Category Archives: Lifestyle

Rules of Drinking

Time For a Pint!

The following are a variety of rules I try to stick to when I’m drinking. Most of them have come from conversations and experiences with friends, some from chatting with servers, others from signs posted in bars.

  • If you have to work in the morning, never go drinking with people who don’t.
  • Shots are for beginning-of-the-evening enjoyment only and serve with appetizers, but not as a nightcap. Any shot provided after the third round should be ignored.
  • Always toast before shots. Whoever purchased said round of shots gets first dibs on the toast.
  • Tip early, tip often.
  • Beer is your friend. Stick with beer and you’ll be cool. A little wine is acceptable too; or perhaps a cocktail or two. But not beer, wine and cocktails. No more than two types of drink should be consumed in an evening.
  • Find out your server’s name. Check their nametag or better yet, ask. Also, treat them with respect. Aside from being a common courtesy, this will pay off the longer you’re at the bar.
  • When the bartender is slammed, the more complex your drink, the more they will hate you. Limit orders to beer, straight shots and two-part cocktails.
  • Get the bartender’s attention with eye contact. NEVER yell out to them.
  • Use your head. If you’ve been drinking beer all night and a scotch on the rocks sounds good, keep in mind that your numb tastebuds have their gears set to “beer pace.” Beer is your friend.
  • Don’t drink any cocktail prepared by an amateur bartender. This is about the most important rule, especially if it’s a drink they “made up in college.” If Kool-Aid is an ingredient: WARNING.
  • If you’re pouring, measure. I cannot stress this enough. Always put the same amount in your cocktails. If you like them strong, fine. Pour a double. But be consistent and use a shotglass.
  • Be cautious of how you plug the jukebox. We all love Guns-N-Roses, but not their entire anthology back-to-back. Remember you’re playing music for everybody — not just you.
  • If it looks like a happy hour is gonna slip into a bar night, EAT. And eat well. The low-fat side caesar is no match for those six Screaming Purple Gut-Reamers. They make fried cheese-sticks for a reason.
  • With *very* few exceptions among the scotches and elsewhere, there is no liquor over 80 proof that is worth dealing with. 100-proof does not equal “fun.”
  • Never call in sick to work because you have a hangover. You got yourself into this one, so live with it.  This is especially true if it was co-workers you got hammered with.
  • That reminds me:  Go to the bar with your co-workers. Even if you don’t like to drink. For lots of people, the conversation takes a very different turn as soon as the saloon doors swing open. And there’s no better respect a boss can get than that which derives from an atonal rendition of “Mack the Knife” at Karaoke Hut. Have a Coke.
  • Never turn down a drink on the house.
  • Find a place you like and become a regular. Not to the point of being a lush, but to the point of the bartenders and wait staff knowing you by name.
  • If at all possible, avoid drinking beer out of a plastic cup.
  • If there’s a DJ, never say “I’ll give you $5 if  you play…”.  Tip up front or just don’t bring it up. He won’t believe you. The same goes with servers; never promise a tip “…if…” they do something. Pay up, THEN ask. Again again, tip your servers early and often.
  • If someone in your group buys a round of drinks, buy a reciprocal round or pay the tip (or at least offer).

If your drinking nights usually end with kisses on the cheek and “Have a great weekend, everybody,” you’re doing it right.  If your drinking nights usually end with split lips and “You have the right to remain silent,” you’re doing it wrong.

(0453) 0911.

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Cork Heart

Cork Heart

Wine corks shaped like a heart in honor of Valentine’s Day.

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Beans for Sale

Beans for Sale

Our plan on Saturday morning was to head towards “downtown” Siracusa, Sicily and rent a couple of scooters. There was a beach far enough from town that walking was out of the question. As we approached the scooter rental facility, it looked 100% seedy with barely a sign of “Scooter Rentals” anywhere. My wife and I chose to keep walking because surely this couldn’t be the scooter rental we were looking for.

