Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 3 of 3

Hunger gnawing away the insides, thirst becoming unbearable, sleep deprivation making it nearly impossible to see, fatigue making it difficult to type, but muuusst … get .. . throuuuugh last part of Phoadtography post.  Just kidding, it isn’t really that much work, but thinking a Twinkie would really hit the spot right now.  This is the third and final set of phoadtography shots from last year’s Thanksgiving vacation.  Linda and I have been requested not to plan any vacations yet due to some corporate negotiations that are in flight, but hopefully we’ll be out on the road again very soon.  For now, enjoy this final set which appear to come mostly from the Vegas area.

Since we had to rent a vehicle to get up to Zion anyway, we decided to reserve it a few days early and take in some sites near Vegas.  First on the agenda was to check out Hoover Dam and the lake that resulted from the dam construction.  After a long slow trudge through traffic, we finally arrived at the lake.  The bad news is it was unseasonably cold the week we were there (in the mid 30’s for some of the days) so we did not spend a lot of time outside.

Instead, we decided to take the scenic drive and experience it from the car.  It is definitely a nice lake, but there really isn’t much to look at on the coastlines.  Most disappointing was the utter lack of wildlife beyond a few ducks scattered about.

Although we are pretty much burned out on the Luxor having stayed there so many times, it is rare when we actually get to see the front of the casino.  I snapped this as we drove by and it turned out pretty crisp.  For those not familiar with this casino, it has a light on top that can be seen from space and their elevators are actually called inclinators because they travel up the insides of the pyramid corners.  If you want a good physics exercise, try figuring out how they keep the inclinators level so you are not tossed all over the place as you ascend up to your floor.  It is a shame they have essentially removed just about all their Egyptian themed interior decor in place of annoying modern day club-style bars and nightclubs.

Hit the jump to see the rest of this Phoadtography set!

Continue reading Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 3 of 3

Book Recollection: Bird by Bird

True to my word, I am starting to dig into my stack of reading material. As of right now I have shaved off about 2 inches based on today’s book and another one I finished a few days ago (future post).  After some validation with a ruler and some highly technical math it doesn’t bode well for getting through all of the material by the end of the year.  It is too early to give up and my vacations generally provide a lot of reading catch up time so the game is still on.  The first book this year is titled “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” and was written by Anne Lamott.  This was an interesting pick for me primarily because I am not really a writer in the true sense of the word.  A Photography blogger mentioned it as one of his favorite books and I noticed a few other book recommendation sites I follow had it on their top ten as well.  All those recommendations mentioned it was beyond a basic writing book and more of an interesting outlook on life.  Now the latter part of that is right up my alley and a few tidbits on writing just might help out on this blog.  Let me give my recommendation on this particular novel…. BUY IT AND READ IT.  I went into it with minimal expectations, however, I soon found myself captivated by Anne’s ability to paint a picture with words, provide imagery to a feeling and cause me to literally laugh out loud through her dark wit and straight forward delivery.  Anne has been through some tough moments in her life that she has been able to internalize and reflect on those experiences in manner that everyone can relate to.

The vehicle of the book is a writing seminar that she puts on for eager writers looking to be successful in the field.  During this seminar she conveys her writing wisdom learned over the years while creating and publishing her works.  Although I am not a subject matter expert, she seems to give a lot of good advice on how to drive through writer’s block, providing characters with real emotions, learning how to  establish a relationships to the reader and advice on keeping their expectations of success in check.  Actually, this concept of expectations was a big theme in her book whether it was intended or not.  When the last page was turned, I put the book down thinking two things; how hard professional writing must be and how glad I was I picked a different career.  I wonder how her students felt after getting a dose of reality like this.  There is a since of sincerity and openness from the author that helps lend credibility to her outlook on life.  It is evident that faith plays a an important part in her life, however, she doesn’t hammer you with it our try to influence your perspective on this front.  So, yes, it is a book geared to writers, but there is plenty non-writers can take away from reading Anne’s excellent work.  Even now I am seeing the impacts of her writing suggestions on my blogging efforts and probably more noticeable is the writer’s eye  that I’ve been applying to the written works of others I read or listen to… are the character’s believable, can the author create the vision and feeling of being part of the story etc.?  With that benefit, her viewpoints on life put the cherry on top of a sweet read.

Hit the jump to see some of my recollections from this!

Continue reading Book Recollection: Bird by Bird

Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 2 of 3

It’s quiz time.  What has over 70 pictures, comes in three parts and has the ability to completely clean out your browser’s cache of all that pr0n you’ve been wasting your web time on?  Okay, that was an easy one.  Yes, I’m back with the second installment of the Las Vegas and Zion Phoadtography post.  Unlike last time, none of these are wall worthy which means they generally fall into the category of things that make you go “Huh?”.  I like to get the most out of my vacations and finding those interesting pearls puts the cherry on top.  Now that the Smugmug picture links have been captured, let’s not waste anymore time and get right to this set.

Linda and I stumbled onto this sign just before entering the Zion National Park.  Having to leave the children at home to go on vacations is always tough but I am sure they enjoy the Doggy Spa at the grandparents.  Maybe next time we head out to this park we’ll see if they want to come along – although if they find out they have to work on a ranch their pampered paws will carry them right back home.

It is no secret Linda and I enjoy vacationing in Vegas.  For two people watchers, that place is like steroids for the eyes.  Even with all our trips, the first time we ever saw the Welcome to Vegas sign was a couple of years ago at Linda’s niece’s wedding.  Their party bus took us out there so they could get some pictures under it.  Well, this year was the first time we got to see the downtown Leaving Las Vegas sign.  Our lives are now officially complete.

