May 22, 2013

A more than un-momentous event

This evening marks the completion of my 46th lap around the sun.  God willing, I will awake tomorrow to greet my 47th year.

Honestly, I can’t say I’m very enthused.  47 is like the ‘84 Chevy Citation of the birthday world… It ain’t sexy, it’s seriously underpowered, the paint is fading, no one will trade you for it, and the spare tire seems to be the only compelling feature!  Yeah… see what I mean?

As a few of you lurkers have probably noticed, my prose has once again taken a significant hiatus around these here parts. No, it’s not because blogging has become blasé or outta trend, hell I still wear Levi 505’s for Gods sake, trendiness really isn’t a concern of mine… but as I explained to my boss the other day, I’ve refrained from writing simply because I’m tired of the politics of life.  And if I voice my opinion here, no matter how well supported or written, I continue to find myself engulfed in the quagmire of Right-v-Left “Talking Points” as if no one can ever formulate their own values, beliefs or opinions without being told what to think, for fear they may say something logical that violates the position of their political leanings.  Oh the horror! 

And… that has worn me out like that ‘84 Citation! 

I used to find writing cathartic, in a job where I have very little “Office Bantor” communication I am left with the lunacy of the internet, everything from Facebook, to News Outlets that no longer believe in “Just the facts, Ma’am” to the Blood Pressure increasing Drudge Report.  I felt my writing provided nothing more than another voice to the cacophony of ill-informed moon howlers.  All a derivation of some narcissistic need to be heard, read, appreciated.  … Sad really.

Do I vow to change that?  No… I may visit these pages a little more often depositing various sundries of indulgent wit, and maybe a photo or two… but nah, I’m in no mood to commit to anything that I may find myself failing at… again… 

That’s all… nothing momentous… nothing earth shattering… nothing compelling… but then again, I’ve been conditioned somehow to give too much of a shit what others think of me… my thoughts, my work, my arts.  I need to not.  Sorry folks but the only person I need to appreciate and seek the approval of… is me.   Well… and maybe my wife… and family… and my friends… and my clients… and my bosses… Ah to hell with it…!

Bourbon… That’s what I need.  Here’s to the end of 46 of em!  Let’s see what 47 brings with it!

May 22, 2013 in Biographical | Permalink

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January 03, 2013

Best Picture

Nope, not an Oscar preview post…  I am referring to a photo I took this past Christmas at Casa De Carmichael (Actual) back in Jacksonville.  I took a number of images varying in subjects from birds (a Great White Heron and a Wood Stork) to a pair of 8 week old Schnoodle (1/2 Schnauzer and 1/2 Poodle) puppies my Mom and Dad received for Christmas, to a shot of Jacksonville Beach highlighted in a waxing near full moon’s glow.  All fun shots to take… but one I am most proud of is this one of Mom!

DSC_2954

I have posted on these pages before how frustrated I have been in my efforts to photograph Mom.  First off as a photographer I always want to catch a person in their most flattering light (meaning capturing their personality).  Mom, as most of you know is a wonderful, fun, bright thoughtful and warm woman full of Southern Charm.  And it’s not as if she’s not photogenic, she is!  I’ve always wanted to capture that.  But Mom always seems to have other intentions.  She constantly challenges me in my efforts to capture a “Good” image.  Yes, this is on purpose.  I think its payback for all the grief I put her though growing up!

Every time she sees that lens pointed her direction, her expression changes, her eyes dart to anything other than my lens, she’ll frown, she’ll talk, she’ll do whatever I don’t want her to do.  As photographers I’m sure we all have experienced this challenge before.  Photographing people is not one of my specialties…  landscapes? Wildlife? Airplanes? Structures?  Sure, bagged good shots of each over the years.  But people? Notsomuch.  And candids I am even worse!  BUT NOT THIS TIME!

Victory is Mine!  And as a result yours too!  This image is easily one of the best I have ever taken of my Mom!  And I am thrilled!

Oh, and by the way, I captured a pretty good one of Hoagy too!

Hoagy Christmas 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! 

January 3, 2013 in Biographical, Photo | Permalink

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December 20, 2012

The Ebbing Tide of Journalistic Integrity

A good friend of mine, intelligent and well reasoned, has also had it with today’s media, especially regarding the topic so hot in our national dialog right now, Gun Control.  I am posting his well written editorial (of sorts) below in its entirety.  It is good reading, and he brings up some very valid and cogent points in the discussion.

