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Archive for October, 2008

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I was at the grocery store the other night. I saw a young man pushing a cart with his baby daughter in it. He had a large tattoo on his neck and several body piercings on his face. I thought well aint that nice. As I made my way to the check out counter he was right in front of me, and I got a closer look. He was interacting very lovingly with his daughter. From a distance I thought the tat said something menacing or was gang related. Upon closer inspection it read “Live, Learn, Love”. While I’m not into tats or body piercings this is probably one good dad, and if he were a mind reader I would have owed him an apology. Spiney

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Well I made it to the Photo-Pro Expo in NYC again this year.  I went with a family friend who use to help us at our studio.  Her name is Nancy and she now does professional photography on the side, so she was very excited to go.  My Day started at 6:15am.  We were to meet at 7:00 am and then drive from Reading to the Dorney Park area of Allentown to catch the bus.  We saved about $18 each by picking up the bus there, instead of Reading.  We made the bus by the skin of our teeth. I got stuck behind a very slow tractor trailer and lost time that way.  Then I passed the bus turn off and had to go a mile up the road and turn around.  We got there about 2 minutes shy of the bus pulling out.  The bus was filled with people who make the trip daily to NYC to work.  They get on and try to sleep for the 2 hour run.  Well Nancy had not seen me in a few months and was excited about the trip, and to catch up on news.  We talked quiet, but I guess not quiet enough.  There was a girl in her twenties in front of us who seems very annoyed with us.  Also the window at our seat squeaked very bad and loud.  So regular commuters do not like tourist.  We caught the bus at 8:00am and arrived in the Big Apple at 10:10 am exactly on time.  From there it was a few block walk from the Port Authority on 9th ave to the Javitts Center on 11th.  It was a beautiful crisp fall day.  We arrive at the show and I quickly ditched my sweatshirt. It was quite warm in the convention center.  Despite the fact that it was warm, there were many who felt it was better to look good than to feel good.  Many girls and guys sporting knee high boots, leather jackets, and scarfs.  I was sweating bullets just looking at them.  Despite hearing nothing but how tight credit is for weeks, the first booth we encountered in the show was a man from American Express trying to sign us up for a line of credit, and a $250 signing bonus. Since many reading this may not be interested in photography I’ll sum it up that it was a Mecca for all things photography, and you could touch, feel, and learn about every new camera and other gear all in one place.  I went there willing to spend $300 on a small digital point & shoot, so I don’t have to carry my heavy Digital SLR when I travel.  But after seeing them all, the one that really fits my needs is $499, so I need to save more sheckles before I make that purchase.  But now I know what I need and want, so that made the trip worth it.  After only 1/2 hour on the convention floor my back was killing me.  Places to sit were few and far in between.  Just as I was getting into the groove of the show, my friend asked the inevitable question where and when are we going to eat.  Up until that point I had survived on pretzels, diet Sierra Mist, and a blueberry muffin on the bus.  But it must be a woman thing because had my Wife been along she would have asked the same thing.  I didn’t want Nancy to get sick or a headache from not eating so we searched for a place to eat.  We asked around and the closest places to eat were several blocks away, or street vendors so we went into the basement cafeteria for overpriced, undercooked food.  I got a burger and fries for $8.50.  Nancy got some kind of wrap, and upon seeing my fries also decided on fries.  My burger was good but very undone in the center.  The fires weren’t bad but gave me a sore tongue from their high salt content.  We did a few more hours taking in the booths, and some seminars and it was time to go home. As we left the center we had a close encounter with a TV actor who also happens to be a photo enthusiast. It was Joe Regalbuto who played Frank Fontana on Murphy Brown. We spent a few minutes deciding do we eat or just head home.  We decided to grab something at the Port Authority and catch the 6:00pm bus home so we wouldn’t be too late.  Good move, the bus should have got home at 8:10pm but there were accidents and just lots of congestion and we lost and hour at least getting back.  We had an annoying lawyer sitting behind us who would call someone who was to pick him up in PA and give them an update on how we were very late because of the “stupid people who don’t know how to drive in NJ”  We heard this at least 8 times.  If he was such a high powered lawyer he should have his own car and not be sitting in a bus!  By the time I got to our car I was about crippled from the bus drive and the convention floor, but still glad I went.  Nancy and I both commented on how we would like to live in NYC for 1-3 months just to get a feel for what it’s like to live there, and explore all the places you want to, but never get the time. Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, explore central park, and just explore and photograph all of the areas like the village, Chelsea, the other boroughs etc.  And the places you never have time for like the Moma, the zoo, the library, and more that I can’t think of right now.

