Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I figured out how to use Windows Movie Maker! To cool!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Long Week Ahead!

So here are a couple of photos that I took of Shelby yesterday. We were doing a lot of rearranging of furnature, and cleaning up when I pulled down a box of Christmas lights and decorations. I am not sure what happened to all my Christmas stuff but I only seem to have outside lights left which is odd because we have't put lights up outside in a long time. Anyway I needed to do some photos for class, so Shelby was willing to get wrapped up in the lights and model for me. The instructor wasn't all that impressed with the photos but I actually like a couple of these.  Hopefully this long weekend coming up we will do a family photo for the Christmas cards.  We for some reason haven't done a Christmas card photo since the first one we ever did. I must post it in this blog because I laugh every time I see it! The dogs where acting so badly, every one was freaking out because of the dogs and it is probably the worste photo ever, however it is so funny that I love it!

Any how today has been a long day and I am sure it is just the start of a long week. We are struggling to meet deadlines at work with the holidays approaching. I got to work at 6:30 am and shortly after an email goes out informing us that the system will be up until 7pm and they would reallllyyyyyy be grateful if as many of us as possible would stay as close to 7 as possible! I staid until 6 and probably will again tomorrow, Wednesday just depends on our work load, hopefully it will just a regular 8 hour day.   I suppose it is a good thing that we are doing Thanksgiving on Friday at our house because I will need Thursday to catch up on sleep lol. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ethical Issue or is it just me?

At the moment one of the classes I am taking is Photo History II. Every week we are studying various photographers from the past and some very controversial photographs along the way. This week the photo of discussion was this one:

Vietcong Execution, Saigon, 1968 Photo by Eddie Adams

Horst Faas, photographer and photo editor now retired from The Associated Press, remembers the day he saw Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of the execution of a Vietcong in 1968.
Running my Nikon eyeball quickly over a roll of black-and-white film from Eddie Adams, I saw what I had never seen before on the lightbox of my Saigon editing desk: The perfect news picture - the perfectly framed and exposed "frozen moment" of an event which I felt instantly would become representative of the brutality of the Vietnam War.
The 12 or 14 negatives on that single roll of film, culminating in the moment of death for a Viet Cong, propelled Eddie Adams into lifelong fame. The photo of the execution at the hands of Vietnam's police chief, Lt. Colonel Nguyen Ngoc Loan, at noon on Feb. 1, 1968 has reached beyond the history of the Indochina War - it stands today for the brutality of our last century.

Now on with my thoughts on this. Later in life Adams made two recorded statements about some of his photos. To understand my ethical dilemma please do visit this link and listen to both of Adams' statements:


So in one statement Adams says that he was in a position to take a photograph of a US Marine that was extremely afraid. Adams states that this could have been one of the best photographs of his career, however he couldn't make himself take the photo because he felt that the fear would show so strongly in the photograph that people back in the US would mistake the fear for cowardliness. Adams goes on to say the marine wasn't a coward, everyone there was scared.

In the other statement Adams don't seem to understand why the above photo of the execution of an unarmed Vietcong prisoner was such a controversial photo.He didn't understand why people where upset about the image. Adams does indicate that he regrets that the photo caused a lot of hurt for a lot of people. Adams does say that he don't understand the upset over the photo. Adams reasons that it was war and people die in war.

So here is my reasoning in this.  It is war, people do die in war, people are also afraid in war. Lets take out the idea that this was a war, lets just look at the images in question. The execution photo was a photo of an unarmed man, who's hands where bound behind his back, soldiers all around him. there was no way this guy could have attacked, hurt or killed any one, he was a prisoner. Being a prisoner is in so many ways a humiliating situation for anyone friend or foe. In the instant that the photograph was taken Adams indicates that he didn't even realize the shooter was going to do more than threaten the prisoner and was shocked that Loan actually pulled the trigger and shot the prisoner. Regardless of  his status in the war, this prisoner had a family and he was a human who if put to death should at the very least be put to death in private.

Later Adams talks about meeting t the prisoner's wife.