Reasoned dialog will absolutely be accepted in the comments on this post… If it degenerates into name calling I will delete the trolls responsible.  This is an Adult forum!  I expect it to remain such!

Without further adieu, I give you “Joe’s” editorial:

________________________________________________________

19 December, 2012

To the Media At Large:

Fair and Balanced?

Not exactly.

In the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Media is engendering a national trend to allow emotion to overwhelm journalistic integrity. Over the last several days many “fair and balanced” journalistic outlets such as NPR have been producing news articles that are factually inaccurate and factually incomplete. One of the tenants of true journalistic integrity is to fully research all sides of a story before releasing it. This lapse has resulted in an overwhelming bias in the reporting on the gun control debate and is clearly putting our national media into a position of no longer being a true journalistic source, but instead as a lobby for the position of gun control.

Item one: the reporting immediately following the incident was poorly sourced. Every major news outlet misreported the shooter’s name and relationship to the school. They jumped right in, following the other news outlets with lemming-like precision to produce piece after piece containing factually incorrect information. Fortunately, no one was seriously harmed by this. However, one wonders what could have happened if an innocent individual was singled out as the perpetrator before law enforcement could intervene. This, at the very least, is shameful.

Item two: No one seems to be able to find or interview a credible advocate for gun rights or assault rifle owners. The recent interview with Malcolm Brady (Dec. 17) on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, a misnomer at best, was a farce. Although Mr. Brady is something of an expert on firearms policy, it is doubtful that coming from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that he is an objective spokesperson for the millions of private citizen gun owners in the United States, especially when it comes to assault rifles. Simply put, the reason for owning an assault rifle is for personal protection. A cursory study of human history will show that governments fail again and again to protect their citizens from disaster and internal political turmoil. The argument is often heard from those who have not considered the factual details of personal protection of life, liberty and property that there is no need for a private citizen to own a firearm for personal defense. They say there are police or the National Guard to defend us. Studying the days immediately after Katrina will show anyone that even in good times, the protection afforded by the government will break down. When the police and their families become victims of disaster, they abandon their posts just as quickly as the folks who operate shopping malls. Being prepared means that you are ready for the scenario that is improbable, and strictly mathematically speaking, which may be above most journalists, improbable means that it will definitely happen at some point. There is no region in our nation that cannot become lawless due to either man-made or natural catastrophes. Denying this or acting as if this is so unlikely as to not be considered is folly, farce, and ignorant of the simplest lessons taught by history. One of the other lessons taught by history is that societies that become reliant on the protection provided by their governments become the victims of those governments. Even a cursory examination of the events in Syria will show that an unarmed populace is ripe for victimization, and the weapon that is providing the most effective defense for that population is the assault rifle. This point wasn’t covered by Mr. Brady, the one-time soldier and apparent “expert” provided by NPR to explain the case for assault rifles. The bottom line is that in a ground based, person on person encounter, the assault rifle is the status-quo for tactical defensive engagements. Mr. Brady’s experience in the military must have skipped this basic point. In most American communities, the good guys outnumber the bad guys one hundred to one, but one bad guy with an assault rifle can easily overwhelm one hundred good guys armed with rhetoric, faith in their government and good intentions. The continuing experiment that is America relies on the ability and right of the people to provide the majority of services to themselves. Outside of providing protection beyond our borders which has been delegated, and rightly so to the military, the government should not be in a position to disarm the American populace. This is the essence of the second amendment to the constitution. This is the essence of being an American, and is why the right to own firearms that guarantee that we will be able to, in times of disaster or injustice, to protect ourselves, our families, our property and our communities must be maintained. As a free citizen of America, it is more than our right to be able to defend ourselves, it is our responsibility. The media needs to do a much better job of identifying spokespersons. In the case of Mr. Brady, it would be obvious to anyone on the side of firearm advocacy that he would not be an appropriate representative.

Item three: the incidence of mass shooting is not increasing. Again with the bad math. Reporter after reporter has made the statement or insinuated that the incidence of mass shootings is increasing. In fact, we have been experiencing a lull. This occurs in statistics and is seen in many bodies of data where events occur sporadically. There are groupings of events and they occur at an average or standard rate. Since we are currently experiencing a grouping, this would appear over the last 2-3 years to be an increase in the overall rate of these incidences. Considered over a period of time going back say 30 years, it is likely from a mathematical standpoint that the rate of these incidences is not going up. The emotion involved makes us say that this seems to be an increase, but this is where that journalistic integrity thing comes in. Do a better job. Take a statistics class.

