Happy 30th Mark and Elaine

Our friends, Mark and Elaine, celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary today.  We attended their luncheon in Honeoye Falls.  It was a lovely afternoon, and the smiles and Mark’s and Elaine’s faces were worth being there.

I came home and continued to work on my print competition images.  I reinstalled painter on my laptop and finally got it working.  That really added frustration to an already stressful process.

This heat wave and dry spell are really taking toll on the lawns.  Few people have sprinkler systems in this area, so many of the lawns are starting to look brown.

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I was reading an article regarding the Supreme Court Ruling on “Obamacare”.  This was an analytical report on its impact on the economy.  The story said 70% of small businesses report they will not be hiring new employees over the next 4 years because they cannot afford to meet the mandatory health insurance requirements.  It also said it is placing a lot of stress on people in general.  I can relate to that.  Time will tell what will happen.  I think we’re in for deeper recession, not just because of Obamacare, but because taxes are not being reduced coupled with out-of-controll inflation.

Let’s take a few examples about inflation…

I moved here on June 22nd, 2009.  I’ve been here 3 years.  On the day I moved here I noticed a candy bar at Walmart was 50 cents.  Today, that same candy bar is 80.   A loaf of the bread I like was costing about $1 a loaf.  Now, the same bread is about $4 a loaf.   Tomatoes were 99c a pound.  Now, on sale, they run $1.99 a pound.  When you consider that type of inflation on food, you have to ask, “Have my wages increased by the same percentages?”

I’m sure your answer is a resounding, “HECK NO!”

Also, you may have noticed some food items may appear to have stayed the same.  Well, take a closer look.  Sugar, for example, used to come in 5 and 10 pound bags.  It now comes in 4 pound bags.  Ice cream used to come in 2 qt containers.  It is now 1.5 qt containers.  I’ve also noticed Pepsi Co. is starting to sell 1.5 ltr bottles.  I’m sure those will soon replace the 2 ltr bottles so they can keep the price the same.

Other things that are happening on the economic front…

Have you tried to purchase a hard drive for your computer lately?

Rumor has it there is a shortage in getting hard drives from Asia.  About a year ago I paid $80 for a 2GB hard drive.  I recently went to buy one, and they were out of stock at $140 for the same drive.  You can get some great deals on Flash memory drives, but mechanical hard drives are said to be in low supply.

I don’t have time to go on listing examples, but are still in economic trouble, and I question how long we can continue down the same path before we send the message to our law makers that we need to lower taxes and encourage healthy economic growth.

Print Comp Is Coming

International Print Competition submission deadline is next week.  I’ve been spending the day preparing for print comp.  It is a very stressful and intense process.  You cannot simply pick four images and submit them.  You have to carefully analyze each one and make sure there is nothing the judges will see that will knock you from an 80+ down to a 79-.  A score of 80 is a merit and can be used towards one’s Masters, a score 79 or below is nothing.

Plus, it cost $95 to enter your four images.  And, another $35 to get a DVD with comments.  And, if you enter in Photographic Open, and Master Artist, and you want the DVD, you’re talking about selecting 8 images and paying $260.

Part way in to this process, I discover Painter won’t work.  And, their offices are closed.

Lovely.

When Elizabethe got home from work, we headed off to have dinner.  I was too beat to cook.

Old Doors

Today was the Tri County Networkers Meeting.  I really like the group.  More businesses need to join.  The more that do, the more valuable the group will be.

I decided to tackle my door wall project today.  After lunch I headed to Lowe’s for the materials I would need.  It was one of those projects that once I started, it was hard to know when to stop.  After unloading the car, I decided I’d start working on it for a little while.  A few hours later, I had done all that I could today.

Now, before I show the picture, a little word of caution to other photographers.  This wall is a COPYRIGHTED work of art.

What does that mean?

