Disposable Digital Side Note

January 18th, 2006

I did not want to detract from the monologue about the disposable digital camera that I bought on my last trip, so I moved this portion of the story out to be told separately.
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Am I the only one that has these conversations with people? Was it something that I did that makes me the participant in such situations? Am I being punished?

I took my disposable digital camera back to a CVS location between work and home to be "developed". I could not even begin to estimate the last time I took film in to a drug store. I felt out of my element for sure. What I can only imagine to be standard procedure dictates that she inquire if I want single or double prints. I desire neither, but just in case, I ask for single. Again, I am a novice in the realm of one hour photo. I did not want to feel the wrath of the photo technician because I said I wanted no prints when offered a choice between single or double.

She then asks if I want the CD with my prints.

This is the part that threw me. Are you serious? Why would I buy a digital camera if I was not interested in the digital pictures? Do people actually do this? Yes, miss. I would like the CD. I was even more perplexed by her question once I picked up my prints...as they were horrible. I had rationalized the situation by making up some story about how CVS has some revolutionary technology that allows their disposable digital cameras to print crystal clear photos. Alas, no dice.

Dear sir,

January 16th, 2006

I stood in front of you in line this afternoon at Burger King. I placed my order and rested against the railing while I waited patiently for my order. Typically, when I find myself in this situation I will pull the book I am currently free-reading from my left cargo pocket and squeeze a few pages in before my food is ready. Today, in my haze of monotony I opted to observe those around me instead. In case you were not sure, you are thus included in "those around me".

Fast food ordering protocol was followed to the letter. The woman behind the counter finished stacking the soup crackers neatly in the bin to her right and looked up to take your order. You did not advance to the register before she granted you leave to do so. Like a southern gentleman you glided to place in front of her that was yours by right of your spot in line. You were like two dancers in a ballet, each move choreographed to the most minute detail. And then the weight of your thick head got in the way.

You began with proper eye contact with woman. Then, pointing to the poster behind her of a giant burger with three beef patties piled high with crisp lettuce and juicy tomato slices, you ask her, "Why doesn't my burger ever look like that one?"

I will not even launch into some diatribe about how this is not the appropriate customer service channel for your concern and just highlight the fact that my sense of humor is at least on par with that of the average American. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt as I hope that you were attempting to make a joke. You appeared to be a upper-middle class worker in your mid 50s. Perhaps the generational gap is to blame, sir.

I do not need to tell you that the poor tiny immigrant woman did not get your joke either. I have no doubts that you were able to notice the vacant expression on her face that served as response to your question. It would seem your genius was lost on us both.

Upon your next visit to Amateur Night or the next Open Mic Night the joke may carry more weight in laughter. Leave telling jokes to the little foreign woman who knows little more English than "Whopper" and "Chicken Fries" to the professionals.

Sincerely yours,

The guy that was in front of you in line.

Auto Show '06

January 16th, 2006

One of my favorite nights of the year for the past three years has been going to the Charity Preview of the North American International Auto Show. Nick's parents get him two tickets in hopes that he will take a date. Rather than doing that...he takes me. No complaints here. The night is an excuse to rent a tuxedo, head to downtown Detroit, see some cars and grab a steak someplace for dinner after the show.

This year, for the first time, I took my camera with me. Last year I wanted to, but assumed we were not allowed. When I got there I saw that many people were carrying digital cameras. I corrected my mistake. I wish I had taken more pictures, since I had room, but I still managed to take 70 decent pictures. The pictures are available here. As an amateur photographer I am still learning as I go. If I get to go next year, I would not expect to return home with room for 90 more pictures like I did this time.

As stated above, this was my third time going in as many years. Each Auto Show has been unique. I cannot say which of the three has been my favorite, but I do know it was not this year's. I hate to say that for fear of showing disrespect to those who provided me with the opportunity to go, however. The night out as a whole was fantastic; I had an incredible time. The event itself was just not the best.

From the moment we walked in the door the show was lacking. I believe the two previous years held more excitement and wonder. I was like a kid in a candy shop before. I have considered whether going to the Auto Show has simply become monotonous and perhaps the excitement has left for that reason. I do not believe this to be true. The cars are always so different and at no other time do I have the opportunity to sit in so many cars I could never afford and all in one night. It was the same this year as I walked from one exhibit to the next in anxious anticipation of the cars we would find there. I apologize for not being able to describe the feeling that made this year's show not the best more concretely.

I am admittedly not a big "car guy". That may seem strange, but it is a fact. (I still look forward to this night above almost all of the rest.) I normally do not even get excited about cars. The only car I have ever wanted is a Dodge Viper. I know it is a cheesy pick and of all the cars in the world I could have made a better choice, but that is it. That is the one I have liked from the day I saw my first. This year I even got a chance to sit in it. The Viper is not a roomy car by any stretch of the imagination. I have always said that if somehow I ended up getting one you would have to pour me in the window and I would never be able to get back out. As you can see I was not far off in my estimation of how hard it would be for me to get in and out.