Hit the jump to see a bunch more Phoadtography pictures!

Continue reading Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 2 of 3

Snowmageddon ’11: When Accu Does Not Stand for Accuracy

Take a gander at this weather forecast from our local Peoria Journal Star on January 30th 2011.

Pay particular attention to the Monday and Tuesday forecast.  Just taking a close look at the icons (which is exactly what I do 99% of the time) you would think that it will be cloudy on Monday with a few flurries and a mixture of sun and clouds on Tuesday.  This seemed a tad odd based on a report I had heard a few minutes earlier regarding a large front that was heading our way.  Maybe a closer inspection is required here.  Monday: Mostly cloudy, a BIT of snow; colder (okay match with icon).   Tuesday: Mostly cloudy, snow or flurries possible (this does not match the selected icon seeing as how I see no flurry symbols).  Note, this forecast was in our Sunday paper making the Monday and Tuesday forecast slightly harder than looking at a rock on the days in question.  At worst case you could look to the West, see what is happening on the plains and assume it will be on top of Illinois shortly.  But how could this be wrong, it’s from ACCUWEATHER (tm’d none the less).  For the entire rest of the day the local news and CNN were declaring “The Big One”  was on its way and would be hitting Illinois starting Monday and then pounding the entire state into submission on Tuesday.  How can this be, I’ve got ACCUWEATHER telling me to plan a picnic?   To top it off, the TV weatherman literally told everyone he expected us to be trapped in our houses on Wednesday.

So, want to know how accurate ACCUWEATHER’s forecast was?  How should I put this?  Let’s go with “A Pile of Feces”.  Monday actually turned out somewhat right in the sense it snowed a few flakes, but essentially nothing at all.  That day was not the one I wanted to focus on.  Tuesday started out with a rain and sleet mixture around 11:30am.  Shortly thereafter can only be described as a polar bear’s wet dream or an Inconvenient Truth for the gloBULL warming clown Al Gore.  From that moment on until early Wednesday morning, Peoria was in the midst of whiteout rivaling records set back in 1967 (a fantastic year by the way).  Once the storm moved out, we were left with about 18″ of the white stuff.

Score one for the TV forecast and a big fat ZERO for ACCUWEATHER. Sure enough we were snowed in. The plows never even made it out to us in the country until late Wednesday afternoon. Concerned about the amount of snow we were getting on Tuesday, I decided to do a pre-emptive plow late Tuesday afternoon in hopes of leaving enough space to put the rest of the snow. After two hours of this, the driveway was relatively cleared, but filling up fast from the blizzard. A last look outside before hitting the sack confirmed that the early plow was a wise decision. Well, a wise decision until I woke up the next day to discover all my work had been humbled by Mr. Snow Miser. Crap!!!

Hit the jump to see more pictures of Snowmaggedon

Continue reading Snowmageddon ’11: When Accu Does Not Stand for Accuracy

Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 1 of 3

Guess what?… nope, guess again?  nope.. one more try?  Close, but the right answer is “it’s time for another Phoadtography post.”  Actually it is sometimes affectionately called a photo-bomb which is pretty accurate with this particular set since it requires 3 full posts to get through.  This series is brought to you via our Las Vegas and Zion trip we took over Thanksgiving last year.  That equates to two very photographic locations coupled with a road commute between them.  Translated, lots of Phoadtography opportunities.    For those of you who may be new to the blog, here are some guidelines I posted previously regarding one of my favorite means to pass the time trapped in the car.   Let’s jump right into the set!

Figured I would start with a quick sign shot.  That and I wanted to get a bad picture out of the way before getting into the good ones.  Clearly this one is not up to par in the Phoadtography quality scale.  The camera tilt is over 5 degrees and the trigger finger was a little quick on the draw.  However, at least I knew where I was on the camera card.

I’ll balance the previous shot with probably my favorite of the whole set.  This is primarily due to spotting the opportunity and patiently waiting for the perfect moment to take the shot.  It required taking into account the direction of the road and relationship to the fixed structure on top of the rock.  I have no idea what it is (maybe a weather satellite or cell tower).  With the clever alignment it really looks more like a deathray!

Hit the jump to see a lot more of the pictures!

Continue reading Phoadtography: Vegas and Zion Trip 11/2010 Pt 1 of 3

Game Recollection: Dragon Age Awakening

Jagger has done it again. The world had been saved an immanent end due to Darkspawn by the mighty strength of his bow and fellow heroes. As you may recall from my previous Dragon Age campaign I was pretty impressed with the overall game-play of the original offering from EA/Bioware. Since that time, they released and expansion pack called Awakening which I received for Christmas. I did hit a slight self-inflicted glitch trying to install this version. When I played (and completed) Origins, my main gaming machine was still at Windows XP. Since that time, I have upgraded to Windows 7 meaning my previous install and all the settings and achievements were lost. Luckily, I always make a ghost image before doing any major work on my machine. Since this was an expansion pack, I needed to load up the original game first. Once that was done, I simply mounted the old drive with a USB enclosure, located the game configurations in the documents directory and copied on top of the new install’s setting directory. Once that was done, I loaded up the expansion pack and sure enough, it had all my character settings and progress restored correctly. Kudos to EA/Bioware for allowing this to work!  With that concern dispensed with, all that was left was to start killing darkspawn.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the screen caps from Dragon Age Awakening.

Continue reading Game Recollection: Dragon Age Awakening