About this blog title

I cannot tell you how many times I have shown up at events with a couple of cameras around my neck, a gadget bag full of odds & ends and a lighting kit and have been asked that question. If it happened once every few years, that would be one thing. But it happens a LOT. It's like getting pulled over by the police and he's standing there with uniform, gun, flashing lights and asking him "Are you a cop?" I would love to come back with a witty reply, such as "No, I am Jesus. Don't you recognize my beard?" However, I cannot be that rude.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Apartment Is Ready To Rent

Yesterday was a fun and pleasant day. I put in a long day today for the Post-Standard. Left at 8:00 this morning, got home at 7:00PM. Along the way I stopped at 2 grocery stores.

This is what the bathroom looks like now. I kept the old cast iron tub (it also has a shower), installed a new sink, floor & toilet.

 I get home and split up some kindling wood, get a fire going in the wood stove and then place an ad on Craigs List for the aprtment that I have been getting ready to rent for the past 3 months. I have rented this apartment several times and I always place it on CraigsList. I always post 4 photos with the ad. They are digital photos. I have them stored on a disc or in my computer somewhere. I know I do! But, I cannot find them. I also know darn well I've photographed that apartment almost every time I rent it. So this time I was sure I could just re-use those photos. But where are they!?! Tomorrow I'll go make some new pix and add them to the ad. For now, I did have this one photo I took yesterday of the new sink. So I posted it with the ad, and here.
Now I am finishing the day with a Caged Alpha Monkey India Pale Ale beer from Honeoye Falls, NY.  It's bitter and tasty. I nice reward at the days end.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday

The morning here in Chaumont, NY is a bit cool, a bit grey. It was about 42 degrees when I got up at 6:00AM. The Sun has come out a couple of times.
Today is Easter. The Better Half is working today until about 3 or 4 this afternoon. I will be going to her daughter's house, and she will meet us there when she gets out of work.  The Better half is in the restaurant business and today is one of their busier days. 

Bottles on a shelf at my celebrity  brother's home in Watertown, NY.  Lent is over & I can drink a beer!
I was raised a Catholic and went to church most Sundays when I was growing up. We always had a nice Sunday dinner. Year in and year out for Easter we would have the traditional ham dinner with scalloped potatoes, vegatables and all the usual trimmings. But there was one Easter Sunday that really sticks out in my memory as my favorite. I don't remember how old I was, I'm going to say probably between 10 & 12. But what makes this one Easter so memorable was the Easter dinner we had. It was hamburgers and French fries! These were not frozen fries purchased at the grocery store. These were cut by my Mother's hand from whole potatoes. I remember them as being out of this world delicious. They were quite special too because in our household we NEVER had French Fries. I assume fries were rare in our house because they were a lot of wok for my mother to prepare,  particularly because she would have to make so many. There were ten kids in our family and I'm guessing there were at least 8 or 9 of us on that Easter Sunday.   Anyway, the French Fries were a great treat. The burgers were especially good, and also somewhat of a rarity in our home too. So the meal was memorable and special. To this day it reamains as my all time favorite Easer dinner. There is one thing that I don't know about. That is,  why my Mother chose to have burgers & fries that day. I'll have to ask her about that.  For all I know she might not remember it. Or maybe there was some reason that she doesn't want to talk about. Maybe my parents were in some sort of financial dilemma that year and she just prepared what was on hand. Maybe they simply wanted to buck tradition. I'll try to find out.

About this photo. I started the day at Musicology, the store where I teach guitar. I had my guitar with me. When nI was done I went to my aprtment house on Clay St., Watertown. My brother lives in one of the downstairs apartments. The one above his is vacant and I have been redoing the bathroom and some other odds & ends, getting it ready to rent. It's not na good idea to leave your instrument in your car for any length of time, Sunner or Winter. So, I stashed it in my brother's apartment while I was working upstairs. When I decided it was time to go home I went into his place to get my guitar and what do I see? The very late day Sun illuminating these bottles on a shelf. Well, I just had to photograph it. Then, pleased with what I saw and shot, I turned around and left, heading for home, WITH OUT my guitar. As soon as I saw something to photograph it pushed everything else out of my mind. I cannot shut my eyes off. However, I can, (but rarely do), simply pass up some of the photo ops that catch my eye. I'm thankful for not passing up this one. Happy Easter everyone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Plumbing at 418 Clay St

There was a lot of rain here in Chaumont NY last night. It continues this morning.
This is me in one of myapartments on Clay St., Watertown. I am holding the bathtub drain & trap
that I removed. It's made of lead. I replaced it with PVC (plastic) drain.

