Photo Theme of the Month - November, 2008

October 22nd, 2008

Photo Theme of the Month - October, 2008

September 24th, 2008

Stone Mountain

November 8th, 2007


Ok, so there is an enormous piece of granite 30 minutes outside Atlanta that has three men carved into its side. It is for all intents and purposes the "Confederate Mt. Rushmore" because it bears the likeness of Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and Stonewall Jackson. largest low relief sculpture in the world, the Confederate Memorial Carving, depicts three Confederate heroes of the Civil War, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. The entire carved surface measures three acres, larger than a football field. The carving of the three men towers 400 feet above the ground, measures 90 by 190 feet, and is recessed 42 feet into the mountain. The deepest point of the carving is at Lee's elbow, which is 12 feet to the mountain's surface.

In 1958 the state of Georgia purchased the mountain and the surrounding land. The Georgia General Assembly created the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. In 1960 the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial Advisory Committee was composed of six internationally known figures in the world of art. A competition was held, and nine world-renowned sculptors submitted designs for a new sculpture. In 1963, based upon recommendations by the Advisory Committee, the Stone Mountain Memorial Association chose Walker Kirkland Hancock of Gloucester, Massachusetts to complete the carving. Work resumed in 1964, and a new technique utilizing thermo-jet torches was used to carve away the granite. Chief carver Roy Faulkner, a marine veteran with a talent for using the new thermo-jet torch, was able to remove tons of stone in one day. For over eight years Park guests could see and hear the workmen and their jet torches. The figures were completed with the detail of a fine painting. Eyebrows, fingers, buckles and even strands of hair were fine-carved with a small thermo-jet torch. The carving is actually much larger than it appears from Stone Mountain Park's attractions. Workers could easily stand on a horse's ear or inside a horse's mouth to escape a sudden rain shower. A dedication ceremony for the Confederate Memorial Carving was held on May 9, 1970. Finishing touches to the masterpiece were completed in 1972. -wikipedia

We went in late October, which I imagine isn't really peak season for the attraction, but it was still a great time. Stone Mountain Park is much more than the mountain itself, the park has miles of sidewalks for running/walking/biking that meander through the trees, there are private lakes, river boats, a theme-park city built at the base of the mountain, Duck Tours, cable cars that take you to the top of the mountain (if you don't feel like walking to the top), and more.

We paid $8 to park, which is reasonable. Adult tickets with access to each attraction are $25 during peak times, but we paid $15 for the limited selection that was available.

The park is beautiful and we got to see the entire thing courtesy of the Duck Tour. If you have never been on one of these you're missing out. I know they have them in most major cities (that have access to some water). The tour transport is an amphibious vehicle that holds 25-30 people. We drove around and saw the many picnic tables set up for anyone's (who has paid to park) use and then we drove directly into one of the private lakes and cruised around the water for awhile. The tour lasted about 45 minutes and it was (at least in part thanks to Captain Harrold) my favorite part of Stone Mountain Park.

We took the cable car to the top of Stone Mountain, which allowed a different point of view for the carving to see its immensity from up close. Once at the top of the mountain we climbed down a ways, hung out for a bit overlooking the greater Atlanta area and then hiked back to the top. Don't let the gradual decline fool you on the way down, getting back to the top is a chore.

It is hard to believe that a giant carving of the leaders of the Confederacy exists, and that it was commissioned during the Civil Rights Movement no less. But there it is, about 30 minutes outside Atlanta. We were able to wear ourselves out with just a few activities and spend only 4-5 hours at the mountain. There was more to do, or less, depending on your mood or energy level. I cannot say that I have visited many theme parks, but I had a great time at Stone Mountain Park.

Ink Pen

October 5th, 2007

"May I borrow your ink pen?"

I wish I knew the best place to go and over hear these polite requests. I would probably prefer to call it "peoplelistening" since it is just observation like peoplewatching, but more innocent than eavesdropping.

It seems to be people from the south, and it isn't even all people from the south, though I wish it were every one of them -- I would pack up my things and leave the Mason-Dixon Line in my wake as I migrated south forever.

I am not sure you actually need to specify that it is their ink pen you wish to borrow, but boy am I glad you do.

The Cat Story Continued...

October 3rd, 2007

I will try not to rehash any of the events that took place before the last post about my "Am I going to get a cat?" saga.

To make a long story short, 2 weeks ago I adopted two kittens from the Michigan Humane Society. They are 6 months old and could be brothers. (All I have to base that on is that they are the same age and were dropped off together.)

You may wonder, as many already have, why, when I was unable to decide if I wanted A cat, I came home with MULTIPLE cats. But I had put a lot of thought into it and with the time I sometimes have to spend away from home I decided to bring home a cat and his playmate. And when I saw these particular cats, who were together, I did not want to split them up.

I took some preliminary "I just got home with my new cats" pictures and they are available here. I am sure I will take more over time, but those are just to whet your appetite.