Item four: hunting is not the only credible reason for owning a firearm. A recently broadcast editorial by Frank Deford was consistent with the apparent overall stance by journalists that the only reasonable case that anyone would own a firearm is to hunt with it. Target shooting with what are sensationally referred to as “high power rifles” is one example of another use. (There is no standard for this, by the way. Any rifle could be considered to be “high power”, or low power depending on how it is compared.) Also, many firearm sporting enthusiasts shoot at targets using semi-automatic firearms. These are never intended to be used for hunting or self-defense. Many organizations offer college scholarships for students who are marksmen, and the firearms they operate are clearly designed and intended to be used for target shooting of one type or another. Mr. Deford’s columns are opinion pieces for sure, but as NPR’s resident sporting expert, he could have done a little more research.

News reporting requires more than just reporting on what is easy to find, it requires burrowing down to find all sides of a story. Preventing emotion from interfering with this process is one reason why I have been, even as a staunchly conservative individual, a supporter of NPR’s program. This year, based on this apparent lapse of journalistic integrity, I will be contributing the money I normally give to NPR elsewhere, most likely to the NRA. We have now become an embattled organization, not mainly due to the recent tragedy, but more due to the continuing loss of journalistic integrity by news organizations that used to provide facts and unbiased reporting while taking into account all perspectives that utilized view points from actual subject matter experts. Reporting on the emotion behind this tragedy is certainly news worthy, using it to grind an axe is not.

Very Truly Yours,

~Joe

December 20, 2012 in Current Affairs, Idiots on Parade, Media, The Press | Permalink

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December 16, 2012

We’re from the Government, and we’re here to help!

Action is afoot in the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government that is dangerous in its nature…

Several Democratic lawmakers called for a new push for U.S. gun restrictions on Sunday, including a ban on military-style assault weapons, in the wake of the Connecticut massacre in which 20 children and six adults were gunned down in a school.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, the author of an assault-weapons ban that lapsed in 2004, said she would introduce new legislation this week. Senator Dick Durbin, the chamber's No. 2 Democrat, said lawmakers would hold hearings on gun control, and several others said they would devote new attention to the long-ignored issue.

"I think we could be at a tipping point ... where we might get something done," Senator Charles Schumer, another top Senate Democrat…

Never let a Crisis go to waste huh?

[Senator Diane] Feinstein said her planned legislation would outlaw the high-capacity magazines and military-style assault rifles that have factored in many recent mass shootings, including Friday's massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. People who own such weapons now would not be required to give them up, Feinstein said.

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes...

No... I am not going to sit idly by on this one.  I simply would like to voice a request for restraint and caution in turning an extremely vile event into a catalysis for whatever agenda you find association with. 

For you who want desperately for the 100% disarming of Americans... I have little use for you and even less to say to you (it is not like you would listen anyway) you will always live in that desire with the hopelessly smug attitude that you are always right when tragic events include the unlawful, and disturbed use of a firearm.  Yet amazingly absent in your philosophical disposition is any instance where a life was traded for the better good.  (Meaning a perpetrator of evil and ill-will was summarily dispatched (by a person wielding a firearm) before more chaos could ensue)  You seldom acknowledge that Good or Bad lies in the intent of the person wielding the weapon, not in the weapon itself.

Using incidents like Newton killings for politically self riotous agenda building is easily the most repugnant act of opportunistic political ambulance chasers ever perpetrated!

Where should we be focused?  How about repealing the 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution?  Because, this so called "Free Press" we have? Is obviously a threat to our lives, as free thinking, free associating, used to be intelligent beings! I am sick of being "sensationalized" to death!  Our media relentlessly bombards us with sanctimonious platitudes, not to better educate us of the facts of a matter, but rather in a continuous attempt to indoctrinate us on HOW we should think or "Feel" about a subject".  Everything is Right or Left now... No longer is anything Right or Wrong.  So what's the next logical step?  Well obviously these fools can't be trusted with as pervasive a Right as free speech!  Nor can we, for we are offending too many people!  

Seriously, sounds like I've gone like a loon into the abyss?  Really...? Is it because I brought up the untouchable third rail of Freedom of Speech? and that ONE Amendment is oh so much more protected than any of the others of the US Constitution?