Original bathtub lead drain & trap. I'll
sell the lead to a local scrap yard.

 If one wishes to survive here in Northern NY it is useful to wear many hats. Among the hats I wear is that of Land Lord. When one of my apartments came vacant at 418 Clay St. in Watertown, I knew I couldn't rent it again with the shabby condition the bathroom was in. The floor, in particular, was  in tough shape. The toilet was ancient and had a leak that I repaired at least four years ago. The leak had not returned, but I figured I better replace the toilet befor the leak returned, or something worse happened. Replacing the floor was a challenge because of the monstrously heavy cast iron, claw fotted bathtub. Not easy to move. Anyhow, The photos presented here are from that project, taken on February 27th of this year.
This is a small bathroom, just about 5 x 5 feet. The floor was in horrible condition. I replaced it
along with the toilet & sink. I kept & re-installed the cast iron, claw foot bathtub.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Left Hand

I can never drive without wanting to photograph my hands, but I never do.
Well, until yesterday.  This was a quick snap and I would prefer
it had more  depth of field.

This is a snapshot of my left hand on the steering wheel. I drive a lot and see a lot of my hands on the wheel. For years I have thought of photographing them. The problem is positioning and placing the camera and being able to release the shutter.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

USA Today Civil War Special

Cold and rainy for most of the day here in Northern NY. I'm still trying to get the aprtment ready for renting.

The photo above is the cover of the USA Today Civil War special that is on sale through May 16. I was lucky to have one of my photos on the cover. The photo at right is a close up of that, ( adetail from the cover) which shows my credit line. The woman is 83 year old Pauline Johnson of Auburn. Harriet Tubman was her great, great Aunt.

The photo at right shows Pauline Johnson in the Harriet Tubman home in Auburn. This photo was used on page 3 of th eUSA Today special edition.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. Easter is only another week away. It may sound childish, but I cannot wait for Easter so I can be done with lent. I gave up wine & beer and it's been tough. Mostly because I have so much going on, some things that seem like they will never end, more day to day stress than usual, there have been many days I would just like to have a beer, or relax with some nice Merlot. I almost caved today. But, I had tea instead. But what I go through is really nothing when compared to what Jesus suffered. That's the whole point of it.

A quote for today: “If you want to make beautiful music, you must play the black and the white notes together.” – Richard Milhouse Nixon

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Thomas Jefferson's Birthday

Today is Thomas Jeferson's 268th birthday. He was the Third President of the United Staes. He wrote "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

Thomas Jefferson has appeared on the two dollar bill since 1869. The two dollar bill has been sporadically printed in 1928, 1953, 1963,1976 and 1999.

Here's another Jefferson quote I find interesting:
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
Thomas Jefferson

We often celebrate Jefferson's birthday in my family, but this year it is low key. Maybe I'll throw something together for this coming weekend. For me, the biggest problem celebrating his birthday today is that we are still in Lent and I have given up beer & wine for lent. However, on Sundays we are permitted to indulge in that which we have given up. So, we may celebrate the great man's birtday a little late. Speaking of beer, here is yeat another Jefferson quote: "Beer , if drank with moderation, softens the tempter, cheers the spirit, and promotes good health.” – Thomas Jefferson
Here on this blog we like beer, but don't like getting drunk, so cheers to you Mr. Jefferson.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Gas At $3.99 A Gallon

