Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why I hate Computers?

When I got home this evening I found an email Friday from Todd. This blog had dissapeared. He couldn't find it. I tried to find out from him if he meant the entire blog or or the set-up page ~ the "dashboard" Blogger calls it. I'm not sure where he was but I went to bed before I'd received a reply. First of course I'd done my own poking around. There was no problem finding the blog itself but I also couldn't locate the dashboard.

Without that there's no way to add posts, remove posts, or edit posts. I couldn't approve and publish comments either. The blog would be dead meat. It took awhile to fall asleep. As usual I awoke a couple of hours later. Most nights I can either get right back to sleep or perhaps get up for an hour or two, do some reading, answer an email or two, or in this case see if I could figure out what the blog problem was. There was none. Everything worked as it was supposed to. I'm writing this post no problem.

I've got to assume that Google was the one having problems with Blogger. They own it. I guess they fixed it! I'm heading back to bed...

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not So Still Life? Another Wedding Adventure?

I first "met" Danielle a few years ago over at the Photo.Net Wedding Forum (or maybe it was their Leica Forum?) before I got completely banned from Photo.Net forever, accused of becoming a cult figure simply because I was being helpful in sharing my photographic knowledge and wrote some interesting but true stories to illustrate my points. I wear my banning with pride!

Danielle was seeking both photographic and business advice as she tried to build up her wedding photography business. I even got Jon Sinish involved with some thoughts on advertising and promotion. Hell, even Monkette came up with a suggestion or two.

This morning as I was checking email before heading off to the annual North Miami Thanksgiving Day Parade I was assaulted by Danielle's Instant Message, we chatted for quite awhile, and Monkette and I never did get to the parade. The gist of the conversation is that she'd like to fly from her home on the left coast to Miami, "hang out" (her words) with me for a week or two, shoot a wedding or two with me, see how I work in the darkroom, all that stuff. If she's really on the ball she'd do an article for that trade mag of the wedding shooters "The Rangefinder" while she's at it. Hell I'D write the copy. Why not? Who knows me better than I do!

Anyway, her idea is that I'd shoot film, probably black and white. She'd shoot digital. Her half of the wedding fee would cover her travel expenses and Monkette just wants to get a pretty new dress out of the deal. This is all very much on the up and up, no hanky-panky, with Danielle staying in Monkette's bedroom of course. That leaves me with trying to find a wedding for us to shoot between December 25th and January 3rd where the bride and groom won't mind being featured in thepriceofsilver along with my usual tongue-in-cheek narrative, and at least a few set-up shots that would include a fifteen inch tall furry bridesmaid with a long tail. If any couples reading this, straight or gay, are interested, we can pick the date and get the ball rolling. You'll end up with a wedding album like no other, I promise!

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Hold Your Horses! It's Going To Happen!

On the one hand I'm feeling guilty about falling behind like this, but when I check other photography blogs (is this really a PHOTOGRAPHY blog?) nobody else seemed able to last this long or miss so few daily postings along the way. I'm approaching one thousand postings now! Maybe the hiatus is a good thing. I've started shooting more black and white again, and I'm trying to wean myself away from shooting just with the 15mm ultra wide angle lens.


Monday, November 17, 2008

WHOOPS! Where Are The Photos?

Hi There. What with the new computer (and probably this new AOL program also) it seems that some folks can see the photos while other people are getting a blank rectangle! I'm hoping to get the problem solved soon! I sure hope so. (This post has no photo in it.)

In the meantime I'll just go along with my original plans to write the captions anyway.

Thanks, Al

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Looking At The House Next Door, The Rules Aren't Made For Him

It's against the law to obstruct the sidewalk by parking across it but my nextdoor neighbor for the past two or three years thinks it's fine for him to do it. Everybody else parks on the grass between the sidewalk and the road. Not him! Even when we had strict watering restrictions during the recent drought he had his sprinklers going for hours every day.