The highlights of the show were the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford F-250 Super Chief. That is not to say that there were not many other cars worth seeing, because there were, but those were my particular favorites.

I have never been to the "open to the public" portion of the Auto Show which is the week or so following the Charity Preview. I do not think I would enjoy that as much as the Auto Show has become such a night out; I have been spoiled. Seeing an exhibit hall full of plainclothes patrons may be more than I can handle. There were some cars you should definitely see if you get the opportunity though.

Location:
Cobo Conference/Exhibition Center
One Washington Boulevard
Detroit, MI 48226
www.Cobo-info.com

Times:
Saturday, January 14 through Saturday, January 21:
9 a.m.-10 p.m. (no admittance after 9 p.m.)
Sunday, January 22:
9 a.m.-7 p.m. (no admittance after 6 p.m.)

Access for Handicapped individuals during public show is at 8 a.m.

Ticket Prices:
Adult: $12
Senior Citizen (65 and older): $6
Children 7-12: $5
Children 6 and under free with their parent (every child in a school group must have a ticket to enter the show, see Group Tickets for discounts)

Disposable Digital Camera

January 9th, 2006

I headed off to Washington, D.C. to ring in the New Year with friends. It should not be too surprising that I wanted pictures to commemorate the holiday night out, but for me it is not as easy as just taking my camera with me. I have a Canon Digital Rebel EOS that I love. I do not put myself in situations to use it as often as I would like, but I love the camera.

The problem lies in the fact that I feel pretty self-conscious when I hold it. As an SLR camera, it is bigger than most other digital cameras and I often feel like a tourist rather than a casual picture taker carrying it around; especially when photographing people. I have actually been told that I make people feel uncomfortable when I take their picture with it.

At the party we were attending on New Year's Eve, I would know two people well, a small handful of people not so well and the other people not at all. I had hoped to make friends rather than enemies and I felt by leaving my gargantuan camera at home I could better facilitate that goal. I would instead bank on one of the two people I would know at the party to bring his digital camera and capture the night in my stead.

He forgot his camera.

He was able to redeem himself in my esteem to some extent by suggesting that we swing by a drug store and pick up one of those disposable digital cameras he had heard about. My internal conflict kicked in between my skepticism about throw-away-technology quality and my desire for pictures of our night out. The price was the deciding factor.

At CVS they sell disposable digital cameras with capacity for 25 pictures for roughly $15. They told us that for $10 our pictures would be "developed" and we would get them on a CD. Thus a total of $25 for 25 pictures. $1 per picture may be cost prohibitive to some; I was not overly thrilled, but made my decision and bought the camera.

I was very impressed *overall* with the disposable digital camera I bought that day. The camera does hold up to 25 pictures, but though disposable acts in many regards as any other digital. You are not able to cycle through the pictures you have taken, but there is a display window that will show you the last picture taken. If you are not happy with the picture when it shows up on display, you may even delete it. (Note: If you delete the most recent, you are neither able to see the picture before it nor delete it. You may only see and/or delete the most recent picture taken.)

The display was rather poor quality, but for the price I cannot complain. The only issue I have with it is that I took some pictures where my hand was too close to the flash and I distorted a few of them as a result. I was not able to distinguish between pictures when I had done this and those when I had not on the display.

My only other complaint with the camera was its inability to center the picture where I wanted. No matter what I pointed the camera at the picture was always slightly left or slightly right. I would be more able to compensate for this issue if it was static. Unfortunately it seemed when I would step left to correct the centering I should have stepped right. When I would step right, I would need to have stepped left. For some pictures that I took after the holiday on a tourist jaunt (to Washington National Cathedral), this was acceptable. When shooting immobile subject matter there are no worries. Had people been posing for me they would not have had the patience to keep smiling while I took picture after picture to make it come out correctly.

Image quality was not very good on the single prints that came with my CD. While not surprised, I was still slightly disappointed. This left my expectations for the images on my CD pretty low as a result.

I am pleased to report on the quality of the digital images. I do think the pictures from the Cathedral turned out very well. I am not so happy with the pictures from the party, but that is partially because my hand by the flash as I mentioned above.

The experience, I can admit, was a positive one. I still wish I had taken my camera and gotten over my concerns about using it though. My new rule is to take my camera with me on every trip, whether I plan to use it or not. At least then I have it if I feel I want to use it. I do not plan to ever buy a disposable digital camera again, but I think you can all feel confident in the purchase if you find yourself in need.

January 4th, 2006
Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.
- Redd Foxx

Washington, D.C.