Thirty-two years later, I met his widow, who still lived in their home in a southern Saigon suburb and mourned him. In a corner of the living room, behind plastic flowers, was a heavily retouched photograph of Nguyen Van Lam, who, as a Viet Cong, had the "secret name" (alias) Bay Lap. Yes, he had been a member of the National Liberation Front, the Vietcong. He just disappeared shortly before the Tet Offensive, and never came back.

Eddie Adams' photograph made him a martyr, but, no, she does not have and does not want to see the photograph of her husband's death. She will mourn Nguyen Van Lam until his body is found, she said in 2000, when the Vietnam government celebrated the 25th anniversary of the end of the war.

How exactly is it ok to photograph and publish the shooting of any human being yet it isn't ok to even take a photograph of a soldier who is scared? I don't get Adams reasoning. To me being held prisoner and shot point blank in the head, in a public street is more demeaning and demoralizing that a photo showing fear in a fearful situation. 
I am not saying Adams was right or wrong in either situation, what I am saying is that he confuses me with his reasoning. Either you preserve some dignity for the subjects you photograph or you don't.  

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Messing around in LightRoom

Over the weekend I downloaded a bunch of presets for LightRoom. I just googled free LightRoom presets and downloaded stuff from random sites. I had all these hopes of doing amazing things to photos. I was actually a little let down. I took a lot of time to download all those presets. Today I picked one photo and put various presets on it. I guess there are some interesting changes but not anything that I could see me doing in the real world. I suppose all the good presets aren't fee and that is why I haven't found any worth bothering with . Here are a couple of the presets that I found:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!


I said yesterday that I wanted to write a Veterans day blog, it's almost midnight and I am just getting to it!

I have to admit that I grew up with a very distorted view of who  a veteran really is. I blame this on the man that I call Dad! I say the man that I call Dad because he is my step dad but really he changed his whole life to raise my brothers and me.

My Dad is a good 20 years my mother's senior so some aspects of our life was a little different than most kids who had dads that where in their 30's and 40's. My dad was actually retired when he married my mother. However his retirement simply didn't support a family. So Dad came out of retirement and opened a land scaping business. All of us kids worked with him in some form or another, mowing lawns, starting and maintaining flower beds, trimming hedges you name it we did it.

During the summer time, every afternoon, after a hard days work we often took the old truck out to a local creek and all of us kids would help Dad wash the truck down in this shallow area of the creek. Sunday was just about the only day we didn't work. In the cooler weather we often had very little land scaping and lawn mowing to do so we made ends meet by cutting and selling fire wood. Amazingly enough once apon a time I was pretty good at running  a gas powered wood splitter and I could tell you by site alone exactly how high  to stack the wood on the back of our truck to equal a rick of wood. I was an all around red neck country girl.

My dad didn't exactly think that the way I was being raised was proper for a girl, now remember he grew up in a time when women kept the home fires burning while the men went out and worked.  In order to compensate for my lack of a girly life he enrolled us kids into a private school where I had to wear a dress every day and take lessons on being a proper girl.

My dad is a veteran and actually suffered some fairly severe injuries during his military days. As a result he was also a member of the local  DAV (Disabled American Veterans). In another attempt to not raise a straight up red neck hillbilly for a daughter and I suppose for my brothers as well, my dad would take us with him to these DAV dinners and dances. I was required to wear a dress and everything. At least my brothers go to wear their boots!

All that leads me to why I blame my dad for my distored view of a veteran. For many years I went to these DAV dinners and dances, my two brothers and I where the only people there under the age of 30 and really my mother was in her 30's but the rest of the group was all little old men bringing their blue haired little old lady wives to dinner and a dance. One would think that as many dances as I was drug into by little old men I would at least have a vegue notion of how to at least do some old people's dancing. I have no idea why I never was able to learn to dance. However I did spend a lot of time listening to little old men tell war stories, nothing harsh just stuff they did but never any of the bad stuff really.

