We were in Brussels. I take pictures of silly things like mailboxes. The first shot was devoid of people. Then to my surprise a kid came and posed. In those days I just took a single shot. Today it would have been a series of clicks. But this was it, the one and only. Cute. Spontaneous. Memorable.
Progress occurs and before you know it your photo is historic. Sure we’re older. But that’s a portable phone in my hand. The hardline phone no longer restricted movement around the home. And then cellphones became commonplace. My kids don’t even have a hard wire phone in their homes. We still have a portable phone somewhere about. Why bother, the cellphone service has replaced the technology. Records, CD’s, DVD’s …
I wish I was smarter but hindsight …. I took lots of pictures when we were on vacation. It was to document the sights and monuments. When we traveled in England I got a lot of churches. Somewhere along the way, I realized it didn’t matter how many churches I’d been in and photographed. The pictures that count are the ones of family and friends. The complication begins where Lisa was never happy with her pictures. She would see the flaws rather than the love. So I took plenty of pictures but it was with reluctance on her part. She did have perfect teeth, no orthodontics, just great genes. I was the polar opposite having had dental problems from a very early age. Opposites attract? You get two types of pictures. Pictures with loved ones too small to make out any detail and then there are the close up portrait type. With digital you have the memory card capacity to do both. With film you were a lot more parsimonious. Sure I’d do it differently now.
We spent a bit of time in the Berkshires. This was a Shaker farm. The kids had some very pleasant fall outings. We rode bikes around. The kids raked leaves. We looked for a second home here. Real estate price being what they were, we bid on a couple places and eventually but too late the bids were accepted. We changed directions and looked on Long Island.This is the round barn at the Shaker village.
In order to give Lisa a little break, I periodically took the kids on field trips. This time it was Pennsylvania and the Amish. They had towns with names like – Bird in Hand and Intercourse. Go figure. Eating was family style buffets. I remember one dinner and the kids were on a strawberry kick. I brought a plate of strawberries from the salad bar. About seven or eight plates later, they didn’t ask me to get up any more. I kept under estimating the strawberries they could eat. I recall this was small amusement park. You gotta wonder what the kids were thinking as they played around with these ceramic totems. Milking a pottery cow?
Lisa was an avid quilter. And she took on some big projects. The process is all in the pieces and patterns. Then there is the matter of hand quilting. No machine work here. The quilting bee still exists. She did one for our queen bed. I helped. Yes, I actually quilted some. I brought my surgical skills and adapted some of the suture instruments to help things along. No matter, it was tedious. Lisa made quilts for her mom and then each of the kids. I think some of the work was out sourced to ladies in Pennsylvania who specialize in quilting after the pieces are assembled. At least I only quilted one project.She organized this one for the kids at school. I think it might still hang there.
If the candles are correct it’s fourteen. Otherwise there might be one there for good luck and it was the thirteenth birthday. I’ve reached the point where memory is fading. I don’t remember this cake. I remember this gathering of cousins. John had three sons. Eric had one. Count ‘em. All boys on my side of the family, Jules was the exception. On Lisa’s side it was two nieces. Symmetrical? I was one of three boys, Bill (grandpa) was one of three boys, and Vinnie (Lynn’s husband) the same. Yes, it was very symmetrical. It can’t last. This cake was in Lisa’s wedding cake decoration phase. The lace work and decorations would later be used in building a tiered wedding/celebration layer cake. She enjoyed the challenge. And once mastered, she never did it again.
I got a call one night. I was home in NY and on call. Lisa was on Long Island. It was twilight and she was breathless. She’d found a bridge and rode over it. She was still a long way from home but the view was breathtaking and she was exhilarated. It is a very long tall bridge in a spot you would never expect. Despite the long uphill ride, it’s not too strenuous. We’ve done it many times together since she discovered it. As impressive and hard as one might expect from its look, I’ve never been physically challenged as I thought. Every time we ride it I smile.
