Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Love this House!

Two projects this week have kept me busy from 7:30 am, when I drop the kids at school, until well after midnight each day. I just finished the photos for the Kenya project and am uploading them. Whew. We have to build nine 4x8 foot panels and get them set up in the church foyer for Sunday. The giant photos remind everyone to help support the dorm we are building outside a Nairobi slum, for street kids.

In contrast this week, I’ve been editing at Marvin Chernoff’s fabulous house. Here are some shots of Lydia and Sarah enjoying Marvin’s space.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sin City and Gardening Update

Found out today that apparently someone lifted my Am Ex number, while I was in Vegas. I have the card, but I certainly didn't order $850 worth of supplies on line from Golf Pro. Am Ex does not charge the customer for fraudulent charges, but they still tried to get me to sign up for a $30 a year credit protection plan. Since I pay an arm and a leg for the yearly fee on this skymiles card, I don't see why I need to pay more for a service they already include in my membership. Isn't that part of the whole "membership has it's privileges" routine?

In other news, the garden is progressing. We are growing oats. Oats weren't really in the plan, but, apparently when bunnies eat oats, they don't do a lot of chewing. And, when you use bunny stuff to fertilize the garden, you can grow oats.

There are also the beginnings of lettuce, and we are measuring it's progress. Most of what is growing seems to be located in the valleys, rather than on the rows. I think that means we should have a bumper crop of weeds, grass and oats.

The pear tree also seems happy. I hope we have enough pears this year to can some. I should have pruned the tree, as the weight of the pears always breaks the branches. Mom explained how over the phone, but I think it would be better if she just comes here and helps in person, don't you?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Politics and Gold Plated Steel

Tuesday I worked with Marvin Chernoff on a political spot in Charleston. Linda Ketner For Congress. He told us the amazing story of meeting Martin Luther King Jr, but I have to get permission from him to tell you the details. I will say I had chills.

I dragged David along to do sound, as all my sound buddies were booked. His three Wednesday shows in North Carolina for Clinton had canceled, so Troy (David's business partner) opted not to kill me for taking David away. That is, until the election results from Pennsylvania began coming in and four new shows for Hillary suddenly appeared. But, by then we were driving back to Columbia.

We both really liked Linda. She is a genuine humanitarian, and has good ideas of how to integrate business principals into government. Our favorite was her discussion of the need for outcome based measurements, particularly in education.

I have a feeling Linda would agree---meetings don't equal work!

As the political race here heats up, I've been thinking a lot about Zimbabwe. My theory is that Mugabe is waiting to release the election results, not because he lost (I think everyone knows that), but because he is doing the same thing some mystery people did in Ethiopia. He is secretly switching out all the country's gold for gold plated steel bars and plans to make a get-a-way as soon as he's stolen everything, or anything, valuable left in the country. My theory sputters a bit on the where-will-he-go part. Maybe he will broker a power sharing deal that will allow him to live out his days in his Harare mansion with plenty of . . . everything.

Including "his" gold, perhaps.

Oh, wait, I just read something, guess the Ethiopian gold scammers are no longer a mystery. This scam could be made into a movie. But, I still stand near my Mugabe theory.

And here's a petition to sign, supporting what was begun by the South African dock workers who refused to unload the arms shipment from China to Zimbabwe.

Thinking outside the States

I talked to Jennifer in the Dominican Republic today. She said the tornado was incredibly scary and must have been huge to do all the damage it did. She also said the hail was crazy. It rained again last night, and all the water that came in the roof of the school swept down the stairs and flooded the second floor, where all the rescued supplies had been relocated to keep them out of the first floor flooding. I'm sure that had to be discouraging.

Today my shoot canceled, so I worked on the Kenya project for our church. The church has committed to build a dorm for orphans and street kids in Mathare Valley, a HUGE slum in Nairobi. Marigold and Jane, the Kenyan woman who runs the school and feeding program for these kids, will come speak at the end of the month, and we want to have $40,000 raised by then, so we can hand them a check to finish the dorms. To remind everyone about the project, we need a high impact display for the church foyer.

