Friday Five – Groundhog Day


27332728_10155534282559118_3082583756623170160_nHeadphones on. White noise playing. Candle burning. Flux capacitor…fluxing. Time for another Friday Five – on time this week!

The topic for today is Groundhog Day and before I get to the list, I’d just like to say that I think this is one of the dumbest traditions still going. Come on, a bunch of guys in silly hats and gloves waiting for a rodent to emerge from his home in the hopes he’ll predict the length of winter.

Don’t be silly. The whole thing smacks of stupidity. Even meteorologists with satellite maps can’t get things right most of the time. This is why aliens don’t visit us, and the fucker probably just wants a carrot for being awakened so damn early.

Oh. And it takes place in Gobbler’s Knob. I’ll just leave things there.

Ahem. So…

Friday Five: Groundhog Day

What’s your favorite Bill Murray performance?

I’ve only seen a handful of Bill Murray movies, not including Groundhog Day. There’s Stripes, Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, Caddyshack, and I even saw Meatballs for crying out loud. While I thought he had an interesting role in Lost in Translation, my vote would have to go Caddyshack when he played Carl Spackler. Classic, quotable role.

IT'S IN THE HOLE!

What’s been a highlight of your winter so far?

Win…ter? I don’t know what you’re talking about. We had a few days of very light rain but as for the rest of our so-called winter, let this image sum things up for you. This is First Street in downtown Long Beach, a transit mall reserved for buses and the Metro train.

File Feb 02, 9 29 12 PM

Aside from the warm weather, I’d say the two photo excursions to Los Angeles – one solo and one with the kid – were definitely fun. I didn’t blog about them; all the pics are on Instagram. It was just easier that way.

What’s there to look forward to in the next six weeks?

There are a lot of birthdays this time of year. The wife and kid are both in March and mine is somewhere between February 1-28. As a big communal celebration, we’ll pick a place we all want to eat and go there for dinner. Last year was Benihana which we thought was fun but definitely not worth the price. In 2016 we went to a Korean BBQ which was also fun but much more affordable. This year? I’m thinking Mongolian. There’s a killer place nearby.

Too early for flapjacks?

NEVAH! I will eat them any time of day. But flapjacks are one of those things that always seem like a good idea and once you get them, you never finish them. You can go a week without eating and have two plates of them shoved in front of you, and you’ll only finish one. Diabolical bastards. Speaking of flapjacks, I’m looking forward to my free Denny’s birthday Grand Slam breakfast, too. (Last year I took the day off work and went to every single place that was offering free birthday food — and it was fuuuuun!)

If someone in a bar asks to buy you a drink (and let’s just say for the sake of the question you are amenable), what do you order?

The only time I’m in a bar is for my monthly karaoke gathering with my former coworkers. In the odd instance that this would happen to me in the first place (HA!), my choice would be easy: White Russian. Because The Dude, and because I can’t name any others. Maybe a raspberry Smirnoff Ice because nobody carries Bartles & James.

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Okay then. That’s two blog posts since I decided to take a break. I’ve been getting better but it comes and goes, and right now it’s coming back. Time to go relax the eyes again.

I’m out!

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Friday Five (Late Edition) – Returns


I was on Facebook for a bit today and noticed that one of the humor pages I follow had sold out and was starting to post clickbait and crap stories, the latter with the formulaic, millennial-appealing headlines of  “[noun] [verb] [something potentially outlandish], and [group reacts].”

Gag. That’s the last act of someone who cares more about the revenue those stories might generate as opposed to having a human element tied to their page. For me, it’s easier to unfollow those pages than them getting anything from my clicks. And while I may have ads on here, believe me when I say that I’ve earned zero from them. You’re free to ignore them or not click on them – don’t care either way!

Anyway, I can promise you that as long as I’m around to keep this dog-and-pony show alive that there is indeed a human behind it, one who just lit a fruity scented candle on his desk and is using that and the illumination from the monitor as his only light sources. I like it this way.

