Thursday, May 31, 2012

To Shoot Perchance to Print

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day when the subject turned to making some great prints. "They don't print nowadays," she said to me. Of course, she was right. Many photographers just don't print anymore. As is typically the case, this got me thinking.

In the early days, back when wild film roamed the earth, a photograph didn't really exist unless you printed it. Heck, a photograph *was* a print-they were virtually an identical word, with nothing separating the two. An image had to exist in some kind of print form for you to even see it. Looking at a photo? Why, it had to be a print.

Then digital came along. Then the megapixel wars and the entire digital output revolution. Inkjet printers ruled the earth and you could make great prints from images you shot digitally. In these times, many of the best photographers (this is still probably the case) were making the best prints. Photography is (and possibly always will be) ruled by the print. Or, to put it another way, there is nothing quite like a hand-crafted, hand-made, one of a kind photographic print on paper. They just look all that good, really they do.

Along comes the iPhone. Yes, it's true now that camera phones are everywhere and there are many, very many, too many in fact, people who have gobs of images on their phones and don't really know what to do with them. The printing solutions haven't really kept up (all that much) with the iPhone-ery. I'm sorry to say but, as far as printers go, it's still difficult to make a connection and lots of printers still do not have an easy way to spit out iPhone pictures.

Combine that with the fact that many people don't want prints. Many people like having images on their phone, only on their phones, and avoiding the prints entirely. That's all well and good too, I mean, people are people and they do what they do, right?

The problem is that there is now an entirely new crop of photographers who have never printed. When I say never, I mean like not now, not ever, not even once. They have never seen their work in printed form. As a former print (only) photographer, that's kind of distressing to me. I can't imagine not holding a print of my work. I can't imagine not being able to see my work in that format, not being able to show my work to somebody else in the form of a print. There's still nothing quite like a great print and you really owe it to yourself and your work to make one. Really. Try it sometime.

Night images like this one you see here look entirely different when printed and can actually be quite difficult to learn how to print. It's also a little (maybe not so little actually) known secret that shooting for print usually means you wind up taking better shots. The best photographers (and, yes, this is still true, still the case even in the new iPhone age) sort of "line themselves up" so that they can get a great negative (or digital negative, as the case may be) from their exposures in camera and, in turn, produce the best negatives (again, or digital negatives) in order to make the best prints. It's an end-to-end process and that means you're actually missing a step or two if you don't bother to see it through all the way until the end. If you don't get that print as an end result, you're really missing more than just, well, than just the print.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of agencies and services now that can help you. If you don't want to go the route I did (or even if you do) in terms of purchasing your own printer, there are things you can do, and options you can explore. You can sign-up for services that will print your work for you. These agencies can provide a fantastic service for you. They handle color management and allow you to get the most out of your printing experience, without, well without shelling out the big bucks of an investment in full printing capabilities. No need for rooms of servers or even racks of giant inkjet printers. No fighting with the Gods of Epson, no more sacrificing small woodland creatures to TWAIN drivers. No, all of that is gone. Now you can just upload and get it in the mail a few days later. All of that and they make great prints, really they do.

If it helps, think of it as a giant iPhone made out of paper. You know, one that you can hold in your hands and showoff to all of your friends. One that you can even frame and hang on the wall, if you are so-inclined.

So, if you are one of those photographers who has never printed, not once, not anything of your own, I'd have to ask, "what are you waiting for?" Go on, get out there and do it already!

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Fables of Deconstruction

DowntownBuilding_0024, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
As a photographer, I get asked a lot of times, "what is your background?" Many people assume I have a background in art, and I do, to some degree. I started doing ceramics (painting them and firing them with glazes) as a child, but my "real" background is somewhat surprising. I went to engineering school. Yes, it's true. I was an engineer (a working engineer) long before I became a photographer.

An interesting thing about engineering and art-they maybe aren't as "unrelated" as you might think them to be. At least, I have always thought of good (proper) engineering and art to be somewhat like two sides to the same coin. They have more in common than one might think.

