Saturday, October 30, 2010

Study for Future Project

I shot some study images for a project I want to do in the near future. I don't know exactly where I want to go with it - thus the figure study - but I know I am aiming for sort of a book cover feel.

High Guard DS3_8354
High guard

In my mind I have some bodies in mind for the real project though I have not spoken to them yet. I want to clarify my ideas. I think this study will get me closer, and give me something to show by way of example.

Low Guard DS3_8351
Low guard

I have two visions for this project, or three really. One is to use a muscular male, another is to use a lithe, cut female. The third is to do a composite with both of them.

Left Hand Knife DS3_8353
Left-hand Knife

Ideally, if I do the composite, I'd want the male in one of the low stances and the female in a leaping pose. Simple enough to do the shots separately and merge them for the final image. Costuming would be minimal, and ideally skin tight. [Costumers feel free to chime in!]

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Kittens Worth of Fur

In my ongoing efforts to reach comradeship with our new feline companion - Nala - I have undertaken to let her know that this is a two-way street. She has to start stepping up to the petting plate and get over the worry-scurrying every time one of us twitches. So we had a chat, she and I, wherein I told her that she needed to meet me half way. I indicated that I would henceforth ignore her efforts to get me to pet her solely on her terms (on the floor) and that she had to start acquiescing to hanging out on the couch with me/us. She appeared unimpressed.

Nala (DS3_8223)

Nevertheless, yesterday I did as I had said, refusing to go to the floor to pet her, instead sitting on the couch and patting it to coax her up. She did not, and therefor got no attention. (Understand, this is hard on me too. I love kitties.) She did hang out on one couch while we watched part of a movie while sitting on the other couch. I considered that a start. At least she hung out in the same room with us! This morning started out with much meowing on her part, clearly seeking attention. An hour or so after I got up - Reena having departed for work - I sat on the couch. Optimistically I had a book at hand. Nala did not jump up, but atypically allowed me to pick her up and set her on the couch next to me whereupon I pet her. She was loving it, and I noticed that the soft rubber brush was within reach so I started in with that. Well, let me tell you, she was totally grooving on that. Our last cats were disinterested (or hostile) to being brushed so this is a new experience for me. I kept it up until I had removed an entire kittens worth of fur, then put the brush down and draped an arm across her and picked up my book. She settled in and fell asleep while I read a chapter. When I got up, she remained on the couch until I grabbed my camera and the brush, and set it next to the mound of fur for a photo. Then she decided that was pretty interesting and came to assist.


Slowly but surely we proceed to bond. It seems she gets it when I clearly state my intentions. Weird, and I know I'm probably projecting, but when I indicate clearly what I want (and visualize it as best I can) she responds in a way that indicates some sort of comprehension. So my job is to be clear and reasonable. Nala's job is to be a cat in the home of two cat-lovers. I think it will work out.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Heckuva Storm Today

We are having a hellacious wind storm today (though it sounds like it is diminishing as I type now that the sun has set). Gusts up to 60 MPH, or roughly equal to a tropical storm - quite unusual around here.


I ran some errands, with my camera in tow of course, and as I was passing Lake Mendota Monona at Olbrich Park I had to stop and try to capture the pounding.


The storm surge was coming ashore and could not drain back into the lake. Even though the temperatures were in the mid-50's (F) I was quickly chilled. The waves were splashing over my head, so call it seven feet above the shore, or 8+ feet over lake level. The water in Starkweather Creek was unusually high as the storm surge pushed up it. Apparently there are many trees down, power outages, and damaged/missing roofs though I saw very little damage in my outing.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Journey Roaming the Heavens


Whoa! Did I buy the most fantastic telescope? Did I travel in my own private rocket ship to some fantastic green world?

Alas, no.

In my recent trip to the nearby Edna Taylor Conservancy we spotted a number of ducks in a pond thick with duck weed. So much duck weed in fact, the ducks were leaving con trails as they moved around.


That first one still looks delightfully otherworldly to me, and so I will continue to observe it as my journey roaming the heavens.

