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Steven
I'm from the foothills of the North Georgia mountains. I was a woodworker for about 12 years. Well, up until I had the rug pulled out from under my feet, and I was laid off. I got back into photography in 2008 and decided to give that a try professionally, but haven't made any money so far because rednecks, white trash, and hicks are cheap. So, I'm working in a local grocery store where some days I hear and see the craziest stuff. I tend to complain a lot about things, but I'm too poor to afford a good therapist. So, I decided to make a blog and complain online to all of you instead. But I digress. I really just wanted to do the blog to share ideas and stories with the interwebz. =D
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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Therm-a-Rest Reviews


One of the most commonly asked questions I get about backpacking is "Where do you sleep?" For me personally, about 80% of the time, I sleep in shelters which have wooden sleeping platforms. The rest of the time, I'm in a tent. I have been known to bivy out on the open ground once and a while, but that's really a rare thing with me these days.

Whether you're on a wooden deck, in a tent, or on the open ground, one of the most important things between you and the earth is your sleeping pad. Without one, you'll be either cold, uncomfortable, or more likely - both at the same time.
I started out using a closed cell foam pad that I bought for about $8.00 at Wal-Mart. I did that because that was all I could afford for a long time. They were big and bulky, but not all that heavy. They were reasonably comfortable and damn near indestructible. In fact, I bought my first one in 1993 and still own part of it as a sitting pad/game table.

Inflatable mattresses were (and still are) expensive when compared to a foam pad. However, no foam pad can compare to the comfort or pack size of an air mattress.  Cascade Designs makes an "egg crate" style pad that folds up like an accordion that's not too bad. It's light weight and isn't too terribly bulky, but you sacrifice pad width and length for it.
Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Days!!!


First of all, I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I know I did. Second, we got a new griddle, but I didn't make French toast over the weekend when it snowed. (If that doesn't make any sense, then you need to go back and read here.)
Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!


Thanks for reading! Hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday! See you next week! 

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tech Support as a Christmas Gift?



Okay, I know it doesn't sound all that grand, but she said that all she wanted was an under-the-cabinet mounted can opener. She told me this a week before Christmas. I've been to 38 stores in 3 cities in two separate states. I've called about a dozen more. Even the Black & Decker outlet store doesn't have them. What am I to do? I hate giving gift cards. To me, giving someone a gift card is like saying, "Hey. Merry Christmas and all that. Here's how much you're worth to me." If the gift isn't called for or expected, then a gift card will suffice. I don't think you should give your mom a gift card as a primary gift for Christmas. If you disagree, then that's fine. I just don't feel like it's something I could do.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Windows Live Essentials 2011 - Movie Maker and Writer


I guess this is my official review of it. I honestly hate the back end of Blogger. Yeah, it's simple and clean, easy to understand and navigate, but it's boring and bland. I hate having to hit "preview" to see what my post will look like. I've tried coming around with it, but as of late, I was writing posts in MS Word and then copying and pasting them into the oh-so-boring Blogger UI. That really didn't solve any problems or help me get over my annoyances, but it I did it anyway.
Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Hate a Scam...


I read Lifehacker everyday. I've used it as a trusted source for tips and tricks for quite a while now. Today, I read an article about keeping your inbox spam free. Those if you who know me, know that I've been having problems now with spam and my yahoo! powered @bellsouth accounts now for the last couple of months. So, I thought after reading the article on Lifehacker, that I would beat spam to the punch by signing up for this service. I really should have did a little homework first. If you Google "Boxbe" you'll find a lot of people complaining that the service has apparently failed.

I want to apologize to anyone that might have received any messages on my behalf regarding this service. I have opted out, and closed my account. Hopefully, that will be the end of it. Again, sorry for any inconvenience or intrusion this has incurred.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Athens Twitter Meetup...

Wednesday night, I went to a little pizza place called Your Pie for the Athens Holiday Tweetup. A tweetup is where people from Twitter meet up in real life.

So anyway, we met at Your Pie in the Five Points area of Athens. It was quite a cozy little place and there were about 15 or 20 "tweeps" there. Your Pie provided us with some awesome pizza. I highly recommend you visit any one of their 3 locations in Athens.

I could kick myself for not taking any photos. I guess I was having such a good time talking to people that I forgot.

I really had a blast meeting and talking to new people that I've only interacted with over Twitter before. I thought it was a great experience and I highly recommend that, if you're on Twitter, that you get out to one of these events. If you do, I'll likely see you there. =D

Oh, I almost forgot... Follow @AthensTweetup to find out when the next meetup is!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

I've Gone Totally Geek Now...

I've always been a bit savvy when it came to computers. No, I'm not on the programmer or developer level, but I'd say a decent user - more or less. I wouldn't call myself a complete computer geek. I'm not ready to join the Geek Squad at my local Best Buy store. But ever since I broke my leg, I've been stumbling around, messing with my computers more and more. At first, it was a tweak here and there in Windows Vista. Next came the upgrade to Windows 7. After that, I got more and more interested in making a dual boot computer. I've seen several blogs online about making what's known as a "hackintosh," but after further reading, realized that neither of my machines here at the house could be configured to run OSX. Boo. :-(
Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day?

