City of Lost Angels

Flying into Ontario Airport

Flying into Ontario Airport and looking down at the fires burning in the night made my heart ach for the LA Woman. Looking out the window of the jet as we approached the airport I watched the flames dancing in the hills as they fed huge clouds of billowing smoke. This view of a fire was more horrific for me than the distant view of the fire that I had in Bend Oregon earlier in the summer. The fire that I view near Sisters, Oregon appeared as an act of nature and had large white smoke clouds that rose to the air like thunder clouds. This fire in LA looked like a demon devouring the city. The fire licking the bottom of the black smoke could have been a volcano.

When I got off the plane the smoke and soot were so bad that I could hardly open my eyes when I got outside the terminal. The police directing traffic had on dust masks. The shock of going from the clean fresh air of Texas to the extremely smoky air of the San Gabriel Valley was 10 times worse than the last time I was here. I told my dad that the sooner he gets out of LA and living on the Lone Worm Ranch that he will be happier and the air will be healthier. Everywhere that I drove the cars and ground was covered with soot and ash. Soot and ash is falling out of the sky like snowflakes at the Ontario Airport.

I went to visit my childhood home and the second apartment in Long Beach that my wife and I lived in after we were married. I took pictures of the locations and I will post you links to the photos soon. South Central LA has truly been taken over by Hispanics. I drove from downtown out to my old house at 122nd and Main Street and it was all Hispanic where once it was all black. I saw a few blacks in Compton. I went to a park near where my uncle Froncel lived and it was full of Hispanics watching and playing soccer. I watched some games and man they were good.

I am glad that I left LA with my family. Even though I have lots of fond memories seeing LA now with the fires and all the trash everywhere it is like viewing a dead person in a coffin at a funeral. You love the memories but you know that the spirit is gone. Texas on the other hand is surprisingly clean. Even my dad noted that that the streets and highways in Texas are so clean. I had not really noticed it but started to look around and noticed it also. When I came into LA I really noticed trash everywhere. People do not care about this city, it is so big, it is not the LA Woman anymore, and it is the LA Monster.

Well Drilling

The Richter Well Drilling company is on site today starting to drill the well on the Lone Worm Ranch. After spending several days pondering where to tell them to drill the well they are finally here drilling the well about 20 feet from the existing hand dug well. I am amazed at how the soil differs at this location from the soil 200 feet away at the septic pit test holes. The soil here is dark brown and has humus and the soil at the septic test holes is sandy and full of rocks and clay. My dad said that his father had problems growing crops in the field in front of the new house. As I look at the difference in the soil from the well site I can see why.

The well drilling stoped for the day at 380 feet.

Saturday Night Photography

My interest is night photography was rekindled by a woman that I met on the Sift to Bikes Mystery Night Rides in Portland Oregon. Ayleen uses a film camera and takes pictures of the group when the mystery ride reaches its destination. I first started taking pictures at night with my long gone AE-1 when I had a paper route for the LA Times in the 1980s. I used ISO 64 slide film and took pictures during short breaks in the early morning.

So it is Saturday night and I have just dropped off my dad at his hotel room in the new part of Bastrop off Texas Highway 71. I head back to my room which is on the far eastern edge of Bastrop. I decide to take the route through the Bastrop historic section of town. As I cross the Colorado River the lights on the old bridge that is used for pedestrian traffic inspire me. The old bridge is right next to the new ridge that I am driving on. I remember my last night ride in Portland and how beautiful the Sellwood Bridge looked at night. I make a mental note to try to take a picture of this bridge some evening.

As I continue towards my motel I drive past a small café with nice blue neon lights. This café is the Roadside Café which was in the move Home Fries staring Drew Barrymore. There have been several movies made in Bastrop including one of my family’s favorites The Big Green. As I made my turn off Texas Highway 95 onto Loop 150 I decided that now was the time to do some more night photography. I had tested my EOS 10D earlier with a few shots of trucks in the Exxon parking lot behind my hotel. This shot I thought that I would have a better chance to take a really nice picture. I parked my car near the entrance to Bastrop State Park. This is where the movie was actually shot. The current location of the Roadhouse Café is where it was moved after the movie. I set up my tripod and I took four pictures and then went back to my hotel room.