It is April and gas has hit this price in Brownville, NY. About ten miles from my house. Here in Chaumont it is $3.96/gal. This is an outrage. I am convinced this is a scam or ploy being played upon the American people by business & government. I say that because of speculators in the commodity markets and government policies are driving up the price of oil. How would it be if the air lines were shout down following a horrific crash that killed three or four hundred people? That would be ridiculous because accidents happen. The big ones are fairly rare. We are told that the number of crashes & deaths are incredibly small compared to the number of miles flown world wide, year in, year out.
Well why did our government halt all US oil drilling for at least the next 7 years after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico when thye BP drilling rig exploded? Isn't that overkill? Sure it was terrible, but let's get real. World wide there have been billions upon billons of barrels of oil pumped for how many years? In the past 50 years it is a number that would be incomprehensible. There have been a handful of oil spill disasters. The accidents compared to the prodution numbers are miniscule. The United State is the ONLY country in the world that is not drilling for new oil.

For the past 3 years I have been watching the price of oil. It affects me. I cannot stand it. On January 20, 2009, Innaugeration Day, as Obama was sworn into the presidency oil was $45.00 a barrel. The price of gas well under $2.00 a gallon. Today the price of oil slipped back to $106.00 / a barrel. A few days earlier it was $110.00

Don't forget, the price of oil affects much more that the price of gas. How about home heating oil? For most of the 20+ years I have been living in Chaumont the price we paid fro fuel oil has been around $.89 cents to maybe a $1.19 a gallon. We use about a thousand gallons a year. When it went to 1.50 a gallon our heating bill went up by $500.00. Ouch! In 2007 it was well over $2.00 a gallon. Our heating bill was going well over 2 thousand dollars. In 2008 it was climbing up over $3.00 a gallon. I simply could not afford a 3 thousand dollar fuel bill. But I had no choice. However, we installed a wood stove as a supplement, not a primary heat source. With the combination of oil & wood we have managed to keep our heat bill to about $1,500.00 Otherwise it would be well over 3 grand. In Summer of 2009 (Obama's first Summer in office) we paid $1.99 for a gallon of home heating oil. # weeks ago when I bought some it was $4.00 a gallon. The HIGHEST, HIGHEST price EVER. That would be a $4,000 heating bill for the season if that price heald & we didn't have the wood stove. And believe me, we keep the thermostat LOW!. There are millions and millions of people in this country in the same predicament. How can we absorb such an increase? And Obama has tha audacity to say that the people really wouldn't be bothered by the price if it rose up slower. He was talking about gas at the time, but has he & everyone else overlooked the home heating oil crisis? And BTW, natural gas in not available where I live.

The Syracuse Symphony Orchestra has filed for bankrupcy and will be dissolved. This event is happening in their 50th anniversary year. Among the problems they have had was a 23% decline in ticket sales in the past 36 months. Is it any wonder? When one's heating bill rises from $1,500.00 a year to $4,000.00 a year, and one's income stays the same or goes down (as my income did)there's not a lot left for concert tickets.

I lay the first round of high oil prices squarely on George Bush. I blame the current problem squarely on Barak Obama. Obama halted the drilling, no one else.

Obama has said more than once that we NEED higher prices to change peoples behaviors. So he WANTS higher oil prices. How can I change my behavior any more? Move south? Shut the oil furnace off all together? The following video clip is him talking about electricity. He wants that to rise too. What am I supposed to live on? Sawdust and ashes left over from the fire wood?

Here is a video of Barack Obama talking about rising electric rates m

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Estudio Brillante

(For 3 years this composition by the Spanish guitarist Francisco Tarrega has consumed a good deal of my time. The following are some of my thoughts and experiences about learning to play it. It's quite late this evening & I would love to complete this, so I must decide to publish it now, or wait until later when I am finished. What the Hell, I post part of it now and go off to bed.)