The next day I was supposed to go to New Jersey for 2 days for my nephews confirmation.  My Wife saw how exhausted I was and gave me a pass.  It was a good thing because I was a zombie for the next 24 hours. I just slept and then drifted in and out of consciousness.  Plus I treated myself with ice packs and my massaging La-z-boy chair.  Even today, Saturday I was only a little better.  A trip like that takes a lot out of old Spiney.  So that’s NYC Photo Expo for 2008.  I’ll look over all the literature I brought back, and dream of my next purchase and how exciting it was to have been a Pro Photographer for 17 years.  Till next time, Spiney

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Well I hope to blog something every few days so as to not have a stagnant blog like so many out there.  As you may know from the about me info, I suffer from chronic pain and chronic insomnia.  well the insomnia caught up to me.  I fell asleep Monday Night around 5:00am Tuesday.  Today I awoke at 3pm!!  a good 10 hours.  I awoke in pain from probably having to pee for the past 3 hours.  But once up I had a good day for once.  I had a fresh mind and moderate pain, so I was able to accomplish some things.

Yesterday we had a young college student come over and rake our leaves because Spiney can’t do that no more.  He did a great job and we had massive piles in the street waiting for the street leaf sucker to pick them up.  The plan was also for him to come back on Wednesday and mow the lawn for the last time of the season.  Well today ( Tuesday ) we have had gale force winds all day.  Luckily the large pile is still there, but the yard is now filled with leafs again.  You can’t win.  I think I’ll just have him mow and mulch those leaves, that’s being green right?

The mail brought an unwelcome surprise today.  We had been traveling in New Jersey earlier in the month.  Today we get a notice of an EZ Pass violation, saying we ran a toll booth.  We have never ran a toll booth.  I drive like the proverbial old man in a Volvo station wagon no less.  We stopped and paid at every booth.  We had to they had gates.  I would have had to crash a gate.  The Mrs thinks they just randomly shoot the tag of an out of state driver and send them a fine.  Hey are you going to put up a big fight for a $25 fine.  When we already paid the $0.70 toll.  Well luckily they pissed off Mrs spiney.  When she gets mad and feels ripped off she becomes my pitbull.  She will call and fight with them.  She is not going to pay without a fight.  I’m sure we will end up having to pay, because we are not going to go back to New Jersey to fight a $25 fine, but we won’t go down without a fight.

Finally I need to rest up for a yearly trip to NYC.  My Wife and I owned a Photo Studio for 17 years. It was our calling and the love of our life.  For about 123 of those years we went to an event called Photo-Pro Expo East in NYC at the Jacob Javitts Convention Center.  Since my disability I’ve gone to 2 of them to keep up with the industry and to give myself a pick me up.  It takes a 3 hour bus trip each way. I take extra meds, a back brace and a cane.  The concrete floor of the convention center is hell on my after only 1/2 hour.  But being among my peers and meeting some of the biggest big shots of the photo industry for the day is a real high.  The adrenaline over rides the pain, until the ride home.  Then I bring back a months worth of memories.  I love the energy of NYC.  And it is the center of photography both in the USA and most likely the world. It’s the place to be if photography is your passion.  So on Friday I should have something to say about that if I still have the energy to write.  One of my biggest regrets in going to the Photo Expo is when we went in October of 2001 just a few weeks after Sept 11th.  The ruins were still smoldering.  We didn’t go down to Ground Zero, but many of our colleagues did.  I’m so sorry I didn’t, just to see with my own eyes the amount of destruction.  We went later that year, around January, but it wasn’t the same, it was much more cleaned up by then.  Well until next time, Spiney

