Saturday, May 30, 2009

Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Part II

Last year I was on a business trip to Long Beach, CA and decided to eat at a restaurant featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. The food was great. Last week I took a business trip to Austin, TX and did the same thing, with similar results.
Saturday morning I got up and decided to take a drive into downtown Austin and see if I would take a few interesting photos of the area. I only had an ancient point & shoot digital camera from the office, so the photos aren't as nice as I was hoping for. Any way, back to the food. This place is called Maria's Taco Xpress and it definitely qualifies as a dive! It has more character and flavor than Juan Valdez. You enter the place through a dirt/gravel courtyard that is the outdoor dining area and probably where a blues band plays on Friday night. You walk up to the counter, place and pay for your order and in a few minutes a truly unique dining experience is delivered to you. I did not get a photo of the two tacos that I ordered and I cannot begin to describe what was on them, only that they were wonderful. They were like no other soft tacos I have ever had. So, if you're in Austin, look up Maria's Taco Xpress. It's on Lamar Ave. about two miles west of the river and downtown. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ruby Tuesday

My bride purchased several Hibiscus plants the other day to put on our deck. Naturally, I grab the camera and capture my next Ruby Tuesday. Want to know more about how to get this kind of shot. Read last Friday's Thoughts post. It's much easier than you might think.

I will be in Austin, Texas the remainder of the week, so this will be my last post until next Ruby Tuesday, and I have NO IDEA what the subject will be. See ya then.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day, Honor Those Who Gave Their All

Thank A Veteran For Your Freedom
By J. L. Sager
It was a veteran, not a reporter,
Who guaranteed freedom of the press.

It was a veteran, not a poet,
Who guaranteed freedom of speech.

It was a veteran, not a campus organizer,
Who guaranteed freedom to demonstrate.

It was a veteran, not a minister,
Who guaranteed freedom to worship.

It was a veteran, not a salesman,
Who guaranteed freedom to own property.

It was a veteran, not a travel agent,
Who guaranteed freedom to travel.

It was a veteran, not a politician,
Who guaranteed freedom to vote.

It is a veteran who salutes the Flag,
Risks it all for the Flag,
And who is buried beneath the Flag.

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War: a hymn published in 1867, "Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping" by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication "To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead" (Source: Duke University's Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920). While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it's difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860's tapped into the general human need to honor our dead, each contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in Gen Logan giving his official proclamation in 1868. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all.
Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died fighting in any war). It is now celebrated in almost every State on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 - 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays), though several southern states have an additional separate day for honoring the Confederate war dead: January 19 in Texas, April 26 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and Mississippi; May 10 in South Carolina; and June 3 (Jefferson Davis' birthday) in Louisiana and Tennessee.
The story of Memorial Day begins in the summer of 1865, when a prominent local druggist, Henry C. Welles, mentioned to some of his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living veterans of the Civil War it would be well to remember the patriotic dead by placing flowers on their graves. Nothing resulted from this suggestion until he advanced the idea again the following spring to General John B. Murray. Murray, a civil war hero and intensely patriotic, supported the idea wholeheartedly and marshalled veterans' support. Plans were developed for a more complete celebration by a local citizens' committee headed by Welles and Murray.
On May 5, 1866, the Village was decorated with flags at half mast, draped with evergreens and mourning black. Veterans, civic societies and residents, led by General Murray, marched to the strains of martial music to the three village cemeteries. There impressive ceremonies were held and soldiers' graves decorated. One year later, on May 5, 1867, the ceremonies were repeated. In 1868, Waterloo joined with other communities in holding their observance on May 30th, in accordance with General Logan's orders. It has been held annually ever since.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Friday Thoughts

So You Want to Take Better Pictures Do You?

I want to recommend a book to you if you're interested in taking better photographs. I've been carrying it around for a year now and I use it as a reference almost every time I start shooting. This book is in plain English and it is filled with simple easy to follow instructions to help you take better photographs. It is "The Digital Photography Book" by Scott Kelby. It is available on Amazon for about $12.00. Believe me, it will be the best twelve bucks you've spent in a while. Not only is Mr. Kelby an excellent photographer, but he is one of the best PhotoShop users/teachers I have ever read. Here is an example of what happened when I followed the instructions.
This time of year I see alot of photos of flowers on Ruby Tuesday and other meme's. The typical photograph looks something like this. I took this with my digital camera this afternoon when I got home from work. They are Day Lily's.