Now that that little diatribe is done, I thought I’d use the old Friday Five standby to get myself blogging again. And I thought the topic would be fun so let’s get to it.

Friday Five: Returns

What was the last item you returned or exchanged at a store?

I am a notorious non-gift-returner because I just think it’s rude (even if the giver never finds out). The only time I will return something is when it’s an article of clothing that looked better on the mannequin or just didn’t fit right. Other than that, I don’t care how bad the gift is, I will not part with it and most likely end up giving it away years later. That was until one of our White Elephant gift exchanges at work last Christmas (oh, George!) when I “won” this:

Saved-by-the-Bell

I have never been more pissed off about a gift in my life – seriously, I was not happy. Yes, I understand the purpose of the White Elephant. Yes, I should be grateful. But fucking hell! A Saved By the Bell fucking board game? I was not “so excited” to play it because I didn’t and since it had a “Target exclusive” label on it, took it right back the next day. I didn’t get full credit since I didn’t have the receipt but it’s a small price to pay for not having the likeness of Screech in my home. I ended up buying an exercise ball with the gift card credit. Lesson learned: always steal at White Elephants. At least you might end up with something good.

When did you last leave the house and then turn right back around and go back inside?

Sadly, I almost do this on a daily basis. It’s like I have OCD about checking to make sure the doors are locked and the toaster unplugged, even if nobody used it that day. Wanna know what’s weird about the toaster thing? I have no problem with Ann leaving the crock pot on all day while we’re at work. Go figure that shit out. I’ll go back inside if I’ve forgotten something (rare occasion) but I do go back to check the doors.

What’s the latest you’ve ever returned a library book?

Li…brar…y? Oh. I’ve got it. I visit them so infrequently that I’ve forgotten how it’s pronounced. But when I have I can assure you that I returned the books on time, all the time, and sometimes sooner than their return date – like a week sooner. I’m such a solid reader [insert strong arm emoji here]. Besides, punctuality is one thing I’m a stickler about.

What location among places you’ve traveled would you most like to see again?

Having flown a grand total of two times in my life, I’m anything but a jet-set traveler. In fact, outside of the the states I’ve driven to (Arizona and Nevada), the only other two states I’ve visited have been Arkansas and Missouri, and Missouri was only hours at St. Louis Airport. But I have taken a cruise to that beautiful shithole country of Mexico and I would love to go back and explore a little deeper than our cruise destination of Ensenada. It’s where my heritage lies and visiting would mean a lot.

What’s an unlikely movie sequel you’d like to see?

One of my all-time favorite movies is The Big Lebowski so regardless of how horrible the trailer for its unlikely sequel might be, I’d more than likely catch it first-run. This Dude would abide.

And that Friday 5 is done.

Oh! I can’t believe it’s here already but February 1st marks my second anniversary at NR (or Not Ralphs as I referred to it in this post). It’s my official hire date although if you count my freelance time, I’ve been there for closer to 2.5 years. Either way, I’m still incredibly happy, fortunate, and thankful to be there.

Alright. Time to hit the exercise ball. Or nap…maybe on the exercise ball…

Friday 5: Into the Lens


Look, I know this is a day late but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to write about it after seeing a fellow blogger do it. The topic is relevant to me so it’ll be a good fit. Now just keep in mind that I’ve also worked in photo labs and have been shooting for years so the answers could be much longer than you bargained for.

The topic is Into the Lens, in which we answer photography-related questions. Let’s get to it!

What was your first camera like?
I didn’t own a camera of my own until high school when I took my first photography class. Until then, I had only used my brother’s Canon Snappy a few times. In 1985 I believe, I got my first SLR for Christmas: a Minolta X370 which I still have (even if it isn’t working at the moment). I shot with it for many, many years and captured some cool stuff, including George Brett’s 3,000th hit. Yes, I was a part of baseball history!

