New Years Eve @ Teakwoods

with Dead Hot Workshop & Ghetto Cowgirl

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosFriday, December 31, 2010 - 11:47:40 pm
(Posted Under: Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene, Music Music, Live Shows)
Photobox ImageFun tonight for New Years Eve at Teakwoods. Went down early to eat before the show. Kinda hard to choose between nachos, or fish & chips, purely because the it doesn't seem like you see the latter on the specials menu often. But the nachos won out, given the frequency in which I order fish and chips last week in Warsaw. Had the foresight to take a photo tonight of what I like to call "a mess of awesomeness on a plate". And yes, I had the telephoto lens on - and that's the cause of the shadow. Now that's what I call a lens.

Really fun to be in town this year for New Years Eve. Two guest appearances with Dead Hot. Norm jumped up for Push Luck Shove. Yaay! It seems forever since I've seen that happen! I didn't realize until the end that Serafini had also gotten up, and Thomas had taken Babb's guitar. Dead Hot Ghetto Cowgirl. And later on, their set was closed out with David Rhodes on drums for Choad.

Ghetto delivered a fun and rock and roll set set. Stopping right before midnight for the New Years countdown. Norm had been joking all night he was going to "fail his only job of the year", and hilariously the countdown was touch and go for a moment there! ha! But he pulled through like a champion. [wink]

Some good setlist additions tonight in the form of Paralyse, Mood Swings and a killer version of Sympathy For The Devil. I hardly ever care for Sympathy being covered, but their version was great.

Photobox ImageTonight was the first time I've opted for the telephoto lens at a show. The brilliance of it was evidence with this photo of Norman. Nice depth of field. It was also sweet being able to snap some decent shots of Curtis. It's normally so hard to get a photo of the drummer.

And let's not forgot about the ability to snap this from the comfort of the booth we were sitting at, without having to move. [wink] Now that's a first.
Photobox Image

Happy new year indeed!

Top Songs & Albums For 2010

(Add / View Comments) (0)Friday, December 31, 2010 - 03:08:54 pm
(Posted Under: No Category)
It's that time again....

[hitter:table user="ord" start="20100101" period_type="year" table_type="tracks" /]

[hitter:table user="ord" start="20100101" period_type="year" table_type="albums" /]

By all accounts 2010 was very Domo centric. The fact that With Friends Like These... is my most played album comes as no shock. The fact that Sweet Creepy comes in second is vaguely surprising, and speaks volumes about Domo. While a highlight of 2010 would be getting my hands on a copy of the CD, at least 4 of the songs from it have been in high rotation for years.

Coffee And Cigarettes being in the top 10 songs also sums up how I feel about that song, especially considering that Invented didn't come out until late September. One of the best new songs of 2010, along with With Friends Like These...We Need New Friends.

Best show of 2010? Without a question, for me it was Gentlemen Afterdark. Although, don't ask me to pick between the Tuscon or Tempe gig. Close runner up was the Susan G. Koman 3 Day Walk Benefit show at Teakwoods. That was a hell of a night.

Adios 2010. It's been real.

A New Camera Means A New Workflow

Making Picture Project Work For Me (Part 3 or 3)

(Add / View Comments) (0)Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 02:08:45 pm
(Posted Under: Photography, PictureProject)
And now for more on PictureProject. There had to be a better way, and there kinda is. Amazingly while still using PictureProject.

When it comes to handling digital photos, I've had the same system for years, all centered around PictureProject.

  1. Shoot
  2. Move the original photos directly off the SD card
  3. Make a copy of the original photo for Picture Project
  4. Cull & then import into Picture Project
  5. Edit
  6. Export lower resolution for web
It's a work flow that has worked well for me ever since I brought my first digital camera at the end of 2005.

Step 3 came from initially not understanding how PictureProject worked, and generally being cautious. As mentioned in an earlier post, one of the things that is great about PictureProject is that it maintains the original photo, virtually 'appending' any edits to the image in a separate image within the JPEG file. Which, y'know, is pretty cool. Since I didn't initially realize this, plus wanted to be able to easily access the original image for archiving, I always kept a copy of the original file before editing.

Which all meant that I had 3 copies if all photos. Which, y'know, was fine when working at 6MP.

Introduce a 12MP DSLR, and all that begins to change. At ~4MB a pop, a size which is doubled with each edit point (or 'marker' if you read the preceding posts), keeping a separate copy of the original image becomes a bit more unfeasible. And kinda ridiculous when shooting in RAW+JPEG. The untouched original has to go.

Which is doable, given that it's been rare (if at all) that I've needed access to a whole bunch of original photos. With the original always preserved by PictureProject, the only advantage to manually keeping the originals is that it's a pain in PictureProject to revert to the originals. Which has to do with the clunky way PictureProject stores edit points and risk to losing the edit points. But whatev, given the infrequency that I have needed all photos in a set to reverted to originals, I'm no longer worrying about this. And I guess there is probably a safe and easy solution to revert a set of files back to their originals[1].

A further need for a change in work flow is what has been the bane of my existence with the Nikon D5000 until now - no USB mass storage support. That's right, the camera only supports PTP over USB. Which normally wouldn't be a problem, I hardly ever connected my old camera via USB. However, given that I'm using a SDHC card with the new camera and my laptop doesn't support SDHC, there's a bit of a problem. Sure, I could use my Netbook, but that's kind of a pain. So I'll use USB please.

Windows handling of PTP is absolutely horrible. Not only does it screw with the filenames, but it doesn't allow deleting/moving photos. Not to mention it seems to show NEF's as JPEG's. Eh

However, I just found the solution - Nikon Transfer. Something I vaguely looked at (bundled with PictureProject) in 2005, before deciding to not use it. However, for a camera without USB mass storage support, it's a life saver.

One of my pet peeves with PictureProject has been that it insists on copying photos to a specific location on import. That would have been good, but I have never wanted my photos stored in folders named 001 etc. And I don't want them under \My Documents\My Pictures\PictureProject, thank you very much. Hence, I've always copied the originals myself, using a folder name I want, and imported with 'copy original files off'. What I have discovered with Nikon Transfer is that I can at least set the base folder transfers are copied to. So, hey, Nikon Transfer can transfer the photos to C:photos as I like. Sweet. I don't have the control over the folder name that I'd like, but at least it's not 001, nor under My Documents.

