It’s All in the Details

We had dinner with my dad on Monday.  It’s the first time we’ve seen him since his family Christmas party in Minnesota.  The new photo book I gave him was a big hit, which was a huge relief considering the amount of time I spent on it.  He especially liked the detail photos I did of some of the instruments.  Those are the ones I am most proud of, so it’s nice to see that I’m not the only one who thinks they’re good.  He actually brought the book with him to Phoenix and loaned it to the museum’s shop manager.  Apparently she’s interested in doing some postcards to sell in the store.  So we’ll see if that goes anywhere.  Meanwhile, here are two more images from the book.  If you look closely at the drum on the left, you will see my distorted reflection in it.

The Cult of Tea

Recently I got the crazy idea to start drinking more tea.  Keep in mind that I drink little to no tea right now, so more is a relative concept.  Tea is one of those things that’s universally seen as good for you, like broccoli.  Since I absolutely can’t stand broccoli, it seemed like a good compromise.  I’ve tried green tea and black tea (in tea bags) and always found them to be bitter.  Since adding a lot of sugar to the tea sort of defeats the healthy aspect, I quit trying it.  But after having a really good pot of green tea in a Chinese restaurant, I decided that I just needed to brew my own instead of using tea bags.  Surely that couldn’t be too hard, could it?

So a few days ago, I stopped at Teavana.  For those of you who are already bored with this topic and just want me to get to the point, here it is – don’t buy bulk tea at Teavana.  There, you can stop reading now.  What I realized during my impromptu visit is that there is a whole cult around brewing and drinking tea.  I was aware there is a great deal of ceremony around tea in many Asian countries, particularly Japan.  What I wasn’t aware of is that a whole cult of tea has sprung up in what used to be called the yuppie community.  My tip-off should have been that tea is #13 on the list of Stuff White People Like.

I stood in line for an eternity with my two little tea strainers, while the sales person opened large tins of bulk tea and waved the lid over the contents so the woman in front of me could sniff the tea.  This is how the neophyte determines what tea they would like to purchase.  Apparently the average transaction in Teavana runs about 15 minutes.  Every person in the store was female, mid-thirties and looked like they regularly attended yoga classes.  Except for me.  I do manage to pass for female most of the time, but I had at least 10 years and 20 pounds on every other woman in the store.  When it was finally my turn at the register, I decided to really go for it and jack up the average transaction time by asking a ton of stupid questions.

I am happy to report that I walked away considerably more informed about the art of brewing tea.  Unfortunately I was also about $120 lighter in the wallet.  Turns out that the price marked on the tins only buys you a lousy two ounces of tea.  So a $15 tea prices out at a whopping $120/pound.  For something that looks like you should put it in a dish on your coffee table.  On the plus side, you get a 10% discount if you buy a pound.  After the obligatory round of sniffing, I settled on half a pound each of Blueberry Mojito (green tea) and Precious White Peach.  Which really was precious, being one of the $120/pound varieties.

The Blueberry Mojito is pretty tasty and at the relatively bargain price of just over $60 a pound, is one I might consider purchasing again.  The Precious White Peach made the palest cup of tea I’ve ever seen, with a flavor to match.  Maybe my tastebuds have been corrupted by the strong bitter flavor of Lipton.  Or maybe it’s just an acquired taste.  At $120/pound, I can’t say I’m really in a hurry to acquire it.  Either way, I think it may be too late for me.  I’ve joined the cult of tea.

Don’t Fence Me In

Last photo (probably) from the old Pioneer cemetery in Congress.

I tried photographing this grave fence from a number of different perspectives, including close-ups of the individual crosses.  None of them gave me the look I was after, but this one came the closest.  Not that I could really describe what that look was.  It seemed obvious to me that this needed to be in black and white.  The green vegetation in the background just distracted from the strong lines of the fence.

We’re going to Tucson on Thursday so hopefully I will have some new images for this weekend.