Exactly my point... no one of any intellect would dare suggest that the First Amendment in the United States Bill of Rights should be repealed.  No matter how offensive speech is, it is to be protected!  Question for you, why would "inoffensive speech" ever need such protection?

But yet the Second Amendment, the Right (THAT'S a "RIGHT" not a conditional permission!) of the People of the United States to bear arms, is allowed to be ignored or dismissed, or manupulated simply because in the Neon Bulb of sensationalistic opportunism declares it offensive?

That is a slippery slope folks, please be careful where we tread!  These Rights are there for a reason, and must be protected.

Am I a gun nut?  No, I don't think so... I am however a concerned American, and I am... A Constitution Nut!  Anytime the Government proposes to do something for our greater good we need to be weary... Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes... Still holds true today, but fortunately we are all educated by the Media and would have no earthly clue what that means... now would we?

December 16, 2012 in Current Affairs, Idiots on Parade, Media, Politics, The Press | Permalink

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October 11, 2012

Back from Vacation…

Certainly with less money than I departed with… Vegas will do that to you… but with great memories of fun with friends!

A few items…

  1. The Cosmopolitan Hotel is the BOMB!
  2. I am glad Colorado does not have an “In and Out Burger” else, I would be fat… wait what?
  3. Don’t sit Karyn near the light switches in an Italian Restaurant…
  4. KA is good… Mystere and Love are still better, in my book
  5. Emeril’s place at MGM is still some of the best food around!
  6. Blackjack Dealers sure have a knack of having a 7 hole card when they have a 4 showing!
  7. Downtown has really gone downhill!  Not that it was ever too Up Hill…
  8. Hugos has lost its mojo… Time to find a new, hidden gem in Vegas
  9. Play the Red Rocks Arroyo Course… Pass on the Sienna Course… But no matter what, playing golf in Vegas is probably the best spent $100.00… it certainly lasts the longest!
  10. D-Bott is hilarious at broken escalators, and very photogenic!
  11. 5 and a half days is not too long in Vegas… so long as you play two rounds of golf, and catch a show!

Now time for the pics… you didn’t think I went without my camera did you?

To begin, this is the view Ginger and I had from our “Wrap Around Suite” at the Cosmopolitan… Stunning!

Cosmopolitan Balcony View 2

The inside was none too shabby either…

Cosmopolitan Suite Interior

But as night fell upon “The Strip”… it got better!

Vegas Strip at Night 3 Pano

Vegas Strip at Night 2

And of course there was the Bellagio Fountains to watch!

Dusk on the strip

Now a few of our fellow travelers!

On “Day One” coincidentally our buddy and pool teammate, John Neuhalfen was in Vegas (for a Grateful Dead Concert) so we joined up at Mon Ami Gabi at the base of the Eifel Tower for a Anniversary Lunch.  It was the first time John has ever tried Escargot!  I think he is hooked now… and is seriously contemplating becoming a Snail Rancher!

Newie Gin and John

D-Bott, the character!

DSC_1546

Karyn and Bob, liv’n and laughing it up at Hugos!

DSC_1555

And Pam and Cliff enjoying the spectacle!

DSC_1557

There was a lot of laughter this trip.  Actually how all vacations should be in my mind!

John and Ginger at Caesars

The scenes from the trip were a photographer’s playground…

Bellagio pond fog

DSC_1622

DSC_1803

And finally, the trip was made all that much better by enjoying my and Ginger’s 5th Anniversary!  She’s more beautiful to me now than ever!

Ginger lounge chair

Ginger Balcony

And there you have it… Now, GET BACK TO WORK!

October 11, 2012 in Biographical, Photo, Travel | Permalink

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October 02, 2012

The 2012 Grand Junction Airshow

This post is part 1 of a 2 part article… This initial post will focus on the Airshow in Grand Junction Colorado… Part 2, will focus more on the “Cattle Baron’s BBQ and Tailhook Gathering.

The weekend of September 21-23 I found myself on the western side of the Rocky Mountains to attend the Grand Junction Airshow.  I had received a “Media Pass” to the event due to my affiliation with The Tailhook Association as the Editor of “The Tailhook Daily Briefing”, the association’s online blog presence.  Now, ‘Media Passes’ sound all glamorous and preferential and all… but in reality all they do is allow for access to the field on the Practice Day and then grant me early access to the field on the Show days with preferred parking.  (hmm maybe that is preferential…)

B-17Art

As a certified “Aviation Geek”, I look forward to this event every 3 to 4 years, it is really too bad this is not an annual event because the venue is fantastic!  Grand Junction Airport is nestled up against the “Bookcliffs” Mesa, with Mt Garfield providing an appropriate bookend to the range.  These cliffs provide for an excellent backdrop to photos taken at the show.