There is a great piece of music written for guitar by Francisco Tarrega titled Estudio Brillante. I was captivated by that composition the first time I heard it on an LP recording by Christopher Parkening. This was in pre-internet days, the early 1980's, so it wasn't easy tracking down a copy of it. Eventually I aquired five copies of it, each from a different publisher and each with fingering edited by a different person. (I assume all were fingered/edited by guitarists).
At the time my music reading skills were not particularly good, but I could figure my way through the composition. It appeared to be more difficult to master than I thought it would be. Anyhow, I soon realized it was going to take a lot of work and some problem solving to learn to play it. And by problem solving I mean such things as where to play certain passages on the neck. For instance, there are a couple of scale passages that can be approached from more than one vantage point. Which would be the easiest? Which would be the most musical? How does Parkening play these passages? For ultimately I would strive to take Parkenings approach above all others. But that, so far, has been unavailable to me. I wasn't put off by the composition. Sure it seemed difficult, but I blamed that more on my lack of reading skills than a lack of ability. Then one day I came across an article in a guitar publication written by Scott Bach. He called the piece "fiendishly difficult." Oh no! I didn't realize it was THAT tough of a piece to learn & play. Hmm... that gave me pause to think it might be beyond my desire and dedication.
Ayway, time passed and the music was always on my stand. Years went by and I would pick away at it some, read through it from beginning to end, but never really sat down & tried to master the piece.
OK. I go through a long period in which I decide I am a better photographer than guitar player. I do not abandon the guitar for I play every day. However, I do quit "working" at it. I just play every morning for my own pleasure. My repertoire gets extremely rusty. I don't learn any new pieces. I earn my living as a photographer.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pine Cleaners

It is Saturday morning, April 9th. The Sun is shining and it looks to be a most promising day here in the North Country. The photo presented here was taken in Watertown as I was leaving Musicology (the music store I teach at) after my guitar lessons. I love city scenes such as these. What helps this image is the late afternoon Sun. One man's eyesore is another man's art.

I would like to go there again at the same time of day with a video camera and wait for someone to pass through the scene.
Today I am laying guitar at the Taste of the Town at the state office building in Watertown. The event features 35 area restaurants and raises mone for the Victims Assistance Center. I volunteered my time for the event. That's not insignificant because I locked the date out for weddings and guitar lessons. I am hoping to showcase my guitar playing for these restauranteers. Hopefully I catch one or more of their ears and they ask me to play in their establishment. Otherwise, it's just a good opportunity to practice in public. From there I am going to play for a bit at Musicology. They are celbrating their first year anniversary being in business. I hope all is well in your world.

Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.
Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mulch Pix

Mulch Maker, Mulch Maker, make me some mulch...

It remains stubbornly chilly here in Chaumont, NY. 35 degrees this morning. The past couple of days have been grey and rainy. You know what they say: April showers bring May flowers. Well, what do May flowers bring?

Mayflowers bring pilgrims. I know, it's an old joke.

These piles of mulch were spotted near my mother's home between Watertown & Calcium. The light, the colors, the shapes caught my eye and were worth snapping. I didn't really work the subject because as often is the case, I was pressed for time. The apartment I have been cleaning up and inproving with a new bathroom floor, commode, & sink is near done. My mother's health has greatly improved. However, she has great dificulty getting in & out of cars, and getting in & out of cahirs, bed etc. But once she is up she gets around quite handily. A month or so ago we all thought a nursing home was in her near future. Tomorrow I have a meeting with the tax man to get my income taxes filed. Hope all is well with you and your world. Now I'm off to Clay St to finish up the plumbing and painting. Yay!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day

It is dark, gray and rainy here in Chaumont NY at 9:00am. I took a vacation day today from the Post-Standard. Guitar practice this morning was frustrating. Like evrything one has good adys and bad days. I will be working on that vacant apartment today. It is nearing completion. I was hoping to have it rented by today, April 1rst. Fool that I am, I should have known better. The photo at left is of my younger brother whom I believe is ten years younger than I am. (Might be 11). I took it back in the early 1970's. Probably '73. I came across the negative a couple years ago and scanned it. I've been meaning to post it here for quite some time. Today was the time. It was taken with Kodacolor film and a Minolta SRT-101 camera. I loved that camera, in fact I still have it.
I am still in the process of reading a Mark Twain biography written by Ron Powers. With that in mind I offer this quote:

"It's better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and leave no doubt." --Mark Twain