Let me clarify that I never thought that these men fought wars at that age, I knew that when they went off to war they where young vibrant men. In my mind though they didn't win the label of veteran until they reached retirement age. Even after being in the military myself and going on deployment I never saw myself as a veteran. It wasnt until a couple of years ago when my unit went on a second deployment and I was left behind due to pregnancy that I ever thought half heartedly about a veteran being younger than retirment age. When my unit returned and there were all these soliders that seriously where younger than me. Standing in formation it hit me one day, these young, right out of highschool kids are not just veterans but veterans of foreign wars!

I know times have changed so much since my dad's war days, and even from the days where I was a kid hanging out with little old men and their blue haired wives. Things have really changed in my mind though. I can't stress enough how amazing it is to realize that kids barely out of high school are serving our country and risking their lives so that we can all live in a free country.

Hats off to all the verterans out there, young and old, male and female.. and from the veterans to our families Thank You So Much for your support!! because with out it we could never manage the soldier's life!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh my geeeessss!!


Today I seriously needed to rant before my head exploded, so I attempted a blog via moble blogging. This simply does not work unless you want to just put a line or two, if you text out a full blog then the text goes through as several text so what I ended up with was several blog post that didn't post in the correct order and didn't make any sense... so here goes another attempt.

I had an appointment at the VA Medical Center in Dallas today. Everything started off just fine, we didn't have to be there until around noon so we were able to sleep in a little bit. Then I was able to actually do my hair, most days I am lucky if I have time to brush it before putting it in a pony tail. The drive there wasn't to bad and overall things were fine.

Then we arrive at the facility pretty early, it was almost 10'clock when we turned into the entrance of the hospital. From that turn on I wanted to scream at people. First of all I have to wonder who had the bright idea to build this huge VA hospital in the middle of what appears to be a not so nice side of Dallas and include a parking area for ants? Really the parking lot is the size of an average size Wal-Mart parking lot and it is all divided up with these space wasting medians. We drove around for a good hour trying to find any spot at all. The thing is that there are VA employees on the lot at all times so it is fairly safe to leave your vehicle on the lot, if you choose to park outside the parking lot, well good luck and I hope you still have tires and no spray paint on your vehicle when you come out, that is the type of neighborhood the hospital is in.

Seriously the only way to find a parking spot is to hover around the hospital entrance and wait for a patient to exit the facility, then you must stalk the patient until they reach their car, get in and start backing out. At that time you better have all other entrances to the spot blocked or some over zelious driver may take the spot with out doing thier own stalking.

Do you have any idea exactly how hard it is to stalk an 80yr on oxygen and a walker? I know it sounds easy but I can put my car in drive and never touch the gas and still almost plow over most of these patients. What really saved the patient I chose to stalk was the fact that I needed his spot and if I ran him over I knew his car wouldn't be moved for days! So I crept behind him with my foot on the brake. The traffic in this parking lot is so bad that they have employees out there directing traffice. People are honking their horns, doing drive by yells at the traffic directors and at one  point the traffic director got so fed up he yelled back. It was an insane mess seriously!

Once we fnally park and get into the facility, we had plenty of time, I have been attempting to get a new VA ID card but the facility I typically go to never seems to have a workind ID card machine. We found the general area where I thought I needed to go in order to get an ID card. I walked up to the desk and ask the lady if this was where I signed in. She was very nice, she went to find the sign in form and then explains where to sign and what blocks to fill in. During this conversation I ask  "I need a new ID card, is this the correct place?"  I said "I" need a new ID card right.. so why is it that the woman's reply was "well is he signed up at this facility?" I guess I had a blank look on my face because I couldnt even speak, it took  a second but she realized I needed a new card and corrected herself. I just wonder though why is it that when a refrence is made to a veteran it is always assumed that the veteran is a man? There are a lot of women veterans out there so it is pretty much past time to recognize it as fact.

Now I have been to this VA  before but I guess I have not went exploring very much. We wondered into this area where I just have to ask this question... who the heck decieded to turn the VA hospital into a flee market? I thought it was ok that they had an AAFES in the hospital, ok there isn't an AAFES on every corner and really I rarely shop at AAFES because the products are so over priced. This was more than an AAFES though there where venders every where selling products just like at a carnival or something. I suppose they annoy me because everything is  so over priced, seriously that jewlery is not real so stop charging like it is! Not to mention the vendors who where selling military memorbilia never seem to have anything with my patch on it!

