Happy Birthday. I just remember the day. Eric was born on the last day of third grade for me. That would be Elkins First Ward School. Lot of memories there. I awoke and mom had delivered overnight. Dad was getting us breakfast. John and me. He had left us alone overnight. We slept and never knew it. I barely remember when John was born. All I remember is that they kept acting like I might be jealous of someone new in the house. He did not affect me in the least. We were expecting a girl (Eric). Hoping for a girl. I don’t know why. It seems ok by me that I got another brother. His name is closer to the front of the alphabet. And he got a middle name.
Me? My mother used a baby name book. She bailed at V. WXYZ not too much further to go. And no middle name. “T” it was on my birth certificate. No, I did not know till I was sixteen. My first summer job as a waiter in a camp and when they returned our birth certificates someone pointed it out. “Oh, well, I didn’t have a first name for you. So I just saved a spot.” Great story. And each brother got a letter closer to the front of the alphabet.
My mother was one of seven children. The last three were sisters. The youngest sister my dear Auntie Fu Ching told me after my mother had passed away, “Your mother lied on your birth certificate.” Huh? The older sister Emily told her she was too old to have a baby (me). So she told my mother, “Lie about your age.” Great! I have looked and I know that I am not a girl.
You’d be surprised but a lot of Chinese guys have my name. I can’t get my name alone as an identifier for email or username. The most fun I had was entering Hong Kong after I visited China. I was separated from my group and placed in a room with a very nice man with a rifle. It was clear he was guarding me. I, of course, did not have a guilty conscience. But I cooled my heels for a while. And when released (I was released with a smile) my friend informed me that the customs folks thought they had just caught one of the big drug smugglers with my same name. Geez!
Bigg’s Museum ran a photo contest and I was seduced into entering. Like everything else I did not spend too much time in selecting three images for submission. You got to enter three images for $35. I think it was a fundraiser for the museum. I was persuaded to do this. Flattered into doing it. You know the drill. So I collected about twenty shots and they were passed around and around. The jury of my close admirers picked and debated. I submitted these images. I am perfectly happy to have lost. Someone better than me won. The images make me happy. In the end I have so many images that are good. Some are technically good. And others are artistically sound. There’s a difference.
The best example I could give was in painting figures. Dave and I painted detailed figures for a game we played. Jules did for a while but then lost interest. Dave kept me at it. I was technically sound. After all I was a surgeon and good with fine detail. So I could paint tiny detail and get it just so. Dave painted too. He was a kid. Mistakes and all. But his finished product was better than mine. Forget detail. We had both painted the same figures and his were better. Art. He had that “je ne sais quoi” (I don’t know what) that cannot be translated by technical excellence. That’s the difference in knowing and winning. I’m just happy that there are some folks who like what I’ve done.
By the way, the fish kissing was real and not post processed. Yes, they came together for a second, long enough for me to get the shot. I imagine it wasn’t kissing but then again, what else?
The site of the watchtowers had gun batteries of all sorts. This site gu.arded Cape May and it required guns capable of throwing a projectile more than ten miles. This would guard the harbor in case of invasion by ship. In other words it could hurl a shell from Delaware across the water to New Jersey. As near as I can estimate this took a 16 inch artillery shell.
And of course, this required a very large gun. So we had an opportunity to look at the gun and shell up close. It’s a very large canon. And it shoots a big shell. And the armor it will pierce is quite thick. How thick? As much as David’s forearm thick.
Are you impressed? I am. And to think this all started from a Chinese invention for fireworks and progressed to mass destruction from miles away with truly massive armament. And all of this is antiquated and way out of fashion. I do not believe such a shell or gun would ever be of use nowadays.
I’m down in Delaware with the boy. Dave was the first male born to Lisa’s side of the family. Two sisters married to guys who were three brothers and the first grandkids were three daughters. Everyone kindly kidded me and said the fourth would surely be a girl. Nope. Ha! Fooled ‘em all. Dave was a surprise so much that whenever Lisa’s family would call they would ask, “How’s the boy?” Naturally. He’s left handed like his dad. Now that he’s bigger but not older, he abuses the old man when he can.
