Give me liberty, and respect

Give me liberty
I saw this flag by the side of the road as I drove to work last week. I didn’t have my camera, and figured it would be gone the next time I drove by. It wasn’t. It laid there for several days. I finally stopped to take a picture and collect the flag. I don’t know how long it had been there, but it was pretty battered and dirty. It had obviously been there a while.

I was surprised to see it there to begin with, and even more surprised it stayed for so long next to a busy road. I don’t consider myself overly patriotic, but I still thought someone should have picked up the flag. It is a symbol of our country, and whether or not you agree with the policies of our current administration, I think most Americans at least have a fundamental respect for the ideals of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights (even if our current Administration doesn’t seem to respect either) and what the flag represents. It does not represent policy or a political party or misguided trust in a power addled president. It represents hope and freedom and opportunity and justice for all people – regardless of where they come from, what they believe, or who they fall in love with.

I thought it incredibly sad and ironic that hundreds of people drove by this flag, tossed by the side of the road along with fast food containers and cigarette butts, but no one thought to pick it up. I wonder how many of these people think it a crime to burn the flag as form of expression. I guess if people don’t care enough to stop and pick up a flag, then they can’t be expected to speak up for what the flag represents. I’m not even sure I should have taken a picture, but that’s what I do, and the scene touched me.

People fought and died for this country, then others fought and died for rights everyone deserves. Now, in our modern times, people can’t even show a small sign of respect. It makes me sad. I hope that shows in the shot.

Is $20 that much?

Three days ago Zooomr announced paid Pro accounts for $19.95. Every Zooomr user saw the add for accounts when the logged in (except the the Pro4Life members, I assume) so pretty much everyone that uses Zooomr knows about the new offering. What does $20 get you on Zooomr? At this point, not much, just the promise that you won’t see ads and some “cool and interesting” features that Kristopher is developing.

So how does the Zooomr community respond? Judging by the comments on the blog entry, a lot of people are annoyed or down right pissed off. Many people posted positive comments, but I was a little surprised by the complaining. The major theme of the complaints is “Zooomr doesn’t work yet, why should I pay for a Pro account? When all the features work, then I’ll pay, maybe.”

Let’s just look at this logically for a moment. Zooomr is free. Zooomr is still in beta. Zooomr is the coolest photo sharing site on the web. How can you complain about a free beta version of something that while still in development is better than any other service? If you don’t want to pay, then don’t. If you want to wait, then wait, but cut Kris and Thomas some slack. They are doing great work and haven’t asked for anything in return until now.

And is $20.00 really that much? If you’re posting pictures on Zooomr then you have a digital camera. Odds are you spent at least a few hundred dollars (or a few thousand) to get the camera. You pay monthly for an Internet connection. You paid for your computer. All this adds up to a lot of money. I personally a have less $3000 into my camera, computer, and software so $20 is nothing. If you use Windows consider this – Windows costs a lot for an OS, and it is about the buggiest thing I’ve ever seen, still millions of people use it everyday with no expectation Microsoft will ever turn out a better product. I know Zooomr will work, and it will work fabulously.

Zooomr is only asking $20. That is such a small amount of money for anyone who can afford even the most basic point and shoot camera. If you go out with some buddies for the night you will easily spend $20 before you even start to feel a buzz. It’s such a small amount of money that I can’t believe people are complaining.

True, at this point you don’t get much for it. Just think of it as a donation to Zooomr. I ate out with my family and a couple of friends from out of town last night. We left a $20 tip for the waiter (it was not overly generous based on the bill, but respectable). Kris and Thomas have done a lot more for me than the waiter did. Rauol Pop makes some good arguments for upgrading to a Pro account on his blog. The most obvious one is that Zooomr doesn’t have limits on uploads. He also mentions some bugs that got fixed recently.

The price of the Pro account is not worth complaining about. You can afford it. The features will work, you know they will. Be patient, show your support, and pay the $20.

Search your soul, you’ll probably realize you’ve used $20 worth of Zooomr features, even the ones that don’t work yet.

I’ll have a photo tomorrow, I just had to get this off my chest and support Zooomr.

