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.
Over the past few years, you have heard a lot of the smatterings that go on inside my head. While I may not be much of a writer, I justify doing it because it feels good to get the words out. Just today, my husband and I finally got around to wishing each other a Happy Valentine's day. Our gifts were simple. I decorated his bike (man cave) with some love because while every bike needs his attention, I figured so does the man that rides them. In turn, his gift to me was a guest blog entry. Many of you know him as the quiet guy that smokes everyone out on the race course, I know him as the guy that keeps this family safe and sound. He's got a lot going on in his head and I hope that in the future, he shares more of his thoughts with all of you. Happy (belated) Valentine's Day.
I've been married to Jen forever. I know that isn't a good way to start off a (late) Valentine's Day post, but bear with me here.
Well, it seems like forever on bad days I guess. Fortunately there are few of those. Most days are colored neither rosy-red or dark and menacing. They are usually solid, good days, and for that I am a very lucky guy. At the hospital where I work I see lots of newborn babies. They are all perfect. They are like brand new iPads fresh out of the box. No apps, no baggage, no viruses. But from the moment their parents take them home, they begin to diverge. No longer the same perfect little babies, they grow into fussy toddlers, or good toddlers, or fat toddlers, or skinny toddlers. And by the time they are adults they have diverged even more. Elderly people are at the farthest points of divergence. They are like a box of chocolates; I never know what I'm going to get when I approach a curtained-off bay in the pre-operative holding area. Will they have a host of bad medical conditions? Will they be healthy? Will they be packed full of neuroses and like the springing snake inside the can of fake peanut brittle, are they going to explode when I open the top?
See, babies, they are all the same. I know what to expect from the 8-month-old having ear tubes put in. Even the teen having his tonsils out... not usually any big surprises. But at the far end of the spectrum, the 80-year-old having her hip replaced has had a full lifetime to let the world work on her and she's been shaped and molded into something that is scarcely recognizable from the perfect little baby she used to be. Maybe she had an abusive husband, maybe her son died when she was a young woman, maybe she was the most beautiful girl in her high school. Good or bad, the world has its way with us and our nature is to change along with it. The events of our lives are tidal forces that worry their ways upon our souls; wearing down even the hardest rock over the course of a lifetime.
All of us are traveling along the trajectory of our lives, mostly unaware of the tides pushing us this way or that. If we're lucky we happen to find someone who travels along on a similar trajectory. Someone who has had similar forces working on them through their childhood years, and who stays on a path that, while not exactly the same as ours, might be close enough that we don't notice the difference. As time passes I've realized that I'm one of the lucky ones. Jen and I certainly have gaps on our path. She and I see things a bit differently, now and then, but that may be just enough to allow each of us to have perspective on the life of the other, but not so much of a difference that we can't hop over to the other person's path most of the time. Jen and I have our own paths, but they are close to each other and they seem, after 17 years of marriage, to be tracking toward the same place.
When I think about the passage of time and how it relates to the perception of my marriage, I have to disagree with the old adage that "time flies when you're having fun." That may have been true when I was a teen and my head was spinning as the world rocketed by at warp speed with a million distractions. Through my twenties and thirties I noticed it less because who actually has the time to sit down for a minute and consider the passage of time itself when you're working to put a roof over your head, food on the table, discs in the X-Box, and trying to teach your kids all the things you wish you knew when you were their age. No, now that I'm in my forties it doesn't seem like time flew when I was having fun. Not at all. Time flew no matter my mood.
Giddy, fearful, anxious, despondent, ecstatic. No matter your mood it slips away and leaves you with the feeling that you might have missed something really important. But you can't stop to think about it because, cripes, time is spinning away from you as you stop to think about that. What I propose, then, for this Valentines Day, is to stop for a moment. Imagine you live inside a tornado. For me, this is very easy to do. In fact, I think it might be hard to imagine NOT living inside a tornado. Pull your head out of the whirlwind for just a few minutes and realize that the constant pursuit of every little moment isn't necessarily the healthiest endeavor. We try to live life to the fullest, and yes, that's a great idea. We should all take the US Army's advice and be all we can be. But sometimes it's better to be less than you can be. Like a bicycle tire always pumped up to it's maximum pressure, after a few years the sidewalls start to fray. You can only hold so many PSI for so long until you pop. So let some of the air out once in a while and be less than you can be. Lie in bed on a Sunday morning with your kids, or your cat, or a book. Even better, do what I used to do when I had my most troubling moments as a young man. Find a nice quiet place where nobody can reach you. This was much easier in the 1980's and 90's when cell phones weren't so ubiquitous. Find a place in the woods, in the deepest part of the stacks in the library, or on the shore, between a couple big boulders where the wind won't chill you to the bone. Sit for an hour or two and just... exist. Don't make an effort to "meditate," because that in itself is too much. Just put your mind in neutral, and see what happens. Have no expectations. I expect that this sort of thing will be very difficult at first. I know people who can't use the bathroom without bringing in their iPhone and it's sad that we're so busy keeping in touch with other people that we have begun to lose touch with ourselves.