High Contrast

Since I wasn’t really thrilled with the photo opportunities in Stanton, I decided to mess around with a couple of mediocre images and see if I could do something more interesting with them.  I took a couple of shots of an old rusty wheelbarrow, converted them to black and white and then pumped up the contrast.  I wouldn’t say the results were great, but they were definitely an improvement over the originals.  Here’s the first one:

Then, in observance of the photographic principle that you should always get closer to the subject, I tried this one:

We have Photoshop CS5 loaded on our PC here, but I haven’t really tried it out yet.  My laptop only has CS.  I ordered a book on CS5 and I’m looking forward to trying out some new tricks on my old images.

Spam – The Gift that Keeps on Giving

No original thoughts today, so I’m back to taunting spammers.

Looking for diamond and rings, we describe where and how to buy and save money and time (posted to Spamsky in Russian)

Funny, I’m looking for diamonds and rings as well.  Feel free to send me any you might find.

(I’m afraid that including the original Russian version of comments in my Spamsky blog may have triggered another round of Russian Spam, as I had a number of them show up after that post.  So I’m only including the translated version going forward)

My partner and I really enjoyed reading this blog post, I was just itching to know do you trade featured posts? I am always trying to find someone to make trades with and merely thought I would ask.

No tradsies.  My bullshit is much funnier and more interesting than yours.

I am extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you customize it yourself? Either way keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one these days..


This site is the most useful thing i’ve seen for a while. Thanks!

You must not get out much.

It was an absolute pleasure to read through your creation with all the interesting themes you write about. My mind went wild with all the detailed words you used. Please remain to grace us with your work as it is truly enjoyed.

I didn’t realize my creation had themes, thanks for pointing that out.  If you try to keep your mind under control, I promise to remain gracing you with my insanity.

Thanks for some quality points there. I am kind of new to online , so I printed this off to put in my file, any better way to go about keeping track of it then printing?

You could have it tatooed backwards on your ass, so you can read it in the mirror.  Pretty sure you won’t lose it that way.

Great blog hunky. When will you post another one ?


Well Chanelle, I can’t say I’ve ever been called hunky before but I’ll assume you meant it as a compliment.  I promise to keep posting regularly if you don’t call me handsome or studly in the future.

Thank you for the post. I almost passed your website up in Yahoo but now I’m glad I checked it out and got to examine it. I’m definitely a little better informed now. I’ll be sharing your site with some other people I know. They’ll definitely get a kick out of what I just read too. LOL. –Martin

I look forward to your little spambot friends paying me a visit.  I accept PayPal.

I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business

Thanks!  Just curious, what field do you think I’m an expert at?  I’d love to start marketing my expertise.

What a great resource!

You’re welcome.  That will be $1000 please.

Beneficial info and excellent design you got here! I want to thank you for sharing your ideas and putting the time into the stuff you publish! Great work!

Great work on the shameless and generic flattery!  Keep it up!

Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

Oh, I’m pretty sure you’ll find plenty of bullshit on the web.  It can’t all bubble up to the top on Google.

Hi, certain me on lisachu (posted 3 times to Ouch)

Okay, just out of curiosity I googled lisachu.  Please go away and never post to my blog again.

I went back to my 2009 returns/records, and I paid over 50% of my income in taxes. I am also counting FICA, state disability, Medicare. Just looking at what my gross was and how much I get back. Maybe I did something wrong? (posted by Reynaldo Fluck)

Well to start with, your name is Reynaldo Fluck, so clearly you’re an idiot.  Secondly, you’re asking me for tax advice, so clearly you’re a moron as well.  I think you should take the other 50% of your income and send it to someone who can manage it better, like me.

are pleased that your blog relentlessly develops. These positions are токмо popularity. A better at our site (translated from Russian)

I’m also pleased that my blog relentlessly develops.  As long as I keep getting spam like this, I’ll never run out of material.

Happy 2011

This is my 100th blog post.  And it’s New Year’s Day.  Talk about pressure.  If you’re looking for some deep introspection and meaningful thought about the past year and what my resolutions are for 2011, you’ve come to the wrong place.  I had way too much champagne last night to pull together anything resembling coherent thought.  Besides, no one wants to read my bullshit philosophizing on New Year’s Day.

The people in the house directly behind us were shooting off fireworks last night.  Which is illegal in Arizona.  Kind of amazing when you consider that Arizona is one of only three states that allow the concealed carrying of handguns without a permit or training.  (The other two are Alaska and Vermont)  They also allow texting while driving.  So it’s okay to shoot someone or run them down while working your Blackberry but not to blow off your hand while lighting cheap Chinese fireworks.  I feel like my personal freedoms are being repressed.