What kinds of accessories have you purchased for a camera?
What didn’t I buy for this camera? While the set I got for Christmas came with two lenses, a flash, cleaning accessories and one of those ugly camera bags that nobody but a hipster might be seen with in public today, I bought my share of goodies for my camera and mostly on the cheap. I had different colored lens filters for black-and-white photography, back when you had to imagine the image before you shot it.

“Hmm. The sky is a nice blue and I want to bring out those clouds. I need my red filter for that. Wait, this is the 52 mm diameter filter. Where’s my 55 mm one? NOOOO!”

I also had a cable release and tripod for long-exposure shots. Ann and I actually drove to the middle of nowhere in 1997 to capture the Hale-Bopp comet on film. True story.

I once picked up a zoom lens at the local thrift shop for around $10 and years later found a motor drive for the same price. What’s a motor drive, you might ask? See, old camera didn’t advance the film on their own and if you wanted to take a sequence of shots (known as Burst Mode today), you needed an autowinder. A motor drive took the idea of an autowinder to the next level by giving you the luxury of a shutter button on the side so when you were shooting portrait-style images, the button would be on the top — no twisting your wrist to release the shutter. And, even better, this mode allowed me to shoot up to 3.5 FPS (frames per second, not first-person shooter). Can you imagine how much film I went through when I used that feature?

When did you last shoot photos on film, and how many rolls of unshot film do you have in your house?
Strangely, I shot a roll of film just a few weeks ago because I was feeling retro. I haven’t developed it yet because I don’t even know if any local stores still do it. As far as unused rolls, I have two blank ones for the next time I’m in the mood.

Digital photography has all kinds of advantages over film photography, but what’s better about shooting on film and having to get it developed and printed?
The beauty of using film was that it was pure alchemy. You shot your film based on what your vision was at the time and you most likely only got one chance at getting things right due to the restrictions of available frames (24 or 36, since nobody used 12-exposure rolls). You had no idea what the results would be until you got them back in an hour or week or whatever time-frame you chose. As the filter example above clearly indicates, getting a good shot on film required a lot of work and quick thinking. It’s nothing like it is today, where you can just take another shot if the first one wasn’t any good.

How do you manage your digital photos?
I have a few backup methods for my digital photos. For ones I shoot with my DSLR, I back them up to my external drive and burn them to DVD so that I have at least two copies. I name the folder with the date I transferred them plus the event/location: “2015-04-02 Knott’s Berry Farm” or whatever. This method, of course, does no good if the house should burn down and both copies went with it. (I really should hand over the DVDs to the in-laws to be safe.)

As for those taken with my phone, since they seem to be more personal and require more attention, I wait until I reach a certain threshold then back them up the same way but also put them on my private Google Photos account so that I can access them whenever I need to. For DSLR shots that I want to share online, I drag a copy into Dropbox then download it to my phone. Dropbox is great for sharing data but horrible for managing photos. Google Photos is pretty amazing and does an excellent job organizing them, plus unlimited storage. Can’t beat it.

Okay. That should do it. While shooting digital is fun, most people today don’t even know what they are missing with film cameras. Use one for a day to understand and appreciate what us old[er] folk lived through — and how much we liked it.

Blogging 365, Day 25: Friday Five – Unusual Stuff


Here’s the deal, banana peel.

I’ve been working overtime all week and doing another four hours on Saturday. I’m tired. I’ve got a headache. I’m also a Grumpy Gus because that’s what headaches do to me.

As a result, this is what you get: a Friday 5 entry. I’ll do the best I can then I’m turning this blasted laptop off and going to bed.

And here we go.

What’s the most surprising or unusual thing to be found in your wallet, purse, or backpack? Anthony is always putting little things in the front pouch of my backpack that I take to work with me. I can guarantee there are a few Hot Wheels or erasers down at the bottom of it.

