Sunday, October 10, 2010

One Busy Weekend in the Wild Wild World of Sports

I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to attend a couple of great sporting events in one day. The Southwest Classic between Texas A&M and Arkansas at Cowboys’ Stadium and a Ranger’s Playoff game…all in the same day.

Now most of you may know that I’m not a huge A&M fan after the 1998 Big XII Championship in St. Louis where A&M beat K-State in double overtime and we subsequently lost our shot at the national title and were then relegated to the Alamo bowl (which we then went on to lose at the hands of a little known quarterback from Purdue named Drew Brees). All that aside, I still want Big XII teams to do well against the likes of the Big 10, SEC and PAC 10 so I was routing for A&M on this one. Besides the fact that the group I was with was all Aggies, lets be frank, when someone give you a ticket to watch a game in a suite and you don’t have a horse in the race, you might as well be a good guest and cheer for their horse…you know what I mean.

FYI all the shots below are from my Nikon Coolpix point and shoot (didn’t feel like going thru the hassle of bag checkpoints with my EOS bag.

PIC: Walking to Cowboy’s Stadium from the Rangers Parking Lot


PIC: View of the massive Mitsubishi Diamond Vision HDTV from the suite at Cowboys’ Stadium


At halftime of the Southwest Classic we left the A&M game and headed to The Ballpark. We had some primo seats to Game 3 of the ALDS between the Rangers and Rays at The Ballpark. Brant’s regular seats are front row half way down the left field wall…fantastic seats really…but these where even closer, seriously in spiting distance of the on deck circle and Nolan Ryan’s owner’s box.

PIC: View from our seats


PIC: Nolan Ryan, Jim Nantz, & George W. (they were in the section next to us..the guy in blue is one of the Secret Service detail)



PIC: Cheerleaders and the RED WHITE AND BLUE at The Ballpark.


PIC: Ballpark Waste…an ungodly amount of trash is produced at one of these events…a fair share by me.


PIC: Scoreboard.


In the end the Rangers didn’t win this one, but it was still a good time. How often in your life will one get to go to a Major League playoff game anyway? BTW the Aggies didn’t win either.

Vacation to Kansas

I decided that it was time to finish off some of my hard earned vacation time before the weather turned too cold. I’ve never been one to not use all my allotted vacation. I don’t believe in waiting too long or postpone it because “they really need me at the office right now”. All that is hogwash, so if your reading this and haven’t had a vacation this year..take one now.

This time around, I just decided to take some time and drive back home to Kansas. Too often we see family visits as obligation, but I really wanted to get away from work for a week and what better place than Kansas. I had no real plans at first other than I wanted to try to see all my family and friends (which I attempted but as always you never can fit everyone in, sorry if I missed you), play golf with my Dad (which I did), eat some KC BBQ and some Bo Lings Chinese (which I also did). Other than that, no real plans. But plans sometimes just happen…

Plaza Art Festival – On Saturday my mom and I went to the annual Art Festival on the Country Club Plaza. I’ve been to several similar art festivals. The one in Ft Worth on Main Street is the same kind of thing, but I like the one in KC the best. Why you ask, mainly because it is in KC, thus there seem to be less people than in DFW, and to top it off it is in Late September/Early October so the weather is usually starting to cool off. But mainly the charm of the Spanish architecture of the Plaza is what gives it a cool venue to match the event. I took my camera and snapped a few picks. Couldn’t photograph most of the art work, so I mainly took crowd shots and stills of buildings.




Chiefs Game – Sunday Mike and I went to the Chiefs vs. 49ers Game at Arrowhead. My friends Larsen and Alli have season tickets to the Chiefs games with another couple so we all met up at Larsen's house at 8am to roll out to tailgate. When Mike and I showed up at Larsen’s we saw the vehicle that would be our tailgating chariot. Larsen and his Dad bought it on Craigslist and fixed it up.

