Archive for May, 2010

Racing motor cars has a nice size list of dangers that require consideration before one dives head-first into the hobby.

Crashing into a wall, crashing into each other, fires, noise…it’s all been done before.  Science and the appropriate technology have been applied to these areas to keep us as safe as possible.  After the machine is prepared, the mind of the driver is conditioned.  Driving line, braking point, turn-in, corner exit, throttle application, steering input (not too much, not too little), traffic, situational awareness.  It’s involved.  Not just any jackass can jump into a race car and drive.  It takes a specific type of jackass.  This would be me.

However, when the day is done, the machine is carefully loaded into the race trailer, strapped down, and hauled back to the shop for maintenance, repair and tuning.  Again, we are presented with a task that no ordinary jackass can complete.  This is where my friend and trusted engineer Al comes in.  Al is a very rare and specific type of jackass.  It is Al who felt unsatisfied with our day of testing and racing cars, and decided to add to the excitement by driving the rig into the roadside ditch.  Quite simply, one second the rig was visible in my rear view mirror, the next, not so much.  Knowing the explanation was likely to fall short, I tried to minimize the questions.  Al recognized this was not going to make it onto his life’s highlight reel.  He didn’t need a jackass of my type to explain how this was not supposed to happen.  In addition to delaying our trip to the pub, this was going to make me late going home and further supply my wife with solid bullet points proving the gross jackassery that was previously speculated, but unproven.  I had a good thing going here.  Gone.

For her part, Sue was exceedingly understanding by responding with a proper rolling of the eyes and remarking…”Boys and their toys.”

P.S.  Al- forget about almost destroying your beautiful rig and my beautiful race car.  The concern is that our wives are becoming suspicious, and could decide to replace us with lesser jackasses.


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I read a depressing article today about the state of playgrounds in the low-income neighborhoods of the city.  Residents in these areas have, apparently, long complained about trash-riddled play lots with broken equipment that is mostly utilized by loitering drug dealers.  Sounds bad.  Kids need parks.  This is for sure.  The Chicago Tribune article focused on the North Side v. South Side inequities in park spending- surprise, surprise.  As it turns out, the middle and high-income neighborhoods have better stuff.  No shit.  Wonder how that happened.  This story has been written 50 times before.  Better parks, streets, CTA service, street lights, cops, water pressure.  Everything is better in the general vicinity of money.

All that said, South and West-siders shouldn’t hold their breath.  Not only is there little money available for shiny new stuff in poor neighborhoods, the city can’t seem to maintain the old stuff that is certainly part of the annual budget.  Traffic control devices, for one.  Shouldn’t somebody from the Dept. of Streets and Sanitation, the Bureau of Electricity, the Office of…who the hell is in charge of light bulbs around here?  Shouldn’t somebody, in some city department, head over to the local Ace Hardware and pick up a box of light bulbs?  They’re traffic lights.  I suspect a study has concluded that stop lights are necessary on some level.  If you ask the city, not only are the devices necessary, but so are high-tech cameras designed to capture violators of the devices.  The cheapest and least technical part of the traffic signal is the bulb.  Yet, here we are.  No money available for bulbs, or the crews to install them.

Good luck on those new playgrounds.

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Buses have been challenging buildings for decades, but this particular bout was questionable from the beginning.  Sure, buses have enjoyed some success in the area of building-bashing, but I see little reason to get greedy.  Stick with hot-dog stands, fruit markets, toll booths, maybe a porta-potty.  A school is a slap in the face.  There’s nowhere to go with this.  It’s reckless.  That said, the bus has something to show for its effort.  The fool below, not so much.  Instigating a death match with the Lake Street “L” isn’t very thoughtful.  We have data.  It doesn’t work.

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The family has had a busy off-season.  The team signed long-term contracts with two new babies.  Sue and I are establishing impressive depth in the area of nieces and nephews.

Charlotte Lucille arrived March 30.

Ian turned up on April 16.

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You are important.  You play an impossible, thankless role.  You are caring.  You are strong.  You are understanding.  You are reliable.  You are attentive.  You are smart.  You are sisters, wives and mothers- and you are loved.

Thank you.

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There was some moderate-level excitement this morning after a troubled dude walked through the employee entrance at the State Street Old Navy and shot his girlfriend- a store employee- before shooting himself.  The intensity of the situation took off like a rocket as responding police officers descended upon State and Washington.  The messages were coming in hot and short of breath.  I mention this because it makes getting out of the office complicated.  “Okay, what do I absolutely need?”  I actually said this out loud while my relaxed and uninterested neighbor watched the confusion.  Then he headed back to his studio to shoot pieces of soap.  Keys, phone, wallet.  Out the door.  Waiting for the elevator, I realized cameras would be critical.  Back to the office.

Today is the first day I utilized the old motor scooter from my days in Carbondale.  Zipping through the Loop gridlock caused by the shooting was a breeze on my less-than-manly machine.  I parked seven steps from the actual incident, seven minutes after the gunshots.  That works.  Can’t expect to do much better than that.  Reasonable expectations are a big part of not losing your mind.  After all, the chances of this being some sort of massacre were slim, only because massacres are rare.  No exception this time.  The situation went from lead story to not as soon as it was a confirmed domestic situation.  Murder/suicide activities generally don’t do well in the world of freelance photojournalism.  The only remarkable element of this scenario was the location, but even a State Street retailer shoot ’em up couldn’t distract the city from the other high-profile suicide from 3 hours earlier when the troubled MetraRail chief jumped in front of one of his own trains in Crystal Lake.  That image, ironically, would have done well.

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The annual, month-long festival celebrating the births of my daughters finally wraps up today with the actual anniversary of the seven year-old’s birth.  The five year-old’s day was last week.  This frame was an outtake from a high-stress, 5 minute session aimed at creating an image for the combined party invitation for the girl’s friends.  Five is pissed because seven has two extra lines to go with her V.  Seems reasonable.  The VII does actually look a little cooler.  But, whatever cool seven had over five was quickly offset by the disastrous fashion.  How the clear, plastic, purple sandals made it through the front door and past quality control is currently under investigation.

This image was trashed for several reasons.  Reasons that could be better explained by Sue.  This was a successful shoot in that we made a ‘usable’ picture.  It was an unsuccessful shoot in that the take pretty much sucked.

Watch this space for another year.  Next time will be better.

Below is the image that accompanied the combined card.

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