Also, Grand Junction’s Airshow is still small enough to have that wonderful ‘Down Home’ feel to it. It is reminiscent of the older style of airshows, much more intimate with attendance measured in the thousands instead of the 100’s of thousands like Miramar.  Never the less, it was still quite beneficial for an aviation photographer like me to have access to the flight line the day before the crowds align the rails.

Friday morning, Ginger, Ken Schoeni (who had flown in the day before from his home in Seattle) and I all piled into the GMC and began our roughly 4 hour trek west along I-70 over the Rockies.  The drive was splendid… Vail Pass was decked out in all of its Autumn Glory, the aspens presenting explosions of gold among a sea of evergreens.  We arrived at the Hotel in Grand Junction right on time, checked in and headed to the room to deposit our bags.  Ginger had some work to follow up on so she took the opportunity to hole up in the room and catch up.  Ken and I headed over to the Airport.  Actually, since we were close enough, we walked the mile from the hotel to the West Star Aviation Terminal where I had been told my Media Pass would await.

Inside the terminal lounge, a variety of people were milling about.  Many were West Star employees trying to finish preparations for the show, coordinating everything from fuel for the birds to beer for the spectators.  But also loitering were the various airshow performers including a couple of the ‘civilian’ acts, the Navy Super Hornet Tactical Demonstration guys of VFA-106 outta Oceana, and the V-22 Osprey folks from VMM-166 “The Sea Elks” from Miramar.  I took a few minutes to introduce myself to the crews, toss about some casual conversation and then proceeded to the counter to inquire about my media credentials.

The young lady (fresh outta high school by my estimates) behind the counter greeted me politely, but then her look rapidly turned to one of confusion.  Apparently not an uncommon look these past few days.  They seemed to embrace their disorganization more as the status quo than the exception.

“Um… What Media list?” was the response I received from young blonde…

Rather than try to explain what should have been there behind the counter, and apparently wasn’t (…I’ve tried that pointless action before only to end up right back where I started, shorter on patience and 5 minutes closer to my death than I had been…), I simply excused myself for a brief moment to make a phone call.  To the Director of Marketing for the show.  Within five minutes, the media list was delivered to the girls behind the counter, with my name clearly in attendance.  “Sorry for the mix up Mr. Carmichael, please go right ahead…”  And off to the flight line, camera gear slung over my shoulder I went.  I had Airplanes to photograph!

There is something very surreal about walking onto a flight line that is fully decked out in preparation for the masses to attend, yet few people are about.  A photographer’s dream, not having to muscle your way to the front, fighting for a vantage point without obstacles, like speaker stands, trash cans, umbrellas, kids!  Nirvana I’m tell’n you! 

V-22On the apron static displays abound.  Dominating the landscape is one of VMM-166’s V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor Aircraft.  In its shadow, a WWII vintage TBM, looking very well preserved considering her age, a great testament to the love and care provided by her owner.  I crawled all through that TBM and with the exception of an oil leak from the cowling… which in these aircraft simply means, “She ain’t Empty!” it was immaculate!

TBM Cockpit HDR

Further down the line were many more aircraft and helicopters, like this CH-53E pictured below. DSC_0304a

But alas, I was here for the flying!

The first to go for the Friday practice sessions was VFA-106’s US Navy’s Super Hornet Flight Demonstration crewed by, LT Tony “Neon” Rizio and LT Jacob “Rooney” Lerner.  And I had front row seats!  --- of course, in hindsight, that might have been poor planning on my part!

Neon and Rooney

Ya see… their crew chief directed them out for what was to be a "Right Turn Out"... Which, woulda been fine with me...

What none of us expected was the 170 degree right turn! As I was filming, I realized in a classic "Ahhhhh Craaaap" moment that the Blowers were about to point right at me, just as the "Need for Speed" - (Taxi Speed anyway) came upon the crew. Lemme tell ya, that zephyr is hot! And quite gusty!

