Monday, January 30, 2006

Photo Friday: VANITY

Photo Friday subject for week of January 27, 2006.............VANITY. I guess a picture starring me as the subject qualifies as a vanity shot, eh?

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another Sunday

Tiffiny, Jeff, Blake, and Braxton came by to visit for a bit today. I took the opportunity to take a few pictures to "put in stock" so that I'll have a few new ones to play with in Photoshop. We took several shots and I showed the boys how I could digitally insert Braxton into Blake's hand. Not the best of my work but not too bad for a rush job. Speaking of rush, Tiffiny mentioned going to Target and I guess the shopping bug bit her. Here's a shot of her scooting out of the driveway in a bit of a rush!
note: the picture of the mustang above is really a shot from an older well known movie. Anyone have any idea as to the movie and its' real driver?

Saturday, January 28, 2006


It's time once again for ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY.
A simple photo collage done in PhotoShop. This one is Marlene Dietrich and my granddaughter Micah for the Illustration Friday subject Glamour.

Red Sky At Morning

This shot was taken this morning around 7:45. Just a few more minutes laying in the bed and I would have missed it. Saturday, January 28, 2006.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Brief Personal Update

It's been a while since I posted anything even remotely important and today is probably no exception. I do have to report that I have completed my Thallium Stress Test and they found no blockages or damaged heart muscle. While it is a relief to know that I have no impending major cardiac problems it does cause me concern in that it means that my breathing troubles have some other cause which has not yet been determined.

I did a two night sleep study last Thursday and Friday. That was exhausting but not really for the reasons that the sleep specialist thinks. They tell me that I have sleep apnea and that I need to be on a c-pap or bi-pap breathing machine. They tell me that this will allow me to breathe easier at night and that I will awake more rested and refreshed. What they do not realize is that I did not rest peacefully during the tests because I ALWAYS have trouble sleeping in a bed that is not my own! I am also not accustomed to someone coming in every hour or so and checking the myriad of wires that dangled from me during the test. The second night I was supposed to try and sleep with the c-pap machine (face mask) on me. That required having a full face mask strapped over my face. By the end of the night my face was raw where the rubber seals touched my cheeks and the technician kept increasing the pressure throughout the night. By morning it was similiar to trying to get to sleep with the exhaust end of vacuum cleaner hose in your mouth. I have to go back on February 7 to hear the "official" reslults of that test.

Obviously I'm no doctor but I think that my problems stem from the fact that I have gotten downright lazy. I aggravated an old back injury back during the summer and once cold weather set in it really bothers me when I get out in the cold. With the onset of winter I totally stopped exercising. I stopped riding my bicycle and I stopped taking my two mile walks before work in the morning. I come home from work, have dinner, sit on the couch and get fatter and fatter. Hmm, wonder if that could have anything to do with my declining physical well-being?

On another note, today I registered a domain name and set up a website. I have no idea what I am going to do with this site. Yahoo had a sale on domain registrations and I couldn't resist wasting the nine bucks for my three year hold on the website address .

If anyone has any good ideas what to do with some perfectly good web space please let me know.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Illustration Friday: CATS

My sketching for the ILLUSTRATION FRIDAY subject CATS.
Darn, I wish that I could draw better! For anyone who knows me well the subjects are Braxton, Blake, and Micah.
People, animals, and other living things are definitely not my forte but this one was fun anyway.

Photo Friday: PINK

My PINK entry for this weeks PHOTO FRIDAY challenge.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Another Stress Test

