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Day Four: Savannah

Posted on Saturday, May 9th, 2009

Dave!Having to travel for work is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you do get to go places and see things you might not otherwise have a chance to. On the other hand, when you do go places you are working, and may still not have a chance to see things you want to see.

Such is the case with me in Savannah, where I am tied up the entire day. The only time I have to myself is a one-and-a-half-hour lunch. I also have the evening, but most things close at night and I'm too tired to want to go see them anyway. This makes for a very busy lunch time, as I rush around trying to see as much as I can.

Today was especially challenging because Jester had told me that I absolutely must visit the Bonaventure Cemetery, which is about 15 to 20 minutes outside of town. There are tours that go there, but they take hours, so my only option was to take a taxi and then pay the driver to wait for me while I goof around for a half hour. It was very expensive.

But worth every last penny...

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

Boneventure Cemetery Walk

I was expecting to see the renowned "Bird Girl" statue (made famous in the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), but it has been moved to the Telfair Museum in town...

Bird Girl statue on the book cover

I could have explored the cemetery for hours, but duty called, and I was speeding back to Savannah before I knew it.

After dinner I was dead-tired but intent on walking down historic River Street at least once during this trip...

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

Sunset on River Street in Savannah

What a way to end my day.

   

Bullet Sunday 133

Posted on Sunday, May 24th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday to the rescue...

• Photograph. One of the projects I've been working on over the past three years is getting all my photos converted to a digital format so I can preserve them as non-degradable 1's and 0's for all eternity. Once I got off work this afternoon, I started combing through my collection of pictures and negatives to get another batch ready for scanning. With the additional 1,748 images I rounded up today, I'll be at roughly 75% of my photographed memories converted. It's an expensive ordeal, to be sure, but ultimately worth it. If, for no other reason, that I get to relive the good old days when I looked like an advertisement for 80's fashion gone terribly wrong...

Old Photos of Young Dave!

• Remember. The down-side of rummaging through old memories is that you always run into people, places, and things that you'd just as soon forget. That's when the big decision of "to scan or not to scan" comes up. I don't know what it says about me, but 9 times out of 10, I choose not to have them scanned. 7 times out of 10, I destroy the originals. Some people would probably be horrified to hear this, believing that eventually you'll regret having gotten rid of the photos because you'll want to remember everything in your life... both good and bad. But try as I might, I cannot fathom being 90 years old and wanting to kick myself because I don't have a photo of some old girlfriend who screwed me over. How, exactly would that work? "Gee I wish I could remember what that lying, blood-sucking whore looks like." Uh huh... I don't think so. Some things really are best forgotten.

• Film. I still shoot film from time to time. There's a level of creativity, unpredictability, and danger that comes from throwing caution to the wind and using a chemical reaction to record an image. That being said, man what I wouldn't give to have had a digital camera back in the 80's and 90's when all these photos were taken! I don't really appreciate how amazing it is to be able to review a picture immediately after you've shot it until I see how many shitty photos I've got from back in those days. Over half of these shots would have been deleted or re-taken if only I knew they'd end up looking so bad. Oh well. I should be grateful that I had the relatively modern film technology I did (especially when compared to what came before it).

• Print. Back in the "film days," 100% of my photos were printed. Now-a-days, I'm guessing it's less than 5%. Most of the time I look at photos, it's on my computer. About the only time I have physical copies made is when I want to share them with friends and family who doesn't use a computer. This bothers me a little bit every time I think about it. Even though all my data is backed up very, very well... I still feel the need to have things in print for some reason. Maybe I'm just sentimental that way.

• Photoshop. Of course, one of the things I'm most looking forward to after getting all my photographs scanned is being able work some Photoshop magic on them. So many of the images can be dramatically improved by just small changes... erasing that person standing in the background... fixing the color balance... cropping out distractions... Photoshop makes it all so easy. A part of me thinks of this as "cheating" when I mess around with film images, but when it comes to my digital shots I don't give it a second thought. Perhaps it's because back in the "film days" you accepted that what you see is what you get when you press the shutter release. Whereas in the digital age, you take photos knowing you can change them. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I haven't yet decided.

What I have decided is that it's time for bed. I get to sleep in tomorrow morning, and I don't intend on ruining that by staying up past midnight.

   

Affair

Posted on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Dave!As the train wreck that is Governor Sanford unfolded in the media today, I made a few smart-assed remarks on Twitter because I just love it when hypocritical assholes get burned. Especially hypocritical assholes who pushed for impeaching Clinton when it was his dick that ended up where it shouldn't have been. And when you consider that Sanford not only used taxpayer money to get himself a mistress, but he is also an opponent of same-sex marriage because he apparently feels it defiles traditional marriage... well, it's a trifecta of schadenfreude bliss when he goes on television and admits to having an extramarital affair.

