Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Proof of Alien Life

The first thing I remember about arriving in Omaha in 1995 was an incredible buzzing sound.    It wasn't as loud as the jets coming and going from the Air Force base, but the decibel level was about the same.   I asked a local resident if we were under attack and she replied, "Well, of course, you're lucky enough to experience the cyclical emergence of the cicadas this summer.  Come to find out, they burrow into the ground for anywhere from 2-13 years depending on the species and emerge as adults hungry and screaming with the intensity of a 3 year old whose lollipop has been snatched from his mouth (at least that's my theory).  Fast forward 16 years.

I must not have been visually traumatized from the cicadas in Omaha because I didn't remember what they looked like.  The picture in my head was of a grasshopper (locust), which cicadas are commonly called.   The sound, however, was ingrained in my head and I had instant oratory recall last week when I heard the sound again while I was in Ohio to shoot a wedding.  While passing the time on the porch, my friend Robert recalled stories of his childhood and picking up the shells of cicadas and how terrified he was of their remnants.  I teased him about it, and asked if he thought there might be any out in the grass.  He was sure of it and told me to go look at the base of the tree because there was no way he was going to pick one up.  I went looking around for grasshopper shells and after about 5 minutes reported that I couldn't find any.  "No", Robert said, "they look more like a beetle or something similar".   Sure enough, there was a brown husk there at the bottom and I slowly crouched down to take a closer look.

To my utter horror and fascination, I picked up the lifeless shell of an alien species, something that had been here on earth but had already left with unknown secrets to report back to its master.  Amazingly, this alien had brought thousands of his kind with him to earth, because their shells were also littered around the lawn and near the tree.   Was our government aware of this?  I thought I better make photo documentation just in case so I could prove what I had seen.

It is with great satisfaction that I present to you the first non-grainy, up close, and in-focus photo of an alien species that has been here on earth among us.

A few notes:

Check the top shot out again.  The creature has a straw coming out of its mouth, which I believe can be used for many things and which would explain the numerous accounts of anal probing that have been reported by those who have been abducted.  You can also see the split shell at the top of the body, clearly indicating the lifeform was only using this exoskeleton as protection while here, similar to what we see the astronauts wearing on a lunar landing.  Finally, I'm guessing the reason they stay underground for such long periods is because they are making a trip straight to hell to visit beelzebub himself prior to re-emerging back at the surface.  Not sure what they need from him, but clearly he put his evil design on their physical bodies.

Your thoughts....

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trojan Anti-Virus For Mac

I've been chuckling like a 5th grader about this idea for 4 days now.  It's so blatantly obvious, and not overly creative, but sometimes an idea sticks in my head and it won't leave until it's been addressed.  It knocks around in there and taunts me and challenges me.  It won't quiet down until it has been released and then I can move on to the next thing.

The idea wasn't even my fault, a random facebook post appeared in my newsfeed asking for advice regarding the best anti-virus available.  Naturally "Trojan" was the first thing that jumped into my head.  It must have only taken 500 micro-seconds, and there it was, and I couldn't resist posting those words on facebook, smart-ass as it was.  Much to my dismay, however, that wasn't enough to satisfy the insipid beast in my head.  I tried to avoid it, push it to the back of my mind, but it disobeyed me like it always does and wouldn't release its stranglehold until the shot was taken.

Hesitantly I pulled out the gear and set up the shot, a slave to the end result with no choice in what was happening.   I got what I needed, and reluctantly began the process of posting it to this site.  I tried to resist one final time, but I was powerless to resist the beast.   With all dignity gone, I hit "publish" and took a look at the final product.

And it made me laugh like a 5th grader all over again....

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life Goes On...

Today we went on our first outing with Bella since Mariah passed away.   We went to Crissy field in San Francisco where we've taken them both many times and things were very familiar, yet very different at the same time.   The sand, the pier, and the views were the same, but the dominant presence we've known for the last 15 years was missing.

Mariah was the bridge to our young, early life together. We got her a few months after we were married and had arrived in Omaha for my first assignment in the Air Force.  Her boisterous personality was relentless in its energy and we could feel her presence at all times because she demanded our attention.  Bella is the opposite in her approach to life, laid back, observant, a thinker, and extremely sweet.  Mariah seemed to smile and radiate happiness at all times, while Bella often appears morose, coming to life at certain times, particularly when we take her to the beach.  