Lisa did a bicycle ride from Boston to New York City. It was an AIDS ride for charity. I think I was the main charity contributor. I’ve never done anything like this. I don’t have the will to train. Lisa did. she rode in all sorts of weather even the dead cold of winter. The photos aren’t pretty. She was physically exhausted and beat up. Her face had general edema from the physiological strain. But she did it!! And boy were we all proud. The kids and I went to the westside and caught our first glimpse after three days. The bike was a problem and her leg hurt. She was basically pedaling on one side. I could go on and on. Susan and Kevin gave her a send off in Boston. Nick and Nannette met her in NYC. We were all pretty proud. Funny as it seems, I later became the one to obsessively ride for fitness. Julia only recently took Lisa’s old Peugeot bike to California. It’s retro. And David never rode, and then he did a triathlon and went to Mexico for a 1000 mile summer trip by bike.
Some days it’s like MASH, the TV program. Things get a little silly. As you may surmise, this was my beloved PA. He watched my back. And the nurses had a love hate relation with him. Mostly love, I think. He had his tonsils out. At least I think this was that occasion. It’s not important as you can readily see. In the holding area just before going to the OR he loudly proclaimed that he was here for his “sex change” operation. Imagine the other patients and then the look he must have gotten when they saw him in the recovery room. He could dish a joke a well as anyone. So payback as they say is a bitch. I didn’t have a hand in the decorations. If the slide is not clear, he’s wearing lip stick, nail polish, crude art work , autographs, and a surgical bra. At that time family was not permitted in the recovery room but our nurses made a pointed exception for his wife. She took one look, threw her hands up, and ran. Though these photos have not widely circulated, they did make an appearance at his 50th birthday party. This I will add is a guy in touch with his feminine side. He once wore a big fake butt and a thong for a going away party.
Without any guilt I freely admit I am not a fisherman. This is in contrast to my brother John who was an avid fisherman. He’d buy one new rod every season and catch a fish to initiate it. But…Farid and I were on a dive. I had made him a gift of a dive stick. The instructors use them to point.
Last week I almost grabbed one but chickened out at the last second. Today I was bold. Those spikes are sharp! So I grabbed the tail. It worked and the puffer puffed. It’s not air, in case you wonder. It is water that fills up from somewhere inside to discourage other fish from making a meal. As soon as it’s puffed it is no longer aerodynamic and it can’t swim away with any speed. So I tried to position it with Farid in the picture but he couldn’t get with the program.
We did release it after I got my shots. And please don’t tell the family I was out annoying the wildlife, please, please.
Today the post inspired the picture.
This doughnut and my family have a long relationship. We pretty much loved the chocolate covered doughnuts with unconditional love since I’ve known Lisa and certainly all of the lives of my children . I’ve had others of their products but no no no, it was all about these doughnuts. This was not as bad as Oreo cookies. We couldn’t and never had Oreos in the house. Mom unashamed and unabashedly ate them all before they reached the cupboard. From the earliest time the kids (Jules) could walk we would routinely hide the doughnuts in the freezer. That continued until and beyond the time both kids could reach the freezer. I got to like eating frozen doughnuts so there was no need to store then anywhere else. When we would do our annual Bear Mountain hike I was always sure to pack a full box (8 large) and we would snack our way around the lake.
I did occasionally experiment like the time Entenmann’s made raspberry flavored chocolate covered doughnuts. A thin layer of raspberry jam was in between the chocolate and the doughnut. And there was the chocolate doughnut covered with chocolate. Neither product was a big seller in my house. In my kids’ opinion you don’t mess with a classic. However, the regular chocolate covered doughnuts never seemed to be around when I wanted one.
Therefore, I devised a devious deception. When the raspberry doughnuts were done, I filled the empty box with the regular doughnuts. My kids’ eye would light up at least once a week when they thought mom had brought home another box. Then there would be disappointment, “raspberry again,” and the freezer would close upon my stash in plain sight. I ate doughnuts whenever I wanted for a about six months before anyone discovered my secret.
