Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Play group...

This has been a pretty quick week and it is hard to believe that it is already Wednesday. Denise loaded everyone up and took them to the park for "play group" today. Well everyone except Devin because he was in school. So Desirae had a chance to run around like a maniac and good times were had by all. The group has a meeting tonight to determine the future events for the little tikes.

Other than this no much else is going on. I did pull out the Bronco, put the new stickers on it, and drove it to work today. It sure does drive a little bit different than the Murano, but it was still fun to drive. I will probably drive it a little more this week - as I figure that way I can cut through the desert on the way home and maybe I will find some really interesting photograph to take. I tried that today on the way home but I didn't get anything that I thought was worth a darn. The best I came up is this shot - and it is pretty weak. I do like the color of the lighting but other than that I am pretty disappointed with it...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lazy Sunday...

Today was a pretty lazy day with only a quick trip into town to hit Costco to get some much needed essentials. The really odd part about the trip were all of the RVs leaving the desert. We couldn't believe how many we saw leaving town and the backed up traffic to go along with them. We finally turned around and went a different direction because traffic had come to a grinding halt!

I did practice my lighting some more with the umbrella. I think I finally figured out how to aim the light and I did some shots (the two here were part of them). The first one above was just with the single flash while Desirae was watching television before we left. The second shot was done later in the evening and included actually 2 flashes into a single umbrella to get the light level higher for more depth of field. I also had a reflector on the left side of the flowers to try and soften the shadows. This all is going to take more time and practice - but when I can get something to turn out the way I expect it to that makes me feel much better! I can see how an Alien Bees - The Beginner Bee would really help out in this situation. The higher power and faster recycle time would really help!

The one thing (well the main thing) we did not accomplish this weekend was starting our Christmas shopping for the kids. We think we are going to just do the internet thing again and just pick things out from there. If we have questions or concerns then we will reconnoiter to one of the local stores to get more detailed information. We will probably try to do this sometime this week.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I found it on eBay...

First - if this picture works that will be amazing since I grabbed it from the eBay auction. Anyway - I found this olive with black trim Domke F2 bag and REALLY wanted to get it. Denise green (olive) lighted the endeavor and I setup an auction sniper ( snipe to get my bid in. The price did creep up a bit and I really thought I was going to end up paying a ton for this - but as it turned out when my bid was placed I just need to increase but the next big amount and I won. I am REALLY happy about that because I had put a high-bid limit and I was really worried that it was going to go that high. But as it turned out it was right about where I thought it would end up and just a few bucks more than a new one would cost - except that they don't make it in this color combination and you can get it. For some reason the only olive bags Domke currently makes is all green with even the trim green. I think that would look a little odd - for that I want to use it for - and I think the black trim will look much better.

I had thought about getting the Domke F1X bag, which is just a little bit bigger than the F2 - but since my current 1986 F2 bag weighs a freaking ton right now I don't think getting a bag with more room for more stuff is really a great idea - because I won't be able to move the darn thing. So - I think this newer bag will be perfect - and I can use the other bag for any extra stuff. Denise and I both really like Domke bags anyway. It is really amazing how stressful it can be watching an auction that you really want to win. Both of us watched the last few minutes waiting for some last minute bids - but fortunately there wasn't any.

I also printed some more pictures for framing. I printed "Chocolate Coin Goodness" and the lamp which Denise named "The Warm Glow of Light" in 11x14 and framed them. I messed up the coin print with my print size but I think it is still going to work. I still have to figure out what I am going to print for the other frames - but maybe tomorrow I might have enough to finish the dining room wall.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The day after...

Everyone left today. Michelle and crew spent the night in their motor home and loaded up Uncle Gary and headed off around 1000 hours today. Considering all the folks that were here the last couple of days it was a pretty good time. I did take a few photographs before everyone left - however I made the mistake of taking the shots in front of the curtains - which are VERY reflective (I didn't realize that before). I was able to do some masking to lower the brightness of the background - but it was REALLY messing with the light meter on the camera.

After everyone left I got the wild idea to take a boondoggle down to Canoga to visit Canoga Camera and get some ink and paper for my printer. I was running low on a couple of inks and paper and they have the best price around. It seems really odd though to drive all that way for 3-inks and 2 packs of paper. But at least I got out of there buying what I expected - well plus one book on portrait lighting.

We also drove around a bit and ended up finding a market that Denise was looking for - but they didn't have the stuff (rice I think) that she was looking for. She was a bit disappointed in that but at least now we know where the store is.