Being forced to use this, I've discovered one thing in PictureProject that I never knew. I can rename a (file system) folder, then have PictureProject 'find' the missing file/photo. Or, have me find the missing file actually. That I was kinda aware of in someway. But I didn't realize that it would then try and find any other missing file in that collection within that new folder. All this means that I can rename the folder, and 'find' the new location - rather than what I first did, which was rename, delete the new collection, and import the photos from the new folder into a new collection.

And hence comes a new work flow.

  1. Shoot
  2. Transfer photos from camera using Nikon Transfer
  3. Rename transferred folder as desired
  4. 'Find' the missing files within the transferred collection in Picture Project
  5. Rename collection as desired
  6. Edit
  7. Export lower resolution for web
Arguable this work flow is actually a lot easier, particularly since I don't need to switch out of Picture Project at all. Gone are the days of having to have 2 Windows Explorer windows open, and then having to open Picture Project.

There is an extra step in there, with all that renaming folders, finding the files and renaming the collection (as opposed to if Nikon Transfer asked me what folder I wanted to put the files in), but it's still oldly quicker and requires less thought than what I used to do.

An added advantage to all of this is that collections created due to transfers are stored under a "Transfers" collection/folder in Picture Project. Previously after doing an import, there was no way for me to easily tell if I'd edited and exported a batch of photos. Inherently with this work flow, provided I move collections into the root collection once I've done everything (edited, exported, put into Photobox), I can infer that anything still under "Transfers" has not been processed. That's going to be a time saver in itself.

Sadly, just like "Import", "Transfer" cannot be set to transfer to a network drive. So the last post about hacking the database still applies with this work flow.

There are a lot of ways that PictureProject works that is of annoyance to me, given the way I like to do things, but surprisingly, having to change to this new work flow has most of them.

[1] By copying the edited files to a new location, importing them into Picture Project and restoring these to originals. Provided that PictureProject allows "Revert to original" as a batch operation. Which, thankfully it does.


Hacking Nikon's "Picture Project"

Making Picture Project Work For Me (Part 2 or 3)

(Add / View Comments) (0)Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 01:14:17 pm
(Posted Under: Photography, PictureProject)
As a follow on to the last post, I've cooked up a solution to one of my annoyances with Picture Project. I need to store my photos that are in Picture Project on a network drive, and damn it, that is what I'll do.

As gripped in the previous post, PictureProject does not allow you to select a network drive for transferring photos to / importing photos from. However, this can be fudged once the photos have been to PictureProject (via either method), by modifying the PictureProject database.

The first thing required is for a samba share to be setup. Duh. If you're like me, and use 'Mark as hidden' in PictureProject to signify something (in my case, a photo that I've kept but isn't that good), the samba share needs to be setup to handle the DOS hidden attribute correctly. That's right, despite running off a database, PictureProject stores this information as a file attribute. A bizarre and not very consistent choice, though I admit, I take advantage of this implementation.

Thanks to a brain fart last night, I was regrettably thinking I needed to use a NTFS or FAT partition to make this work. Then I came to my senses, remembered that is all controlled by samba and that the underlying file system wasn't important, and joyfully reformatted as reiserfs. Hallejiah, because the last thing I actually wanted to do was use a Windows file system.

Getting the attribute to work right over Samba is just making sure the share is setup as such:

map hidden = yes
create mask = 741
Not setting the create mask with the 'all execute' bit active is what I was tripping up on. 'testparm' is your friend. Well, it was mine last night.

After moving all of the photos on to the share, hacking the database is next. PictureProject uses an Access database (oh, how novel, and "fun"). So fire up Access, and open C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\Application Data\Nikon\PictureProject\DataBaseSource.mdb . Well, after you back it up anyway. Some Google searching indicates that the password for this, and all the other files in that directory is 'nikon'.

From there it's simply a case of changing the data in the 'path' field to match the location of where the photos are now stored. Find and replace is your friend here.

By all accounts, everything is good once doing that, providing that the share is writable and is configured correctly to map the hidden file attribute. Photos on remote network shares can be modified just like they could be when they were on the local disk. Which makes you wonder why the developers of this software thought it was a good idea to disallow direct importing from networked drives.

Vola, now all my photos are stored on a network drive, as I want.

Of course, any new photos still need to be imported / transferred to a local disk initially, and the whole process repeated (move to network drive, update database) ad nauseum. But I guess that is life, and I should just be content with the ability to relocate photos to a network drive when I run out of space again.

If PictureProject backed onto a nicer database (*cough* mysql), or if I wanted to screw around enough with Access scripting, I could probably automate it all. But I'm not sure that that sounds like my idea of fun. For now I'll just wait until I have a whole bunch to move and do it manually.

Next on the agenda is to merge the PictureProject database from my old machine into the one I'm currently using on my laptop. But that's something for another day. Or maybe the twelfth of never. [wink]

The Dramas Of Nikon's Picture Project

Making Picture Project Work For Me (Part 1 or 3)

(Add / View Comments) (0)Sunday, December 26, 2010 - 12:10:19 pm
(Posted Under: Photography, PictureProject)
I've been using Picture Project, which came bundled with my Coolpix for years. It's far from an example of a spectacular piece of software. However, I've been despite the annoyances, I've been able to make it work. And still remains the front runner compared to the alternatives I've tried, namely Picasa and Picture Project's successor NX View.

Largely because it's RAW support, I gave NX View, which officially Picture Project has been dropped in preference for, a test drive. Maybe it'd solve all my Picture Project hassles. Apparently not.

Here's the good, bad and the ugly of Picture Project - according to me. [smile]

Why It Doesn't Suck

Preservation of Original Photos

One of the coolest parts about it, mentioned in a previous blog is that it preserves the original photograph. This is way cool, and why I've recently elected to stop manually maintaining a separate copy of original unedited photos. I'm not entirely sure of the specifics, but I'm sure it's because the JPEG specification allows for multiple images to be stored within a single JPEG file. More on this under "Why It Does Suck".

For what it's worth, NX View doesn't do this, and prompt "save a copy of the original" if you make any change. Which immediately ruled out NX View as a useful upgrade.

Image Editing

Image editing is basic. Typically, for me, this is a good thing. It pretty much does what I need. Would I complain if it did more? No. But y'know, if I want to put a ridiculous Photoshop effect on a photo, then I'll just do it in Photoshop.

With that said however, it's curious that while the Coolpix firmware supports Standard, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia and Cyanotype color options, this software only supports Black & White and Sepia. Having more options on the camera's firmware is kinda weird. And annoying, because I wouldn't want to shoot in Cyanotype - that's something to be left for post processing.