F-18 cans

I maintained my stance amazingly enough (well, I took a knee actually!), but the VIP folding chairs behind me got blasted all over the Grand Junction Apron! Oh and so did the rest of my camera gear including 2 lenses that happened to be sitting on one of the now "Gone With the Wind" chairs!

Yard Sale Yard sale 2

I captured and assembled a little video (amateur as it is...) that shows the initial taxi, the turn , and then some stills of the after... The video concludes with stills from the debrief where 'Neon' and 'Rooney' are told of the carnage.  [Link]

Ah well, the hazards of Naval Aviation!

The only real casualty of having that big blow dryer pointing at me is that my big lens, the 70-300mm, took a tumble and pretty much has given up the ghost.  I know what is now on my Christmas list!

DSC_8675The crew chiefs of VFA-106 were really cool however, and after “Neon” and “Rooney” were well on their way down the taxiway, they came over to help reset the chairs and pick up my yard sale of lenses and other photographer paraphernalia.  Also, when the second crew taxied out for their practice hop, the Crew Chief had already briefed them of “Hurricane Neon” and recommended they keep the right turn to 90 degrees… “Grippy” and “Trig” obliged. 

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig taxib

The rest of the day was uneventful… well except for the Sound of Freedom from the Super Hornets, the V-22 Osprey, and oh yeah… the Blue Angels!

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go

VFA -106 Grippy and Trig low transition touch n go 4

VMM-166 Sea Elks V-22 Taxi-a V-22 Forward Flight

Fat Albert

Fat Albert Landing  Fat Albert Banana Pass

Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter 2

Blue Angel #1 Crew Chief  Blue Angel #1 Greg Mcwherter Smoke Check

DSC_9443 

Blue Angel Diamond Practice 1

Blue Angel Fortus

Blues #5 Sneak Pass

Blue Angel #5 Min Rad Turn

Blue Angel #5 high speed

Blues Crossing

More images from the show can be found on my Smugmug pages here: [Link]

Part 2 Soon to come… The Party!

October 2, 2012 in Aviation, Navy, Photo, Travel | Permalink

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October 01, 2012

When September Ends…

You’d think I’d lost the keys to Carmichael’s Position with the scarcity of posts…

Actually it is simply a function of having been exceptionally busy these past few weeks.  September was a blur!

NYC- Early in September, I was back in Manhattan (Brooklyn, Queens, Newburg, Staten Island, Poughkeepsie, and White Plains) New York for my customary business meetings.  I happened to be there September 11.  So I took the opportunity to head down to Jersey City, directly across the Hudson from the Manhattan “Financial District” to snap a few images of the “Missing Towers” commemorative lights.  It was quite impactful.

Manhattan Lights 9-11-12 a

Looking north, I was afforded a spectacular view of Mid-Town as well.

manhattan night 9-11-12

I spent a couple of hours along the walkway just absorbing the enormity of what took place eleven years ago, and what has transpired since.

The next day I had a couple of meetings on Staten Island, and while usually I drive to the island, this day’s schedule precluded any chance of that.  So I had to take the Staten Island Ferry.  Fortunately, unlike my last adventure with the Ferry, this day was beautiful, and… there was not a herd of misunderstood youth thugs boisterously bragging about their female conquests, and pugilistic accomplishments.  (I was thankful).  The views afforded of New York Harbor were spectacular.

Clear day Lower Manhattan2 

statue of Liberty

I recommend, if you find yourself in Manhattan with a couple of hours to spare, head down to the southern tip of the island and jump a ferry ride.  It’s FREE!!! By the way!  Seriously it is easily the best ticket in town for views of the harbor.  (On a clear day… that is…).

The Oven - Upon my return to Casa de Carmichael, I was treated to a new oven!  Ya see whist I was off in NYC doing my part to Bring Home the Bacon… my lovely bride was doing her part to insure we could cook the bacon!  Our (came with the house) nearly 20 year old oven decided to give up the ghost!  So Ginger went and acquired a fancy-schmancy stainless steel glass top job.  Hey, as long as it gets used… I ‘m good with it.  And considering, Ginger cooks an average of 5 nights a week, it’s getting a workout.

Golf League - The weekend of my return from NYC, we also played in our Golf League’s year end tournament.  I played poorly in the tourney, BUT!… I did come in first in the league.  What was a little awkward was we had a side competition in the league where each player submitted an entry stating who you thought would win the league and what you thought that person’s final cumulative score would be… Eh…er… uhm… I won that too… Very fun tourney and banquet never the less, and a great group of people!  I am already looking forward to next May when we crank it up again.

