Jury Duty

I wanted to post about this because I’m sure I’ll wonder in the future when this was and now I can check my blog about it.

I had jury duty yesterday. They selected 60 people for the Houston juvenile court. I thought this was a big pool that would be divided between multiple court rooms. Turns out it was for one case.

The case was capital murder while committing armed robbery “with a deadly weapon, namely a firearm”. All 60 of us were in the same selection pool. When they started “voir dare” I was surprised by how talkative the pool was. I really wanted to do my duty and be on the jury, so I was quiet. Especially after the attorney asked if anyone had problems understanding English. She said, “You laugh but we have people selected for jury duty who don’t understand what we are saying, because they don’t say anything.”

After the prosecutor got done asking questions and taking responses, we were given a break. When we returned they told us to go home, that they couldn’t make a jury. Out of 60 people they couldn’t find 12 or 14. Or the whole pool was considered tainted by something said.

You know jury duty is the only duty a citizen of the US has. I don’t think taxes are a duty, just a law. Voting you don’t have to do. Military service isn’t considered a duty like it is in other countries.

Shop at Sears

My wife posted a post about how Sears supports reservist employees, and I thought it so important to pass on that I’ve included the whole thing here, since I know most people won’t click through to read it.

Sears – Christmas shopping has already started

I know I needed this reminder since Sears isn’t always my first choice. Amazing when you think of how long the war has lasted and they haven’t withdrawn from their commitment. Could we each buy at least one thing at Sears this year?

How does Sears treat its employees who are called up for military duty? By law, they are required to hold their jobs open and available, but nothing more. Usually, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits as a result of being called up.

Sears is voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, for all called up reservist employees for up to two years.

I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution. I suggest we all shop at Sears, and be sure to find a manager to tell them why we are there so the company gets the positive reinforcement it well deserves.

Pass it on.

A friend decided to check this before she sent it forward. So she sent the following e-mail to the Sears Customer Service Department:

I received this e-mail and I would like to know if it is true. If it is, the Internet may have just become one very good source of advertisement for your company. I know I would go out of my way to buy products from Sears instead of another store for a like item, even if it’s cheaper at that store.

This is their answer to my e-mail:

Dear Customer:

Thank you for contacting Sears.The information is factual. We appreciate your positive feedback.

Sears regards service to our country as one of greatest sacrifices our young men and women can make. We are happy to do our part to lessen the burden they bear at this time.

Bill Thorn
Sears Customer Care
[email protected]

1-800-349-4358

Please pass this on to all your friends. Sears needs to be recognized for this outstanding contribution and we need to show them as Americans, we do appreciate what they are doing for our military!!!

It’s Verified by Snopes.

EFL: Backed Halibut Review

I’ve started doing Body for Life again. I just finally got to the point I couldn’t take being this fat. I’m the fattest I’ve been in my adult life, 214 lbs. I’m also very out of shape. So I started the BFL diet and exercise program.

I’ve got the Eating for Life cook book. I thought as I made some of the meals in there I’d share with you what I thought of them and how they were made.

The first of these reviews is for the baked Halibut on page 144.

I like fish, though didn’t really know much about Halibut. The shock I got was it is very expensive. The recipe called for 1.5 lbs of Halibut to make 4 portions. It cost me $33 which was a shock. Especially because I was afraid I ruin it and waste the money.

I made it tonight and it was very good. Not as pretty as the picture, but still tasty. It says to bake the halibut for 15 to 20 minutes “until the halibut is opaque throughout”. huh? After 20 minutes I wasn’t sure if that had been met. So I pulled out my probe thermometer to check its temperature. According to the back of the thermometer fish needs to reach 145 degrees. It was about 106. So I set the temperature alarm and let it cook another 5 minutes or so. Came out good.

These recipes are actually for meals, so this came with asparagus and lemon Parmesan rice. Having one recipe for three things can get confusing. But the rice was really, really good.

The asparagus was good too, though really it was only boiled in the microwave. And they call for WAY more asparagus than you will need. I’ve now got a ton of it both cooked and uncooked. Get about a third of what they say. Mine came in 1 lb bundles, the recipe called for 1.5 lbs, so I bought two, but I only cooked one.

A problem with all the recipes in the book is they have no salt. I know it makes you retain water, but come on people, it also make stuff have taste. Not salt taste, but the things taste. So I added salt to the rice’s water, to the asparagus’ water and too the halibut itself.

Found an Old Friend

Or I guess more precisely an old friend found me. He’s a former manager of mine who now does concert photography. He lives in Toronto and goes by the name Pete Nema. I won’t out his real name if he’s trying to keep it a secret.

He does great work. I’ve not understood shooting concerts. You can’t use a flash and while stage light seem bright, I’ve found them not bright enough to use a good ISO. But people seem to do it. You need really good and fast glass for sure. But Pete’s stuff is very sharp and noise free.

Puerco Pibil Again…With Pictures

Puerco Pibil PlatedSo I cooked Puerco Pibil again this weekend, because, though it was way too hot last weekend, it tasted really good.

