Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Smarter Than The Aaaaaverage Baggage Handler (Yogi Bear's voice)

In my time with Delta Airlines (1986-1992) I worked with literally hundreds of different people.

In Atlanta (Hartsfield) for example, we would work a rotating days off shift for six months at a time. We would then bid on the shift we would work for the next six months, based on seniority. Since I didn't have much time with the company, I got a better selection of days off by bidding on the evening shift, 3:30pm to 12am.

The point here is that, at the time in the early 90s, there were on the order of 1300 "lines" or shifts available to personnel as baggage handlers on the ramp. For someone with low seniority like me, bidding on the next six month's shift was a chore. But again, the point I'm making here is that there were around 1300 baggage handlers covering a whole host of positions working the ground operations of the aircraft to load and unload and transfer all of the baggage, U.S. Mail, and freight. That's not counting the guys who fueled the planes, the guys that worked in the Mail handling facility or the freight facility, etc.

So I'm not exaggerating, I literally worked with hundreds and hundreds of different people.

For a people watcher like myself, it was easy and fun to be a fly on the wall. We worked very hard, but also got generous break time, depending on the weather.

During the break time is when you watched TV or whatever and over time I got to know, at least marginally lots of folks of every color and creed.

Some of these folks were brilliant. One guy was a practicing lawyer who was a lawyer by day, and worked the ramp unloading planes and such with the rest of us, and during the break times, he would open his huge brown accordion folder and work on his lawyerly paperwork.

An astounding number of the ramp workers were college graduates, most of whom had started with Delta during summer breaks, and even when they graduated from college stayed with the company. (Such was the strength of the pay and perks of working for an air line once upon a time.) Many couldn't find better work with their degrees, so they stayed and "chucked luggage" with the rest of us.

The job had the potential to be very dangerous. Next time you're in a big airport like Hartsfield or DFW and are waiting to fly out somewhere, go stand at the windows and watch the beehive of activity around just one gate when a plane pulls in. Caterers in their trucks, cabin service (to clean inside the plane) and their truck, the baggage and freight being pulled around and so forth. You get the idea. It's really easy to get hurt out there with all that going on all the time.

Enough background.

So one time I had gotten hurt, and was on "light duty" for a few days. This meant that until I could be thrown back into the fray described above, they had to let me do paperwork or whatever scut work they could find for someone not allowed to lift anything.

I mostly did paperwork for guys who didn't have time to finish theirs because of another plane coming into "his" gate. No problem.

But my favorite thing to do, which I was able to do a few times over the years, was to be Delta's "representative" to watch over the training of new bomb and drug sniffing dogs.

This one particular day stands out to me, because Delta had just taken delivery of two brand-new 767s that were the first ones they had received that were approved for overseas flights. [Side note: Delta had been flying 767s for several years domestically, but since they were two engine aircraft, they were not allowed to be used on overseas flights. This rule had recently changed because of the incredible advances in dependability of aircraft engines, and these two planes I'm talking about here were our first two international flight capable planes. They carried much more fuel and had other changes over the ones already in domestic service.]

Delta was required to allow the airport security and their dogs to train on the planes that were just sitting there for whatever reason, and especially on ones that were new and configured differently like these two new ones were. But Delta wanted a Delta person on there, just because, and since I was on light duty for a few days, I was volunteered for the job.

I had to talk with the main police guy, whose job it was to hide drugs and real explosives all over the plane. We would go around the new planes, he would hide the items where I could watch him do it, and then we both checked off and signed the checklist of what and where everything was hidden.

After everything was hidden, the other officers would bring the dogs onto the plane and would guide the dogs, indicating possible hiding places with the dogs then sniffing the places for the items they were trained to detect.

The thing that impressed me most, was that I could see the intelligence of these dogs when they looked at me. Some dogs are just flat-out smart, and every one of these guys and gals were obviously at the tip top of the intelligence scale for dogs.

Some were German Shepherds, some Labradors, and surprisingly, a few big dogs that looked like mutts. Not purebreds. But I guess someone early in their lives determined that even these mutts had the something special it takes to be a drug or bomb sniffing dog.

After they went through the planes, and of course found everything, I had to go back throughout the planes with the main policeman and reverse the original process of making sure every place on the original checklists were confirmed to have no more drugs or explosives hidden there.

I guess it wouldn't do for some poor flight attendant to open a compartment to get out a blanket or a soda and find dynamite taped together with a clock because it was inadvertently left on there due to mine and the main cop's negligence. Especially in mid air.

But I have always remembered the looks on all those dog's faces; obvious intelligence.

It was a fun and interesting thing to do to kill half of a work shift when I would have otherwise been doing other people's paperwork. Plus I was one of the first Delta employees to be able to see and walk around the innards of our new, international flight approved 767s, and check them out.

Thought I worked the baggage handling biz with a lot of college graduates, it wasn't work that required a whole lot of brains, only a strong back.

And after meeting the very intelligent drug and bomb sniffing dogs, I could think of a lot of people I worked with that probably weren't as smart as those dogs.

What reminded me of this experience was THIS STORY, that I found while reading the blog Blonde Sagacity, about a drug sniffing dog in Columbia that is so good at what she does, the drug runners HAVE A PRICE ON THE DOG'S HEAD! (Go read the article, it's short.)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sweet Revenge

Don C. (my Dad) had a younger brother. Uncle A. was a really swell and funny guy. One of the things I remember most when I think of him, is him laughing. He always seemed to be in a great mood.

At least that's the way it seemed. I guess none of us can be laughing all the time.

But on visits to Uncle A and Aunt T's home, or vice versa, there was a lot of laughter (and good food).

My Cousin S. and I were just a couple of years apart, I was older, and Cousin A. was a couple of years apart from my Younger Brother, she was older than him. So S. and I would hang out, show off our latest comic books and Icee Super Hero Cups to one another.

Younger Brother and Cousin A. were young enough to play really well together despite them being boy and girl. They hadn't yet reached the age where the natural differences and diverging interests would lessen the time they would hang out and play.

On one trip to Bossier City, La., where Uncle A. and Aunt T. and their kids lived, Younger Brother became quite attached to a cheap plastic trumpet that Cousin A. had in her arsenal of toys. Younger Brother tooted on that thing until we all thought that we would go nuts.

