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Nick Charles
09 April 2009 @ 09:06 pm
Boy I haven't posted in f.o.r.e.v.e.r. guess I should brush away the cobwebs and see if this thing still works.

*cough cough* wow, and maybe dust some.

Work has really picked up. The travel is starting to get underway with the new administration. We have been hitting up several hotels and schools within the Metro area and the out of area travel is getting fun. In the past couple of months I have been able to go to Miami, New Orleans, and Denver. Coming up next week I get my third trip to the White House, this time I get to snap pictures of the kids doing the Easter Egg festivities on Monday. Fun times.

Next week I am off to Vegas baby! Finally, after years of asking as a contractor, I get to go to NAB. All it took was for me to become a govie, I should have done that years ago. Silly me. From Vegas I an off to Iowa, talk about a slight culture shock there.

The new job has given me a couple of interesting events to work. For instance, last night I was at the 9:30 club. Neko Case was doing a show but before she started her set my boss got on stage with her and talked shop for just a couple of minutes. I was there shooting video while my co-worker was doing the still images - note to self, a small monitor needs to be purchased when working in low light conditions, easier to see what is being filmed (for focus and pre-setting positions). We got the video and some images online today and some blogs have picked it up and an interesting dialog is happening about his presence there (should he or shouldn't he be there). I personally think it was a great idea. If you want to get a message out you should take the message to the target audiences instead of the other way around. I hope we get to do more of these throughout the country.

The new group is fun to work with. There have been some hiccups here and there but that is to be expected with a new group coming in We can tell we have earned the trust and respect of the new boss and his crew because he and they are making sure we are not having any problems at the events and that we are taken care of. Sure this means they want us around more, which in turn puts more on our plate, but that is why we are there, awesomeness all around!

Needless to say, I LOVE my job. The past 6 months have been amazing. Sure work has really picked up and all the fun sites are blocked at work, but I don't care. I do miss the interaction with everyone but given the choice of no interaction and a job that isn't really work, just play, or access to all the sites I want but a dull, boring job well, there is no tough decision there.

There are days where I still can't believe I get paid to do what I do. Sure I'm not making the big bucks, but I am doing what I love and getting a paycheck, so double-win for me.

Ok, I'm starting to get sappy about my job so that is my hint to stop here before people start slapping me.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Nick Charles
08 January 2009 @ 08:31 pm

We recently watched a couple of movies and here are my thoughts on them.

A word of warning, here there be SPOILERS, proceed with caution…

In Bruges:

I thought this was a great movie.  I remember seeing the trailers for the film and being a little interested but not much.  It looked like an action/adventure with some humor put in.  Because of that the movie went out of my thoughts - I wasn’t in the mood for that type of movie at the time.  But, what was delivered was different that the trailers lead one to believe.  This movie was marketed wrong in my opinion, and had to been presented in ads closer to what it actually was then I think more people would have seen it.

So the movie.  I thought the movie was brilliant.  There were a lot of little reveals that helped the viewer peel away at the characters to get a greater sense of who they were and where they were coming from.  Instead of spending the first 30 minutes of the film trying to establish all the characters the viewer was given a little at a time.  I love it when movies do that for the audience.  You get a greater feeling of entering in their lives in the middle of something instead of something episodic.  So when Ray’s character falls to pieces in the hotel room bathroom shortly after the film starts the audience is puzzled - is this the guy that was shooting off about the shit-hole place they were, all tough and studly.  I like movies with big explosions and wild effects - Transformers - but I also like movies where you are kept on your toes.

When you see what happened when Ray offed the priest you get deeper into his head.  The audience gets a glimpse into what might be enhancing his dislike of Bruges.  He is projecting his disdain and hate for what he did onto the town where they are sequestered.  The surreal encounter with the movie set where he meets Chloe and Jimmy helped him escape his reality of hell and leave everything behind.  But when things start to crumble with them - Chloe’s ex-boyfriend and Jimmy’s racial war rantings - his reality starts to creep back in and he has a hard time adjusting.

Ken’s storyline is a emotional ride as well.  You can see how he is a father figure to Ray.  From trying to educate Ray on the history of Bruges, to trying to keep him in control as they wait the next orders, Ken is there for him.  The little bit of information we get about his past with Harry sets up the extreme torment Ken feels when he is given the order to kill Ray.  Fascinating.

