Archive for May, 2010


People ask me from time to time how I keep such a positive, happy attitude.  I like to tell them that no matter how bad things get, someone else always has it much worse.  I am fortunate to wake up every day with a great family, a gorgeous girlfriend, my health and a motorcycle.  How could you not smile on a motorcycle?

But, I do have days where I am in a really bad mood, or even a funk and there’s one sure fire way to get me out of it – Music.  All I have to do is grab the iPod and pick something out and start listening.   Certain music will instantly put a smile on my face.  It really depends on what type of mood I am in to determine which type of music I need to perk me up.

I like to listen to a lot of different types of music, so I have a ton of music in my iPod Photo I bought in 2004 or 2005.  I still have the old school iPod.  It’s huge, but it still works like new.  About an inch thick, and 60GB worth of space on it.  I put about 4,000 songs on it, so I am not very limited in genres.  I am not a fan of country though.  I hear it’s getting a little more pop-like, but it’s just not my bag, baby.

So, as I was sitting here trying to figure out what to do my blog on, I went looking for some old CDs with old pictures stored on them.  I found an old 50 CD spindle crammed with a ton of CDs that was stored in a tote in the basement.  I was hoping it had the pictures I was looking for on a CD in it, but it didn’t.  There were a ton of burned music CDs and a few actual music CDs in there.  Jackpot!

I think that everyone has that ‘era’ of music that they love.  Well, maybe just old farts.  I am very partial to 90s hip-hop.  It’s my guilty pleasure.   I grew up in Virginia and it was the most popular among the people I grew up with.  I think it was a great time for the genre.  Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge rock and metal lover, too.  I love old school Metallica (pre-St. Anger) and Rage Against the Machine is one of my favorite bands.  And, much to Kevin Marshall’s chagrin, I love Nickelback.  I’ve seen them in concert three times and they put on an amazing show.

Now, it’s your turn.  Tell me what can put a smile on your face when you’re in a funk.  Music?  Friends?  Shopping?  Alcohol?  Do you have a musical ‘era’?  What type of music do you like?

See ya soon!

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When I wrote yesterday’s blog, I started with an idea in mind, but as I typed, something else took over and changed the ending a bit.  The story about my grandfather was supposed to lead up to what originally inspired that blog.  Instead, it turned into how I came to love motorcycles.  Good or bad you ask?  Bonus, I say.

What I was originally going to write was how as a kid, my grandfather worked on small engines.  We would test them out and make sure they would work before he called the owners and let them know they were fixed.  The rest of the story was true, but not where I had originally wanted to go with it.  Here is what I was going to write before I got sidetracked…

My grandfather was very specific about how we mowed the lawn.  He had a system that cut the yard into four sections.  He wanted us to go in a certain direction, never blowing the grass towards the house or the pool.  I thought it was a little wacky as a kid, but now that I am grown up (well, that’s still questionable) I have my own system when I cut the grass, sort of like he did.  I always cut it in a different direction each time.  I usually chose a diagonal pattern across the yard, and the following week, I will do the same, but from the other corner of the yard so they intersect.  I know, riveting stuff, but I do have a point!

As kids, we lived in an old farm house with acres and acres of land and a ridiculously long driveway.  We had so much grass that we actually used two riding mowers to cut it.  One of my brothers would use one and I would use the other.  It was quite the task, but we got it done.

The point I am trying to make is that I never got tired of mowing the lawn.  I hear people all the time saying how much they hate doing it, and it’s such a pain in the butt.  I personally love doing it.  I take great pride in making sure the lawn looks good.  It makes me feel like I have accomplished something.   There’s nothing like finishing the lawn and looking out the window to see how great it looks and the diagonal lines in brilliant green.

The reason I wrote this is to ask you a question – What chore or task did you have growing up that you love still?  Which one do you hate?

See you soon!

P.S. Please check out Rose’s blog today.  Her friend’s daughter has leukemia and they are doing a fundraiser for her tomorrow, Friday the 21st.

Last night, Rose and I attended the Times Union Baseball and Bloggers event at the  Dale Miller Restaurant in downtown Albany. The event was put on by Mike Huber, the Interactive Audience Manager for the Blogs portion of the site.  Mark McGuire was the MC for the night. Mark is a sports columnist and also blogs for the Times Union.  In the first two hot seats were Jordan Carleo-Evangelist and Chris Churchill.  They both root for different teams, but it seems they put aside their differences when they write.  Jennifer Gish was the third member in the hot seat.  She is a newcomer to baseball, and admitted that she grew up watching football.  I got a laugh when she said they should just get rid of the (Pittsburgh) Pirates.