The Twitter stuff was nothing too outrageous, just snippy comments like...

  • "Because when you want to bring morality to America, it applies to EVERYBODY ELSE. Anxiously awaiting news that Sanford's affair was with a dude."
  • "Color me three shades of shocked... Not... One more nail in the "sanctity of traditional marriage" argument..."
  • "I should certainly hope that Jenny Sanford stands by her man! According to "Doctor" Laura, it was all her fault anyway."
  • "How do you solve a problem like Maria? A hike along the Appalachian Trail, apparently..."

Not a big deal, but it was enough to compel somebody on Twitter to send me a Direct Message telling me that my "attacks" were far worse than anything Sanford has done.

Whatever.

The big difference being that I don't go around condemning people for how they live their lives, then turn around and do that same shit. So, while I certainly sympathize with Sanford's family, that doesn't make the Governor any less a hypocritical asshole.

In similar news... suck it Perez Hilton. It's not that I am advocating violence, but when you make a living writing hateful things about people all day long... well, you reap what you sow.

In completely different news... I finally found time to unbox my new iPhone 3GS. To be honest, I don't consider it to be a critical hardware upgrade from the iPhone 3G. But I decided to go for it anyway because I find myself using the camera feature far more often than I ever thought I would, and the 2G/3G camera sucks major ass. Fortunately, the 3GS camera is far, far better. For one thing, it can do macro (close-up) photography very well...

iPhone Macro Flowers

iPhone Macro World Map

Compare that to the total shit that you get from the 2G/3G camera...

Shitty iPhone Macro Menu

But the thing I love most about the new 3GS camera is that you not only get selective one-tap focus... you can also choose where the camera meters the exposure. This is a massively huge improvement because it makes the camera is actually useful now.

In this scene, I tapped the bright white sign as the focus/exposure point to force a darker shot...

iPhone Scene Exposure

This time, I tapped the train in the background as the focus/exposure point to force a brighter shot...

iPhone Scene Exposure

By tapping around the scene for a medium value, I could get exactly the exposure I want. This is a far cry from the shitty 2G/3G camera which consistently shoots everything as murky and dark unless the lighting is perfect.

Finally, FINALLY, I have a viable camera with me at all times that I can rely on for decent photos! In addition, you can shoot and edit video with the 3GS... a nice bonus that I probably won't use much. There are also a few other new features, but unless you are wanting a better camera like I did, I don't know that it's worth the cost to upgrade.

Unless you're a government official and can pay for the upgrade using taxpayer money. An upgrade is always worth it when somebody else is paying.

   

Memorex

Posted on Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Dave!Today I was supposed to work, but couldn't make it because I awoke with a splitting headache which made me so ill that I was fighting the urge to vomit all morning. I'm not sure what the problem is, but I had to make severe changes in my diet at the request of my doctor, and it's been wrecking havoc with my system.

So, in-between dry-heaves, I set about sorting through twenty years of memories that have been stacked up in boxes. It mostly photos, post cards, travel souvenirs, and maps... but occasionally I run into other cool stuff. Like money. I found $46 in US bills scattered amongst the crap I've collected. Not to mention what probably amounts to hundreds of dollars in expired foreign currency.

My main goal is to track down any loose negatives that might be hiding so I can get them scanned. Otherwise, I'll miss the opportunity to see such gems as these (which were scanned in my last batch)...

Dave Traveler

Clockwise... That's me in a tux at my good friend's wedding. Me in Hawaii circa 1986. Me at the top of Petronas Towers (Kuala Lumpur) circa 2000. And me being all business-casual in Tokyo circa 1990.

Rummaging through crap for hours wasn't doing my headache any good, but it's all worth it because every once in a while, I run across something like this...

Alcoholics Not-Anonymous Here We Come!

That's me and my sister, circa 1987. If I remember correctly, we had finished off all the alcohol in the apartment except Yukon Jack Whiskey and some kind of Bailey's Irish Cream knock-off. Not knowing what else to do, we mixed them together and did shots.

Googling this horrific concoction, I now know this drink actually has a name... it's called a "Yukon Jackoff."

That sounds about right.

And so I made it half-way through my memories today and was very happy to learn that most of them are actually worth remembering.

That's kind of a nice thing to have happen on a Saturday, isn't it?

   

Day Four: Skagway

Posted on Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Dave!Today was a very early day arriving in rainy Skagway.

