Yellow Eyes, Blue Feet

Yellow Eyes, Blue Feet

In the Galapagos Island, this may be one of the more famous birds. It has a variety of reasons for its notoriety. Its name, for starters, contains every man’s friend. The other note about their name is it comes from the Spanish word for “bobo,” which means, well, “dumb.”

The birds are, however, fairly intelligent animals. They have tremendous vision and are fantastic shallow water divers. The boobies mating dance could get them made fun of, though.

The males flaunt their blue feet, dancing to impress the female boobies; they’ll spread their wings, stomp their feet and squawk. If she likes him, the mating process will take less then five seconds. Together mom and dad watch the eggs, keeping them warm by holding their webbed-feet over them. After nearly nine months of incubation, the eggs will hatch and the parents will walk around with the chicks on their feet getting around.

And they’re kinda cute, too.

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Posted in Nature Tagged , |

Hancock Sunset

Hancock Sunset

A few weeks ago I went on a 12-hour photo-binge. I started by shooting the sun setting from the Navy Pier parking garage, then moved on to the shores of Lake Michigan and the various boats coming and going from the city’s most popular tourist destination, before moving on to the Chicago River and Lower Wacker Drive. The next morning I got up and shot more pictures of the sun coming up.

As spectacular as a sunrise can be, I love being able to watch it set one day and then watch it rise the following day. There is something that much more majestic about seeing the sun disappear behind the earth and then reappear.

This picture is from that photo excursion. The sun is just peaking through two of Chicago’s taller buildings before “going to bed” for the night.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

John Hancock and the Evening Skyline

John Hancock and the Evening Skyline

I’ve been getting out and taking pictures a lot lately. I’m trying to do it at least once a week. I’ve really started to explore deeper parts of Chicago and find new angles to view the skyline, and I couldn’t love it more.

Early in this summer’s endeavor I wandered down to the lakefront to look for some different angles to shoot the skyline. From North Avenue Beach, I was able to walk along the water’s edge with the various break walls jutting out from the shoreline, and they gave a nice ability to seemingly walk out over the water.

This picture is also one of the first where I, seemingly, became addicted to “blue hour.” It’s the time of the night when the sun is very low (or has set) and the sky has a beautiful, deep, rich blue color to it. I love the way the sky is light enough to see the detail in the buildings, but dark enough to still see the twinkle of the lights.

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Lower Wacker and Trump Tower

Lower Wacker and Trump Tower

Last week I went out to shoot some images of Chicago and found myself running so late I was chasing the light and scored some images I wasn’t too excited about. This week I gave myself the correct amount of time and really made myself happy.

Starting at Navy Pier I wandered around looking for things to shoot. With a great vantage point of the city and a beautiful sunset, it wasn’t too difficult. Once the sun set I wandered down to the edge of Navy Pier and shot boats coming and going. Once that light faded I wandered up to the river and shot the Chicago River with Trump Tower in the background. Having just taken that a identical photograph last week, this week I was able to wander around and try some different things, which brings me to the image above.

While driving to the dog beach earlier in the week I looked over my shoulder and realized a strong potential for a picture. It was in a weird place where Wacker Drive and Lakeshore Drive meet, and I had never seen an image from there before. (So often with Instagram I see a lot of the same pictures, over and over and over and over again.) I was in this location for awhile, shooting from a few different locations (sometimes even standing in the roadway when the traffic light was red).

I like the blurred lines of traffic whizzing by, and the sky isn’t completely black so the buildings can still be easily seen. It’s something that sort of came together with tinkering and experimenting and I’m pleased with the result. I wish I had time to do it last week, but without last week this week wouldn’t have had as much fun.

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Trump and the Chicago River at Dusk

Trump and the Chicago River at Dusk

The last few times I’ve gone out to take pictures in the evening it has been clear skies. Earlier this week when I went out the skies were filled with clouds and I mis-judged how quickly it would get dark. I found myself scrambling to get to where I wanted to be.

By and large, when I go out to shoot the city of Chicago, I think about weather, timing and what I’m looking for. Instead of being someone who shoots all over and comes home with a handful of shots, I like to focus on one thing and capture it as best I can. On Monday night, that one thing was looking down the Chicago River at Trump Tower.

As has been the case for the last few weeks, sunset was scheduled for 8:30PM. Normally the skies are dark enough for what I’m looking for about 8:45PM. With the heavy cloud cover, that time was about 8:31PM. Since I left the house later than I wanted and was going to a more difficult place get to, I was nearly sprinting to reach the Lakeshore Drive bridge.