And later, when we were on the way back to Monroe from our visit, we were treated to 90 minutes of (non)musical torture - Cousin A. had given said toy trumpet to Younger Brother. It took weeks for that boy to tire of that stupid toy trumpet.

A couple of months later, when Uncle A. and Aunt T. and the kids came to Monroe to visit us, Cousin A. became quite enamored with Big Sis's old high school pep squad pom poms.

We're not talkin' about those lame little bitty pom poms like college cheerleaders favor these days, these were a set of "sho-nuff" pom poms. They were big enough that on the underside of the pom poms, there was a handle to slip your hand into up to the thumb to allow a more sure grip.

And they made when shaken or rustled was a nice, loud Hiss, Hiss, Hiss.

That evening, when Uncle A. and Aunt T. and the kids headed back to Bossier City, the pom poms went with Cousin A. in the car.

Don C. got a call from Uncle A. stating that he could consider the "gift" of the pom poms to Cousin A. a suitable payback for the earlier gift of the trumpet.

It turned out, that within the confines of a car, 90 minutes of driving with the hissing sound of pom poms going non-stop in the back seat was almost enough to send Uncle A. and Aunt T. to the loony bin.

Don C. just laughed as if he planned it that way.

Note: The two pictures embedded in the post are of Cousin A. and Younger Brother at about the age this story took place. Dig that chain on the laundry basket ride they have there. Both 35mm slides were damaged pretty badly and I did what I could with them.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Be Careful Around That Pool!

In the early/mid 1990s when we were once again living in Monroe, Louisiana, we often enjoyed the swimming pool that my In-Laws had.

They had a big rectangular pool with a diving board, not the little kidney bean fiberglass job we have in our yard here in Florida.

But in Louisiana, you had to be quite careful when in their pool.

Some neighborhoods around Monroe were once swamp. They were drained, levees built, and there ya have it, dry land suitable for homes.

My In-Law's home was right next to one of the man made drainage canals and very near a levee. Also near the swamp and woods on the other side of the levee.

So before you ran out there and jumped in their pool, you were wise to take a slow walk all the way around the pool and carefully look to the bottom for any uninvited swimmers.

Over the years we encountered water moccasins (poisonous snakes), snapping turtles (which scare me more than the snakes), and the assorted mammals that happened to fall in during the night.

One day, it was actually raining and we weren't planning on swimming, Lovely Wife looked outside and said "there's something in the pool again."

We went out there and found one of the most pitiful sights I have ever seen. There was an opossum swimming all the way around the edge of the pool, trying to get out.

He must have been in there for many hours, because he was barely able to swim. He would swim enough to get his body, and his nose, higher in the water, and would swim a few feet while trying to find a way to get out over the side. Of course he couldn't figure it out and had swum untold laps around the circumference of the pool.

He would tire, stop swimming, his nose would drop below the surface, and he would make one more heroic effort and swim back up.

I looked around and went and got their big push broom used for sweeping off the big patio around the pool, walked up to the opossum and dipped the head of the broom into the water and hooked one side of the broom under the opossum's belly and gently lifted him out of the pool and onto the surrounding concrete.

He was just limp on the broom like someone almost dead thrown over a fireman's shoulder.

I slid the broom out from under him and we watched him for a few minutes. He was definitely alive, but I was sure that he would die of exhaustion.

Later when we left, the poor guy was still out there. (What do you do to help an exhausted opossum?)

Later, my Sister In Law said that he had laid out there for hours, almost all day in the rain, and finally got up and wandered off. I was glad, the little feller had lasted that long in the water, I was hoping he would live.

At least we never encountered an alligator in the pool.

When we moved to Florida when I graduated, we found to our pleasant surprise that most of the homes with pools down here have large screened enclosures built all around the entire pool area. It's nifty looking and it keeps out most of the bugs, mosquitoes, and other critters that might wander into our pool.

Side Note: I had switched to Blogger beta a while back, but to supposedly get all the cool new features you have to let it do some wizardry to the template. I finally did that last night, that's why things look a little bit different today.

Hopefully I'll get all of my links and stuff set back up the way I'd like to have them over the next few evenings.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Picture Post, Sunday January 28, 2007

A little piece of Heaven.

There is an AWESOME used bookstore in downtown Melbourne, Florida called One The Shelf.

Here are a few pictures from our last visit to the store. The place has boxes of books that he has bought from folks, but hasn't shelved yet. These boxes are in the aisles and corners of the store; you have to really watch your step walking around in here.

They have comics and just about any category of book you would care to look for.

This next one is all the stuff jam packed behind the register right inside the front door.
Autographed by Pat Boone! Who knows what other treasures you might find?

This one makes you want to dig into those boxes.
This is one of those situations where digital cameras provide a little magic. When I stepped into the store, the first thing I did was to adjust the white balance of the camera to the "fluorescent" setting. I cranked up the ISO to 800, and took the pictures here without a flash.

I dearly love slide film and the way it looks, the colors and everything, but my dSLR is still finding new ways to win my heart.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

If I Could Just Answer This One Question...

Do you ever wonder why you are like you are?

I had wonderful parents. Hard working. Integrity by the bucket load.

I had a wonderful childhood. Great bicycles. Great friends.

No abuse, no neglect.

Yet something in me has always felt unworthy.

You might ask, unworthy of what?

I don't even know that. It's a feeling much like guilt, or sadness that is just there. Always has been as far as I can tell.

And I often wonder how I ended up this way.

Writing on this blog has been one of the most cathartic things I have ever done. Not that I have come up with big answers to questions like this by blogging, but thinking about my life and the lives of those who have come through my life had definitely opened more and more of my memory up for review. Putting my life in perspective helps me stay level.

With me so far? Yeah. It doesn't make much sense to me either. It's one of those things where I can think of words that are close, but not perfect to what I'm trying to say. Words fail many times to adequately describe emotions and feelings.

What got me started down this slippery slope is a memory from my childhood.

I was living in Vidalia, Louisiana at the time. I was in the third or fourth grade, which puts me at either 8 or 9.

I rode the bus to school, and was leaving one morning to go out to the bus stop nearest the house.

My Dad asked me if I needed any money, reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of change.

I said "no Sir," and walked past him.

He asked me again and I turned around and looked at him. And he had the strangest questioning look on his face. I can see him in my mind's eye so clearly it breaks my heart every time I think of it. I can see now that it surprised him, and made him concerned. What kid doesn't want free money? No strings attached?