January 3rd, 2006

Capitol BuildingI am not sure I would ever care to live there, due to real estate prices and heavy traffic, but Washington, D.C. is a great place to visit. I have a close friend who lives just outside the Capitol in Bethesda, Maryland. I make the trip out to see him every few months, well I try to anyway. My most recent trip was just this past weekend. This was the first trip on which he has taken me around to experience some of the "touristy" activities.

On Friday he took me to the area he referred to as "The Mall." For those of us out of the loop, we would have just called it "that place with all of the museums." To see them all is a more-than-one-day project; the buildings are all large and the area is rather spread out. If you take the Metro, get off at the Smithsonian Station. It is a beautiful piece of land between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument. Since we had not allotted the entire day, or even a significant portion of it, to museums, we chose only a few to visit. For a complete listing of the museums, see here.

The first was The National Museum of American History. We walked through a few of the exhibits and the one I found most interesting was The Price of Freedom: Americans at War. The part of the museum that blew me away most was right when you walk in the door. Hanging from the wall opposite the front doors is the enormous American Flag that was used in 2001 to cover the damage to the Pentagon following the terrorist attacks.

Next we visited The National Museum of Natural History. We saw the Family Hall of Mammals which was pretty cool. It is hard to imagine how many species of animals that I had never heard of, let alone seen. We also went into the Dinosaur exhibit, though I think everyone who goes into the Museum of Natural History sees the dinosaurs, so it is no surprise that I went.

We sat for a short while on some freezing cold benches watching families skate on the ice rink located in the sculpture garden. It was a nice break from the walking. Doesn't hurt to get to see a few kids fall on the ice either! Well, it didn't hurt me, anyway. I can't say the same for the kids who fell...

Moonlit Landscape with Bridge - Aert van der NeerThe final stop on our brief tour of the Smithsonian Museums was the National Gallery of Art. We did not stay long as time ran short on our afternoon, but we did get to see some fantastic paintings. The picture is of one of my particular favorites. We also had the privilege of seeing a work done by Vincent van Gogh where he actually painted on both sides of whatever surface he used. We happened upon that at the same time as a pair of women who looked at it and talked about it like there was nothing in life that gave them more pleasure. It is always nice to see passionate people.

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Washington National CathedralAnother item on our tourist agenda was a visit to the Washington National Cathedral. I had been to the Cathedral once before on a school trip some 10 years ago, so it did look familiar, but I was still amazed by the architecture. It was built on the highest elevation in Washington, D.C. so I recommend the obvservation galleries. You can take one of two elevators up to the 7th level and look out on the entire surrounding area. I hope you have a clearer day than I had, however. It was foggy and overcast so visibility was very limited.

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I wish I had taken my camera with me. I did not expect to do any sight seeing, so I left it at home. I had to dig up the pictures you see from other sources on the internet, though I would have much preferred to show you what I saw as I saw it. All I can say is next time, I'll have it with me.

Each of the museums we saw was worth the trip and there were many more I would like to go to when I get another chance. I also recommend a trip to the Cathedral if you have time while you are in Washington, D.C.

Friendly...of?

December 22nd, 2005

Have you ever heard the expression "burning the candle from both ends"? It was always used in my presence in the context of doing too much; staying up too late and getting up too early in the morning. I am often told that I burn the candle from both ends when I try to fit too many activities into too little time. Unlike many people my age, I do not work 60-80-100 hours each week, but I do fill my dance card pretty well. I manage to get 4-6 hours of sleep each night during the week, though every once and awhile I will pick a day to sacrifice. I will go to sleep at roughly 6PM and sleep through the night and recharge my batteries. I think I may need to do that tonight.

I had planned to go to bed relatively early last night. After my exams ended on Sunday afternoon I have been wishing for a day of rest, though I am too stubborn to take a day off from work. The most I can hope for is a chance to be at home, in bed, ready for sleep at a decent hour. That was planned last night, though it never came through. In no way, however, am I disappointed.

Friends and family joined me for dinner last night at one of my favorite restaurants. We had a great meal, some relatively interesting conversation and one or more laughs. My plan was to enjoy dinner out and then go straight home and try to settle in for the evening. It was a great idea in theory, all until Josh had to ask where we were going after dinner.

What is nice is that when something happens, rest assured one of two people will either be blamed for the event itself or having some bizarre influence over causing the effect. You can always know, if not me, then Josh. I will need heavy doses of caffeine today, and I blame Josh. It was his idea to go out, so I point the finger at him, but the stories are great and he gets the credit.

It is not a secret that I have a hard time saying "no" when invited to go out. Most opportunities to do so excite me. There was no surprise, to me anyway, that I abandoned my plan for sleep in favor of going out after dinner. And you know why? No good stories ever come from being in bed early. You do not always get good stories from the bar, but at least the potential is there. Sometimes you have to roll the dice. Last night, my horse came in.