This weekend it wasn’t as hot, but it also wasn’t as good. It had a strange aftertaste that was almost metallic. I did have the Annto seeds this time. I ordered the off eBay, so that part of the recipe was right. But there were a number of things I didn’t have.

I decided to cook it on Sunday morning since I had a shoot most of the day Saturday. But I didn’t go grocery shopping till 9:30 Saturday night. I went to my local supermarket and got most of what I was missing. The one thing on my list I didn’t have was tequila. Well they don’t sell hard liquor at grocery stores in Texas. So I went to the liquor store. But it was closed. All the liquor stores were closed. At 9 o’clock on a Saturday night.

So no tequlia.

Then I got home and start laying out and mise en place. Well I hadn’t gotten lemons either. I happen to have 2 limes and 1 lemon in the house. A quick search online revealed you can substitute lemon juice, though it is not as good as fresh lemons. So I used the limes and lemon juice.

So limes instead of lemons.

On a side note, was there some kind of citrus plague or famine or something. The only limes and lemons my super market had was just a little bigger than golf balls.

I set everything out Saturday night. I cut up the pork butt into chunks and put them in the bag, which went into the fridge overnight. Even put all the spices to be ground into the grinder.

In the morning, with an extra hour of sleep because of the time change, I peeled the garlic, juiced the limes and lemons, and ground the spices. Then I blended everything together and poured it over the meat in the bag. Took me about 20 minutes to get it in the oven.

Now I’ve skipped the banana leaves every time I’ve made Pibil. Just put it in the Pyrex baking dish. It looked like this before it went in the oven.

Puerco Pibil Before

I decided I need to start taking pictures of my cooking. You know, to put two of my passions together. So I was experimenting with various ways of aiming my off camera flash to get that effect. There wasn’t enough daylight to get a natural light photo.

I say this because it made me make mistake #3. I forgot to cover the pan with aluminum foil when I stuck it in the oven.

I realized it about a hour later and covered it, but it cooked for 1/4 of its cooking time exposed.

Went off to church with it cooking and got home in time to make some rice and serve. Here’s what it looked like fresh out of the oven. I like the black backgrounds best.

Puerco Pibil After

The first picture is what it looked like plated. It was pretty, wasn’t it.

To me the taste isn’t horrible, just not as good as it could be. If there are any cooking gurus who could venture a guess as to which mistake gave it a strange after taste, please leave a comment. My best guess is the limes. I’ll make it again next weekend, but following the recipe to the letter.

PGM: Posing

This entry is from my series: A Photographer’s Guide To Models.

Pretty girls who want their picture taken are abundant. Models are few and far between.

What’s the differences?

A model’s got skills. 🙂

There are a lot of skills a model has, but the two I’m going to talk about are expressions and poses.

The cry of the pretty girl is “Tell me what to do”. The mark of an experienced model is they change poses and expressions so quick you have to slow them down. Every time the shutter clicks or the strobes fire, they are changing.

If you are interested in going from pretty girl to model its time to build your skills. A skill is different from knowledge. I may have knowledge of all the moves in ballet, but I don’t have the skills. The skills come from one thing.

Practice.

The type of practice most beginning models think of are actual shoots. These are great and you do learn every time you shoot, but let’s face it, you won’t be shooting that much. If you are brand new to the modeling game, you’ve got a crappy portfolio and no skills. What do you have to offer a photographer? Money? How much shooting can you afford to learn? Not enough right?

The other practice method is the mirror. Its free. You can do it every day. Expressions can be practiced in the bathroom mirror every morning. Take your face through different emotions, happy…seductive…alluring…aloof…mildly annoyed.

Try to communicate something with just your expression. What expression would you use to tell that cute guy across the room “Come here baby” or “You have no chance, stop looking at me.” Think up scenarios and try them out.

Try subtle changes to your expressions and see how they change things. Move your chin up or down. Move slowly so you can catch what angle makes the difference. Open you eyes wider and wider. How does that look? Move your lips around. Say your vowels. Smile and change your head angle.

Try to “amp up” expressions. Take a common expression and try to make it stronger in what ever it is expressing. For instance, say you have an expression of happiness. Start at “I’m a little happy” and make it more and more happy. Keep adding that something to the expression till it gets down right silly looking. Till it’s cartoony. Sometime that’s just what you need. Pinup expression are over the top like that.

In the video below watch what the model does when the photographer says “I want to catch you smiling.” (Around 6:23). She smiles strait at the camera, them pulls her chin up and looks at the sky while smiling large. It gives an whole new feel.

Now get a full body mirror. Try out poses you’ve seen in magazines. Try dancing in front to the mirror and freezing when something catches your eye. Then do the subtle changes to arms and legs like you did with expression.

Some photographic genres have very iconic poses. If you are doing pinup, there are a lot of poses to learn. If you are doing fitness, the poses empathize muscle groups.

Now mix them together. What expressions go well with what poses? Pinup expressions are great with pinup poses. Do they work with fitness poses?

Photographers, like me, search video site for behind the scenes photoshoot videos. Models should too.

This musician Aubrey is good. Not only is she that blonde bombshell kind of pretty, but she’s got lots of expression and energy.

Wonder what fitness poses look like?