Airshow - And finally, the weekend of the 21-23 I found myself in Grand Junction, Colorado for the (not often enough) Grand Junction Airshow and Tailhook get-together.  More on that in the next article… It’s a bit involved…

October 1, 2012 in Biographical, Current Affairs, Photo, Travel | Permalink

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August 16, 2012

SPECOPS is Pissed About Lack of Obama’s OPSEC

Translation… Special Operations Forces are very not thrilled with “The Administration’s” universal lack of respect for Operational Security. 

“They leak more than the Titanic!”

Apparently some Special Ops Guys have had it with leaking Operational Secrets in the name of Political Grandstanding, Showboating or Gasconade. "Spiking the football" and sharing too much with your NYT reporter buddy have serious consequences for National Security and more importantly, in my view... the lives of those 'Boots on the Ground' who have to first execute these highly dangerous missions and then have to suffer through a Political Narcissist's Braggadocio at their expense!

The organization they have created is called OPSEC.  In addition to the video they have produced (below) they also effectively outlined their frustrations in this presentation [LINK].

Granted, the focus and the catalyst of this message can be construed as political in nature, as the target of the angst shared by these Special Forces operators is directed at the current Administration, calling out President Obama specifically... and as CNN was fast to point out...

"...shares offices with two Republican political consulting firms in Alexandria, Virginia. Its spokesman Chad Kolton worked for the Bush administration as a spokesman for the Director of National Intelligence..."

(… Hmm, sure wish more news organizations including CNN! would divulge who shares offices with who and who worked for who...)

But the message is one that transcends Administrations and needs to be learned and applied by all Administrations, current and future!  I know a number of Special Ops guys (many retired and some still active) and the feelings on this matter are indeed universal. "Shut the F*ck Up!"

There is NOTHING to gain from sharing methods! Those on active duty cannot (by law) speak their mind publicly regarding their opinion of their chain of command, all the way up to the President. But I can assure you, the "Snake Eaters"?... they are not fans of politicians of any ilk... but they especially loathe the guy in the chair now. Not (as many of his political class would like you to believe) because of his Race, his Religion, or even his political party affiliation... it is simply because "He Doesn't Get It!"

August 16, 2012 in Current Affairs, Military, Politics | Permalink

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August 13, 2012

“I’ve Seen it Raining Fire in the Sky!”

This line is from the John Denver hit song “Rocky Mountain High” and was reportedly inspired when he and some friends spent the evening in the high Colorado Rocky Mountains (above tree line) staring at the clear night sky, and were captivated by the intensity of shooting stars during the Perseid Meteor Shower.

This weekend my bride Ginger, a couple of buddies of ours, and I went camping and fishing up near Steamboat CO.  One thing I was looking forward to (in addition to ‘getting away from life’s daily small stuff’) was having opportunity to cross off one of my Photography ‘Bucket-List’ entries.  Taking a good star field photo, to include the Milky Way if possible.  I had forgotten, until Friday that the annual Perseid Meteor shower was this weekend! 

We arrived at our campsite Friday evening about 7:30, greeted by a low cloud deck and notification that the local ‘Fire Ban’ had been re-initiated that very day… Meaning no campfires!  Ok, that’s like going to a movie and finding out there’s no popcorn!  But what option do we have, we’ve journeyed 3 hours to get here, its not like we’re gunna flip a uhey and head back home.  We’ll tough it out… and do what I did before during a ‘Fire Ban Camping Trip’… put one of our electric lanterns in the pit and gather around the warmth of a glowing LED!

Fortunately gas stoves were not affected by the ban, Beer Brats (and Saturday night’s chicken) were tasty!

The serendipitous advantage of the fire ban was a great reduction in nighttime ambient light… Looking up, as the clouds began to yield to the black, stars began to appear.  And once the lantern was extinguished, our canopy was a cathedral of light!  The Milky Way directly overhead…

Camp Site Sky 2

Campsite Steamboat

We were still pretty close to the Steamboat City Limits so every cloud reflected the red-orange glow from the town, still made for some interesting images. 

The next evening promised clearer skies, so Dan (my fellow photography hobbyist) and I planned for greater opportunity to photograph the star fields arrayed above us.  Late Saturday afternoon, we had gone fly fishing on the Elk River, and on our trek to the fishing grounds, we reconnoitered locations for good dark conditions for our expedition.  The best we could find (within 20 minutes of our campsite) was a rancher’s field a few miles north.

