It’s Ice Outside

Last night, while walking to my car, I noticed some ice formed on the sidewalk.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have my boots on, just my dress shoes.  Those don’t have any traction on ice, so I took it slow.  I made it to my car, chipped my car out of it’s ice coating, and drove home carefully.  Luckily, I had some crockpot chili (I’ll post the recipe another time) and some cornbread muffins made.  That made for a nice, warming dinner.

Unfortunately, however, our night was rough.  I skipped my daily WiiFit workout to help maximize my sleep time, but that didn’t help much.  JSL woke up early and wound up in our bed.  Then the power went out.  Twice.  Finally, morning came and I reluctantly moved out of bed to get ready for work.  B re-informed me that NHL’s school was cancelled.  (She had told me at 6am when it was announced, but I was half-asleep and didn’t really hear her even if I answered her.)  A quick peak outside confirmed that I’d be into work late.  Half of my office was in work late.  The other half didn’t come in at all.

I chipped my car out of the ice, realizing that it wasn’t *too* bad, but that the roads could be bad.  The drive in was mostly uneventful.  The roads weren’t too icy.  Simply driving slower and giving your car a bit more stopping distance was all that was required.  There were plenty of tree limbs down, though.  One large one near my house had crashed down on the homeowner’s car.  Another two near my work were blocking off a side street.  (A side street about two cars wide, mind you.)  Then, while waiting at a light, the tree across the street lost a branch.  As I watched it fall, I made a mental

I took some photos of the outside of our house and near my work.  I thought about attempting to get near some of the downed branches, but reconsidered, so no photos of those.

The Charleston Trip, Part 6: Costume Ball and Heading Home

As I mentioned in my last post, G & L had a costume ball reception in addition to the Secret Gardens reception.  When I got back to my room after taking photos at the stables, I got into my costume and proceeded to the parking lot in front of G & L’s room.  There, the guests were arriving.  Everyone had a costume on.  Mine was Aragorn from Lord of the Rings.

After taking a few photos, I was ushered into G & L’s room.  The wedding party members were going to go separate from the regular guests so we could be introduced at the reception.  While waiting, I was handed my mask.  It was nice, but I was afraid that it would mean I’d need to remove my glasses.  Luckily, it fit over my glasses quite easily.  I’m not sure if this was planning on G & L’s part or just plain luck, but it worked nicely.  The mask had only one drawback:  No peripheral vision.  More on that later.

After waiting for awhile, we headed to the reception.  It wasn’t far.  The reception hall was at another section of Middleton Place.  We waited outside while everyone got ready.  It was nighttime and the entire place was pitch black.  Our main source of light (besides the reception hall) was a series of torches lining our path.  I glanced to one side and realized that I was dangeriously close to one of the torches.  Any closer and I’d have had to change my blog name to CrispyDad!

When it was time for us to be introduced, we all donned our masks and the band started playing the Closing Theme from Star Wars.  Yes, G chose this musical selection.  I guess L should be happy he didn’t choose Vader’s March.  It actually worked out very nicely.  The big fanfare at the end came up just as G & L entered the room.

The reception itself was great.  There was dancing, food, music, more dancing.  I even got G to do the Sher (which I mistakenly called the Horah during the dance).  This is a dance often performed at Jewish celebrations.  All of the dancers form a circle and two dancers move to the middle.  They lock arms and circle one another.  Then they break the lock, lock their other arms, and circle in the opposite direction.  One or both of the dancers then goes back to the circle and another dancer or pair of dancers moves to the middle.

G and I had danced this dance at my wedding during which time I spun him so fast that he fell down.  This isn’t as mean as it seems.  G and I have a running gag where I do something and he performs a pratfall.  If I recall correctly, he even met L when he tripped and fell onto her lap.  In any event, I decided not to repeat the G-Toss.  G had other ideas, though and intentionally broke the lock and went flying.

In a nice moment of cultural spillover, there was a Sudden Outbreak of Sher.  Everyone was doing it including an elderly Italian couple.  Due to my participation, I didn’t get any Sudden Outbreak of Sher photos, but I did get these:

I also took a video of my friend doing some rather embarassing dance moves.  Unfortunately, that came out so dark that you can’t see anything.  The blackmail qualities of the video are gone!

All too soon, I realized that I should be getting back to my room.  I had an early flight the next morning and needed to pack my things.  I said my goodbyes and some final congratulations.  Then I got a ride back to my room.  I quickly changed out of my costume, packed my things up as best I could at the time, and went to sleep.

The next morning, I woke up at 3am.  I got ready, packed up my remaining belongings, did a few sweeps of the room to make sure nothing was left behind, and then headed out.  It was pitch black outside and I was barely able to guide myself to the spot where the van was going to meet me to drive me to the airport.  At 4:30am, I met up with the van and got driven to the airport.  At 6am, my flight took off from Charleston, SC to Atlanta, Georgia.

While in Atlanta, I continued a tradition that I started on my trip down:  I picked up some postcards for NHL to add to his photo album.  (He later requested some prints from my trip and has filled up one whole photo album.)  The trip was nice and I didn’t regret not having my wife and kids there.  I missed them, of course, but I don’t think they would have enjoyed themselves as much as I did.  By the time I landed at our airport, I was itching to see my kids.  I had taken a small photo album with me with a few 4×6’s of my wife and kids.  As we neared the airport, I found myself taking out the album more and more.

After getting off the plane, I headed for the security gate where my wife, kids, and in-laws were waiting for me.  It’s a good thing my in-laws were there.  They held JSL and NHL back.  Otherwise, they would have charged past the security line to run to me.  I don’t think airport security would have appreciated that.  Once I got past the security line, though, all bets were off and I was charged by two boys who had missed their daddy.  I gave them both big hugs and we headed home.  It’s fitting that this is being posted on Thanksgiving.  While I had a blast on my trip and would love to go back there one day, I was extremely thankful to be home hugging both of my boys.