I have never used any of the custom features of my EOS 10 D and had never taken pictures using the RAW file format. These photographs mark the first time that I have taken and digitally process my own images using my laptop, Canon software, and Adobe Photoshop. This is the reason that I got interested in computers in the first place some 20 years ago and somehow got side tracked trying to raise a family and earn a living. The first image is a JPG export from the RAW file format. I digitally tweaked some of the file parameters before saving the exported file. This is just like taking a piece of negative film and making a print in a traditional darkroom. Once you take a picture with the negative you can make many prints with different effects. In the digital world taking a picture and saving the RAW image you can do the same thing. I can adjust the settings and then save it to a JPG file for viewing or printing. The RAW file always has my original photographic information that was captured when I took the picture.

The second image has special effects that I applied using PhotoShop. I took the image and applied the Fresco filter to give it a pop art painted effect. I will continue to use filters to come up with an image that I like and then I will make a print of it. If the print is Ok then I may try to sell copies of it. This is the process that I will go through as I create digital art.

Moving Day, Shake Rattle and Roll

The house is on the ranch now and I can give a sigh of relief. I was worried that the house would not make it down the narrow Wormley Lane, but it did. I stood in the middle of the lane as I watched the truck towing the house move very slowly towards me towing one half of the 16 foot wide by 48 foot long home. The home is a Palm Harbor model PHT348A1 – Pecos and is 1488 square feet with 3 bedrooms and two baths.

The truck rolled passed the front gate to the ranch. I had hired a man to open up the barbed wire fence to allow the two trucks easy access to the ranch. The two trucks are seen here turning onto the ranch with the house. It was really strange to watch these two 35,000 pound objects slowly lumber across a pasture that cows were in a few weeks before. Was the house moving or was the sky moving, it was hard to tell as I watched the front half of the house roll into position over the concrete foundation. Once both halves were in place the trucks could un-hook and level them for the leveling crew to move into their final position. Here I am standing in front of the house. Here is my dad standing in front of the house.

Camera Upgrade

I am on my third Canon camera and this one is my first digital. My new camera is a Canon EOS 10D and it is just what I wanted. Canon makes one camera above the 10D and it is the 1D so this is their low-end professional camera

For me it is the first serious professional camera that I have owned. As I take pictures with it I can remember taking pictures with my AE-1 and how excited I was to have a nice SLR camera. I would still have it today were it not stolen out of my truck in Portland one night. My second Canon camera was the EOS 650 and I still have it. The EOS 650 like the AE-1 broke ground in photography just like the EOS 1D is doing for digital photography. This is the first piece of technology that I have upgraded and I can still use pre-owned accessories with it. My new EOS 10D can use the same lenses that I already own for the EOS 650. Finally staying with a brand pays off.

So finally after almost 20 years I have the ability to take pictures, review them instantly, and then with my laptop have a mobile digital darkroom with PhotoShop. To some this may sound trivial, but to those of you that have been around for a while and have families and a life getting technology like this on a budget is hard. I am now in the process of learning how to use the basic features of the camera. I am also re-learning photographic techniques that I have lost over the years and learning some new ones for the digital age. I am working on improving my eye for composition and layout and the use of this camera is what will help me. The ability to take an image in the field or studio and then pop in on my computer and immediately put it into a page layout, website or fine art project is amazing to me at the moment. At last the planets of technology are aligned and all I have to do is dust off the creativity in my brain and express myself on a digital canvas.

If you are wondering what the difference between the EOS 10d and the Rebel 300D this resolution issue is one of them. Both cameras use the same processing engine but the 300D uses a plastic Penta mirror and the EOS 10D uses a real Penta prism. If you know a little about cameras and optics you know that plastic is no where near as good as a real piece of precision cut and polished glass. There is a real difference in the cameras as is reflected in the performance and price. I’ll discuss some of the performance issues in the examples below.

