Category Archives: Blogging

EOM 05.31.14

May has come and gone. It’s time to sit down and make some sense of the past month’s numbers- and possibly to think about next month. I’m referring, of course, to blogging.

Having sold things in the past, I’m painfully aware of how the numbers game works. Someone, generally a team lead or a manager, sits you down in their office or corners you in your cubicle, and the “numbers” discussion commences. Generalities at first- how the company or division or team did the previous month, and what the goals are. Then, how you did, and what are your goals, and finally what your manager’s manager has been told your goals for the coming month should be.

In the past week I’ve had the opportunity to read several blogs that had “blogging” as their central theme, and I think its necessary and beneficial here for me to step back from my regular theme of photography and talk a bit about blogging and goal setting.

I was never horribly good at sales; I understood it and was moderately competent, but never superstar material. So, I drifted away… but not completely. The concept of “beating last month’s numbers” has stayed with me in unrelated, yet positive ways. As far as this relates to blogging, of course I want to write posts that are on topic, interesting and with decent frequency. For me, this means my photography blog (what you’re reading right now) is generally about photography (pretty easy) and my data blog tries to at least mention data (somewhat more of a Herculean task). Interesting? Well, my posts are generally fairly good-natured in tone, with humor applied where possible. I’ve seen blogs that were rants, crusades or even manifestos, Whatever! I don’t have the time or energy to read a 10,000 word essay, much less write one.  Frequency for me used to be 6-8 new posts per month, but with two blogs, I’m not sure if that’s going to be practical.

I hinted at this, but one additional problem I have with lengthy  posts: my natural writing style is compact. My favorite illustration of that is a history research paper I wrote as a college freshman.  The assignment was to pick an Enlightenment Leader, do a brief biography, and explain how this person fit into that school of thought. Well, the French Revolution was pretty much the end of the Enlightenment in France, so it was logical (only) to me that Napoleon fit the bill. Like any good history student of the day, I went to the library, pillaged the stacks and bloody nearly got a hernia carrying the books to the checkout desk.

An indeterminate period of time went by. I was sitting in the Newspaper Office one fine afternoon when my girlfriend mentioned something that made her boyfriend’s blood curdle, “Don’t you have a paper due pretty soon?” I’ve gotta say, she was truly a lifesaver- as it turned out, the paper was due the next day! So, I grabbed a handy notepad and proceeded to start writing.  As soon as I finished a page, I tore it off and handed it to her, and she typed it up.  The paper was supposed to be 10-20 pages- I had eight.  It was supposed to be about an Enlightenment leader; I wrote about a dictator of the Romantic period. My instructor was also one of the toughest graders in the History Department… what could go wrong?

My confirmation name is Paul, but it should have been Peter, because for one bright, shining moment, I walked on water: the paper received an -A.

So, that’s why I write blogs the way I do, I suppose.

Until next time, I am hochspeyer, one f-stop short of a six pack.




Late Sunday on an abandoned spur 05.18.14



                                                                                                                                                                                                Blog title note for readers outside the United States: although I make every effort to include metric equivalents in my writing, my dates are always expressed as MM.DD.YY.

Lots of sunshine this past Sunday. Jennifer and I had just returned from the gym, and dinner was at least an hour away. It had been a sunny day, and its setting phase was bright and deep. I said I was going to go over to some railroad tracks near the house and take some pictures. Jennifer suggested I take Mr. T along for company… and that some fresh air would be good for him. He said yes, so I grabbed my Nikon and we piled into Meerkat, our Subaru Outback, and were off for an adventure.

Mr. T is our youngest son, and he is also my neighbor in the Secret Underground Lair. And even though he really does have a name, his blog pseudonym will forever be Mr. T, as that is how he was first introduced.

In five minutes, we were at the site of our shoot.

As we walked across the street, and as I looked around, I was struck with the realization that we had lived in this area since ~1993, and I did not know this line was abandoned. I pointed out that there was not a hint of shine on these rails to indicate and recent usage; the ties (sleepers) were mostly rotting and in some areas the tracks were barely visible under gravel. In a nutshell, a fantastic place to shoot.