Technology has sped up the pace of life to the point where we can't feel comfortable unless we're doing something all the time. So yeah, spend most of your day living life to the fullest. It's a wonderful world out there and soak up as much as you can. Just remember to stick your head out of the tornado every now and then and realize that that who you are is not defined by what media you consume, who you called that day, how many text messages you got, or how many pictures you posted to instagram. Who you are is inside your head, and examining the contents of that hard case every once in a while is the best thing you can do for yourself, and your family.
Navel-gazing isn't the healthiest activity to pursue full-time, though. Most of my therapy is when I'm running or riding my bicycle. I don't listen to music. I let my mind drift and it's during these times that I have the best thoughts. Everything is clearer with the wind in my face. Problems are easier to solve and the answers come unbidden. I don't have to sit down at some desk and think, "OK now, what am I going to get my wife for Valentine's Day?" I'm an extreme case because I ride or run a lot. All those hours every day add up to a lot of time for introspection, but I think this is what keeps me balanced. If I skip a day, my perception of the nagging annoyances of life starts to change. The tiny things that we all deal with day in and out like folding laundry, weeding the garden beds, getting the car serviced, or scaring away my daughter's latest boyfriend; these things become insurmountable without a few moments to clear my head.
I hope that this Valentine's Day, and hopefully every day from here until old age, we can pull our heads out of the whirlwind, let some air out of the tires, be less than you can be, just for a little while. To realize that our part in the world is more than our Facebook or Twitter accounts, and that Socrates, one of the world's all-time champions at navel-gazing, had it more or less right when he said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." So I promise to my wife Jen, my daughter Kate, my son Peter, and maybe a little bit to Miles the dog and Gunther the cat, that I will try to be the best husband, father (and pet-owner) that I can be. I will stop to examine my path. Make sure I am not diverging from the trajectories of my family, but at the same time not abandoning the path that I feel my own nature has set before me.
We must be true to ourselves before we can be true to others, but the smartest people, I think, are the ones who realize that our paths are never straight and that they wind around the paths of others like a tangled knot of intravenous lines (I am an anesthesiologist, alas). Strive for balance, slow down, realize you aren't perfect, adjust your course, and move on. I love my family because we try to do this together. I hope our paths continue to cross and wish everyone a happy Valentine's Day.
Was this a sign, or was someone sending love from above?
Last week, I was going to bed at around 12:30 when I saw the light on in my daughter's room. I pushed her door open to see her typing away at her computer. She looked stressed and tired. Despite this, she soldiered on despite the late hour because she truly cared about performing well in her English class. Her love of the English language has some how over-taken nearly all things this teen related. On the same evening, I brought Peter to swimming practice once again. He goes willingly not for any one reason, but because somehow he knows it’s good for him. He’s realizes that despite a lack of any crystal ball telling him what will come, his athletics may play some important roll in his future. Then I got into bed and looked over at my husband who slept soundly. With so many difficult changes recently at work and the harsh winter commutes that have taken a toll on my spouse, it’s clear that his efforts to support this family are monumental. Even I have struggled through this winter looking to find some deeper meaning that has come with some great changes. Loosing my beloved sister in law has brought me to reconsider just about everything in life.
Being the one who orchestrates this family’s symphony, I have the job of keeping my band playing in tune and performing to their best abilities. Although it hasn’t been an easy time in our home, it’s important that we embrace it for what it is. I may not have the one right answer in context to my family's daily bids for happiness and meaning, but I believe that I possess the one thing that if delivered with sincerity, will see them through.
I love them.
With love, anything in life possible. It’s Valentine’s Day and more important than any rose or chocolate delivered, is that the people around you feel truly loved. No matter who’s on the receiving end of your love; family, friends or acquaintances, in the end, your love is your legacy. Share it fully.
