Phoadtography: Visiting Our Friends to the North Pt 2

Greetings everyone!  This month saw the rare appearance of the back to back posts of a series with the Halloween decorations (link here).  Generally I try and avoid that in order to give adequate variety for my millions of readers (I am obligated to say that to keep from having to hear how many Peeps Linda has on that crappy Fadbook site of hers).  The reason for this is October’s posts were all done from the road. This has limited my post coverage to whatever I managed to bring along with me and could get done before shutting the lights out in the hotel room.   Today I am actually writing from the car with our trusty Verizon stick.  The light is too harsh to really post process pictures so instead I’m going to double up my series posts again with the second part of the North journey Phoadtography set.  For the curious, I’ve scheduled this release to coincide with when we expect to be back home – I didn’t want to advertise that our home was vacant so kept that out of my posts up to now.  So here we go with a post from the road about being on the road which can be viewed while you are on the road.

Let’s start with congratulations to Milwaukee for a a great baseball season!  All those predictions and high expectations we were subjected to by local radio and TV announcers made me think for a moment my Cardinals never had a chance.  Their pitching was better than my Cardinals, their hitting was better than my Cardinals and their fielding well that might have been better than my Cardinals as well.  But all that doesn’t matter to a Cardinal fan now does it? .. and why is that?  … cause my Cardinals are still playing !!!!

Did I mention I was a Cardinal fan?  oh.. well then for the record I’m a Cardinal fan!  Enough gloating, there is still one more game to get through.  Now on to a staple in the Phoadtography world.  The water tower.  I have seen pumpkins, golfballs and a giant smiley face, but this is the first time for a basketball.  This town must be in a sports dry spell if it takes this much pride in something that happened back in 1952.  Whatever keeps the faith I guess.

hit the jump to see the rest of the pictures in the great trip up North series.

Continue reading Phoadtography: Visiting Our Friends to the North Pt 2

Phoadtography: Visiting Our Neighbors to the North Pt 1

There is no rest for the weary these days.  I can see the edge of October and it is approaching fast.  The good news is I am down to one more post after this one and I think that is doable … at the moment.   I ended up losing yesterday because I forgot to process all the pictures for this post.  Soooo last night was spent getting that done and uploading them to our Smugmug account (Eddiesoft) so I could post tonight.

Today’s entry is from our trip up to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in early October.  Linda and the boys were competing in the Petit Prix, also known as the Teacup Dog Agility Association National’s.  Although I have really nothing to do with this since I neither train the dogs or run them in the ring, that doesn’t stop me from taking credit for how well they competed in the event.  Both Kerby and Rizzi came home with a pile of ribbons and Rizzi even made the Semi-Finals consisting of the top 84 dogs in the whole event.  Of course, there is a reason I get to take some credit…. I have to take off work and help Linda haul everything to and from the car and these toy dogs travel heavier than Paris Hilton.  The good news is Linda drove most of the way providing ample time to snap some shots along the way.  With that, let’s get to the pictures eh ? (in my best Wisconsin accent)

Keeping with the Halloween theme from the previous posts, I’ll start with these.  My eyes lit up when I saw this pumpkin.  Just imagine the cool pumpkin carving I could do with one of these babies.  It might take a chainsaw instead of a Dremel, but I’m definitely up for the challenge.

Hit the jump for the rest of the pictures from the trip

Continue reading Phoadtography: Visiting Our Neighbors to the North Pt 1

Gold at the Dollar Store, Halloween Party Pt 3

And then there were 4.  I figured I’d just close out the Halloween Party Series with a final post of decorations on the cheap.  I didn’t want to keep in you suspense from the last post.  Believe that?  I didn’t think so.  Actually, I am relying on images that were preloaded on our Smugmug site due to some web access limitations we are fighting through at the moment.  Since all the decoration pictures were uploaded at once, I can simply reference those rather than fighting any new image uploads.  Hopefully concentrating on this post will help take my mind off the Cardinals’ second blown game of the series.

As mentioned previously, we originally went to the Dollar Store to find specific materials for our Halloween Party Haunted Trail (link here).  The pumpkins mentioned in that previous post were a bonus find.  What I was really looking for was some round looking objects that were made of glass or plastic that was roughly 6 inches in diameter.  That was pretty much the entire description we were heading in with.  Oh, and it needed to deflect or reflect light in some manner.  “Should you choose to accept this mission …”  After the euphoria of the foam pumpkin find had fallen off we started down each of the aisles trying to find something that fit the bill.  This resulted in 20 minutes of “Nopes” until halfway down the glass and candle aisle.  Right there on the top shelf was the perfect item.