We walked probably a quarter of a mile (~500m); so much of the track had been pulled up and actually stacked on the side of the right of way. I was composing a shot of some track that had been stacked four high, and suddenly realized that the piece at the top was actually a set of parallel tracks that had been cut (possibly by a saw, as I saw none of the characteristic markings of a blow torch). They were all stacked neatly, as if  some giant child had stacked them up, intending on completing his railroad layout tomorrow. Unfortunately for our hypothetical giant child, it seems tomorrow never came. There were three or four neatly stacked groups of rail, all with their ties still attached. In Another place was a large stack of ties- probably close to fifty, if not more… I can imagine a gardener reading about these massive hunks of wood, free for the taking… if only the location were known!

As with my previous photographic outing, I simply had an experience that was beyond words. I shot eighty frames that Sunday, and would have shot more were it not for the untimely demise of my battery.

Mr. T and I returned to Meerkat, and we gloriously drove off into the sun… er, can’t say that. We drove off in a generally northeasterly direction.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- one f-stop short of a six pack.

*Don’t forget to visit my data analysis blog…it’s more fun than it sounds like…

The blog incubator



I work at night, and my hours are somewhat flexible. At the beginning of the week, I try to get in earlier- say, 2000 or so. Depending upon my department’s workload, it is not uncommon for me to put in some overtime. When this happens, I will come in later on the next day. Unfortunately, this tends to be something of a vicious cycle with a long night leading to a later bedtime and a later start. I haven’t had any overtime thus far this week, but my sleep has been iffy at best. Today typifies the week (and its only Thursday!)

I got in this morning a little after 0630, put my plastic containers and utensils from lunch in the sink and gave them a quick rinse. I then greeted Tinka (our calico furbaby) with a smile and a gentle pet or two. She responded with an outpouring of indifference, Emotionally bouyed, I hopped into bed and started to drift off around 0700.Thirty minutes later, Jennifer’s alarm went off. My wife shut the alarm off, and I drifted back to sleep.

We live under a takeoff pattern just a few miles from Chicago’s O’Hare airport- since it was a pleasantly cool morning, my wife had left the window open. At 1030, I was awakened by an aircraft of some sort. I don’t know what sort of aircraft it was, but I do know it was loud. Think a steampunk coal-fired boiler flying Formula One car. Loud. Loud. Loud. I got a drink of water, went back to bed, tossed and turned for forty-five minutes, and gave up on sleep. Lack of sleep, though, is often an idea incubator. For example, during this morning’s edition of stating at the ceiling, staring at the walls, and then staring at the ceiling and staring at the ceiling again, I solved a data problem for a new table in my database, and came up with an idea for a blog entry on my other blog.

Now, Schwarz, our other cat (a sable/black Bombay) is behind me in the cat’s bunk bed. Snoring.

In my previous post I had noted a big storm was passing through. I think its rained every day this week, and on Wednesday morning it was light when I got home. I looked at the hood of our car and saw the beaded water, which seemed to be a photo op! I hurried in, dropped my things off and went down to the Secret Underground Lair, which is the current home of the Nikon. I affixed the short telephoto, powered the camera up and went outside. I quickly composed the shot in the viewfinder, depressed the shutter release, and…


However, I remained calm. Grace under pressure and all of that other rot. I looked at the business end of the camera- the lens was fogged. I carefully wiped it off, recomposed the shot, and this time it worked. I had to repeat the procedure another six times.

I like the results; I suppose they’re probably not more than snapshots. My  coworker Anna and I were talking about composition last night, and she said that composition is so hard for her. I told her that the key to photography- especially at her level and mine- is to keep on taking pictures. Lots of them- after all, past the initial investment, digital is free.

Until next time… I am hochspeyer- One f-stop short of a six pack.

*Don’t forget to visit my data analysis blog…it’s more fun than it sounds like…