As we aimlessly wandered through town, we noticed everyone seemed to be coming and going from a partilcular street, and naturally we decided to investigate.

Walking through the small-town market of Sicarusa, Sicily still stands as one of my most enjoyable travel experiences. My wife and I slowly walked through the market in awe at the various items sold. Fresh fish. Fresh pasta. Fresh spices. Fresh vegetables. Everywhere we looked there was deliciousness ready to be purchased.

As we took our time in loading up on spices and olive oil, my wife and I turned to head back toward our bed and breakfast. Halfway back through the market an older woman, who was walking next to me, looked over and said “Bella, eh?”

While I glaringly stood out as a tourist and this woman recognized it, she also knew this was a pretty spectacular sight and wanted to acknowledge it with the random stranger next to her.

Bella  indeed.

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Candy Corn

Candy Corn

Candy corn. About twenty million pieces of this stuff are sold annually.

It was first marketed as a year-round candy except the ads started running in newspapers the first week of October, so people began to equate candy corn with Halloween. Even though there has been a push to develop Christmas and Valentine’s Day candy corn, nothing sells like the original “Halloween edition.”

I had a different image picked out for today’s blog post, but figured since today was Halloween, why not go with something fun? In Chicago rain is forecast all day and night, which will put a damper of festivities, but hopefully the kids will be out in full force.

If not, I’ll need some helping eating all of this candy.

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I love this time of year when strawberries and everything else start to take shape in the backyard. Our garden is coming along nicely, so hopefully we’ll also be enjoying some tomatoes before too long.

That being said, these are a bunch of strawberries from the farmers market. After washing them in the colander, I thought, “Damn, that’s pretty right there.”

And tasty.

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Selling Vegetables at the Market

As a kid, remember the game of “jump rope?” Two friends would grab either end up a rope and twirl it around while a person steadily watched the rhythm of the rope, and when it felt right, jumped in.

I feel like taking pictures in another country is kind of the same thing.

Every time I go to a new country, I always hesitate pulling my camera out at first. I was never sure why, but it usually took half a day of exploring before I finally felt brave enough to start shooting. I finally figured out why I wait so long, and it goes back to jump rope.

In jump rope, for the person about to hop in the middle, before they dive in, they want to study the twirling rope, get a feel for the rhythm, and then give it a go. Once their in the middle they really can’t stop and turn back, and taking pictures in another country is the same thing.

I want to study the culture, get a feel for safety and the surroundings and then, when the timing feels right, pull out my camera. From that moment on I make a commitment: My camera bag doesn’t leave my sight and my memory cards are frequently changed and vehemently protected.

My time in India is a good example of this.

It took me a solid day to finally get comfortable enough to pull out my camera. Maybe part of it was not wanting to have a super-fancy camera amid all of the poverty. Perhaps it was having my super-fancy camera stolen amid all of the poverty. Maybe it was just that I’m a little girl and needed to man up. Either way, I’m really glad I started shooting (to my wife’s credit, she really was the one to tell me to “grow some balls”). By the end of the trip, I came home with 1,300 pictures from India. Many of them are full of color and life, but none would exist if I didn’t jump in and start shooting.

(0969) 0312.

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Wine Corks

A few years back I poured out the wine corks I had collected throughout the years. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them, but I arranged them into various piles and shot an afternoon’s worth of photographs.

It’s always interesting to me to take pictures like this. Well after I clean up everything and go through the pictures, do I realize I could have done something different. Each time, I say something like “Next time…” and then two years go by and I haven’t done it since.

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The markets in India are a fascinating place. From the major cities like Delhi and Agra to the smaller towns and villages, there is so much to see and experience. I prefer the food and vegetable markets because the shopkeepers will smile and wave, occasionally practice their English, but by-and-large let my wife and I wander around and explore without issue. The markets selling clothes and souvenirs are a bit different, however.