On the way back home we stopped at the Olive Garden and had a really nice dinner. One of my friends (John Swidersky) gave us a gift card there when he left and we finally got a chance to use it. Now - John - if you actually see this (which you probably won't because I don't think you remember how to get to the blog) THANKS! It was really great and we had a nice time! Still wish you were around though - but I image you are having fun in Germany!

Anyway I am pretty darn tired and am babbling now so I'm going to go!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving...

We had a GREAT Thanksgiving with a lot of people over at the house. We had obviously our crew (Denise, Desirae, Devin, Deanna, and myself) and we also had Denise's sister and her family (Michelle, Fred, Sarah, Aaron, Rachael, Caleb, Mary, and Justus), Denise and Michelle's Uncle Gary, and we also invited Gina Willson and her children (Isabella and Sammy). It was a pretty FULL house. As you can see from the photograph above the new (broken) table worked out VERY well! We had 12 people sitting at the table, 2 people at the bar, and Fred set on a bar stool and held his plate. It was very crowded but we were able to put all the food on the table. The best part, the table DID NOT BREAK in half while we were eating. I think Denise and I were both really worried about that.

It was really neat seeing Denise and Michelle in the kitchen together cooking Thanksgiving dinner. Since they are moving to Bolivia the end of December I think this just might be the last Thanksgiving we get to do with them for a long while.

We decided to cook the turkey in the grill again this year. So I guess something good did come out of our stove breaking last year - because I can tell you now that I would have NEVER thought of even attempting to cook the turkey on the grill. But, just like last year, it turned out really good and it was wonderful to NOT have that cooking in the house. Plus it gave me an opportunity to hang outside and make sure everything was going alright with the grill.

All in all it was a really great day and I can honestly say that I was thankful to have everyone together!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chocolate Coin Goodness!

Willpower is a tough thing especially when you have delectable chocolate confections laying around the house! On her way back in from town Denise stopped at Sees Candy and purchased an assortment of chocolate items. I was looking at the coins - trying to maintain my willpower to not devour mass quantities of them and decided that photographing them would be a much more therapeutic endeavor.

The reason for the "town" trip was for Deanna's physical therapy and Devin's casting for his new leg braces. Fortunately Uncle Gary is still here and was able to provide some assistance during the long trip. They left this morning and I made it home before they did.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Let the games commence...

Devin just had to show off his newly found ability to play Sonic on XBox so he dragged Uncle Gary into a game (actually a bunch of games). Devin is really getting pretty good at the game and has went through multiple levels on it. I can't even figure the darn thing out (I tried to play it earlier in the day with him). I am sure over the course of the next few days Gary will get wrapped into multiple XBox games.

This morning when the light was coming through the "office" window I noticed the shadow of the blinds when Denise walked through them (the shadow that is). I thought the shadow looked pretty cool and asked her to sit in them while I tried to capture a couple of images. The shadow is probably distracting but I thought the effect was kind of neat. Plus the light was nice and warm. At least I didn't color-correct that out!

The rabbits are back!!! - Well the rabbits decided to come back and attack again. This time they decided that the Bronco would be a good place to find a hearty meal! So they ate one of the vacuum lines! This morning when I opened the hood - after I moved it - I found one sitting on the battery and he went running through the engine compartment when I opened it. I wish I would have had a pellet gun when he started fleeing so I could have dispatched him - but I didn't and he ran away.

I know I have said in the past few days that Deanna is really starting to respond to us and here is another example of that. Denise was in the office with Deanna and was playing with her and she was smiling and just happy. It is really neat to watch the change and to see how she goes from being completely unaware of everything around her to starting to respond. Denise even got her to laugh the other day. I am going to try and get that on video - I just haven't been successful on that yet!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Extraction successful...

We had a successful trip down and extracted Denise's Uncle Gary from the newly renamed Bob Hope Airport (Burbank Airport). He flew in for a couple of weeks and is going to spend time with us and Denise's sister Michelle. He will spend the first week with us and then leave with Michelle and crew on Friday. We made really great time going down there and even stopped off at Fry's to kill a few minutes while Denise fed Deanna. I know it will be amazing - but we also had success in extracting me from Fry's WITHOUT buying anything.

It worked out really well at the airport too because right after we arrived at the terminal Gary walked out so everything went off pretty well. I didn't bring a camera with me and we didn't try to use Denise's to take pictures either. I have heard so many bad things about trying to capture images at airports that I figured it was not even worth the hassle.