When I recently returned to Jeddah, Eric brought me to the airport and he thrust a box of Entenmann’s doughnuts into my hand. He insisted I take them and even eat the whole box on the plane if they wouldn’t survive the trip. I scarcely had room to carry one more thing. But that darned box survived the trip and didn’t melt. So I savor them as I write this post. Yeah, Proust and la madeleine….
I did a month in this emergency room as my very first rotation out of med school. I was alone 24 hrs on and 24 hrs off with a second year Indian resident. Clueless!! We had no other supervision except from some third year who only wanted to sleep at night. To say that this was a disaster zone would be mild. I knew nothing and had all manner of simple and complicated emergencies to solve for the first time in my life. We had gangs – the savage skulls – armed and wandering through the ER. The security guards melted away in favor of their own lives. We had to fend for ourselves. I made some big mistakes – no experience. Guilty feelings? One brother – non gang – of the savage skulls suffered a shotgun blast. Though his x-ray showed he was covered with subcutaneous pellets, there was nothing that had penetrated the abdomen or chest. The gang came into the ER with weapons drawn and asked where the victim was located. When I informed them that my (lazy) third year had said admission was not necessary, the gang lifted him from the stretcher and frog marched him into the night.
And then we saw crazy things. Complaint: “bug in the ear.”
“IT WAS A BIG FREAKIN’ LIVE ROACH” waving its legs from inside someone’s ear.
Advice: “Mineral oil, pour it into the ear and wait for the bubble.”
“Yeah, then you know it drowned and you can remove it.” I ain’t proud, but it’s how medical training goes and went in those times. Nowadays the supervision is a little better. At least that’s what they keep telling everyone.
They make it sound so ‘cozy’ and ‘fuzzy warm.’ I’ve been in an inner city ER not too many years ago as in 2009-2012. It ain’t pretty. It’s just different. And different ain’t necessarily better. I’d use a series of epithets but that might too rude for polite company. George Clooney’s would never get this ‘s..t’ past the censors.
I watched only a single episode of ‘ER’ and it turned out to be treatment of an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. The information was so inaccurate as to be positively scary. Fortunately they don’t let George do neurosurgery.
Moray eels stay in a coral crevice and only poke their heads up. They can be quite large, or rather long. The head has a different color. It took me a while to understand the anatomy. Needless to say you don’t see many morays swimming out in open water. Every dive has its aha moment. Sometimes it’s a stonefish or rarely a squid or even a turtle. So far on this particular dive there hadn’t been much excitement. Oh well… We were done and at the decompression stop. I was floating and waiting for the time to pass. Per usual routine I don’t turn off my camera until I’m out of the water. And today! Yeah, I got this moray. He popped out of the coral and took off. My dive buddy and I were both very surprised. I happened to have the camera at the ready. Great luck!
