Picking up my camera has been somewhat painful this winter. Somehow I couldn’t see the light and I couldn’t find the beauty. My glass that typically spills over admittedly ran dry. Nonetheless, as my equipment lay dormant, life went on. My kids enjoyed a few months of their adolescence unfocused upon. Barns went un-photographed as the lens cap shuttered any pastoral views. I found myself slap dab in the middle of mid-life only awaiting for that destined crisis to begin. After losing my sister in law, rather than jumping into a full blown melt down to the very core, I decided to just exist in the routine. I thought that lingering in a dull mind would be the safest route for everyone. I reminded myself often that no one escapes these moments. It’s how we get through them that matters. Yesterday, the sun cast a yellow glow over what has seemed to have become a perma-blue tint over our hardened winter landscape. The warmth, brought sound to what has become an idle soundtrack. Tufts of green began to push through March's snow melt. After feeling like Dorothy living in her sepia toned world for the past months, I could sense a Technicolor rainbow just around the bend. Grabbing my camera, I went to go look for it. These images are what I found.
Our relentless winter is just another reminder of how relentless we can be too. I snapped these photos just 15 minutes apart of my two boys. It’s another example of when we’re dealt a bucket of lemons for a winter, you can still some-how make some lemon aid. Be relentless!
I stopped in on a photographer friend the other day. In New England, this is considered the slow season for most photographers. During this season, we tend to let our desk pile up with notes, ideas and thoughts about the many things that may be coming down the pike. Upon entering his office, I couldn’t help but notice his desk was spotless, not a scrap of paper or any random photographs were scattered about. Knowing my own desk on any given day, I was taken aback. After a brief conversation, I found out that his business was teetering on survival. He was being sued.
He was cleaning his desk because later in the day, a reporter from a local news station was coming to interview him. He was getting ready to put his best foot forward to show people that his business was the real deal, one that works with integrity as its pillar. His name is Michael Skelps, owner of Capstone Photography, located here in Middlefield, CT. He is being sued by a patent holder who lives out in California. Michael’s business is different from mine. While I’ll work with a single client for hours, he’ll photograph up to thousand clients in an hour. If you enjoy running, you may recognize Michael or his crew from Capstone capturing the runners as they pass vantage points throughout a race course. There’s a ton of data and much organizing to be done before a cent is even earned by selling photos to the runners. Like many other sport photography companies, they discovered intuitively, that the only way to identify subjects of their photos was through the race numbers pinned on their shirts. Michael went to work on a figuring a way to identify each runner through a computer model. Was it rocket science? No, but he still had to figure it out on his own, creating a business model that could work. The identification program was probably similar to what many of us consider a spread sheet program with searchable fields. He would set up a successful business traveling through out the country, photographing races. The job never promised success, because to become profitable, a certain number of athletes have to purchase photos. But the company slowly grew. Years later, while celebrating the ringing in of the new year, he was served papers for patent violation.
These were the three patents that had Capstone under fire:
The plaintiff had an ax to grind already having sued and settled with 9 small photography companies. He was going 10 for 10, ready to show his world dominance now with Capstone next on the chopping black. The problem at the very heart of the matter is the validity of the patent. In its vagueness, the patent takes on an entire business genre and monopolizes it. In two short sentences, it requires any innovator who wishes to delve into the field, the need to pay out or get out. In a way, it suggest that this American Dream exist only for the one who can afford to defend it. Was this patent created so competition could be squashed before it had an opportunity to jump in the game? How does one put a legal finger on a generic process that can be logically dreamed up by virtually anyone?
My understanding of patents are cursory at best. My only run in with any patent validity was when we were trying to figure out if my son’s sixth grade school invention had been previously patented. It was a grey area at best as we wondered if the bicycle helmet that he had lit up had any previous designers? Unsure if his creative process had been effectivly preceded by someone else, we let him continue with it. The alternative would have led to the inconclusive death of an idea. In the process, he created something that was uniquely his, unfettered by nothing but his own limitations.
Most of us have built a lego model from the pictures of a glossy step by step guide. The idea of making the model look exactly as it does on the box is pleasing at first. However, the real innovation comes when a Godzilla toy knocks it over and the innovator creates something new and even better from his own mind.