Personally, I am not a sports fan in the least.  I don’t know much about baseball or any other sport, but I did want to attend to see what it was all about.  Just like the Media 2010: How blogs shape the new conversation blogging event a few months ago, I really enjoyed being a part of this event.  It was fun, informative and great for networking with other bloggers.

Jordan and Chris exchanged a witty banter and had me laughing quite a bit.  Even though I don’t know much about sports, I did enjoy listening to them interact with the audience.  The audience did a great job of participating as well.  Unfortunately, the game was delayed due to rain and the guys stretched it out as long as they could, but had to release us to mingle as the delay was going to be another 40 minutes or so.

Mike did an awesome job of organizing this event.  Dale Miller Restaurant is a beautiful place.  We were on the 13th floor (or P1 as the elevator displayed).  The view of the city was quite incredible from there.  I am glad it rained, because I would have been upset to have that gorgeous outdoor patio with 360 degree views of downtown and not have my camera with me.  If anyone from Dale Miller reads this, I would love to have the opportunity to do some photography from that patio.  The shots I could get from there would be amazing!  End of shameless begging…

I had the opportunity to meet some Twitter friends and writers of blogs I read frequently while I was there.  I finally got to meet Amanda Talar, who may or may not know how to flirt, but she likes motorcycles.  That is OK in my book!  Kari VanAlstyne was there, and so was local self-proclaimed sex symbol Kevin Marshall.  I also met Mike Keane and got to chat him up about jobs and blogs.  At some point he realized that I lost my mouth filter a while ago and I just let things fly.  It catches people off guard sometimes.  They see me dressed in Brooks Brothers slacks and a nice button down shirt,  so they don’t necessarily know that I am a heavily tattooed biker.  I love it.

Oh, and if anyone sees the nice lady that was taking pictures of the guests at the party, please send her my apologies.  I can be a bit of a wiseass.  She came up to us at the beginning of the event and asked if she could take our picture.  I said, “No, you can’t take my picture.  I am anonymous.”  I was totally kidding, and she never took my picture.  Oops.  It is a bit of an inside joke.  As a photographer I hate having my picture taken.  Ironic, isn’t it?  So, in most online sources, you wont see a picture of me.  I will post a picture of my reflection in the chrome of my Harley, or wearing a helmet, but you’ll rarely see my face.  Trust me, I’m doing you a favor.

I really think that a motorcycle blog should be a part of the Times Union Blog section.  I would be happy to contribute with perhaps a few other bloggers sharing the blog.  Have your people call my people and they can do lunch together!

See ya soon!

As I was mowing the lawn yesterday, something hit me and made me think.  I know, it doesn’t happen very often.  Anyway, I was thinking about growing up as a kid on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  I thought back to mowing the lawn since I was old enough to safely push or ride the mower.  My  grandfather worked on mowers in his spare time and we were always testing them out when he was done to make sure they worked properly.  The best part was when he would fix go-karts and we could test them out.

I can remember one day he fixed a go-kart and I was testing it around the yard.  I was ripping along at a good pace for the first lap or two, slowing down for the corners and accelerating in the straights.  By the second or third lap, I was all out coming through the corners and sliding the back end around, steering through the corners.  Well, I made it maybe two more laps around the yard before I heard “the whistle”.  When he put two fingers in his mouth and made that whistle, you knew you were in trouble.  Without hesitation, my foot came off the gas pedal and I slowly crept back to the garage.  I was scolded a little for tearing up the lawn when I slid the back end around the corners, but it was more like a life lesson.

We also had a mini-bike back then.  I can remember riding it around the yard and the neighborhood when I was young.  I even remember one time when my brother was riding around the yard and the throttle got stuck.  I can see the grown ups like it was yesterday, chasing hims as fast as they could run.  They caught him eventually and all was well, but it was a little scary and quite humorous.

I remember my Aunt and Uncle coming down from Massachusetts on their motorcycles and my uncle taking us for rides.  It was the best.  When I was 16, my grandfather had an old Suzuki automatic (650 LA perhaps?) that he let me take down the road one day.  That was all she wrote.  Since those days of go-karts, mini-bikes and motorcycles, I have been a motorcycle lover.  I love the freedom and the instant speed.  A lot of sport bikes I have ridden will do 0-60 in under 3 seconds.  That’s faster than a Ferrari.  Now you see why I love riding.  And it’s not just the speed.  It’s the fresh air in your face, the smells, the freedom.  I love it.