Full story »

Why so much with the ice?

December 15th, 2005

I drink what is safely my daily requirement for water. I have a bottle that I refill at various strategic times throughout the day. When I go to restaurants, maybe you should just leave the pitcher. It will save you a good deal of effort.

I have never worked in the food service industry, maybe therein lies the source of my confusion. If you do not leave me the pitcher and then refill my water glass when you see it empty, would you not prefer to minimize the amount of trips? Do you honestly enjoy noticing that yet again my glass is empty so that you may fill it once more? I'm not much of a betting man, but I would wager you do not. Your time would probably be more enjoyed if you were sitting on a stool in the kitchen watching time pass than refilling my water.

Here is a tip. This one is on the house. When you are now refilling my water for the umpteenth time and 85% of the space inside the glass is occupied by ice cubes, that is ridiculous. Stop giving me more ice each time you refill my water. Just stop. I know you want to make sure my water is ice cold so I might enjoy it more thoroughly, but truth be told I do not let it last that long in most instances. All you are doing is creating more work for yourself because I am able to drain the glass more quickly because there is less water in it to begin with as less fits in between all of those lovely ice cubes.

Yes, I honestly get worked up over this.

December 14th, 2005
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
- Mohandas Gandhi

You are not alone.

December 9th, 2005

I have lived with it and not said a word. I have stood idly by and held my tongue. I don't know what I was thinking. Maybe if I ignored it, it would go away. Or even that someone else would come forward. It may be my guilt for not stepping up to the plate before, or perhaps I just can't take it anymore. I have lived with this bottled up inside for so long. I need to say something. And the time is now.

There is a lot of emotion swirling around in my head surrounding this topic. If my thoughts come out too sporadically, I apologize in advance. For you see, I have these flashbacks. There are images burnt into my mind that I am not sure, even with therapy, could ever go away.

There is a place you go, where you are not alone. People are watching. Whether they want to admit it or not, their eyes fall upon you. You need to be mindful of that. You need to always respect the fact that though not everyone can get to where you are, enough people can. They...we...have feelings, too. Please keep that in mind.

I don't mean to single you out. You may not think it's fair. It may even be considered discrimination for me to make one post about no one else but naked old men in the locker room at the gym. If that is the case, let the consequences be what they may.

If you are walking from the shower to your locker, I can deal with that. You're in the men's locker room. It is relatively acceptable for you to walk your bare wrinkled old man body around when you have reason to be au natural. What I cannot take anymore is the other things you do.

You sit on the bench. Naked. With no towel underneath you. Sure, in 15 minutes no one will ever know. You'll be dressed and on your way home by then. But for a few minutes after you get up, you've left your mark. There it is. The pressed ham. Maybe we can plead with the gym to not use such a shiny finish on the benches. Then perhaps we won't see the autograph your butt has signed in steam for the world to see.

You stand at the mirror. Shaving. Naked. Really naked. It gets even worse when you lean up against the counter to get a closer look at your whiskers.

Dude...

I was debating whether or not to share this one with you. In the end I thought it was best. You should know. You have the right to know. My disclaimer here is that I take no responsibility for any infliction of emotional distress. If you have a weak stomach, stop reading. If you take heart medication or are a pregnant female, turn away now.

I went to the gym last week to play basketball. That is the little exercise I get these days and I don't make it up there as often as I would like. If this is what I can expect, maybe I will have to take up inline skating...

After a few hours on the court (mostly breathing heavy and/or waiting for my turn to play) I shower at the gym. Not uncommon by any means. Have you ever had a pain that starts in your eyes and then scatters throughout your brain? Well I hadn't, not until I left the shower that day. On the day in question as I was walking from shower back to my locker I froze like a deer in headlights...

At the first bench there was an old man sitting. I see more out of the corner of my eye as I turn. At first I have an overwhelming feeling of exuberance flood my body. This man is sitting on his towel! You sir, are an example for others to follow. Good show. The feeling did not last. After that initial moment my eyes focus.

Here he sits. This old man. Naked. On his towel, sure. His leg is propped up on the locker and he is, I kid you not, oscillating a blow dryer between his legs. Maybe this man's grapes are insured by Lloyd's of London and are too delicate for the industry standard towel treatment. I don't want to have the conversation with you, sir, as to why your huevos rancheros are deserving of such pampered treatment. I just want you to not do that out in public.

I hate to imagine this as epidemic, but I am not so foolish as to think this happens only at my gym. Old men everywhere are rubbing their naked naughty parts on things. And we can do nothing but sit and watch while it goes on.

Wow that sounded gross.

Just please remember to be mindful of others around you. You are not alone. We can see you. And nobody wants to do that.