Apparently, me as a kid didn't want free money.

I again said "no Sir" and turned and went on out of the house to wait for the bus. I remember thinking at the time that the look on Dad's face was that he was hurt. With an adult's mind I can realize that he was just surprised and concerned.

Ten thousand times over the years I have replayed that scene in my mind and wondered why I didn't take some money from my Dad.

I wasn't in trouble or anything. To him it was just another morning and wanted to give me some money to buy some candy or a Coke at school during recess.

But even that far back, I knew in my heart that I deserved nothing, and could not accept this simple offer of a dollar or two of change for a snack.

Sometimes I feel that, if I could just go back and relive that moment, and know today what I was thinking about at that second, and understand, that it would open up my life right now in wondrous ways. It's the same feeling as having a word you want "on the tip of your tongue" but unable to find it in the end. Only this is that feeling magnified by 100.

If I could understand today, the reason I turned away my Dad's offer of money, that many things in my life would fall into place in my understanding.

I'm sure that doesn't make any sense, and I see that this post is just a world class ramble, but that truly is one of the great questions in my life.

What is it in me that causes me to feel lower than the lowest slug on the ground? And why have I felt this way all of my life?

I'm 44. Am I always going to be like this?

Today at work, I was trying to troubleshoot a digital circuit card that is part of a very custom communication system. This card has an intermittent problem.

Intermittent problems are a nightmare. How can you find what's wrong with something when it works part of the time?

After a while, I realized that the problem seems to be heat related. For instance, I go to lunch and leave the system shut down. Come back from lunch, turn on system, and the circuit card is working, but several minutes later it fails.

I've been tracking the problem down and had narrowed it to several surface mount chips on the circuit card. I get a can of Freeze Spray and blast these parts with super cold air and cool then down. The card starts working again.

So I have a connection on a chip or something that loses contact when the card heats up during use. My worst fear is pretty much confirmed that it is a ball-grid-array on the circuit card. Aw man. Ball grid arrays are a pain to remove and replace. I'll have to send the card to one of the specialists at work that does only that, removing and replacing these parts. It's a time consuming delicate job. And I can only hope it fixes the problem.

What the heck are you talking about with this dumb circuit card?


It's an analogy I want to make. Even with the uncertainty of knowing the exact problem this circuit card has, it's something I can find and fix with tried and true methods. It's an area of life where empirical knowledge is king.

I wish I had the equivalent of a can of Freeze Spray for troubleshooting my emotional life.

Things that can be seen, smelled, tasted, felt, and heard are much easier to troubleshoot and repair than the human spirit.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Quickly Thrown Together Alternate Post

I had written a post, edited it, and whittled it down some more, but I decided not to post it.

It was a political post, but I get the butterflies in my stomach when I do political things for this blog. I really got nervous over this one, so I'm not going to post it.

The last thing I want is for this blog to become a burden and source of stress.

Instead, I'm showing y'all this:

Something neat instead. (Potentially boring, but less divisive.)

I've put a lot of photos on this blog, but I've been experimenting with some features of Adobe Photoshop Element 4 that I have never used before now.

Remember Silly Putty? How you could flatten it, press it onto a newspaper comic and when you peeled it back, you had the image on the Silly Putty, which you could then stretch and distort in funny ways?

The feature of Photoshop Elements I have been playing with is the Free Transform function. It operates just like the Silly Putty example I just described.

Open a picture, enable the Free Transform tool, and then stretch or move the corners of the photo so that the image in the photo changes shape.

You may ask, so what?

Have you ever taken a photo of a building while standing at ground level such that you must tilt the camera up to fit the building into the frame of the photo?

When you later look at your photos, the building appears to be tilted back away from the camera. The base of the building is wider than the upper portions in the final shot.

This falling away look of buildings in photos is called "keystoning."

The Free Transform tool in Elements will do exactly the same thing to your photo as Silly Putty.

You can use the Free Transform tool to make your photo look silly, but what I have been trying to learn to use it for is to correct the keystoning effect of the falling over look that buildings get in photos.

I'll just leave the explanation at that, it's as good as I can do. I'll leave y'all with four photos, two each of the same image. One "before" and one "after" of each shot.

I haven't gotten the process down very well yet, but the possibilities are blowing my mind. Now that I know I can do this, I'll have to start taking photos with a different thought process on the framing as I shoot the photo.

In the second photo especially, you can see how the "after" image has lost some of the interesting details at the top of the photo. They were stretched outside the edges of the photo, and are lost.

From now on when I'm taking photographs, I need to start leaving room all the way around the building when I take the photo so that I can have room to play with it using the Free Transform tool and still have the whole building, or at least the important parts, not stretch out of the frame like in the second photo.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blog Carnival For Blog Village

I have submitted one of my posts to the Blog Village carnival that is going on Friday, January 26.

The theme of this blog carnival is "A post about Family."

It is one of my posts from this week, but you need to go over to the Blog Village Community News blog and follow the links under the Carnival post to read some interesting posts by the good folks that belong to Blog Village.

The blog carnival is being co-hosted by Kilroy_60 at Fear And Loathing - The Gonzo Papers.

Um. Yeah. I THOUGHT the blog carnival was Jan. 26, but apparently, nobody has put anything up at either of the two above links. I reckon I got the day wrong. Sorry if I sent you on a wild goose chase.

So much for my second blog carnival.

Thursday Thirteen #24

Thirteen Things I've Thought or Noticed Recently

1. Noticed: Car bumper sticker that said: Vegetarian - An old indian word for lousy hunter.

2. Noticed: church sign in Mississippi - Today is a gift from God, that's why it's called the present.

3. Noticed: Bumper sticker on a pickup truck stating: Fish Tremble at the sound of my name.

4. Thought: Blue Bunny low carb Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream is like my own personal crack habit. That stuff is REALLY good, and it satisfies ye olde sweet toothe, as well as keeping me "legal" on my low carb eating.

5. Thought about something I Noticed: In the doctor's office one day, in the bathroom, when I went to wash my hands, I noticed the hand soap squirty thingy had a sticker on it advertising some sort of medicine or other. Jeesh. Those pharmaceutical companies never miss an opportunity to advertise, do they?

6. Thought about something I Noticed: I cannot force myself to use the "express" lane (20 items or less) in WalMart, even if I have 21 items. Why can't other people be guilt ridden like me, and why do the cashiers always let them get away with checking a half-full cart at the express lane? Hmmm?