As I looked at Michael’s empty desk, it became a reflection of a dream being cleared with a powerful swipe of an arm. I felt angry for him and I wanted to dump out a pile of Lego’s or in his case, photographs, and tell him to continue building. No patent troll should hold him back from the dream he’s worked so hard to create. The lack luster economy is enough of a troll on our small businesses. As it goes, it’s hard enough to get over the bridge. I’m all for helping him set a path forward and leaving the trolls behind. For more info about Wolf vs Capstone have a look at this link:
A big welcome to my daughter Kate, who is guest blogging today. She is sharing her picture recipe of a French King Cake! She did this as part of a project for her French class.
The King Cake is a popular cake eaten during the Christmas season in France during the Epiphany. In the United States, it is more popular as part of a southern celebration of Mardi Gras. The galette des Rois traditionally had a little bean hidden in the cake, a custom taken from the roman empire. Whoever found the bean was considered the king of the feast. Since the 1870's the bean has been replaced by a porcelain or plastic trinket. In France, the person who is lucky enough to find the trinket, becomes king for the day and then takes on the task for making the next cake.
-1 package of dry yeast
-1/2 cup of warm water
-1/2 cup of warm milk
-1/3 cup vegetable shortening
-1 teaspoon salt
-4 to 4/12 cups flour
-toy to hide in the cake
Filling can vary, but I chose a cinnamon sugar filling.
-1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 4 tablespoons of butter
-3 cups of sugar
-1/2 tablespoon of vanilla
-3/4 tablespoons of water
-Purple, green, and gold sugar to top the cake
Add 1/2 cup water to mixing bowl
Add one packet of dry yeast to warm water.
Ass 1/3 cup of shortening to mixture.
Add 1/3 cup of sugar to mixture.
Add a teaspoon of salt to mixture.
Add one egg to mixture.
Add two cups flour to the mixture.
Mix on medium speed for three minutes. It will be very sticky.
Use a cup of flour and spread onto surface
Kneed dough mixture for 6 to 8 minutes working the table flour into the dough.
Grease a bowl with butter.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.
Filling: Melt 4 tablespoonsof butter
Mix 2 tablespoons cinnamon with 1/2 cup of white sugar
Roll dough into a 12x16 inch rectangle.
Spread butter on to rolled dough.
Sprinkle sugar and butter mixture over rolled dough.
Roll dough into a long strip. Once this is done, pinch ends together to form a ring.
Make a slash under the dough and tuck in the toy. Be sure that it is fully closed within the dough so it doesn't melt while baking. Let rise for 1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
Meanwhile, Mix 3 cups of confectioners sugar, 1/2 tablespoon of vanilla and 3/4 tablespoon of water. When cake cools you can ice it as desired. Be sure to add colored sugar while the icing is still wet.
One has no idea what to expect when (excuse the pun) you get your feet wet in a sport. Pete started swim team to help foster and indulge his love of triathlon. We had no idea what we were getting into; he as the athlete and myself as the facilitator. On his first day of swim team, he tried his best to hide his total lack of experience from the other veterans of the team as he clenched onto the lane lines for dear life. While the kids swam circles around him, doing perfect flip turns and gliding effortlessly through the water, he did little right except to try his best. He's progressed, realizing that with every hour spent in the pool came another hour of skill and fitness. While there is no promise in any sport, what is guaranteed, is opportunity. The committment is the true test to each athlete and each day's outcome, no matter how it varies, is the reward. Congratulations to Peter and his swimming buddy Colin, on an outstanding season. Team CAT shines with a stellar group of athletes for Peter to be inspired by and and coaches that propel them. He left regionals with a headful of scruffy chlorinated hair and a fistfull of first place duckies. In our eyes, they may just be hard earned trinkets, but to him, they are on par with a Michael Phelp's gold. What struck me wasn't the fact that he had raced as well as he did, but the fact that he looked so sad as he was getting into the car. He sighed as the season's end left him melancholy much like his last day of cross country season last fall. He should worry not, as I promised him more if he wants it. And with that, he smiled.