Goodbye, Smooth Jazz

While I’m on the subject of radio, I’d like to say goodbye to a station that I enjoyed listening to over the past five years I’ve lived here in DC: Smooth Jazz 105.9 (WJZW). It’s been in my radio presets for all of that time.

One morning, as I tuned in, expecting a change from the usual sonic assaults found on other stations, I got shocked with a really bad oldie. I’m a fan of oldies (sometimes), but this was a real dud. I couldn’t figure it out. I looked at the station call, and it now said “True Oldies”. Then some annoying DJ’s voice came on, touting the format change and the “return of oldies” to DC. No thanks. DC already had an oldies station, and it wasn’t in my presets. I tuned right out and looked for another station to store in its place.

To top it off, it turns out Don Imus is the new morning show DJ on True Oldies. Yup, that guy. I’ve met and seen a lot of revolting people, but he takes the cake. One more reason to stay away.

Ramsey Lewis, where are you? I will miss your cheery voice and inspirational quotes, not to mention the smooth jazz you played during your morning show. I hope things are okay for you and the rest of the DJs from the station.

Goodbye, Smooth Jazz.

Smooth Jazz 105.9 FM


Score one for classical

I’m driving into work this morning. I turn on the radio.

On WASH, they’re talking about 80s funk music. Then the ads come on. On WRQX, a morning show aide (male) is yelling at the top of his voice about Alase pain-free hair removal. On WINC, traffic and ads. On WGTS, some dude is belting out a song with a really bad sonic wall accompaniment that makes it hard to even hear the words. On WMZQ, a woman is trying her rendition of some tortured country song, over the phone, and it’s too painful to listen. On WETA, a welcome flourish of wind instruments stretches out the furrows on my forehead and puts a smile on my face.

Thank you Handel for your Water Music suites! Score one for classical.


Waves at Hollywood Beach

This is a video I recorded a couple of years ago at Hollywood Beach, Florida. It was early morning, the sun had just come up, and Ligia had gone into the ocean for a swim. I stayed on the beach and recorded this. It starts out wide, then gets progressively closer to the water until it ends up in macro mode. A couple of days ago, I re-edited it, and I really like the way it plays now.

You can watch it below or here, and you can download it as well. Just press play, stay with it, and relax.


Week 1 of the 2008 Community Challenge

I mentioned Trevor Carpenter’s 2008 Challenge in a previous post. The aim is to document your community through photos, something I’ve been doing all along, but it’s fun to participate anyway. Here are my two photos for this week — I couldn’t really keep to one…

They’re both taken from our terrace in the morning hours. The first is taken at daybreak, just as the sun was about to surface over the horizon.

Here comes the sun

This second photo is taken an hour and a half or so after sunrise, but on a cloudy morning. As you can see, conditions were quite unusual, and the cloud cover created a sort of backlit canvas filled with soft colors.

A canvas lightly lit

One last thing: Trevor’s December Challenge, which encouraged people to shoot one portrait per day through the entire month, has come to an end, and he’s got a nice recap with portrait highlights. Check it out!

Good work, Trevor! It’s wonderful to see more people participating in these sorts of projects, and being encouraged to better their photography.


Document your community through photos

Trevor Carpenter is running the “2008 Challenge“, a project which is meant to encourage people to document their community through photos and to share them online. All it takes is to publish one photo per week (52 in total) to your site or to a photo sharing site. Check out Trevor’s post for the details.

I thought I’d share a few photos from my community a little ahead of the deadline. After all, I’ve been doing it all along, but you may not have known about it since I didn’t call attention to it.

This is a typical morning view from our terrace.

Reflected sunrise

We took a walk during a warm fall afternoon. This is one of the photos taken on that walk. A “Now Leasing” blimp floated in the sky above a neighboring building. The beautiful trees in the forefront obscured that photo, so it looks as if the blimp is advertising them instead.

Now leasing - trees

These next few photos were taken during various afternoon walks.

Red and redder


A brook dressed for fall


I am literally in love with the color of these tree branches. It’s not personal bias because I took the photo, but that shade of brown coupled with the fresh green just floors me.

Stretching toward the sky

This is another view from our terrace. It’s a night scene, taken during a dark and stormy night.

Night rain

You might think there’s something wrong with the next photo. It seems a bit off, and there’s that strange thing jutting out in the bottom left corner. Look carefully. That’s a reflection you see in the water of a lake from our community. The odd piece in the corner is the shore I stood on when I took the photo. If you examine the bottom of the photo, you’ll see tiny ripples.

Looking glass


Dawn over the Atlantic Ocean

This will be my 1,000th post, so perhaps it’s fitting that it be this: photos of the dawn, breaking high above the clouds, somewhere near the coast of France. It symbolizes a new beginning, a milestone — although I have to confess it came by surprise. I hadn’t monitored the number of posts for a while. By chance, I glanced at it yesterday and saw the fateful sum: 999. That’s when I knew I had to make this 1,000th post a little more special than the rest.

We were on our way to Paris from Washington, DC, on board an overnight Air France flight. We were going to have a short layover at Charles de Gaulle airport, then fly to Bucharest, where a rental car awaited our arrival. From there, we’d drive north, crossing the Carpathian Mountains to reach my grandfather’s house in Transylvania.