Or should I say tease? I reference an old Dylan song from the ‘60’s. There really were watchtowers in Delaware during World War II to watch for German naval boats.
These towers were associated with gun batteries and guarded key harbors against invasion. Many towers are still preserved. We took a ride to a site and got to climb the tower and see what the Army saw. I do not think they ever had to fire a shot but the site is still eerie and impressive. The tower is not to photogenic. It’s a curiosity sticking up in the skyline from the road. Warfare has changed such that they will never be relevant. And so a park has sprung up from the site. The military presence seems to have discouraged development of prime beach front. It works for me.
Remember the wall? The nine foot one from yesterday? Hey! Sometimes the posts link. Jumping is an art. To do it the lazy way needs no real leap of height. It’s an illusion. Just bend your knees as you go. Then you will look high without hurting yourself. It also helps if the photographer (you know who you are) presses the shutter while you are in the air. Otherwise it looks like you are holding up your hands at a stick up. Hmmmm? That begs the question, do you know what, “Meet you at the pass” means? It’s an old west term from the movies, when the bandits split up to escape the posse. They would say, “Split up. We’ll meet again at the pass.” It seems they don’t say that in the movies any more. And you need to be a certain age (old) to know the term.
So there was this metal bridge in the park that cut over and across the highway.
Neat. It made for a photo op. I did not have time to plan. It was cold and slightly rainy. Windy. Hey, it was Chicago! No standing around in the rain.
Yup. That’s me with Mike. Who? Mike Singletary of the Chicago Bears, Super Bowl Champs of 1985. Yeah, it’s like when were there four Beatles? Who? Who were the Beatles? Old. Me. Yup. The Bears won that year with a marvelous defense. The Giants – my beloved NY team won the following year. The Bears wupped their butts (Giants) on the way to their championship. Too much history? Mike came to speak at our national meeting. Last year it was Peyton Manning. Is there a theme? At least it wasn’t Ben Carson again. Get it? I’m a neurosurgeon and he came out during our last meeting. Not Mike, Ben. Too confusing?
Well, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons meets once a year. And there are invited speakers. We are a very conservative lot. Not me. Them. Maybe there are a few progressives and even some Democrats among us. I, for one, don’t care to have my politics mixed with business. And, no, I don’t wear striped underwear or boxers. Bet you wanted to know that too.
We had Bush – you know – GW – give the Cushing oration. Cushing, he was the modern godfather of neurosurgery. In fact, Cushing trained Davidoff; Davidoff trained Ransahoff; and Ransahoff tranined me. So I am pedigreed. I digress. Mike was invited to speak and the NFL came. Everyone did a little PC dance and no one said, “Don’t do it!” And we heard a discussion about chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE. Mama, don’t let your kids grow up to be Cowboys (Dallas) and don’t let them play football. Mike claims he only had a concussion twice. Lucky! He’s still sharp. Once was William “Refrigerator” Perry. I bet that was a boatload of fun. Meanwhile I got a picture at our opening reception. He’s a sports hero of sorts. I have many. But boy was it fun! Yes! Mike and me.
Oh! Bush? The security was so tight that they did not announce he was coming until the meeting started. There was no obvious secret service presence. However, bags were checked and it was strictly no photographs. Some secretly used their cellphones. I’m way too cool for that! W actually spoke coherently. To listen to him one could understand that his TV demeanor was hardly like his real life thinking. Nice guy?! Hey, don’t tell. I voted for him once.
The second election was scheduled just after our fall meeting. Gorbachev was the speaker. Remember him? The room was packed. A member of our national leadership rose and spoke – I thought to introduce Gorbachev. Nope. He said, “Bush will sign medical malpractice reform if it passes congress. Kerry and Edwards will not.” He sat. The room was silent. And the implication was clear. Though I knew there was not a snowball’s chance in hell medmal reform would pass I voted special interest. It was the one and only time I have ever voted for a presidential winner. Yeah, twice I voted for anarchy and Ross Perot. Don’t shoot me, ma? Please.
