28 July 2009

Observations of Self

(Calvin and Hobbes are always funny. This one KILLS!)

Something I observed:
The other day I was driving home from work. I was stopped at a stop light which seemed to take, just short of, forever. But as I waited, I got to watch a scene play out before me. Vegas certainly has its share of homeless and destitute men, women, and children on the street. At any given time of the day, you can see them holding signs at major intersections, begging for change. You can drive by almost anywhere and see them sleeping under a bridge, in the park, or even along the sidewalk in the open. Humbly speaking, sometimes the thought enters my mind that I could just as easily be among them. "...There by the Grace of God, go I."

At any rate, I watched as a mid-aged woman stood on a corner, leaning on a light pole, waiting on the light to change so she could cross the street. I saw as she noticed a man approach her who had the look of extreme fatigue and destituteness in his eyes and clothing. My window was up so I never heard the exchange of words. The woman avoided the man by repositioning herself so the light pole was between the two of them, for this man was reaching for the drink as if she had offered it to him freely. However she was not willing to share her quenching drink with this person who looked to have really needed it. More words were exchanged. The man must have voiced his disapproval, as he began walking away. As his back was now turned, the light changed. The lady surprisingly began to pour out her drink, which again, got the attention of this man. Then she let the can fall to the ground and preceded to cross the street. I saw the look in the man's eyes as he watched the drink spill its contents as if he was watching a friend bleed out on the ground. No matter what this man had said to her, I felt she had acted cruel. Many a rude people attacked and killed for less. I am not sure why she felt safe enough to take that risk on this part of town. Such is life.

Something I've been getting into:
I don't know why, but I've found it difficult to turn the channel when I browse past one of those cooking competitions between two or more chefs. On this one episode, chefs were given bananas, collard greens, and grits and told to go make something. What the hell are they supposed to come up with in that combo. At least that's what the mind is thinking and you are forced to watch so you can get the answer to the question. Sometimes, I see some nice creations, but when you are given chocolate and squid, what the hell...?

I think a better show of distinct similarity would be to model the show after single moms and families that don't have adequate means, who are trying to feed their kids with concoctions that are remaining in the fridge or cabinets. When I was coming up, we had sandwiches. Today, I will throw down on a nice roast beef sub from subway, with provolone cheese, fresh spinach, red onion, tomato, black olives and pickles...drizzled with the sweet onion sauce. Splash in some Parmesan cheese and a little olive oil and I can go to town. But back in the day, growing up, I had sugar sandwiches...Mustard sandwiches. We we were fortunate, we did the peanut butter, jelly, and bacon sandwiches when some bacon was left over from breakfast. As young parents, my ex-wife was not too shabby with inventing new stuff from anything that was edible in the kitchen to feed the kids. When Ramen noodles came out, THAT was a god-send. You could always afford Ramen.

Something new I just read:
A really close friend of mine, recommended I read "The Red Tent", by Anita Diamant. Its the story written from the first person perspective of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob, who is mainly mentioned regarding her rape as told in the Book of Genesis, chapter 34.

Amazon.com Review:
"The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery."

The book was hard to put down once you got into it. It was like trying to exit a hot bath after you just get accustomed to the heat. Its just not something you do. It brought a unique perspective on the trials of women in that era, that you really don't even bother to consider. Most times the Bible doesn't go that deep into insight on the thoughts of non-central figures, so you have to rely on other historical and archaeological discoveries. But this book really takes you into the mind of women of that time and you find amazingly that you can relate it to today. (Actually, I wish I had read it a month sooner.) If I had one grief with the book is that it changed some elements from the Bible, so you can't read it and think that things played out in a certain way. Granted, the book is fiction, but it uses some actual events as they are told biblically. Its easy to confuse those events with her fiction. Where the Bible says Dinah was raped, Diamant says she was a willful lover. Regardless, I loved the imagination of this woman and would like to know more about how she produced the material to wrap around this one short mention of this woman. I'd like to know if she's intended to do more Biblical characters as such.

Brittany is moving to New Orleans. She's the featured model on this post and she was my model for the recent workshop. I was looking to book her for the August workshop but when I found out she would have moved by then, I rescheduled her for my July session. She was fabulous as always. Heads up Michael Sui!

13 July 2009

A Lesson Learned - Flying First Class

I'm just getting back in from Texas where I got to shoot a wedding in a beautiful building in Dallas, the Weisfeld Center. I learned a little something about handling business. Sometimes, its not an excessive luxury to fly first class. I used to look at first class seats as a way for people with means to have another excuse to separate themselves from the rest of the world. It seemed frivolous to pay so much extra to fly in front. What's the big deal that you get to board first. I once flew coach in an assigned seat that was near the first class section. I hated how the flight attendant closed the curtain as I happened to be starring into the front cabin. All that was to me was an airlines attempt to play favorites with one class of people in order to charge them enough to make up for all the losses in everything else. I also would laugh at the $3 bag of chips and a $6 bottle of water they would bring us back in coach.

But on this flight, I was introduced to another perspective of the first class option. The concept actually hit me when I was visiting a model in her new home. She has a boyfriend living with her who is a Titanic freak and I don't think he would mind me saying so. Well, I noticed in his memorabilia that he had in his possession a few White Star tickets ranging from a first class to 3rd class. In today's dollars, the price difference seemed negligible, but I would imagine the $5 to $10 difference between classes meant a lot more. I still came to the conclusion that it would still be worth it to find some means to come up with the difference and get better accommodations. Therefore, I responded positively to the unexpected offer to upgrade my seat as I operated the automated kiosk to get my boarding pass. I paid the extra money since my trip was an all expenses paid deal.

As I had to lug around my two carry-ons of camera equipment and personal sundry items, I justified my selection in that I had camera gear in both bags. The last thing I wanted to do was to be one of the last ones to board in coach and not have any overhead or under seat place to store my gear. At that point, they normally offer to take your bag and check it into the cargo hold. There was no way I was going to let my gear get checked. In first class, I boarded first and had plenty of room to store both my bags overhead. They were asking coach passengers to not place two bags on top if they could help it, but rather to place one was preferred under foot. Well, that's another point of protest for me. I busted up my left knee in the military. If I fly on any area of the plane other then on the right side in an aisle seat, you'll be wheeling me off the plane or throwing me over your shoulder in a fireman's carry. I've got to have that room to flex my knee or else I'm in pain...big-time. I've flown next to the window on the left side of the plane in first class and had no pain at all.

Another contention is the reduced stress of flying when you are travel first class. Packing, driving through heavy traffic to get to the airport, parking, going through security is already enough to make you into a stress ball. You're in no mood to deal with a client when you arrive at your destination. On the trip going to Texas, we were immediately served a heated assortment of deluxe nuts in a ceramic bowl. There was not one peanut in the bunch. Somebody came by more than necessary to ask me if I wanted something else to drink...alcoholic or not. I got a glass of Merlot at one point, but turned down another one. That would have been $16 in coach. My point is that when I got off the plane, it didn't matter so much that the plane arrived later than expected, or that my car rental wasn't already fully paid (by the client) when I got there. My demeanor was affected only slightly that I had to make other arrangements on my own. Had I been flying coach, I'd still be locked up right now and only imagining that I was writing this blog post about wishing I had flown first class.