.

But I have high-speed internet once again - and it is a good thing. Artoo and I kept (after discarding the overtly bad shots) over 1250 pictures. I have some serious editing, commenting, and uploading to do.

Sleep? Who needs it.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

I'll be back Saturday.

I'll be back Saturday. This weeks WWC words are Mirror and Missing. Have fun. Gotta go see Ariel now.

Sitting in line in fantasy land.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

We are about to see fireworks

Monday, May 15, 2006

From the small world!

Arrgh! No connection. Please comment

Arrgh! No connection. Please comment for WWC!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Nope! Not squared - Cubed!

or How I Joined the Rebellion.

Third Woooo Hoooooo. I got home from doing the last minute shopping last night as the proud new poppa of a Canon 350D DSLR (Rebel XT) - or BAMF in the local parlance - who shall be named... uh, well, I'm not sure yet. But it is going to be something really cool and witty, 'cuz I am cool and witty that way. Anyone got any good suggestions?

I also came home with a renewed realization that I am married to the most wonderful woman in the world. The money for my new friend came from her. In addition to managing the farm AND getting us moved AND getting us ready to go on vacation AND taking care of four kids, she has been working extremely hard taking care of a sick horse (ulcers, believe it or not), something she normally does not do. The first payment she got for this extra effort, almost $3000, went entirely to reducing our farm bills (it has been a hard year). The next check she got paid for my camera. I have dreamt of a DSLR for years. While I am sure she could have found a multitude of other things to spend that money on, she spent it on my dream. Her generosity is only one of the very many things that I love about her, but it was a wonderful reminder of just how blessed I really am.

Oooo! How about Artoo? Yes! I think I'm going to call him Artoo. You're gonna have to work really hard to beat Artoo.

And the WWC words are up.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Weekend Words Challenge: Mothers Day

Well, the feedback on multiple words to choose from was mixed – some liked three words, others would prefer one. So I am going to try a compromise - giving you two words - and see whether I will a) annoy both camps, or b) make most of you happy. Remember, there is no requirement to post a shot for both words. Let me know what you think.

This week’s Weekend Words Challenge words (gotta figure out a better way to say that) are inspired by two important events coming up this week in the life of the Odd Clan – Mothers’ Day, of course, and our departure to the Happiest Place on Earth.

They are:

How will you say the words?

Wooo Hooo! (squared)

First Wooo Hoooo. Ten people played the Weekend Words Challenge! Not in the SPF league, yet, but not a bad start! Thanks so much to all of you who played or commented. Some very nice photos were to be seen and some really good creativity, too. Join us next week!

Second Wooo Hoooo. We are going to the Happiest Place on Earth. Yep, you heard me. Thursday night MDW, my four kids, and I will board an Amtrak train to be delivered the next morning, safe and (hopefully still) sane, in the land of Mouse Ears, Poop and Boogies, Twisted Tink, and Random Thoughts. There will be many adventures had, probably lunches hurled, princesses hugged, shows seen, and very little sleep.

I haven't had a real vacation in three years (lay-offs do NOT count). I am so excited.

I will post the Weekend Words Challenge a day early tomorrow so I don't miss getting them up on Thursday. I should be able to get access down there and you'd better believe I will be taking many, many photos! So please play.

I will post some of the best photos here, and maybe create a new blog as a virtual scrapbook (or maybe I will just use Flickr).

Anyhow, I am off to see the Big Cheese, the Mouse himself. ::singing:: "Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me..."

Sunday, May 07, 2006

The Weekend Words Challenge #1

OK, batter up!

This weeks challenge words were:

1. Challenge
2. Reveal
3. Peace

And to kick off the action (how's that for mixing sports metaphors?) here are my submissions. This was a crazy weekend as we are moving so I decided to use shots I took around the farm between loads.

Peace (of mind)

How did you say the words?

Friday, May 05, 2006

A Bit More on the Challenge

Lookee what I did! I made a banner... um, a badge... er, a button... hmmm, a whatchamacallit! Whatever it is, The Weekend Word Challenge now has one. I'm no graphic designer, I know, but I think it will do.

So... a couple of things to hopefully ease some concerns and make a couple more of you willing to risk playing along with us.

First, Quality. By saying I would like to see "Quality Photography" I had not intended to imply that only "skilled" or "tallented" or "experienced" photographers should play. I only meant that I would like to see you take the time to think about the way you are shooting. Sometimes blurred focus is intentional; sometimes we deliberately skew the horizom; sometimes (most of the time, actually) it is a good thing to place the primary target off center in the frame. Just think about why you do what you do and you will see a dramatic increase in the "artistic quality" (there's a loose term for you) of your photos.

