Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mid-April Already?

One of my recent diversions has been exploring the capabilities of my phone's camera. It's a Galaxy S3 that I've had for a year now, and with all the attention Samsung has gotten with their "serious" cameras lately I finally got off my ass and took a closer look.
It's a fine Texas Springtime, so Bluebonnets are a natural subject:

Overall, not too bad. For a phone.
Being a photographer, I know what all the options available actually mean and how to manipulate them in my favor. And the options are comprehensive despite a few awkward glitches in the implementation.
At a recent party I ended up showing other S3 owners what I was doing and they got very excited by their own results.

Now that the S5 is out, and it's features and specs are pretty damned crazy, I'm looking forward to getting one free next year and skipping past the S4 entirely.
Samsung seems tapped-in to what the public wants in their mobile devices better than most.

In other news: 

I wrote a review on this blast-from-the-past here.
It was fun to pull out all the gear and do some "product" photography again.
Back in 2012 I managed to take over the cellphone and accessories category on Amazon and Ebay with shots like this, although it looks like they're all gone now. Still kinda miss it.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Been Busy

End of February was hectic, getting ready for my late brother Ken's service and 4 cousins coming to SA. It was bizarre seeing family members at a Televators show.

Went hiking with Barbara and found an antler for the first time:

She's a silversmith and made this rocket for me. It opens up to hold a few ashes and has Ken's birthstone--supercool!

I took them (in varying #s) to the Alamo, El Mercado, La Villita, La Cantera, Jacala's, and Mama Margie's.
All big hits.
Cousin Bruce brought us beer: Ghost River for me, which is a local Memphis brew, and Yuengling for Sylvia. She used to bring it home from business trips east of the Mississippi, so it was great having a case delivered.

We were having troubles with Sylvia's Honda Civic, and dropped a lot of $$$ on it's 2nd transmission rebuild only to find that it was overheating randomly. After 5 tows and another pile of $$$ we were told that it needed a new engine.
She cried a little, manned-up quickly, and decided she was done with it.
We were lucky to meet Byron and Patrick at Gunn Honda, a couple of cool dudes that we could relate to. Byron went to see Phish in Austin one time, and woke up in Kansas. He's seen them 97 times total after that auspicious start. Patrick is Canadian, which is cool in my book. They were THE BEST car salesman/finance pair I've ever dealt with, and in a few hours Sylvia had her very first brand new car, a 2014 Honda CR-V:

We both love it beyond all expectations.

During our car troubles we rented a KIA Soul for a week and enjoyed it, then our friend Holly loaned us her spare Ford F150 pickup, which lost it's alternator in a Wendy's drive-thru with 2 of my cousins along for the drama. Man, the electrics on that truck freaked the hell out, while I was in all the other customer's way. Couldn't get it into neutral for awhile, the alarm was threatening me, lights were coming on all over the dash, the radio kept trying to eject invisible CDs. Luckily we were in walking distance of the cousin's hotel, and she had a rental car. Yet another tow job involved.

Best part of all the car hassles was that when push came to shove, "Old Blue" (my UT orange '98 Dodge Dakota pickup) was suddenly Mr. Dependable in getting Syl to work and back, and in fact hasn't given me more than a few very minor glitches since last October. Nothing like it used to be, dying in the middle of Loop 410 rush hour.
Which is funny because Old Blue went through a period where it only got freaky when Syl was riding with me on weekends, then acted normal the rest of the time. Convincing her to drive it alone didn't even involve threats or bribes, because she had manned-up already. Super Proud.

If you've been following along, you know that my laptop died during our first night in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. This was back in January. I spent a lot of time working on it there and here and at times it seemed like it could be saved but at a certain point it got packed up and written off. About two.5 weeks ago I pulled it back out just for a lark, and long story short I've been buying $2-5 DVDs again and spending what used to be "BloggerTime" at the kitchen counter watching movies and listening to my bass playing over some Sony studio headphones. Thanks to my tech, Buz, for added help in getting it back among the living.
Don't think I mentioned here that we also had to buy a "new" PC tower right after getting back from the island, since all my others had died in depeche mode right before we left (Translation=Fast Fashion). The laptop was all I had, and when IT failed....there was a break in wanting to blog or even be civil to people online.

The "new" PC is Dual-Core and double my old RAM running Win7, and I love it so far.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Fire Dancing

After the wedding and reception:

This was the only time the beach was crowded at night, but only in the immediate vicinity of the restaurants and bar.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Best Beach

I've been to some nice beaches in my lifetime, but the one we were at was hands down the finest.
Superfine white sand, no shells, almost no seaweed, no jellyfish, and most surprising of all--ZERO seagulls!

And the resort had a lot of beds pretty much everywhere for relaxing in comfort.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This is a view that I can guarantee nobody else in our group (or any other, for that matter) found:

Old dead tree stumps completely reclaimed by the jungle. Strange sights like this are why I go off the trail.
Took some color pics the next day, but the infrared makes it look more alien so I prefer this one.

The landscaping inside our resort's walls was well-maintained and LUSH.
Every day I saw scruffy dudes with machetes climbing trees and hacking at the growth.
It's a wet place with plenty of sun.

The pool was monstrous, with smaller projections jutting out in every direction so you could have privacy for your group. The swim-up bar and grill was popular. Oddly, the pool closed at 7pm but the ocean was right close by.
Zero lifeguards seen anywhere.
Or security guards for that matter-it was wild and crazy, but all the guests seemed to know the limits of behavior.

After my previous post made on the night we got there, I woke up the next day to find my laptop completely jacked.
The whole resort is apparently run on generators, and your suite gets powered-down after a certain period of inactivity. Gave up on the clock/radio right away. The WIFI was sketchy, too, so I think I got malware and maybe a virus, voltage fluctuations and unexpected on/off cycles, with 100% humidity for dessert. Wish I could have kept processing and posting photos while I was there but my laptop was dead meat within 12 hours of landing.
Third World Fun. Having to take Immodium AND Pepto every day plus brushing your teeth with bottled water should have clued me in that nothing would work the way I'm used to.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Not In Kansas Anymore...

Or the USA, for that matter!

After a long-ass day of flying AA, we landed in the dark at an airport 2 timezones to the east with a thatched roof where stamping of passports was a mere formality. Unlike SA, DFW and MIA there were zero cops, dogs or food.
Holy crap, we're in that pesky old third world you hear about on TV!

After a little buffet action and a couple beers, I set out to explore my surroundings and try to get my bearings in the dark to save time tomorrow.

This is just one section of the main pool, which twists and turns all over the place.

Can't wait to see the beach tomorrow. Never have I felt sand so fine and clean. Truly one of the top 5 beaches in the world, and I'm shooting it at night, alone, after midnight, with a mere 3 hours in-country experience to gauge the safety.
Whatever, this place rocks.

A little hi-tech lighting to go with the all-included package.

Spent some time at one of the bars talking to a couple of mooks from New Jersey and a rabble of hipsters.
Nobody bought me a beer because it's already paid for--I got a 6-pack from the bartender to take back to our room...Presidente Light, not bad at all.

I have zero idea what happens next, and don't much care.
We are in paradise and taking it as it happens.
The wedding we're here for takes place on Saturday, then more fun.

Stay tuned