Monthly Archives: December 2010

IF I WON THE LOTTERY…

It is game people play when the idea of winning the lottery comes up.  A new house or a new car, a trip to some place they had always wanted to go.

I will admit that in general my winning the lottery would be kind of a waste.  I truly do not have grand dreams or desires, other than family, friends and the neighbors.  No one would know anything had changed, no one would be driving by the house real slow saying a millionaire must live there!

But one thought that come and it is mainly this time a year.  If I had the money there would be such a Christmas for parents and children of those who can not afford gifts!

And yes it is because of a personal story:

Since moving back to Kansas life has not been all that good, low paying jobs and living just below barely getting by. More Christmas then not the two of us have not given a gift of any kind to each other.

So the kids would at least get something.

One of those Christmases, it was another year of tight money and if not for family choosing to have Christmas diner here there would not have been one for us.  The kids had only the toys we could afford and those were mainly out of the cheap bin.

When it happened, I was under the kitchen sink.  Some how it got clogged and I ended up on Christmas Eve soaking wet and squeezed under the sink taking apart the pipes.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door; I ended up crawling out to be the one answering the door.  There on the front pouch were several black plastic trash bags?  I looked all over the yard but no one was there and I did not see any cars leaving?  To make it even odder, our outside dogs that normally would bark at even leaves blowing by.  But they had never made a sound and were just ten feet away on the patio!

I opened one of the bags and there were toys inside, every bag had toys in them.  Toys suitable for each child and their age!  To this day I have no idea who it was that left those bags on the front pouch.

But if I were to win the lottery, that is what would be happening tonight for every parent who can not afford to make their children’s Christmas bright. And one that they will not be going to school and listening to all their friends bragging about getting the latest toys while they got a dollar doll or cheap plastic car.

And like those parents that Christmas Eve, suddenly the thought of there really is a Santa Clause and perhaps a better world to them that they awoke to that morning.

 

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Friday, 12/24/10, Public Square

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Smile, Santa!

Holiday photo tips from a “been-there-done-that” photographer.

These days, everyone has a digital camera, whether it is a camera phone, point and shoot or a DSLR. Unfortunately for my wallet, I am a hard-core SLR photographer with a large quantity of expensive equipment. Fortunately for me, I have learned how to use it to my advantage. During the Holidays, an invitation to me is usually accompanied by the words “and don’t forget to bring your camera.”

There are millions of rules for photography, but only a few really make a difference to the casual photographer. Note:

Make a list! Before you head off to Grandma’s House, make sure you have all the gear you will need. If you are going “point and shoot” it’s pretty simple – a spare charged battery, and a spare memory card, in addition (!) to the camera. If you are shooting DSLR, make sure you have your lenses, flash unit and other accessories, in addition to the items mentioned. Before you leave home, make sure your gear is cleaned and functional.

KISS! No, don’t hang out under the mistletoe, but “Keep It Simple, Stupid!”  The typical “snap shot” photographer tries to get too much into too little space. Limit your subject matter to just two or three people, a shot of the Christmas Tree or a child opening a present – don’t try to cram all of it into one shot.

Don’t pose your shots, people tend to look goofy when trying to pose for the camera. Think casual, and your pictures will look more natural. One trick is to set up and be ready and only then let your subject know that you are going to take their picture, just don’t sneak up on the elderly.

Naturally, Aunt Jane will yell out something like “everybody get together for a picture!” Now, you are stuck and all you can do is make the most of it. Pick a background that is as uncluttered and plain as possible. Have your subjects/victims line up as best you can. What I do to get around “posing” is to tell the group that I am “going to take a few test shots.” Your subjects will still be relaxed and usually those turn out to be the best pictures.

Don’t have whine with your cheese.  Never have your subjects say “cheese!” Pronouncing the word pulls the lips into an unnatural looking position – have them say “me!” instead. Saying that gives a much more relaxed and natural look. If your camera does not have a “red-eye” elimination function, have your subjects look towards a bright light for a second before shooting the picture. Red eye is a reflection off  of the  fundus at the back of the eye – looking into a light will cause pupils to contract, eliminating the sinister “glowing eye” effect.

If you absolutely, positively have to take formal pictures, do it right. That means studio lights, backdrops, scrims, tripod, remote shutter release, stands, reflectors, portrait lens. Shooting portraits is not easy in a non-studio setting, especially if you seldom take that kind of picture.

Fire away! You are shooting digitally, so you don’t have to worry about running out of film, processing costs, etc. Check your “work” periodically on your LCD screen, deleting really bad shots as you go. Adjust your settings as necessary. When you get home, you can process your haul with Photo Shop or another computer software program. Even the most basic program can crop, light and color correct and touch up. I regularly remove zits, stains and mud from photos. Recently, I put my granddaughter’s missing tooth back in using PS.

If you are at the office Christmas Party, try to get a shot of your Boss hitting on the lady from Accounting – it may come in handy during your next performance review.

If you are interested, I will be “hanging out” today and tomorrow if you have a specific question. I’ll try to answer promptly to the best of my ability .

 

 

William Stephenson Clark

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Thursday, 12/23/10, Public Square

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Wednesday, 12/22/10, Public Square

As a result of the 2010 census a total of 12 seats in the U.S. Congress shifted, affecting 18 states.

The total population of the United States rose 9.7 percent to 308,745,538 from 281,421,906 in 2000. The Northeast grew by only 3.2 percent, and the Midwest grew 3.9 percent. Meanwhile, the South grew by more than 14 percent and the West grew by 13.8 percent.

Texas grew by more than 20 percent to 25 million people, while Florida surged 17.6 percent to 18.8 million. Other states with more than 15 percent growth included Arizona (24.6), Colorado (16.9), Florida (17.6), Georgia (18.3), Idaho (21.1), Nevada (35.1), North Carolina (18.5), and South Carolina (15.3).

The only state to lose population was Michigan, which dropped 0.6 percent. Rhode Island grew just 0.4 percent.

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Tuesday, 12/21/10, Public Square

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So this is Christmas…………………

So this is Christmas
and what have you done
another year over
a new one just begun

and so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
the near and the dear ones
the old and the young

a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
let’s hope its a good one
without any fear

and so this is Christmas
for weak and for strong
the rich and the poor ones
the road is so long

So Happy Christmas
for black and for white
for the yellow and red ones
let’s all stop the fight

a very Merry Christmas
and a Happy New Year
lets hope its a good one
without any fear.


Happy X-Mas (War is Over) – John Lennon – 1971


Well, Merry Christmas, to one and all. Regardless of your religious preferences, it is almost impossible to ignore the fact that this is Christmas week. The stores have been jammed, so I hear, neighborhoods are decorated with Christmas lights, the newspaper weighs five pounds and Santa is rumored to be lurking in the shadows.

So what are you looking for from Santa under the Christmas Tree?

The other day, in a moment of reflection, I thought about what I would ask of God, should I be given one request. Well, maybe it was a moment of hallucination, but you get the idea.  Peace on Earth? Good will towards man?

I am still lusting after that 2011 Ferrari 458 Italia (Verde over Crema, please.) but I was thinking that a Ferrari wouldn’t exactly solve the problem of the world. Perhaps wishing for an end to discrimination would be more appropriate. Perhaps, with irony, an end to religion would be a better choice.  Maybe, asking that all people observe the “Golden Rule” might bring and end to much of the suffering in our nation and our world.

It is unlikely that God is going to grant me one wish or that Santa will bring anything other than lumps of coal for my stocking.  Such is reality, but I can still dream.

And you?


William Stephenson Clark

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