He also thinks that it's OK for him to build without permits and build things that don't meet code. I'm on the city's Board of Adjustment and the city attorney says that I'm required tio report these transgressions. Things like building a too tall fence with no permit, raising roosters to awaken the neighborhood, hiring a well drilling company to put a well in his front yard with no permit (and the contractor beat the crap out of me when he saw me standing in the street photographing the scene!), putting in that circular drive with no permit, the list goes on. He even tried to get me to split the cost of cutting down a mature live oak tree, a protected species, on the property line.

His recently planted a ficus hedge along the chain link fence on the property line. I checked with the city. They said that first I should politely tell him that it'd be OK with me for him to go on my property to trim my side of his hedge. If he said "no" I'd be free to spray a defoliant (weed killer) on my side. This, of course, would kill the entire hedge. Last week I saw him outside trimming his side and told him that he could come in my yard to trim my side. He started cursing and screaming at me at the top of his lungs! He said it was my side and I should trim it. I told him how I planned on "trimming" it. He started coming towards me, holding the power trimmer. I retreated into my house.

I think his problem stems from the fact that he bought the house near the peak of "the real estate bubble", put a bunch of money into fixing up the house, stuck a For Sale sign out front, and the real estate market crashed. I doubt that he can sell the place without adding a hundred thousand dollars of his own money into paying off the mortgage and construction loans. The house won't bring anywhere near the money he's put into it, not in today's market. In the meantime he's paying fines and double permit fees to the city and lots of parking tickets to the county. The police chief says that he also has a neighbor like that. It's good to know that I'm not alone!

Any good news? Yup! It hasn't reached this neighborhood yet but all over South Florida something called "white fly" is infecting and killing off all the ficus trees and hedges. The infection gets under the bark. Spraying won't kill it.

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Friday Night Jazz At MOCA

North Miami has been setting up the Showmobile for the very popular last-Friday-of-the-month jazz concerts for quite awhile now, but over this past summer they added weekly rock concerts to the mix. The jazz concerts mostly attract a middle age and older crowd, balding heads (sometimes sporting a ponytail), oft times the beard their mother wouldn't let the grow in college, and paunches hanging over their belts for the men. The women, for the most part, have perfectly permed hair and way too much make-up. They try to walk on grass and uneven brick pavers in too high spike heels, still attempting to show the world how great their legs look in a miniskirt. The rock concerts were more fun! A much younger crowd, no complaints of "Oh, my back!" as they sat down or stood up, a mix of shaved heads and longish hair on the guys, mostly long straight hair on the girls. The girls who wore spike heels seemed quite adept at navigating uneven pavers and grass alike. Jeans were everwhere, male and female alike. You could sense the shaply legs. You could admire the high firm butts in the tight jeans. But where were the miniskirts? At least many of them had the good sense to wear low cut tops. Their moms would probably say "Too low cut!" but nobody was complaining. As usual, I was equipped with that ultra wide angle lens. I'd meant to pick up some higher speed film but didn't. What the hell! I have a steady hand and can usually get a reasonably sharp hand held shot at 1/4 of a second. I moved in amongst the people right in front of the stage, hoping that my exposures would be made when the pulsating lights were at their brightest. The colored gells on the spots looked like they'd make for some interesting photographs. When this couple suddenly embraced and kissed just a couple of feet in front of me I managed to squeeze off one exposure. I knew I had it! I went and sat down with some friends and enjoyed the show.

Sneaking A Kiss At The Rock Concert

This past summer was great. Not only did we have the monthly Jazz at MOCA concerts on the last Friday of the month, but we had rock concerts inbetween.

The City of North Miami went overboard when it came to providing quality music. The jazz concerts drew an older audience for the most part, lots of grey hair and beards on the men along with the kinds of ponytails their mother wouldn't let them have back in college. There were also lots of beards and hair sporting that dead giveaway evenly colored black or brown with no grey look that screams "Dye Job!"

The women for the most part had that every-hair-sprayed-in-place look to go with their exquisite manicures, bright red lipstick to match their nails, way too much eye make-up, spike heels and miniskirts, everything they could do to try to relive that twenty-something feeling.