What’s the most surprising or unusual thing to be found on your computer’s hard drive? Deep within the platters that are my hard drive of my desktop, I can guarantee there are pictures of me in drag from Halloween 2006. This was when I was working at the place that paid me so much more money than what I’m making now. On this laptop there is nothing of note. I keep it streamlined and free of unnecessary stuff.

What’s the most interesting thing hanging on your walls? A lithograph of Salvador Dali’s Hallucinogenic Toreador. That or the autographed copy of Depeche Mode’s Music for the Masses LP.

The_Hallucinogenic_Toreador

What’s the most uncharacteristic thing in your fridge? A can of Mazda-branded energy drink that I picked up at the L.A. Auto Show a few years ago (seen here, but not my image). I don’t do energy drinks. I don’t even know why I still have it.

What’s something you’ve done in the past year that you thought was going to be awful but turned out pretty good? Reading. I started reading again and got so immersed in it that I devoted time to do it. That’s unusual for me.

And with that, I bid you goodnight. Grumpy needs his sleep.

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Friday Five: It’s Not the End of the World


It’s Friday. You’re saving your energy for a 5-mile run tomorrow morning. And much to your disappointment, no fire or brimstone rained down from the heavens as was (sort of) promised by the Mayans and their wacky calendar.

You’ve also got no blog topic to speak of but you feel the need to write. Well, that’s what Friday Five is all about! Today’s topic is, appropriately enough, It’s Not the End of the World so here we go.

What’s something gross you’ve seen or tasted recently?
Let me think about this one. Oh yes, I know what it was. I tried a piece of homemade rum cake a few days ago and it was a bit too rummy for me. I gave it the old college try but only after a few seconds in my mouth I had to spit it out. No es bueno. Besides, I’m a bit of a teetotaler.

What movie this holiday season are you most looking forward to?
Without question it’s The Hobbit. I read the entire The Lord of the Rings series way back in 8th grade and fell in love with them all over again after finding all three books at a thrift shop. Naturally, I will seek out The Hobbit in paperback form and read it once I’m through the trilogy, currently near the middle of The Two Towers. (Side note: I had to drag Ann to see The Fellowship of the Ring when it came out but by the end she curious as to what happened next. I smiled and said, “Read the next book – or wait until next December.” She waited for three years to see them all and never read the books.)

What makes one photographer better or worse than any other?
Technique.A sunset is a sunset is a sunset unless someone decides to change angles, use reflections in glass or water, filtration, etc.

What specific, annual part of this season most makes you feel all the positive feelings again?
New Year’s Eve. It’s a time to reflect upon everything that happened in the last 365/6 days and see what could be improved upon. The beginning of a new year brings with it so much promise but in the end, after the ball as dropped and the drinks consumed, it seems like just an ordinary day. It’s also a time to see all of the resolutioners start their exercise programs. The trails will be filled in January then empty and left for us regulars again in March.

What are your thoughts on eggnog?
If it wasn’t made from milk or so damn fattening, I’m sure I’d drink it all day. There is a soy variety but if I’m going to have freakin’ eggnog, it’s going to be the real deal.


As of 3:30 today, I am officially on vacation! I’m pretty jazzed about that despite the fact that we got swamped with work at the last minute. Well, not the last minute but at 1:30, the time we would normally be dismissed on a Friday before the company’s annual shutdown.

That’s right. We’re in shutdown mode until New Year’s Day and I won’t be returning until January 2nd. I’ve got 11 glorious days away from proofreading Magyar, Srpski and български*! The bummer? There’s rain in for forecast for the next couple of days so it could impede upon my workout program which will start tomorrow morning.

Either way, I’m looking forward to being with the family during that time and the good thing is that if it does rain, there may likely be snowfall in the local mountains. Sounds like a road trip to me. We’re also planning on going to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, checking out Chinatown, and maybe even a day or two of doing absolutely nothing.

That alone beats sitting at a desk for 8 hours.

*Смятате ли, че беше трудно?Опитайте да прочетете на страница след страница от него!