Why It Does Suck


The way Picture Project stored edits is quite accident prone. Well, okay, the way it stores them is fine. It's the user interface that is accident prone. The way it stores edits is via "markers", which no doubt refer to specific imags within the one file. That's cool. There is always the marker "Original". That's cool too. If you make an edit, a new marker is created "Created". That becomes 'Last Saved' when you leaving the editing UI for that photo (like moving to the next photo to edit). That's cool too.

You can also define custom markers. Again, cool. What is not cool is what is not cool is what happens to the 'Last Saved' marker if you have custom ones. For example, I typically will do an Auto Enhance, a bit of sharpening for most photos I put into Photobox. And this I consider to be 'Last Saved', I have my original, and my cleaned up version. Now, if I'm going to put a photo on Flickr, I'm inclined to be a bit more liberal with the editing depennding on the effect that I'm going for. It's not uncommon for me to want to go a bit more heavy handed with the color booster. So, I do that and set a maker 'Flickr'. We're still all savy. I have 'Original', 'Last Saved' (basic editing) and then 'Flickr'.

It all goes pair shaped if I go back to the photo, select the 'Flickr' marker, and then leave the photo. The second I leave the photo, the 'Last Saved' then becomes the image the 'Flickr' is set to, and what I had as 'Last Saved' is gone forever, In theory it makes sense, in practice it's really dumb. The only was to avoid guard against this is to set up another marker 'Basic Edit' if you're going to have custom markers, to avoid not accidently loosing that state. It annoys me to no end, because I hardly ever remember to do so, as it's an extra step. It might be fine in theory, but in practice it's stoopid.


It leaks memory like an empty bit bucket. Even when working with a collection of 50 photos, I have to close the application at least 3 times a session, as it invariable brings everything to a grinding half as the Windows swap file grows infinitely large.

Batch Editing

This kills me. It virtually doesn't exist. While I can select a number of photos for "Auto Enhance" (and possibly "Auto Redeye") and head of for a smoke while it works away, this doesn't work for the other functions. I can only imagine how many hours of my life I've lost over the years because I can't select multiple images and set the sharpening to "high" and come back when it's done. No, you have to do make the setting for every single photo one by one. Ahh, the fun. Nikon software developers clearly aren't rocket scientists. Or decent UI implementers.

Network Drives

This is my biggest annoyance with the software. Photo files are restricted to be stored on a local disk. Sure, you can import from a network drive, but only with 'Copy original files' selected, which throws the files into a directory structure that would make iPod / iTunes developers proud. That might work for your typical user, but it doesn't work for me. Y'know, I've been threw 3 computers in the time I've been using Picture Project. \My Documents\My PicturePicture Project just ain't a good place to be storing my photos guys!

And what happens when you're in the position that I am currently finding myself in right now? Where your volume of photos is on the verge of exceeding the free space on your machine, and your mass storage device, where you actually wanted to store the photos in the first place, is connected to a remote Linux machine?

There's got to be a better way...

Christmas Eve @ Yucca Tap Room

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosFriday, December 24, 2010 - 10:03:16 pm
(Posted Under: Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene, Music Music, Live Shows)
An hour delay in Minneapolis. Some issue with the flight to Memphis that is also leaving from our gate. So not bad, but it still made me somewhat antsy as the streaks of red light over the snowy runways of St. Paul International Airport transformed from dusk to night.

But after an hour, we were on route to Phoenix. Once we got off the ground, things were good. Not that much could go wrong. It might be tight, but we were on our way.

It was about 8:30 when we got in to Sky Harbor. We were absolutely all good now. All fears about not making it back in time were put away. And hell, we didn't have the car at the airport, so we didn't even need to worry about a flat battery this year. [smile] Picked up our bags, and grabbed a cab. $10 just to get out of the airport. That was fun. But the cab got us home by 9:15 and was hassle free. After spending most of today traveling, it was money well spent.

Photobox ImageThat left us just enough time to haul our stuff upstairs, throw down some food and jump in Pepe for the 3 minute drive to the Yucca Tap. We rolled up just as Marc & Thomas were setting up. Which left enough time to catch up with the magnitude of familiar faces inside the bar. Despite the fear all week of something going wrong and getting delayed or stuck somewhere, we made it.

Photobox ImageUp next were Los Guys. As has been true the last few times I've seen them, I've forgotten and been plesently surprised that Jim Beach is back with them. Once again, the guy blew me away. Lawrence got up for the final two songs, Sara Says and Hotel Defeated.

A short break before The Pistoleros were ready to go. After all, there wasn't much to be setup, all it takes to morph into the Pistoleros is Jim and PC switching with Thomas and Scott.

Photobox ImageObviously there was no shortage of excitement in the room for this, which can more or less be equated to hell freezing over. At least in these parts. With the long day, I guess I'd somewhat forgotten what a big deal this was, as to date, in the 14 years of being a fan, this was the first time I'd gotten to see them play live as The Pistoleros (with the exception of 2 songs at Teakwoods a few weeks ago). Moments into Hang On To Nothing I was absolutely reminded though. The chorus coming from in front of the stage when Lawrence forgot part of Everybody Sometimes was rather overwhelming. Being in the midst of the Yucca audience chanting in unison "Tell me why you're feeling down. Has the luck stopped coming around..." was easily likened to seeing The Rolling Stones in a huge arena. That doesn't happen very often. It was fucking cool. And while the crowd excitement hung in the air like electricity throughout the entire set, there were clear favorites of the night, if the crowd participation is anything to go on. Both had been yelled out for during the set, and the volume of the crowd singing My Guardian Angel and Long Last Lonely Mile was something to behold. It's moments like that where everything feels right with the world.

Photobox ImageOnly a few weeks ago I'd expressed to Katie how it's been way too long since Stellanova played. During either Los Guys or The Pistoleros sets I'd noticed Phil show up. Was this the makings of a Christmas miracle? Sure it was. After the Pistoleros set, Stellanova took the stage, which was really cool. First up with Lawrence, and then Swafford closing it on vocals for the last two songs. Reasonably short set, and sadly Drove It All Away was missing from the set, but still pretty great to see. Hopefully they'll play again somewhere soon.