We considered big photos, and my friend Debbie and I have gone round and round brainstorming about how to do it affordably. The mounting is the biggest expense - it is easy to spend hundreds of dollars on a single life size photo. Today I wondered if we put cheap, 4x8 foot sheets of OSB together in triangles, if that would make a good mounting surface and give us a space to show the video as well. I mocked up what they might look like, and tonight we met with a guy who said he would help build them. So, now I need to spend some quality time in Photoshop to make it work on my end.

They have to be up in a week!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tornado update

Updating the link below, I just got this from Tracy, who lives downstairs from Rosemary and Obed.
I just talked to Rosmary... she was putting Zion to bed when half of the roof tore off (the part where he was laying down)... so she moved him to the covered part of the house and put clothes on him... she thought that was all that was going to happen.. But the second the other part of the roof started to lift up she grabbed her baby and ran down the stairs across the street to Victoria's house.... seconds after she got down safely the other part of the roofing came off hit the railing, fell on the stairs she went down, and then a number of cement clocks fell right where she had just walked... So glad they're safe!.

Here is a picture of the stairs where pieces of the roof and blocks fell.

If you would like to help Rosemary and Obed replace their lost household items, clothing and baby supplies, please click on this link. You may click "Give Now," and then, under "select one," designate your gift to "Colombia Worship" and it will go directly to Obed and Rosemary (and baby Zion). If you want to mail things to them, please email me at hmcine at yahoo dot com.

My bathroom is a nuclear waste site

David used to be a health safety officer in the military, with a special nuclear something or other rating. His job was to test radiation exposure at the hospital, and run a sound company on the side while pretending to be a full time military officer.

Anyway, today I had to get this test where I was injected with glowing-yellow-nuclear-something so they could track it through my body. David gave me this long explanation the other night of how it works, and nuclear half lives, and how there is this huge debate, basically over the proper disposal of my pee, which today contains nuclear waste.

Then, today, after the test, I went out to eat with David and the guys from ACS. I arrived first, and then they walked in. David was in front, carrying a big, yellow Geiger counter. Well, actually a radiation survey meter, called an ion chamber. It got a few looks.

Why does he own this? I have no idea. But, it may come in useful to check the bathroom.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


A tornado hit the barrio where we work in the Dominican Republic today.

In this photo you can see how half the roof is gone from T.E.A.R.S school.

It also tore off T.E.A.R.S staff members Rosemary and Obed's roof. Rosemary and their new baby boy, Zion, were in the house when it hit, but they got out in time. There is a photo in this post that shows the whole house, which contains four apartments. Obed and Rosemary are on the top floor.

Most of the staff is now in the barrio trying to protect the belongings that are left following the storm, as people are looting. Power lines are down, and with the water and debris, it's dangerous.

Update: One person has been reported killed by the storm, a vitim of flying debris. I've seen some you tube videos and photos of intense hail during and after the storm. It takes me back to the time when I was a kid in NY and a tornado leapt over our house. We were in the basement looking out at the winds swirling around us - we were right in the eye - and I remember the sound and look of the hail so vividly. It looked like it had snowed afterwards. I imagine it is quite a sight on a tropical island.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Cover ideas?

Michelle Carter, author of my favorite biz blog, left a comment on yesterday's post asking for more.

Info, that is, relating to cover ideas for the new faculty insert of a medical magazine. Since I am sincerely looking for brainstorming here, I hope this helps generate some thoughts.

The magazine is an in-house publication for a large hospital system associated with a medical university. The goal of the bi-annual piece is to let doctors know what their colleagues are doing, in order to foster relationships among specialties and also generate more referrals "in house."

My favorite section is the new doctor insert. Instead of seeing these docs pose in white coats next to an x-ray light boxes, I photograph them doing a hobby or activity that they love. Might be working with bonsai trees, ballroom dancing, painting, cooking, gardening, opera singing, kayaking - you name it and some doctor loves doing it, and it is ten times more fun for me to shoot.