I liked Air France. The chairs were fairly comfortable, there was more space between the rows than on Austrian Airlines, and all of the seat gadgets worked, which was very unlike Alitalia (see paragraph 7 of that post for the details). The food was great, they got our menu selections right, the stewards and stewardesses were friendly and polite, and we had a good experience overall. I would fly with them again.

I hadn’t slept much all night. I can’t sleep very well on airplanes — I should probably say I can’t sleep much at all on airplanes. There’s the noise, then, of course, the “wonderful” seats and the lack of humidity, etc. I usually watch movies to pass the time while I gasp for air and pour water down my parched throat.

Outside, pitch black darkness stared back at me, and the faint reflection of a bleary-eyed traveler bearing my resemblance was visible in the window. Had there been no one around, it would have been eerie. But Ligia was next to me. She was sleeping somewhat peacefully, and that comforted me.

As morning approached and the first rays of light began to break through the darkness, Ligia woke up. I took out my 5D, and stood ready for that fleeting moment when color and light would combine to produce something worth capturing. Here it is.

Dawn breaking

At 33,000 feet, the cloud clover stayed below, and only its remembrance remained, in the shape of wispy lines that traced alongside us.

I kept my camera ready in case other opportunities presented themselves, and I wasn’t disappointed. A supersonic jet passed by us, leaving orange-yellow contrails in its wake.

Jet set

No matter how commoditized flight gets, there are still a great number of people that can never afford to experience it. I suppose that has its pluses and minuses. On the plus side, enough pollution is generated by existing airplanes, so perhaps it’s better that their number is kept somewhat limited. On the other hand, many opportunities open up to you when you can travel so fast. Trips that take days suddenly take only hours. Life, for better or worse, gets faster, and you can do more. I suppose that can be both good and bad, depending on your point of view. I’m on the fence about it myself.

The rarefied life

We found ourselves in our rental car, driving toward Transylvania, that afternoon. We drove through the evening and part of the night. Road repairs made our trip unnecessarily long, but that’s a story for another day. As we were driving through the Carpathian Mountains, night set in, and I stopped to take this photo.

A closing account

As we paused to rest, we thought about the last 24 hours. In that relatively short span of time, we’d traveled over 4,000 miles and still had a few more to go.

Life moves fast these days. If we’re not careful, we can end up old and tired, having spent a lifetime running around from place to place. Sometimes it’s worth more than we know it to STOP, even if it’s only for a few minutes, and look around us. That’s when we realize that those few moments of pause are more precious than whole days of nonstop action.


One perfect foggy morning

Have you ever woken up to the perfect morning fog? I have. We were staying with relatives in a tiny little village in Moldova, Romania. Their house sat between several hills.

As I got out of the house on day, morning was just starting to break. The soft, diffuse light just barely illuminated the sleepy silhouettes of the trees.

Breaking light

A little while later, the sun started breaking through the fog. The empty country road lay out before me, beckoning.

On the road again

People started to wake up. Here, a man took out his horse to pasture as the sun literally burst onto the scene from top right.

Into the morning sun

The fog found itself overpowered by the sun, and retreated to the valleys between the hills. As far as the eye could see, little hill tops peered out from among the soft white fog, greeting the morning.

Hill top after hill top

I descended into a valley not yet touched by rays of light, and spotted the sun around the corner. A new day had begun, and there were many miles still to go.

Just around the corner


Photos from the Alexandria photowalk

Last Saturday morning, Ligia and I met up with Keith McCammon and held our first DC area photowalk, as announced last week. Even though rain was predicted for that day, the weather was fantastic. We got there around 7:30 am and had a wonderful time walking on the docks and through the streets, photographing all things of interest to us.

Ligia carried my tripod for me. What a trooper! 😀

The one for me


Where we meet



Color segregation

We received an amazing gift during our photowalk. We stumbled onto a really old home on Prince Street, built in the 1700s, called the John Douglass Brown House. As we were taking photos outside, the neighbors happened by, and we started talking. They were really nice and offered to introduce us to the owner of the house, Mr. Charles J. Reeder. He not only came out and started talking with us, but allowed us to come into the gated courtyard. We learned how he purchased the home, restored it, and made some additions to it.

While we snapped away at the amazing collection of fascinating things he had around the home and talked, I guess he saw something in us that engendered some trust, because he invited us inside and gave us a tour of his home. He does not normally do this, and he told us that as he let us in. I cannot even begin to tell you how many amazing old antiques he has in there, and how much he knows about each of them. My mind reels when I try to remember the experience. Thankfully I took plenty of photos. I’m not sure how many of them I’ll make public, because I do not want to invade Mr. Reeder’s privacy. Just because he allowed us into his home doesn’t mean he wants it shown on the internet. I’ll have to choose carefully what I publish online.




Give it the old once-over

In the end, it worked out better than we could have imagined. If a larger group got together for the photowalk, I doubt we would have been able to visit inside Mr. Reeder’s home. This way, we formed a nice photowalking nucleus, and we’ll try to expand the group with future photowalks in the DC area. What a great start we had!


Dual sunlight

Yachting on the Potomac



Bask in the sun