Archive for March, 2010

The sound of the shutter with no Kodachrome

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Ever had 100 of DNA’s friendliest people in the world look at you like they wanted to poke your eyes out?

This is what happens when you shoot 1,000 photos on a Dutch commuter train in two hours.

Here was my thinking: (1) I am here as a tourist. (2) I have a camera that rocks and lots of lenses with a 16 gig card. (3) There is a giant storm brewing outside the Dutch countryside. (4) I know what I am doing with my glass. (5) It cost a lot of money to even be in this position.

And (6) I don’t really give a rat’s ass if your always quiet freaking commute is going sideways because of the sound of my shutter!!!!!!!!!!

I’m not kidding that people two rows ahead on a freaking moving train were bitching, as were others, about the sound of the shutter on my camera. Huh? Seriously? At 10 a.m.? Are they kidding? Crap, half of them had iPhone plugs in.

What was so important to take photos of?


                             Floating, brewing clouds.

As an artist I am in awe of the Dutch masters and their clouds and seas. But mostly their clouds. Big A and P were much less impressed with watching a complete Vermeer rumbling around on the plains of The Netherlands as a result of two fronts colliding than I was at that moment. But to me, capturing pictures of the Dutch countryside with the incredible clouds is like the most incredible use of 21st Century tourist technology.

Rembrandt couldn’t take a photo of these things, but he could spend months recreating them from memory. I can’t even dream of doing that.

So I wanted to say, “Shut the fuck up and let me paint with a camera.”

36 hours of sprinting

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

So we leave for two weeks Sunday morning.

In-laws are still here. Cousins arrive today for a brief visit. Packing and preparation is minimal to this point. (I did get a few Euros.) My to-do list gets longer as I cross more things off.

But here was a major one…the cell phones.

All of our cell phones could easily be changed over to a plan that would work in Europe, but today it dawned on me…”Why?”

Why? This is vacation…not business. It did make me add “E-mail to several people where we’re staying” to my list. But I suddenly thought, I mean it really dawned on me, I don’t need the damn phone with me. None of us do on this trip. For all my fretting that we weren’t “winging it enough” because we rented apartments, I forgot that the simplest thing I could do to “wing it” was turn off the Verizon Blackberry for a couple of weeks. Like Pilar pointed out, we can just buy a disposible while we’re there for emergencies. I don’t need to text. I can get free internet at the apartment or many cafes and restaurants. I have no work agenda at all. None. Zero. Zippo. Which, with all my trips to Europe, this is the first time that’s been the case for almost 25 years, and even then it was a school trip. I am FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Me, Myself and Social Networking

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

So I am six months into my experiment with the social networking with mixed results.

So mixed I think there is a new social disorder being brewed in my head.

For one, I don’t tweet, because I just don’t understand it completely. But I am going to give that another shot this year (that was actually a negligible resolution I made). I get how it works, but I am pretty much not into it.

Facebook I like. Which surprised me. I really kind of ignored this too long. But with the new blackberry and its app, it is soooo easy to just rattle things off while waiting in line at the DMV or snap and picture of something funny at the grocery store. But here’s the thing…I know that I have a finite number of people that ever see what I post.

So sometimes I post really good stuff and there are about 25 people who see it. That’s when I post something from me. These are all smart, funny, engaging people that I know well enough that they won’t judge any single post by its cover. For instance, this may sound funny, but I have been pretty careful to keep blood relatives off my friends list. I’ve lightened up a little on this lately, but I am still being picky about that. But if you were to look at my list, I have been putting my toe farther in that water.