Now, it's true that some of the worst photographers I know happen to be computer programmers and engineering types. If you look over the course of the history of photography, it can be said too that there are very few engineer types who really make it as photographers. This might lend one to believe that engineers are horrible photographers and, heck, I'd be the first to admit, often they are. At least, they can be. Of course, I know some great photographers who are also technical-being technical does not preclude one from being a great artist, in fact just the opposite can hold true-some of the best artists I know are somewhat technical, almost "left brained" in nature at times. (It's certainly true that some of the most successful artists have a bit of "left brain" in them-at least enough of a "left brain" like quality to be able to organize and promote their work. As we all know, a lot of the behind the scenes of the art world is actually business sense and know-how and there are some very pointed "left brain" type of activities that go into that.)

So, how does one translate the left brain of the engineering world into the right brain of the photography (or art) world? (Photographers are artists too.)

There are two big factors at play here. One is what I like to call "ego" (actually, you probably call it that too) and the other is something I call "fables of the deconstruction." Allow me to explain.

Many programmers, engineers, and even business moguls, are the type of people with over-inflated egos. They tend to think of themselves as "the smartest people in the room." That's all well and good, I suppose, I mean, it's great to view one's self with such high regard, but it leaves the door open (and I do mean wide open here) for making crappy art. For starters, if somebody thinks so highly of themselves, if they honestly believe they are some kind of "gift to God's green earth" then they feel they cannot make mistakes. Often, what we do in the art world is make mistakes. We make big messes, we clean them up, and then we make even bigger messes. To put it another way: it's humbling to be an artist. There's always somebody better than you. It's a tough field, everybody wants to be a creative and, time to face facts, you aren't all that talented. (Well, most people aren't.) Sure, you might have *some* talent, you might be able to take an "OK" picture but, believe me when I say this, there are a lot of people who can do that too. Equally well as you can do it. And they are more driven than you are (or you might be) to be a success, simply because they aren't so in love with themselves that they are above working at it. Yes, it's true. You're ego is actually working against yourself here. I've seen it happen, many times too, where somebody just assumes they can take a great picture, simply because, well photography is "easy" heck we all know that, right? Everybody can take a great picture, right? Sure, it seems easy, and it can be easy, for the most part. That is until you actually try it yourself. The very nature of it being so "easy" is what makes it so hard. It's harder to really excel in part because so much is stripped away.

Another thing that comes into play is that a lot of the "prima donna" programmer and engineering types lack something very important in the arts: heart. They have mad skills in some areas, yes, they understand XML files and can explain "circles of confusion" as easily as a duck can demonstrate how to "quack," sure they can. But no heart? Did you ever see a lifeless image? One that lacks heart? Oh, that's not a pretty picture, let me tell you. At the end of the day, it's much better to take pictures that aren't so "technically precise" but have heart than it is to get each and every last "circle of confusion" in the right place but craft something nobody wants to look at again. Trust me on this one. (If you are an engineer, a programmer, heck even an accountant, and you're thinking about taking up photography, stop and ask yourself this one question: How can I put my heart into it? If you cannot answer that question, stop! Put your camera down and go back to your day job. I'm sorry to be so cruel here but tough love is sometimes necessary.)

OK, so assuming you've taken your ego and checked it at the door (it's possible, as not all programmers have their heads up their, ahem, anatomy as it were) let's move on to item number two on my great big list of common ground: Fables of deconstruction. What exactly does that mean? What is it and why do I need to know about it? What is this silly "fables of deconstruction" of which you speak?

Engineers and artists have one thing in common, one big thing, and that's the fact that they both like to take things apart.

Engineers like to take things apart, put them back together again, observe how they work, break them into systems, and subsystems, and look at things from different viewpoints. They analyze data points and try to reconstruct things. They use models and blueprints so they can visually represent things in different stages or states of construction (or even, "deconstruction" as it were.) Very rarely does an engineer go over a bridge, go through a tunnel, drive an exotic car, etc. without looking at how it was made, without looking under the hood. Heck, sometimes, they'll ever crawl around on the ground to see how things were made, to make connections, to examine, to poke, to mentally "take apart" and put back together again. They're almost always doing it and they sometimes take apart things you didn't want them to touch. (Back! Away from my shiny new large screen LCD TV set your pesky programmer, you.)

That's great. OK, that's what engineers do. But what about artists?