I was not using a macro lens when I took the picture of my boots but used a 35-80 mm zoom. All the photos in this article were taken using the largest JPG settings at full resolution so each photo is between 2-3 MB each with JPG compression on. In RAW format the file can be as large as 8 MB. I will take some RAW phots and show thm in another article. On the boot photo I was standing and held the camera at eye level. Notice the details on the blades of grass. If you look closely at the largest file you can see some leftover dew drops that flicked on my boot. You can see the threads in my Levis and even the grain on my boots.

This photo was taken at an Arabic shop that is located next to the Flight Path coffee shop. I go to the Flight Path in north Austin to use the wireless Internet connection to upload photos to my web server. I was attracted to the shop because the shop window had several large hooka pipes displayed. I went inside an asked the woman working in the shop if I could take pictures of the pipes. She said OK. On the high resolution pipe mouth piece photo notice the details of the stitching on the table cloth in the background. I did not notice the fine work when I took the picture, but only noticed in when I got it on my computer. The shot of my boots show the scratches in fine detail also. The Canon EOS 10d is blowing my mind.

This photo is me just having fun playing cowboy. I wanted to make sure I knew how to use the self timer before I really had to. I also wanted to see how the camera’s white balance worked in an extreme back lighting situation. I always have had problems with this before. the results in this photo show details in my dark skin even though there is really bright sun behind me. I use the automatic program features to tak this photo.

If you want to look at some of my unedited digital images go to the Wormey Photo Archive and click on the Photo link in the menu on the left side of the web page. The digital pictures that I am taking are under the category Launi which is the Hawaiian spelling of my first name

How humid is it?

Well today was the first day that I got sweaty just sitting in my car. Tonight at 10 PM it was 72 degrees, 92% humidity and there was a slight fog in the air from the evaporating rain that had just fallen. The woman announcing the local NBC news commented that it was so humid that all the women in the newsroom including her just had to let their hair go limp.

Creativity, like a fine wine?

When I am walking on the ranch or riding my bike down the country roads I am getting a strong urge to paint again on real canvas. I have never dared to think like this in over 30 years, but the artist buried inside has never died.

I feel like I am in a cultural re-habilitation center and I am peeling off layers of learned habits that have hindered my freethinking for some time. I also feel the challenge to put up or shut up. I have been presented a rare opportunity to resurrect the art machine and dust off the equipment in my brain to see if it all still works. It is like restoring a vintage automobile and wondering if it will run again after you have invested time and energy in fixing it up.

If you are a creative person I am sure that you can understand that the creative process like training for an athletic event takes time to develop. You do not go out and do the iron man without training for it. I am now firmly committed to a training process for my creative brain. The web log (Blog) was the first step as I have been doing conditioning by writing more about what is around me. The second step is going to be taking digital pictures. Taking pictures will help restore my eye for composition. The next step will be sketching which is the hard part but will be the most rewarding.

I do not have the funds to travel to an exotic place for inspiration, but coming from Oregon to Texas is pretty exotic for me. Texas has everything from a fragile endangered Houston Toad to more super duty pick-up trucks than anywhere in the world. Austin is the home of Stevie Ray Vaughn and Lance Armstrong two of my heroes so this part of Texas has many diverse extremes constantly pulling at your brain for attention. Austin is to Houston like Portland is to Seattle which is why this area is the only place that I will live in Texas.

Happy Hour Bike Ride

Today was a day that I spent inside my hotel room pouring over job descriptions and trying to learn all I could about wells. I had little incentive to leave because the mechanics had my car for repairs and there were plenty of phone calls that I could make from the room. I would go bonkers without my laptop and a bike to get me away from it for a while.

I have not had a smoothie since I have arrived in Texas. I have a blender but the last time that I was in the super market I forgot to get any juice. There is a gas station quick mart next to the hotel so since I had not eaten anything all day except grapes I decided to see if they had any apple juice.