The only negative has been the cover of this section. The client did not want to feature a doctor on the cover. I can make some doctor ego jokes here, but I will refrain. Anyway, for some reason we ended up using this one (booring) shot of a part of a building. For years!

Now, we have a chance to change the cover. Still, no featured doctors. So, we are trying to figure out something that is more symbolic. Something interesting, but not too busy that we can't put titles and other info around it. And, it can't be too surgical, or too anything that is too much one specialty. Our doctors' expertise range from mental health to pediatrics, emergency surgery to opthamology.

And, even if I really like an idea simply because it looks cool, I have to create a full blown argument of why it works. I'm good at this reasoning, though, so let's just focus on raw visuals here, and I'll take care of the deeply rooted reasoning behind how we came up with them.

"The budding leaves on the tree symbolize new life brought by these new doctors. Vibrancy birthed from the existing strength of the hospital, enabling it to reach further into our community with the newest developments in medical expertise . . . . "

However, in defending a photo like this one, I might choose not to mention the fig leaf/cover up association.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blueberry update

One week in, and the blueberries are still alive. In fact, they've been joined by three more blueberry bushes and a veggie garden!

My dad told my mom that I might be biting off more than I can chew. Hey, what's new?? But, the kids LOVE it.

Work is picking up. Shoot tomorrow, a festival, outside all day. Then Tuesday in Charleston for a political spot and Wednesday here in town for a school. All compliments of my friend Lee Ann Kornegay. Thanks Lee Ann!

Also doing some photography for Wegener Media. They invented a power plug for the new Mac laptops that is sturdy. Here is a shot of the prototype, and, the new one they liked best from what I shot this morning. I think I should have curved the cord some.

Also did some shooting today for my medical magazine client. We are trying to come up with a symbolic image for the cover of a segment featuring new doctors. Any ideas?? I'd love your thoughts on this, it is hard to come up with something that fits.

Tonight I went to an auction for the older kids' school. I didn't win much, but I bid on a lot of things, the neatest one being a weekend camping trip for the kids with one of the teachers - too bad we didn't get it. We donated some Ethiopian scarves to the auction, and I put some 8x10 prints of the people making the scarves with them. Here is one that people seemed to like. There is no debating that Ethiopian women are stunningly beautiful.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Las Vegas - NAB

I just got home from Las Vegas. For years I've wanted to go to NAB. Now, since high def video is a must have, and since my camera is dying, I wanted to touch the options to help decide if I will stay with Panasonic, or move back to Sony or Canon. I tried the new JVC HD and three of my fingers went numb for two weeks after shooting it for just three days, so, I'd already crossed that one off my list. The decision is not going to be easy. But, I'm honestly leaning towards the Sony at this point. Now, I just have to find a lucrative project, or something I can sell to pay for it. Maybe the kids should have a bake sale?

The show is one of Vegas's top three, usually drawing 125,000 people. This year, attendance was down to 100,000 - which may have been why I was able to find a round trip ticket and hotel for two nights for $264. I was worried that we would not make it, but we didn't have one problem on our American Airlines flights. I can't imagine what it would have been like if it had been last week, during that ridiculous flight canceling frenzy.

Highlights of the flights were flying over the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.

I've been to the Lighting Dimensions show (LDI) a few times, and up until the past one, would say it was incredibly impressive. But, this was AMAZING. My experience at LDI made me think I could get most of it in during the full day I had on the floor.


I was completely overwhelmed. I never even made it to an entire BUILDING full of stuff.

But, overall it was a great time. The first night my friends Scott and Wade and I went to a party on the roof of the Rio, hosted by Barbizon (thanks Sloan!). I took this picture of us sitting together, just before we ate some fantastic food and were joined by our friends from Trident Technical college, Russ and Rebecca (and Glenn, on camera).

The second day at the show, Wade and I stood in line to see the new RED camera. It is bigger than I expected, but seems amazing. They are coming out with a small version, more in line with my price range, in a year or so. Can't wait to see how it fares overall in the market. It appears to be what we've all said we wanted. Basically, a digital movie camera that shoots each frame in camera RAW format on a true 35mm sensor. I talked to a guy who has one. He runs a digital forum on line (and lives in Wilmington where I used to work). He said the camera still has work flow issues, which I would expect when dealing with this size files. It is fascinating, though, and I think it just might be the next big shift in the video/film industry. The guy who started RED evidently owned Oakley sunglasses.