After Stellanova, it was outside to dump the camera and stuff in the car, have a smoke and do the rounds before heading off. As we walked back in, Los Guys were back on stage for a second set. A "Silly Set" as it was. Despite both of us being absolutely exhausted, and the idea of getting home a little after 1am was nice, we decided to see out the night with Los Guys, who played right up until last call. After final Christmas wishes to those like us that had stuck it out to the end, we headed out to the car. Tonight was one of those nights where our decision to live 3 minutes from Yucca is such a blessing.

Photobox ImageIt's said that a bar is the most lonely, sad and un-festive place someone can be on Christmas. I guess it depends on which bar you're at, because tonight at Yucca was the complete opposite on all three accounts.
Now Playing: The Black Moods - The Only One

When Good Weather Turns Bad

(Add / View Comments) (0)Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 11:48:31 am
(Posted Under: Travel)
Warsaw weather has been awfully kind to us. It's no Tempe, Arizona, but it's also been a far cry from the ridiculously cold, icy and snowy conditions we were greeted with last year on Christmas Day.

But it's coming. It's certainly been the most uncomfortable day temperature wise since we've been here. And it's about to get a whole lot worse. And as such, we're getting our asses out of dodge a day early. Which is annoying, since we have had such a short stay here as it is. But it looks like the only way we'll get to Kansas City is if we leave tomorrow, and stay overnight. It's frustrating that it's too expensive to change flights, because if we're not going to be here tomorrow, then I'd much rather being back in Phoenix, rather than a hotel. Not flying on Christmas Eve, as well as not flying through St. Paul would also be nice. It not being worth changing our flights sucks.

But I guess as long as we manage to get to Yucca at some time close to 9:30pm it'll all be okay.

Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.
Now Playing: J. Longo - Puncher's Chance

The Rusty Skillet

Smoke 'Em If You've Got 'Em

(Add / View Comments) (0)Tuesday, December 21, 2010 - 11:49:30 pm
(Posted Under: No Category)
Drove into the thriving metropolis that is Warsaw for lunch before seeing the Union Jensen's off. Shelly made the executive decision that we were going to dine at The Rusty Skillet. Despite temporarily calling Warsaw home for three months, neither Katie nor I have actually yet been blessed with the experience of dining at this fine Warsaw establishment. It's one of the few in this town that I can say that about.

Unlike when I'd stepped of the plane from living all 32 years of my life (at the time) in Melbourne, Australia, Warsaw isn't that scary these days. [wink] Having spent 3 months out here last year probably plays a part in that. Though, stepping foot into The Rusty Skillet today invoked the sinking feeling that any one of us may be shot, possibly before we even get to chow down. If for nothing else, Warsaw is full of wonderful experiences.

Admittedly, the feeling that of being hunted down like a doe at point blank range from any table around us subsided soon enough. The other sense that tingled as we walked in the door was the one triggered by stale cigarette smoke filled air lingering, which didn't subside as quickly. Holy shit, there is nothing that makes you feel like you've walked into a 1940 movie than walking into a smoke filled restaurant. Bizarro world.

And what is more bizarre is how we, as human beings, can be reprogrammed. Make no mistake, I continue to have an intimate relationship with cigarettes. The little soldiers still brighten my day, multiple times a day. And 10 years ago, I was no stranger to waking in a bedroom that looked like a bonfire had been lit in the middle of it the night before. And there was absolutely nothing strange feeling about lighting up a bad boy indoors. It's probably been close to 10 years since that daily routine was modified to be preceded with a march outdoors. First imposed by co-inhabitants, and not that long later, by the government. And while I was down with the co-inhabitants imposed rule, I clearly remember being outraged by the government mandated ban of smoking in restaurants and more so bars. But 10 years on, the concept of smoking within the confines of four walls is an amazingly odd sensation. That fact came up a while back at an after party at Pat's after a Strange Young Things gig, where holding a lit cigarette inside just felt completely odd, and I opted for smoking outside for the rest of the night. The rare opportunities to smoke indoors is still (probably even more so) alluring, but putting it into action actually feels uncomfortable and has me looking for the nearest door. So walking into the smoke filled Rusty Skillet today was an incredibly foreign feeling experience.

In any case, no-one was hunted down during lunch, despite the high proportion of hunting camo attire being worn throughout the restaurant. Maybe it was the already missing home that prompted me to order the jalapeno cheese burger. A gamble for sure, but one that absolutely paid off. And reminded me of how bizarre it is that I lived the first 30 odd years off my life without knowing the wonder that is is the jalapeno pepper. I had no idea how much I was missing out on.

Disclaimer: The copious amount of traveling time over the past few days have presented for opportunity for plenty of reading time. That combined with the having access to raid what Katie has in storage, has meant I've been absorbing a lot of Notaro over the past week. (The line about not knowing how much I have been missing out on equally applies here.) Certain nuggets have already crept into my regular vocabulary. Rather than theft, I prefer to think of it as a sincere form of flattery. [smile]

Are You Finding Everything Okay?

(Add / View Comments) (0)Monday, December 20, 2010 - 07:39:06 pm
(Posted Under: I Don't Mean To Be A Dick, But...)
It's a conundrum, I dread setting foot in Best Buy. And yet, am drawn to the place. It's the affliction of being a tech guy. It doesn't matter than 99.5% of the time I don't actually want to purchase anything. If you're going to be out in the retail world, you're drawn to the store, if only to check out everything you're not going to buy - but would if you lived in a world of no consequence. Which, if you know me at all, I clearly do not.

But along with that allure comes the dread. The Best Buy dread. It sets in the moment you step foot through the sliding doors. The root cause of Best Buy dread can be summed up in one sentence:

"Are you finding everything okay?"

The dread encompasses you the moment you step through the doors, as you know you have surrendered your sanity to the Best Buy devil. You've somehow entered a non written and non verbal agreement to be harassed by every $7 an hour blue shirted employee with the question "Are you finding everything okay?"

Look, your large store has more than adequate signage. And hey, you're stock isn't boxed up in the warehouse out the back. Thanks to decades of retail research and experience, you have these amazing inventions known as "shelves". And furthermore, you have all of your products, in shinny colorful packaging that manufacturers have carefully designed to catch my eye, to entice my desire to hand over dinero in exchange for them. So, when I'm standing in front of these wonderful shelves, filled with product in designer packaging, I've got to admit, yes, I'm finding everything just fine. I mean, have you not noticed, it's fucking right there in front of me? Did you somehow miss that I'm looking right at it? That I'm not looking around puzzled with a look on my face that screams "now, where would I find those pesky iPod's in a place like this?!?"