Well, today I had my second cardiac stress test in about three years. It will be several days before I know the results and in the meantime I will just keep my fingers crossed and ponder the logistics of a test that basically requires a technician to inject me with poison. Yes, I said POISON! You see, I made the mistake of looking over the doctors shoulder when he was writing the order for the "Thallium Stress Test". I didn't think much about it at the time but, guess what?...That very next night my wife and I were watching Forensic Files. They highlighted a case where a lady slowly poisoned her husband by putting THALLIUM in his iced tea. Thallium? What the crap? Isn't that what my doctor ordered for me? Well, this guy developed all sorts of problems. He got severe body aches, his hair fell out, and he eventually died. I am watching this show, all the while thinking "surely I just misread the order". Guess what? I didn't misread the order. Apparently thallium has some medical value as a tracer when administered by someone trained and knowledgeable in its' use. My "administering agent" today was a man named John, who gets great joy growing peppers. All sorts of peppers, the hotter the better. Anyway John is a likeable sort of guy. He jokes (I hope it's joking!) about holding me hostage for 3 to 4 hours. He jokes about forcing me to run on a treadmill until I almost drop and then he jokes about injecting me with poison and radioactive materials once my heart is thoroughly stressed. I started this whole process at 8:00am . At this point I might mention that I am a coffee hound and I had been instructed NOT to have any caffeine of any type after this past Monday night. THREE DAYS WITHOUT COFFEE! Well, I had an iv line put into my arm and began the testing. First time I spent about 25-30 minutes laying motionless in the scan machine watching daytime tv on the overhead monitor. After that there was a bit of a wait then I had the "stress" part of the test. I was hooked up to a myriad of ekg electrodes and then forced to walk in an increasingly accelerating gait on a treadmill until it was determined that my heart had reached it maximum operating speed (a nice way of saying that I was about to pass out from exhaustion). That's when John had me injected with another dose of the radioactive material and told me to keep up a fast pace for at least another minute. After that I was FINALLY allowed to have something to drink. I opted for a cup of hot java which I downed quickly then refilled the cup again. I figured that I deserved this having deprived myself of coffee for three days. After a few cups of coffee I was once again strapped into the scan where I tried to remain motionless for another 25-30 minutes. Finally when I thought that I would surely doze off (which John advised was not allowed) a buzzer sounded indicating the end of the test. It was 11:40-am and John smiled, said " well, I didn't kill you" and declared that he was "releasing me from captivity". What a morning! And tonight I am taking a sleep study test. Can you actually take a test in your sleep? I'll let you know tommorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

It's Time For A Little Rant

Foul Language, Common Courtesy, and Professional Etiquette
I've just finished watching 60 Minutes and I have to admit that I am one those people who actually get out a kick out of listening to Andy Rooney. Oh, I know that a good many people think him a bit annoying but I really do enjoy his segments.
He made one statement during his segment tonight that struck a chord with me. Andy Rooney said that when he goes to the movies he is still genuinely uncomfortable with the proliferation of the "F" word in modern movies and with the ease at which most young people accept it as a normal part of conversation.
My wife and I moved to Michigan for a short while in 1995 and we were both shocked that typical Michaganders used the "F" word so frequently. We thought it unusual at the time but now see that it is commonplace all over the country. Oh, we're not prudes and we are definitely not above a good swear word when circumstances dictate but we were exposed to people who seemed to think that using the "F" word is a perfectly normal, proper, and socially acceptable . It is more commonly considered as one of the most impolite and flexible curse words in the English language being used as verb, noun, adjective and adverb
As a case in point I use one of my co-workers there in Warren, Michigan as an example. Dan (no, not you Dan L.) used the F word so freely that I once counted its use 27 times in a two minute period.
Now when my wife and I go the movies and they use the "F" word excessively we always joke and say something such as "must have filmed that one in Michigan!".
What disturbs me more is that its use has also become commonplace where I work now in Chattanooga, Tn. Co-workers use foul language openly (and sometimes loudly) in areas where customers would be exposed to it. It's not only used openly by the average employee but also by people who are in leadership positions. These people should know better, expect better from their co-workers, and display a more professional attitude in the workplace.
While I also slip and spew forth an "expletive deleted" from time to time I try to limit this behavior to the confines of my office. I like to think that there are just too many others ways of expressing concern or displeasure. One mental aid that helps me to keep a leash on my tongue is to imagine that my own mother could be just around the corner listening. I know, I am 50 years old and can speak any way that I want but what my mother thinks of me is still important and a guiding force in my day to day life. Believe me, she would not be proud to hear me talking like a drunken sailor. Believe me, I am sure that my customers would not like it either!
I may be a bit old fashioned but I just don't think that "F^*&! you, you old A$$&#!^" would be an acceptable substitute for "Gee Willikers, Mr. Wilson" if they ever make a motion picture of the old Dennis The Menace show.

One More Sunday Picture

I just couldn't resist the temptation to post one more picture today. The beauty of PhotoShop is that I can save the shot of me, Michael, and Micah on the sofa (with all the background removed) and then insert it almost anywhere. Here's another variation on that ENERGY photo which I posted earlier today.

E IS FOR....

Yeah, I know it's not real art and not an actual hand drawn illustration but this is the idea that came to my mind when I saw the Illustration Friday topic for the week "E is for ...". While Michael and I were just trying to remain as "bodies at rest" Micah demonstrates one of the more basic laws of physics, that old adage "bodies in motion tend to stay in motion" or something like that (did I just make that up? I never did study physics!).