We tend to project our feelings on our dogs, so it's hard to say if Bella is mourning the loss of Mariah.  Certainly she's reading my recent behavior as peculiar because I am constantly in her face, seeking reassurance that she is OK and that she is moving forward when in reality I need the assurance for myself.  The truth is she's probably happy she gets to eat out of the big bowl now and doesn't have to share the backseat with a manic personality.

Since I've really become heavily engaged in taking photos over the last 3 years, I tend to think in snapshots (framing, composition,depth of field,etc..).  When I think of all the photos I've taken of our dogs over the years, nearly all of them have contained 3 dogs plus a human, so when I observed Nikki walking Bella alone for the first time it cemented for me the reality that this is how things will look moving forward.   The shot of her and Bella walking down the path will be the anchor in my mind for when I moved into my mid-life.  The young guy I see in those early photos with Mariah has changed, I need to accept that and move forward.

As we continued our day at the beach and Bella chased her stick and swam and frolicked, the sadness I'd been carrying over the past week began to slowly lift.  As I watched her shake the water off her fur, smile, and challenge me to chase her, something occurred to me:  Bella still has her life to live, she is happy, she is living in the moment, and she needs our participation. 

 Life goes on.....

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I thought it might be interesting to try and observe some bicyclists in Sausalito as they climbed a hill.  For me, climbing on a bike is akin to magic:  I see it, but surely there must be slight of hand.  The 30 seconds when I do it are extremely excrutiating, and that's only once a year. How can they maintain a climb for minutes and hours? There was a period of about 3 years when I climbed Mt. Tamalpais once a year, but  I would literally stop every 90 seconds, and get passed by a man in his 70's, once the incline got over 5%.  Sadly, this from a former college soccer player.  Needless to say, the riders were struggling, and not one of them looked happy.

Look at the guy in the car, even he is amused with the idea that somebody would want to climb rather than drive.  Which brings me to my next point:

Every cyclist who hasn't been hit is going to be hit by a car eventually from what I can tell (or a bus).

This is a two lane, heavily trafficked tourist road.  But damn, it sure is beautiful, isn't it?  It looks like it could be in Europe to me.

I toast you, my cyclist friends, now get out of my way, I need to move my car so I can go get a burger and a beer.

Monday, July 4, 2011

What is this?

Everybody in the world has a blog, some are good, some are bad.  I wondered why I would have any interest in this, or why anybody would care, and the answer came to me after having a long conversation with a buddy who is going through some life struggles (divorce, loss of job) at the moment:   Nearly 100% of us are in a daily struggle to find what we want.

There are precious few of us who do exactly what we want to in life.  We grind through the day, constantly thinking of that other thing we want to do and how we might make it happen.  For me, that other thing is photography.   It started about three years ago and now it consumes me, I think about it non-stop.  Other than being a professional athlete, it is the one occupation I have ever truly envisioned  for myself.  I've had nice jobs, but none have ever been as fulfilling as photography is for me.   Although I haven't made the jump to being a full-time photographer,  I see that as the end goal.  Maybe it's foolish, who knows.  I'm a 40 year old guy with limited experience compared to many in the industry who still struggle to make a living doing it.  I'm talking about really good photographers, those who have worked as commercial photographers for 20 years and have many published photos and many connections in the industry.  I may be an idiot, but I know this:  Not taking photos is not an option.  Therefore, I will move forward a little each day.  I have no choice.

I won't discuss extremely technical aspects of photography, there are so many others who do that well and know so much more than me.   I will focus on the human element of photography.   After considering what I do well in this arena, I concluded that I have the ability to make a connection with my subject quickly and make them feel comfortable in front of the camera.   That's it, very simple.  Of course, I have spent many hours learning about the tools and lighting and how to use these tools to my advantage.  However, I can't talk for hours about equipment, nor do I want to, but I can talk about universal human subjects, so that's where I'll focus.  I hope you'll come along for the journey.  Maybe I'll make it, maybe I won't, but I'll take some nice photos along the way.

At the end of our conversation about what we want, my friend said one day he felt like he needed something new, a different challenge.  Many tried to get him to run a marathon, one of the ultimate human physical challenges, but he resisted it for a long time.   After a lot of contemplation and procrastination, he signed himself and his brother-in-law up for a marathon on a whim, knowing neither would back down after putting their name on it.  From that point forward, there could be no more procrastination, only training and struggling and fighting and clawing to make sure he did what he needed to do to finish, which of course he did.   Overcoming the mental hurdle and making one small step forward each day was the key, he told me afterward.

In a moment of pure philosophical brilliance, the last thing he said to me before hanging up the phone that day was this, "Travis, go sign up for your own marathon".

Here I go.....