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I had the great fortune of seeing a concert Saturday night with the combined talents of Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson at the Sovereign Center Reading, PA.  It was a bittersweet evening because I was supposed to see it with my Wife and my Mother-in-law.  My Wife has been suffering from a migraine headache for the past three weeks, despite 3 trips to the ER for treatment. She felt it would not be a good idea for her to be exposed to the very loud music and flashing lights.  I understood, but was disappointed non the less.  The bright side was I was able to offer her ticket to my daughter Hollie who jumped at the chance, and had a great time.  it was wonderful to be able to spend a fun evening with her, and share 2 large soft braided pretzels! My wife had purchased the tickets at the theater months in advance and snagged us excellent seats.  we were on the floor about 20 rows back on the center-end of the row. We had a great view of the actual show and the Jumbo screen. Reba who is mainly known as a country singer and TV and movie actress looked incredible. You can tell from the constant smile and glow in her eyes that she loves performing. Kelly who was the first winner of American Idol over 6 years ago, has an incredible voice.  Simon Cowell said just last season that of all the contestants, she had the best vocal talent and range.  She showed that talent all night long. Both performers were on stage for the 2 hour show. They took turns singing each others songs, sometimes as the lead, sometimes as the backup and often as a duet.  They opened the show with “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. This threw me for a loop because I knew the tune immediately but wasn’t expecting it. Reba looks incredible for her age of 53. Together on stage they looked and acted like sisters and best friends, not an experienced country star and a relatively newcomer Pop star. My memory is not the best from all the meds I’m on, so I can’t recall the whole set list.  The highlights were Kelly’s “Because of you” which they did as a duet and Reba’s ‘Fancy” and “The night the lights went out in Georgia” which they also sang together. There was an unexpected surprise for me of a song called “Up to the Mountain” which was a spiritual type song.  They had a great band if I recall correctly they had 2 drummers, a percussionist, A Hammond organ player, a Key/Synth player, a Baby grand player, 2-3 guitars, Bass both electric and upright, 2 violin/fiddles, and a backup singer who also played fiddle and Sax. Reba hung in there and appeared to have a lot of fun singing Kelly’s Rock/Pop songs such as Walk Away, Miss Independent, Breakaway, and Since you’ve been gone. Kelly has the voice of a great blues singer.  There was also another surprise earlier in the evening. There was a pre concert warm up by comedienne / actress Melissa Peterman who played Barbara Jean on the Reba TV sitcom.  I very rarely watched the show, so I didn’t know who she was, but Hollie did as did 90% of the audience.  She was quite funny and made many references to her love of Yuengling beer as the best part of being in PA.  To help my long suffering wife feel somewhat connected I did call several times during the best songs and just held up the cell, so she could hear.  Surprisingly she said it came through pretty clear.  I was glad to find that there are many bootleg videos of this concert tour on Youtube, so I hope to share the experience with my Wife, through those.  Well it’s past 3:30am so I think I’ll wrap it up there.  If you are anywhere near the Reading area, the Sovereign Center is a great venue for concerts, especially if you pony up for closer floor seats.  Appearing in a few days are Meatloaf, The Steve Miller Band, and angry comedian Lewis Black.  Good night.  Spiney

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My real name is Dave but online I go by Spiney.  Why Spiney?  Well the last few years and much of my future has been defined by a big change brought on by 3 back surgeries and (1) neck surgery.  I have 4 levels of my lower back or Lumbar fused together with donor bone and held together with plates and screws. I have the same done to 2 levels of my neck or cervical spine.  So I am very aware of my spine 24 x 7.

I must give credit to Conan O’Brien, or actually one of his writers Pierre Bernard for the “Recliner of Rage” tagline. I use that because most of this will be written from my New La-Z-Boy recliner, I wore the old one out after 10 years, or my bed. That is where unfortunately I spend the majority of my days.

Because of this I am unable to work a job or better yet, run my own business like I did for 15 years full time and another business for about 8 years part time. So I have a lot of time on my hands.  I’m in chronic pain and have serious sleep issues so the time I have can be an hour here, there, or mostly in the middle of the night when pain and insomnia are my pals. I’m an info junkie.  always have been, but today there are so many more sources.  The Net, cable news, NPR, XM, BBC, a slew of monthly magazines, Borders when I can get there, and the occasional newspaper.  I also watch The History Channel, History International, the cable channel owned by Al Gore and Steve Jobs: Current, the Science and Discovery channels. Yes I do interact with humans when possible, but I don’t get out much, so it’s mostly my Wife and family. Oh I also moderate a Neck and Back Pain Yahoo group.

What I hope to accomplish here is to say the things I would say to people if there were intelligent people to discuss this with.  Things I yell at the TV about, or talk my wife, or cat, or who ever will listen. I hope someone reads this and I encourage response. Thanks for listening, Spiney

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