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September 26, 2010

Taking That Risk

After a Tahoe wedding, Karli and James invited their flatlander friends from the Valley to join them at their reception at the church. This allowed a number of friends to meet this tall, dark and handsome stranger who joined the Bruneel clan.

James is a fellow photographer who enjoyed shooting 4x5 film and making huge enlargements. He almost risked going into business with a large format printer (said he'd only have to sell 60+ prints to pay off the equipment). But providential paths led another direction and he is now managing a lodging establishment in Santa Rosa.

We often fall into life work that we were never specifically trained for, yet it becomes an all-consuming passion. We actually enjoy getting up in the morning and heading toward our rendezvous with hard work and diverse co-workers. We are rewarded for fulfilling our end of the bargain as the necessary cog in the machine.

Work is a God-honoring institution. Adam the gardener knew it. And so did Paul the tentmaker.

September 19, 2010

Spin Out

Yesterday, Angel finally spent all of the birthday money given to her in July. A new toy craze is called Beyblade Super Vortex Battle Set, where spinning tops 'fight' in a plastic bowl. The longest spinner is the winner, of course. She and Barb played for over an hour, wringing the last ounce of 'oh, boy, a new toy to play with' out of it. The screaming and yelling reminded me of --- you guessed it! --- Yahtzee!!!! Now there's a game to hate when you aren't hard of hearing and you're playing with the Queen of Scream, Barbara. A nice quiet game of Scrabble is more to my liking, thank you.

As Satchel Paige once asked, "How old would you be if didn't know how old you were?" Some of us are still in the youth category and can muster childlike exuberance automatically. Maybe you're one of this number --- and you're probably a woman --- and you're married to a dull and humdrum of a man who just can't get excited about anything lately. He says it brings on migraine auras when he gets excited. It's a stress thing that he tries to avoid at all costs.

Curmudgeons of the world, UNITE! Maybe I could get excited about joining that group. Doubt it.

September 17, 2010

All Work . . .

The enhanced work ritual of body-crushing overtime leads me to this conclusion: bis pueri senes.
Old men are twice children. That primal weakness that required regular naps after hours of play is repeated on the other end of the stick when work replaces playtime. Unfortunately, they don't allow napping during my ten-hour shifts!

September 13, 2010

Noisy Nostalgia

The 5th annual Kingdon Airport Drag Races were held last weekend. This is a strip just north of Stockton that was popular for the local boys back in the 50's through the mid-70's, when everyone with a hotrod ran their cars down the 1/4 mile ---LEGALLY! It was a way to get speeding teens to stop racing on public roads. Like that would ever happen!

It was fun going to my first drag race. Hundreds of cars racing each other and over 100 classics lined up for perusal. And hundreds of people there Saturday morning while I was taking pictures. It was loud, smelled of burned rubber and alcohol and all very 'macho.'

Racing in and around Paso Robles when I was a kid was restricted to public roads only. The Atascadero Speedway was for hard-core daredevil guys who didn't mind wrecking their cars, I guess. Country roads were more for the 'don't touch my car - I just polished it' types, like me.

I was never into speed for the thrill of it after I sold my '67 Mustang Fastback in 1971 or so. Been there, done that. Life is short enough without mismanaging second causes.

Thank you, Lord, for preserving me during those years.

September 5, 2010

Balloons Galore and More

The beauty of sunrise in the San Joaquin Valley is layered depending on the amount of smog in the air, whether there are clouds over the Sierra Nevada, or whether some man-made art gets in the picture. The hot air balloon lift off yesterday morning in Ripon certainly added to God's touch by painting the sky with bold and lavish colors.

Thankfully, they let the photographing hordes get as close as possible, which proves that these balloon people are extremely long on patience. I only had one of them warn me about stepping on a rope that was a safety hazard.

Shooting these events requires speed, agility and an eye for the bold and beautiful. Throw in the artistic and you're guaranteed some winners. Don't be afraid to zoom in close, shoot from the ground up and expect the unexpected. It will be pretty dark when they start firing up, so you may want to boost your ISO a bit. But remember to lower it as soon as the sun comes up (unless you've got one of those $2500 cameras without any noise at 1600 ISO).

The main thing when shooting is to try to enjoy the moment. Don't get so caught up in the perfect angle and color that you don't relish the noise of the burners, the smell of the propane and the expertise of the balloonists as they coordinate the dozens of volunteers who help them get their balloons off the ground. Talk to people. Be friendly. Smile a lot. Remember, you're not getting paid to do this. Although I did run into Clifford Oto, one of the photographers of the Stockton Record who was there on assignment. You'll see a few pictures of him at work in this series. Clifford has a blog, so he may comment on his visit: Clifford's Blog.

This is a two-day event that includes:

-- Pancake breakfast (with two sausage links, scrambled eggs and juice or milk)
-- Lots of vendor booths
-- National Anthem
-- Tethered balloon rides
-- Two running events
-- Wizard of Oz's 'Dorothy' and Toto
-- Professional kite performances
-- Skydiver show
-- Schaffer Tae Kwon DO demonstration
-- Air George helicopter landing
-- Cannon Acrobatics
-- Yes Company performance
-- Tri-tip lunch
-- Kite show and Candy drop
-- Desert Wind Dancers

And that's all done by 1:00 or so. This is a fund raising event for the Children's Hospital of San Joaquin.

I'll try to be there again next year - and take my rather-be-snoozing wife. She'll thank me in the end!

September 2, 2010

Okies and Okra

Just about when you've forgotten you roots, along comes a bag full of okra from a friend, and you figure as long as it's deep fried and breaded you can enjoy it instead of having to pretend to like the greasy, snot-like drippings of having it presented on your plate in a boiled condition like you used to suffer through when visiting relatives in the mid-west or poor folk transplants here in Stockton about 35 years ago when you used to buy bags of groceries for the family that had just a little income and too many kids and lived in a hovel downtown, and that gets me thinking about how far away and long ago that seems and how painful that memory is in more ways than one.

Lord, forgive my ingratitude and selfishness.