It means you may not photograph it, bring a client to pose with it, without my express written permission and a release signed by me.  Period.  It also means to others, if you drive by and stop to photograph it, you may not post it on Facebook or other social media without written permission.  And, because it is a copyrighted work of art, the photographing it from a public location does not apply and will not protect you from copyright infringement claims.  (Read more about copyrights at http://blog.dbwalton.com )

Now, that I’ve got that straight, here’s how it looks…

Copyright 2012 db walton
Door Wall Under Construction

When I was cleaning up, I noticed something shiny near the garden.  It was a red eared slider digging a hole to lay eggs.  I left her alone, and a few hours later she was gone.  But, I did manage to grab a photo with my iPhone.

Red Eared Slider
Red Eared Slider in My Garden

Cool Beans

On my walk through the village, I stopped at Candy Corner Fudge Square.  Les, the owner, had picked up some green beans at one of the auctions he services.  They were $2 a bag, and looked good.  So, I bought a bag.  After blanching them and then quenching them in some ice water, they were crisp, flavorful and a nice addition to a stir fry with some hoisin sauce, beef and mushrooms.

I love living in a small village where someone picks up some produce and then brings it back to town to sell it in their shop.  Transactions like this, even so small, are good for the community economically and socially.  Les also had some sweet corn, and the other day he had sugar peas.

Unlike big stores, small business like this are more likely to trade/barter.  I cannot imagine going in to a chain grocery store and asking the owner, “Would you like to trade some cucumbers for some tomatoes?”

They would look at you like you have a hole in your head.

In a small village, with many mom-and-pop shops you can do just that.  You can trade groceries for work on your car, or hair cuts for lawn mowing, or anything else the two parties might need.  You cannot do that with large companies.

I am not against large corporations.  They supply many jobs, they keep prices low through efficient production, and we couldn’t live with out them in today’s world.  On the other hand, we need small business too.  Small business are how large corporations start.

When you support a small business, the impact is more immediate.  It takes a long time for money to trickle through a corporation before employees see the benefits.  A sale today in a large business, might mean a raise 2 years down the road for someone working on the assembly line.  However, when you purchase something from a small business, it might mean a new dishwasher to replace one that has been broken for months, a payment on a medical bill, or a chance to take their family on a weekend trip.

So, it is important to spread your spending between the big businesses and the small.  And, since there are so many large businesses we cannot do without, when possible, choose the small business.

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Hill Cumorah Pageant is only two weeks away.  The 2012 Pageant starts on Friday, 6/13/2012.  If you are planning to come visit Palmyra during this time, there are only a couple hundred rooms available for overnight accommodations, and we get thousands of people each year.  At the Beckwith Mansion we DO have a room AVAILABLE.  People have already started booking it, so call us soon.  Call (925) 550-0513 and ask for Elizabethe.

D. Brent Walton is a professional photographer/artist and owner of the Beckwith Mansion and Estate.  On the Estate grounds you will find the db walton – CAPTURING BEAUTY Studios.  When visiting Palmyra, stop by for a free tour of the Mansion.  While you are there, you can browse and purchase postcards, and Brent’s book PALMYRA.  Or, if you can’t make it here, visit our store Fine Art by DB.

Cool Salon Hanging

My salon hanging arrived today.  I’m really pleased how it turned out.  This one will go up in Roots Salon.

Salon Hanging

The wind has picked up here and cooled things down.  It’s be an unusually warm spring and early summer thus far.  The garden here at the Beckwith Estate is loving it.

Cone Flower and Tiny Wasp

Tonight’s temple night, so off I go.

Cucumbers and Jam

I spent a couple of hours on the phone with T-Mobile today.  They never could resolve the issue with why they call a disconnected number when trying to reach me.  However, I finally talked to a Josh who informed me of a way around this that would be close to the same amount, and perhaps a dollar or two cheaper per month.  What a hassle.

After my weekly trip to the grocery store, and after getting groceries put away, I decided to cook something.  We have lots of cucumbers, so I decided I was going to make cucumber-lime-basil jam.  It’s a bit of an experiment, but the three flavors go well together.