7. Thought. I myself am one of those people who have complained about the THUMP and RATTLE of 800Watt stereos in a kid's 1993 Caprice. But I have to tell you, the Harley Davidson owners in my neighborhood are even worse. I'd love to have a Harley, and the guts to ride it around, but idiots who have their Harleys louder than old late 60's hot rods with straight pipes are even worse than the kid's thumping car stereos. New flash, that loud bike is only cool in your mind, nowhere else.

8. Thought: I need to get to one of the local branches of the Brevard County Library System. I haven't read very much fiction (my favorite) lately. I did read Ring World and Ring World Engineers by Larry Niven the two weeks after Christmas. Number One Daughter's boyfriend bought them for me for Christmas. I really liked them, and marvelled at how imaginative they were.

9. Thought: Hillary Clinton is running for POTUS. I have no problem with that. But in her announcement video, she spoke as if this decision arrived a day or two before. Yet, behind her, outside the window, everything was really green, and there were flowers right outside the window blooming. So, here's my problem. How did she just arrive at her decision to run, when it was obviously still summer at the very least outside her home when the video was made? To me, that's just dumb. Why lie about something that doesn't matter anyway? Just be honest and say that you decided to run last summer, but waited until now to announce it? Now she just looks like a liar, and over something stupid too.

10. Thought: I'm 44, but this morning my joints feel like they're 144. It's really cool and rainy in Florida this today, and I feel it.

11. Thought: Internet Explorer 7 didn't work for me. I was a good boy and downloaded it and tried to use it, but it killed several other programs on our computer. I had to uninstall it, uninstall the problem programs, and then reinstall the programs to get them to work properly again. I use Firefox a lot, but some things still only work with Internet Explorer, so I need it on the computer. Beware of IE7! Plus, it's layout of controls is dumb and unintuitive. IE7 is a total bust of an "upgrade" in my opinion.

12. Thought: Today I'll wear a jacket for only the second time this winter.

13. Thought: I'm seriously running out of ideas for this Thursday Thirteen thing. I might have to turn it over to my alter-ego, The Party Pooper. But he's pretty darn cynical and may drive off the three people who actually read this blog.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

Yesterday, I wrote about Number One Daughter and I starting school at the same time; her in kindergarten and me, my second foray into college.

Number One Daughter has always been pretty headstrong, but in school, she responds really well to those teachers who are firm, authoritative, yet obviously love the kids too.

When she started kindergarten in Georgia in 1991, her teacher was a wonderful woman named Mrs. Wright.

Mrs. Wright seemed to me to be more magician than teacher, because those kids were reading before I would have ever thought it possible.

Lovely Wife must have given Number One Daughter ten thousand phonics drills, and Mrs. Wright would send them home with books every day.

This being a private school operated by a church, they also started having the kids memorize Bible verses.

I have to hand it to Number One Daughter, she soaked up the knowledge like a sponge.

So Lovely Wife would also help her repeat and memorize the memory Bible verses for class.

However, a problem soon arose.

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.

The only problem with memorizing this verse and pacticing it, was that Number One Daughter HEARD Mrs. Wright speak the verse as: Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for Mrs. Wright.

She was a hard headed kid, and refused to say, "for this is right." For her it was "for Mrs. Wright," no matter how we tried to explain it to her.

Lovely Wife had to go in and explain the situation to Mrs. Wright, who then took Number One Daughter aside and explained that the verse wasn't referring to her, Mrs. Wright.

Only after Mrs. Wright set her straight, did she believe us.

It wasn't the biggest problem in the world, but it was cute, even then.

But the girl sure stood her ground until her conference with Mrs. Wright, because Mrs. Wright's word, or what she thought was Mrs. Wright's word, carried much more weight than our's did.


In the two pics I embedded in the post above, Number One Daughter is kindergarten age. Those photos were taken in the fall of 1991. Give them a click to enlarge.

This picture, I'm just putting on here for sheer amusement (my own). The girls are now 21 and 18, and I don't think they would let me make paper sack masks for them, and then actually put them on. The best part is that after taking out her pacifier to put on the bag, Number Two Daughter popped that thing right back in through the mouth hole. You can't script stuff like that.

Warning: This might be my last post ever. I might be killed when the girls see I put that photo up for the world to see.

But it's JUST SO CUTE!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Starting School

The other day, I talked about having worked for Delta Airlines, but after going back to college for one year in Georgia, I quit Delta and moved back to Louisiana to complete my degree.

At the same time, fall of 1991, I started at Southern Tech in Marietta, Georgia, Number One Daughter began kindergarten at Youth Christian School in Powder Springs, near where we lived. (That's Youth Christian Church to the right. N.O.D.'s class was in one of the basement classrooms.)

After I had been registered and everything was in order, and school was about to start, Lovely Wife, Number One and Number Two Daughters and I went to Wal-Mart to get school supplies.

Despite the fact that I LOVE new pencils, new packs of loose leaf paper (wide ruled for easier fraction writing on one line), new pens, and the whole bit, I didn’t realize how jazzed Number One Daughter was that I was going to school at the same time she was.

But as we made our way through the smorgasborg of pristine school supplies, Number One Daughter’s excitement was like perfume. It was all around her.

Then when we got up to the cashier to check out, Number One Daughter made a point to tell the cashier that she was starting school in kindergarten and that her Dad was starting school too! (That's the student union building at Southern Tech in the pic to the left, or it was back then, who knows if it's still used for that.)

The cashier looked at Lovely Wife and I with a knowing look, playing along with Number One Daughter’s excitement.

Now, I have to tell you, it was tough going for us at the time. We only had one vehicle; a Mazda extended cab pickup truck.

The girls were still small and easily fit into the rear seats, and in fact, we even made trips in this truck and the girls did fine, and had plenty of room.

But having one vehicle is tough. And with the miles we had to put on it to get everything done, it was a really great truck; almost part of the family.

I worked 3:30 to midnight at Hartsfield, and then had a 40 minute drive home. Then I had to wind down enough to go to sleep, but then had to get back up for either 7am (!) or 8am classes. (The pic's of a walkway between a couple of buildings at Southern Tech, and I used to sit at that picnic table in the right side of the pic to wait on Lovely Wife and the girls to come and pick me up.)