But then there is the opinionated, and sometimes mischievous side, that sees things that get teed up like a super-sized golf ball, and I just can’t help myself to have a thought or opinion about while I am waiting in a line or waiting for practice to be over, or whatever. That’s what clobbers me. Well, not really, but I do have a problem of not keeping my trap shut if I see something and I am bored on the cell phone someplace and I can thumb-it-out. What I forget in this scenario is there are people connected to all the people that probably think sometimes I sound like a complete social misfit because they don’t even know me. Or they know me, but they are a friend or family, that shares the same person and they can’t see the humor or self-parodized hubris (I’m not even sure if that makes sense, but it was meant to reflect the idea that the whole thing is funny sometimes and everyone gets to damn serious about it) in the whole thing. My friends know I am a dork. My family knows I am a outspoken person. My friends and family know I am an outspoken dork. But how does someone who knew me 5-10-20 years ago know that? Or someone ho doesn’t even know me?

The third part is the cool thing social networking has done…I am more connected with people face-to-face than I have been in a long time. I like these people that like the people that I like. But it takes a few parties or a few times getting together again. THAT’S social networking…not some dumb comments on a website. I would sound like a crazy fool (which, some of you, shhhhhh) if that’s all you knew is what I tweeted or commented or FB’d. But I like the fact we meet here and there, sometimes with a lot of time in between, and just sit around and laugh and talk.  Face-to-face. Beer and wine is good, too.

So my friends network online might be pretty small. In fact very small. But I have been careful in it. It’s nice to have a small list to keep track of, really.

But you wanna know what COMPLETELY hooked me on Facebook?


I have had better scrabble games in the last few months than I have had in the last few years. I LOVE Scrabble. I love word games. But the fact I can challenge a friend in any time zone and scooch a game along over, sometimes, week, is awesome. I have had two games in the last month where we scored a combined 400 points in four moves each (do the math). The tricky part is that I know most of them are cheating, so I lose a lot. But that’s kind of a compliment, right? Regardless, I will keep telling myself that it’s a compliment when I get my ass kicked.

So the great social networking experiment will continue.


Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

So here we knew this week was going to be hell because so much was going on that we had little room for error before vacation.

Then Big A started running a fever the last couple of days and Scout looks to have a goitre that developed.

Eventually, I am just going to get on an airplane Sunday morning, order a double Bloody Mary and fall asleep.

The blackout…

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010


This is my friend Brian’s blacked-out version of a Harley…wow! What a hell of a lot of work. This cell phone snapshot does not come close to doing justice to how beautiful it is in person…and I am not a bike-guy. Now we’re waiting for spring sunny days to really shoot it nicely. This thing is awesome.

This is the product of as much sweat equity as using the internet to swap around and buy and sell parts to do it on a tight budget.

It just looks awesome.

Derek Paravicini

Monday, March 15th, 2010

Happy Pi Day…you can look it up…act of Congress and everything

Sunday, March 14th, 2010


My tribute highlights my birthday month since that’s the farthest I had it memorized once…but when I did it was a long time ago. Now I can only get through 3.1415926535…

CNN had a decent piece of Pi here.

Speaking of the iThing

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

She’ll end up with one.


Even if she steals it from me. See this case? It’s like a mouse trap that got robbed.

Her nook

Thursday, March 11th, 2010


She has a bucket to keep things away from pets and parents which she can pull up to her bed when she wants. It’s kind of brilliant.


Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I’m sitting listning to a bootleg of Dave Mathews Band at The Gorge. It’s a terrible copy, but man I love DMB like this. It’s on a playlist with Bruce in Cleveland from, like, 1981 and U2 in Portland during their last tour.

Which is the strange thing about my new lover…the iTouch. It’s really hard to manage bootleg music without a lot of work. I’ve had most of this stuff a long, long time, and I just keep going from one medium to another for my own personal use.

But it’s also what is so awesome about it. It gets there eventually with some tinkering. Most of it, too, I have bought and paid for, on top of the bootlegs. I never wanted it “just because it’s free.” That is morally offensive to me.

So let me tell you why I am in love with the Touch. I’ll put it most simply this way: It does everything the iPhone does without paying a nickel to At&T or any other mobile phone provider. It is fantastic at picking up wifi at home or on the road, does all the same apps, and with my 64 gigger it holds everything I could ever want for music, TV shows, and movies. And did I mention I don’t pay a dime for the wifi connections? This is a seriously underplayed thing that’s cool about this little computer. I am not going to type the great American novel or screenplay on it, but just for generally fudging off hot spots, it seems to work great.