It is actually pretty heavy glass similar to what you would put on a ceiling fan light except it has a flattened bottom. I have no idea what the real purpose is, but this was going to be a nice add to my Halloween decorations … if it worked out as planned. Since this was an unproven idea, we went with 4 of them – each for a very respectable $1.00. Going this route made the decision on which of the two ways to go on the design. If they were plastic, I was going to cut out shapes and put a candle in them to help light the path. Glass as the base resulted in the second option to simply paint the globes. A quick stop at Home Depot was needed to get some paint. After a lengthy discussion with the paint clerk, it was decided that the Rustoleum Multi-Purpose Orange Gloss would work best on the glass. There isn’t enough time to go into details on my checkout experience, but it is worth mentioning I had to go through nearly the same process to buy spray paint as you do Psuedophedrine.

Hit the jump to see how this and an another Halloween decoration turned out

Continue reading Gold at the Dollar Store, Halloween Party Pt 3

Decorations on the Cheap, Halloween Party Pt 2

Still in the midst of my whirlwind ride to the quota, I give you the next post in the 2011 Halloween Party series.  This post (and the next in the series to kill the suspense) pertains to my quest to improve what I affectionately call the Haunted Trail.  It started last year when a number of people wanted to see the nearly finished state of Serenity (link here).  After talking about all the work it took to design and, a lot of my party guests were hoping to walk down to it.  At the time this posed a slight problem since there was no power that far away from the house and even though there was a maintained trail to it, navigating in the dark was even difficult for myself (I am still apologizing for the group of people I managed to get lost in a ravine that year).  Long story short, I purchased some solar lights to help navigate the path and decided to put up one of the new PVC ghouls and a sound activated witch to entertain the hikers.  That turned out pretty well, so one thing led to another and plans were put in motion to improve it for this year.

The first task was to find ways to decorate the path without the use of power.  The path is fairly long as well so decorations needed to be cost efficient.  For about a week a number of brainstorming sessions were held generating a number of ideas… some good… some awful and some too ambitious – I should probably mention that there was another requirement in the mix – it had to be something I could do within a week.  It is quite obvious that somewhere in my past life I wronged Father Time.  Against all odds there was one good idea that appeared to fit the bill.  All that was left was to find the materials at a reasonable price.  With fingers crossed, Linda and I went to a local Dollar Store to see if there was anything there that could be used for the new decoration.  While scouting around the store, we stumbled on some mini foam pumpkins a little smaller than a Nerf football.  Carving is in my blood, they appear to be hollow and they are only ONE DOLLAR a piece.  Linda must have seen the wheels turning and rolled her eyes while 10 of these babies quickly made their way into the cart.  I’ll save the details for the original decoration idea for later.

Once home, it was time to see if these pumpkins were actually carve-able.  If not, there was still value as a simple hanging decoration that could be placed randomly around the path.  There wasn’t time to mess around with the formal pattern making so went old school on it.  A few derivatives of triangles for the eyes, another altered one for the nose and a classic tooth mouth was all investment needed for the first trial.  A quick trip down to the basement for a an experiment with the Dremel brought a huge grin to my face.  Sure enough, the pumpkin was indeed hollow.  It was definitely cheaper than the ones used for the official pumpkin collection in that they were thicker skinned and had porous foam.  It also had a white interior where the more expensive ones were tinted orange.  Carving wasn’t as smooth as the cutter had to go a lot deeper to make it through and the foam gaps kept pulling the blade off of the intended path.  The first pumpkin ended up taking about 30 minutes trying to get comfortable with the speed required by the Dremel and the amount of force needed to push it around the pattern.  The good news is this was doable and if I got through 3-5 a night it would be done in plenty of time.  Here is how one of them came out:

Hit the jump to read more about this fun and inexpensive decoration

Continue reading Decorations on the Cheap, Halloween Party Pt 2

Before and After – A Marketing Disaster

As an admission, I am officially behind schedule on the blog but we need to delegate blame to a guilt trip a certain person placed on me.  Apparently queuing up a few posts is second on the evil meter only to kicking an elderly woman down the stairs because she is impeding your timeline to rob a convenience store.  Being haunted by the stigma this would bring to my parents, I was forced to immediately stop using the post buffer to compensate for busy times of the month.  Of course, now I am left foregoing all charity work and our annual prairie dog mission of peace to free up enough time to bring you this month’s quota.  When those dogs take up arms and start ravaging our countryside that person is going to have some apologizing to do!