I did get the picture I wanted, but think the river is missing something. I’d be nice to have a big tour boat filling the foreground, so I’ll try my picture again in a few days. This time, however, I’ll be much earlier to the location.

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Wrigley Building and the American Flag

Wrigley Building and the American Flag

Several years back I came across a picture of an enormous American flag hanging from the side of Chicago’s Wrigley Building. I loved the picture and I loved the idea of a nine-story tall American flag. Since I was never really sure when the flag was erected, I decided this was the year I’d figure it out and snap a few of my own images.

Earlier this week I went downtown to take some pictures along the Chicago River. As I marched along the riverwalk, I came around the corner and saw the mighty flag was hanging from the side of the Wrigley Building. Finally. While my intent was to photograph other things that night, my new focus was all about the American flag and the Wrigley Building.

I ended up spending about two hours shooting pictures in all forms of light (sunset, twilight, dark skies, etc.) before calling it a night. Yesterday, while the sun was high in the sky I went back for some more images, but this time in the daylight. With the tour boats out, a few clouds here and there, it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day. I spent another couple of hours shooting before heading back home.

This probably isn’t the best picture from the nearly four hours of shooting, but given I now have a couple hundred photos to work through, this is one of the early discoveries I really, really like. With the flag, the boat traffic and the bright blue sky, it seems like a fitting image to celebrate Independence Day in Chicago.

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Quiet Night

Quiet Night Inspired by Instagram, I’ve been having fun going back through my pictures. Normally I take a handful of pictures on any endeavor and move on to the next round of image-making. In doing so, I leave any number of pictures behind on my hard drive which I don’t think twice about.

With my recent resurgence on Instagram, I’ve been able to go back over pictures and folders once used in blog posts and post another picture on the social media site. Sometimes, like with the image above, I realize I really like the picture and not just let the image die a slow death on my hard drive.

And I think Instagram is kind of weird in that way. I think it’s not uncommon to see a lot of “meh” photographs pop up on the site. No, I’m not referring to selfies and other shitty photographs, but specifically I’m tired of seeing building reflections in puddles. Not to rip into my own picture, but I think the above picture is fairly “meh” as well. I’d love to take the image again but with the sun setting versus total darkness. I like the boat passing by but think the exposure might be slightly too long. On Instagram, however, it isn’t a close-up of food or a building’s reflection in a puddle. When I posted it yesterday, the picture did fairly well for me and I think that’s pretty cool.

It’s nice to have good quality stuff as much as possible, but along the way there are bound to be B+ images, as well.

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South Africa Travel Tips

King of the Road

My wife and I loved South Africa and have been meaning to go back ever since. (Unfortunately there are a few other countries we haven’t been to that we’d like to explore before we start repeating places.)

Overall, we didn’t care for Johannesburg much. We met a couple on our safari and they were from “Jo-berg.” They told us no one ever drives with their car windows down as people will just reach through your windows to grab stuff (or worse). We stayed at a B&B and were about to leave for dinner when the proprietor stopped us and told us to take only what is absolutely necessary and leave everything else behind and walk only down the middle of the street (it was a quiet neighborhood). She said go directly to and from dinner and do not wander around. While I’m sure parts of the city are lovely, we didn’t get much of a good impression as even the locals had a “this place is awful but it’s what we call home” attitude. That being said, it is a HUGE city and fascinating to see none-the-less.

Cape Town, on the other hand, we loved. It was friendly. It had great restaurants. It had beautiful scenery. It was fantastic.

Table Mountain is where everyone takes a gondola up to the top and can see to the edges of the earth. While we were there it was closed for renovations so I cannot attest to whether it’s worth it or not.

The V&A Waterfront is where a lot of the restaurants are. We enjoyed strolling around taking in everything from fancy restaurants to street musicians and the general “harbor vibe” the entire area had. A regret is we waited until our last night to go down to see it and we certainly wish we would have discovered it sooner.

I can’t remember where exactly, but someplace in downtown Cape Town my wife and I threw down some beers one night. We generally try to do this one night while on vacation wherever we are. Whether we chug rum swizzles in Bermuda, caipirinhas in Brazil or only God knows what that was in Panama, we try to take in a hearty slice of the local night life. Whatever region it was, it had a number of bars within a couple of blocks. Everyone was out. Everyone was having a good time. Whatever bar we were at had a cover band trying their best and an enormous selection of cider beers. At the end of the night (after crushing some late-night food) we flagged down a taxi and headed back to where we were staying. While all taxis are metered, few meters are regulated; ask your driver ahead of time how much it will take to get you back to your hotel and base part of your decision to enter the car based on that.