Devin has REALLY been a big help with his sister Deanna. He has taken it as his mission to try and keep her calm so that mommy and daddy can get other things done around the house. I know right here in this photograph Deanna is upset - but he had her calm for a long while before this - and she calmed down again shortly after the photograph. This was also right before we left for our trip to the airport so there wasn't enough time to get a shot with Deanna calm. I am really proud of him and the way he is really wanting to take care of Deanna. Now - if he would just treat Desirae a LITTLE better - that would be wonderful!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Success - kind of...

Well today was a day spent sitting around waiting for the telephone to ring. Our project manager had a briefing on the east coast today and we were in stand-by mode all day in the event some critical information would be needed. As it turned out it appears to have gone well which means that we are closer to completion. I still have no idea when we will be done - but today was a good sign.

Denise went back to the doctor today because it looks like she is getting sick again. They gave her some new antibiotics that hopefully will do the trick. She doesn't feel horrible right now and hopefully she will kick this before it gets a chance to really get bad.

Tomorrow will be an adventure since we are heading down to Burbank to pick up Uncle Gary. He is flying out for the holidays and will spend time with us and Denise's sister (Michelle). Everyone is going to be over here for Thanksgiving so it should be an interesting time. It should also turn out to be a good photo op too!

Speaking of that I didn't really have a chance to snap anything today so I am lacking in images. I should be able to capture something tomorrow though!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More portraits...

Well, here is another attempt at portrait photography. I don't think I have figured out the lighting part just yet! I have posted this photograph to the forums and HOPEFULLY I can get some decent suggestions to make it better. Then again I maybe I am being too critical on this. I really think I just need to find a good book on portrait/studio lighting and that will probably help quite a bit.

We decided to do Mexican food for dinner and we were able to ask Marco for the recipe for the Albondagos Soup, which is basically a meatball soup. He gave us pretty detailed instructions and I think we may give that a try this weekend. I really like it and it is pretty good.

Well as you may have noticed I didn't post anything for yesterday. It was a strange day and I ended up doing to bed early. Denise was in town with the kids so Deanna could have her PT appointment and Devin got his flu shot. This all took the entire afternoon and after getting dinner and going by Wal-Mart they didn't make it home until 2030. Above is a photograph from the PT appointment.

Monday, November 14, 2005


This is going to be a quick one. Today was just a typical Monday with everyone getting back into the weekly grind. Deanna was really active this evening and really wore Denise out. The only thing "extra" that we accomplished is the hair cut Denise gave me. She is really getting pretty good at it - and considering that when I went to the "stylist" I was told they all went home early that day... Kind of irritating...

I had hoped to try some more "studio" portraits but that was not in the cards today. Maybe tomorrow! I would like to make a new image that takes in all the suggestions that I have received over the last few days and post a non nostril shot!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

More pictures...

Well, I attempted to get more feedback on the forums with another portrait - this isn't the one - but boy was I hit hard on it. However everything that was said was very valid and led to this shot - which is more of a lighting check than anything else. However I think the shot works and the lighting is pretty good. I ended up pulling out all my lighting gear and the umbrellas. I was just glad that Denise was willing to sit through this and let me photograph her some more.

Okay, against my better judgement here is the image that most of the people didn't like. They HATED the lighting and really didn't like the angle of the shot. This was actually taken on the couch so I did the extra editing to eliminate it. I was sitting across so it was a direct line shot and the flash unit was at the wrong angle. I still don't hate the image - but I can see the issues the others had with it.

I did make it out shooting in the morning. Both Kris and Dave made the trek out here and we had a pretty good shoot. Well, actually the other guys did better than I did - but we all hit our targets. So what did we do today? We decided to move it back some more and engaged our favorite target at 800 yards. That is getting pretty far out there and is just about reaching the limit of our 308 sniper rifles. Both Kris and Dave were making fairly consistent hits at this range and I was the only one that was bouncing around. I was hitting the target just not as consistently.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ah the weekend...

We actually accomplished something today! Denise FINALLY had the chance to work on the baby wrap she has been wanting to work on for a while now. She was not able to finish it but what she did get done was a good start!

We also spent some time working on the back yard. With the birth of Deanna, hurting my back, having to work (weekends), and everyone else being sick we have not had time to do anything with the yard and it has really gotten out of control. We made good progress on the back yard getting a lot of the weeds pulled. We have more work to do tomorrow - but I think we will finish tomorrow.

I also put together the wood stand my Mom and Max gave us a while ago and started stacking the wood. We have 3/4 of it done and will finish the rest tomorrow. That will give me the ability to get the utility trailer out of the back hard again - and allow me to park the Bronco back there too. I might need another stand for the 1/2 cord of almond wood that we got but we will just play that one by ear.