They came to me as Ricky and Roger, and have not yet been rebranded. (It turns out I am pretty particular about some things. Who knew?) The one with the white legs is Ricky. By the process of elimination, Roger is the other.

I am entertaining suggestions on their names. I never figured naming pets would be so difficult. I'm leaning towards changing Roger to Oscar. But I am stumped on what to do with Ricky.

"Roger" is a sweet - though very curious - cat. He loves to play but is certainly more subdued than his brother when it is not play time.

"Ricky" is an attention hog and bullies his way into your lap when you try to share the love. He is generally less mischevious than his brother and seems to know his boundaries better.

They are both "fixed," though neither has been or will be declawed. I had hoped to adopt declawed cats, but I cannot bring myself to put them through that. And they are borderline too old for it anyway, from what I have read.

Neither likes to talk too much, but Roger does get a little squeaky when he wants something.

It has been a great experience for me so far and I am glad everyday that I made this decision.

Do the right thing.

August 8th, 2007

The idea has been popularized and since bastardized by Sin City. "What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas." I happen to dislike the way the slogan has been colloquialized and is now used so freely, but I love what it stands for. It stands for the idea that there are people you can trust. The travel ads suggest that there is an entire desert destination full of people you can trust not to divulge your secrets. This example is extreme because they won't tell on you because you won't tell on them. Not all silence is bred from mutual wrong-doing, but it is that bond, that "Brotherhood," that has gone unsaid in practically every level of social interaction since the dawn of time; it did not originate with nefarious relationships and scandalous nights out in Las Vegas.

While many groups still live or die (sometimes literally) by the concept today, one area where it seems to have eroded most is professional sports. There are stories over the past few years from all sports, but I'm most concerned with Major League Baseball.

All it took was a few bad apples -- all of which apparently had too much free time -- and a market hungry for the information. Steroid use is the easy target for inquiry, but the worst and most addictive drug in sports today is the all-mighty dollar. That is what has enabled whistleblowers to get their 15 minutes of fame. There was a time that "What happened in Major League Baseball, stayed in Major League Baseball." I do not believe for one second that it wasn't until recently that professional athletes began to pray to chemical gods for abilities the spiritual gods did not give them.

August 7, 2007 will forever be the day that Barry Bonds hit his 756th homerun. There is an endless supply of sports writers and fans who want exercise their (self-given) right to play judge, jury and executioner by way of punctuation. (The asterisk (*) has become the most powerful character a keyboard can produce.) They want the record for most career homeruns, which is now held by Barry Bonds, to be flagged. They want sports almanacs to not only include, but emphasize that Barry Bonds has used steroids.

Most Career HR
Barry Bonds CHEATER756*
Hank Aaron755

I do not condone the actions of anyone who chooses to use performance-enhancing drugs. I do, however, understand that as the world becomes more and more competitive, people are increasingly driven to find an advantage -- wherever they can. But fierce competition is not new. If you want Barry Bonds forever chastized in the record books, please be absolutely sure that no one else broke any rules. And that is where I am conflicted.

What needs to happen -- and I believe that it needs to happen -- is for someone to step forward. If players before Barry Bonds used steroids (or any other drugs), someone please say so. But that would mean going against the Brotherhood, which still has more meaning (apparently) to older generations.

I cannot ask someone to break their silence because it would defeat what I believe in, but without involving names I want evidence to be discovered that will say definitively that players from Hank Aaron's era did not have the squeaky-clean reputation that they are purported to have. The irony is that the situation is so out of control that, even if it takes a large sum of money, I welcome (to an extent) a whistleblower from a generation ago.

I don't think Barry Bonds should be off the proverbial hook. I just think he is one bad guy in a profession notorious for -- and eerily quiet about -- its tradition of bad guys. I think America has produced generation after generation of wide-eyed little boys. The country is run by men who still remember going to their first ballgame and their baseball-playing heroes are still as infallible to them today as they were then. To think that something has happened to cast doubt on that idolization is catastrophic and people are angry with Barry Bonds for challenging their heroes' virtue. Ignorance is bliss.

We would love to let what happened in Vegas stay there, but what has happened recently in Major League Baseball is now public knowledge, and someone has decided that a player needs to answer for it. Sorry Barry.

Wallular Accoutrements

August 7th, 2007

I have remained lazy strong in my position to not cover the walls of my place with just anything. My interior decorating skills lie not in covering my walls, but in covering the floor (with dirty clothes) and the kitchen counter (with dirty dishes). And "stick to your strengths," I say.

But there has been one goal I set when I moved in (over three years ago). I said that I wanted to take at least one wall and showcase some of the pictures I have taken. What I would like to be able to do is preserve for myself, and share with others, the places I have been and the things I have seen. I would like to have some sort of representative sample of trips I have taken, with highlights from the places I have been most often.