So we decieded to go ahead and check in as the vendors where a bit nerve racking. We headed up to the third floor and to the department where I had an appointment. I walk up to the desk... please excuse my descriptions because I suppose some could be offended however with out the descriptions you just can't get the real picture... I walk up to the check in desk and see this short, overly round black lady with a less than realistic looking hair piece... she already has the body language of some one who is pissed off that people actually think they should go to the check in desk to "check in" .. she looks at me like I am really am screwing up her day out out of her mouth comes an explosion of "What do you need?". Head bobbing, wig slipping, attitude all over her and all I could think was "man I didn't piss in your cheereos" . I inform her that I have an appointment for an ultrasound. Another explosion of head bobbing, wig slipping, eye buldging, hard to understand words come flying out of her mouth  "You have an appointment here? Today?" I really wanted to say "um no next week I just wanted to check in early". Really lady would anyone bother dealing with you if they didn't have an appointment?  So she takes my informaton and then some sort of explosion came out of her mouth that sounded like "k..sit down". I was taken aback, wouldn't the professional thing to say be " have a seat" . I wasn't sure that I had even understood her, so I verified that she wanted me to "sit down" and then just before I turned to go "sit down" I said "thank you" and turned to leave. I almost stopped dead in my tracks when I heard her mumble under her breath "ummmhumm" .She did this in such a way that it was as if she was discusted with all these ignorant people wanting her to check them in. I bit my tounge and managed to keep walking.

Ok I realize that not all people have a lot of customer service experiance and not a lot of people are customer service driven. However the truth of the matter is that no matter where you are employed at there is a customer somewhere that needs a service which created the need for an employee. I don't really care if you don't like your job, I don't care if you have had a really crappy day, or if you are in general a misserable person, you have a job because of that customer.. In this case this woman is employed because a whole lot of people gave up their time, health and family time in order to go out and make sure that you have the right to bob your head like a hood rat and wear cheap  wigs. Even if you don't know how to act professional, at the very least use the manners that you know your mother and grandmother attempted to teach you!

After the VA we stopped in Dallas and took a few photos, so here are a few of those.. maybe I should write a Veteran's blogg tommorow!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chicken Salad Finger Sandwiches

With the holidays quickly approaching and the typical work spreads, family gatherings and finger foods I thought I would share my favorite finger sandwiches.

I don't often use a recipe and typically can not give very good instructions on creating a dish. However I often produce dishes that people claim to love. This particular dish Stephen and I photographed a wedding of a co-worker of his and was invited to eat with the guest. They had the very best Chicken Salad sandwiches that I have ever tasted. I wanted the recipe however we never could get it from anyone that was helping to put the wedding together. I decieded that I could make an attempt at making my own version because I really thought I could taste everythign that was in the salad. So this is a list of what all I put into it. Now before you think it is an odd combination of foods, I swear every time I make this people look at me like I am crazy, then once bullied into "just tasting it" then can't get enough.

Ranch Dip mix and sour cream  mixed just as the dip instructions say
Canned Chicken
Chopped walnuts
grapes (cut in half)
one chopped green bell pepper

Now I just mix this stuff into a bowl and keep adding stuff and mixing until it looks and taste like a typical chicken salad, I don't really measure stuff or any of that, the only advise I have on measuring and mixing is that if you have to much Ranch dip, the dip overpowers the other ingredients so use enough but don't go over board with the dip. Serve this up on some rolls and I promise people will love it.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Video from My Phone

So during a very frustrating drill weekend I found some free time in the afternoon. Wal-Mart was having a big sale on costumes...90% off! How much better can you get! I mean a $19 costume was now $1.90!! I got a Katie this Tiger Costume that she calls "Kit Kat", a super cute witches hat with a huge neon green flower,  a Wow Wow Wubbzy and a Dorthy costume. The boys got a How to Train Your Dragon and Transformers costumes.   Along with these the older kids got a bag full of pink, blue, purple and glitter hair sprays. I walked out with those costumes and other stuff for about $20, which would have been the cost of one costume!