So where does this annoying facet of American culture stem from? Because, while I refer specifically to Best Buy dread, it's certainly an American culture thing, where Best Buy is one of the more obnoxious and infuriating offenders, but certainly not the only one.

Is it pure Capitalism at work? The idea that more interaction any particular customer equates with increased opportunity to push a sale? The good old car salesman approach? If so, you've lost me. Factoring my desire for a product, and the availability thereof elsewhere, I will go out of my way to make the purchase elsewhere if you've forgotten the concept of personal space.

Or does Best Buy simply think that it's entire customer base, virtually the entire population of the United States, is that retardedly stoopid (with two O's) that every poor soul that walks through the door needs their hands held? That they need at least half of the floor staff on duty to pose the question "are you finding everything okay?" at five minute or less intervals. DVD's are over there, MP3 players there, and computers over there. Short of being completely illiterate and/or not being able to distinguish the difference between an iPod and a TV, it's not exactly rocket science. And in the case today, when I'm actually not finding everything okay, it doesn't take a medical degree to realize that it's because your shitty store doesn't carry what I want. And it doesn't take the sed degree to know well enough not to dig my own grave and utter the words "no I'm not". As we all know fully well that is going to only prolong this useless dialog, which isn't going to change the fact that I'm not going to walk out with the product that I want.

Or, is it the most acceptable, but by far least possible explanation that you're scared shitless that I'm going to walk out of your store with some precious merchandise without paying for it? Sure, you don't know that I haven't stolen anything in my life, nor plan to. But I still can't buy that I look dodgy enough to warrant 6 "customer services representatives" in 5 minutes to pose the dreaded "are you finding everything okay?" inquisition. Even without being decked out in 3 piece suit, and with long hair. Even when I haven't shaved in 2 weeks. I just fail to believe that I even remotely look dodgy enough for this to be the answer. But if it is, word to the wise, in addition to the security scanners adorning the front doors you have at least one guy on the door watching everyone who walks out. You remember him. The guy that almost equally pisses me off. The one who is convinced that my sole reason for entering your store stems from completely severe depression in my lonely life to receive a "hello" from a complete stranger in a blue shirt. Whether I want it or not. Which, I don't. If I make a purchase, sure some friendly banter with the checkout dude/chick is fine. We're making a transaction, so I'm down for social interaction. Merely walking into your store - not so much. My existence isn't quite that sad yet. Anyways, I'm talking about that guy. The guy that wants to be my best friend walking in, and is probably looking suspiciously at me and everyone else as I walk out. If making out like a bandit was my intention, I don't know that you don't already have your bases covered. And if you're still worried, institute a security pat down of TSA proportions at the exits. Hell, you can grab my junk if it means I never have to deal with another blue shirt douchebag uttering the words "Are you finding everything okay?" ever again.

Of course, Murphey's Law is never far from anything, and Best Buy dread is no more exempted than anything else. That is, on the very rare occasions that I'm not just browsing, or even more rare, don't know exactly what I want, and need to blue shirt - I can't get arrested by the smurf army. And those are the times that I really want to kick Murphey square in the balls. Those amazingly rare Best Buy experiences, that have been completely "are you finding everything okay?" free would be an absolute joy, except you actually need some help. It absolutely happens without fail. On every other occasion, you can't avoid the army of $7 an hour smurfs, despite every desire to, but if you actually need one, you have to literally go on a smurf hunt. Typically I'll avoid making any eye contact with a smurf, as well as go to great lengths to avoid looking confused, lost or any other way that can in anyway be construed as needing any sort of help whatsoever. Always completely unsuccessfully. However, when you actually need something that remotely resembles assistance, employing the reverse techniques - making an eye contact, or shooting a "help me" glance in any direction of a smurf - is completely in vein. Fuck you, Murphey.

The most recent of the rare occurrences of the rare and almost fabled "smurf hunt" happened about a month ago, while looking at cameras. A high ticket item. Your sheer presence in the DSLR camera section will make you a smurf magnet. But not this afternoon in Mesa. I was after a USB HDD, and probably had been in the desert heat too long, as I'd decided that I feeling crazy enough to engage a smurf in a dialog about the Nikon D5000. (While it's fun to blame the loco behavior on the desert heat, it was actually undeniably eagerness about the camera). I picked up the hard drive, with super stealthyness to avoid any computer smurfs, then went over the the cameras, where we lingered and generally adorned a stance combined with glancing around which might as well have equated to a smurf mating call. Of course, opportunity knocked, and Murphey answered. We stood there for several minutes, without a single smurfing picking up on the scent. A smurf hunt ensured, which took way too long. Once we'd wrangled a smurf, he promptly couldn't get the one camera we wanted to play with to work. Awesome. Walking off, we stumbled across a D5000 attached to a computer, and proceeded to play with that. Still hadn't had the opportunity to fire off my questions, so I flagged down the previously wrangled smurf to do so.

Despite not having any high expectations of the sort of knowledge I'd be extract from a smurf,it was quite a dialog. Despite being programmed to blurt "are you finding everything okay?" with more frequency than Lindsey Loham gets arrested, the smurfs know absolutely jack shit about - well, probably anything. Despite my lowered expectations, the dialog with this particular smurf was amazingly terrible. The pinnacle of the dialog was when I asked if the D5000 performed well in low light. Y'know, night photography. And of particular interest to me, photographing live music. The response: "Yeah, I guess. But you need light for a photo, so..."*. Thanks for that. You must be Dopey Smurf, the black sheep of the smurfs that didn't even make the cartoon. You've managed to enlighten me on only one thing - Papa Smurf should have been given vasectomy.

But back to the Best Buy dread. I've had enough. I'm fighting back. The idea of biting the next smurf that says "are you finding everything okay?" is alluring. But I'm sure that sort of retaliation would come with some sort of consequence I'm not really up for. Whether it be rabies, or a citation. I don't need either.

Instead, the next time I hear that all to familiar question, I am going to respond with the most sarcastic response I can think of. I'm actually going to start vaulting any I think of, for my next trip to Best Buy. It's a counter productive endeavor, as it will actually fuel the useless dialog with smurfs that the anti socialite in me desires to avoid. But by god, it's time to fuck with things. Thankfully, last time I checked there was no law against being a smart arse.

I'm absolutely all about being helpful and courtesy. But the "are you finding everything okay?" routine is just plain and simple obnoxious. I'm done with being polite about it. Game on smurfs!