The Charleston Trip, Part 5: The Day In Which, G Got Hitched

Where last I left off, we had gone through the wedding rehearsal and prepared for the next day’s nuptials.  I was determined not to repeat the previous day’s oversleeping incident, so I set my alarm early and made it very loud.  Very, very loud.  There was no way I was going to sleep through this thing.

It turned out that I woke up a few minutes before the alarm, but the alarm did blare at the designated time.  I quickly got dressed, grabbed my camera, and headed out.  No, I wasn’t running off to join the wedding party.  Not yet, at least.  I was bound and determined to get the perfect sunrise photo.  Where I live, buildings tend to block the sunrises.  Besides, I tend to be preoccupied with things like getting NHL ready for school, feeding JSL breakfast, and getting myself ready for work.  There’s no time to go outside with a camera and scout around for good shots.  In Charleston, though, free of work and kid time constraints, I was able to go exploring.

I took a few photos, then noticing that the sunrise was blocked from my current vantage point, walked to a different location.  I was a bit nervous.  During the Ghost Walk, we were told by a staff member that part of the grounds were closed and that guards patroled those areas.  I wasn’t sure when the grounds opened, but I figured I’d deal with the guards if/when they confronted me.

It turned out that I didn’t see any guards.  Just steam rising from the warmer water into the cold morning air and the sun spreading color across the dark sky.

After taking some photos, I returned to my room to warm up.  I got showered, dressed, and headed back out for some more shots.  After these, I got some breakfast and then headed back to my room again to get into my Tux.  I met up with my friend and the rest of the groomsmen.  Together we walked to meet our ride.  A horse-drawn carriage that was to take us to the wedding location.

I took some photos during this ride, but many of them came out blurry.  The horse drawn carriage just couldn’t seem to move smoothly along the bumpy dirt road.   When we arrived at the grounds, the setup was nearing completion and there was a half hour before any guests arrived.  We wandered around for awhile and I took a bunch more photos.  (Yes, I know.  Shocking, isn’t it?)

One of the photos shows my friend G hugging a giant oak tree.  That’s the Middleton Oak.  They were originally going to be married under it, but some limbs fell off.  The thing is massive.  About 39 feet around.  They estimate that it is between 500 and 1,000 years old.  Most trees where I live are smaller than this thing’s branches.  They even have wires to help keep the limbs up.  I didn’t feel 100% safe standing under it.  Not that it was going to fall or anything, but if it did fall I’d be TechyDad-brand jelly.  It was an amazing sight, though.

Eventually, we headed back and greeted the minister and guests.  In a particularly gut wrenching scene, I handed my camera over to G’s dad until the ceremony was over.  I figured that L wouldn’t want the camera strap slung over my Tux and wouldn’t want me leaping out of the lineup to snap a few shots.

After the ceremony, the professional photographers took our photos while the rest of the guests headed to the reception in the Secret Gardens.  After our photos were taken, we headed to the Gardens.  Here, my first day wanderings came in handy.  I was able to guide everyone directly to the Gardens without getting lost in the hedge maze.  It wasn’t long before I retrieved my camera and started shooting again.

After the reception wound down, I headed to my room to take off my dress shoes.  I hadn’t worn those shoes since B and I got married and now I remember why.  They hurt my feet!  After some resting, I decided to venture out again.  This time, I headed for the stables.  I had snapped a few shots of them the day before, but this time I went back in search of more up-close horse photos.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The horses came right up to me and, in some cases, even posed for photos.  I think they’ve done this before.

After the horse shots, I went back to my room for a short while.  Then it was time for the costume ball.  I’ll save that story for another post, though.

Toyota Update: Carmaker Backpedals

On Sunday, I reported about Toyota claiming to own all photos containing Toyota automobiles.  I also posted the story to my photography forum (same one that the Wandering Gnome came from).  Someone there (in a roundabout way) got a response from Toyota’s legal department.  Here’s the response:

Response (XXXX) 11/18/2008 04:34 PM
Thank you for contacting Toyota with your comments and concerns regarding the use of vehicle images. The letter asking the DesktopNexus site to remove all images featuring a Toyota, Scion or Lexus vehicle was the result of mis-communication at Toyota, which we regret.

Copyright law protects the creative work product of artists, photographers, and other creators. Toyota respects these rights, including those of photographers who work with Toyota. Toyota purchases the rights to the images it posts on its sites, and welcomes public use of those images where we have the rights to give. However, this permission is limited to editorial or personal use, not commercial use, such as advertising any products or services. That’s because the photographers – not Toyota – retain the rights to any commercial use, and we cannot give permission to use those images for that purpose. In response the concerns raised by DesktopNexus, Toyota is working with photographers to determine what images may be used for non-commercial purposes, and what we can do to provide broader access.

We hope you will understand and appreciate the legal constraints we face.

Toyota also welcomes interested members of the public to use their own images or photography of Toyota’s vehicles, and we confirm that we have no objection to this use.

We appreciate your interest in our products.

Toyota Customer Experience

I am glad that they’ve backed down from the "all your car photos belong to us" stance, but their reply sounds too much like:

We found a couple of legitimately infringing photos on your site but rather than give you specifics we decided to be lazy and just order them all down. We figured you’d just roll over and take it, but then you had to spread the word. Now we’re facing a ton of bad PR so we’re going to limit our claims to just those originally infringing photos.

This is probably overkill now, but I took these photos intending to post them in protest of Toyota’s stance.  I don’t want them going to waste, so here’s my Toyota automobile.  (The dent was from someone in my office’s parking lot using my car as the signal that they backed up too far.)

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