The shopkeepers selling wares will physically block our path trying to get us to look in their store. Sometimes they’ll grab as we walk by, but mostly they’ll nearly BEG us to stop in their market stall. I’m not a big buyer of clothes in the markets, and in places like India I tend to shut down a bit when getting inundated with people trying to hawk their wares (especially when nearly everything looks the same from shop to shop to shop).

So that’s why I enjoyed the walk through Delhi‘s smaller food and vegetable markets. Foods are always more colorful, and even if I can’t simply buy one and bite into it, the watermelons, tomatoes and carrots all look amazing and mouth-watering. And, as the shop-keepers prepare the foods, like picture above, they don’t mind have a photograph snapped of them along the way.

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Bulk Spices at the Market

Walking through Jaipur, India, I took far less pictures than in Delhi or Agra. My best guess is in Delhi my wife and I saw so many things at the market and in the various stalls that I wasn’t moved as much by the much smaller city.

These bulk spices, however, delightfully caught my eye. I wish, for the life of me, I could remember what they were. The man in the stall explained what they were, let us smell and sample some and was generally pleasant (versus most of the other stall owners who would nearly stalk us down the street as we walked along.) In going with the “less is more” approach, my wife and I purchased some spices from this stall because we appreciated his lack of force with his sales pitch.

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The Cold Blast of Summer Fun

I’m on Instagram and periodically post an image or two (you’ll find me on the site as @kjkettnerphoto). Like Facebook, Twitter and every other social network site, you can follow people just like they can follow you. One of the people I follow on Instagram is the Chicago Tribune.

Occasionally the Tribune will post a photo challenge ranging from “show us your best food pics” to “what does the month of June mean to you?” Simple stuff, really, but it’s a nice opportunity to get the creative juices flowing and get a loose theme for image-making.

Since the weather was going to be right around 100 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, the Tribune wanted to see “hot weather photos” throughout the day. So, at the height of the scorching heat, I jumped into my car and took off to find an image of summer heat that has always been ingrained in my memory.

A few years back I was covering a Chicago White Sox game and on my lunch break (two hours before the game) stumbled upon a bunch of kids playing in the water of an open fire hydrant. So, my goal was to head towards the same neighborhood and maybe find some more kids playing in a the water of an open hydrant.

Once I got off the expressway, it took all of ten minutes to find what I was looking for, and amusingly, it was a mere block and a half from where I last saw it two or three years ago.

I spent just over a half-an-hour taking pictures of the kids running and playing in the water. I didn’t waste much time before I pleasantly stood in the water myself to take pictures. At the hottest part of the day, the water was cool and refreshing.

By the way, it is never recommended to open up a fire hydrant. As a matter of fact, I think it’s against the law for unauthorized people to do so. Watching the news last night, viewers were encouraged to call the police if they see someone opening a hydrant. Good to know now, I guess.

Also, there are a few additional pictures posted on my Facebook page.  Feel free to wander over and click around for a bit. Perhaps while you’re there, give the page a “Like,” won’t you?

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Rodrigo y Gabriela

In April I was given an opportunity (and a photo pass) to shoot one of my favorite musical acts.

I still remember the first time I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela on the radio.  I was driving to U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago to cover the White Sox game and a few blocks from my apartment the one song ended on the radio and then Tamacun came on.  I nearly drove off the road listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela rock and roll with their guitars.  It reminded me of the first time I heard the Rolling Stones.

It was my high school years and I was cleaning my portion of my parents’ basement.  We had satellite TV at the time, and it was on the classic rock music channel as I cursed my way through the pile of my own debris. Suddenly I found myself focusing on a soft singing choir going on about “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need.” It’s probably one of the softer Rolling Stones hits, but the song introduced me to Mick Jagger and the gang.

Many years later when I heard Rodrigo y Gabriela, it was the second time I had ever stopped what I was doing to focus on the music.  I was driving at the time and was lucky to get stopped by a red light, but after purchasing several albums and seeing them perform live, Rodrigo y Gabriela throw quite a show and I was honored to be invited to photograph it.