Cucumbers and Limes Go Together

At first, it wasn’t jelling.  So, I dumped it back in a pan and boiled it longer.  I think I got it now.  (Had to boil it for 20 minutes.)

The flavor is heavenly.  I’ve never tasted a jam like this.  I think I’m on to something here.

Next, I modified it to be cucumber-lime-jalapeno.  It taste a little more earthy, with a slight, very slight, kick.  Both would be great with cream cheese on a cracker, or mixed with a fresh fruit salad.

Guests and Church

Palmyra gets a good number of tourists.  Most of them are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Latter-day Saints for short).  Many Latter-day Saints have larger than average families.

Last night our guests had 4 children.  They also came to church today, and after church spent some time looking at postcards and talking to us.  Elizabeth and I enjoy having guests like this.  It just feels right.  We like it that our home is a refuge for them while they are away from home.

Sisters Chatterson and Hatch came to dinner tonight, as did Brother and Sister Jines.  I prepared a chicken stroganoff and some swiss chard (from the garden.)

We had a two departing missionaries talk at church – the Green boy, and the Salimbene boy.  The Salimbenes are not in our ward any more, but their son mostly grew up here.  One’s going to Cuzco, Peru, the other to Merida, Mexico.  They both report to the M.T.C. on July 5th.

Village Yard Sale

Elizabethe loves yard and garage sales.  About 7:30am this morning I said, “I’m surprised you are not up and heading to the Village Park.”

She gave me the inquisitive, “Why?”

I reminded her it was the village-wide yard sale day.  She got up quite quickly.

From there, we went to run some errands.  At the end of our errand run, we stopped at T-Mobile to purchase new phone service.  It is comical.  You would think, they would bend over backwards to make it easy for you to purchase cell phones or smart phones.  Now mind you, last month I went in and they could not verify that I was who I said I am, in spite of my identifications, because they keep calling a phone number that is disconnected.  But, they won’t tell me what the phone number is, and they say I need to correct it.

When I asked how I correct it, they gave me a phone number for Trans Union.  I called the phone number.  After passing some screening questions to prove who I am, I told the man at Trans Union that I need to have them update my phone numbers.  He said, “There are no phone numbers on your account.”  When I pressed him further, telling him that T-Mobile said they got my phone number from Trans Union he assured me that was impossible because they don’t provide phone numbers.   That was a month ago.

Today, I ask to speak to a supervisor at T-Mobile.  I told him what Trans Union said, and he said they are wrong.  When I told him I am going to put the service on my credit card, he tried to tell me it’s the law that they have to do a credit check.  (Bull-pucky.  I can buy a pre-paid cell phone at the same T-Mobile store without any credit check.  This is a mornic policy because technically, they giving you “credit” for the month in advance, and then billing you at the end of the month.  For Pete’s Sake, it is easier to buy a home than buy a cell phone from T-Mobile.)

Uhg.

The poor sales guy at T-Mobile was frustrated too.  This was my 4th trip in to the store to see if we can get past this issue.

Now, let’s make this really comical.  A few days ago I get a letter from T-Mobile saying my credit score was 954 out of 1000 and they are sorry to inform me that my request for credit (which I am not requesting credit, I just want to buy a stupid phone) is being denied because they cannot prove my identity.

My identity has been kidnapped!!!

It is being held for ransom by T-Mobile‘s moronic policies.  T-Mobile has a wrong phone number for me, and it goes to a number that has been disconnected or is no longer in service.  They have NO procedure to update their records but to give customers the run-around.

This is pure lunacy.

So, if you know anyone in management at T-Mobile, share this blog entry with them.  In fact, have them give me a call (no, not at the numbers in their records, because their numbers are wrong.)

In the mean time, I’m trying to meet the demands of the kidnappers, but they seem impossible to meet.  I’m afraid they are going to kill my identity.  Then who will I be?

D. Brent Walton, cpp, is a business owner and professional photographer in Palmyra, New York.  Brent lectures and gives presentations on business practices.  (http://business.dbwalton.com)  He often blogs about poor business practices that damage companies reputations and drive clients away.  Today was one of those examples.