Yes, Happy Birthday Dave. Big one! Thirty years ago. His obstetrician showed up sleepy eyed. She was a member of a group so I met her for the first time in the delivery room. Her name was Ida. Hey! Get it? Ida Ho. The state, the potato, one of the names I wanted for my kids. Or Ivan… She was not too comical at 4AM. And poor Aunt Audrey was there at home taking care of Jules, his sister. She had asked that Dave not be born in the wee hours. She was sweet. She came from the Bronx to watch Julia in the middle of the night. And, my chief resident had last said to me, “Don’t go into labor, we got a big operation in the morning.” And, it was a terribly difficult vertebral artery aneurysm. And of course, we postponed the operation. In order to assuage the poor patient, I told him that I had named my son after him. A year later he appeared for his post op visit and asked how his boy was. My puzzled look was followed by, “You know! Vincent! Vincent Pallazoto Jr.” Oh, yeah!
This is wedding weekend again. You just gotta love the shot. We had a muscle car courtesy of the rental upgrade in Los Angeles. A Dodge Challenger! Yes, it’s a fast car. We never did get to drive it fast. But the boys looked cool sitting on it.
And for Susan, here’s another shot of the kids as they are today. And for those who want to see the dad, here I am again.
I’m behind. You’d never know it. A day late and a dollar short… So this is what I did yesterday. Maybe I’ll catch up to myself soon. Diving. Tax day and other significance…. Shhh! It was the big one. Yeah, alone, but not really. But I did this selfie. My dive buddy thought I had nitrogen narcosis or that I’d run out of air. Fortunately, it was just insanity. He kept on going with just a nod to mania.
I decided to do a selfie. It ain’t easy with this rig. And it was a matter of lighting and…. Well, shoot, it worked. Those are bubbles not blemishes. And the wide-angle does nothing but distort my appearance. And the mask and the regulator don’t help either. So off with the regulator. Don’t lose track of it; or you’re gonna have trouble on the very next breath. I’m writing so I managed to do it. Auto focus does a lot. Got the exposure on the first try.
And then the pose. Well, you can’t do much better. Hey, it’s a selfie.
And what else did I do while diving? Why, I found more hermit crabs. I got the hang of it now. I find them all the time, almost at will. Imagine that. I’m a hunter. I’m a tracker. I just discovered nature. Neat So, this is out of the box and unedited. Really, no enhancement as in no plastic surgery or photoshop stuff.
I can do this but it’s still a work in progress. I need better focus technique. My subject is very small, shy, and does not wish to be disturbed no way no how.
Got your attention , huh? As a photographer, I’m usually not in my own pictures from my camera. Dave and I did a selfie. And then I shot Jules and Dave. I’m glad they grew up and are healthy and have jobs and … Yes, wedding for a day, a return to the event and a look back. I should retire. But then again I like what I’m doing. I still have skill. I was fortunate enough to have found a job in which I actually enjoyed the work. I don’t like the side stuff.
No, indeed! But on the whole I never dreaded going to work. So as long as my skill is good and my judgment is sound… There are those who might protest, but I have pulled off some spectacular saves. There are still a few left for me to do. I’m hanging in. Besides, who else is issuing checks to pay the bills. Yin and yang. There is a balance to life. Good and bad, happy and aggravated. Oh! Never let’em see you happy; someone will want to mess with your serenity. Grrrr….
Another shell appeared and there was another hermit crab! Wow! It was the end of the dive again. I carried that sucker back to the safety stop. Farid was frozen.
Ali, my other dive buddy, was hovering patiently overhead. I was down till my air was nearly depleted. And I got the shots. I took the shell with me. Sorry kids. And then on the next dive, Ali got to stage his own shots of the crab. Neat!
Yes, I played with the wild life. Sorry! He survived and we put him in a nice cozy new place. And he will live happily ever after….