Thursday, January 12, 2006


A last minute posting for Photo Friday. The subject posted 1/6/06 is Panorama. Many will undoubtedly recognize the location. It's the Lone Cypress which is one of the most popular tourist sites along 17-Mile Drive at Monterrey, California. I took this photo in 1992 when, for a brief period, I lived in Sunnyvale, California. There is no fancy stitching, editing, or touch up work on this photo. I copied the original image, made a mirror image, and then copied and pasted the images back to back to form this Panoramic collage.

To see several much more professionally made photos of this beautiful site please follow the link below. I am not affiliated with this site in any way. I just think the site is well worth a vist for anyone interested in fantastic nature photography.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

A testament to good intentions

It was once said by someone dear to me that I am a man of many half-baked projects and good intentions. At first I tried to deny it, making excuses for my failure to follow through with my many plans but then I finally had to admit the truth. The older I get the lazier I become. Oh, not lazy in the sense that I'd let the house fall down around me. And not so lazy that I'd let the lawn go wild when it needs a good mowing. But lazy with the things that might indicate that I'm not just content to exist and get by in life. I'm jealous of people who make the time to work, keep up a house, AND still develop other interesting hobbies.
I realized how lazy that I've become when I stepped out back to take a picture tonight. The moon was shining through the limbs of an old oak in my back yard that threatens to fall on the house some day. I've been meaning to cut it down for two years now. I hadn't really given it a thought until I looked at the pictures that I took. I actually climbed up in that tree 18 months ago, cut two limbs, got tired ( or was it scared?), climbed down, and put that on the back burner for a while.
Well, one thought leads to another and while I was looking at the picture of that tree I couldn't help but notice the things in the pictures above. The "Teach Yourself PhotoShop" book, the box of 72 colored pencils, my Roland keyboard. TROPHIES every one of them! I bought the keyboard because I always wanted to play the piano. Not just peck at the keys but really play! Do I practice often? No! Do I pay for piano lessons? No! I taught myself to peck out a few strains of The Andy Griffin Show theme. That's it, nothing more. I bought a beginners book and fooled around with it for about a week. Now that keyboard serves as boredom relief for the oldest grandson when he comes over.
I bought the colored pencils because I was going to try to live up to my familys' ascertion that I was some sort of artist. Maybe I was twenty years ago. I actually DID do artwork for my high school yearbook. I actually DID paint posters and banners for school pep rallies. I actually DID win an award for my artwork when I was a senior at Leeds High School. Now when I try to draw or sketch I get frustrated when I can't create art quickly! I must say though that I am actually reading the book on PhotoShop and feel somewhat good about my efforts there.
I did figure out what part of the problem might be. I expect these things to come too easily. I usually get in to work about 7:00am. It's dark during the winter months when I go in. I usually don't leave work until after 6:00pm. It's dark during the winter months when I get off. Add the thirty minute trip each way and that's 12 hours a day. And I don't even want to talk about the weekends when I usually try to go in to catch up a bit (although I do that less these days also). By the time I get home, watch the news, and have dinner it's about 8:00pm. Two hours to study or play then it's off to bed by 10:00pm (except for tonight; it's 10:34 and I'm still up). revelation? You have to make time for yourself! Decide what's important, what makes you feel good about yourself, make time for it and realize that anything worth having requires a bit of work. You have to give yourself a little kick on occassion just to get motivated. Well, that's my rant for tonight. Guess I'll hit the sack right after I think up some new projects to start!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Illustration Friday: SEA

My Illustration Friday project for 1/6/06. The fish are a sculpture that has graced our bookshelf for several years and the shells are from various trips to the Gulf Of Mexico, the Atlantic coast of Florida, and the Pacific Ocean near Monterrey, California. The finished project is a combination of several layers, all edited with PhotoShop. I've just started to learn a little about it and I found the greatest site if you want to learn more about PhotoShop than the books tell you. It's called and the site is great. They have tons of tutorials and shortcuts as well as video demonstrations. I highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to get more from PhotoShop. I've included a few hidden images in this picture for anyone interested in looking for them.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


My Illustration Friday entry:FLAVOR. My big weakness, Hot Tamales! Quite possibly one of the best candies ever made (right behind Mike & Ikes). This was an easy subject to come up with as my wife Susan keeps a large jar full of Hot Tamales on the computer desk as well as a backup bag in the hutch.