* Light is absolutely the fundamental element that makes photography possible. With that said, the D5000 does perform quite well in low light. And in extremely low light when you play with shutter speeds and ISO settings. In fact, just a 30 second shutter speed can render amazing results in a seemingly pitch black room, far beyond what the naked eye can see. This is what I was interested in. Not a 4th grade level explanation of the basic physics of photography. I'm pretty sure any photographer looking at a DSLR camera, or hell, anyone that passed 4th grade is all over that.

Brads Graduation

Plus Idiot Girls and Freezing Temperatures

(Add / View Comments) (0)Saturday, December 18, 2010 - 09:20:17 pm
(Posted Under: Travel, Books)
Today is the second in the last three days of getting up at 5am, and basically sitting on my ass for following 12 hours. This time from Warsaw to Ames Iowa, for Brad's graduation. A good 5 hours there, and 5 hours back. I may officially be over traveling for a bit. And, well, getting up at 5am.

Copious amounts of traveling has been good for plowing through Laurie Notaro books. On the plane I got done with Idiot Girls Christmas, and last night we dug through boxes to find the other ones Katie owns. Today I started Idiot Girls Adventure Club and proceeded to get 3/4ths of the way through it. Which would have been 4/4ths if it weren't for dusk being 4pm in Iowa. When I get home, I will not complain about how early it gets dark. Arizona has a good hour over out here. Anyways, Laurie may be my newest hero. I can't believe I have gone this long in my life without having read her books. I have been missing out.

The couple of hours we weren't in the car were spent sitting watching Brad's graduation. It's quite literally be a full day of sitting around.

Iowa was cold as fuck, and made Missouri look like a delight weather wise. Not a cloud in the sky, the sun shining, but without any hint of anything that resembled heat. How do people do this? And why? There is a better way to live and breath. It's called Arizona. [wink] As much as I will bitch about the ridiculous heat during summer, it is nowhere as brutal or unpleasent as the cold of winter in the midwest. And with all the snow in Iowa, it made the holes in my shoes an interesting part of today. Not really a problem that has come up in Phoenix.

While having a smoke before heading back to Warsaw, I was struck with how bad it would be for me to live here, because I had the intense desire to curl up and hibernate. It wasn't til half way through the cigarette that it dawned on me that desire may have been being influenced by this mornings 5am start.

Rock For Tots

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSaturday, December 11, 2010 - 11:30:32 pm
(Posted Under: Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene, Music Music, Live Shows)
Like with all benefit shows that Lance Wilson puts on, Rock For Tots was a lot of fun tonight.

Definitely a long ass day, being the designated photographer for Simple Entertaining, this time in Chandler. Which incidentally was a good opportunity to give the new 50 - 200mm lens a work out. Which proved to be a good thing to have brought along, and made shooting a lot easier today. Absolutely no regrets in spending a little extra and getting that in addition to the wide angle lens.

As such with the long day, by 6:30, I was pretty tired. We got to the Sail Inn a little late, but caught the tail end of Jed's A Millionaire. Given the tiredness, being able to pull up a chair outside at Sail was appreciated. Mojo Farmers were up next. Have heard a lot about them over the years, but have never heard them. I'm not a jam band guy, but their set was enjoyable, since they weren't that jam bandy. Lucky D. Hip hop is not my thing either, but definitely a cool thing that Lance really puts in some variety on his bills.

Photobox ImageFirst up with "our" bands was Let Go, inside. Good rockin' set. The really cool part of that was seeing Lance get up there to sing You Got Lucky. I guess that's a tradition, but since Let Go weren't on the bill last year, I was unaware of it. Fun stuff. He did a good job too. I guess Robin isn't the only Wilson that can sing. [wink]

Photobox ImageWatched a bit of Nameless Prophets outside, until moving inside again when we heard The Black Moods sound checking. And that really wasn't the worst idea, facilitating finding a decent spot before they started, as it got pretty packed inside once they started. It seems like it's been forever since we've seen those guys and cool to have a brief chat with Bobby before the set.

Photobox ImageI definitely let loose with the photo taking. Ironically, I'd just brought the wide angle lens, since I figured I wouldn't have much use for the telephoto tonight - and knew I certainly wouldn't be up for much changing of lenses. However, when trying to get a shot of Chico, it became clear that I probably should have brought that as the default lens. It's all a learning experience, and this photo kinda came out cool anyway.

Photobox ImageDefinitely a blistering set, filled with new songs, including about 2 that were new to even us. There was definitely something "vintage Black Moods" in the air tonight with the set. To the point that halfway through Josh was peeling of his shirt. Which marks the first time since 2006 that I've witnessed what used to be a common sight - shirtless Josh Kennedy. Just like old times.

Photobox ImageFunnily enough, a new expensive camera didn't get me any closer to succeeding in my quest of taking a great (or really, at this point, simply successful [smile] ) Josh Kennedy "airtime" photo. In all of them, and there is no shortage, his feet are firmly planted on the ground. But it's coming, I at least know that. It was incredibly more fun shooting at a show with this camera. Which is a large reason for the ridiculous number of photos of Josh I ended up with (much more than what I even kept).

It was an absolutely cluster fuck where we were while they were playing. In part due to the draw they had, and in part to how badly laid out the Sail Inn is inside.

To Yucca We Go...

After The Moods were done rocking the house, we made a v-line to the car, headed to Yucca to catch Strange Young Things. Ash to University to Mill. From Sail Inn's parking lot to Yucca's parking lot in under 10 minutes. That ain't bad.

We were technically late, slightly after 11, but completely in time to walk into Yucca to see the band halfway through setting up the drum kit, have a quick smoke out back and walk in right before that droning note of Bang The Dash. Another night of leaving one bar for another to see Strange Young Things beautiful executed.

Not half as many people there as I would have expected, but then again, with Rock For Tots going on, not really that surprising I guess. It was Yucca's Christmas Formal, with Glodie adorned with the Santa hat that brought back memories of Alice Cooper's Christmas Pudding Finals 12 months ago. It was Strange Young Things @ Yucca - fun, crazy time, what more is there to say?

"Ya going to Sail?"

"Hell yeah!". Like he needed to ask. That was the entire conversation between us and Corey as he made darted from the stage to the Yucca bathroom and we made our way for the back door. In no time, we were back at the Sail Inn car park, amazingly pulling in to the same car park that we'd vacated earlier. It was exactly 12:04. A trip to Yucca, a Strange Young Things set and back to the Sail Inn in exactly one hour.