That night, the mostly clear skies materialized!  And off to our spot we went, Nikons and tripods in hand!  Always good when the directions to our spot included the sentence, “Ok, turn left here and proceed up the dirt road for about a mile!”

We set up our rigs, set our cameras with the proper parameters necessary for capturing the stars (there’s a lot of technical considerations when doing this by the way), did our best at focusing (not an easy task in low light conditions mind you…) and fired away.  Within a couple of minutes of our arrival in the field, the show really began…  Intense, long trail, brilliant streaks of light began to sprint across the heavens.  The Perseids!  Some burned across half the sky!  Others dashed like a stone skipping across a pond, it was a sight to behold!  and… photograph!  If I could!

In this first image below, you can see a few (3 actually) streaks just above the ridgeline.  Two of these streaks are actually aircraft, the long exposure allowing their anti-collision strobes to form trails in the sky, the third (highest one in the image) is one of the meteors.

Milky Way Telephone pole 3

In another shot, a slightly different angle of that same telephone pole, you can see another couple of meteors (one crossing left to right just above the transmission lines, and the other paralleling the Milky Way just below the transmission lines).  The clouds are reflecting the lights of Steamboat Springs to our southeast.

Milky Way Telephone pole

And then finally a shot looking at the Southern sky… The lit-up trees are what I presume to be the Rancher’s residence, and the glow off to the right is once again light pollution from nearby Steamboat Springs.

Colorado Camping

And there you have it…

August 13, 2012 in Biographical, Photo, Travel | Permalink

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July 17, 2012

New York, July 2012 Photography

Back from my New York trip last week.  This visit had me driving the countryside of New Jersey… That’s right, New Jersey does have a “Countryside!” it’s not all Newark!  (Thank Gawd!)

Unfortunately all of my drives through said countryside required my attentiveness behind the wheel, and as such did not take any pictures of the lush green woodlands and fields.

This first image really challenged my knowledge of the new technology that is Digital SLR Photography.  A year or so ago I upgraded my equipment to now include a Nikon D7000 camera.  At the time it was the leader in Mid-Level Semi-Pro Camera Bodies.  I’ll spare you all of the Marketing Propaganda, but one of the advanced features of this camera is better resolution and less noise at higher ISO Numbers.  (In English… The Camera has better ability to process images in low light conditions).  I really tested that ability with this image… This shot was taken from about 1,500 feet over Manhattan as my airplane flew the "’Downwind, up the Hudson” leg of our approach to LaGuardia.  This was about 15 to 20 minutes AFTER sunset!  The plane is moving along at nearly 250 miles per hour and bouncing a bit.  I make the necessary adjustments to the camera (for those who understand camera hieroglyphics: ISO800, 1/60, f3.5, 18mm) and take the shot.

Approach over NYC

Which was right behind the zoomed in one I had taken a few seconds prior…

Empire State Building from the Air

This next one was of the White Plains Train Station, deserted at 10:30pm on Sunday night.

White Plains Train Station

I did have my usual allotment of meetings in Manhattan, but those were going to be mostly on Friday. Tuesday was the only evening I had that was “unaccounted for” so I took the liberty of jumping the train from White Plains down to “The City” as it is referred to in the burbs, to see if I could find a way to take photos of landmarks that have already been photographed hundreds of millions of times!

I’m sure not one of these images are anywhere near an original photographic idea… but at least I challenged myself to exercise some creativity.

Empire State Building from Bryant Park Times Square Subway 2

Times Square Low Angle

Top left is the Empire State Building (duh…) as seen from Bryant Park.  The highlights in the foliage on the left is created by a bank of lights (think night baseball game) shining down on the park from the rooftop of the building at 1095 Avenue of the Americas. 

Top right is a creative shot I took at Times Square of the 42nd street subway station entrance.  Shot with a shallow depth of field and a long exposure.  I reduced the color in Photoshop to help draw attention to the subway station.

And finally, the bottom shot is of Times Square… probably THE most photographed landmark in NYC.  So I tried something different.  This shot was achieved by literally placing the camera on the ground!  Then executing a long exposure using a wireless shutter release.  I love the motion effect of the cabs streaking by, and the spinning sign on the Paramount Theater’s Façade.

And there you have it… July in NYC.

July 17, 2012 in Photo, Travel | Permalink

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