The weather forecast is for snow flurries Sunday night through Monday morning. There's no chance listed for any accumulation, but one thing that's 100% for certain, the grocery store's milk section will look like this:


Having worked in a grocery store, I can tell you that people around here go absolutely nuts. Most folks act like they're not going to be able to get out for days. Milk, eggs, and bread become hot commodities. Am I missing something here? Are we supposed to make French toast when it snows? Is that some sort of southern thing I missed?

I've been at the store part time now for going on 3 years. It's snowed twice since. It's even snowed 10-12 inches, and we were still open. And you know people are going to be out riding around looking at the winter wonderland too. My point is, there's no need to panic. No need to rush out and buy up all the milk, eggs, and bread. (Unless that French toast thing is true...) Just sit back and enjoy it for the 12 hours it's on the ground because you know it's going to be gone tomorrow. =D

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Just When You Think You've Seen It All...


Night photography is what drew me back into the idea of getting an SLR camera and shooting. I saw people on Flickr doing it, and I thought I would like to try my hand at it. When I got my camera though, it wasn't as easy as the people on Flickr made it out to be. It took me a while to figure out the ins and outs of it. Little did I know that I had only touched the very tip of the iceberg.

Opting Out of Facebook

Recently, I've noticed that all I seem to do is hang out on Facebook. It's to the point that I think it's become a real problem for me. So, in order to take back my life via self discipline, I've decided to opt out of it for a while. To explain myself, I kind of went through the whole thought process as if I were interviewing myself. It's kind of kooky, but it works.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Armchair Wilderness Warriors...



I read a blog every day posted by the caretakers at the lodge on top of Mt LeConte in the Smokies. During the warmer months, the lodge is open to the public. They take reservations for people that wish to hike up and spend the night there. I think a shared bunkhouse that will sleep four will set you back about $100 or so, but good luck getting a spot. From what I understand, it's in such demand, that a lottery is how they decide who gets to stay.
Monday, December 6, 2010

Making Vegetable Soup...



I've never cooked anything that required so much prep. It also made my recently cleaned kitchen look like a garbage truck had an accident in it. Nonetheless, I wanted to try something different. So I figured since it was freezing outside, that soup would be an appropriate supper.
Saturday, December 4, 2010

Um... Your High Beams Are On...


When the heck did headlights get so dang bright? Sure, you need to see where you're going, but so does that person coming straight at you at 60 miles an hour. And when was it suddenly legal to be running more than four lights on your pickup truck? Hello! You're not cool. You're an asshole.

Last time I looked, (and that was this evening to be sure) Georgia Code 40-8-22 states:

"(a) Every motor vehicle other than a motorcycle or motor driven cycle shall be equipped with at least two but not more than four headlights, with at least one on each side of the front of the motor vehicle, which headlights shall comply with the requirements and limitations set forth in this article."

And when did we stop dimming headlights for oncoming traffic? (Georgia Code 40-8-31) That one should just be plain common courtesy. I mean after all, the oncoming car is traveling at high speeds, and is about to come within inches of you. Don't you think you should at least give that driver a chance to see where he/she needs to be going. The phrase "follow the light" doesn't need to be interpreted literally here.

My wife and I went out tonight, and on the way home, we had to go around the city of Royston due to the Christmas parade that takes up miles of both major highways that pass through town. We had to travel down some narrow, curvy, and unpainted backroads. We weren't the only ones. Any local who knew the way around town was out on the same roads too. My guess is that this is the most traffic in a 24 hour period that some of these roads ever see. I've never in my life passed so many people with high beams still on and more than four headlights running. There were times when all I could do was to put on the brakes to keep from hitting them head on, or running ourselves off the road.

I know headlights are getting bigger and brighter on cars, and I know that Sylvania SilverStar Ultra are really bright and safe, but there's got to be a point where oncoming traffic's safety is important too.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Mobile Blogging...



In the quest to capture ideas when they happen, and share them with you whenever possible, I recently downloaded an app for my iPhone called BloggerPlus. I like the idea if being able to post and share on the go. This is my first post using it, and I just wanted to see how well it worked. I'm sure that later on, I'll be writing up a review and posting it here as well.

BTW - I already use the WordPress mobile app for my studio blog, but I've never actually posted anything with it. I've just used it to moderate comments. This being a Blogger blog, that app obviously wouldn't work.

Why not just take notes and remember things and write the post later? If you really need my answer to that, then go back and read my first post.

--Posted from my iPhone

The Boy Scouts...


I'm a backpacker. I have been since about 1992 or so. I love being on some high mountain ridge in the fall, looking down into a blaze colored valley. Or maybe spending a summer night up in a hollow under a rhododendron thicket by a rushing stream. Even walking on snow covered trails in sub freezing weather in the dead of winter, when you might go an entire weekend without seeing another soul is a great time for me. It's quiet then. Very peaceful. There's been times you could stop moving and your ears would start ringing from trying to hear anything in the silence.
Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pro Quality Automatic? I Don't Think So...