The rock concerts featured good groups, mostly local, attracted a younger crowd. They were at the same time more relaxed and more intense. While some people lounged on blankets on the lawn bunches of them clustered right in front of the stage swaying and dancing to the music. I was intrigued by the by the blue and magenta gels on the spot lights, and the way it illuminated the musicians and the dancers. I managed to get through the crush of people and saw this couple in this embrace. The 15mm lens let me get within a couple of feet of them, leaving no room for anybody to get between me and my subjects.

The long 1/4 second exposure caused a bit of motion blur, but I think that just adds to the feeling of the photo. What I really missed was the smell of burning ganga in the air, but it'd be a stretch to imagine anyone lighting a joint in front of the Museum Of Contemporary Art. It's sandwiched right between the police station and the city hall. Oh, well...

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Broken Promises

Elena Kaplan

AssociateAtlanta Tel: 1.404.581.8653Fax: 1.404.581.8330Email:
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Elena Kaplan advises clients on benefits and compensation matters, including health and welfare benefits, qualified retirement plans, nonqualified deferred compensation plans, and severance. She assists clients with plan design, implementation, and compliance with applicable laws, including ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code.
Elena currently serves on the State Bar of Georgia's Executive Committee and served as president of the Young Lawyers Division of the State Bar of Georgia in 2007-2008. Elena has been selected as one of "Georgia Super Lawyers Rising Stars" four times.
EducationUniversity of Virginia (B.A. in Drama [Costume Design] 1993); American University (J.D. summa cum laude 1998); University of Florida (LL.M. in Tax 2002)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sorry, one thing at a time...The New Computer...The Deaf Club...The Guy Beating Up His Girlfriend And Stealing Her Car, The Arrest

I'm still learning my way around this new computer set-up with a brain that's not set up for digital. Not at all, it seems. Maybe I need a slot in my forehead where I could just insert a disc and download the program?

Last night was exciting. I drove my deaf neighbor Janis over to Starbucks. Wednesday nights a bunch of deaf people, "The Deaf Club"they call themselves, get together over there, drink coffee, and sign with one another. Most can hear a little bit, barely, and those who've learned to speak have some strange ways of pronouncing words. After awhile you get used to it, even learn to read the hands to some extent. Everybody was sitting around a couple of tables pulled together out on the patio about 9 PM when suddenly I heard screaming and loud banging noises coming from across the parking lot, about one hundred feet away. It was loud enough so that Don could hear the ruckus also!

There were a few college students by a parked car screaming and cursing at one another. The guy had one of the girls in a choke hold under his left arm, pummeling her with his free hand all the while banging her head against the car, as he walked around to the drivers side of the car. He pushed her away as he got in and started to drive off. She ran around to the passenger side and tried to get in but he'd already reached across and locked the door. She then grabbed hold of the roof rack and got dragged maybe 40 feet before falling off. The car drove off up U.S. 1.

The two girls sat on a curb crying, one trying to console the other, as cell phone calls must have jammed up the 911 switchboard. Don went over and found out that one of the girls owned the car, it was her boyfriend that had driven off, and that her purse and her cell phone, ID's and credit cards were in her purse inside the car.

Within minutes first two, and then a third, North Miami police cars were on the scene. The girl declined having the paramedics check her out. Don and I told the cops what we'd seen, and then, amazingly, the boyfriend drove back into the parking lot. The cops dragged him out of the car, cuffed him and put cuffs on his ankles too, judging from how he was hobbling as they raised his hands up to shoulder level from behind, a very painful position even when you bend forward from the waist. At that point he started getting upset but they managed to get him in the back seat of one of the police cars, threw him in really, because there was no way he could have lifted either one of his feet high enough to step in by himself. The excitement was over.

Don and I went back to finish our coffee and I thought of how if I'd only brought my 85mm f/2 lens (and I HAD thought about doing so) and had the camera loaded with some 3200 speed film I might have gotten some great shots. Oh, some, lose some.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Three Cheers For Flo Tiger And Jon Sinish

Yup, The Price Of Silver is back on line! My thanks to Jon Sinish for turning me on to Vision Computers and to Flo Tiger for coming over this morning and helping to get it set up and running! The computer came pre loaded with several programs that Jon said that I needed to have, then Flo loaded several others off the internet for me. The scanner works, the printer works, and she assured me that she could teach my brain to work also.