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Open Mic Night

Recently, for no particular reason, I posted this image on my Facebook page.  I liked it more than I thought I would, so I figured I’d make it an official blog post out of it.

A few weeks back a friend called to ask if I could shoot some images of his bar’s “open microphone night” for his website.  It was a last minute phone call, but as it turns out, the timing was perfect and I could make it.

The idea of the shoot was to take a bunch of pictures of the various lights in use and capture the general look and feel of the open mic night.  I was a lot of fun to shoot, and turned out to be better than expected because I shot a concert at the Chicago Theatre a few nights later.

Anyway, during the course of the evening, I moved around to a variety of locations trying to capture the show from different locations.  During one of the last songs of the night, I made my way towards the back of the room and noticed the girl recording her friends’ performing on stage with an iPhone.  It was a nice change from all the other images I took, and turned out to be one of my favorites of the night.

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Assorted Candy Hearts

Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

I never really realized how many random and sometimes strange phrases are on candy hearts.  I always thought they were short and cute simple phrases (Love You, Miss You, etc.), but just looking at the picture above, Get Real doesn’t seem sweet and romantic.

February 2007. (1985)

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Lincoln Park Lights

The Lincoln Park Zoo, in Chicago, always does quite the Christmas holiday light display.  Back in 2005 I went for a and shot some images.

I only took a few pictures that night, but I’ve been meaning to go back every year since.  The display runs until New Years Day, so I’ve blocked an evening next week to go and shoot some more pictures.

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Candy Canes

We’re plunging towards the holidays at a break-neck speed.  Next week Tuesday is Hanukkuh and then Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years and so on.

A few years back this image was my yearly Christmas card.  Next week I’ll probably head out to buy more candy canes to give this picture another try, and to photograph some other ideas I’ve since come up with.

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Every year around this time I try to visit my parents. My work schedule doesn’t allow a couple of days off regularly, until the calendar gets to October.

The journey to their place involves passing several roadside stands selling fruits and veggies. This particular year I stopped and bought a few apples and such, but decided to load up on some other things. I had my camera gear with me and I was curious if I could pay around with some Fall fruits and vegetables.

The result was what you see above. I like close-up shots of things, and the gourds provided a good opportunity for just that. My step-mom and I took turns taking pictures and trying new things. She later turned one of her images into a water color, which, to this day, is still her single best-selling painting.

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Birthday Candles

Every so often I get antsy sitting around the housing and want to go out and take pictures.  Most of the time I do head out, however sometimes the weather is foul and leaving the house at that time is a terrible idea.

That’s usually when I scour the house looking for things to photograph.  My collection of wine corks is well-documented in this space, as is my pile of foreign currency.

On this particular day, I don’t recall the exact circumstance, but I found all of the birthday candles I could dig up.  I piled them up and started to photograph.  This image was created early in my photography days, so I already have a list of things to do differently, and to play with the macro lens doing other stuff.

Perhaps one day this winter I’ll find the candles again and give it another go.

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Chicago-Style Hot Dog

One of the perks of living in Chicago is our food.  We take eating very seriously, and even our quick and simple hot dogs have some very strict rules.  Yellow mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, pickle Spear, peppers and a dash of celery salt are the only things put on a Chicago-style hot dog.  Ketchup can be used on the fries, but certainly not the hot dog!

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Road Construction Ahead

I have the maturity levels of a child, so therefore I think this graffiti is damn funny.

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Slow Down, Life’s Too Short

Yesterday afternoon I stopped by a Chicago bar I had frequently driven by on the expressway.  As the story goes, “Slow Down, Life’s Too Short” came from an owner who sold everything to buy a boat, beached it in Florida (in a town of less than 100 people) and decided to make a bar based on his new discovery to slow down, life is too short.  Apparently the City of Chicago had some issues with it and shut the bar down in November of 2004.

The bar is currently unoccupied, but appears to be pillaged by trespassers on occasion.  The colors are fading, but I think that’s why it gets its charm.

(8659) 0411.

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