While we were gone, Vayden had played, and Mergence were probably halfway through their set when we walked back in, which thankfully went without a problem or request for more toys for the tots. [smile] We watched them for a little bit, before retiring out the back. Despite my tiredness, both the Black Moods, and frustration with what seemed virtually every woman at the Sail Inn pushing past me to get to the restroom, had really got me on an adrenaline high, which continued throughout Strange Young Things set. Back at Sail, I was coming done off it. No fun. The idea of Strange Young Things hitting the stage and picking me back up was as enticing as I'm sure crack is to a junkie. And it really couldn't happen fast enough, lest falling into a tired stupor. [smile] An appreciative Lance came over for a chat, and suggested that this looks like it'd been the most successful event to date. And y'know, judging by the attendance throughout the night, it seems like that was probably the case. Very cool.

Photobox ImageBefore long we wandered in as our boys were setting up. It was an oh so familiar sight. Almost like one we'd seen earlier tonight. Oh that's right, it was. After equipment setup was finished, and shots were brought to the stage, that downing 'A' note played out, for the second time tonight for us. Banging on the dash, you've got the speakers blowing up.

Photobox ImageYucca was fun. The Sail Inn was however the full and adulterated Strange Young Things experience. This set blew their one an hour earlier out of the water. Despite the guys being the last band and it being late, there was a nice contingent of people there ready to fuel the beast that was on stage. And fueled they were. Earlier in the night Woolford had mocking insisted that everyone move back form the stage with a huge dose of sarcasm behind every delivery. Strange Young Things however did not need to make any such announcements, the front of stage was a wall of bodies from the first note.

It was certainly fun to shot these guys with the new camera, this being my first opportunity to give that a try. Now, even with an expensive camera, those boys are still the hardest band to photograph! Intensely dynamic stage presence means that the moment you have the shot right, a split second later the whole scene has changed. I tried quite a few non flash shots. A few actual came out okay, however I've learnt that it's pretty much a lost cause unless you're going for a completely blurred motion shot.

Photobox ImageWith all that said, the best shot of the night came when Dan posed for this one. As a drummer, Dan has the intensity of a hurricane. Now don't be confused by this shot. This isn't taken in between songs. No, it's not even during a slow breakdown part of the song. Dan posed for this glamor shot right in the middle of one of their skin pounding songs. I'm unable to comprehend how Dan could pose for this, and not miss a beat. Dan's the Man. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

There was every classic Gloden move during the set.

Photobox ImageThe self hanging. Y'know, that move that you're always convinced is one day going end in an accidental fatality. [wink]

Photobox ImageClimbing on anything you possible can, including your amp.

Photobox ImageFace down on the ground in the crowd. Throughout the history of rock n' roll, this sight signifies a member has passed out from illicit drug use. Or some sort of exhaustion. Which is more often than not just the family friendly way of saying "passed out from illicit drug use". [wink] But with this band, it's a patented choreographed quintessential stage move, and the sign of a great show. [smile]

Photobox ImageBringing the show "to" your audience, in the way that only Corey Gloden can.

Photobox ImageAlthough I hadn't seen them when we got back, Josh and Chico were still in the house. Which made for some duel Glodie / Kennedy guitar action which was a lot of fun to watch. Duel, but with one guitar that is. And the Bitch Has Got Problems torch was passed from Katie to them tonight. [wink] Josh's improv was classic.

After the fun was over, we retired to the outdoor stage, overhearing "Corey, you humped everything in here!" as we walked out. And it was true. The mic stand, the monitor, Dan's drums, audience members in the front row, the dance floor, his guitar. Josh may have been the only thing to escape a Corey humping, and let's be honest, that too probably happened while I wasn't looking! [razz] But anyways, it's a good way to sum up their set in one sentence. [smile]

There are a buttload more photos from the night using the Photos link at the top of the entry.

Really, really fun night!

And The Hits Keep Coming

(Add / View Comments) (0)Saturday, December 11, 2010 - 06:30:55 pm
(Posted Under: Music Music)
Today while driving around, I thought I had Disintegration on, and after a while was absolutely amazed with how many hit singles that album has - and one after another!

It wasn't until Just Like Heaven came on that I realized that I'd actually put on Galore in the car. I'd actually been listening to Disintegration before leaving the house.

A blonde moment for sure!
Now Playing: The Cure - Hot Hot Hot!!!

Digital Zoom?

(Add / View Comments) (0)Friday, December 10, 2010 - 09:46:24 pm
(Posted Under: Photography)
The telephoto lens arrived today. Well, yesterday actually, but we went down to pick it up from the office this morning.

Obviously, while playing with it, I needed to compare it against the zoom on the old Coolpix. Not surprisingly, there is no comparison. However, with that said, Katie discovered the digital zoom on the Coolpix. In 5 years of owning that camera I'd never happened to stumble across how to do that. And that ain't a bad thing, but still pretty impressive.


(Add / View Comments) (0)Thursday, December 9, 2010 - 02:27:11 pm
(Posted Under: This Desert Life This Desert Life)
When living in Melbourne, I found it had to tolerate when Italian and Greek neighbors would play traditional music at high volumes.

However, in Arizona, when neighbors blast traditional mariachi music, it's a entirely different story.

That's just the way I roll. [smile]
Now Playing: The Cure - Friday I'm Love

HDR Photography

Attempt #2

(Add / View Comments) (0)Wednesday, December 8, 2010 - 10:57:15 pm
(Posted Under: Photography)
Following on from Saturday, it was time to grab Photomatix and give applying HDR on the photos from the Botanical Gardens another crack. With much more impressive results than on the weekend using GIMP + UFRaw.

Original reference exposure shot:
Photobox Image

Tone Mapped HDR image (3 exposures), bracketed at 2EV either side of the above exposure:
Photobox Image

Now that's more like the sort of results I was looking for!

Party Town Of Tempe...

(Add / View Comments) (0)Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 10:34:19 pm
(Posted Under: Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
If I went down to Tempe, would you come along?
Meet our violet jukebox. I think you know this song...
Now Playing: The Boy Wonder Jinx - Doug Hopkins

What Are The Odds?

(Add / View Comments) (0)Sunday, December 5, 2010 - 07:23:12 pm
(Posted Under: Tempe Music Scene Tempe Music Scene)
Los Guys were supposed to be playing at Canteen Modern Tequila Bar on Mill at 6. We wandered down there, but did not find any sign of the band. Confused, we did a lap of the place, as opposed to going in, which we had no interest in doing if the band wasn't playing. After coming full circle around the place, we heard What I Lost. Although, there was no sign of the band, and despite how good and layered those guys sound, especially when they have added players, it just sounded too layered to be live. Alas, it was the studio version, being played as house music.