On days where Lovely Wife would need the truck for something, we would all get up, take me to school in Marietta, take Number One Daughter to school, do what she needed, and then go get Number One Daughter (half day kindergarten) and then come and pick me up.

If she REALLY needed the truck, she might have to take me to work at Hartsfield and also pick me back up at 12:30am.

It was a tough gig that we gladly did for one whole school year.

One day, after Number One Daughter and I had been in school for a while, and they were taking me to a 7am Trigonometry class, Number One Daughter asked me how I liked school (she was fascinated by my ‘big’ campus).

I said that I liked school a lot, and asked her how she liked school. (This final pic is of a park-like area of sweetgum trees in the middle of Southern Tech's campus. This place was incredibly beautiful during the fall color change.)

She said that she liked it a lot too.

I asked her what her favorite part was, and she immediately answered, “coloring.”

She then asked me if I got to color in my school. I said no, Honey, I don’t.

I will never ever forget the mixture of horror and disbelief on her face at the thought of having to go to school, but not getting to color.

Ah, the innocence of the young.

Good times, good times.

What reminded me of this is that on Sunday afternoon after church (two days ago), Number One Daughter, now 21, was sitting in my recliner coloring in a coloring book.

They have a bunch of them at church and she’s in charge of the nursery/daycare during the main Sunday service, so she brought one home with her that she had been using with the children, and was coloring for her own pleasure at home.

I guess she has always loved coloring and always will.

Lovely Wife found one where she had gotten outside the lines a little and was teasing her about it.

I said that she has probably, at 21, finally hit her rebellious stage.

We’ll be keeping a sharp eye out on her.

There’s no telling what kind of trouble coloring outside the lines may morph into.

Monday, January 22, 2007

I Think It's Me

I really am beginning to believe it's my fault.

As I said the other day, I didn't even know the Saints were in the playoffs, much less the NFC Championship Game until Long Suffering Brother In Law told me when we were in Louisiana a few weeks ago.

So this week I sit down and watch my first complete National Football League game of this season.

That would be yesterday.

What happens?

The Saints lost.

I think it's me, because when I was watching the Colts-Patriots game, the Patriots were pretty dominant. When I turned off the TV and worked on Photoshopping some photos, and then later turned it on to check the score, the Colts were doing great, pretty much going toe to toe with the Patriots.

So I turned the TV off again.

I finally got to where I couldn't take it any more and turned the TV back on. The Patriots had the ball, there were 49 seconds left in the game, and the Colts were winning! 38-34.

Tom Brady completed a good pass and followed that up by throwing an interception, whereupon Payton Manning took a knee and they were on the way to the superbowl.

Conclusions: If the team I want to win is winning, then I can go ahead and watch the game, but if they are losing, it's my fault and I should immediately turn off the TV to give them a chance.

Don't forget to go on over to Mimi Writes and check out some great posts on the Blog Carnival of Meme posts that Mimi Lenox is hosting for The Bestest Blog of All-Time.

I entered one of my Thursday Thirteens in it, The Party Pooper's Guide® To Halloween, and it's my first time to join a blog carnival.

And since I have a hard time putting up a post without a photo, I got out a couple from the archives.

These are photos of my favorite guitarist, Brad Noah of Disciple. I love this guy's playing; plus he's a Les Paul - Wah Pedal - Marshall kind of guy, which makes me love him pretty much right off the bat without even hearing him. I guess it's a good thing I can't play like him, Lovely Wife would have a complete bum on her hands. I would just sit around and do nothing but wail on wah pedal heavy metal guitar leads all day. Every day.

These were taken at Zion Christian Church in Palm Bay, in April 2004.

These were taken with our old Sony DSC S-75 digital camera, it's slow as all get-out, but it takes good pictures.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Blog Carnival at "Mimi Writes" On Monday, Jan. 22

Mimi Lennox of "Mimi Writes" fame is hosting a blog carnival Monday for The Bestest Blog of All-Time.

I'm flying by the seat of my pants on this one, because I've never joined a blog carnival before.

I do Thursday Thirteen every week, where we are to list 13 things about ourselves, and Mimi's blog carnival that she is hosting on Monday, January 22, is one in which people submit their favorite Meme post that they have written.

I'm not a big fan of Halloween, so that week this past October I wrote a cynical look at this "holiday," via my alter-ego, The Party Pooper.

Anyway, go and check out some of the best Meme posts (of all kinds) that people have submitted.

Like I said I've never done this. I was hoping to try something new, hoping that eventually I could get my creative blogging juices flowing again.

'Cause if I don't get some writing ideas, this is quickly becoming a photography blog, isn't it?

So go on over to Mimi Writes and check out some great posts.

Picture Post, Sunday January 21, 2007


I've been milking the Louisiana trip's photos. So I'm gonna just keep right on milking.

I took something like 500-600 pictures on that trip, so these probably won't be last ones from that trip you see either.


This first photo was taken at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. It's a foot bridge from some of the dormitories across Bayou Desiard to the other half of the campus.

This is one of the lamps that light the foot bridge in the above photo.

This is a photo of the front of the football stadium at Neville High School in Monroe, La., where I went to high school.

This is a photo looking down Bayou Desiard, taken from the middle of the foot bridge in today's first photo.

This is a photo of Bayou Desiard at a place near the university. It was a gorgeous day, and I thought the sky and the bayou made a great looking pair.

This final one was kind of unexpected. I really like the way the sky and trees of this cemetery are stark enough to give the image the vibe of a black and white image, but BAM, the flowers in the foreground give it a splash of color. (I almost said that the flowers in the foreground give it some life. Get it? Cemetery? Life? Oh, forget it.) Don't be afraid to use that flash outdoors to fill in the foreground boys and girls.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Don't Go Grocery Shopping While Hungry...

... and be careful of blogging late at night, when you cannot sleep, when your back is killing you, and you're dog tired.

But then again, it kinda felt good to lay my soul bare there.

I tell you, folks, chronic pain is tough to deal with at times. I deal with it pretty good, but this is definitely a down time for me.

If you didn't read yesterday's post, don't bother. It's just me whining.

I woke up this morning with the thought, "did I really say that on my blog last night?"

I reckon that getting it off my chest that I am lacking in inspiration for living life to the fullest at this point is exactly the type of thing I'd almost rather die than to admit, but then again, writing it down and sending out there like a paper airplane made me feel better.

I took a stress reduction course one time where I work, and they talked about the various personality types, A, B, etc.