Scott attacked the show like a methodical bloodhound, and I am sure he got the most information out of it. Wade made it through maybe three hours before he took off to play poker (and won $400). I made it through the day, but by the time Scott and I left, I felt like I'd run a marathon after weeks of doing nothing but watching TV. We finished off the night with Indian food and a walk around the strip. Scott won a $100 token from Zoltar at some casino, and Wade won $50, so Scott gave me $50 and we played slots until we lost it all.

Oh, and I won $10 in slots using the quarter David said I could spend. It was $10.25 exactly, and I traded it in for a silver coin from the casino where I stayed, and brought it back for David. The older kids got lots of good swag - pens and tshirts etc. So, all in all it was a great trip. Scott wanted to ride the insane ride at the top of our hotel, the Stratosphere, but we were too tired the first night, and the second night they shut it down because of wind. I did ride one last time I was in Vegas and it was the scariest ride I've EVER ridden.

I hope Wade makes it home. Even after staying up all night, he wasn't finished playing when our flight left . . . .

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Today's activities

At 3:00 this morning, I put the finishing touches on my Ethiopia Adoption edit. But, after sleeping a few hours, realized I’m still unsatisfied with the ending, so I’m brainstorming how to rework it tomorrow. There is SO much material, it will eventually have to be a documentary.

We have to get a new passport for Zion and so I took photos of her. Though I can't use it, I love the looking up one.

Also took Zion and Alden to the zoo to see some other local families who’ve adopted kids from China. Too bad Sarah was out of town at a gym meet, as two girls her age attended. We saw a snake - uncaged. Alden, who has been collecting spiders, announced he wanted it. I informed him that we were not allowed to take any LIVINGthing home from the zoo. Whew.

Tonight Alden continued work on his school project about Lian Yun Gang, his city in China, while Zion and David danced together. David wonders if we should enroll her in dance, and I think he’s right, though I cringe at adding one more activity!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Blueberries in my yard???

My kids LOVE to plant things. Especially Alden.
Our friend Emile DeFelice, owner of Caw Caw Creek Pastured Pork, recently bought Alden a live oak, which the kids planted in our front yard.

Today, we planted blueberry bushes. I REALLY hope we keep them alive. We added the egg shells we've been saving to the dirt, and watered them with the rainwater we've been collecting in our swimming pool. I'll keep you posted on this project.

I killed my raspberry bush last year, so I hope we do better this year. I really want these berries . . . .

Monday, April 07, 2008

Click to Donate

Do you get emails with subject lines reading: Free Food, just click!

If so, I'd love it if you would take my quiz on the right. I'm really curious about these sites. If you click, WHY do you do it? Why do we take time to click on a site, and then play a game or answer a quiz, so someone else will donate 5 cents?

My gut tells me that a lot of people click.

I click.

But, I know from experience that not as many people make a committment to say, sponsor a child. Or two. Even when confronted with the child's meals for a week vs. one cup of Starbucks, people (like me) struggle to make the BIG commitment of $1 each and every day.

I'm guessing the sites make ad dollars on the number of hits, and the savvy ones that keep you there taking a quiz up their ad revenue because the people who visit stay on the site longer.

Is clicking one time throwing a nickel in the fountain outside the children's hospital, or is it something more?

If you are someone who gives time this way, by clicking or using a search engine that helps people, or by accessing Amazon through your favorite charity's website, how do you remember to keep going back and click? Do you commit to doing it over time, do you make it a habit? If not, why not? Why click at all if only one time?

I'm looking forward to discussing this, thanks for commenting!

Oh, and if you want to start clicking, here are some recent "click me" sites I've received:

Feed Rice
Help Sponsor a Child
Use This Search Engine (Google powered) to Help Charity
World Food Programe
Help a Farmer
Feed People in India

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Taxes. 2006.