Before you get knee deep in this post, I do realize that I just posted yesterday about an app on the iPhone that makes taking photos easy and fun, and that today's post somewhat contradicts that. But the difference is that there aren't people taking events, weddings, and portrait sessions away from hard working professionals by rushing out and buying the Hipstamatic app for the iPhone. (At least none that I know of...)

Take a look at this exceptionally misleading commercial:


More and more people are rushing out to their local Best Buy stores and buying SLR cameras, only to be using them in full automatic mode, with plastic kit lenses, and of course... not having a clue how to use them. Worse yet, they're buying higher end cameras like the 5D Mark II. All because of commercials like these and sales floor people that don't know the products their selling, combined with the American need to have the newest product available. No matter what - we gotta beat them Joneses!

I know of a couple of people that within the last year, just jumped out and bought high end cameras without any knowledge about photography at all. They just simply like taking bar or beach photos with their point and shoots, and they thought that an SLR would take them to that next level. A few weeks later, they're calling around to their friends with real experience, looking for the Richard Avedon button. Problem is, there isn't one. Learning how to use an SLR takes a lot of time, especially if you're just getting started. Aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, all of these things are important in good photography. No auto mode is going to get you there without a LOT of luck.

What's worse is when you take someone like this and get them into Photoshop. Then things can get down right funny. It almost always happens too. They'll go out, buy and expensive camera, and when the photos don't turn out like they thought they would, they immediately assume it needs to be run through the gauntlet in Photoshop. Before long, the masterpiece is a haloed, over-saturated, over-sharpened piece of HDR crap that they'll post on Flickr, and a hundred other idiots that also don't know any better will ooh and ah over until our budding photographer is convinced that they're doing the right thing.

I've got more opinions about Flickr. I have a love/hate relationship with that site. I'll save that for another day.

_

My Neighbor's Yard and Our Leaves...

If you live in Georgia, then you probably know that we had a cold front move though earlier in the week. It's been really windy since it went through too. Before the front came, my yard was buried under a sea of leaves from the nine enormous oak, and four mature pecan trees that are located on our lot. You may or may not know that I've been nursing a broken leg since the end of September. I'm getting around better now, but I'm not ready to get out and rake leaves. Even if I were, I'd still not likely get out and actually rake them. Run over them with the lawnmower is more like it, but not rake the whole yard into piles in which to burn, bag up, compost, or whatever.

My neighbor across the road however, doesn't share my contentment to let nature take her course leave the yard covered. She has a couple of white pines in her yard, which they keep the needles neatly raked up around the trunks of the trees. She's an elderly lady that has a grandson, who is older than I am, living with her. I've been living here since 2001, and I've never known him to have a job either. Yet, she pays a man to come and mow their grass and keep the yard neat and clean every week or so. To make matters worse, they own a John Deere riding mower -and her grown, unemployed grandson still doesn't cut her grass! ( I've actually seen him do it once. That was earlier this year. And that was the first time ever in the almost ten years I've been here.)

Since they live to the east, and these post front, super strong prevailing winds have been out of the west, guess whose yard is now covered in leaves? Not mine!

_
Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hipstamatic App for iPhone


I have to admit it, I play with the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. I know, I know... all the cool photographers hate it. You now what? I don't give a $#!+. In fact, I'm sick of all the elitist attitude. I liked photography a whole lot more when I was having fun and it was less of a job. I used to get out and ride around, looking for old houses, barns, and other rural southern scenes to shoot. After I started doing portraits, I lost interest in scenes almost altogether. Sure, I like looking at other people's work, but I didn't care to get out and shoot stuff myself.

Now, before we go any further, let's get something straight. Not every post I do here is going to be photography related. This is just what happens to be on my mind today. Since this is a Blogger blog site, it's a whole lot easier for me to just use Picasa to upload and host my images. Sure, I could use Flickr, but I don't want to post everything over there just so I can use it here. I've got all of my hiking and backpacking photos over there, and I'd like to keep it that way. Last night I installed the Picasa App on my laptop, and it scanned though my libraries, and I happened to come across my iPhone photos from back in the summer. That's what led me to thinking about Hipstamatic.

I've got a load of photos on there that I really, really like on there. Like this one:



I love this photo! What I love even more was that I all I did was choose a few settings, point the thing , and shoot. A few seconds later and "POOF!" - Instant cool photo.

So why do most photographers I know hate this app? I actually think they hate it because of a few reasons: 1.) They see a little too much of it coming from people. 2.) It takes better photos than the ones they spend hours in Photoshop trying to make themselves. 3.) Perhaps it's because it allows common users to make photos that are more interesting than the ones they invested time and energy into making. Either way, it's a shortcut that anyone can use to make retro-looking photos.

That being said, it's not an end all means. There's still looks you can't do with it. There will always be the art form of carefully crafting an image. So my advice to the naysayers is to get off your high horses and let it be. If you're being shown up by a Hipstamatic photo, then perhaps you need to step up your game instead of hating the app.

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