Rain then Heat – Google That

It was raining when I got up this morning.  I was expecting it to be a dark drizzly day.  But, before long, it stopped and the sun came out and dried up all the rain.

Why is it web search engines used to crawl the web at night, looking for content, and then creating a database you can easily search, and then Google comes along and makes up all sorts of rules about what you can and can’t have on your web site?

I am all for free-enterprise, but Google has really made a mess of things.  I know, I know, some of you think Google is great.  You obviously don’t have to deal with their web search inclusion rules very often.  And, you obviously don’t care what they are doing to the price of Android-based smart phones.

Thinking I would compare Google to Microsoft, I had to stop myself.  There was some real focus in what Microsoft did.  I don’t see that with Google.

Can you tell I’ve been spending the day working on search engine optimization stuff?

Let me give you an example of what Google wants people to do on their web site….

They want you to have about a 3-4.5% of your text content to be keywords.  And, you should have about 500-1000 words on a page.  Now, if you think about that, you might think, “Big deal?”

Try to write a 1000 word essay where you have 5-10 words that must be repeated 3o to 45 times each.  Here, use the words (and they must be exactly as I list them, meaning you can’t use run, if the word is running, and have it count):  night time (as though it was one word even though it is really two – you have to keep night and time together as “night time”), day time, sunshining, brightly, Forest Gump.

I don’t really expect anyone to write such an essay, but it will give you an idea of what Google has done.  In the past, there were no rules.  And, search engine companies like Yahoo! used real people to validate results.

I miss the good ol’ days of the Internet.

I took my walk down to the village.  I got a kick out of lady I heard say she decided to come “uptown”.  Now, when I was a kid, “downtown” was all we used to reference the center of the business district of town.  Later, when going to New York City, I learned Manhattan was divided in to “uptown” (north), “downtown” (south), and “midtown” (the center) of the island.    My only question after hearing that was, “Does Palmyra have an Uptown, Downtown and Midtown?”  (I guess you’d have to visit Palmyra to see the humor in this question.)

We received new bookmarks for the Mansion today.  We will be distributing Beckwith Mansion bookmarkers to anyone who wants them.

By the way, I am going to restore this old map of Palmyra.  When I am done, I will make it available on FineArtbyDB.com

Old map of Palmyra, New York

Another Day of Heat

For the first full day of summer it was sure hot today.  It is hard to believe spring just ended and summer is only starting.

I started the day nice an early by attending the Tri-County Networkers.  They are a group that meets weekly to exchange referrals and tell about their businesses.  I was so impressed, I decided to join.  Their mission is as follows:

Tri County Networkers is a professional referral based team
Our mission is to help each other grow our businesses through giving and receiving well-qualified referrals.

We do this by only allowing one person from each profession or trade to join the team. Each member will attend weekly meetings that will allow him or her to learn about other members businesses and build professional relationships.

Their platform and agenda is perfect for the busy business owner.  They start at 7:45am and are done at 9am.  Anyone interested coming to see what it is all about, let me know.

I had a shoot mid-day, and when that was over, I went to mow the lawn.  Big mistake.  It was way to hot.  The heat about did me in.  The last lap I remember repeating, “A few more feet and you can go take a cold shower.”  After a cool-down, and a tuna sandwich and lots of liquids, I was ready to call it a day.

Front Lawn as I’m Mowing

When at Sauders yesterday, I picked up some smoothy mix.  You add one packet of this stuff to 2 cups water and 3 cups ice and blend until smooth.  It came out to about 40 cents a serving.  It is very nice when trying to replenish lost fluids.  I think I will stock up on the stuff next time I’m there.

Before calling it a day, I went and picked all of the cucumbers that were big enough.  Keep in mind, two days ago they were all the size of my pinky-finger.  Today, those same cucumbers were the size of very large pickles.  So, Elizabethe sliced them up and started them curing for counter pickles.  They filled a gallon jar there were so many of them.

Counter Pickles (an easy bread-n-butter pickle recipie)