And the reason it was an early start was because I had booked a river rafting trip through the Chilkat Eagle Preserve outside of Haines, Alaska. The rain wasn't entirely unexpected, because this area is smack in the middle of a rainforest. What was unexpected was that the rain decided to let up the entire time our group was on the river, so it actually made for a fantastic (and relatively dry) morning.

There was quite a bit of mist hanging around which looked really cool, but made spotting the eagles a more difficult...

Trees in the Mist

The mist also made it quite challenging to photograph the eagles, but there were 44 of the birds spotted during the trip so I was able to get quite a few good shots. Since I was on a moving raft I forced a high shutter speed on my camera to keep things sharp. This caused the picture quality to suffer, but at least I didn't end up with a bunch of blurry eagles. Once I used Photoshop to zoom in and add some contrast, they look pretty good...

It's an Eagle!

It's an Eagle!

It's an Eagle!

Overall I shot close to 70 pictures of these beautiful creatures, but it's just not the same as seeing them in person.

After an hour floating down the river looking at Eagles, it was time for a picnic lunch and a ferry ride back to Skagway. The scenery along the was was pretty spectacular...

Harding Glacier in Skagway

Skagway Falls

Skagway Harbor

The town itself seems to be one big tourist trap, and I'm told half of the businesses here belong to Princess Cruise Lines, which makes a lot of sense. Still, it's kind of a charming place that maintains ties back to its gold-rush roots with wooden sidewalks and such...

Skagway, Alaska

I'm not much of a shopper, so it was time to walk along the pier so I could beat the crowds and get back to the ship for and early dinner...

Skagway Pier

Tomorrow is a day at sea. Usually I don't like sea days, but I admit it will be nice to be able to sleep in and relax for a while.

   

Day Six: Ketchikan

Posted on Friday, September 18th, 2009

Dave!I don't believe in luck.

That being said, I have been incredibly lucky all-around on this trip. Landed in Juneau... POURING RAIN! But then it stops just in time to trek on the Mendenhall Glacier. Arrive in Skagway... POURING RAIN! But then it slows to barely a drizzle when it's time to raft through the Chilkat Eagle Preserve. Floating through Glacier Bay... POURING RAIN AND IMPENETRABLE MIST! But then, just as the ship arrives at the Margerie Glacier, the sun breaks through and we have perfect visibility. And then this morning, dock at Ketchikan... POURING RAIN AND MORE MIST! But then, after a half-hour or so, it pretty much stops.

As I said, unbelievably lucky.

And then there was today's excursion, which was a float-plane flight to Neets Bay to look at bears...

Float-Plane Flight to Neets Bay, Alaska

Misty Alaska

Neets Bay Fish Ladder

And then I got so unfuckingbelievably lucky that I should probably buy lottery tickets immediately.

Because usually on nature sightseeing trips, there are odds that you won't get to see any wildlife at all. I booked the earliest bear-watch tour I could get since I was told the odds were better in the morning, but even that was no guarantee.

But I was lucky, again, because there were bears to be seen. And it was pretty much as I expected. Little bears off in the distance, looking for food...

Momma Bear and Baby Bear

What I didn't expect was to see a bear up close...

River Bear

I certainly didn't anticipate being just 30 feet away either...

Bear in the Bush

And I about shit myself when I saw bears just 15 feet away...

Wet Bear

Bear Says

So you can imagine how I nearly lost all control over my bodily functions when I saw a momma bear and baby bear in a tree just 10 feet overhead...

Momma Bear in a Tree

As I said, unfuckingbelievably lucky. Having a Bald Eagle show up as I was leaving was just icing on the cake...

American Bald Eagle in a Tree

Then the float-plane arrived to take our group back to Ketchikan... where the rain started pouring again...

Float Plane Landing in Neets Bay

Back in Ketchikan

Eagle Statue in front of the Norwegian Pearl Ship

Maybe I should start believing in luck after all.

   

Bullet Sunday 151

Posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009

Dave!It's Bullet Sunday from my last day in the Netherlands! And what a beautiful one it is... with blue skies everywhere you look. A nice change from the past three days. The weather came just in time, because tomorrow I'm back to Schiphol for my flight home.

• Beach. The Lady Penelope didn't have to fly out until late afternoon, so The DutchBitch was kind enough to take us to Noordwijk aan Zee so we could see the beach (and eat more potatoes with mayo). It was a nice day out, though the wind was blowing pretty fierce. This was great for the chute-surfers out on the water...