Wishing you all a happy Valentine’s day!
While walking on chilly sunset hike, I came across these views while in Essex, Ct this past weekend. I have seen these spots many times, but often, the good stuff is in the details. For me, Winter is the best time to pull out your camera as everything seems raw and unencumbered. There's a certain clarity to it all.
As the numbness of losing a sister is slowly lifted, I would like to take the time to thank everyone who sent their heartfelt affections towards all of us who love Patti. We thank the friends that came from near and far to meet in NYC at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on the upper East Side. In this beautiful church, we could feel her presence in a new-found, spiritual way. There is no one who would have been more thrilled than Patti herself to see a gathering of the people she held closest and loved so much.
For many of us, saying goodbye to Patti seems surreal. I hang over my thoughts, wondering what are the right words to articulate my love and affection for her truly beautiful soul. We met long ago during a time when youth extended a lifetime of opportunity ahead of us. Life would take us on so many adventures together. We would share a university experience in our youth, then be forever linked through a mutual love of family. We would carry our sisterhood into motherhood, a journey that is best traveled together. We are forever bound. So now, with so much left to share together, the void I feel is great.
I am sure that so many that knew Patti's love and friendship also feel this void. I want everyone to realize and feel heartened that Patti hasn't really left us. Patti was one of the most giving people that I have ever met. She gave a little bit of herself to each person she knew and loved. She truly made the people who were lucky to know her feel welcomed, important and loved. Perhaps she shared with you her secrets to her uncanny ability to organize virtually anything. She inspired her sisters to dig their deepest and always see love above all else. For her boys, she gave them the gift of her protection, courage and a love strong enough to last their lifetimes. She taught my brother that life's struggles lead to life's many rewards. She shared a real love with him, one that was timeless and committed. For Patti, the warmth and friendships she found in California were a true gift she had been given. Now, she has come back to you in spirit and dwells in your warm sunshine. Her gift to her fashionista friends came in the fact that she knew how to wear a tailored Calvin Klein ensemble and somehow made it look comfortable. In her distinguished years at Lancome, Calvin Klein and Coach, her close friends surely must have known it was her smile and not the blush, blouse or stylish leather purse that truly made the woman. Each little gift of herself that she shared with you, now lives within you to carry on her spirit. I urge you to embrace her in your everyday.
Glenn, Cooper and Glenny Jr, as long as you have the love of the people who knew Patti, than you still have her. Keep them close and you will thrive and feel her love everyday.
I promise sister, that I’ll carry you with me each and every day, on adventures both great and small. Each photo will carry your inspired watermark. I’ll keep watch over your boys. I’ll remember your beauty and be inspired to live by it. The kind and loving nature that was your gift to others can live on in all of us.
For weeks, my camera has been wrapped in bubble-wrap waiting for it’s owner to open her eyes once again. Everything seemed too familiar and routine, perhaps lulling me into an idle repose. It took the loss of my beautiful sister-in-law to jolt me awake. Sitting at the edge of my driveway with a half an hour left of sunlight, I pushed the accelerator not caring which way I went. I have covered every inch of this area to ad nauseam. Somehow the newly winged angel guided me along until I came to a stop. Miles approved, bounding along, mucking through mud and marsh. I had been here a thousand times, but the setting light made it feel magical. I snapped only a few photos and quickly realized that my elusive imagination wants to be reawakened.
Someone I loved dearly passed away today. She became my big sister and afforded my brother two beautiful boys and a lifetime of memories for all of us. Many of you never met Patti, who I would liken to someone with the grace and style of Princess Diana. We sat together on the night that princess Diana died weeping together for a beautiful soul that was lost too early. Patti, how ironic is it that you would join her celestial court at virtually the same age, both ripped apart from the boys you loved so dearly. Over the last three days, I watched over your boys and did my best to protect their broken hearts and I promise to continue to do so from today on. When I came home today, as soon as I laid eyes on my own babies I fell to pieces. There is nothing so powerful as the love between a mother and her children.
Although most of you haven’t met her, you knew Patti through my blog. I wrote the first entry the day she received her diagnosis and since then, every photo over the past three years was inspired with her in my heart. Through photos, I tried my best to embrace all that she couldn’t throughout her long illness.
Friends; don’t let go of the ones you love, and if they must go, hold on to them forever in your heart. They're never really gone.