Well, artists like to take things apart, they like to put things back together again, they like to observe how things work, what makes people tick, they like to break things into systems and subsystems and re-craft them in their own special way. They look at things from different viewpoints. They use models and sketches so they can visually represent things in different stages or states of construction (or even, "deconstruction" as it were.) Does it sound like I'm repeating myself here? I bet it does!

And that repetition? Why, that's the very thing I like to call "fables of deconstruction."

Take things apart, look at them, really look at things. See things not (only) how they want to be seen but how they are seen in different light, in different surroundings. Look at things over, under, beyond, up close, from far away. Dissect things. Be observant. All of these traits make for great engineers and great artists and, in fact, I'd go so far as to say this is, in part, what's wrong with modern day engineering school and why people like Leonardo da Vinci were such great engineers AND artists. Once our education strays too far from this sort of "deconstruction," once our engineering schools start teaching kids to rattle off Java class names but not to bother taking things apart, that's when engineering education really starts to fall apart. (The same can be said for art school, by the way. Run, and I do mean run very far away, from any art curriculum that discourages taking things apart or deconstructing artwork in some format in order to teach new skills.)

So, if you're an engineer, computer programmer, architect, accountant, or otherwise a "left-brained" type who wants to try your hand in the arts, I have some advice for you. For starters, check your ego at the door. Artists are some of the smartest most hard-working people I know and many have talents you can't even begin to comprehend. Don't think you're overly special, just work hard and learn as much as you can. Never stop learning. And, secondly, never, and by never I really do mean "never, never, never, never, never" forget your fascination with taking things apart and putting them back together again. Your ability to deconstruct things is what will help you make the transition from "left-brained" pencil pusher to "right-brained" artist type sooner than you think.

I'm sure there will be many who disagree with me about these points and I know I've probably offended some of you out there, but I'm also certain that, if you take what I've said here to heart, it will do nothing but help in the long run, no matter how painful it might be to hear upon first read. As always, I welcome your comments on this subject, please feel free to drop me an email if you are so-inclined.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How To Get Ahead in the Art World Without Really Trying

Dark Figure Walking, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
I've been reading up a lot recently on these "how to get ahead in business without really trying" type articles and, it struck me as I was reading along, that many of the same "tricks" can also be applied to the art world.

Of course, there really are no "tricks" to getting ahead. We all know it takes some hard work, some commitment to your work, and just good old-fashioned tenacity to stick it out and make yourself a success. Having said that, some of these "tricks" might be helpful, so I present them to you today, for you to ponder a bit.

Focus laser-like on your work. Mentoring programs, "official" ones are a bad idea-everyone should be your mentor-learn from all artists around you. Support groups can be a bad idea as well.These can sort of turn into "victim's groups" or pity parties. Avoid that, it will get you nowhere. Also, many of the moderately successful folks in these groups copy ideas. You will find yourself working to get somebody else's work promoted. If you are just starting out, a group like this can help but it's a double edged sword as they can get you to a certain point in your development and hold you back too. Many of these groups (art groups, camera clubs, etc.) are designed to get you to a certain point-say showing work at local restaurants-but then that's where they stop. Once you become the most successful in the group, it's time to bow out, even if you do it gracefully (or just distance yourself a bit from the group.)

Give up on the idea of work-life balance. We hear a lot about this in the media lately and it just doesn't work. Give up on the idea of "being discovered" as an artist. Much of what artists and photographers do is business. Tackle hard jobs, take risks. Be open to opportunity, yes, but make opportunity. Take control if your art career for nobody else will. Cultivate successful habits.

Pursue new venues and opportunities relentlessly. Change galleries after you've sold XXX amount in the current one. Don't be afraid to move up and move into new, bigger markets. Develop a strategic plan for where you want to go-set your own final destination-be it museums, high-end galleries, etc. Be comfortable being who you are but know yourself. Be confident and work on professionalism.

Look for opportunities to stand out from the crowd. When you hit a target, don't forget to toot your own horn (this is where social media can come in-don't spend too much time on social media but learn to use it wisely.) Don't wait to get noticed, instead make people notice your work. Engage viewers at shows. Speak up! Learn to speak about your artwork and don't be afraid to do it.