And while you can’t really think Harry as a good guy, he is a wonderful antagonist for the story.  While he is a ‘bad guy’ you can see how he tries to be a good family man, even apologetic for outbursts to his wife instead of shrugging it off.  Harry does stick to his principles, which he takes to the extreme even if he was wrong in his perception of Jimmy’s body.  The drama between him and Ken really helped show that he wasn’t the black&white typically portrayed ‘bag guy boss man.’

With all these dichotomies within each character and amongst all the story really gives the viewer more than a cool shoot-out in an old town with jokes - how the movie was somewhat advertised.  There was far more depth than I expected.   Because of that I’m already telling other people that they need to sit down and watch the film.

Lone Star State of Mind:
I have to say, while this didn’t have the depth that Bruges had, it was a fun movie to sit back and enjoy.  I am still having a hard time picturing Opie when looking at Tinker - wow.  There were a couple little twists that I didn’t quite expect but figured had to happen.  The long build up of the killer hunting down Earl yet no appearance until the end let me know that he wasn’t out to hurt Earl.  Of course I didn’t expect him to be as goofy as all that.

Tinker had no redemming values about him at all.  We laughed each time something bad happened to him, especially when Jimbo was leaning on his cast.  I’m was happy to see that Tinker was left behind in the end.  There were several times through out the film I was hoping that wuld happen but realized that doing so would be out of character for Earl.  But by the end, after the shoot out and everything that had happened, Earl had enough once Tinker pulled a gun on him - after all Earl went through to save his life.  By that time it was not out of character for Earl to drop him and say good bye.

I liked how the climax of the film brought everyone together and a resolution was created.  By the end of all that there was only one choice for Earl to do - he had to leave town.  It wasn’t just because of the possible repercussions of the nights activities, but he simply out grew the town.  Up to that point he was happy with the way things were but with all that went down there would be nothing left to hold his interest in the town any more.  Sure Jimbo was still around but Earl didn’t have to worry about him any more since he was finally hooking up with someone.  So he didn’t have to be a big brother to him any more.  Because of Juniors actions I think even Baby was done with him so that is another area where Earl wasn’t needed any more.  All that was left was him and Baby.  The growth they wanted/needed was beyond what was there.

So there you go - my thoughts on the films :)

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
07 January 2009 @ 09:30 pm

While I like chat systems it does limit the amount of conversation two people can have.  Sure the immediate transmission and availability allowing one to see what the other wrote does match closer to face to face communication, but there is still something lost.  Instead of full conversations ideas run the risk of being milled down to quick phraseology instead of fully fleshed out thoughts.   With this shortening of speech to each other the conversation runs the risk of being not as in depth as it could be.  That is not to say that one cannot have full conversations with another via a chat system.  The capabilities are wonderful to have that banter back and forth.

Communicating via email can have advantages over chat talk.  With no worry about missing sent lines (by scrolling off the screen) or trying to follow two different trains of thought at the same time, emails can shine the focus brighter on a specific subject allowing for deeper dialog.  Being able to follow a thought from inception to delivery via an email message gives the sender the time and space needed to exercise the images in their head.  Not only before pounding them into the keyboard but also being able to re-read an entire thought process before hitting the “send” button opens the opportunity to re-examine and alter.

I look at chatting as just that, people hanging out and tossing out dialog back and forth as some would watching TV or playing a game.  You cover advanced topics but for the most part scratching below the surface isn’t always priority 1.  On the other hand, I consider emails to be akin to presenting lectures or essays.  You are given an unlimited amount of space and time to posit an idea and le tthe words fly.  The responder is then able to fully breathe in what is before them uninterrupted and truly invest their attention to the topic at hand.

In as much as I love instant gratification (as we all do, bring it on!) there is a thrill, and tension, in sending emails.  It is a beauty, no doubt, to receive instant messages, via chat, because while you may be separated by miles the quickness gives the feeling of being right next to the other person.  With emails there is a roller coaster experience.  Once you hit send on an email it is out of your control.  You don’t know when, or even if, the person reads the message.  On top of that you don’t know if there will be a response or if the message didn’t leave enough of an impression to prompt a return email.  As I stated yesterday, once sending the message the sender (at least in my case) transforms into a kid on Christmas morning waiting for everyone to wake up to open presents.  Trying not too hard to fixate on the inbox and waiting, yearning, hoping for the little indicator showing there is a new message waiting - even better, a reply!  That indicator says more than  “you have mail’  it conveys the message that someone took the time to sit down and devote time to reading what you sent them.  A virtual lighthouse shining a light announcing that what you sent was read, thought about, and elicited a response.  On top of all that you have a message waiting to be read.  Unlike chat dialog where there is a line or two and not as much mystery, you have no idea what waits for you until you clilck the message and read.  The sky is the limit on the response.  Even if it is only a couple lines coming back to you those lines stay shrouded until you take the step in unwrapping the note.