This was eight years or so ago, but what I remember is the psychologist that the company had hired to do this for us talked over the various traits of the different personality types.

I'd heard all of my life things like, "she has an A personality" or whatever. But other than figuring out what they were talking about from the context of the statements, I'd never read a real list of personality type traits.

I remember reading ahead in our little packet of printouts from his Powerpoint presentation and thinking, Hey!, that's me! I'm a type C personality.

So a few seconds later, the instructor gets to the type C personality trait list and reads it, and then says, "We like to call this personality type 'cancer prone' because they're the ones you see that just take it all in, don't let it out, and then either finally explode or if they keep it in, they usually get cancer."

I remember thinking, "Great, I go postal or I get a horrible disease. It sucks to be me."

Here is a basic overview of what I'm jabbering about. Scroll down and read the type C guy.

That's pretty darn close, exept for the "dresses fashionably" part. I couldn't even watch the whole movie, The Devil Wears Prada because I SO don't care about fashion that when the people in the movie kept repeating little speeches about how very important fashion is, I got up and left the room. I have things to do that mean something to me, you know? Even hearing the vital importance of fashion from a fictional character pegged my bull poo-poo meter.

Anyway, it's obvious that I don't have much to say again today. But at least I told a story yesterday, today's post is a world-class ramble.

So I'll just shut up now.

I'm thinkin' y'all need a bit of visual cheer after that drivel, so I'm throwing a bit of sunny Florida y'all's way.

Yeah, I know there's some lens flare from the sun in the upper part of this photo, but I was just learning to use the camera at the time. Not that I wouldn't still make the same mistake all over again, mind you, but I like to think I would do better now. But it's definitely a sunny Florida picture.

This is a tree at the same park I took the photo above. In fact, both the above photo and this one can be taken from the same exact spot. It only requires turning around. Even a lazy guy like me can handle that from time to time.

This last one is of a beach house that I just LOVE. This house had a lot of hurricane damage in 2004, and this photo was taken this past summer when they had finally pretty much finished the repairs. You can see the roped off lot of their neighbor's house next door. They were still working on the neighbor's house. I love this one though.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Powder Springs, Georgia

I feel like I've just been going through the motions lately. Not living as much as just existing. Personally I think it shows in my lack of heart in my blog posts.

Today I was listening to a CD on the way to work. A now-defunct hard rock / metal band from the 90's called the Galactic Cowboys. The CD was At The End Of The Day. One of my all-time favorite songs is on that CD, and I listened to it for the first time in a very long time. That song was like a knife in my heart.

The lyrics in the song that got to me were:

I cried a tear of grief in joy
For visions of a little boy
Whose arrogance made him believe
He could be anything he wanted to be

There are few things that I wouldn't give
To dream a young man's dream again
The confidence to set aside the things that I have settled for

Dream again
Dream again
Dream again

We lived in Powder Springs, Georgia, a beautiful little town, from the summer of 1989 to the summer of 1992.

I was working at Delta Airlines at the time, and looking back, it was a wonderful time. We knew it was a special place while we were living there.

Powder Springs is just south of Marietta, and it takes only thirty minutes or so to drive to downtown Atlanta, and at the time the city was small enough to feel intimate.

This was the only place I've ever lived that had four distinct seasons. It was the first place I had ever lived that had lots of hard wood trees that turned outrageous colors in the fall. I just could not get enough of that. I LOVED my forty minute drive to work when the colors turned on the trees.

But I knew I couldn't lift heavy things for the rest of my life. And I saw the once mighty Eastern Air Lines die before my very eyes every day when I first moved there.

I realized, when the union members at Eastern went on strike, and the company was almost immediately back up and running with replacement workers, that some day Delta could do the very same thing to us if times got economically hard. I mentioned this to some of my coworkers at Delta, but most shrugged it off. I was scared though, when Eastern finally died.

At that particular time, Delta was doing great financially. The company was wonderful to work for, the people were great, and the job was fun for the most part. The pay kinda stunk, but I went into the job with my eyes open, so no complaints there.

I was worried enough to always be on the lookout for other jobs within Delta that I might qualify for and move into that would let me work but for them, but not beat my body up so bad. The intra-company job list that came out every couple of weeks mainly needed people with skills. Aircraft mechanics. Electronics people.

So I started looking into schools in the area. The only school that taught aircraft mechanics was south of Atlanta, and way away from where we lived. That just didn't seem like the right thing for me anyway.

We've always gone to the local public libraries almost first thing, wherever we have moved, and got a library card. Right after getting our driver's licences. I started checking out various books and ended up getting hooked on learning electronics from books, on my own.

After looking at more schools I finally applied to and was accepted to Southern College of Technology in Marietta. It has since become a university and is now named Southern Polytechnic University. It's still called Southern Tech for short.

My goal was to learn electronics to get a better job within Delta. I ended up learning that there were so many other jobs in the world for those with electronics degrees and training that I finally realized that Delta was probably the least appealing of my options; because of that pesky itch in my mind about the fragility of the air line industry.

I did really well my first complete school year at Southern Tech, while working full time at Delta. After two quarters, my parents and Lovely Wife's parents said that since I was serious about it, if I was willing to move back to Louisiana and finish school there, they would help us out financially and with our daughters.

In early 1992 I applied to transfer to Louisiana Tech's electrical engineering program and jumped through all the hoops necessary to start school there in the fall of 1992.

We moved back to Monroe, Louisiana and I finished my engineering degree in 1996. We've lived in Palm Bay, Florida ever since.

But those three years in Powder Springs, when the girls were still little, seem like a magical time when I look back. We knew that place was special, and that our time there had been special.

When we had packed everything to move, and loaded the moving van and cleaned the house and were ready to go, Lovely Wife and I took one last slow walk around the house and through the yard. We talked about the good times there. We both teared up and had to fight from crying.

The only thing that got us out of there was that we were convinced that my degree would open better doors for us in the future. At the time, many of my coworkers at Delta thought I was insane to leave such a strong company and such a cool job. One guy told me I had a lot of guts to quit Delta.

It was sad to stand there and look at that pretty little house and the tree filled yard, but our hope for a better future had led us back to Louisiana. For a while at least.

Now, Delta Airlines is on the verge of folding, or being eaten by a bigger, stronger air line. Unless a miracle happens, Delta won't be around as a separate company very much longer. They used to win all kinds of awards for service, but in the last few years I've read so many horror stories about abysmal service on their flights.