Wetsuits come in different thicknesses. 1mm is for tropical water. Why wear one? It keeps things in the water off your skin. I didn’t wear one for about two years. Then last summer I dove about ten days in a row. I did between three and four dives a day. After that I had a lot of skin irritation. It’s called a ‘rash.’ Whatever. It itches and was making me uncomfortable. I gave in and started wearing the wetsuit Eric gave me. It was a 3mm suit. It’s probably a bit too warm. And when I dove the 60 degree California waters even a 7mm suit was not enough to keep me warm. But there’s another consideration. A 1mm wetsuit is pretty thin. You make the call. I’d say it was hard to decide whether to mention transparency as an issue or to keep quiet. Under the circumstances the same thing happened when I chanced upon some worn bike shorts in some past blog post. I got no editorial stake here. I just remember it’s not possible to answer the question, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”
I once said I shot a moose and someone asked what gun I used. Really!!?? Octopi are shy. They stay hidden and blend with the environment. The human eye is trained to see movement. It’s a protective mechanism to keep alive. Something well camouflaged is easily missed. I’d have missed the octopus otherwise. We, not me, saw it swimming in the open over the coral reef. Off I went swimming as fast I was able. Since the octopus was interested in hiding it soon dropped into the coral. It did not shoot ink as once happened to me. That time it worked as I was startled and the octopus slipped away in a cloud of dark ink. This time I watched the octopus and was shooting away with my camera. The poor thing was unable to decide what camouflage to adapt. I can tell you that the change takes only a few seconds. Yes, they really do change over fast. The natural color is brown. Back in December I watched in horror as someone barehanded executed a captured one. This guy changed back and forth for a while and then found a nice deep hole in the coral. In the image below you can appreciate how well the camouflage can look. The change can occur in the blink of an eye. At one point my gloved hand brushed a tentacle. It was like touching Velcro. I was a bit timid and didn’t touch it again. My camera was working. White balance was good. Focus was sharp. It was great! …about as much fun as you can have with a wet suit on.
I dove at a place I haven’t visited in a while. This blue fish is hard to photograph. I’m usually in a backlight position so the deep blue black fish has no detail. Though they are very common on the reef they are also very camera shy. I might see a school of them or a few. No matter the exposure is usually poor and the fish swim away so the best I get is tail view. It seems there are often exceptions to all rules. I had this guy challenge me. He knew I was there. I was shooting and he wasn’t going to budge and give up his position. I didn’t see any reason for him to guard this piece of reef. But he would circle and circle. So I got the exposure corrected and then I got the head on shot. Head on is the hardest. Nobody swims toward a larger object blowing bubbles and I can imagine how intimidating I must look to these fish.
I shoot other people when they get married. No problem. It’s considered okay. You are in public and considered a fair target. Harsh? My kids get embarrassed when I whip out my camera and shoot. I’m not in the wedding or anything like that. I just like the formality and the fact that this is a special day for someone. We were walking along the new Brooklyn promenade below the Brooklyn Bridge. And the view of the Manhattan skyline is “free!!!” Great backdrop!
New York City occasionally does something nice. They took an abandoned section of elevated rail line and converted it into an elevated park/recreation/hiking space. It revitalized the neighborhood. So Dave and I walked it when we headed downtown. It’s a pleasant walk. You can see lots of pictures of the project elsewhere. Here we found a space that just lent itself to silliness and a bit of Photoshop.
Censorship is so wacky in this country, you have to shake your head in amazement sometimes. There are numerous instances. Just to refresh you, there is the blurring of faces in advertisements that stores show. You see a camp scene and six people gathered to model clothing and all the faces are blurred. They blur the monuments in the cemetery because of the crosses. I kid you not. This was a most puzzling scene in the movie Sherlock Holmes that I watched on the airplane. I am, by now, used to blurred spots where a bit of risqué cleavage (top button undone) might show. And often whole scenes are simply deleted leaving a gap in the plot that you would have to find imagination to fill.
So here is a billboard poster right on Thalia Street. It’s for yogurt. I get it even without benefit of translation. But if you look a different way, wouldn’t this be a fertility poster as well. Egg and well you guess….wait till someone else gets the same idea. Maybe it’s just me but now that you have a second look…? (If you’re extremely dim, the red berries are the cell nucleus.)
Do fish blink? Do they have eyelids? Ever think about it? I’ve considered the question in passing. But I never really did look into this issue. I think I have stumbled on an answer. This fish likes to rest on a coral outcrop. I used to get a profile and consider myself lucky. But familiarity has led me to be more bold. So I drift up and try to get a head on view. Not content to shoot a single image – focus, exposure, and a myriad of other variable – I shoot several to try to be sure I have a serviceable image.
