Monday, October 29, 2007

Boys and Their Toys

"Find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life."

I am incredibly fortunate to have the above line apply to my line of work. I enjoy what I do. I like the travel, the people, the events I document.

I also love one of the benefits: gear, kit, tools... toys.

One of my latest acquisitions is a Canon 40D digital camera body. Back are some of my favorite functions from when I lived in the "F" world (F for film of course) such as spot metering and more frames-per-second but also an innovation for the digital SLR world: live view.

Simply put, I can now see through the lens on a nice bright 3.0 inch screen on the back of the camera which lends itself quite nicely for macro photography when your camera is in an odd position such as when I was photographing the read/write heads of a crashed hard drive. When hooked up to my computer I can even remotely locate the camera while watching what is before the lens on my screen. I can see some fun and exciting bird and (hopefully) wild mammal images in my future.

Love my job, love my job, love my job....


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Spirit of Murphy is Alive and Well

There are areas in life where I am on the cutting-edge and then there are areas where I'm a bit... behind. For instance, I think I'm one of the few people who hasn't seen Cats. So, while trying to find some entertainment for the family at the video rental store I find the musical on DVD and thought I had found a gem.

Arriving home I opened the case and no kidding, I think I was the first person ever to rent the movie. Not a single scratch on the disc. Not a smudge. Clean as a whistle. And it was utterly enjoyable until about the 10th minute when it started to crap out. You know, pixels appearing, stutters and the like. And yes, I checked it in other players and with similar results and it continued throughout the remainder of the program. So much for seeing singing dancing cats.

On a similar topic, my daughter's copy of Barbie of Swan Lake looks as if it was mauled by a belt sander yet doesn't skip a beat.

Thanks Mr. Murphy, wherever you are.

PLEASE NOTE: I've gotten a couple of comments from my European readers that some of my "James-isms" don't readily translate. So, where possible, I'll try to link to sources that help explain some of my peculiar terminology. Love the Wikipedia!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fall Surprise

I call it the Green Monster. Spread out before melike some limitless ocean of vertical fury, it called to me. No. Beckoned me to come and tackle it with what puny weaponry I could amass.

I am, of course, referring to the lawn.

Arriving in England in one of the driest summers one could remember I foolishly assumed every summer would be like that one, that the tales of rain and mist and cold penetrating fog were the by-product of a people wanting to keep the "good stuff" to themselves.

And then there was THIS year. No kidding, I would have to take the battle to the lawn every 5 days. Not even a whole week went by before I stepped out into this 3-acre nightmare of continuous greenery once again. With a walk behind mower, no less.

So I was filled with glee (scary thought) when I 'rounded the shrubbery in the front yard and came across a small stand of silvery mushrooms sprouting up through the lengths of grass blades and fallen leaves. So, in typical James style, I quickly abandoned lawn care and grabbed my gear for a 30-minute session spent on my belly trying to capture this little treasure, this fall surprise that I found in my yard.

And when I was done, in typical James style as well, I mowed it flat.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More and more...

More calendars have been added with at least a couple of more on the way. The latest calendar is titled QUIET PLACES and contains soothing images from around the world to hopefully bring just a bit of calm and quiet to our otherwise busy lives.

It is forcast to rain quite a bit here in England today so it is a perfect day to sit inside and be creative with my images!


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Jill and I get WICKED in London

In a rare moment of not-work, Jill and I took a trip down to London and saw the musical WICKED which is the back-story if you wish about the two witches in the Wizard of Oz.

First, let me say that the Apollo Victoria Theatre is a grand structure seating just over 2,400 people in a very classy art deco style (as it was built in the 1930s) and fits the production quite well. The stall seats on the floor have nary a bad view until you get close to the front. Reasonable priced drinks and all the fixings for a fun evening to include popcorn and ice cream at intermission.

So, without going into any plot-wrecking details, let me say that this show was simply fantastic! There were quite a few twists and turns along the way that made good use of the existing Wizard of Oz plot and certainly give one a thought or two to ponder on the way home. The singing was spot-on and for once the sound didn't blow me out of my seat (unlike our experience seeing Phantom of the Opera last month). The leads were strong singers as they usually are but Kerry Ellis, who plays Elphaba (the Wicked Witch of the West), just blew me away with her voice. She is quite impressive and reason alone to go see the show (if you only needed one).

So suck it up, spend the bucks and have a fantastic night getting WICKED in London.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Let the calendars come forth!

Just a quick note to let you all know the first of many 2008 calendars are being released today. In typical James style, the first offering is somewhat unusual: eggs.

Yes, eggs. The kind that chickens lay. On the farm. Not the sterile uniform shapes you see in the local supermarket but the eclectic variations of size, color, texture and shapes that you only get from chickens that run around the farm eating who-knows-what and laying their eggs behind office doors and on the seat of the tractor.

EGGS 2008 Calendar

More to follow...


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Snowdon conquers... again!

Back in July as some of you might remember I went to Wales with another leader in our Scout troop to see how challenging Mt. Snowdon, Britain's highest peak, would be to our young men. We were met with a stiff wind and for the final 1,000 feet of the 3,560 mountain was shrouded in fog. Despite climbing the cairn at the top, we saw nothing. I could have been hiking in a quarry for all I new.

Well, the weather was not exactly the same last weekend. It was worse. We hit the cloud deck on the Snowdon Ranger trail at what I estimated to be the 1,500-1,750 foot mark and climbed the switchbacks for what seemed like eternity before again reaching the top in what seemed like a full-force gale with nothing to see but the swirling grey.
Looking back, it was among one of the best hikes I've had in a long time. Sadly it was also my last with the Scouts as family committments consume my limited "free time" and one must set priorities. Be prepared. Hike hard. Smile, Scouts!