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Friday, October 22, 2010


There was an emergency at our house today. Fairly serious too. It seems the cat - new to us just a month ago - has finally calmed down enough to want to play. We had a peacock feather which she loves, but for real thrills that has to be Human Powered. Not always ideal when one is trying to work or not at home. About an hour ago the cat careened into the kitchen, pounced on her food bowl and deftly fished out one nugget which she proceeded to bat and chase around two rooms before eating it. OK, that is a cat that needs a toy. Alas, neither of our last to cats were toy lovers, so we did not have any on hand. That called for emergency action!

I ran for the sewing cave and cut a hunk of tan, fuzzy material. Finding a piece of green yarn-like string, I lopped off a 3" piece. Snatching up needle and thread I dashed back downstairs to the kitchen. 15 minutes later I had the structure of an EM-CNF 01: Emergency Mouse-CatNip Filled model 01.

Structural Process of EM-CNF 01, note attentive audience

I stuffed the nose with cotton ball to help keep it's shape post ravaging. I loaded in a goodly portion of Grade A organic Catnip from the yard, interspersing it with structural cotton batting and a few stems to give it that bone-filled-mouse feel.

EM-CNF 01 nearly complete

I sewed up the final seam, added some disguising whiskers and stood back to inspect it. The intended audience was chirping and "mrrrt?"-ing with frequency which indicated at least a marginal success.

Completed EM-CNF 01

The initial testing phase was a smashing success. The subject rolled, frolicked, grunted, chirped, and batted the EM-CNF 01 all around the living room, delighting when it would get wedged in a tight spot that required deft extraction.


Mission accomplished! Total elapsed time from concept to integrated testing was 28 minutes. Hooah!

UPDATE: Subject developed the munchies, ate, and is currently staring vacantly out the window.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Aerial Dance Class in the Gym

On Sunday I mentioned in my post that we had held our aerial dance class in the gym this week and had multiple apparatus rigged. I had the opportunity to take a few photos between drills.

Jay at the Apex

Individual warm up gets things ready for class.

Melanie Hanging Out

Fearless leader Linda taught class. Here she is standing in the center of the cone described by the orbiting Luv. The point was to get comfortable with the orbit and learn to gauge when to successfully merge with another dancer who is already in motion in the air.


By the end of the class, most had a pretty good idea of the mechanics of the activity and time plus repetition will hone all our skills. It is one thing to get the mount and quite another to get it and make it look both effortless and pretty. Here Luv and Laura have nicely demonstrated the skill, sharing the bar and making themselves useful as hand-holds and leverage points to assist the other.


It was a fun class, and I hope we continue to work on this material.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Soup of the Day: Chicken Vegetable

Yesterday I cooked a whole broiler chicken. Today, of course, that meant soup! I am no expert on soup making, especially starting from a carcass, so I dragged out the Joy of Cooking - a book I have a love-hate relationship with. For some things it is really good, and for other things the recipes or advice are just plain terrible (specifically their chocolate chip cookie recipe).

Starting the stock

One of their key tips for soup says to use two bricks to distribute the heat evenly.

See? Bricks!

Okay. So I go get two bricks and arrange them thusly, as indicated.

Ooooh, the secret of the bricks

The first thing to note is that the bricks do even out the heat, and radiate a lot of it away. So plan on turning up the burner (which of course JoC does not mention) to get a simmering boil. By the end of the afternoon I had a house that smelled pretty good, as I had added leeks, mushrooms, ginger (my secret ingredient) and garlic. The onion skin was to add color.

Simmering away

As I neared the end, I added some more chicken bits, carrots, broccoli, herbs, salt, black pepper, chipotle pepper, and some rotini noodles. I just finished polishing off a bowl, and I'd rate it a B-. Meh. Maybe it will be better tomorrow?

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Nala Craves Tiny Places

Our new feline companion, Nala, has become less of a 'fraidy cat over the past week and is now spending most of her time out and about the house in a way that is, well, companionable. She does not spook at every noise and run off to hide. Now she is more likely to run a few steps to investigate the source of the noise.

I spend a lot of time during the day in front of my computer in our home office. Behind me is Reena's desk. Yesterday I heard Nala exploring behind me. I turned to make sure she was not on the desk (she is not allowed on any table or counter - she can sit only where we sit). It seems she wanted to be nearby and in a tiny place:


You need to understand that this is a 12 pound cat. She is not tiny in any sense of the word, but she sure likes small places.