So, a big thank you goes out to my grandfather.  He was like a father to me and taught me great things I will never forget.  He also taught how to treat and respect a woman.  He and my grandmother were married for 54 years before he passed away.  They just don’t make them like him any more.  I miss him very much.

See ya soon!

Yesterday, I did something I have never done before.  I participated in a “peaceful rally”.  This rally was put on by the members of ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) of New York.  The purpose for this rally is to fight the profiling of motorcycles and illegal roadblocks that target only motorcycles.  We rode downtown to the the Capitol building to make our voices heard.

The New York State Capitol

The bikers came out in large numbers.  I would guess that there were four or five hundred motorcycles that met in Schodack and rode into downtown Albany.  The line of motorcycles for a mile or so in front of you and behind you is quite impressive.

Halfway up the street

A little farther up the street. The bikes went on forever.

One of the main issues that were discussed today were the roadblocks that target only motorcycles on the way to Americade and the Harley Rendevous.  The police pull over motorcycles and issue ridiculous tickets for exhaust, helmet and license violations.  It’s not right.  I understand the helmet and license issue.  I wear a full face helmet all year round and would never ride with a brain bucket or no helmet at all.  That is my choice.  If people want to ride without a helmet, that is their choice.

What bothers me is these roadblocks are basically entrapment.  They only pull motorcycles over.  While you are there, they look at your pipes.  If they are not stock pipes, you get a ticket.  That is total crap.  My bike is obnoxiously loud (quote from my friends) and I wont change it.  I changed my pipes once.  I was going for my road test at the DMV and figured I would get flack for the pipes, so I had them swapped for the day.  On my way to the DMV, a car came over in my lane and I had nowhere to go but into the guard rail  I made my peace, confident I wasn’t walking away from this one.  Quick thinking on my part and a fast bike got me out of it.  I punched it and leaned it hard and was able to swerve clear of the guard rail.

That day, I swore to never change those pipes.  Most people think it’s just to be annoying, but people just don’t see you when you’re on the bike.  They are too busy eating or texting while driving and swerving all over the road.  I saw a t-shirt today that was dead on, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  It said “I’m sorry my loud pipes disturbed your phone call”.  Funny, but sad.  It amazes me how little people pay attention when they drive while talking on the phone.

Most people don’t understand or just don’t care that loud pipes do save lives.  I’m not saying I’ve never made unnecessary noise.  But for the most part, they are there for safety.  With my bike being as loud as it is, if you hit me and say you didn’t hear me (or feel the vibrations from the exhaust) there’s a problem.  You know when I am in your blind spot.  You know when I am next to you.

I can rant and rave here all day, but if I can reach a few people at a time and make them aware of motorcycles, it will make me very happy.  The best thing I have seen so far is a slogan that reads “Look Twice.  Save a Life.  Motorcycles are everywhere.”  There are a few variations of this saying.  Take the two seconds to turn your head and see if we are next to you.  Put down the phone and turn your head to see who’s there.  And this doesn’t just go for bikes.  We wouldn’t have all the accidents we do if people would just pay more attention.  It could save your life.  See ya soon!

Yesterday, we met a friend at Starbucks to see his new puppy.  Before you get too excited, we were outside on the patio on what was a beautiful, 70ish degree day.  The puppy was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and it was adorable.  But, that’s another blog for another day.

Anyway, we are sitting there talking to our friend for a few hours and motorcycles keep passing by.  After a while, two Harleys pull in and the owners walk over.  The husband sits down and the wife goes in to grab some drinks.  He notices the dog and strikes up a conversation.  He mentions they have a Maltese and they spoil it rotten.  We tell them about our 4.6 pound Chi-a-poo (chihuahua poodle mix) and how ridiculously spoiled she is.

Our 4.6 pound killer attack dog, Isabella

Rose and I are really great at making new friends.  It seems almost everywhere we go, we make a new friend, and a lot of times we meet people that ride like us.  They each had their own motorcycle and, as most bikers do, they loved telling us about their bikes.  So, what does this have to do with the price of tea in China?  Absolutely nothing.