As I left my room I looked out from the second story walkway at the partly cloudy sky and let the humid central Texas air take hold of me as I walked to the store. For just an instant I thought about going on a bike ride, and then I thought not today. It was around five o’clock as I crossed the large parking lot towards the store. Even though the Exxon gas station is just like any other gas station the surrounding pine trees and fluffy white clouds made the disgusting smell of oil and spilled Gator Aide melt away.

While I was scanning the horizon I noticed a guy standing by a white Ford utility truck with his bike. He had his bike shorts and jersey on and looked like he was getting ready for a ride. I had ridden up the adjoining highway on Sunday and knew that it was not the best ride that I have been on, but I soon found myself walking toward the man. As I got closer I noticed that he was smoking. My first instinct was to dismiss anybody that smokes and rides a bike as a person that only rides because their driving license is revoked. I caught myself starting to get a snooty attitude and then I just walked through it just like I was walking though the humid late afternoon air. Who cares if he smokes it would be nice to go on a bike ride with someone that you have never met. As I got close enough to talk it was then that I realized that he was smoking a jay. I found out later during the ride that this guy was about my age. I am finding that Texas is quite liberal about sex, drugs, and alcohol. The idea that I had about Texas being a conservative Bible belt state is starting to fade away.

So I approached him and asked if he was going on a ride. He said that he was and he usually rides down the highway a few days a week when it is daylight savings time. I asked if I could ride with him and that it would only take a few minutes for me to get ready. He said sure, so off I went to get my bike. We rode down Highway 71 to the Colorado Park underpass which is the next exit passed Smithville. The total round trip ride was 21 miles and it was really nice to see the sun set while riding.

While we rode we talked about a lot of stuff but the most interesting fact is that Lance Armstrong is going to be in a ride that he sponsors here in Austin. Central Texas has several major road rides that go from Austin to Houston and from Austin to San Antonia then to Houston. If you do not know who Lance Armstrong is, well he has one more Tour de France races than anyone. He is a prostrate cancer survivor and is in all the US Post Office and Subaru ads on TV. I really like him and I never expected that I would get a chance to meet him let alone ride a bike on a festival ride with him. The ride is on October 26 and is called the Ride for the Roses so I will see if I can do it.

When we got back to the gas station I gave him my card and we will hook up for some more rides this weekend. I walked to my room took a shower and then headed back to the store to get some apple juice. I made a big smoothie with some canned pears, yogurt, brand, two bananas, and the apple juice. What a way to end the day.

PHP Web Store

Well finally I have made progress on one of my goals. I have been working on learning PHP and have created my first eCommerce web store. If you want to check it out it is located here. I am going to add artwork to this store and I hope to generate some income from it. One thing for sure is that I’m learning how to create dynamic web pages using PHP and a MySQL database.

The web site is not much to look at now but technically it works and hooks right into PayPal with a shopping cart. I’ll be working on improving the look and feel of the site now that the technical problems are solved. I have wanted to know how to do this for almost a year and all it took was for me to be hold up in a motel in central Texas for a day without a car. I took my time and waded through a bunch of web pages that explained how to do it and bingo it works. I know this may not be a big deal to most, but for me making sure that I can still use my brain after 16 months of being without a job is important.

I do not have a lot of bandwidth to upload any images to the site yet. I am using a dial-up connection so big files take forever to load to my server. I’ll work on getting the site prettier and then load some graphics for sale.

Neil Young "Citified Country"

I have not listened to Neil Young for a while. I’m learning how to create dynamic web pages using PHP and I’m playing my MP3 collection. After listening to the country radio station KASE then hearing Neil I now know why Lynard Skinard says that the South does not need him anyway. Neil seems to struggle through trying to sound country. It is almost like he is reading the music instead of feeling it.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like Neil Young and he has a unique style of music. I just have a new pair of ears when listening to him after hearing real country for a few weeks. Moving away from the west coast to central Texas changes your perspective on more than just music.