Pick the brains of successful artists-sometimes without them knowing you are doing it. Have a strong work ethic and do whatever it takes to make your shows a success. Some people hang their own work, others aren't afraid to take out the trash in the gallery. Still others work magazine jobs they dislike just for the opportunity to get their work in front of eyes. Don't be afraid to do what it takes. Find out what it takes a do it.

Don't set low expectations-most opportunities are open to all. Think you found a snooty high-end gallery in someplace like New York that won't take your stuff? Send it in anyway. Send, send, send out your work and then, if you have any question about it, send out some more.

Learn to prioritize and stick to it. Don't second guess yourself. Pick things that are important to you and stick to these things-get them done.

There's a great myth out there about "balance" that you can have a "balanced" life all of the time. The reality is you cannot. There will be times you will be slammed and times the phone just will not ring. Learn to cope with that. Learn to multitask.

Be clever, smart, and driven to overcome impediments. Life isn't fair, but work hard and things will happen for you. Take responsibility for your own career. Don't be jealous or envious, instead focus on what you can do to improve yourself. Strive to be more than you are. Be strong. Stay close to those who know more than you. Invest in yourself.

Take care of yourself mind, body, and soul. Be professional, original, and follow through on actions. Force yourself to stretch as an artist and always do new, exciting work.

Of course, a lot of this advice is just sort of common sense but, as they say, common sense is not always so common. You would be surprised how many people have told me they wish more artists were "professional" or even just "organized." There are also a huge number of artists that have hidden themselves under a sort of "glass ceiling." That is, they've gotten to a certain point in their careers but are sort of stuck, in a rut, and cannot really get anywhere further along.

It's hard to stand apart from the crowd and, yes, it often seems like there are a million artists out there wanted to do what it is we do. Hopefully, these tips (advice really) from the business world will help, even if it's just a little bit.

Until next time...

Friday, May 18, 2012

What's Over the Next Horizon/Fear of Success

Glacier_4480, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, the other day, I happened upon a few opportunities. You know the typical places and "calls for entries" we photographers usually respond to. Stuff like "artist wanted: must have own prints!" only a bit more formal (if you will.) I happened upon this one opportunity that would be *great* and, when I say *great* I really mean like great, great, great. It would be life altering, mind blowingly good. Seriously great.

And that's when it hit me.

I'm not afraid to enter these type of opportunities because I might get rejected, no, I get rejected all the time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say I've been rejected from bigger, better places. (Harumph! Um, I think.)

My fear? My real fear? Getting ACCEPTED.

Now, I know this might sound strange to you. I mean, why would somebody be afraid of getting *into* something, right? I mean, isn't that what we all want? Isn't that what's driving us all? We want to get in, in, in not be left out in the cold? And yet, somehow, when you look at what "in" really means, when it stares at you right back in the face, why "in" can be just as scary as out.

There will come a time in your artistic development when you will leave behind the safety of ye' ole' "day job." There will come a time when your art will pay your bills. There will come a time when you will be face to face with that big client, that major deal you want to land, the big gallery directory, that *whatever.* It's times like these, not your failures, that define who you are, who you really are as an artist. It's times like these that make your career. Art is an odd thing in that it seems like you have to work for years to become an "overnight" sensation. Opportunity can hide for decades and then, "suddenly" when you least expect it, pop up where you didn't even think to look.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, "but that will never happen to me!" or maybe, "I'm so far away from that!" Trust me, you're not. Sure, you might think you are but, one day, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even the next day, but one day sometime soon (sooner than you think!) it too will happen to you. You will be staring down the fangs of that burly monster known as "success" and, believe me when I say this, it's almost harder to look him in the eye than it is to chase and wrangle away the runts of failure. (Failures are kind of like mosquitoes-they sometimes make you feel like you are being eaten alive, but you can develop a thick skin and learn how to repel them right away.) The successes in life? Why, those are a lot harder to wrangle up, let me tell you.

So today, on this Friday of Fridays, I'm here to tell you, all my shinning peeps out there, that you should prepare yourself for success. Think of it happening and embrace it. Get ready, it's coming. Stop living in fear of what's over that next horizon. You took the first steps (they say the first steps are the hardest, right?) now don't be afraid, get in there and seal the deal! Go present yourself to that big client, schedule a meeting with that gallery director, submit your portfolio to that new place. Go on now, you know you have it in you. You know you can do it. This is, after all is said and done, what we do now, isn't it? Even though it seems like a great big scary universe of the "unknown" just over that next horizon, keep on the path to your success. Every hill you climb only brings you one step closer to your destination. Every step you take forges your path into the uncharted territory of your next greatest milestone. You'll never get there if you don't just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on, no matter how daunting one particular step might seem at the time.