We stayed at Atlantic View while in Cape Town and it was up in the hills towards Table Mountain. Below us, near the waterfront, was a lesser-known restaurant district (Camps Bay, I think). Most restaurants faced the water and we had our pick of places to dine while we watched the sun set over the ocean. My wife and I were just reminiscing about this trip and we truly enjoyed strolling along picking out a restaurant. Since it was their winter, there was a chilly breeze off the ocean, but nothing a fleece couldn’t fix.

Atlantic View, as I’m sure most places do, offer up a host of tourist options. Two we chose were visiting Cheetah Outreach and Wildlife Trust, where one of the perks is getting to pet a cheetah. It’s pretty quick and simple but also damn cool. We were the first to arrive so we got our tickets and were then the first to be allowed in to do some giant cat petting. Everyone arriving after us had to sit and watch us. It was nice to be first for a couple of reasons. One is that it was slightly “more special” because we were the first of the day. Being the 25th person to do such a thing wouldn’t have been so cool. The second reason it was cool is we were in, out and on our way to the next thing. We didn’t have to stand in line for a half-an-hour while fifteen people in front of us all had a couple of minutes each to pet a cheetah. I could see waiting around watching others pet the cheetah getting old quickly.

The second thing we did was the obligatory wine tour. We visited two or three vineyards and each rolled out the red carpet for us. (It may have been a honeymoon thing or it may have been standard operating procedure.) I’m sure you’ve done a wine tasting before (or at least something similar), but what I can most certainly advise is to be cautious when ordering delicious, delicious wine to send home. Make sure the vineyard has a distributer in your home country. If they don’t you’ll have to pay all sorts of taxes and tariffs, and you’ll have to find someone to be a licensed importer for you. Everyone I called in Chicago only wanted to deal with me if was importing 6,000 cases of wine, not six bottles. Of the two vineyards we ordered from, one had a US distributer and the other didn’t. The vineyard who didn’t was kind enough to refund our credit card when we told them it wasn’t working out for us.

If time permits, I strongly, strongly recommend a safari while in South Africa. The self-driving tour through Kruger National Park can work out in a pinch, but it is so much better if you can go enjoy a private game reserve. Two nights/three days would be a minimum. We went with Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve and their property butts up against Kruger National Park. (Well, sort of. Their property sits along the Sand River and directly across is Kruger.) Kruger is a five-hour drive on a national highway from Johannesburg. Our game reserve had its own private air strip and flights leave daily from the Jo-berg airport. It’s a twelve-passenger plane and can get you there in about an hour. The plane stops at a few other game reserves and a highlight, for me at least, is one of the airstrips was gravel. Taking off and landing on rocks makes me appreciate the fancy concrete runways so much more. Safaris vary in price, quality and, experience. The car ride through Kruger will probably offer you a glimpse of animals in “the wild”, but a private game reserve is a far better experience. (Obviously you get what you pay for. Sabi Sabi isn’t cheap, but I cannot recommend it enough.)

We went to South Africa in early-August, which is their winter. It’s the best time to go on a safari because the grass isn’t as long and there are less watering holes so the animals all congregate at the same few. Dress in layers because, near Kruger, the temperature was 0F at sunrise but 70F by mid-day. Near the ocean there is much more of a narrow range of temperatures so a long-sleeved shirt was fine during the day and a fleece worked at night. Everyone we encountered spoke English (although some with a heavy accent) so language wasn’t an issue for us.

While we were in the region we also explored Namibia, which is the least populated country in the world. If you have time, I’d say one reason to go is to see the stars. We drove to Sossusvlei and spent a couple of nights at the Sossus Dune Lodge. Because the desert is so dry and Sossusvlei is so remote, there was no light pollution. At all. The stars were amazing. While in southern Africa, if you’ve got the time, I’d recommend exploring the option of visiting Namibia, and specifically the Sossusvlei region. The adventure to and from was almost as good as sitting under the stars in the middle of the pitch-black desert. (You can read more at my page with Namibia Travel Tips.)