What I am getting at is if I met this couple anywhere else without the motorcycle boots and gear, I probably wouldn’t have know they were bikers.  And that is the case for a lot of people that ride.  If you had seen Rose or I in our street clothes, you probably wouldn’t have known we ride either.  Fact is, a lot of bikers out there are doctors, lawyers, and business professionals.  If you saw them in their field, you might not have any idea that they ride motorcycles

Sure, you will always have some bad eggs, but a lot of bikers are the most caring, giving people you will ever meet.  Turns out the couple we met know some of our friends from a town or two over.  They welcomed us to swing by their house and go for a ride with them sometime.  It reminds me how small the world really is, and how there really are some great people out there.  If you can’t smile after meeting someone like that, then there is something wrong with you.  What a great day to be alive.

So, smile, be happy and make a new friend today.  See ya soon!

When I sent the LowePro Pro Runner 450AW back to LowePro after my review period was up, I asked for a bag that was a little smaller so I could use it when I was on the motorcycle.  This way, I can combine my two loves – photography and motorcycles.  They sent me the LowePro FlipSide 300.  The FlipSide 300 is considerably smaller that the Pro Runner 450AW and a much better fit for the amount of camera gear I normally take with me when I go out shooting.  But this bag is different…

When I opened the box and pulled out the bag, I was thinking “what the ?”  The zipper for the main compartment is on the part of the bag that goes up against your back.  I don’t know if it was LowePro‘s idea or not, but I would think that this will keep water out of the main area your camera is stored in.  Good thinking, LowePro.  The bag also has chest and waist straps for secure and comfortable travel.  The padding on this bag is also quite impressive.  I wore it for four or five hours on the motorcycle and it was very comfortable.

When you open the main compartment, there is room for an SLR body with a lens attached (up to 300mm) and 1-3 additional lenses.  There is a zippered pouch in the main compartment that lets you store memory cards, chargers, cords, or whatever you want to put in there.  It is attached with velcro and can be moved or even removed if you want more space. With the bag open, the flap that swings down has a large zippered pocket in it.  I am using this pocket to store filters and even a small notebook.

There is a handy media pouch on the outside of the bag that zips open to allow storage of pens, keys, and two velcro memory card pouches.  There are two small pockets inside the media pouch as well.  On the other side of the bag, there is a mesh pouch that I used for carrying a water bottle.

On the front of the bag, there is a really handy, durable grab handle built in.  It is heavy duty with a textured under side to prevent slipping.  Also on the front of the bag is a strap to tie down a tripod.  At the bottom of the front of the bag, there is a velcro pocket that hides a tripod holder.  The tripod holder holds the tripod in place and works in conjunction with the tie down strap.

So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.  Here are the specs from LowePro‘s web site;

Capacity:  1 Pro DSLR with 300mm f/2.8 lens attached plus 1–3 additional lenses or flash units, 1 tripod, multiple cables, memory cards, manuals and other digital accessories

Size(Interior): 9.1W X 5.4D X 15.9H in./ 23 X 13.8 X 40.5 cm
Size(Exterior): 10.2W X 6.9D X 17.5H in./ 25.8 X 17.4 X 44.5 cm
Weight: 2.6lbs/1.2kg

Price: $99.99

Colors: Black, Red and Black, Arctic Blue and Black

Pros

-Great size for hiking, biking
-Roomy interior
-Lightweight
-Durable
-Lots of pouches for storage
-Well-padded back and shoulder straps

Cons

-I haven’t found any yet.

I really love this bag.  It is perfect for the amount of equipment I have and for using while I am on the bike.  This is a bag I would really like to own.  If you are in the market for a compact bag with plenty of room for a camera, two or three lenses and some miscellaneous other accessories, this might just be the bag for you.  I highly recommend checking this bag out.

Here are a few pics of the bag in action.

See ya soon!

**Bag images courtesy of LowePro**

**Motorcycle images courtesy of Rose**

Last night I wrote about a model shoot the we went to as a photo group.  I didn’t have a chance to put some of the pictures up last night as I had to finish editing them and wait for the model’s approval.  Well, she has approved some of them and I can now share them with you.  Before I do, I wanted to tell you more about the shoot.

Amanda came out to Hudson, NY be our model.  She is 20 years old and a college student.  I was told that she was Miss Teen Vermont (or something to that effect) but I can’t remember her title exactly.  I am glad I got the photos done quickly, as she is leaving in a few days to go to Africa to help teach.  Sounds like a lot of fun!  Her sister is also a model and has volunteered to sit for another one of our photo shoots.

This picture made me realize just how easy a little different hair style can make someone look totally different.

I really like the way this shot came out.

This one is one was a great goofin’ around shot

So, what do you think?  How did I do for my first model shoot?  If you want to see more please check out my Flickr photostream.  See ya soon!