Our learning to live together continues apace. She gets less nervous, and we learn how to give her the attention she craves without overdoing it or spooking her. I think she will be a fine fit ... someday soon.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Fall Color

No profound (or stupid) musings today, just 3,000 words worth of fall color photos.

Nature's Gumdrops?

For me, it is often more about the contrast than the color.

Wherever you are, be You as well as you are able!

Check back. There will be more.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Life and Death at the End of the Year

One of the positive things about being self (un)employed is that I can choose when "work" time is. Since my wife is also currently underemployed, we have more free time together than we ever have had. It has been pretty sweet. Today we opted to take a mid-afternoon walk in a local preservation area, the Edna Taylor Conservancy. ETC has a special spot in my heart as I helped build boardwalks over the marsh the summer before I started high school. (The boardwalks are all gone now as the marsh has grown in and been "managed" so they now have a "wetlands" and a "pond".) The weather was cool and windy, and quite overcast.

Reena Taking a Photo

Fall walks are always interesting: We get to see what is dead or dying, and what is holding out to the bitter (cold) end. As a Pagan, the wheel of my year starts and ends at Samhain, colloquially known as Hallowe'en. It is a time of drawing in - putting up the harvest, preparing for winter, and taking stock of one's self. It is a time for acknowledging death.

Death Finds the Shrew

Samhain is not all gloomy though. While it is true that many of the traditions associated with it (and Hallowe'en for that matter) focus on death, there is the acknowledgment of the life that has been, and, if we have prepared well, will have again when the sun returns at Yule (you might call it Christmas). It is all part of a cycle; life and death. Still, it always provides me a bump of happiness when unexpected life is discovered.

Much better if you View LARGE On Black!

In a few weeks the marshes will be frozen over, the amphibians asleep in the mud, and all but the hardiest birds will have flown south. We get Winter here. But for right now, we have a luscious fall and I am savoring it like a fine stew. I hope you enjoy it with me.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

One. More. Ride.

It must be mid-October: I have motorcycles on the brain in a big way. The season here in Wisconsin id definitely nearing its practical end. The days are getting shorter, and starting today, cooler after that stretch of unusually warm weather. After my trapeze class (post on that will follow) I lit out of town to the west with no plan except to enjoy the playground Western Wisconsin has to offer we motorcyclists. Following my nose led me HERE, where I took these pics.



The bike is my beloved MZ Baghira, converted from a supermotard to a light-duty adventure tourer with the addition of a comfortable seat, Givi hard bags, and PIAA lights for those dark, twisty roads at night. It is an ideal machine for the hilly, twisty country roads of western Wisconsin with gobs of torque and sufficient horsepower.


Winter here is a period of deep despair for motorcycle riders. I blogged about it a couple of years ago, so as we reach this time of year, riders like me get a bit desperate for One More Ride. It looks like I have another good week ahead of me, so I do not need to panic just yet. Whew!

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Local Special

Bike Exif, a blog dedicated to cool motorcycles from around the world, did a post today about a rare 1970 Honda CB750 police bike. The entire blog post is HERE.

It struck me as amazingly similar to the 1966 CB450 police bike that I shot at the Slimy Crud run a few weeks ago.


Pretty cool to know that we have some of the best tasty motorcycle goodness right here!

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Friday, October 15, 2010

An Awesome Chili Recipe

This chili recipe emerged on the fly, and my measurements are all approximate (but reasonably close). The agreement upon eating it was: AWESOME. The hot sauces and powders used can all be varied. This one was not very hot (unless you're Norwegian, then leave out everything but the salt) - call it a 2-alarm chili - but the smokey chipotle was perfectly drawn out by the cocoa. This left a little bit of burn on the *back* of the tongue rather than singing the lips and front of the tongue, likely due to the presence of the cocoa. (Taste zones of the tongue:

1 lb lean ground beef
1 med. Videlia onion (or other sweet onion)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 15-oz can black beans, drained, or equiv.
1 sm can tomato paste or equiv.
1 28 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes or equiv.
1/3 cup (or more) Valentina Salsa Picante (cheap and tasty!)
Other hot sauce as desired
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp (or more) chipotle pepper
1 generous palmful of Penzey's "Parisien Bonne Herbes" mix (chives, dill weed, basil, tarragon, chervil, and white pepper)
2 Tbsp unsweetend cocoa powder
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste

Brown the beef, drain and transfer to stock pot. Use the drippings to sauté the onion and garlic. I like the onion in good-sized pieces. While sauteing, thoroughly mix the tomato paste into the meat, then add the drained beans and diced tomatoes. Add the onion and garlic to the chili. Stir in remaining ingredients-TASTING AS YOU GO when adding the hot ingredients. Simmer until you can't stand it anymore, then serve with crusty bread or cornbread.

I usually use molé in my chili, but didn't have any on hand, thus the use of the Ghiradelli baking powder and cinnamon. It we REALLY good.

We ate this with an India Pale Ale (local micro-brewery Ale Asylum's excellent "Hopalicious") but something like a Stella Artois or Boddingtons might have been better. Guinness would also be an obvious choice.

Share widely!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Arboretum Wandering

Fall continues to be about as magnificent as could be here. The days are in the upper 60's to low 70's (F) while the nights are in the upper 30's. That combination makes for active days and good sleeping (with the window open, naturally). And the colors just keep entertaining anyone who simply looks around.


Most of the flowers in the ground are giving their last hurrah, and potted plants last only if brought into shelter overnight. It is minimal work and it keeps the goodness going for another week or so.


Today Reena and I took a detour and had a short walk in the Arboretum. It was interesting - some of the trees were already bare while others, particularly the ornamental maples, had not really even started to turn. A hard frost will do it, but then the party is over quickly. The current forecast says we have about another week of this great weather, so we get a nice long show.

Last Gasp

There are a double handful more photographs from today, and you can view them in this SLIDE SHOW if you so desire.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fall Into Saturation

There is something almost magical about fall: The absence of fecundity heralded by an outpouring of riotous colors. The sky takes on an achingly beautiful blue.

Geese on the wing

The leaves offer a palate from screaming yellow to ruby red. The saturation allows the eye to drink deeply and satisfyingly.

Bridge at Vilas Park Ave

I took these, and a handful more, while awaiting a client on Saturday morning as I was scouting suitable locations. I enjoyed the time, and found myself wishing I had been there an hour or two earlier to catch those first minutes of light. Another day perhaps.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

He goes running to the shelter, of his photographer's little helper...

As my photography business builds up steam, I find it increasingly useful to have an assistant. Someone to hold lights or bounces, notice the model's collar standing up, or chime in with an inspired (artist's eye) suggestion. In may case, I am fortunate that my assistant is also my lovely wife. In exchange for her labors, she gets to travel to exotic locations to assist me in my work.


She gets to work not only in the studio, but in abandoned, derelict building lots. The dreams, the aspirations needed to take her there! OK, some days are better than others, and our location shoots aren't really all that exotic - yet. But her help is indeed appreciated, and her soft touch with clients is truly appreciated.

Thanks for all you do, Reena.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Slimy Crud

There is a local motorcycle "gang" called the Slimy Crud Motorcycle Gang which consists primarily of gentlemen of a certain age who share a passion for interesting motorcycles. Their club motto is "Ride hard, ride short." Each spring and fall for many years now, they have instigated a ride-in event known colloquially as the "Slimy Crud" or the "Crud Run". It is not an official event; there is no specific ride or organization. People show up at the first location, look at each others bikes, and ride their own route to the second destination. So what? Well the simple fact is that anyone in the region that has something cool brings it to this event. It is a motorcyclists wet dream.

This little beauty, a 1966 Honda 450, was decked out as a police bike with a motor-driven siren.


Motor-Driven Siren

This well-sorted Yamaha RD350 was getting plenty of attention. I happened to be standing nearby when the owner fired it up. It started right up and gave a nicetrip down memory lane with its signature "ring-ding-ding" two-stroke sound.


Not everything is pristine, but the evidence of love abounds.


Here is my SLIDE SHOW of photos from today and a few previous Crud Runs. Enjoy!

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