We truly loved our South African experience from the uber-populated Johannesburg to sitting by ourselves watching the sun set behind the sand dunes in Namibia, the world’s least populated country. No matter when you go, you’ll have a wonderful, wonderful time, whether you follow in our exact footsteps or create your own.

And send home postcards. Everybody loves getting postcards.

 

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The World’s Greatest Skyline

The World's Greatest Skyline

I’ve begun to work my way back through “forgotten” pictures.

For example, after I went up in a helicopter I pulled about thirty of my favorite images from the pile of pictures I took. After a couple of years have passed, I’ve gone back into that folder and found a number of images that are still quite good but didn’t make that first official cut. There is nothing wrong with them. There is nothing unappealing about them. However, next to the A+ pictures the B+ pictures didn’t make the cut, apparently.

So, I’ve begun to go back through photographs, spending about an hour a day, re-examining my folders. The picture above is from the day in a helicopter. Last week I found a picture of Buckingham Fountain in Chicago that is a damn fine picture, but it didn’t make the cut. Same with pictures from the Galapagos Islands and from South Africa and all points in between.

You’ll see a few posted in the coming days, as well as hopefully I’ll have another day up in a helicopter soon.

This time, however, I’ll check and then double-check my pictures right away. No need to discard the Bs and Cs just to make way for the As.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Bikes and Buildings

Bikes and Buildings

This image is from last night and it is not the image I was going for.

Last evening I went out to shoot some pictures of the Chicago skyline. After spending a half-an-hour hanging out waiting for the right lighting, I got the picture I liked and made my way back to the car. I may have taken about 50 pictures while I was standing at the original location, but took only one of this guy on his bike.

I’ve learned I need to keep my camera out of my bag until I reach the car. Sometimes an image develops beautifully and my camera is in my bag and my tripod is strapped on as well. More often than not, out of sheer laziness, I don’t take a picture because I don’t feel like taking off my bag, unzipping it to reach for my camera inside, detach my tripod from the bag and extend the legs to then compose a shot. It’s a lot of work when one is feeling lazy. So, to make up for it I just don’t put my camera away.

So last night, towards the end of my photo expedition, this guy peddled up on his bike and admired the skyline. As I passed behind him I opened the legs of my tripod up (I had the entire tripod and camera ready to go except I closed the legs) and fired off only a single shot.

That single shot turned out to be my favorite picture of the night.

 

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Eye-Level Skyline

Eye-Level Skyline

Earlier this year I cut back on doing blog posts to focus more time and energy on making money with my photography. Part of that effort has been increasing my stock photography portfolio, and a smaller part was participating in an art festival a few weeks back. Both have produced wildly different results.

The stock photography sits on a website (in my case, iStockphoto) and waits until someone sees it and thinks enough of it to purchase. Selling at the art festival was slightly more work, but far more rewarding. It was nice to interact with people, answer questions, and make a few bucks.

In both cases, the money I earn doesn’t produce enough to retire on. I’d love to sell a picture or two and cover all of my bills for the month, but I know that isn’t too realistic. It is nice, however, to make a couple of bucks to offset all of the various parking fees and such.

When I drive someplace (Michigan, for example), there is a price paid for gas and tolls. If driving to Navy Pier I have to pay for parking (although this year I’m really working hard to not pay for parking anywhere). Or, in the case of the image above, there is time and fuel cost for climbing into a helicopter.

Aerial photography has become one of my favorite things to play around with. I love the different views associated with getting a couple thousand feet off of the ground can. I think it is always nice to see the “same ‘ol things” but from a different perspective, and I think it’s a hearty challenge — on my end — to produce a quality image.

Originally I passed over the above image. I thought I had come up with some better stuff that day, and while I think that is still true, I really like how there isn’t anything wrong with this image. I’m glad I went back to take a second and third look through my aerial shots.

I’m planning on another helicopter endeavor a little later this year. My goal is to go up and shoot around sunset, which should produce some stunning colors. To offset the cost of the helicopter fuel, I’ve tucked away a few dollars from my art festival and stock photography sales. Like I said above, I’m not looking to retire with my photography, but it is nice to not be losing money with it, either.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Tour Boats, Tall Bridges and Tall Buildings

Tour Boats, Tall Bridges and Tall Buildings

Starting this year off, I was pretty uninspired towards photography. It didn’t help that our temperatures were miserably low and I didn’t even want to leave the house — let along go take pictures. That feeling of “meh” even carried over to Peru when I spent nearly a week at Machu Picchu but took very few pictures.