It breaks my heart to see it.

We will always treasure our time there when the girls were little and a walk in the woods or going to a beautiful park with great playground equipment and ponds and ducks to feed was all it took to make great memories. Going downtown and riding the Pink Pig on top of the old Rich's department store roof at Christmas time. Stone Mountain. So much to do with just a little money.

My point is this. I've lost that fire in my belly to set goals and to do and to achieve. I'm not exactly sure how to get it back.

We have been back to the area a couple of times to visit old haunts and to see old friends. Our last time to do this was in the summer of 2002. The photos I've sprinkled into this post are a few from that trip. Give 'em a click for larger versions.

The first three pics are of quaint downtown Powder Springs.
The fourth photo is a hundred year old covered bridge in Marietta.
The fifth photo is of The Varsity, a legendary fast food place in downtown Atlanta.

This final photo is of the Tech Tower at Georgia Tech in downtown Atlanta. My original dream was to get two years in at Southern Tech in Marietta, and transfer to Georgia Tech. I still have a piece of my heart that jumps every time I see a Georgia Tech sticker on a car, or see it on TV. On that trip in 2002, I went and walked around the campus for a while, even though I never went to school there. Such was/is the strength of my desire to have gone there.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #23

Thirteen More Useless Facts About John

1. I've never eaten calamari (squid). I don't ever plan on trying it either. Some things, I just can't eat because I can't deal with it mentally.

2. I really like those Geico cave man commercials. Especially the one where the cave man is in the airport on a moving sidewalk and passes a Geico sign with a cave man with a club and the "So easy, a cave man can use it" slogan.

3. I don't smoke, but, I did dip Skoal and Copenhagen for a lot of years. I'm glad that's over. Plus, I was shocked not too long ago when I saw somebody buy some and it was over $3 per can.

4. I like pens with really fat tips and that write with a super black wet ink. Most people I know like ultra fine tip pens. I like mechanical pencils with a big (0.7mm) lead in them. I know, y'all are thinkin', "This guy is a WILD man!"

5. I'm fairly obsessive about washing my hands. I have always been able to hold back panic when I feel that they are dirty or something, but lately things have been bothering me more and more. On a recent trip, I couldn't just hand Lovely Wife food when she was driving and I was riding shotgun, I had to cut it with, and hand it to her on a fork, bite by bite. And we're just talkin' Captain D's fish here, not sardines or something hideous like that.

6. When I was a teen, I loved putting plastic models together. My favorite was a replica of Don Garlits's first rear engine top fuel dragster. It was about 15 inches long and had super soft rubber slicks on the rear that crumpled just like the real underinflated dragster slicks. Another favorite was a big model of an Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt. I love the smell of Testor's glue in the morning, it smells like, childhood.

7. When I buy a new music CD, I make a copy on a blank CD and put the original away. I use the copy in the car and for general listening. I just let the copy take the beating and when it starts to skip and act up, I throw it away and make a new one. I hope this is legal. I'm not making and selling copies or anything. I know that back in the day it was legally ok to do this with cassette tapes, so I still do it, only now with CDs.

8. I admire Christian musicians, singers, and band members who try to make a living at it, and put out great music, while knowing they aren't going to sell the tens of millions of CDs that secular bands sometimes sell.

9. Ever since I can remember, when riding in or driving a car, I move my toes in my shoes to the rhythm of the dashed white lines going by in the road. Weird, huh?

10. I LOVE watches. I have a junk drawer that has lots of old watches in it. Mostly cheap ones that the battery has died. My everyday watch is a Casio diver's looking watch with a gold face. They've been making them a lot of years, and I've always liked them and finally bought one five years ago. It's big, tough, and waterproof. My Dad left me a Rolex when he died, but I don't wear it much. It's worth as much as a nice used car and I don't want to have it stolen, plus, Dad's wrist was smaller than mine is, and even with the band all the way out, it's pretty tight. I wear it on special occasions anyway. Funny thing is, I'm a digital engineer, but prefer analog watches. Go figure. And I don't like Roman numerals on the face of my watches either.

11. I still have lots of 3.5 inch floppy disks at home with stuff on them that I can't bring myself to throw away. I haven't gotten around to checking this info out to see if I still want it, and to move it to CDs. Lazy.

12. You know how memories just pop in your head for what seems like no reason? Yesterday it got really cloudy outside while I was out for some fresh air and it reminded me how, during the hurricanes of 2004, when the electical transformers started blowing, how we sat in our living room watching the huge flashes of blue light through our home's skylights as they increasingly blew as their loads increased. That was seriously creepy. It was as if the storm had blue lightning every few seconds until they were all gone in our area.

13. I'm the king of post-it notes at work. The Unix computer I use in the electronics lab I spend a lot of time in has 10 post-its with info on the computer case and monitor. There are about 5 or so with info stuck on the lab table around the computer too. My desk computer has fewer because I tend to spend more time in the lab. I especially like the big post-it notes with lines on them. What a geek. I wish I could have a camera at work, I'd show y'all.

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ain't Got Much To Say

My back is really giving me fits, and it's hard to sit here and type, not to mention trying to think clearly about any subject. So I'm doing the easy thing. I'm posting a few flatbed scanner photos of my parents, back in the day.

This first scan is of a picture of Sainted Mother when she was six. My Dad always loved this photo of her and kept it in his wallet for many years. I haven't tried to correct any of the damage from all the years in his wallet. I think the lines and wrinkles are a little bit of my Dad, if that makes any sense.

When Don C. was in the Navy in the mid 50's, he served on the destroyer, U.S.S. Benham. This parakeet was my parent's pet, named Benny, after Dad's ship. He would ride Don C.'s hand while he shaved every morning. This is the only photo of Benny. The original was really washed out and had very little contrast. It was hard to make out who was who in the photo. This is the best I could bring out both Benny and Don C. on short notice. I still have my original scan, so in years to come, as I get better, I can revisit the original and try to make it look even better.

This is Sainted Mother in her senior year of high school portrait. (I think) She said this is the shirt she was wearing when she married Don C.

This is a portrait of the family from about 1960, a couple of years before I arrived on the scene. I haven't had time to do any repairs on this one either, but it only needs work on the outside edges of the photo. The part with my folks in it looks good still.