Well it may not have been a good idea but I posted that photograph of Denise on the D70 Forum on DPReview and I got some interesting comments on it. Most of the people liked the photograph and there was one guy that had some interesting ideas - but a weird way of articulating it. Anyway if you are interested to read the thread the link is here!

We are starting to get reactions from Deanna. Denise was playing with her tonight and she was really staring to respond. Denise did have to drag me into the living room to get the shot but I am glad that she did! The really funny part about this is that Denise was eating pop-corn and that is what really got her smiling. I am not sure what it was but she just really thought it was interesting watching mommy eat popcorn... Denise thought it was that she wanted some!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

First shots

Deanna had her follow-up doctor's appointment today which included her first shots. Denise said that Deanna didn't take getting the shots very well. The good news out of the appointment is that Deanna has doubled her weight and is about a month or two ahead of schedule. Dr. Burchette was really pleased with that especially with Deanna being premature.

Denise also went to a parent/teacher conference today and we received word that Devin is doing pretty good in school. His teacher said she knows that he "pretends" not to know things and fights when he doesn't want to do anything. She also said that his reading has improved and they are thinking about moving him up a class (they have multiple classes based on reading abilities). She also said that she thinks his aid is helping him too much and is going to talk to her about stopping that. Denise and I were both fairly happy about this news. So now if we can just keep him working at it!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Ah, what are you doing?

Taking pictures... Man doesn't she look suspicious in that photograph? I wanted to try some different shots of Denise tonight and in the VERY SHORT window of opportunity while Deanna wasn't crying and Devin and Desirae were out of the room I was able to capture a couple of frames.

So for a Monday this was a pretty standard day. Everyone is starting to feel better, however Devin continue to have more asthma problems. This morning the van driver almost brought Devin home because he started having a coughing fit on the trip too school. When they got him there his aid (Jaydee) decide to watch him real close and send him home if he didn't get better. Fortunately he did get better and was able to spend the entire day at school.

Denise spoke to the Furniture people (for the table) and they told her they could either give us money back on the damaged chairs or send us new ones. We still are not sure what we are going to do - but I think we are leaning toward doing the money. The "damage" isn't that bad and neither of us seem too bothered by it. But we have been pretty occupied for the last few days so we are going to really check out the chairs before we finally decide. I think our concern is that the new (new) chairs might be just the same so what would be the point. We have a bit of time because it is going to take them a long while to make another table top. They did say we can do whatever we need to firm up the broken table - so I think we are going to install a metal bracket on the cracked part to make sure it doesn't break off. We are a bit worried about Thanksgiving when we have everyone over here - and if someone leans on that end of the table it could be pretty bad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

More furniture...

Well on a whim we decided to check our new local furniture store (Cal City Furniture, pretty original eh) to see if they would have any coffee tables. As some of you may know, we have been using a old dinning room table with the legs cut down for our coffee table (what can I say, it seemed like a good idea at the time). As luck would have it they did have one and we liked it so we went ahead and bought it. It is going to take a little getting used to, having something a little more appropriate but I think this is going to work out very well.

While I was trying to take the picture of the new coffee table Desirae really wanted me to take some pictures of her too. So I readjusted my lighting setup, had her sit on the middle edge of the coffee table and shot away. Denise doesn't really like this picture and didn't want me to use it because she thinks that Desirae's eyes are sad in this picture. I am not sure, but since I have already inserted it in to the blog I am going to leave it for now.

Devin really had a tuff night last night. He was up coughing most of the night. None of the medication really helped him much and at one point when Denise re-medicated him at around 0300 he threw everything up. He seemed to be feeling pretty good today. We decided not to take him into urgent care because it seems like every time we do that his real doctor ends up changing everything that the urgent care doctor puts him on. So instead of wasting a day and all the prescriptions we decided to wait until tomorrow. If we have another bad night then we will do a same day with his doctor. HOPEFULLY everything will go okay tonight and we won't have any problems...

Well I have continued to "play" with iView Media Pro 3. and I think I am leaning toward sticking with iPhoto right now. There are some features of iView that I like - however I can't say that I think they are must have features. Sometimes I think I am really backing myself into a corner considering some of the limitations associated with iPhoto - but I really have a feel for the application now. If anything changes on this front I will be sure to write about it here!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Chuck E Cheese & Movie...

Denise decided to go ahead and let Devin go today. Even though he was coughing and stuff last night he was doing pretty good this morning so she made the “command decision” to let him go. I was a bit worried because I figured Devin was going to freak out if we told him he couldn’t go.