I wish it had a camera, and I wish I could find a case that works for it without screwing with the plugs, but oh, well. I have my Blackberry and I am seriously considering just quiting paying for the internet for that at this point. My Verizon service as a phone is awesome, but the internet stuff was always kind of a business rip off because you could just find wifi at almost any coffee shop around.

Which is my last point on this…I am amazed how friendly people are letting me log on to their wifi even if it’s not advertised. This is counterintutive to me. I guard my wifi like a demon. A place in London, because I went in there every morning, actually gave me the “master” password and said “no problem.” I know it was so I’d quit asking every day what the new password was, but it startled me in a way.

I still have no idea where we’re staying Easter night, speaking of Europe. It’s like my rebel-dreamer-part that hasn’t solved that one day. I have this lilly-white idea that it will just figure itself out.

But here is the general plan…about a week in an apartment in Maastricht and about a week in an apartment in Amsterdam. And then just bumming cars off people and riding trains around that.

I realized something very early on with this trip…I couldn’t do it like I did it when I was 30. Or 20. Or 10. But wait…I could do it like I was 10 because I have a 10-year old! So I thought of everything I loved when I was 10 taking adventures, and the best stuff was just living in new places for periods of time. It wasn’t about getting from one tourist attraction to another…it was living on Mott Street or camping in an orange grove next to Disneyland. It’s being there just long enough to soak it in.

I think some people forget how much you know when you are 10. And how much you soak in. And this is the key to Big A needing this trip; not to see all the sights or understand a Rembrandt vs. a Monet…but to just get the click and feel of something COMPLETELY out of her “zone.” It’s a bit of a wowzer I think 10 is the perfect age to get to see, taste and feel.

But that is what we all hope for all parents. She has to lick the ice cream and then decide how big of a sundae she wants. (That’s terrible, but you get the point.) This trip isn’t about seeing much, but it’s about living much. I carefully picked our apartments and neighborhoods. I’m doing things I have already done. It’s so BORING to me on paper it makes me think, “I’m spending how much to do what?!?!?!?!”

But that’s kind of the fun of it. Neither Pilar or I are doing it for us. We’ll be there for her to see how awesome it is with her own eyes and ears and tastes. It’s like going for the first time. Annalaan is excited and has been getting ready, but she is going to have two weeks of submersion. She will, literally, go from a leading role (well, sort of) in a school play to Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Which is a giant, humongous, thing I learned from my parents…jump in. I’ve been to various places in Europe 12 times and this will be number 13. I’ve been to NYC about 130 and I have been to Disneyland about 10 times. And I went from Spanaway to Boston for school. I was taught to never let the “world” intimdate you.

Honestly, to this day, I think I could be dropped by a parachute with $200 in some village someplace and live a happy life with a new wife. I’d never do that, of course, and I have no thoughts of it, but it’s my half-ass way of saying I’m not sure what any trip could throw at me that I haven’t done either for work or pleasure.

So, Big A covets my iTouch. I let her fiddle with it…but I think about how cool it is that she has just enough information about the world that she fiddles with it better than I do. She has worn the battery down twice and I don’t even know how to pull up my games. I’ve had it for two days!

Which is my last ramble part…these kids are not your last generation 10-year-olds. There is something in all of their DNA that just is intuitive with this stuff. Face it. And I don’t think grandma and grandpa get it. My entire role in my kid’s life is making sure I get it and be careful with it. I forget that sometimes.

OK…now it’s moved on to Bruce live in Cleveland on the iTouch…”The screen door slams…”

“Show a little faith there’s magic in the night; You ain’t no beauty but, hey, you’re alright, but that’s alright with me” has to be one of the greatest live concert lyrics ever. I shouted it twice last year and it was worth every penny….but because I got a start from my own mom and dad.