That's about all my back will let me sit here and do, so that'a all folks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

I Really Should Care More About This...

This coming week, the New Orleans Saints will play the Chicago Bears (Da Bears!) for their conference crown in America's National Football League. If they win this next game, they'll be in the upcoming Superbowl!

First of all, I had no idea they had made it to the playoffs until a couple of weeks ago when my Brother In Law mentioned it when we were in Louisiana.

Shows just how important the National Football League is in my life, Huh?

I was born in Louisiana, in a town in the northeast part of the state, called Bastrop.

I consider Monroe, Louisiana my home town.

I remember the heady days of "The Ain'ts", what the Saints were called because they were so bad. They sucked wind, I tell ya. They were so bad, it was fun to watch them.

I remember loving to watch Saints games (they showed them a lot, in regional broadcasts) to see the people in the stands, the Saints fans mind you, wearing paper sacks over their heads with eye holes punched in them so they could see the game.

This was way before the demonic invasion of plastic grocery sacks. Paper sacks were cheap and plentiful, even politically correct back then.

My how times change.

I watched a lot of professional football as a young person, and I always wanted the Saints to do well, even though they weren't my favorite team. I was from Louisiana though, and they were from Louisiana, and they were underdogs, and I'm a complete sucker for the underdogs of the world, so I never minded when the Saints would win over one of the teams I liked. (Minnesota Vikings with Fran Tarkenton, and the Houston Oilers of the Bum Phillips, Earl Campbell era)

I didn't even watch their game against the Philadelphia Eagles this past weekend. They won. Hey, now that I think of it, maybe that's why they won!

So here's to the Ain'tsSaints. I hope they win it all.

Now I'll have to go back and read about what they did this season so I can speak knowledgably about it and look like a real Saints fan when my coworkers talk sports.

And I guess I should have picked up a couple of Saints shirts or something while we were in Louisiana after Christmas. Lord knows they're almost impossible to find in this part of Florida.

Lovely Wife DID buy me a Louisiana Tech license plate to put on the front of my car. :)

I have four years of mental sweat that I put into Louisiana Tech, so I'll put that plate on my car proudly.

And oh yeah, Go Saints! I've always been your most loyal fan. I knew y'all could do it.

Never doubted you.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Camera RAW

Warning: Boring camera stuff ahead!

This is what I did instead of coming up with blog ideas, so here's today's subject:

I've gotten into the habit of leaving my Nikon D70s in the RAW + JPEG mode. Every time I take a photograph, the camera actually puts TWO photos onto the memory disk; one is a JPEG image and the other is a RAW image. Both are of the exact same thing.

A JPEG image has already been processed by the camera, and is ready to look at on a computer or whatever. JPEG compresses the image file, and this image has lost some data in the compression.

The RAW image that the camera also creates, is the actual, complete, data dump of what the imaging sensor saw when I took the picture.

If the JPEG looks great, or almost great, I can tweak it in Photoshop Elements and save that image as the one I want to use.

But I learned really fast with this new camera, that Florida's incredible contrast in many sunlit scenes can "blow out" the highlights, or the whitest portions of a photograph. The image sensor was overloaded in these areas, and the detail of, say, the feathers on the back of a white bird, could be lost forever.

RAW images, being ALL of the original data from the imaging sensor, has the potential to give me a way to get back much of those lost details.

So, that's what I do. I shoot in the RAW + JPEG mode, and if the JPEG is good, cool, if it's over or underexposed too badly, I can use the RAW image to create a better image.

Each camera manufacturer handles the data in the RAW image files in their own, proprietary way. The Nikon software that came with my camera cannot open a RAW image from a Canon camera, and vice versa.

But the RAW files can be almost magical. I've been playing with some RAW files lately to see what I could do.

With a JPEG image from the camera, Photoshop, or Elements, or whatever, can only change the image a certain amount, but the image starts to look fake and weird really quick if you try to lighten or darken a photo very much.

Enter RAW.

Opening a RAW file will allow me to change the exposure several stops in either direction, of the image AFTER the image was taken, on the computer! You have no idea how marvelous this is to me, after 30+ years of dealing with slides and negatives that had an incorrect exposure. With filmIt's just pretty much too stinkin' bad pal. With film, you can burn lots of film with various exposures, hoping that one is really good. (That's called bracketing.)

For example, I'm always playing with the settings of my camera and trying new things, and on Christmas day, I inadvertently left my camera set at -2 stops of exposure compensation. All of my Christmas photos received 1/4 of the light they should have to create a properly exposed image.

Each and every Christmas photo I took was really dark.

But, I did still have the camera set on RAW + JPEG, and went in using Photoshop Elements and completely corrected each and every underexposed Christmas photo. You would never know that I did this if you saw the photos! Amazing.

AND, digital cameras have very good automatic white balance firmware/circuitry, but they aren't foolproof. You can still end up with a yellow image indoors, or an overly blue one outdoors.

Processing the RAW files in Photoshop Elements, I can change the white balance AFTER the photo is taken, and on the computer!

Anyway, I know this is a big yawn to most everyone (both of you) who read this blog, but I'm still reeling from the possibilities this opens up.

Last night, I played with an image I took from the fourth floor of a building, overlooking Melbourne, Florida, and the western sky.

The sky is kinda dark, which is what I was trying to capture, the sky, but the city below ended up too dark.

Using Photoshop Elements and multiple versions of the same photo, with different after-the-fact exposures thanks to RAW, I sandwiched two images, a darker and a lighter one, that lets me end up with one image wherein the sky is like I want it, but the city below is also lightened, so that you can see details of the city.

This first one is the image, exactly as it appears straight from the camera. I wanted to keep the sky dark and moody, but increase detail in the city below.

This next image is the "light" one I created so that I could use the better details in view of the city in my final image. I didn't care how the sky got too light in this one.

This next one is exposed only for the sky, to get it pretty much like I wanted it.

Using the layers on Photoshop Elements, I put the images on top of one another. Essentially, I put the light one on the top, and the dark one on the bottom, and "erased" the sky on the lighter one to let the darker one below come through. Only in the sky part though.

Now, OK, I know the photo isn't perfect. The city is too light, it doesn't look natural, but this was my very first shot at trying this. You can also see a line where the two different images meet, so it's not great.

But the potential for creating photos exposed in ways that would be truly impossible with just the camera itself makes my head spin.

That is all, carry on.