It was actually pretty cute this morning. He got up with me at 0550 hours and wanted to get ready for when Gabby came over. He was dressed and ready to go by the time I left at 0630 hours.

So Jennifer and Carlos picked up Devin at 1000 and Devin started his grand adventure. They first went to Chuck-E-Cheese for lunch and games. Devin really enjoyed the water bell and frog wackin’ game. From there they went over to the movie theater and watched Chicken Little. Jennifer and Carlos also did some running around in town after the movie and brought Devin home around 1730 hours. It went pretty good and everyone had fun. In case no one knows this was the first theater movie Devin has ever seen and it is also the first time he has left home without family. That was a little odd for us – but we felt comfortable with them taking him.

Denise also figured out how to setup the table and it looks GREAT in the dinning room. Yesterday I was a bit worried how everything was going to work with all the chairs. It is really a beautiful table and she did really well on picking it out.

Work went okay today and we finished what we needed to. It took us a bit longer than we had expected - but at least we don't have to go back in tomorrow! With this we MIGHT not have to work on the three day weekend.

I also took this picture of Deanna and Denise tonight.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Another long week...

Well, it’s Friday again and I am truly glad this week is coming to a close. However, there are a couple of minor problems even with it being Friday. The first is that I have to work tomorrow and I have to be there at 0700 hours. Second Devin is having a relapse and just spent the last 30 minutes coughing up garbage and almost doing the throwing up thing. So it looks like he probably won’t be going on his little adventure tomorrow… That is going to be a lot of fun and I don’t think he is going to take it very well!

On a good note Desirae’s eyes are really starting to look much better. The new medication is working wonders and is helping to bring everything back in order. It also appears that no one else in the house has caught pink eye so maybe it might just end with Desirae! We are really hopeful about that.

On a non-related topic I have been checking out different application for managing my large photo library collection. I have downloaded the new iView Media Pro 3.0 and am trying out the demo of that. It does seem nice – but I am not sure how much better it really is than iPhoto for my needs. It is REALLY FAST – which is a huge plus – but with the extra cost I am not sure if it is really worth it. The only thing I would like more about it is better reliability in library management. I have a couple of weeks to play with it to really see if I like it.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The great table saga...

The big news for today was the arrival of our broken table. Denise worked it out with Furniture Find to let us take delivery of the damaged table so we will have something to use for Thanksgiving. I can attest to the fact that they really did a number on the table! The left end is cracked all the way through and on the other side has major chunks of the wood are gouged out. Some of the chairs also have dings in them but we have to examine them some more to really determine the amount of damage and what needs to be replaced or repaired. The table pad is also the wrong size and another is on order to replace this one. Other than that we love the design and look of the table and chairs and Denise is really happy so that is all that counts! The chairs are also much more comfortable than we had expected them to be. We are pretty happy with the service from Furniture Find and even though this is a pain they have been really good about everything.

On the disease that is traversing the house; Desirae did have an adverse reaction to her medication and was given something different. Denise also has a MAJOR (read gross) sinus infection and she is now on antibiotics and was also given the "ok" to take sudafed (and it will not hurt Deanna). It looks like Devin, Deanna, and me are all doing okay though. So, maybe, just maybe we are finally getting over this!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Screen Spanning Doctor...

I ran across a hack that allows the iMac and iBook systems to utilize an extra screen in the spanning mode. Out of the box both the iMac and iBook can only mirror the display on another monitor. I figured since I had the other 17" LCD monitor in the garage I might as well try to see if this worked and extend my display. I was really surprised that the system allowed me to select different color profiles for the 2 displays. Unfortunately I think the Gateway has seen better days and it did not correct very well. There seems to be a brightness and contrast problem on the other display - but it works and the colors seem to be corrected.

Okay, now for the extended saga of drama that is our life right now. Desirae's eyes are getting worse and it now appears as though she may be having an allergic reaction to the medication that they gave us on Monday. Denise called Doctor Burchette and she said she wants to see Desirae tomorrow at 0900 hrs. So HOPEFULLY they can get her on the right medication and make this go away! The one good thing about this is that with Denise still sick she can get checked out and maybe get some medication to help kick this thing!

I didn't mention yesterday - because I didn't post anything - that we found out our new table made it to Bakersfield - but was damaged. They are making us a new table and decided today to deliver the damaged table so we will have something to use. The damage isn't structural so with the table pad and table cloth we should be good to go. They also damaged one of the chairs so we have to check that out tomorrow and call them to see if they need to make another chair as well.