Now that the weather has warmed up I’ve been trying to get out as much as I can. The city of Chicago is fun to explore and, contrary to what one may find on Instagram, there are always new places to shoot.

I think finding those new and different places has been helping me to enjoy shooting again. So far this year I’ve gone out a number of times to shoot, but haven’t repeated anywhere. As many times the skyline has been captured from The Planetarium, it has lost its luster for me. That’s nobody’s fault but mine, so it was time to kick it up a little bit.

Last weekend I parked on the near-West side and walked along the river. As many times as I’ve photographed the Kinzie Street Bridge, it was nice to see it from a slightly different perspective.

As I was playing around with settings seeing what I liked best with the lighting, I found five seconds was the best exposure time for what I was looking for. However, such a long exposure meant whatever boats were passing along the river looked like a tremendous blur of nothing. Then along comes the tour boat above and it stopped halfway down the river, turned around, and headed back towards The Loop. In doing so it came to a near-complete stop, which let me take the picture I wanted without having to change any settings and gave me exactly the picture I was looking for.

Thanks random boat captain; you completely made my night!

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The Many Moai of Rano Raraku

Moai of Rano Raraku

I’m surprised I haven’t posted this image of Easter Island before, considering my wife and I spent nearly an entire day walking around Rano Raraku (a.k.a. “The Quarry”)  and have many pictures.

The Quarry is where all of the moai on Easter Island were carved from. Many of them were carved from the rock of the hillside, then “walked” down the hill where they would slowly make their way to their final destination. No one really knows how long it took to completely carve a moai, but if they broke during transit, the moai were left in that location and work was began on another carving another back in The Quarry. Obviously it was a very labor intensive project.

For the sake of experiencing The Quarry as the sun rose, my wife and I were the first ones to the location. The lighting was brutal for photographs, but the stillness and silence of it all made the early-morning trip worth it. As we were leaving, we began chatting with the ticket attendant and she told us her shift ends at three o’clock. If we come back before then she’d let us back in without having to pay — a total sweetheart move.

What was nice about going back the second time was the majesty of it all was still pretty cool, but it was easier to focus on taking some pictures. And, by the time its all said and done, “tourism” on Easter Island is far different than “tourism” anywhere else on earth. It is such a remote and difficult location that even their “busy” season is nothing like many other places on earth. Going early to get there before the crowd isn’t really necessary. It was still fantastic to experience the stillness of The Quarry without tour groups and such, but The Quarry was large enough we could easily avoid them once they were there.

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Old Pier and Rising Sun

Old Pier and Rising Sun

I recently realized I don’t have many sunrise pictures.

Getting pictures of the sunrise involves getting up early and being in position about a half-and-hour before the sun actually introduces itself.

With my schedule and desire to sleep in sunrise pictures don’t happen naturally. Additionally, I feel like Chicago doesn’t offer up many opportunities to get glorious sunrise photos. Since our city faces the East, a lot of times the early-morning images involve shooting out over an endless surface of water. Personally, I think Lake Michigan, while it can be majestic, can also be quite flat and boring. For the few places with something to include in the foreground, like parts of an old, abandoned pier poking above the waterline of near Evanston, Illinois (above), I don’t feel like going back to the same places time and time again. Sure, the sunrise changes each and every day, but I don’t want to keep going back to the same places time and time again.

Maybe one day I’ll win the lottery so I can hike deep into the wilderness and camp for two weeks to get those majestic shots of the sun rising behind a mountain range. In reality, I need to suck it up and realize Chicago has thousands of fantastic places to shoot the sunrise, I just need to stop being a brat and wake up early for a change.

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

My wife and I were a couple hours into our flight, about to start our decent, when the intercom crackled to life. “Uh, folks, this your captain. Unfortunately we don’t think the weather conditions in Cusco are safe for landing. We’re going to circle for twenty to thirty minutes and hope it clears up, otherwise we’ll have to return back to Lima.”

Landing back at the Lima, Peru airport, everyone on our flight was summoned to a mostly unused couple of gates and the agents called our names out in small groups. Instead of having everyone in a mad dash for the counter (like the US), they calmly worked through everyone on the flight, handing out meal vouchers along the way. The problem was our next chance to get out was on a four o’clock flight — eight hours from that point. This blew any chance of us catching our train, and also put us in danger of getting stranded in Cusco, which wasn’t where we wanted to be.