I’m to close to completing my 4th year of blogging to blow my quota now, so it’s time to get to it.  Today’s post comes to us courtesy (and by that, I mean lack of courtesy) of Bridgestone.

As a little level setting, Linda and I finally gave up dealing with all the annoying problems we were having with our Dodge Durango.  The car was actually fun to drive when it was actually working but it was plagued with electrical problems.  This was similar to problems we had with our Grand Cherokees.  During our hunt for a new car we were ignored by a dealership while trying to buy an Explorer (shocking at the time because they were in the middle of the economy crisis and cash for junkers was in full swing).  After a few other failed dealerships we broke down and checked again at Dodge – guess what, they decided to get out of the large SUV business with what appeared to be a failed attempt with the Aspen.  Frustrated, we stopped into Toyota, had a wonderful experience and promptly came home with a brand new SUV (built in San Antonio so hold the complaints).  This vehicle has been mechanically free of errors since we bought it with the exception of the special deer magnet (link here).  BMW could learn a few things from this automaker (link here).

Now is good time for the BEFORE shot:

hit the jump to read “The rest of the story”.

Continue reading Before and After – A Marketing Disaster

Confront Thy Fears – Halloween Party Pt 1

I see my absence from posting hasn’t shocked anyone into calling out a search party.  Alas, all is well, but life is a little hectic at the moment.  We had Teacup Agility Nationals this month, new international assignments at work and of course in the midst of all this is our annual Halloween Party.  If you recall from a previous post (link here), Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and both Linda and I enjoy decorating up the place and having some of our friends over for a few libations while enjoying a bonfire.  This year we expanded our haunted trail, but more on that in the future for today is all about orange colored foam and implements of destruction.

So first off, a quick quiz.

  • What is my favorite Halloween activity?
  • What is my most feared and despised occupation … hint, some would call it a phobia?

Queue annoying Jeopardy music.   Please put your pens down, it is time to reveal the answer.

Did you answer correctly? I will also accept decorating and scaring neighbor kids for the first answer, but ANY answer other than #$@#$%^&$ clowns is completely unacceptable. So it was time again to add another pumpkin to the collection. This one officially brings the collection to 18. As with the last 5 or 6, I wanted to make my own pattern. Half the fun is trolling Google Images trying to find the perfectly lit photo or image to transform into a scary nightlight. This year turned out to be a little frustrating. After trying all my favorite keyword searches like ghoul, demon, vampire etc. I kept coming up empty on good specimens to transform. This step takes a tremendous amount of time and I didn’t have time to waste on an image that wasn’t going to produce a nice silhouette for a pumpkin. There were one or two that might have worked, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Time to take a step back and go at it from a different angle. A self assessment was needed to figure out what would make this year’s carving memorable. An inner dialog  was initiated with one common question. What creeps me out? If there was something out there that scared me, made me uneasy and gave me the heebie jeebies, what would it be?  A certain president jumped to mind, but quickly dismissed it since American voters have wised up to socialism so what else was there? … and then a light bulb went off. There is really only one obvious answer. It was time to confront my phobia head on… take it by the big nose and beat it into submission. To say I was unprepared for what was ahead would be an understatement. A few key taps in the Google search field S C A R Y  C L O W N produced a collection of images so hideous, so vile and so demonic that I broke out in a sweat and nearly screamed. However, I was committed to this task and no mime loose in the department store lipstick aisle was going to deter me. Slowly I navigated through the thumbnails which were not surprising 85% pictures of Pennywise but there was not an image that had enough contrast required to produce a good stencil. Still sweating from staring at all those clowns, I was forced to switch to my secret backup. Here is a tip to keep between the LifeIntrigued family shhhhh tattoo stencils make great pumpkin stencils starting points shhhhhhh. Turns out our crafts have some similarities and one of the reasons I enjoy watching tattoo artists and their reality shows. A quick jump to and within seconds I had the base image. Disclaimer. The image selected can be found by entering Scary Clown in the search field. I have no intention of providing anyone else the stencil above and all rights remain with the original creator. Now I have already blogged about how the transformation from image to stencil goes (link here), so I will not bore you with those details again.

Hit the jump to see some additional comments and pictures of the final product.

Continue reading Confront Thy Fears – Halloween Party Pt 1