Tailgate Wagon

Being at Arrowhead reminded me why I like KC sports. The fans are real fans, not like Dallas where everything is a Corporate outing. And yes I know I’m part of the Corporate "outings” culture in Dallas sports, but I do miss the blue collar fans of KC. Where else would you see this…yes her hair is Chiefs red.

Camarrowheads finest

Mike taught me a new phrase this weekend “Camaro-head” a fitting description of the “blue collar” nature of Chiefs football based on their favorite mussel cars and 80’s hair rock.

Visiting Dad – mid week I drove down to visit Dad, Rick, Lisa, Troy and the rest of the Fam…and play a little golf. The golf course looked great for being scorched in the summer heat a month ago. Dad, Rick, Dave and  George had the place in pretty good shape. They even had thing so under control that they had enough time to knock off early on Wednesday and play a round.



One thing scarred me a little….the book that was on the dresser in the guest room…I hope it wasn’t put there for my benefit.


Wichita – On Thursday Dad and I set out for Wichita to catch a show at the Orpium Theater by a great guitarist named Tommy Emmanuelle. The opening act was a couple of jazz guitarists that were phenomenal too. The next day we watched some Ryder cup, hit the driving range for a couple buckets, and saw the movie The Social Network while we waited for my step-mom’s flight to get in.

Don’s Memorial – Once we picked my step mom up at the airport we drove to Great Bend. My Step-mom’s Ex-Husband's Mother’s Second Husband, Don, [did you follow that?] had passed away earlier this year and they where having a memorial to bury his ashes in Hollyrood.  Being with all the family reminded me how Lou and Don always treated all the grandkids, regardless of divorce, like their own. I even remember Lou sending me dishes and supplies when I went to K-State and how they were both such big K-State supporters.

After the service we had lunch and Lou got up and told stories. She knew everyone’s name in the room, and I mean everyone. She knew where they were from, how they knew the family, everything. I can barely remember that stuff now and I’m in my 30s…she’s a pretty amazing woman.





Mary gave Don’s son a Two Dollar bill that she had carried in her wallet ever since the day that Don (a famously frugal man) had given it to her on the day of her college graduation.




Family pics after the internment. Everyone was pretty up beat all things considered.