When people climb mountains, even people who are afraid of heights, they are often told, "look out! Look over the horizon. Don't look down!" This is because almost nobody is afraid of the horizon, it's the drop down from the high mountains we fear most. The same can be said of our artwork. Don't look at where you've been, look out over the horizon and look up to where you are going. You've got great heights to scale and you already know you're not afraid to climb so just embrace the journey. Don't be afraid to summit, it's there waiting to welcome you and it's what you set out to do, no matter how long the rope might seem now.

Bull. Horns. Grab. Need I say more?

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There's No Room Like an Empty Room

LargeWindows, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.
OK, so maybe it's a bit of a play on words, but I'm here to admit my storage situation has gotten dire. It didn't used to be this way, no, it's only a recent issue. You see, for a few years now, I have been using something called a "G-Tech G-Safe" which is a RAID mirrored device, 2TB in size, that holds all of my files. This device is a separate, powered drive, that connects to my main computer as a USB device. Yes, I'd have to say I've been using this G-Safe device for a while and, the entire time I was using it, why all was well with the world.

Then, as you can probably guess, things started to fill up. I went to Kona. I went to Iceland. I went to New Orleans. Two terabytes only goes so far these days. Yes, I'm afraid to admit, why I've all but filled the thing up. No problem, I thought, I'll just be the happy idiot that I am and just go on out and order a new one. Maybe they even have some nicer, newer, bigger ones, right? Right?!?


They have discontinued this G-Tech G-Safe device. Discontinued?!?! For those of you who can understand this, that means they aren't actually making any of these devices anymore. Oh the horror! What am I supposed to do now? Hope the bits just run across the carpet all by their lonesome selves and hop into a filing cabinet? Go back to using floppy disks or, even worse, tape drive backups that look like those giant old reel-to-reel tapes? Geesh! What were these people thinking? Discontinued!?!? (You can't discontinue something that's cool and something that everybody needs and wants, no, you're supposed to discontinue old and useless things, you know, stuff like punch card readers and old Betamax players, not cool RAID mirrored hard drive storage devices that actually work.)

So, I've started the hunt for more storage. I really love the idea of a mirrored drive. I love a RAID device. I really really want to be able to write once and have it go to lots of places. I really love the idea of having a sort of "instant backup." Unfortunately, the G-Tech people really didn't love the idea of continuing to make these lovely devices.

Shame on them!

So, I might just go ahead and order two 4TB drives and do the sort of "self mirror" thing, where I copy the files up once a week or something. Man, I just hate doing that, but it's starting to look like it's my only option.

While all of this has been happening, mind you, the main drive on my computer is starting to fill up too. Microsoft keeps issuing updates to Word and there are newer versions of Photoshop and Lightroom and...

Geesh!?! Can't a girl get enough storage these days? I mean, is 4TB really too much to ask? So, I have been fighting the storage woes. And losing. What have you been doing recently? Hopefully, you're doing something more productive like, oh heck, I don't know, watching paint dry.

Speaking of paint, this weekend is the wonderful West Austin studio tour or WEST as they have been calling it. (I've never been there but the catalog sure looks nice.) Rumor has it too that I'm in the City Hall exhibit which, as luck would have it, is actually part of this wonderful WEST tour. So, if you are so-inclined, look for me to head WEST this weekend. Yes, it's true, I might actually show up to this thing.

That is if my total lack of storage has not swallowed my brain entirely sometime before then.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Just a Flower

JustAFlower_7045, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today, I'm in the mood for just a flower so that's exactly what you are getting. Just a flower, only a flower. If this had been a real plant, why stay tuned to your computer for emergency information....(Kidding! Kidding!)