What are the odds of that happening right as we walked past?!?

It was a shame that they weren't there, seeing them tonight would have really put an accent on the day.

Killer Photography

The Search Thereof - Las Noches De Las Luminarias

(Add / View Comments) (0)PhotosSaturday, December 4, 2010 - 09:01:08 pm
(Posted Under: This Desert Life This Desert Life, Photography)
Two days ago my new camera, the Nikon D5000, amazingly arrived. Just in time, which I really doubted was going to happen.

And as such tonight, I headed out to the Desert Botanical Gardens for Las Noches De Las Luminarias, prepared and armed with it and a tripod, on the search for the killer photo.

I'd already conquered this beast. With two days and shooting off around 1,500 exposures, and then shooting for the AZ Republic Simple Entertaining event this morning, for all extents and purposes I had this thing completely covered. And to boot a much better understanding of concepts I'd never worried about understanding that much before over some intense research over the past two weeks while deciding on what was to be my new camera. Like aperture, which I never really previously understood. With my old trusty (most of the time - kinda) Nikon point and shoot, I couldn't adjust it, so understanding it wasn't terrible important. But by the time of making the purchase, I was all over it, as well as every other technical aspect of photography that I've over looked. Last year for Las Noches De Luminarias I fired off some amazing shots with that sed Nikon Coolpix L1, so I was completely set to blow those results out of the water, and without too much effort.

And as such, tonight was quite humbling. And with that sort of cocky confidence, maybe that's fair enough. While I'd found in my 2 days of firing off test shots and this morning's shooting, it was literally impossible to "take a bad shot", that didn't necessarily translate 100% out at the gardens after dusk. Admittedly I have to accredit that somewhat the constraints and pressure of 2.5 hours out there, and a sell out attendance to contend with. But all the same, to my complete surprise, the simplicity of dialing in the perfect setting for the shot and atheistic I wanted - that I had memorized - was gone. As was reliably finding the right buttons quickly in the dark. As was the being able to fire off the perfect shot with lightning speed. And I probably shouldn't have been surprised by this, after all it was absolutely my first experience shooting in this environment with this new baby. But still, it was an eye opener.

And as such, of what I did shoot, the volume I cared to keep was half of what I shot and kept last year with the Coolpix. That figure could be slightly influenced by being more selective and critical of what constitutes a "keeper" this year. Even so, the half figure still seems and feels pretty accurate. I was certainly expecting and opposite effect on that number, and that it would be more painful to par down the number of shots taken. But it was actual quite easy to weed out the bad ones. There were many, and they were quite obvious.

My largest mistake: It's freakin' dark. Use the freakin' tripod. After all, why else have you been lugging it around? I think this mainly came from false confidence. In all my shooting with the D5000, I've been amazed at how easy it is to take a still photo, regardless of the lighting. Just probably not this lighting. Lesson learned. I think my second biggest downfall was being all over turning off VR while using the tripod, but neglecting to turn it back on when not using the tripod. Easy mistake, but a fatal one, and probably would have made the first one a little less of a problem.

Up next would probably be some slightly over the top self expectation and inexperience with the camera. Maybe the expectation that I was going to shoot 200 absolutely killer photos was a bit high, and dare I say maybe even unrealistic. [wink] And I guess after all, I've only had the camera for two days. Certainly getting a good feel for shooting at night is going to take a bit more time. Especially when it comes to getting the right exposure that I want for a given shot.

Now, with all that said, I can't say that I didn't get any desired killer shots. Because I certainly did. And while I did overall have higher expectations of some of my shots, there is absolutely no possible way to miss the incredible quality difference of the camera. Nor the power of it. Despite the actual impressive results that I got last year with the Coolpix, and renewed appreciation of them, there is no mistaking the impossibility of the shots I got with the D5000 when it comes to that camera. One of the best examples of that being this landscape shot with Camelback in the distance.

Photobox ImageThere was a decent amount of cloud cover, so it wasn't the darkest of nights, but with that said, still darker than this photo would have you believe. Taken at a shutter speed of 8 seconds, double of what my old camera is even capable of, which brought out such great detail.

And lets not exclude these highlights.

Photobox ImageI could have framed this slightly better, but it was after 9:30pm and there wasn't enough time. All the same, this is a hell of a photo. The sky in the background looks amazing.

Photobox ImageThis is arguably my favorite. Shot with exposure bracketing for HDR, this is the middle exposure. It's just awesome. Haven't had much luck with HDR yet, but I probably need to give Photoshop a go.

Photobox ImageDitto on exposure bracketing and HDR on this one. I got a very similar one last year. Without a doubt, the D5000 is incredibly more true to the scene. However, I'm not convinced that last year's shot doesn't invoke more emotion to me. But then again, maybe I don't have to be.

Photobox ImageThis is the shiz. 'Nuff said.

Photobox ImageI love these too. Admittedly it was at this point I had a moment of crisis though. What's better, auto exposure (on the high side) and great detail, or less exposed for a closer approximation of what we were actually seeing? It was hard to tell. And frankly, it still is. Still great shots though.

Photobox Image

Photobox ImageThis is absolutely a shot I tried to do last year with no success. It would have been great to have had plenty of time to kill organizing the perfect shot here, both in terms of framing and exposure. It would have required a fair bit of playing around, which I just didn't have the time for. It did however highlight the potential with what I could do with the butte as a subject at night. And thankfully, I'm pretty sure this is lit up all year round, Luminarias or not. Still a pretty sweet photo though. Like the "hell on earth, right here on the earth" version too.

Photobox Image

As for the event itself, it was great again. No real surprise there. It was cool to see Mike & Meredith performing out there. That gal has come along way from the days of open mic at The Yucca Tap. But with pipes like those, it not at all surprising.

It would have been nice to have seen a bit more color variation in the lights other than white this year. The blue lights scattered through the trees last year was kinda missed. We were also running about half an hour late, so no opportunity for any dusk or sunset shots. However, with the cloud cover, I'm not sure there was such an opportunity there to begin with. And as such, we didn't make it around to as much as the gardens as we did last year. While it would have been nice, not as critical having seen it before.
Now Playing: Gin Blossoms - Idiot Summer

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