Some controversy exists as: fish don’t have eyelids; fish roll their eyes (no eyelids); and why blink when you are immersed in a saline solution. And then there’s the matter of my old dog Nellie. She would blink whenever my flash popped to get a portrait of her. It was uncanny. She always blinked. Soooo….? When I have so many images of fish – thousands and thousands – why oh why are there none that have “blinkies?”
Roll your eyes or blink, it don’t matter, this is the sequence I got head on in an instant. No, no Photoshop. No fish were injured in the making of this series.
A few posts ago, I gave a long rambling recitation of detective work or early dementia. I have been having a recent series of camera mishaps. Briefly, I lost one and then another camera (due to stupidity). I’m usually OCD, but lately…. Well, (don’t ask), I’ve been experimenting. I have decided that, of my two used Canon G12 cameras, that I have tested, the newer is fine and that the older (first) is now having some serious focus issues. I told you Canon service said, “Send the camera, pay $189, and we’ll tell you what’s wrong, fix it, and charge you more as we decide what’s wrong. It’s not a very good deal. I figured to send the first camera in anyway. But the logistics of getting it to and from the US is a problem. Canon has a repair center here in Jeddah. It is not too inspiring. I’ve been there. It shares space as a luggage company. And if they can’t get parts…. I gave it a try. What can you lose? It doesn’t work already. I have the other camera to compare and the broken one is ‘broke.’
Then for some silly reason, I took an image after I got a hair cut. They say, “Be careful what you wish for.” On one image (and it is reproducible), there is a single line of pixel errors (see vertical line; medial right eyeglasses). It is on the image/sensor. It doesn’t show on every image depending on the subject , but the defect is definitely real. This is a problem for me, especially as it is my primary dive camera. There is a workaround. I use Photoshop and heal the pixel defect – press ‘shift’ and then draw down the repair brush. Voila! The damage I magically repaired. The repair guy said it might be possible to repair this problem also, or maybe not. Or maybe you need a new optical (expensive) system. But if you saw the squid, the newer Canon G12 is sharp! I’m thinking I’ll wait a while. I’d rather have mostly sharply captured images than to introduce another variable. When I finally get all the troubles solved I will be so happy to just worry about technically getting a properly exposed image. Anyway, having a backup plan is always good.
So far in my dive experience I’ve come across only one squid for which I have an image. After that I had a wonderful view of three squid swimming in formation below me. I was having early learning difficulty with buoyancy control and couldn’t control my depth to get a shot. Little did I know that it would be rare to see a squid.
Diving season has started. It’s mid May but my posts are backlogged. I actually had about a month off after California – too busy and kind of tired. I was solo. None of the usual dive buddies were available so I hooked up with an instructor. He was instructing so we stayed near the training platform and I goofed around with the camera. Then the student ran out of air, so he went up. And I cruised the reef with the divemaster for about thirty minutes. Right as we were returning, he pointed. I saw one, then two, then about six squid just making their way in open water. They were not camouflaged. And they were swimming away from my bubbles faster than I could catch them. I managed a couple shots and this time my camera didn’t fail.
Did i mention that seeing one squid is rare? So how about six or so I? I kid you not, there were about six swimming about. Indeed, I was very fortunate to get four in a close bunch in one image. Don’t be fooled. They swim much faster than me even with fins on my feet.
As for calimari, I firmly believe that squid should swim about in the ocean and let me take their picture. I don’t need/want to eat them.
This was the first spring when Lisa and I started dating. I took her to Astoria Park. This photo was taken on Triborough Bridge when David and I recently rode across on bikes. The Hellgate bridge approach is in the background. The empty pool is four times the size of an Olympic 50 meter pool with a blue diving pool at the right. And in the park to the right of the pool is where Lisa and I spent a memorable afternoon just happy to be in one another’s company. It didn’t much matter where we were; it could have been anywhere. She had just cut her hair short – not my preference – but that didn’t matter either. As you can see we horsed around the park, went up and down on the see-saw and generally recaptured the days of childhood in the park. It was truly a day of innocent fun.