A few odds and ends to tell you about too. For starters, I'm thinking about joining Model Mayhem. Yes, I know, it's a bit tricky and, yes, I know, I don't really do a lot of model shoots but I've been thinking it might be kind of nice to have contact with the outside (aka "real") world once in a while and, frankly, I could use some model shoots, so I might just bite the bullet and sign up. They have changed the site so that it's a bit more difficult to sign up but I still think I can get in past the guards at the door. Wish me luck.

In other news, it's actually "meta-news" as I've been thinking about re-doing this site a bit. Blogger, you see, has added tabs. Oh tabs, oh wonderful tabs. I'm thinking about tabbing myself a bit, maybe making this site look a bit more like a magazine and less like a regular old blog. Jury is still out on that, we'll see how it plays out but, suffice it to say, don't be surprised if you come 'round these parts one day only to find a different looking site. I won't change any of the main features, just maybe spiffy up the landing page and add my tabs a bit. We'll see if I have time and inclination to do so.

Until then, you will have to settle for just a flower, only a flower. (I hope you like my flower for today.)

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Of Cool Clear Water

WindowsOnWater_7097, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

They say that something like 75% of the earth's surface is covered in water. If you have ever been out sailing, or perhaps taken a trans-oceanic flight, you might be more aware of this than others. There's really a lot of water on our little blue ball of a planet.

Water comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes too. The glaciers of Alaska? Yup, mostly water. The icebergs up in Iceland? Water too. The canals of Venice? Water still. Water, water everywhere indeed.

Water does interesting things for photographers. It distorts things. It bends things. It makes things look unreal. Sometimes, it just sits there and looks pretty too. It's an interesting thing, water is, and it provides many an opportunity for the photographer who is willing to look at it in just the right way.

Yesterday, we had bad storms come through. They were quite heave with a lot of rain, damaging winds, and lightning that was quite dramatic. It's also supposed to rain all week, even though Saturday.

Now, normally, I would not like the rain-it does funky things to your camera and makes it harder to get out and shoot, but there's something about water, right now, right at this time, in this place, that I really like. We need the rain and it would otherwise be too hot, even this early in the season. It was 98 the other day, without any of the pesky water falling from the sky.

There are so many ways a photographer can use water-more ways than I can even count. There are reflections, waterfalls, water in motion, shooting underwater, and lots more. Heck, this week has shown me too that, another valid way of shooting with water is staying home and shooting in your studio when it's raining out. Stay home, in your studio or shoot indoors, on account of the rain. Think of all of the studio work we do when it's otherwise raining and, yes, all of that work is brought to you, in part, thanks to water.

Water, the humble, clear, odorless and tasteless liquid nobody likes to think about but in actuality exists everywhere our eyes can see.

Living in the southwest, we have a special relationship with water. Many of our cities and towns are, in fact, running out of water. Sounds hard to believe, but it's true. There is water everywhere yet, in some parts, not enough. (Last year's wildfires reminded us of this the hard way.)

So, the next time you go out shooting, I'd encourage you to look at water. Really look at it. Look at it in a different light. Look at it and tell me, what exactly is it that you see? Because, what you see today, why, it just might not be there tomorrow. In the land of water, things just sort of work that way sometimes.

Until next time...

Friday, May 04, 2012

Spa Day for My Eyes

OpenSunset_4539, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Sometimes, I just want what I like to call a little "spa day for my eyes." I'm not interested in looking at anything too complicated, I just want something expansive, something open, something abstract, but not too so, something vast but comfortable. Images like these are sort of "spa days for the eyes" because you can look at them and just sort of go, "Ahhhh!" There's nothing too complex or too complicated. It's just your plain, basic pretty colors and field of openness to make you comfortable.

Photos like these, if they were meals, why this would be the "meat loaf" of images. It's nothing fancy, nothing fussy, just something comfortable and familiar. I'm sure everybody has seen something that looks like this and, yes, the colors are pretty.

Have you ever wanted to take a spa day for your eyes? To just kick back, relax, and look at sunset on the beach or pretty colors without anything too complicated? I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who enjoys shots like this.

Relax. Chill. It's Friday. Have a beer. And, while you're off doing that, here's a pretty sunset for you to enjoy. Even if it's just for a few minutes, even if you really don't like the picture at all, just stop and say, "Ahhhh" if only for a moment. There's enough chaos in the world. We could all use a bit more comfort.

Now, where did I put those comfy slippers again?

Until next time...