The kids just love the color hair spray. During the summer time I have walked through stores with kids sporting all sorts of hair colors. Typically I die their hair any color they want ( except black) on the last day of school. These dies tend to last maybe half the summer. I figure if they want a crazy green, blue or purple hair color its an easy and short term way to express themselves with out doing any perminate damage and without  doing anything dangerous. So it has became a tradition. This last year we sort of though if we put in some really blond streaks then they could use colored gel or spray to have a different color every day if they wanted. This worked out pretty good. As well  these sprays have came in handy at their birthday parties. I just love giving them some dress up stuff that helps them feel like an individual, have a little fun and expand their imaginations. Kaite seems to love costumes, she wanted to try each of them on right away. This Tiger costume seems to be her favorite. She had to go to each person in the house and annouce that she was a "kit kat" and growl at them! I just love it!!

Friday, November 05, 2010

Good Job Sara!

So we have been on Sara to get her driving license for a while now. She didn't pass the written test and after that she just seemed uninterested. I think she figured if she didn't pass she never would. Finally today she took the exam and passed it! I was so excited until Stephen text to say he met her at the tag office to pay the $26 for the permit. The rules have changed so much since I was 16. At age 15 and 1/2  I took drivers ed, but it was an elective at school. The school had a vehicle and during one of your elective classes you studied then after a couple weeks we took turns driving. However when Steven (Sara's brother) took drivers ed I had to pay $150 and drop him off at school at 6am, now more recently and at a different school, when Sara took drivers ed it was $50 and she had to take it during the summer. Even though it was a better deal at Sara's school and I didn't have to get up and drive her to the school, I wonder what happened that the school no longer offers this as an actual class during school.

At the tag office today it turns out the fees for a permit have shot up from $26 to $49.50. As if that wasn't enough of a let down, they also informed Sara that she has to wait 6 months to take the driving portion of  the exam and she has to have some one 21 years of age or older in the car while she drives. Even a few years ago Steven only had to wait 30 days and the co-driver only had to be 18. I was really disapointed about the changes. Mostly because Luke has the car that we really want Sara to practice drivng in, he leaves for work at 3pm and Stephen and I don't get home until after 4pm. This means the car isnt here for us to take her driving in and Luke can't take her because he isn't 21.

People can say what they want about statistics and accadents and all that, but does the people in charge of making these rules take into consideration that some of us have a life that don't revaulve around getting our 16 year olds on the road? Do they have any clue how helpfull it is to working parents to be able to send their teenager for milk or to pick up their siblings? As a parent I worry about my children any time they are not in my sight, however I also love being able to depend on them to do random task for me. I can honestly say that since having Luke live in the house I take advantage of his ability to drive and do some of the running around that we can't seem to get to sometimes.

I personally drove around with my 18 year old brother who was the most irresponsible person I have ever known. I did fine, he got home safe when he was drinking and there was never an issue. I also only waited 30 days after my written exam to take the driving exam. I don't understand the changes at all. To me it just seems like more work for the parents than anything.

With all that said, I am super proud of Sara! She really was reluctant to take the test because she has a really hard time with comprehending what she is reading, she may know the answers to the questions if you ask her verbaly but when the question is written she seems to go blank. One of the exminers told me that if I would bring her up there as soon as they open he would take a written version of the test ( most people take the test on a computer) and go into a room with Sara and verbally give her the test. When I attempted to do this the man who told me this wasn't there and the woman refused to do it, she said the office was to busy and that her verbal test was no different than having a computer read the questions. However it is different, a person verbally asking you the questions can ask the question in a different form so that you can better understand what it is they want to know. I am posative about this because the school has done this for Sara for a couple of years now. However with a reluctant examiner Sara had to figure out how to pass the test on the computer. Good Job Sara!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Upgrade or was that downgrade?!?!

Typically I tend to use what ever I have until it is no longer usable, I am not a huge fan of "upgrading". I only get a new cell phone if my phone is seriously not working any more and then I only "upgrade" to what ever they have for FREE upgrades. It annoys me to get  a new phone and have to learn to us it.