I even have speakers now, but I can't remember how to access the music. Damn, this thing is complicated! Oh well, I was expecting the computer to arrive on Wednesday and Flo on Thursday. With the computer getting here on Monday and Flo on Tuesday things are running 48 hours ahead of schedule. Hopefully I'll soon be posting photos again and Monkette will be writing copy once more before the week is over. This DSL is great, much faster than dial-up, and my new flat screen monitor is a lot more clear as well as being brighter than my old one.

Thanks to all of you for being so patient

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Monday, November 10, 2008

The NEW Computer Arrived!

Ijjust need to get it hooked up! I'm also switching from dial-up to DSL.

The NEW IMPROVED The Price of Silver will be appearing on computer screens all around the planet in just a few more days! Keep checking in.

Thanks, Al

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Times Have Changed !!!!!!!!!!!!!! BIG TIME

It was a bit of a problem buying a Miami Herald this morning, at least the English language version. There were still lots of copies of El Herald for sale at the various 7-11 type stores that I went to. Finally I just went straight to Starbucks in hopes of finding some already read papers in the basket. Instead I just bought a new one, and thought about the fact that they don't even sell El Herald. They also carry the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Different demographics, I guess. VERY different.

As I drank my coffee I started thinking about the very different outlooks of the various ethnic groups around North Miami. Sure, we all live on the same blocks in very similar houses, but the Haitian community got energized by Obama's campaign. The Jamaicans and native born blacks added to the lines of voters. People hurried, as best they could, to get their United States citizenship, then they stood in lines at the polls for hours on end in the hot sun and in the pouring rain for the opportunity to vote. The one thing that I didn't see, at least here in North Miami, was any significant Hispanic presence in those lines, all the more a puzzlement because there were plenty of local races on that ballot with Hispanic names.

Thankfully the ammendments to the North Miami City Charter were defeated. They would have favored the incumbants with no benefits to the citizens.

I'd also like to congratulate a young attorney, Yvonne Colodny, on getting elected judge. Back in the early 1970's her dad, Mike Colodny, a young attorney at the time, was on the city council and later served as mayor, perhaps the best mayor we ever had.

On another note, my new computer is on the way and I won't have to be pecking away at this keyboard here at the North Miami Chamber of Commerce office every day. Hell, that means I can once more forgo shaving every morning, wearing unwrinkled shirts, making sure that I pick out a pair of jeans without holes....I can go back to looking like a bum again. HOORAY!

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monkette Ain't Sayin'

Monkette has been acting so strange the last few days. For awhile she seemed just absolutely thrilled that at long last there was a FEMALE candidate on the ballot, and best of all, acording to Monkette, Sarah Palin had a head stuffed with cotton just like her.

Early on in the campaign Monkette had tried to get involved with the national McCain/Palin organization, citing her experience in running the very succesful re-election campaign that she'd staged for North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns. Monkey kept reminding that we were Democrats while McCain and Palin we Republicans. After consulting with a bunch of our friends locally as well as in New York, Washington, DC, and the Boston/Cambridge area, we all persuaded her that with such a high powered brain trust at her beck and call perhaps it would be wise to just follow our advice and sit this one out. Stick with local politics until the next election cycle. The clincher though? Munchies at a Republican campaign party would mean organic bananas. More money and she and all her friends say that they have no flavor.

Now she's telling me to get off the computer. Time to go shoot some pictures of her visiting the polls! No shots of her voting though. She mailed in her absentee ballot days ago, and didn't give a clue as to who she voted for.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Odds & Ends ~ Coming Out Of The Confusion

Monkey says that picking up young chicks isn't a big concern to him. Chicks love him. Getting enough gourmet qualty bananas? That's his biggest problem.

Now I'm afraid he'll find out that the Opus comic strip is ending and he'll want to start his own strip, but I'm not sure that all that many daily papers would feature the X-rated "comic" that he'd insist on producing. Everytime we drive by the Johnson and Wales University dorm building on U.S. 1 that used to be the Voyageur Motel he gets all excited. He KNOWS that's where the movie Deep Throat was filmed!