With Joanna first, and then Sarah's help, David has almost finished up the taxes. This shot was actually taken after most of the piles had been put away, though the paper weight "shoes" still linger.

Now, we'll have to start sorting 2007 stuff . . . .

You know, the WEEKS of time it takes every year to do taxes makes me favor some sort of flat tax or consumer only tax (with exemptions for the poor, of course). Something has to be better than the convoluted mess we have now.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Finding Treasure

I love the idea of finding treasure. If they didn't cost so much, I'd buy a metal detector (White brand) in a flat SECOND. There is a giant hole in the back yard to prove my belief that I will one day find GOLD. My brother Glenn (yes, genetic relation to me) has one and he found a (?)Civil War era something in my yard when he came to visit. It looks like a piece from an elaborate bridle, I think. And, his detector showed metal, could be GOLD underground in MY yard. I've now almost completely dug up a giant cement lid with a metal handle, about two feet under ground, and 4 feet in diameter. David does not want me to finish digging because he says the black pipe leading to it suggests that it is a sewer cover. But, because I no longer have the metal detector to show me if just the handle set it off, I don't know. I mean, there could be GOLD under there!

What better place to hide a treasure chest full of gold than in a septic tank under ground, right?

My treasure hunt is not limited to gold. Imagine the day I found my first arrowhead. We were on a shoot in rural Georgia, and I drove the director mad when I kept asking for "one more minute" in the freshly plowed tobacco field before getting into her car.

This week, after spending 4 hours cleaning out closets and file boxes looking for Zion's lost passport, I'm into identifying coin defects in the piles of change I dug up. David laughs at each day's coin stash next to the magnifying glass on my desk. I'LL be the one laughing my way to the bank when I find an extra tree on my bright and shining Minnesota quarter!

There is one area where I've actually discovered multiple treasures. I'm blessed with amazing friends. Friendships that deepen with age. Not only are old friendships that I've held close for years "treasure," but new friendships are gems I joyfully unearth every few years.
Laura and Emily are a few of my Gem friends. We met through Ethiopian adoption, and we might as well have grown up down the block from each other. They are funny and deep and emotional and caring and sarcastic and inspirational and thoughtful and smart, too. A few weekends back, we met, all three together for the first time. I was sick, but pretended to myself that I could not possibly be contageous, just because there was no way I could give up seeing the two of them together. It was every bit as fun as I imagined and I can't wait to do it again.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

35,000 people die each day from poverty

I wrote about him here.

And today, I learned he died.

He was a sweet boy, just one year older than my son. His dad was too poor to take him to the doctor, so hope leapt from his eyes when he learned we would take his son and cover the fees.

The barefoot boy traveled bravely, and sat stiffly in the back of the old pickup truck. I was a tall, pale woman he'd never seen before that day, and I smiled as I sat next to him. He jostled against me over the rutted roads, and when the busy "city" sites came into view, he allowed himself to lean on me a bit. I put my arm around him, mentally promising his father I would care for him while they were apart.

Each day we visited. His broad smile when I entered the room lit my days. When he was better, I carried his IV bag as we took short walks down the hall and onto the flowered sidewalks. Before I left Ethiopia, he was well enough to go back to his village.

A few months later, I got a note from Dr. Ruth, saying he was back in the hospital. I'm not sure exactly what happened next, but I believe some people spoke to his father and it was decided that, since the father had no means to care for him, and since the hospital was limited in it's facilities, that he would go up for adoption in the hopes that a family abroad might give him what we rich Westerners have in order to share . . . hope.

But, the process it did not happen quickly enough for this young man and he spent his last days far from home. I bet he was brave. I can see him smiling at the other kids, and smiling at his nanny, and when he no longer had the strength to smile, I bet his eyes said, "don't worry." I picture that because it was the kind of boy he was.

And today, I hope Tadesse is looking down at his daddy in the Bombay village of Ethiopia and telling him he doesn't have to cry because he feels much better now. His little chest no longer hurts, and he can run and play with the other kids.

For me, I want to gather all my photos of this brave young man and go find his dad to pay my respects.