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art + Photography…

Today I got up way too early for a Sunday and had all of my typical household chores (groceries, cleaning, trash, dishes, laundry, etc.) done by around 9am. So I decided that it would be a good day to take the new camera out for some practice. Also since I recently became a member of the Dallas Museum of Art at a level that gets me into 130 other museums and galleries, I figured what a better way to practice than going to see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth, TX.
Upon arriving at the Carter, the very nice and peppy young lady at the reception desk informed me of all of the areas where I could and could not use my flash (but I had come prepared to not use any flash at all, so this wasn’t a big deal). She also informed me that the Adams exhibit was on loan, and thus I was not allowed to take photographs in that gallery [thus why you will not see any Ansel Adams works below.]
I was lucky enough to walk into the Ansel Adams installation right before one of the curators offered to give a brief talk on the exhibit. I am always impressed by curators; the amount of seemingly endless stories they have about each piece of work is amazing…stuff you would never glean just by looking at the 4’x5’ plaque next to the photos.
Here are a few shots I took while at the Carter. First is a piece that I can’t remember the artist, but found it interesting that the work focused on the transmission lines near the Hover Dam. I think I shall carry this photo with me to all meetings I have with architects so them  that the systems I design as an electrical engineer are in fact worthy of being “art”.
These next images are all of the same Georgia O'Keefe painting. I was testing the exposure to see how best to photograph in low light without flash. None of these images do the work justice. I’m still learning how this works.
IMG_0006 IMG_0007 IMG_0008
After I left the Carter, I figured since I had driven all the way to Forth Worth, I might as well visit The Modern (also on my list of 130 reciprocal member museums and galleries with the DMA). The Modern not only has some great works, the building itself is awesome. Not to say that the Kimball (designed by Louis I. Kahn) or the Amon Carter (designed by Philip Johnson) aren’t impressive, they certainly are. But Tadao Ando’s use of rubbed concrete, Y-shaped columns and clean linear vocabulary is almost connected to what one visualizes when you use the word “Modern”
Outside The Modern is a towering work by Richard Serra called "Vortex". I tried to capture the clouds and the color of the sky. I tried shots without any filters and then with my UV filter to improve the glare. The photos below are the best of the bunch. First without a filter, the second with. Also messed with exposure on the second one to improve the trueness of the sky.
Once inside The Modern I again started to play with different features. The shots below are where I am adjusting the White Balance and exposure settings while shooting the same work in one of the lower level galleries.
IMG_0058 IMG_0056 IMG_0057
Like I said, the building itself is Art…here is a shot with clouds outside, clouds reflected off glass and clouds thru glass. If I had time I’d learn how to Photoshop out the incandescent lighting inside the gallery.
Next, trying to use reflection and blur to evoke the sense of movement. Not quite there.
Out of Focus tests
IMG_0072 IMG_0071
I left I tried to play with the f-stop and zoom to blur objects in the background with varying levels of success.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So I can already tell this new photography hobby is going toto get expensive quick (just like golf and hunting and frankly most any hobby. But don't judge me, I'm sure you have a money sucking hobby or two as well). After only one outing with my new camera for the company boat cruise, where I was disappointed in my ability to take nighttime portraits, I have ordered my first accessory. A new speedlite flash (and diffuser) is on the way from Brooklyn NYC (B&H) as we speak. It should be here on Friday (baring any UPS catastrophes). Can't wait to see how it works.

On a side note, at lunch today Jessica and I bored the living daylights out of Sarah as we discussed our new cameras (she got a new Nikon D90). All the f-stop and ISO and how to get good image stabilization with and without automatic modes was a little much for a casual lunch discussion. Sorry Sarah...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Company Boat Cruise...My First Photos

Last night was my first time out with the new camera. We had our annual company cruise on Lake Lewisville. My company rented a catamaran and set sail for a sunset outing. It was a relaxing night once the blazing hot sun went behind the horizon. I was able to get a few good shots...and some pretty bad shots too.
Things I learned:
(1) Need a better flash than what comes on the camera...too hard to get good night portraits.
(2) Need to remember what all the different mode abbreviations mean...couldn't seem to remember the difference between Tv and Av on the dial.
(3) I have a lot more to learn.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And thus it begins...

My first blog post...I figured I'd wait a minimum of a solid half a decade to see if this blog thing was really stable. And I figured since blogging is almost past its prime, it was time to join in and maybe even be considered "retro" for the internet age. The cutting edge is for the foolhardy.

I named the blog "Actually..." as a catharsis. For those that know me, they know it is my most overused phrase. I have this horrible tendency to interject trivia or factoids or corrections into conversation...and I used to almost exclusively start with that friggin' word "Actually". I've tried to cut down on the use of the word, but frankly now it is like a running inside joke with all my friends and co-workers (most of which are also my friends). They even have turned the act of "Actually-ing Doug" into a game or badge of honor. If you can "Actually Doug", then you have one-up-ed me and that is always good for a few laughs.

Another reason for the blog is to share photos. I recently splurged on a new DSLR camera and want to share my photos. I know there is Facebook and Flickr and all sorts of photo sharing sites, but I wanted someplace that my family could see my photos without having to join the social media scene if they don't want to. Of course, I will still use my Flickr account (even linked it to this blog) and post on Facebook, and keep on TwitPic-ing; but this medium should be fun to also be able to embellish with a diary-style prose that 140-160 characters just doesn't allow.

I have no photos to share as of yet (and frankly as of now I have not a follower to see them) but there will be some shortly.

Have fun and hope you enjoy...whoever you are.