With all that said, I love to engage in both chat and email (obviously!) To me, they are two worlds of communication and I will try to get involved in both as much as possible.  One allows for deeper thoughts and paired mental journeys whereas chatting provides an easy companionship and easier Q&A exploration without having to send a 20 questions form ;)  Any communication is good communication, you just have to keep talking.  I agree that open communication while apart helps break down some walls and helps breed an element of familiarity.  When this happens getting together in person is much easier and more enjoyable.

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
17 December 2008 @ 04:43 pm

Someone asked me how do you measure an oodle. Being the efficient sort I reached for the shelf to get her the answer. Below outlines the conversion table from my copy of “The Ultimate Guide of Weights and Measures of Pulling Things Out of My Ass”

12 smidgens = 1 hand full
6.75 hand fulls = 1 butt load
3 butt loads = 1 shit load
4 shit loads = 1 oodle
3.5 oodles = 1 ass ton
5 ass tons = 1 fuck load
2 fuck loads = several ‘goddamnit’s’

Remember all these are by volume and not weight.

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
30 November 2008 @ 01:16 pm

Thanksgiving Day was such a blast!

Not only did we get to spend it with great friends and good food, but we also got to shoot rockets (with a 5 year old retreiver) and much Wii playing.  Turkey Day was spent over at Scott and Ellen’s (just like the last few years) and everyone brought a few dishes to share.  Ellen did a fabulous turkey that - I was picking from while waiting for the food to be put on the table - I put together a cucumber-artichoke-pepper salad  that went well with the stuffing and all the other goodies around the table.  For dessert Carrie made a wonderful Apple-Cranberry pie that was out of this world.  Ellen also had a pumpkin pie that was getting rave reviews - I didn’t have any because at that point I had couldn’t even handle a wafer thing mint.

After eating we walked over to the elementary school’s soccer field to launch a long waiting rocket - 3 years in waiting!  Scott and I were like two 13 year olds setting up the rocket.  With everything in place Olivia shouted out a countdown and the launch happened.  Everyone gave a chorus of ‘wow..oooo” - mostly because none of us expected the damn thing to work.  Olivia was amazed at the rocket and started chasing it.  Having a 5 year old retreiver when launching rockets elevates the fun-factor if only because it makes it easier for us old folks.  A fun way to get out of the house and use the legs a little after the tasty meal.

One of the things we learned on Thursday is that Olivia kicks ass on Wii boxing, she was beating everyone, including the computer.  Much bowling commenced and everyone was doing great - hell, Olivia was beating some of us there too - damn kids.

All in all a fun T-Day - and now some photos

Read the rest of this entry »Collapse )

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
09 November 2008 @ 03:46 pm

I wanted to write up life as a photographer in the federal system but wanted to make sure it was kept separate from all my other writing.  In order to keep my work talk away from my rantings  - and considering this site is blocked at work - I figured I should just do the alternative and set-up a different site to take care of things.  Yeah, I know, yet another site to try and remember?!?! Oh well.

So let me introduce you to ISOpeg.com.  The content on this site will be only about work.  The trips I take, some of the shoots I do, and any other observations about being either part of the feds or otherwise.

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
21 October 2008 @ 10:23 pm
Just wanted to send out an invite reminder for the party on November 1.

Just as the invite states, costumes are welcomed! We will have snacks and drinks for all, you do not have to bring anything but you. However, if there is something you feel the need to bring we will have room on the table or in the cooler to put it.

If you do plan on attending please drop me an email to the address listed on the image. We want to make sure we have enough for everyone.

Nick Charles
16 October 2008 @ 07:03 pm

while jumping from office to office dropping off paperwork I was called over to our asset manager’s office.  He showed me what had arrived…

The Nikon D3, Sweet!

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
15 October 2008 @ 08:27 pm

No politics talk here - despite the debate starting right now.