I do not take pictures frequently and I am as much of a novice as a photographer can be, but it is one of my simple pleasures. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people who are able to frame and capture the beauty in the world, be it happiness or sadness. I want to be able to preserve those moments and those emotions for myself and other people.

I could very easily put off my desire to display some of my work. I have done it well enough to this point, but I have decided to get the ball rolling. And I haven't done much more than get the ball rolling. I have not picked a number, I have not picked an order, I have not picked frames, I have not picked my nose...well, ok, so I have picked ONE thing. But only for the sake of PROGRESS!

I have gone through my pictures and picked some early favorites. As with a camera, I am not sophisticated enough with this internet of ours to be able to put together an organized voting system, but what I can do is show you which pictures made "The Round of...Eighteen?"

Entry #1Entry #2Entry #3
Entry #4Entry #5Entry #6
Entry #7Entry #8Entry #9
Entry #10Entry #11Entry #12
Entry #13Entry #14Entry #15
Entry #16Entry #17Entry #18

The Cat I Didn't Get

June 22nd, 2007

I grew up in a "dog family," one where dogs make the only sensible pets. Feel free to argue, as I am sure my sister-in-law will, that it is only because I like to be different, but somehow, over my short tenure on our little planet I have developed an incredible affinity for cats. One of my favorite animals - if not my single favorite - is the tiger. For my money, a more majestic creature does not exist. I believe my preference for cats over dogs stems from this. I consider them to be little miniature, domestic (hopefully litter-trained) versions of their wild bretheren.

I have lived alone for the last three years and not until recently have I had a voice in my head (sounding strangely like one of my sisters...) suggesting how nice it would be to have a little furball around. It was nearly a capital crime to suggest we get a cat while I lived with my parents, but now I had the freedom to do as I pleased.

For the last few months I have had a few discussions with Alison (the sister alluded to above) wherein she has provided me with links to adoption pages for various cats. I cannot speak to her motivation, but from my perspective this was done entirely in fun. "Look at this one!" "CUTE!" And so on; you get the idea. I never really considered anything she sent me.

What I want, and have wanted was a Bengal Cat. They are only a few generations removed from the wild and have many lingering instincts other cats do not. None of the cats she sent me were bengals, so I never thought much about them.

Out of curiousity one Sunday night not two weeks past I decided to try a search on for bengals in my area. I was just curious to see if any were available and if I were serious, which I wasn't, it would be better to get a cat that had been rescued. There are many noble reasons for getting a rescued cat, but in case you're curious, bengal cats from a breeder are EXPENSIVE.

Playing around, I came across many cats, but one stuck out. Over the next few days it became increasingly apparent that I did NOT want a cat. I wanted THAT cat. He was skinny and would need to be fattened up, but he was adorable. I tried to tell myself how good I would be for him, to give him a permanent home, but the excitement came when I thought of how good he would be for me.

If you know me well, you know that I a) don't get excited about anything and b) have relatively low motivation. For the cat I found, I became very excited and somehow found the motivation to actually contact the mission which had rescued my cat. BIG STEP FOR ME.

I had it all planned out. Don't tell anyone. Contact the mission. Get the cat. Have people over. Show off my new furry little friend. SURPRISE!

However, it went more like this. E-mail them inquiring about the availability of the cat (Wednesday). Don't hear back. Call them (Thursday). Don't hear back. Call them again (Friday). Don't hear back. E-mail again (Tuesday). Find out he had been adopted by someone else via the internet (Thursday). E-mail them as a meager attempt to mitigate how crushed I was (Thursday). Don't hear back.

So I am sorry to all of you who didn't know I was going to get a cat. The surprise that was to-be has become the surprise that never-was. I'm less crushed now; I move on. But I am certainly disappointed. I would have liked to get this cat. I am also sorry to those of you who did find out I was taking steps to adopt this guy, and I appreciate your excitement on my behalf and your kind words of consolation.

I want to say that if I decide to look for a different cat - since the plan wasn't to get a cat but rather I fell for one unexpectedly - I would not deal with these people, but I cannot. (If you really need the name of this Southeast Michigan rescue shelter, e-mail me. Otherwise I really see no point in dragging their name into it.) I am doing my best to not blame the cats in the mission for how I was ignored by the people who run it. The cats just need permanent homes. I had hoped to provide that for one of them, but it didn't work out this time. Maybe I'll try again one day.

Anyway, that is the story of the cat I didn't get.

June 22nd, 2007
We did not change as we grew older; we just became more clearly ourselves.
- Lynn Hall

New Photos

June 19th, 2007

I have posted just a few pictures from my last two weekends.

Two weeks ago I went back up north for a relaxing golf weekend. As I like to do, I took a few pictures of the sunset from the back porch.

Last week was the Motor Musters car show at Greenfield Village. I hadn't been there since whatever grade kids in Michigan go there for a field trip. Some pictures were of cars, others were from the village; one might expect a few more pictures of cars from a car show, but...I just didn't feel like taking pictures of cars. Sorry.