The new year is off to a cold start in Phoenix.  It was 27 degrees out on our balcony and 60 in the bedroom when we woke up.  So I caved and turned on the furnace for the first time ever.  The thermostat is on the second floor and the temp there is 67, so I set it to 68 just to make sure the furnace actually kicked in.  In some weird reversal of the laws of thermodynamics, it’s always cooler on the third floor than the second floor in our house.

Our house faces the pool in our complex.  The pool is surrounded by palm trees, so you get a resort feel when you look out the windows.  Every afternoon in the winter, the sun reaches a point where the palm trees cast a shadow into the pool.  It’s a cool image and almost every day I think to myself that I should go out on the balcony and take a photo of it.  Then I forget and the shadow moves on.  That’s the problem with things you see every day, you just assume they’ll always be there and so you start to take them for granted.  So today I resolved to actually take a photo.

Of course the sun’s not at the same angle it was a month ago, so the shadow of the palm fronds are no longer contained within the pool.  In other words, it’s not the same photo.  But now it is a photo and not just an image in my head.  So that’s my message for 2011 – just take the shot.  Don’t pass up an opportunity just because you assume it will be there tomorrow.

Oh shit, now I’m philosophizing.

Final Destination

Despite my general disappointment with our chosen destination on Tuesday, I consoled myself because the journey was definitely worthwhile.  A little hard on the kidneys, but definitely worthwhile.  After we left Stanton, we headed for a town named Yarnell, which is rumored to have a decent restaurant.  Almost as scarce as water in the desert.  We found the restaurant but can’t vouch for its quality because it closed at 2:00.  I consulted our Ghost Towns and Mining Camps guidebook and saw that it listed two old cemeteries nearby in Congress.  Since we needed to pass by Congress on our way back to Wickenburg it seemed worth a look.

The first cemetery was relatively easy to find but didn’t look particularly interesting.  Since we were starting to lose the daylight at that point (it was after 4:00) we decided to give it a pass and check out the second one, which was older.  Jackpot.  The Pioneer Cemetery sign was dated 1887.  Many of the graves were marked only by a pile of rocks with no headstones.  Some were surrounded by tiny fences.  This stop definitely turned out to be the highlight of the day.  (Go ahead, call me morbid, but old cemeteries are great for photos)

Somehow it seems appropriate to have my final post of the year be focused on a cemetery.

Consider this the official burial of 2010.  Have a great New Year!

Welcome to Stanton

Our wrong turn earlier in the day didn’t really set us back significantly.  Apparently all roads lead to Stanton.  Okay, that’s a total exaggeration, but most of the rougher roads in the area tend to converge at some point because there’s only so many ways to get out of the area.  So we did eventually find ourselves in Stanton.  It was disappointing.  Stanton used to be a mining town.  It was purchased by the Lost Duchman’s Mining Association (yes, there is such an organization) and the remaining 3 buildings in town were refurbished.  Too much, in my opinion.  It didn’t really make for any great photos.  The LDMA uses the “town” as a base of operations for miners wanting to stake claims in the area, so it serves as a large campground.  Yes, people still go out and mine for gold.  It’s probably more of a hobby than a way to make a living.  We passed a couple of people that I would have loved to photograph, but I’m not quite ballsy enough yet to go up to total strangers and ask.

As we got closer to Stanton we passed a number of people on ATV’s.  Some looked like normal people just out for a day of fun and some looked like they spent waaay too much time out in the desert.  We also passed a number of campers.  It really boggles my mind that people will attempt to navigate the road in a camper.  I was having some white knuckle moments in an Xterra. But I guess if you really want to get away from it all… At any rate, we waved at everyone we passed and pulled over whenever we met a large oncoming vehicle.  When you are out in the desert, you want everyone to be your friend.  You never know when you might get stuck somewhere and need help.  Plus everyone in AZ is armed and you really don’t want to end up as a bullet riddled skeleton in a dry wash.

Despite my general disappointment with Stanton, I did get a few detail shots that I think are okay.