Chute Surfers on the Ocean

Blue Sign in a Blue Sky

Bicycle Tire Stuck in the Sand

Dutch Lighthouse

A Scenic Look Towards the Beach

• Blue. After saying goodbye to Lady P. at the airport, we headed back into Amsterdam because I had forgotten my sunglasses at dinner last night. Thats when I saw something pretty amazing... blue sky behind the Hard Rock Cafe! In the half-dozen photos I have from previous visits, none of them have blue sky. But there it was...

Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam

• Big. In the USA, the restaurant portions are always massive, which means I can't ever eat it all and food goes to waste. Outside the USA, restaurant portions are usually of a more reasonable size, which is nice because I can actually finish everything on my plate without bursting. But when it comes to drinks, it's just the opposite. Order a Coke and they bring you a tiny bottle that costs at least double the price you'd pay in the States. Tonight Dutchy and I decided on Italian for dinner, and I was thrilled to see that they had both "regular" (i.e. tiny) glasses... AND "big" (i.e. "American regular") glasses on the menu. The down-side? I had to pay $7.88 (5,40€) for the privilege of ordering one...

$7.88 Glass of Coke

• Parade. Just because I can't get enough of the painted elephants public arts project in Amsterdam...

Elephants in the Park

• Funny. Last night, Dutchy treated us to some comedy DVDs featuring Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain. The guy is hysterically funny, and positively brilliant in his ability to interact with the audience. I had heard of the guy before because he hosts Mock of the Week from British television, but his stand-up was something entirely new to me. I pulled up Amazon so I could order his DVDs for myself... only to find out they aren't available for sale in Region 1. Nor could I buy them on iTunes. This is a load of bollocks. In the age of digital distribution, it's absolutely stupid that I can't buy a copy anywhere in the world. With DVDs I get it... they cost money to make. But a digital file on iTunes? It doesn't cost anything but a short time to convert the video (which has probably already been done for the UK store!). Like music, the concept of global digital distribution is completely lost on the video distributors. Oh well... until I can actually purchase a copy in my country, I guess there's always BitTorrent. How incredibly stupid that, for all our modern technology, idiotic stuff like this continues to happen.

Dara Ó Briain Live

YouTube has some funny bits and pieces from Dara's stand-up, and a good one is here.

And that's all she wrote for a fantastic visit to DutchyLand.

   

Imagery

Posted on Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Dave!I'm slowly getting all my negatives and paper photos scanned at ScanCafe, so I've started moving on to pictures from friends and relatives. It's been interesting to see how others view the same people and places when comparing their shots with my own. The last batch of scans I sent included images from my brother from some of the trips we've taken together.

The nice thing about traveling with my brother is that he's a professional photographer and takes some amazing photos. The bad thing about traveling with my brother is that all my photos look like crap by comparison.

Thailand...

Thailand Temple

Thailand Statue

James Bond Island

Pattya Sunset

Thai Fisherman at Sunset

The UK...

Dave in Front of Teddy Bear Co.

Elegant Statue

Beautiful Building

BeautyBuilding.jpg

Dave at Holyrood Palace

Dave at Palace

Edinburgh Hard Rock Cafe

Edinburgh Street

DaveEdinburgh.jpg

Celtic Cross at a Church

Nothing makes me want to hit the road again than looking at pictures from past trips!

   

Photogenic

Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009

Dave!I really need to get some sleep one of these days.

This morning I finally finished going through the thousands of photo scans waiting to be approved. Most of what remained were pictures from when I was young, and that's always fun. It's interesting to see how so many things in my life haven't changed all that much, even from when I was a baby.

My adventures with toothpaste were not always tragic...

Lil' Dave Brushes His Teeth

The reason I am terrified of clowns becomes clear once I saw the scary-ass clown doll I was given... DEMON EYES! IT HAS DEMON EYES!! KILL IT! KILLLLLL IIIIIT!

Baby Dave with a Scary-Ass Clown!

Ride 'em, Tiger...

Baby Dave Rides a Plastic Tiger

I don't know why I stopped wearing red suit jackets. They totally work for me...

Dave in a Red Suit Jacket

That's a HUGE package you've got between your legs, Dave...

Baby Dave with a Christmas Present

My what a BIG wick you have between your legs there, Dave...

Baby Dave with a Giant Birthday Candle

Wow that's a MASSIVE hose you've got there, Dave...

Baby Dave with a Garden Hose

My obsession with monkeys started at an early age...

Baby Dave with a Stuffed Monkey Toy

Baby Dave with a Different Stuffed Monkey Toy

Growing up Dave...

Young Dave with a Sandwich

Dave Writing in a Book

Dave Taking a Writing Break

And now I need to get working on a very long weekend before I have to fly out again next Tuesday.

Something tells me I am not going to get that sleep any time soon.

   

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