Second, Critiques. The only way to improve in any area is to practice. With photography this means making the shutter click many times. Then you look at what you got, think about how you got it, decide what you should do differently, and make the shutter click many more times. Lather, rinse, repeat. Along the way, it is often helpfull to have another set of eyes take a look and make helpfull suggestions, not criticisms. It is my desire that through these challenges we have a safe, comfortable opportunity to get these critiques from our peers.

My comments will usually run along the lines of "You have captured the expression in her eyes beautifully. If you soften the focus, perhaps the gorgeous collor will stand out even more." Or, "What an adorable child. If you frame the image so that he is off to the left it may draw the viewer into the scene even more."

Third, Tools. I have one digital camera I use - a two year old, mid-line point-and-shoot Canon. I do not use Photoshop; I can barely start using Paintshop Pro (the whatchamacallit taxed my skills to the limit). I do use Picasa, a free program from google, which gives me basic tools to crop, adjust, and convert to monochrome. Thats it!

While I have serious camera lust when I look at the hight end Nikon and Canon DSLRs - and nearly pee myself when I look at some of those L series lenses - they are not what this challenge is about. This is about using your imagination to find a way through straightforward photography to express a concept to your viewer. Yes, there are skills involved; yes, nice equipment helps; yes, experience is important. But the key is your imagination and a willingness to share with, learn from, and trust in the rest of us who are putting our work out there, too.

I want to share. I want to learn. I trust you. Let's play!

A couple of people (notably, Kristine and Lucky Lum - both of whose opinions I value) have suggested that I keep it at one word to make it easier. If I get much feedback that way I can certainly do that. However, I actually gave three words to make it easier. Sometimes, I just can't find an image for one word, but if I have three to work with I can usually find something creative to do with at least one or two. You do not have to respond to all three words. Please let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

SPF #5

Brought to you by Kristine.

This weeks assignment was to take a picture of:

  • Body of Water
  • Something with Flavor
  • Plant your Ass
So I took a picture of:

A Body of Water

Something with Flavor

My Chair at Work

I tried everything I could think of to make this last one more interesting, more creative - and failed miserably. So there you have it.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Weekend Words Challenge

In Which I Stand Awed in the Shadow of KRISTINE!

Back in my pre blog days (well, the blog existed but I wasn’t posting) I participated in an online art community, which we shall call DA, to share and improve my photography skills. Mostly what I enjoyed about DA was engaging in communication with a group, but there was (with rare exceptions) precious little to be had.

The other thing that kept me at DA was photo contests – mostly just for bragging rights. My favorite contests were from a group called One Word Photo, or OWP. The concept was simple – they announced a word and you took and submitted a picture that represented that word. The tricky part was the word was rarely a noun - more often a concept such as natural, darkness, or duality (I won that one) – so you had to put some real thought into deciding what image to capture.
Since turning/returning to this blog I have continued to practice my photography and have shared some of my work here. One day I realized I hadn't been to DA in over a month – so I effectively quit going there at all. But I missed the contests. Then I discovered SPF from Kristine and the clouds parted. And yet my craving is unfulfilled.

So I am going to try recreating OWP here. Initially I am going to call it “The Weekend Words Challenge” and will give you three words on Thursday. Then you have the weekend to take the pictures.

Here is what I hope to see in the submissions:
1. Creative interpretation - don’t necessarily go with the obvious answer. Surprise us with the way you portray the concept word.
2. Quality photography – framing, focus, content, exposure, contrast. The whole shebang.
3. Constructive Comments - I love, love, love having my photos critiqued (constructively) so I can improve. I want this challenge to be a learning experience.

I understand that life happens and sometimes you don’t have time to take new shots or you know just the perfect image you took last week. You can of course pick from your archives, but, personally, I would love to see an emphasis on new work. And when you post, please let us know if you do NOT desire critiquing of your work.* If you don’t specify, I will assume that I am free to point out ways you might improve your work.** I will always appreciate it if you will do the same for mine.

Like Kristine with SPF on Friday, I will post my submissions on Monday. You can let us know in the comments that you played. I may not always submit for all the words (though I will always submit at least one) and you need not either. Sometimes the muse doesn’t speak.

I hope there are a few other photography buffs out there amongst you who will enjoy this challenge. If you have any suggestions or recommendations (change the name, fewer words, pound sand, etc.) please let me know. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

* If you do not desire critique I would still love to see your submissions and will simply comment on the good aspects that I see.
** This is NOT license to be spiteful, mean, or argumentative! The emphasis is on “constructive” – no rotten tomato throwings or random sporkings.

EDIT: In response to player feedback I have reduced the number of words from three to two. I will be linking back to this post so I will update the weekly words here so this page should remain current.

Ready? Here we go….

The weekend’s words for the week ending June 3rd, 2006 are:
1. Triumph

2. Tragedy

Yes I know they are not easy. They aren’t supposed to be easy. Get those mental juices flowing and the shutters snapping. I can’t wait till Monday!