Just wanted to check in to say that the new job was started today.  I was in the building yesterday enjoying my orientation.  I always thought that orientation was to give you insight to the place you are starting to and go over the rules (ethics) and benefits you have.  I was let down in the lack of details given to us on the benefits and instead were shown a video (which looked like it was made in the early 90s) and told to either go to the website or view the CD in our “Welcome Packet.”  All in all it was a 8 hours that could have been condensed to about 4-5.

That said, my second day was quite different.  Instead of starting the day with folders full of paper I was welcomed with a laptop, D2X*, multiple lenses, SB-800 flash and SB-900 (not out of the box yet), many CF cards, blackberry, and access to a nice FCP station and full studio - complete with HD cams, lighting, etc.  A couple of camera bags were handed over to me as well, one for walking around and a travel case.  Not a bad day eh?

* Two new D3 bodies were delivered but one was not functioning, so back it went and me being the new guy means I have to wait for the replacement to come to us.

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.

Nick Charles
03 October 2008 @ 08:29 am

Palin kicked ass last night. She held her own against a seasoned politician and put to rest all those fears that were aroused after her recent interviews. Sure the Gibson interview might have shown some cracks in the Palin-veneer. The Couric interview was a hack job and ‘gotcha reporting’ that was a lame attempt to paint Paliln in a bad light. The one interview you don’t hear people discuss is the one she did with Hannity. This interview was a breath of fresh air against the stink of the other interviews she gave given.

I predict that what I wrote above will be stated in some shape or form from this point on from all the right leaning talking heads. Do I believe the words above? Not everything. I do think that she did a decent job during the debate last night. Of course calling last night a debate is a little of a stretch. Sure there was a little back and forth but a full on debate? Not in my opinion. I really didn’t like the moderation that was going on. The moderator did not hammer on Biden or Palin when they dodged answering questions and went to their safe room by attacking the other side. If statements were either unclear - during a political debate?!? - or needed some elaboration there was nothing to follow up on them. I don’t know if the impotence of the moderator was due to rules set out by the campaigns or not - the Obama/McCain debate was not like this - but if that is the case then shame on the campaigns.

Last night I was able to put my finger on something that had been bothering me about Palin. One of the chants vocalized by the left is that a McCain administration will be a Bush III. Last night I saw how that will be so - Palin=Bush. Policies aside and faith/religion aside, Palin is a female version of Chimpy Flight-suit. It is obvious that Palin was well prepared for the debate last night. But you could tell where the preparations ended and the off the cuff began just like with Chimpy. Her laid back talking and disjointed speech let you know she was off script. Suddenly while talking she would go from a lounging colloquium speaking person to a snap to attention, overly starched shirt statue with the right hand dancing in the air to emphasize her points. Gone were the colloquiums and the ‘I’m just like you’ attitude and in were the motions one would expect on the Hill. Don’t all politicians do this? Yes, but the extreme Jeckyl/Hyde vision given to us is a little unnerving. Petty points? Maybe, but that is only because if I focused on her beliefs it would not make my Friday pleasant.

I do think that she did a decent job during the debate. There were a few moments where you could tell she was getting flustered. Her voice and mannerisms showed that she wanted to shout at Biden. But, to her credit she kept it together. I wasn’t blown away by her performance but I can’t say that she failed either. Her side-stepping certain questions would make Baryshnikov jealous - especially her response to the question “Do you agree with Biden on same-sex couples having full legal rights just like married couples.” But what I didn’t get from her were the ‘how’ on the promises that have been put forth from the McCain/Palin camp.

On to Biden.

I think Biden did a decent job as well. There were places he was able to turn things around on Palin and throw out some numbers and facts that halted things Palin was saying. Facts and numbers grab my attention. I want to hear specifics. Biden brought out some specifics but I think he could have held Palins feet to the fire a little more. I’m sure some of this desire from me is because of my political stance, I’m willing to accept that bias. There were times where Biden hit it out of the park but there were other times I was hoping he would put away the stump speech rhetoric and and just tear her down. He didn’t do this and what that did was help her look better and not force her to talk from the top of her head. He could have done so much more but didn’t Bias aside I also think that all the hype for the debate might have raised expectations a little higher than they should have been.

I heard a lot of rhetoric - big surprise - but little actual substance. I look at the debates as a way for the candidates to put away the bumper sticker/30 second commercial slogans and respond unscripted to questions people want answers to. I know this is a pipe dream and that they are always hunting for the next sound byte to spread on the airways, but a guy can dream can’t he?

Oh and by the way, I won in playing Palingo - Palin Bingo. Go me!

Originally published at Bluelens. You can comment here or there.