Hello Molly


My daughters convinced me that a puppy was a good idea, turns out it was. This is Molly, our new Golden Retriever puppy, on her first day at our home. She’s 8 weeks old now, but we’ve been visiting her since she was a few days old. She really is a treat and the kids just adore her, maybe a little too much at times.

Our 10 year old dog, Penny, has taken it pretty well. She let the puppy know who’s boss, but seems to like Molly and is even interested in her when she doesn’t know we’re watching. The puppy is very respectful of Penny. Molly tries to play with Penny, but isn’t obnoxious about it and backs off if Penny if looks at her crossly. I think Penny would like to play, but she’s getting old and her hips don’t really let her jump around.

The cats, on the other hand, hate Molly. Blueberry,
our 4 year old female cat, barfed on our bed yesterday to show her disapproval. Sparkle, the boy cat, just stays upstairs. They’ll adjust, eventually.

So far Molly’s only had one accident in the house and sleeps through the night. After two days we haven’t lost any shoes, but I’m sure it’s coming. The kids have all summer to enjoy their new friend. It makes me happy to see them having such a good time.

Twins and Clouds

Twins and Clouds

Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga, CA has easily a hundred palm trees on the grounds. Most of them are young, but quite a few have been there for decades and tower above you in the sky. The sky in Calistoga is also the perfect shade of blue, and on this day had fascinating clouds in the upper atmosphere that kept changing. I spent a little time walking around in the 90+ degree heat taking photos. The palm trees drew me in the second I saw them against the sky. The clouds happened to form the perfect background for the trees.

Even though the color of the sky was perfect, I liked the shot better in black and white. Here’s the color version.
Twins and Clouds, color

Both are on Zooomr with Geotags.

Days Gone By

Days Gone By

Last weekend we went up to visit our parents for Father’s Day. I’ve taken a lot of shots at my in-laws, but not many at my parents house. This one is at my parents house. My dad has a large garden that he and my Grandma take care of. This year they haven’t planted a lot, mostly flowers, because my dad is working this summer and water conservation is critical in their area.

This chair sits at the edge of the garden, in the shade of a large manzanita bush. The chair has been around probably longer than I’ve been alive. It was originally a poolside chair at a trailer park my grandparents owned many years ago. I’m sure it was sitting by the pool there when I was born. My grandparents eventually sold the park to their children, who eventually sold it to someone else. Along the way the poolside furniture was updated, and the old chairs made their way to various family members homes. Unfortunately I was too young at the time to have need of the chairs, I was probably in high school or college, so I didn’t get one. I wish I had, they’ve come back in style and I see them at antique stores for outrageous prices. They certainly hold up better than the chairs you can buy today, and are more comfortable.

The chair, for me, brings back memories of warm summer days by the pool. It wasn’t a fabulous pool. It was old, even 30 years ago, and had a lot of cars driving just outside the fences, but as a young child it was heaven on a hot day. I learned to swim at that pool and spent many summer days there when I was young. It’s nice to have a reminder of those days long gone by.

This is on Zooomr, along with a couple of other shots from the same day.

Down the line

Down the line

Work has been pretty busy this week with projects wrapping up and new ones getting started, but I took a few minutes yesterday to get out and do some shooting. The nice thing about Petaluma is that there is a good mix of country and city. It doesn’t take but a few minutes to get out of town and into the country, so depending on my mood I can take urban (suburban, really) or country shots. I tend to drive out into the country more often than not, probably because it offers some solitude and peace. I don’t have to worry about making someone angry by driving slow or pulling over quickly.

You can view the location of this shot on Zooomr. I took a couple of other shots as well:
Chain and barn 2

Almost Ready

Almost Ready
We have two hydrangea bushes, one on either side of the front steps. When we bought our house nearly 11 years ago they were the only things attractive on lot. My wife keeps them pruned nicely and every year they have beautiful bunches of flowers. This year is turning out to be no exception. They always start blooming about now, and are usually in full glory right around the beginning of July.

They seem a little brighter shade of pink this year, not sure why. Hydrangeas can change colors, and if you plant new bush they usually do change colors. They pick up different minerals or whatever in the soil and it changes the color. I’ve heard you can put pennies in the ground to get them to change.