There is nothing wrong with this photo, it is just that there is nothing special about it. It is taken from the same point of view that you see when you walk upon the flower and admire it. So how do we make it special? Shoot the subject from a different angle. Give the viewer a whole new perspective.

This is the same flower. I just took the photo from a different angle. An angle that you would not normally view the flower from. I did increase the contrast just a bit, but the main difference is the point of view. The next time you're out taking pictures, try looking at things a little differently. I think you'll be amazed at just how good you can be.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Things I Intend To Do Differently On My New Blog

This is my new blog. The primary reason for starting it was that I made a huge mistake on my old blog. When I saved photos for the web in PhotoShop Elements, I made the wrong assumption that the program was automatically compressing the files as they were being saved. WRONG!!! The result was that I was posting photos on my blog that were in excess of 3Megs. Well, I used up all of my available free space in just over two years and 325 posts. I will probably go back and clean things up over the next few months, but I think I will probably stay on this site. At any rate, here are Thirteen things that I intend to do differently on this blog.

1. I will compress the files and review every photo before I post it. My Ruby Tuesday photos yesterday were less than 25kb each. That's more like it.

2. I will search out more unusual photo opportunities. I don't know what that means, but I think I'll know it when I see it.

3. I will probably limit my video clips to Friday's Thoughts. I don't know how large those files are from YouTube, so I am just going to be cautious in their use. I may even delete them after 90 days.

4. I will use more of the tools in PhotoShop Elements and share the results with you. I have no idea what I just said, but stay tuned.

5. I will post more about things that interest me and less about the exploits of the Grandcrew. Wait a minute, the Grandcrew is what interests me. Never mind.

6. I will research more about what I can and cannot do in Blogger. I don't want to get caught off guard again. I don't mind getting caught Right Guard, but not off guard.

7. After I have settled in here, I will look into a face lift. Not for me, for my blog. It could use a new look.

8. I will try to post a Ruby Tuesday every week for a year! I have never done any meme consistently for a whole year, not even Thursday Thirteen.

9. I'll try to win some kind of blog award. I always seem to be the oldest blogger/commenter on any site that I visit. Maybe I'll just award myself the Grumpy Old Blogger Award. I can work on that in PhotoShop Elements.

10. I promise not to use word verification in the comments section. Oh, I already don't require word verification. Never mind.

11. Maybe this blog should be less about me and the Grandcrew and more about meme's. Mmmm....maybe not.

12. I will make it a point to get the word out. When you mail a letter to someone in Arkansas, AR is the proper abbreviation!!! AK is for Alaska not Arkansas and AR is for Arkansas not Arizona!! Okay let's review this. AR= Arkansas, AK=Alaska, AZ=Arizona. Now, has everybody got that?

13. I will do one thing the same as before. I will continue to blog, because I enjoy it. It is a hobby and there are some great people out there that I enjoy reading and sharing comments with. Virtually all of them are in my favorite sites side bar. Visit them when you can.

Have a great Thursday Thirteen and come back soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Ruby Tuesday No. 1

Okay, I am in my new place...Driller's Place, but more about that later. I thought I would open my new blog with a Ruby Tuesday. This old water tower in Rogers, Arkansas used to be part of a pickle plant. After the plant closed the building sat vacant for quite a few years. About four years ago a business purchased the building and opened a building materials flea market in the space. Well, it's not exactly a flea market, but you can buy used, discontinued, and floor samples of almost anything associated with residential construction. There is everything from floor tile to landscape stones, door knobs to dishwashers. It's a treat to wander through the stuff. You may have noticed that they are earning a little extra cash by leasing it out as a microwave tower. As you can see, they have painted the water tower Ruby Tuesday Red.

But then what fun is it to just leave a photo alone. So let's solarize this puppy and see what happens. BANG!

Happy Ruby Tuesday. I'll try to have this worked out a little better next time.