The same goes for all the technical stuff in our house. For a really long time I was struggling to get any school work done at all because I was working on an older laptop and refused to "upgrade". I had all my programs, I had all my saved documents and photos, it isn't that I don't think I will like the newest versions of stuff, it is all the headaches that come with it.

When I bought my last laptop it came with Windows Vista. It took me about five minutes to know I hated Vista and about a week to know that I really hated it. Then I uninsulated Vista and put XP on. I stuck with XP until recently when Stephen had to build me a computer because all those programs on the laptop finally became to much for a computer that was never designed to handle the sort of software that I was using on there. Actually he built this computer with XP on it then a couple weeks later when I think maybe I just got all my stuff moved from the laptop to the desktop, Stephen strolls in with Windows 7 and instead of doing the upgrade he did a complete install. I spent weeks trying to get every thing back on the computer and then because a lot of the software that I have was purchased through the school as student copies, I can only have the stuff activated on two computers, well it was on his, and then it was on mine but I didn't know he was going to do a complete install and so I didn't get to deactivate the software before it was wiped out. It took me a week to finally convince a rep from Adobe to do what ever it is they do to allow me to do another install.

Now I have drug my printer out of the closet and am attempting to get it working for one of my classes. I put my printer in the closet three years ago and refused to get rid of it because I personally love the HP Deskjet F3335 All-in-One. I scans, copies, faxes and used to print a decent photo, decent for my use any way. I only put it away when Stephen moved in because suddenly there was no room in the house. He wanted to use the stuff he brought from the UK and I kinda thought that in the grand scheme of  life, putting all my things away to make room for his wasn't much to ask considering how much he left behind to come here. However I went to purchase the ink for his fancy printer and realized that his takes 7 ink cartridges at $35 each where my printer takes two cartridges that cost $35 for both. I quickly decided to use my own printer for this class! However the nozzles need something done and the cartridges need to be aligned but stupid Windows 7 won't allow me to install the program to do this stuff. Typically you could go to the printer properties and do it but the printer came with a specific program to do these types of adjustments. Now I have staid up until midnight once again and not touched my home work because I can't get the darn printer sorted.

Stephen attempts to help, but first of all I need to know how to sort this stuff out. I mean what if I need to do this stuff and he isn't here to do it for me, he goes out of town for work, and some times back to the UK on his own, and well I need to be able to do stuff for myself. Stephen's version of showing me how to do things is to tell me to get up and let  him do it, he even says for me to leave, go have a shower while I do this or some other bs reason for me to just leave the room. We have the biggest fights ever over this issue. When I ask for help, I want him to come in the room and stay here until the issue is sorted (this means actually in the room with me) and walk me through the steps. Helping me is not doing it for me and insisting that I not even watch or have any idea what the hell he did. It really irritates me to be dismissed when really I want to understand how to fix the darn problem.

Needless to say, I am thinking upgrading to Windows7 was more of a Downgrade!

Oh and I forgot about the Internet "downgrade" that we recently received without asking. Stephen and I have been pulling our hair out because our previous less than great DSL Internet suddenly became about as terrible as dial up. Yesterday we get a letter in the mail from our Internet provider who is proudly announcing that they recently "Up Graded" their servers and equipment. They proudly brag that our service should be something like three times faster than it was before. This apparently didn't go over to well with Stephen considering out Internet has been moving at a snails pace. Stephen calls the company up and ask them why their "Up Grade" was a serious downgrade for us. Their excuse was that because they Up Graded to this new equipment the equipment that they provided when they installed the service is now out of date and we will need to purchase new equipment. Oh and go figure if we purchase our equipment from some  one other than them they wont promise that our service will work at all and if there is any issue with the service at all they wont assists us if we didn't buy our equipment from them. What kind of crap is that, first of all shouldn't they have warned us before hand that we may need equipment, or even after, but they didn't tell us at all. I would have thought that considering the equipment we are using came from them, they would have sent out a letter saying we may need to upgrade! However this is the only provider in our area unless we want to pay several hundreds of dollars to have satellite Internet installed! So I guess we are upgrading rather we want to or not!