One year someone actually stole the flowers. Early in the morning, before I would ever dream of waking up, someone came by and cut all the bunches of flowers off both bushes. This was a couple of days before my daughters birthday party, so instead of beautiful hydrangeas to welcome the guests, we had bare plants. We were furious, but what could we do. That year we got to enjoy the flowers for about two weeks and had to wait a full year to get them back. That hasn’t happened again, and I hope it never does. We’ve planted some bushes in the backyard just in case.

Anyway, you can enjoy these plants on Zooomr. There are more shots here and here.

Reaching Skyward

Reaching Skyward
Last week our family went up to Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa so my wife could scope the place out. She’s doing the flowers for a wedding there next week and wanted to be sure she planned adequately. Anyway, it’s a pretty cool place that I didn’t really know existed before she got this job. It’s up on a hill overlooking the southern Russian River valley and has great views. I imagine the sunsets from up there are pretty spectacular. The wedding next week is in the evening, so maybe I’ll get some shots while I help my wife.

This shot is an oak tree in the middle of a deck at the entrance to the tasting building. The tree is pretty spectacular – large, old, and majestic, the kind of tree you almost hate to photograph because you can’t do it justice. I figured my best shot at a decent photo was to make it a little abstract. The thumbnail above doesn’t really do it justice, check out the large version on Zooomr.

The winery is small with simple, but elegant grounds and decor. It fits in with the surrounding hills and doesn’t try to be overly pretentious. It was laid back and classy at the same time. The winery also has a very cool outdoor sculpture gallery. We walked through and the kids just loved it. Lots of great sculptures in a variety of mediums and from many artists. The best part
is that it is free to walk around. The sculptures are spread out in an grove of oak trees on a hillside, so the surroundings are quiet and peaceful. If you’re in Santa Rosa, take an hour and visit. It’s worth the small effort.

I have a few more shots from the winery and sculpture garden on Zooomr. I’m going to blog at least one of them in the next day or so. You can view this shot with a geotag on Zooomr as well.

Off to a completely unrelated topic, Zooomr Mark III is shaping up to be awesome. The Zipline and new Discover page are both cool new features. I’ve run into some bugs, but I’m sure Kristopher will work them out soon enough. I’ve run into problems trying to GeoTag more than one image at a time and some of my old images are smaller than the size I uploaded, but since the Markk III upgrade I’ve spent a lot time finding many amazing photos. Zooomr is fabulous, and the community is incredible. If you don’t have an account, join. Now.

I’m Thinking of…

I'm thinking of...
“I thinking of scratching your eyes out if you take one more picture.” is what I think she’s thinking about.

As cats go, ours is pretty cool. She likes us and likes to be around us, which is not always normal for cats. She doesn’t want to be with the kids too much, but often sits on my lap while I sit at the computer and would sleep on my wife’s head at night if we let her stay in. For this shot she was perched on the back of the couch (another favorite spot) and didn’t seem to like me taking her picture. She’s cat and I buy the food, so she can just deal with it. Her name is Blueberry.

Blueberrry’s world is about to be turned upside down. We are getting a golden retriever puppy in two weeks. We’ll see how much she likes us then. We already have a dog, who the cat doesn’t mind at all, but puppies are very different from 10 year old dogs. Somehow I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to get a picture of the Blueberry and the puppy together.

If the cat could tell I converted this shot she would probably be mad because you can’t see her fabulous colors. Maybe some other day, Blueberry.

Photo hosted on Zooomr



I took a break at work and went driving around the country side. Again, I stopped to shoot at spot that I’ve driven by before, but that day caught my eye. Funny how one day something looks interesting, but other days it doesn’t. This is one of the shots I liked. I tend to like selective focus shots a lot. It is on Zooomr with a geotag.

After I was done shooting, but still driving, my wife called because a friend of her saw me standing by the side of the road and was wondering what I was doing during the middle of the work day. So I emailed her this shot so she could see what I was up to. The friend lives nearby. My wife knows I drive around and take pictures, the friend was a little surprised.

This was the last week of school and my oldest daughter’s last week in elementary school. She’s been at the school seven years now, so it was a big deal to finish 6th grade and move on. I took hundreds of pictures. Glad I got that external storage drive.