Where we wanted to be was Aguas Caliente. It was recently renamed Machupicchu Pueblo, but to us it was where our hotel was, and more importantly, where the ancient city in the sky is.

Some 8,000 feet high up in the Andes Mountains is where the mysterious Incan city lay preserved. No one really knows the “How” and “Why” of Macchu Picchu; although there are many theories ranging from the site was a place where virgin women dedicated themselves to the sun God, or more likely, the site being a retreat for Incan royalty. One thing is for certain, during the Spanish Conquest (mid-1500s) the Spaniards didn’t know the site existed and therefore didn’t destroy it. As a result, in 1911 Hiram Bingham (whom Indiana Jones was loosely based off of) was led to the site by an 11 year-old boy. Now the group in charge of keeping Machu Picchu preserved limits the site to just 2,500 visitors a day. However, none of this would really matter to us if we didn’t get out of Lima, Peru.

Finally at four o’clock our plane took off, and even more exciting, landed at the correct airport. From there my wife and I grabbed our bags and began talking with taxi drivers. We had missed the last train out of Cusco to Machupicchu Pueblo, but if we hustled we could still catch the final train out of this side of the mountains. After a little negotiating, we found a driver would take us the two hours up into the mountains. Thankfully we arrived in time for the train, and with a sigh of relief, we were on our final stretch to our hotel.

After the 40 hours of travel (including sleeping on airport floors and benches) to get there, it was all made worth it when the jungle opened up and before us was Machu Picchu itself. I couldn’t move, couldn’t talk, nor could I take my eyes off of it. The centuries-old Incan site lay there bathed in the warm light of the late-afternoon sun. Since it was so late in the day, so many tourists had departed and we had the site nearly all to ourselves.

We’re very fortunate and grateful to be able to travel and experience such wonderful things in life. We’re pretty lucky to have made it out of the Lima airport too.

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Posted in Travel Tagged |

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.

Posted in Lifestyle Tagged |

Mother and Child Elephant

Mother and Child Elephant

I look back at pictures from our safari in South Africa and it makes me want to jump on a plane and go on another one. Unfortunately it takes a bit more planning and money to do that, but it was a truly majestic experience that I won’t ever forget.

In Kruger National Park, the animals can get overwhelmed by tourists snapping photos and surrounded them with their vehicles. On the private game reserves located throughout the African continent, the animals are better cared for and the experiences are incredible. Their comfort around people in vehicles gave it a whole new level of awesomeness.

The elephants, pictured above, weren’t too concerned about us in our vehicle because it is something they’re used to, and they don’t ever really have issues with people. Leaving animals with good experiences with humans will insure they aren’t scared of us the next time come back.

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Posted in Nature Tagged , |

Colorful Sambodromo Parade

Colorful Sambodromo Parade

Carnival season 2014 is just finishing up across many parts of the world. Among other things, Carnival celebrates the exit of winter and the entry of spring. The largest and most famous of all —  the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — took place this week. The city’s six million residence and more than 900,000 tourists crowded into the streets for days of rowdy, joyous parades and extravagant processions by the city’s best samba schools.

In 2011 my wife and I traveled to Rio to celebrate Carnival and take part in one of the world’s greatest festivals.

Part of the celebration is the various samba schools from in an around Rio build floats to march through the Sambódromo. The parade lasts five or six hours and each school has about an hour to do with what they choose.

In the image above, members of the São Clemente samba school perform during their allotted time at the Sambódromo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Posted in Travel Tagged , |

Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings

Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia just wrapped up. I had been meaning to post this image when the games started but finally got around to it now — when the games ended. (I’ve been pretty weak on posting images so far this year.)

Working the Games of the XXX Olympiad was an incredible experience. I did not get the invitation this year but I had several friends and co-workers who did. They had nothing but good stories to share and didn’t have to break out of any bathrooms or deal with brown tap water. (On the final day one did have his iPad stolen, but he was pretty “meh” about it.)

My fingers are crossed I’ll be invited down to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Games. If I don’t get the call I’ll be firmly planted on the couch watching the coverage. Being at The Games has given me a new respect for the athletes, the city holding the event event and my “bothers and sisters” who are involved in getting those images out.

Speaking of images, I took the above picture on the one “off day” I had while in London. The Tower Bridge, showing the Olympic Rings, is lit up in celebration of the 2012 Olympic Games.

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Posted in Scenic Tagged , |

Cork Heart

Cork Heart

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

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Posted in Lifestyle Tagged |